ESPN Steps Up Short Films Slate #TCA2015

Pasadena – ESPN will tap actress Eva Longoria and Marvel Entertainment to help boost its short films output, the sports network announced Wednesday during its Television Critics Association press tour presentation.

The Longoria-produced series, Versus, explores moments of inspiration when the world of sports transcended the action on the field, said network executives. Longoria will direct the series’ first short Go, Sebastian, Go!, which will profile nine year old singer Sebastian de la Cruz, who was the target of hateful comments after singing the national anthem in a mariachi charro suit during Game 3 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

A second short, Queen Vee, will profile Violet ‘Vee’ Palmer, the first female referee in the NBA.

ESPN Films has also partnered with Marvel Entertainment to create a short film series and a full-length documentary that connects super heroes with great athletes, said network officials.

The 1 of 1 Origins short film series will launch this summer on SportsCenter and across ESPN’s digital platforms simultaneously and will focus on a single athlete who has a defining story of the origin of their powers in the sports world, said network officials.

A full length documentary, 1 of 1 Genesis currently available on Digital HD through select digital retailers, explores the connections between Marvel Super Heroes and today’s athletes.

Finally, ESPN announced it will launch in February a Friday Night Movie Night segment within its 6 p.m. SportsCenter telecast featuring a short film from one of ESPN Films’ popular documentary series. The first short will debut Feb. 6 with the Spike Lee-produced film Ray Allen/AKA-Jesus Shuttlesworth, said network officials.

The series is the first of several movies from Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joints, which showcases narratives revolving around African-American stories that are not widely known.

"We’re thrilled to provide a showcase for these fantastic films, and we’re confident that fans will be dazzled by the ingenuity and insight in every story," said Rob King, Senior VP, SportsCenter and News.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.