TCA: ESPN To Debut High School Renovation Series

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ESPN will debut a new reality series that chronicle the renovation of four high school athletic facilities, network officials announced Wednesday at the Television Critics Association tour.

The four-part Rise Up series, hosted by ESPN college football analyst Chris Spielman, will highlight from start to finish the rebuilding of gyms at Ohio's Wellston High School, Boston's Dorchester Education Complex; Washington's Ingraham High School and Chicago's Walter Dyett High School.

Along with the actual renovation, the show will also focus on giving students advice, training and tools that they can use to become better athletes, said network officials.

The series is an offshoot of a Sept. 10 ESPN Rise Up special in which McMain Secondary High School in New Orleans was renovated.

"We have to recognize that there are parents and teachers around the country who are doing a lot to a little and this is our way of giving back," said Joan Lynch, vice president of content development for ESPN during the panel session.

The sports network also announced a new slate of ESPN Films following the conclusion of its 30 for 30 series. The films will launch Sept. 27 with Catching Hell -- which revolves around Cubs fan Steve Bartman's
infamous interference of Cubs' outfielder Moises Alou's catch during the
2003 NLCS baseball playoff series -- and run on consecutive Tuesdays films. Other  films include The Real Rocky, chronicling the life of former heavyweight contender Chuck Wepner; Renee, about transgender tennis player Renee Richards;and The Dotted Line, an in-depth look at what it takes to be an agent in major league sports.

Also scheduled are Unguarded, about the troubled life of Massachusetts high school basketball superstar Chris Herren; Charismatic, which follows the tragic story of thoroughbred horse Charismatic; and Roll Tide/War Eagle, about the Alabama/Auburn college football rivalry.

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.