SBD/Issue 122/Sports Media

Klores' "Black Magic" Documentary Garnering Rave Reviews

(l to r) Monroe, Klores And Walt Frazier
At Premiere Of ESPN's "Black Magic"
ESPN Sunday night at 9:00pm ET will debut "Black Magic," a two-part documentary detailing the story of the Civil Rights Movement in America as told through the lives of basketball players and coaches who attended and worked at Historically Black Colleges & Universities. Filmmaker Dan Klores directed the project while Basketball HOFer Earl Monroe served as co-Producer. The documentary is narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, musician Wynton Marsalis and Hornets G Chris Paul. It will be presented commercial-free by Russell Athletic Group and State Farm and will air in two two-hour segments following ESPN's NCAA men's basketball tournament selection show on Sunday and its women's tournament selection show on Monday (THE DAILY). Klores said the documentary is a "story I have been yearning to tell for a long time ... a story of exclusion and therefore invention (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/4).

A MUST-SEE FILM: In Milwaukee, Garry Howard wrote while the documentary "covers a lot of ground, and you can get lost in the verbiage in some spots," it is a "must-see film." The project is Klores "at his very finest" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/12). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence wrote "Black Magic" is a "no-holds-barred documentary that is really about 10 movies in one." Klores has "done a superb job recapturing this very important era, via rare film footage and interviews with dozens of players and coaches." The project is a "must-see for basketball fans of all colors" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/2). In Detroit, Drew Sharp wrote "Black Magic" is a "historical tool that should be mandatory viewing for every basketball player who sees an unlimited horizon ahead, a reminder of the predecessors who sacrificed wide acclaim for the sake of free expression" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 3/12). In N.Y., David Hinckley: "Anyone who enjoys the NCAA tournament should know this story, too, and as a nice bonus, it's also fascinating to watch" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/14). In Boston, Tenley Woodman rated the documentary a "B+" and wrote, "Even die-hard fans of the sport will learn something here. ... Klores does justice to a complex subject" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/13). In N.Y., Vic Ziegel wrote under the header, "Score This Film As One That Shortcuts The Hoopla And Goes Right To The Basket" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/10). In Orlando, Dave Darling: "The story moves a bit slow ... and at times the chronology seems muddled. But this is an essential piece of work that basketball fans and history buffs will enjoy" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/14). On Long Island, Neil Best: "Fast moving, it ain't. Neither is it tightly focused. But for the curious and patient, the story ... is worth the investment" (NEWSDAY, 3/8). In S.F., Steve Kroner writes "Black Magic" moves at a "fairly slow pace" during Sunday's segment especially, which focuses on the '40s-60s. There is not "nearly as much highlight footage available as there is for the past 40 years" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/14).

Writer Feels Film Scores With
Coverage Of Off-Court Issues
OFF THE COURT: In San Diego, Jay Posner writes "Black Magic" is "about far more than basketball. It's also a history lesson. ... It tells the story of injustices faced by black players before and during the civil rights movement" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/14). SI's Kostya Kennedy writes the film's "lasting impact comes not from [Monroe] undressing defenders. It comes from the blunt force of injustice and a time that should never be forgotten" (SI, 3/17 issue). The N.Y. TIMES' PLAY magazine's Bryan Curtis writes, "What makes 'Black Magic' interesting is its refusal to take its coaches, players and civil-rights leaders and funnel them into a single reading of history" (PLAY, 3/'08). In San Diego, Alan Drooz wrote "at times, you'll get angry. At a couple junctures, you'll get a lump in your throat. This is powerful stuff" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/10). In Ft. Worth, Ray Buck: "Be ready for Black Magic to sometimes shock and offend. It's slick in production ... but raw in emotion" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/14). The MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL's Howard: "I promise you it will move your soul, transporting you back to a time in America where the hair on your neck stands at attention. ... You walk through the past mostly grimacing, becoming a silent spectator to a history that is not taught in school, but should be" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/12).

GETTING THEIR DUE RESPECT: In Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote the film "offers a solid theme: The achievements of many early-day black players and coaches still are unrecognized" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/10). In N.Y., George Willis wrote it was a "special time and a special era that produced special players. Maybe 'Black Magic' will help them get their due" (N.Y. POST, 3/9). Monroe said, "It's unfortunate that we were about 10 years too late telling this story because we lost Coach [Clarence] Gaines and Coach [John] McLendon. But those who learned the valuable lessons they taught are a part of their legacy" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 3/12).

MORE THAN JUST SPORTS: NEWSDAY's Best noted the documentary features footage of "civil rights era events," including the '68 riot at South Carolina State Univ., later known as the Orangeburg Massacre, which "resulted in the deaths of students but is far less known" than the '70 shootings at Kent State Univ. Klores "knew he risked losing some viewers with long segments such as that on Orangeburg, which is only tangentially related to basketball. But it was a chance he was willing to take" (NEWSDAY, 3/8). Klores indicated that he "hopes his film spurs the appropriate people to reopen the investigation into the Orangeburg Massacre and leads the Basketball [HOF] to open its doors to the sport's deserving black pioneers" (Columbia STATE, 3/4).

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