SBJ/December 11 - 17, 2006/This Weeks News

Wooden’s Bruins lead 4-pack of HBO docs

HBO Sports is planning to roll out a slate of four documentaries next year, starting with a look at UCLA’s college basketball team that won 10 national titles from 1964 through 1975.

The documentary “Dominant Decade: The UCLA Basketball Dynasty” is set to debut at 10 p.m. March 26, in the middle of the March Madness NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Another documentary is a two-hour look at the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 through 1957 that is scheduled to debut in July, around the MLB All-Star break. A third documentary will focus on the Michigan-Ohio State football rivalry that will premiere before the start of the next college football season.

HBO executives said they are close to greenlighting a fourth documentary but weren’t ready to discuss it.

Each of the documentaries is being produced under HBO’s “Sports of the 20th Century” brand. The first one out of the gate will look at UCLA’s basketball dynasty.

“The trigger for greenlighting this documentary is that the story still resonates all these years later,” said HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg. “It’s almost bizarre that during the revolutionary era in the 1960s, the UCLA Bruins could continuously win titles while protests and revolutionary movements were occurring on campus.”

The documentary features interviews with almost all of the big-name players and coaches who were a part of UCLA’s title runs, including coach John Wooden and players such as Bill Walton and Sidney Wicks.

The only player HBO was not able to interview on camera was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “He didn’t want to participate,” Greenburg said.

One of Greenburg’s favorite parts of the documentary is when Wooden and Walton retell a story about when the player asked the coach if he could skip a practice to participate in a protest march. Wooden told Walton he could join the march, but he wouldn’t be allowed back on the team. Walton didn’t go.

This marks the third college basketball documentary produced by HBO Sports. Last year, it rolled out “Perfect Upset: The 1985 Villanova vs. Georgetown NCAA Championship.” In 1998, it produced “City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball Scandal.”

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