HBO's On Freddie Roach wrapped up this past weekend... and man did I eat that ish up. The series started a bit slow, focusing more on his struggle with Parkinsons, his brother's stroke which takes place right outside the Wild Card Gym, and his character building upbringing. But, it quickly ramped up as the series dove into the training of some memorable 2011 fights and his involvement with the 2012 USA Olympic boxing team.
I did suffer a bit from Liev Schreiber withdrawal though and at times missed the faster pacing of the 24/7 boxing series, but in the end thought this was a more telling and powerful series as a whole. Below is a trailer from the series in case you're curious as to what you may have missed.
On Freddie Roach is just another feather in the cap of Peter Berg as he continues to build out a pretty damn impressive resume in the sports world. Below is a quick glance at Berg's accomplishments within the realm of sports.
Friday Night Lights (Movie) - 2004
Studio/Channel: Universal Films
Friday Night Lights (TV Show) 2006-2011
Role: Executive Produer (wrote and directed a couple of episodes)
Studio/Channel: NBC and later DirectTV
30 For 30 King's Ransom
Role: Director (also hits golf balls with The Great One)
On Freddie Roach
In Production- Mike Leach Series
Studio: HBO likely?
Probable Friday Night Lights Movie (based on television)
Berg has also starred in some sports movies and some well received Super Bowl commercials, but you get the point. The guy is pretty passionate about turning out a variety of high quality original sports programming...
What really stands out to me is Berg as an internal champion of the sports genre within Hollywood. Sure, the genre does well on its own, but looking at the resume above, a lot of those projects aren't made without his influence and deal making ability.
If you read the background stories on a lot of these projects, many of them were in a state of network/studio purgatory with questionable chances of ever being made. Hollywood executives are notoriously tough to sway off the proverbial "we're interested but not sure" fence. Berg has shown a knack for powering his sports related projects from concept to production and later successful distribution.
Sports documentaries are not exactly a commercially lucrative niche and Berg's already got two nice wins on the board with King's Ransom, which he was told "has to be good" because it was leading off 30 for 30 and now On Freddie Roach.
I think what's most impressive looking at Berg's projects is the diversity of what he's done. Writer, Producer, and Director for projects spanning boxing, hockey, high school football, and hopefully soon college football. Even more impressive is that Berg's works spans a wide spectrum of partners in Universal, HBO, ESPN, DirectTV, and NBC.
I'll certainly admit that there is bevy of better pieces within the sports genre, but that said looking at the consistency, variety, and frequency of Berg's works, it's not hard to be a fan of what he's done. Berg is aggressively expanding the genre and nudging multiple networks to pull the trigger on projects they might steer away from without his involvement.
With the Leach series and the Friday Night Lights Movie still not finalized, it's certainly something I'm keeping an eye on as Berg is firmly on the record saying something to the effect of "We're doing this....I'm on it... I cut red tape like Scissorhands cuts hair."
Given the frequency of Berg's sports related projects over the last decade and the fact he's relatively young, I think there is a real chance we may see Berg become the most prolific individual within the scripted and documentary sports programming genres. Hopefully he stays passionate about the genre as there is nothing more deflating than seeing low quality sports movies, shows, and documentaries.
If Mr. Berg were to stumble upon this post, I hope he'll take a look at what I think would be a worthy next project for a remake below. The trailer says it all stating, "When Gymnastics and Karate are fused, the combustion becomes an Explosion." Wouldn't that be hot?