One of the biggest sports stories of the summer was the release of the best seller "Those Guys Have All the Fun," more commonly known as The ESPN Book. Jim Miller's book was met with near-universal acclaim (read our review here and our podcast with Jim here), so it was no surprise that a deal was reached this week to turn the blockbuster book into a blockbuster movie. Of course, there's only one small problem with "Those Guys" translating to the silver screen... it's 745 pages long! The book is so chalk full of stories and details it could fill an entire trilogy, let alone a single movie.
So, unless The ESPN Book: The Movie is going to be some Gone With The Wind style epic, the movie's plot is going to have to focus on one main character from the book. After all, there's only so much you can fit into a two hour movie while maintaining your "dramatic license." But, there are so many interesting and pivotal characters in the book that the potential movie could go in many different directions. And while it's fun to think about the possible casting of the movie (like our friends at SportsGrid have done very well already), let's take a look at five very different movies that could actually be made from "Those Guys."
(1) ESPN: The Beginning
Movie Doppelganger: The Social Network
The first potential movie is predictably the easiest, focusing on ESPN's beginnings. The plot line would resemble The Social Network to examine how an empire was built from humble/dumpy Bristol, CT. The main characters would obviously be ESPN's co-founders, Bill and Scott Rasmussen. One, a failed employee of the then New England Whalers and another, the bumbling son who's along for the ride until he's forced out of the company he founded.
The other main character would be Stu Evey from Getty Oil, a larger-than-life figure in the book who represents the financial investment that got ESPN off the ground... not to mention the source of some of the wilder anecdotes from the book. The movie could crescendo as ESPN slowly becomes legitimate throughout the 80's while taking plenty of time to detail the sex and drugs that weren't as big a part of the book as first thought. I'd love to see this movie made just for the ability to dramatize the struggle of building the "leader" from scratch.
(2) The Big Show: The Movie
Movie Doppelganger: Wedding Crashers (or any other buddy comedy, really)
Undoubtedly one of the easier choices for a main storyline to the ESPN Movie would be following the rise and fall of The Big Show and its stars, Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick. This movie would focus on ESPN's rise from legitimacy to national phenom while charting the growth of SportsCenter throughout the 90's. And while all of our other ESPN favorites will be there in the background (Berman, Ley, Steiner, Scott, Vitale, etc.), the main focus would be on the Olbermann/Patrick duo, who took SportsCenter to new heights as a mainstream cultural hit.
Of course, the movie wouldn't be all fun and slapstick from the two buddies. We could also see the troubled relationship between Olbermann and those around him and how ESPN struggled with its newfound power and influence. This particular movie could end with the sad stories of first Olbermann's departure, followed by Patrick's a few years later. A perfect blend of knee-slapping humor and tear-jerking sadness! While Wedding Crashers isn't an exact parallel, any buddy comedy with a hint of real-life drama would suffice as a template.