30 for 30
is the umbrella title for a series of documentaries airing on ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....
and its sister networks. The series, which premiered in October 2009 and concluded in December 2010, chronicles 30 stories from the "ESPN era," each of which detail the issues, trends, people, teams, or events that transformed the sports landscape since the sports network was founded in 1979.
The idea for the series began with ESPN.com
ESPN.com is the official website of ESPN and a division of ESPN Inc. Since launching in 1995 as ESPNet.SportsZone.com, the website has developed numerous sections including: Page 2, SportsNation, ESPN 3.com, ESPN Motion, My ESPN, ESPN Sports Travel, ESPN Video Games, ESPN Insider, ESPN.com's...
A columnist is a journalist who writes for publication in a series, creating an article that usually offers commentary and opinions. Columns appear in newspapers, magazines and other publications, including blogs....
William J. "Bill" Simmons III is a sports columnist, author, and podcaster. He currently writes columns and hosts podcasts for Grantland.com, which is affiliated with ESPN.com. He is a former writer for ESPN The Magazine and Jimmy Kimmel Live!...
, who wanted feature filmmakers to recount the sports stories, people, and events from the past 3 decades which they (1) took a personal interest or involvement in, however great or small, and (2) felt hadn't been fully explored. Simmons and his team took special interest to "stories that resonated at the time but were eventually forgotten for whatever reason." Simmons serves as 30 for 30's
executive producer; Mike Tollin
Michael "Mike" Tollin is an American film director and film/television producer. His career highlights included Radio, Coach Carter, and Varsity Blues. He frequently collaborates with Brian Robbins in which they own a production company together called Tollin/Robbins Productions...
, who directed the series' 3rd entry, "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?," also serves as consulting producer to the series.
Directors had creative control over their 30 for 30
episodes. The directors appear in interstitial comments during the broadcast to discuss their film and its subject matter, usually appearing before the beginning of the film and before the last commercial break. A number of directors appeared as participants in their films, serving as narrators, analysts, or interviewing participants of the original story.
List of films in the 30 for 30 series
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, each episode length is 60 minutes (including commercials).
|Original air date
Other films were previously announced for the 30 for 30
series but were not included in the series. These films, which began airing in 2011, are not yet confirmed to be a continuation of 30 for 30
or as stand-alone features based on the concept. According to 30 for 30
producer Bill Simmons: "We're spinning off the "30 for 30" series next year into something that will probably be called "30 for 30 Presents" or something like that... we're going to be putting out 4-5 sports docs per year on the level of the best "30 for 30" docs and getting the best filmmakers to do them. Same creative team is involved. We have some terrific ideas in the hopper. So even though the SMU doc will be the 30th one (right after the Heisman ceremony) don't think the spirit of the series is going away." The episodes include:
|Original air date
Critical & ratings response
The series had a slow beginning. The first film, Peter Berg
Peter Berg is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is known for directing films such as Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom, The Rundown, Hancock and Battleship. He also developed the television series Friday Night Lights, which was adapted from the film he directed. As an actor...
's Kings Ransom," a chronicle of Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Douglas Gretzky, CC is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. Nicknamed "The Great One", he is generally regarded as the best player in the history of the National Hockey League , and has been called "the greatest hockey player ever" by many sportswriters,...
's trade from the Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They are members of the Northwest Division in the Western Conference of the National Hockey League ....
to the Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are a professional ice hockey team based in Los Angeles, California. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...
, premiered on October 6, 2009 to poor ratings. "Kings Ransom" drew a 0.5 national rating and a total viewership of 645,000. The premiere of King's Ransom aired at the same time as the 2009 American League Central tie-breaker game
The 2009 American League Central tiebreaker game was a one-game playoff for Major League Baseball's American League Central divisional championship. The game took place on October 6, 2009 between the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. It was necessary after...
between the Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins are a professional baseball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The team is named after the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They played in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961 to 1981 and the...
and Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team located in Detroit, Michigan. One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit in as part of the Western League. The Tigers have won four World Series championships and have won the American League pennant...
TBS , stylized in the logo as tbs, is an American cable television channel owned by Time Warner that shows a variety of programming, with a focus on comedy. TBS was originally known as WTCG, a UHF terrestrial television station that broadcast from Atlanta, Georgia, during the late 1970s...
, which went into extra innings and drew a 4.5 rating..
As awareness and critical acclaim grew, the viewing audience also grew. By the seventh episode, "The U," the audience had grown to a 1.8 rating and well over 2 million viewers. The A.V. Club
The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion. Its features include reviews of new films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. Unlike its...
review for the eighth entry, "Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks," called it "the most hotly anticipated [of the first eight]" and stated that "it more than lived up to the hype."
The A.V. Club has given positive and negative reviews for different episodes in the series, with notable critical reviews of the three episodes that had involvement by the media production arms of Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...
("Four Days in October"), the NBA
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...
("Once Brothers") and NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...
("Tim Richmond: To the Limit").
- 2010 Peabody Award
The George Foster Peabody Awards recognize distinguished and meritorious public service by radio and television stations, networks, producing organizations and individuals. In 1939, the National Association of Broadcasters formed a committee to recognize outstanding achievement in radio broadcasting...
- 2010 International Documentary Association's "Distinguished Continuing Series"
Cadillac is an American luxury vehicle marque owned by General Motors . Cadillac vehicles are sold in over 50 countries and territories, but mostly in North America. Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest...
Levi Strauss & Co. is a privately held American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi's brand of denim jeans. It was founded in 1853 when Levi Strauss came from Buttenheim, Franconia, to San Francisco, California to open a west coast branch of his brothers' New York dry goods business...
are the presenting sponsors of the series. The Cadillac name appears on the 30 for 30 logo, while the Levi’s "go forth" slogan appears on the bottom corner of the screen during the directors interstitial comments, which appear for 45 seconds at the beginning of each film and 30 seconds at the end. Commercials for both companies were shown during every intermission during the original air dates, with Levi’s guaranteed a 60 second commercial slot at the beginning of the third act. Cadillac replaced Honda
is a Japanese public multinational corporation primarily known as a manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles.Honda has been the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959, as well as the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines measured by volume, producing more than...
as a primary sponsor; during its time as a contributor, Honda aired parts of its "Dream the Impossible" documentary series in the first commercial break.