Ezra Edelman may not be a household name for most sports fans, but he’s the brains behind some of the most critically acclaimed work that ESPN has done in recent years through their many successful documentaries. Edelman was in charge of the network’s award-winning O.J. Made in America miniseries, which has been lauded as one of the best things the network has ever produced.
Now Edelman will help bring to life a project that has been in the works for some time: a feature film about the life of the legendary Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente.
It was three years ago that we first learned Legendary Pictures had acquired the movie rights to Clemente’s biography, Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero, written by David Maraniss. Now after all this time, the film finally has a director in Edelman in the hopes that it will find its way to the finish line in the near future.
Ezra Edelman is following up the award-winning “O.J.: Made in America” by spotlighting another famous athlete.
The Oscar winner has signed on to direct Legendary’s biopic on baseball icon Roberto Clemente.
Legendary closed a deal for Edelman to develop a feature film with writer Rowan Ricardo Phillips based on the life of the famed baseball player. John Lesher will produce alongside Fuego Films’ Ben Silverman and Jay Weisleder, with Giselle Fernandez and Sandra Condito serving as executive producers.
The studio previously picked up the rights to David Maraniss’ book “Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero” and entered into an agreement with Clemente’s family for his life rights. Legendary has already seen success in this genre, having successfully launched the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” to box office and critical success, and hopes for similar results with this film.
If there’s any athlete from yesteryear who deserves to have their story shared to a contemporary audience, it’s Clemente. The Hall of Famer was known just as much for his on-field accomplishments as his charity work. He died tragically in a plane crash in 1972 while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
It’s interesting to note that Edelman had previously reportedly signed a deal with ESPN to give them the first look at future projects after the success of the O.J. series. Edelman’s previous work had been in the documentary space, so perhaps the feature film idea doesn’t necessarily fit in with Bristol’s vision. Or maybe we’ll see the network play some role in this production down the road.
Given the success at the studio of 42 and Edelman’s previous work in sports, this appears to be a promising match and a compelling story to be told.