ESPN Eyes Scripted-Series Entry

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ESPN is looking to join the original-series business.

The total sports network -- which made its original film debut last spring
with controversial Bobby Knight film A Season on the Brink -- wants to
take its first plunge into the series waters next summer by committing to a show
with 11 one-hour installments.

'This is the next logical step in our original-entertainment-programming
evolution,' said Mark Shapiro, ESPN senior vice president and general manager of
programming. 'Sports is drama, sports provides escape. There are a lot of casual
sports fans out there who aren't necessarily interested in Xs and Os but enjoy
the stories of sports.'

ESPN Original Entertainment has initiated the process, contacting writers,
directors and producers. 'We're speaking with creative people inside and outside
of the Hollywood community and we want to identify several scripts before moving
forward,' Shapiro said.

He declined to comment about what ideas the network would prefer. Sources,
however, suggested that ESPN might look to serialize the ups and downs of a
fictitious team and its characters.

The network -- which will begin shooting its second original film, TheJunction Boys, a look at Bear Bryant's (Tom Berenger) infamous training
camp as coach of the Texas A&M football team, Sept. 16 -- is about to add
new shows to its Tuesday-night lineup beginning Sept. 17.

Focus Group features ESPN senior VP of research and sales development
Artie Bulgrin as a moderator for fans weighing in on the pros and cons of
various topical sports issues, and reality show Beg, Borrow & Deal
features two teams vying to complete sports-related tasks in a race across