ESPN has been showing signs that they’re itching to get into the movie business; the channel sought such Hollywood players as Peter Berg, Barry Levinson, and John Singleton for entries in their spectacular 30 for 30 documentary series, and their work will soon be seen on the big screen in Mulkey, the biopic of a high school basketball coach and firefighter who perished in a fire. But nothing makes quite the statement as signing Robert De Niro to star in the cinematic depiction of an sports idol. Risky Business reports that Robert De Niro is attached to star as legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi in the latest effort from ESPN Films. More after the break:
Although his stature in show business is not at the heights it once was, De Niro is still quite a get for this inspirational sports picture with quite the box office potential. The film will reportedly center on the years in which Lombardi formed the Packers into a championship team, and the production is eying a timely release date just before the 2012 Super Bowl. Undoubtedly, executive fingers are crossed that the Packers will be the NFC contenders come 2012.
With regard to De Niro’s aptitude for the role, NFL vice president of programming Charles Choplin gushed, “There are few actors who could accurately portray the fire, passion and grit of Lombardi, and we’re thrilled to have Robert De Niro on our team. With the addition of De Niro, Eric and Tribeca Prods., we have a deep bench to produce a film worthy of the legendary coach and American icon.”
One doesn’t need to dig too deeply to see a resemblance between the two strong-jawed Italians. Stick a fedora and thick-rimmed glasses on Mr. De Niro, and I’m sold. The character of Lombardi should provide a charismatic role for De Niro to sink his teeth into, or at least the version of him that was quoted throughout my elementary sports career (“Remember Brendan, ‘Winners never quit, quitters never win.'” -Dad).
It’ll be interesting to see where this falls onto De Niro’s list of priorities. He’s also attached to star alongside Bradley Cooper in The Dark Fields, alongside Hugh Jackman in Lee Daniels’ Selma, and alongside someone who isn’t Charles Grodin in a Midnight Run sequel.