Tommy Lee Jones to Direct AMC Football Drama Pilot THE REAL ALL-AMERICANS

     March 28, 2012


Perhaps looking to fill the void left by the conclusion of Friday Night Lights, the Emmy powerhouse that is AMC is crafting their own football based drama series. THR has word that the cable network behind Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead is in the early development stages of putting together The Real All-Americans, an adaptation of Sally Jenkins‘ book about the football program created by U.S. cavalry officer Richard Henry Pratt at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The series would follow Pratt, an abolitionist and early equal rights proponent who made a harrowing journey to the Dakota Territory in 1879 to recruit the school’s first students. More details after the jump.
tommy-lee-jones-imageTHR reports that Tommy Lee Jones is in talks to direct the pilot with a script from Nicholas Meyer (who has had his hand in several Star Trek franchise films), and this won’t be Jones’ first foray into a football story. Jones has his own tales to tell from his days playing football at Harvard (a 1968 All-Ivy League nominee), and he even directed one of them into the documentary Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, a game in which he actually played. This will be the third period piece for AMC following in the footsteps of Mad Men, but taking place much further back in time closer to their Hell on Wheels series. The project is still early in development though so stay tuned. Read a synopsis for the book below.

If you’d guess that Yale or Harvard ruled the college gridiron in 1911 and 1912, you’d be wrong. The most popular team belonged to an institution called the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Its story begins with Lt. Col. Richard Henry Pratt, a fierce abolitionist who believed that Native Americans deserved a place in American society. In 1879, Pratt made a treacherous journey to the Dakota Territory to recruit Carlisle’s first students.

Years later, three students approached Pratt with the notion of forming a football team. Pratt liked the idea, and in less than twenty years the Carlisle football team was defeating their Ivy League opponents and in the process changing the way the game was played.

Sally Jenkins gives this story of unlikely champions a breathtaking immediacy. We see the legendary Jim Thorpe kicking a winning field goal, watch an injured Dwight D. Eisenhower limping off the field, and follow the glorious rise of Coach Glenn “Pop” Warner as well as his unexpected fall from grace.

The Real All Americans is about the end of a culture and the birth of a game that has thrilled Americans for generations. It is an inspiring reminder of the extraordinary things that can be achieved when we set aside our differences and embrace a common purpose. [Amazon]