Writer/director Derek Cianfrance is one of Hollywood’s hottest indie filmmakers. His latest film, The Place Beyond the Pines, became a solid hit for Focus Features this spring. Now, the studio wants to keep a hold on the filmmaker (whose credits also include the Oscar-nominated drama Blue Valentine) and signed him today to direct an adaptation of ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun, which chronicles the formation of the sports network and television empire.
The book, from James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, features interviews from dozens of key figures at ESPN, such as Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Chris Berman. Between the book’s 750-page length and its narrative being an oral history coming from an extensive variety of sources, adapting it into a manageable feature-length film is a challenge – even for a filmmaker whose last film featured three protagonists and an ambitious narrative structure. Fox picked up the bestseller in 2011 and struggled to find a scribe to turn the doorstop into a cohesive story.
Better known for his brooding dramas, Derek Cianfrance has dabbled in directing commercials for Dick’s Sporting Goods, as well as documentaries focused on the worlds of amateur basketball and mixed martial arts. Although he has doubled as a writer and director for all of his films, there is no word on whether he will adapt the book into a screenplay. Currently, the Blue Valentine director is finishing up work on Metalhead and will soon be busy at for Dreamworks working on an adaptation of another bestseller: The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman.
Since the director has teamed up with Ryan Gosling (who looks eerily like Cianfrance) for his last two features, don’t be surprised if the Drive actor turns up as one of the network’s earliest anchors in ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun.