ESPN Announces Start of Production on Six-Part Reality Series Varsity Inc.
First Series from New ESPN Content Development Unit to Focus on Perennial Football Power West Monroe (La.) High School
Production has begun for a new six-part (four hours) reality series on ESPN, Varsity Inc. Presented by Old Spice, chronicling the 2007 season of the West Monroe (La.) High School Rebels - and the town's obsession with the game - as they fight to stay atop the Louisiana football heap. The series represents the first comprehensive effort from the newly established ESPN Content Development (ECD) unit. Produced in conjunction with Jason Sciavicco (the creator of MTV's Two-a-Days) and his company Horizon Entertainment, Varsity Inc., is tentatively scheduled to debut Thursday, Nov. 29 at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and generally will be aired Thursdays at 11 p.m. through December 27. Additional content support is planned for ESPN360.com and ESPN.com with re-airs slated for ESPNU.
"Varsity Inc. hits at the core of what ECD endeavors will be going forward: it's a compelling, impassioned story that goes beyond just sports, and offers high quality, multi-purpose content for a variety of our businesses," said Keith Clinkscales, ESPN senior vice president, content development and enterprises.
Sciavicco, creator and executive producer for the series, added, "Football is an undeniable presence in our culture; Varsity Inc. depicts what it's like to play the game at a consistently high level. This series will give viewers an in-depth look at the stress, the drama and the dedication these coaches and kids experience. It's amazing to see how far they will push themselves to achieve success both on and off the field."
West Monroe Rebels
Currently filming, the series will capture the frenzy and the fervor surrounding the West Monroe Rebels as well as the personal struggles and triumphs of the players and coaches themselves. The team is one of the most successful in Division 1-5A having won six state championships and two national crowns since 1993. Called "West Monroe Mania," on Friday nights in the fall, the stores close down early and everyone's either tailgating or talking strategy as game time grows near. On average, some 13,757 fans fill the Rebels' home stadium each game, several hundreds more than the town population of West Monroe.
ESPN CONTENT DEVELOPMENT
The new ESPN Content Development (ECD) unit (formerly ESPN Original Entertainment) serves as the incubator of original content for placement throughout ESPN Inc.'s vast media portfolios. Charged with developing and producing original content, ECD programming includes award-winning documentaries, original movies, reality series, news and information programs, the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, scripted and unscripted dramatic series and groundbreaking televised events such as ESPN owned-events The X Games � the world's leading brand in actions sports events and competition, and The ESPYs which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. ECD continues to plant itself firmly on the cutting edge of sports and entertainment television, and event creation. With projects such as the four-hour, two-part film event Black Magic and the all-access documentary Bobby V in Japan slated for Spring 2008, ECD serves both the passionate sports fan and the more casual viewer, and strives to expand ESPN's already industry-leading offerings in live events and sports news & information programming.
Horizon Entertainment was created by Emmy� Award winning television producer Jason Sciavicco. Established in 2007 and experienced in reality-based series and documentaries, Horizon Entertainment can shift a fantastic idea from concept to reality. The company is represented by the William Morris Agency, giving Horizon Entertainment the ability to solicit and secure network homes for projects, develop brand identities and ancillary opportunities. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Horizon Entertainment offers an array of producing, consulting and production services.