EXCLUSIVE: Alcon Entertainment has joined RTG Features and May 3rd Films for their upcoming docuseries on legendary basketball coach John Thompson.
Alcon is co-financing and co-producing alongside RTG, the sister studio to global basketball media leader Slam, with Kirk Fraser (ESPN 30 for 30‘s Without Bias) directing and producing via his company, May 3rd. Also coming aboard the project as writer and creative producer is Jesse Washington, who collaborated with Thompson on his autobiography, I Came As a Shadow.
Passing away in late 2020, aged 78, Thompson was a pioneer credited with opening the door for a generation of African-American head coaches, with his commitment to education, racial justice and women’s rights setting him apart from his peers. He coached the Georgetown University men’s basketball team for almost 30 years, taking them to three Final Four appearances and one national championship, with his 1984 title being the first claimed by a Black head coach in college basketball. Notable players from Thompson’s Georgetown teams included Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. The coach was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
The series, which has been in production since June 2019, will include interviews with former players, journalists and influential leaders, as well as D.C. icons, also featuring the last interviews Thompson ever gave. Robanna Enterprises—a company formed by Coach Thompson’s three children, Tiffany Thompson, Ronny Thompson and John Thompson III, to administer their father’s intellectual property rights—is an exec producer on the series. Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, the co-founders and co-CEOs of Alcon Entertainment, have a long history with the Thompson family that enhances their commitment to the project.
“We are deeply honored to bring Coach Thompson’s incredible story as a coach, educator and cultural icon to the screen,” said the pair.
“Coach Thompson was a father figure to so many people,” added Fraser and RTG’s Aron Phillips, “and we’re honored we get to share his story with the world.”
Washington is an author, journalist and senior writer at ESPN’s Andscape, formerly known as The Undefeated. He was voted one of the country’s top sports columnists by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2020 and 2021, and has won multiple best-story awards from the National Association of Black Journalists. In 2021, he made his directorial debut with Bearing Witness: A Portrait of Darnella Frazier, a documentary about the teen who filmed the murder of George Floyd.
Kosove and Johnson founded Alcon Entertainment in 1997 with partner Frederick W. Smith, the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of FedEx. The company has financed and produced, or co-financed and co-produced, 34 films to date, including Best Picture nominee The Blind Side, which earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar for Best Actress; the critically acclaimed Blade Runner 2049, starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, which won two Academy Awards and received an additional three nominations; and The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. In 2015, Alcon created the subdivision Alcon Television Group which has been behind projects including the hit sci-fi series The Expanse, and the animated children’s series Pete the Cat, a co-production with Amazon Studios, based on the bestselling children’s book series.
Alcon’s upcoming projects include an animated film adaptation of the beloved cartoon strip Garfield from director Mark Dindal (The Emperor’s New Groove), which has Chris Pratt voicing the titular cat, with Samuel L. Jackson as his father, Vic.