ESPN examined the 1990s Chicago Bulls in a celebrated documentary series and probed the fortunes of the 1970s New York Yankees in a serialized drama. Now the sports-media giant has big plans for the New York Mets.
ESPN Films plans to release “Once Upon a Time in Queens,” a four-part series on the 1986 Mets, later this year on both ESPN and ESPN Plus. The series, produced under the umbrella of the Disney unit’s “30 for 30” documentary unit, is executive produced by Jimmy Kimmel, Sal “Cousin Sal” Iacono, Kimmelot’s Scott Lonker, and MLB’s Nick Trotta. It is directed and produced by Nick Davis.
The program will tell the story of the Mets’ World Series comeback, using hours of never-before-seen footage of the team. Players featured include: Bobby Ojeda; Darryl Strawberry; manager Davey Johnson; Dwight Gooden; Keith Hernandez; Kevin Mitchell; Lenny Dykstra; Mookie Wilson; Roger McDowell; Sid Fernandez; and Wally Backman.
ESPN no doubt hopes to emulate the success of “The Last Dance,” the in-depth series about Michael Jordan’s last title run with the Chicago Bulls. The series, which ESPN released in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, captured broad enough interest that the network decided to air two different versions — one with rough language expurgated, and another with every word left intact. The company released the documentary earlier than expected, betting that the original series would help fill its schedule in a meaningful way while sports games were scuttled due to health concerns. The show premiered on ESPN in the U.S. over five weeks from April 19 through May 17, and was made available outside of the U.S. on Netflix.