USA LIGHTS UP WITH KLORES', BERGER'S SUNDANCE ENTRY RING OF FIRE: THE EMILE GRIFFITH STORY
USA LIGHTS UP WITH KLORES', BERGER'S SUNDANCE ENTRY
RING OF FIRE: THE EMILE GRIFFITH STORY
ACQUISITION MARKS AN UNPRECENDENTED MOVE FOR CABLER
A Film of Love, Violence and Redemption
New York, NY -- January 24, 2005 - For the first time in its history, USA Network has staked their claim on Sundance. Bonnie Hammer, President of USA Network and SCI FI Channel, announced today that she had obtained domestic rights to the highly touted Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story, directed by Dan Klores and Ron Berger, which premiered on Saturday in the Doc. Competition. A moving story of love, violence and redemption, the film chronicles the life of six-time world boxing champion Emile Griffith, who in 1962 killed another fighter in the ring. The bout had a lasting impact on not only the sport, but also on the media and politics of the day. Klores and Berger's first film, "The Boys of 2nd Street Park" also counted Sundance as its world premiere and was released to much acclaim in 2003.
The film is slated for 2005, according to Hammer.
"As soon as I experienced the raw intensity of this film, with its heartbreaking portrayal of a deeply flawed hero, I knew we had to have it," said Hammer. "Its haunting treatment of a world champion's sexuality, the subtexts of humiliation and the fear he had to endure, made me fall in love with it."
Ring of Fire explores the events of Griffith's life through compelling archival footage, interviews with champion boxers, journalists, historians and most movingly through the reactions of members from both families. The film includes interviews with Paret's wife and son as well as some noted journalists and boxers of the day including Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill, Neal Gabler, the late Jack Newfield, Charles Kaiser, Carmen Basilio, Jose Torres, Gene Fullmer and Juan LaPorte.
"We were extraordinarily pleased by the enthusiasm and magnetic energy of Jeff Zucker, Bonnie Hammer and the NBC Universal family at our premiere at Sundance ? so this became an easy decision for us," said Klores.
Griffith, who immigrated to New York City from the Virgin Islands in the late 1950s, quickly became a serious welterweight contender after winning a National Golden Glove championship. He became a rising star when he won the title from Paret, an illiterate Cuban exile who shared a huge boxing future with Griffith.
The film's drama begins to unfold even before the bell rings. At the afternoon weigh-in of their rubber match, Paret stood beside his challenger, whispered in Griffith's ear "maric?n," the Spanish word for "faggot." Griffith lunged at the Cuban champion in front of shocked onlookers, setting the stage for a brutal bout and a lifetime of haunting memories.
Klores recently set up Shoot the Moon Productions (Variety. December 15, 2004). Credits range from Warner Bros. "City by the Sea" to "Viva Baseball," a feature-length documentary on the history of Latinos in baseball, which he's also directing, that is slated to air on Spike TV in September 2005. He has also written an off-Broadway play "Little Doc", which is being produced by the Naked Angels Theater Group. The play goes into workshop in the fall.
Klores is repped by Endeavor. Phil Raskind negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.
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