Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro is attached to play legendary coach Vince Lombardi in the theatrical motion picture LOMBARDI being developed by ESPN Films, Andell Entertainment and the NFL. Additionally, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Good Shepherd) has come on board the project which will chronicle Lombardi during the years he transformed the Green Bay Packers from the worst team in the National Football League into five-time NFL champions.
The producing group of ESPN Films, Andell Entertainment, the NFL and Chris Olsen will be joined by De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions. ESPN/Andell have Lombardi’s life story rights through his estate and Vincent Lombardi, Jr. as well as the rights to the renowned sports book Instant Replay written by former Packer great Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap.
“Having an icon portray an icon on film is amazing, and with a writer as talented as Eric working on the script, the results could be magical for NFL fans,” said Ron Semiao, senior vice president, ESPN Films – Motion Pictures.
Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of Tribeca Productions and the Tribeca Film Festival, said, “We’ve had an extraordinary relationship with ESPN for five years through the Tribeca Film Festival, and now we’re able to extend that association into production.”
“There are few actors who could accurately portray the fire, passion and grit of Lombardi and we’re thrilled to have Robert De Niro on our team,” said Charles Coplin, the NFL’s vice president of programming. “With the addition of De Niro, Eric and Tribeca Productions, we have a deep bench to produce a film worthy of the legendary coach and American icon.”
Current plans call for the film’s release on the weekend between the AFC and NFC Conference Championships and the Super Bowl in 2012. CAA collaborates with ESPN Films on theatrical motion picture projects and represents De Niro, Roth and Rosenthal. Discussions are taking place with directors interested in the project.
The story’s narrative arc spans from 1959 when Lombardi was given his first opportunity to be an NFL head coach, taking over the small-town Packers, then the worst team in the NFL, and runs through his transformation of a group of young, talented but undisciplined losers into five-time NFL champions. Also, the story highlights the long-standing rivalry that existed between Lombardi and legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry both of whom were assistants on the New York Giants team that lost the 1958 NFL Championship game. Friendly but always competitive, Lombardi and Landry’s coaching skills were undeniable, their personalities as unalike as possible. The story climaxes with the memorable Ice Bowl when their teams battled in temperatures that reached 13 degrees below zero. Lombardi achieved his desire of winning an unprecedented three consecutive NFL championships, a feat still not duplicated to this day. Lombardi’s Packers also won the first two Super Bowls ever played. Since 1971, the trophy awarded to the Super Bowl champion has been named the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The inspirational, compelling story of Vince Lombardi is driven by a single overarching idea: the moral imperative of paying the price to be great.