Barry Levinson game for '30 for 30'

ESPN also brings in Barbara Kopple for doc series

ESPN is taking a trip to the "Diner."

The network has brought on Barry Levinson to helm one of its documentaries in its "30 for 30" program.

The prolific writer-director, who has explored his native Baltimore in scripted pics such as "Avalon" and "Tin Men," will examine the Baltimore Colts' ignoble middle-of-the-night escape to Indianapolis in 1984.

"And the Band Marched On" will cover owner Robert Irsay's decision to sneak the team out of the city after a string of losing seasons; Levinson, a longtime Baltimore Colts fans, will investigate "how a fan base copes with losing the team that it loves," ESPN said, in what will be his first documentary.

The sports giant also said Monday that it had signed up several more directors as part of its ambitious program, which aims to match noted filmmakers with subjects they're passionate about.

Barbara Kopple will helm a documentary about the Steinbrenners in which she will look at the transfer of power from the polarizing Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to his children.

Kopple, known for intimate portrayals of subjects such as Woody Allen ("Wild Man Blues") and the Dixie Chicks ("Shut Up & Sing") has already begun work on the doc and will be shooting at the opening of the new Yankee Stadium on Friday.

Iconic documentary director Albert Maysles, meanwhile, will examine Muhammad Ali's 1980 bout against Larry Holmes in which the iconic heavyweight champion makes one last stab at greatness with a match against the up-and-coming Holmes. Maysles, known for groundbreaking docs like "Grey Gardens," has obtained rare footage and will chronicle both the build up to and aftermath of the boxing match, ESPN said.

And Dan Klores, director of Sundance hit "Crazy Love" who collaborated with ESPN on black basketball doc "Black Magic," will helm a picture on a subject close to the heart (and which sticks in the craw) of many New York basketball fans: Reggie Millier's famous eight-point spurt in 10 seconds in a game against the Knicks in the 1995 playoffs, and the notoriety the Pacers sharpshooter received as a result of both his play and his jousting with Knicks uber-fan Spike Lee.

Lee himself is on board to direct a picture in the ambitious ESPN program, along with noted filmmakers such as Mike Tollin and Richard Linklater.

Thirty one-hour docs on a host of broad-ranging sports topics are planned, with ESPN debuting the first films in the fall and airing new ones at regular intervals through 2010.
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