'Truth' doc up to bat with Gossett


NEW YORK -- Louis Gossett Jr. has signed on as executive producer and narrator of a documentary titled "The Untold Truth" about the Negro Baseball Leagues.

The docu focuses on the history of black baseball from 1865-1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first black baseball player in the major leagues.

Gossett ("Roots") is partnering with Los Angeles-based Wrapped Prods. and its principals John Rittenour, Gregg Champion and Gary Ballen, who will executive produce the project with Gossett and secured an exclusive rights contract with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., to make the film.

Ballen, a music producer and talent manager, brought Gossett on board. Champion, a sports producer and director who has worked for Fox Sports Net, CBS, NBC and ESPN, is directing the docu, which still is seeking a distribution partner. The plan is to release the film during this year's World Series.

" 'Roots' showcased African-American history from slave trade to emancipation," Gossett said. " 'The Untold Truth' picks up the story from there and takes us on a journey that reveals the accomplishments of African-Americans from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s." He said the project was "very close to my heart" because as a kid, he met many of the first black major league players who also played for the Negro Leagues before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers during the Knothole gang pregame shows -- in which Little Leaguers got the chance to try out at Ebbets Field with Dodger players.

Champion said the film will not only focus on the untold story of the Negro Baseball Leagues but also "how jazz and baseball came together, how women influenced baseball at that time and how the economics of baseball played into black Americans succeeding in all walks of life."

The executive producers are planning to feature interviews with sports, music and entertainment celebrities in the film as well as an original soundtrack featuring rap, hip-hop, R&B, jazz and pop artists.