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Bill Simmons is heading back to familiar territory.
Three months after HBO announced it would be yanking his talk show Any Given Wednesday, the premium cable network is revealing at least one piece of Simmons’ next act: a feature-length documentary about the life and career of WWE legend Andre the Giant. The wide-ranging doc, which allows Simmons to flex muscles he once used for the popular 30 for 30 doc series he launched at ESPN, will explore Andre’s French upbringing along with his celebrated WWE career and entertainment world forays.
Simmons’ eponymous media group will produce alongside HBO Sports and the WWE, with Simmons personally serving as an executive producer on the project. He has tapped 30 for 30 alum Jason Hehir to direct what is expected to be an intimate portrait of a beloved but largely unknown sports figure. The project marks HBO Sports and WWE’s first partnership and will feature never-before-seen footage and revealing interviews with WWE stars, execs, friends, associates and family.
“For more than 20 years, Andre the Giant’s larger than life personality and unique charisma captured the imagination of fans around the world,” said WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon in a statement announcing the news. “I will always value our friendship, and am proud to tell the story of the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’.”
Added Simmons, “Going back to 2007 and 2008 when I was creating and developing 30 for 30 for ESPN, Andre’s story rode the top of every single sports documentary wish list I ever made. We always hear about unicorns these days – Andre was the ultimate unicorn. He’s a true legend. Everyone who ever crossed paths with him has an Andre story – and usually four or five. I’m delighted to join forces with Jason Hehir and WWE so we can capture Andre’s amazing story once and for all.”
Simmons famously joined HBO in summer 2015 and spent much of that first year or so prepping Any Given Wednesday, as well as building out his site The Ringer and his podcast network. The HBO pact was always supposed to be broader in range, however, with HBO executives interested in reclaiming some of the sports glory lost to ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. A film centered on Andre the Giant has long been in the works and seems a fitting first doc foray for Simmons post-ESPN.
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