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Tuesday, July 9, 2002
Movie to focus on 10 tough days of training camp

Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. -- First it was basketball coach Bob Knight. Now ESPN is focusing its cameras on football coach Bear Bryant.

The network said Tuesday its second original made-for-television movie will be about the 35 players who endured Bryant's preseason training camp at Texas A&M in the mid-1950s.

''The Junction Boys: How Ten Days in Hell with Bear Bryant Forged A Championship Team,'' will air Dec. 14 after the Heisman Trophy presentation.

The movie is based on the book by Jim Dent. No decisions on casting or shooting locations have been made, the network said.

Before he led Alabama to six national championships, Bryant coached at Texas A&M, beginning in 1954. That summer, the team practiced in 120-degree temperatures without food or water for eight hours for 10 consecutive days.

The 1954 team, which included future Alabama coach Gene Stallings and Jack Pardee, won just one game, but went undefeated two years later and became Southwest Conference champions.

''Bear Bryant's tactics would never have played today. He was quite brutal,'' said Michael Antinoro, senior coordinating producer of ESPN's original entertainment.

Antinoro said the ratings success of ESPN's first movie ''A Season on the Brink: A Year With Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers,'' which aired in March, led to the Bryant movie.

''Our viewers told us they liked this and would like us to do more,'' he said, adding that 20 percent of ''Brink'' viewers had never before watched ESPN.

ESPN aired two versions of the ''Brink'' movie, one of which deleted Knight's trademark cursing.

Antinoro said language isn't an issue in the Bryant movie.

''Bear Bryant sure did a little cursing, but it's not important to show the person he is,'' he said. ''The first pick was a movie about a person. This is more about a team and a coming of age picture. We see this as more of a drama than a sports story.''