Nine for IX: 'Pat XO'
Directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters; produced by Robin Roberts
On April 18, 2012, Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in the history of NCAA basketball, did the unimaginable and announced her resignation from the University of Tennessee. On the very same day, her son, Tyler, was hired as an assistant for the Marquette women's basketball team, his first job out of college. While the sports world reeled from the news of Pat's early-onset dementia, the coach and her son quietly set out to beat this challenge just as they had every other -- with grace, humor and, most of all, each other.
"Pat XO" tells the remarkable story of Pat Summitt as it has never been told before. This raw, authentic portrait takes the camera from the filmmaker's hands and places it with those who know her best. With Tyler as the lead storyteller, we hear never-before-told recollections from assistant coaches; former players like Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Michelle Marciniak; and such admirers as Peyton Manning and Kenny Chesney. The archival footage and statistical records woven into the film provide their own insights into a woman who cared about winning but also about elevating her players and her university. If it's possible to do justice to Pat Summitt, "Pat XO" does it.
Directors' bios: Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters
In 2002, twin sisters Nancy Stern Winters and Lisa Lax became partners in Lookalike Productions, from which their first collaboration was the award-winning documentary "Emmanuel's Gift." The film highlighted the courageous efforts of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah as he fought for the rights of his 2 million fellow disabled in Ghana, West Africa.
Further projects include three prime-time specials for PBS, a documentary film with Harpo Studios on Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls as well as the films "Let It Out: The Movie," "RISE" and "Unmatched," a documentary film for ESPN's "30 for 30" series which explores the intense rivalry and remarkable friendship between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, told through their eyes.
In conjunction with Sesame Workshop and Worldwide Pants, Lookalike Productions has completed three prime-time specials for PBS -- "Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change," "Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times" and "When Families Grieve." It also produced and directed the aforementioned film with Harpo Studios about Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls, an innovative high school with the aim to discover, teach and inspire young South African girls to become a new generation of leaders.
Prior to creating Lookalike Productions, Stern Winters and Lax both enjoyed illustrious careers in network television. During her 12-year tenure as producer/director at NBC Sports and the Olympics, Lax became one of the most respected production talents in the business. In her role as head of NBC's Olympic profiles unit, Lax supervised the production of more than 500 feature stories on the world's best Olympians.
Stern Winters' remarkable talents include a vast expertise in producing live events, network television specials and scripted dramas. She was the first woman to produce the world's most famous bicycle race, the Tour de France, and the American classic, ABC's "Wide World of Sports." Displaying her versatility, Stern Winters segued into daytime television and created a new look in daytime drama as consulting producer and director for the two-time Emmy Award-winning soap opera "The City." She served as the co-executive producer for the prime-time broadcast of the "1997 Daytime Emmy Awards."
Lax and Stern Winters reside in New Jersey with their husbands and children.
Lax and Stern Winters: Personal statement
When we were approached by ESPN and Robin Roberts about making this film, we were both honored and a bit trepidatious. Not only had Pat's story been told, and told very well, but we didn't want this film to be a film about Pat's Alzheimer's disease.
Pat's illness carries with it a stigma that presumes one's ability to contribute -- one's worth -- no longer exists. The irony is Pat is working to fight that stigma by helping people understand this disease. And, in many ways, her illness is simply another remarkable chapter in an extraordinary life.
As with all films we do, we seek to find a connection. With "Pat XO," we didn't have far to look. As identical twins, we know the strength and influence of family and how one sibling's memories can fill the void of another's. As mothers, we see the miracle that is Pat's relationship with Tyler. It's what we work for and hope for. And on days when our work creates too much time and distance apart from our kids, we find comfort in knowing Pat always found a way to maintain an impenetrable bond with her son. As All-American collegiate athletes, we know what it is to be part of a sisterhood, a team that shaped who we are. And that continues to make us better people. And as former TV sports producers, we know that, as sports legends go, they don't get much bigger than Pat Summitt.
But, more than anything, as women who watched our Grandma Goldie lose herself to this terrible disease, we understand -- no matter what memories are taken -- there's always a way to connect. We are thrilled to have found our own way to tell the story of a woman whose life so deeply touches our own.
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