Eddie Sutton documentary reaches deal with ESPN

Accompanied by members of his family, including his wife Patsy Sutton (second from left), former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton (center) waves to the crowd at halftime of a game against Texas A&M Feb. 21, 2006, in Stillwater. Sutton was being honored by the school for his long coaching career. 

STILLWATER, Okla. — The documentary “Eddie” — about Oklahoma State’s legendary men’s basketball coach Eddie Sutton — finally found a home.

The film, which features the life of the late Sutton both on and off the court, signed a “primetime deal” with ESPN, per it’s Twitter account on Monday.

“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” film director Christopher Hunt said during a radio interview Monday. “Whenever we started doing this project, we’d have discussions and we always thought in the back of our heads that ESPN would be the perfect home for it.

“But early on, it didn’t look great for that. We kind of threw the idea whenever we first dreamed up the project to executives over there, or at least their film department, and we got a nicely worded email back — kind of a form letter email — declining their interest in the project.”

The documentary — which will include former players from his coaching days not just at OSU, but as well as Arkansas and Kentucky — was the headliner for the deadCenter Film Festival.

It includes interviews with influential figures in the American landscape, including former President Bill Clinton, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and national championship basketball coaches Bill Self and John Calipari.

“We kept making the movie because we knew we had a great story and had something that would be worth telling,” Hunt said. “So we kept pushing, and it’s kind of funny how things just work their way back around. … I think Eddie getting into the Hall of Fame certainly helped the movie and it’s marketability.”

Oklahoma State basketball coach Mike Boynton was excited about the news for the documentary.

“That’s awesome,” said Boynton, who has yet to see the film. “This is something that a lot of people have put a lot of work in putting together, and obviously the Hall of Fame this spring was another great moment for him and his family. And I’m excited to see it.

“I know a lot of people who’ve been working on it, and know the hours and hours and time and interviews that they put in to get this thing together. … I’m just thankful to be a part of his program, and I hope that today is a day that he’s really proud of Oklahoma State basketball.”

Hunt said the deal they inked with ESPN is for the next three months, so he knows the release will happen “sooner rather than later.” But there has not been an agreement on when the documentary will air, but it will for certain be primetime airing.

According to the film’s executive producer David Tester, who was on the radio show with Hunt, ESPN owns the rights to the film for the next few months and will be allowed to broadcast a couple of times. Tester said they are also close to finalizing a deal for the film to “live on a very major accessible platform for audiences all over … for a long-term future.”

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Elmquist is sports editor for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI LLC publication.

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