"You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor." -Aristotle
Rejoice, University of Miami Hurricanes fans and local documentary aficionados: The U is getting an official sequel.
The original, which details the rise and fall of the University of Miami’s football program from the ’80s until the early ’90s, has become a sports doc cult hit and one of the most watched and talked-about documentaries aired on ESPN. Well, now the sports network has officially ordered The U: Part 2 and plans to air it later this year.
The original director and producer — Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman — the guys behind local documentary house Rakontur, will return for the sequel. In fact, filming has begun, with the crew having already sat down last week with the Dolphins’ Bryant McKinnie, a member of UM’s 2001 national championship team.
The network’s ESPN Films division has ordered a second “30 for 30” documentary on Miami’s football program following the immensely popular “The U” that aired in 2009. It focused on the fusion between the growing hip-hop culture in Miami and the swaggering football program that won four national titles between 1983 and 1991.
The working title is “The U: Part 2” and reunites “The U” director Billy Corben and producer Alfred Spellman. The documentary will air this winter as part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, and the running time is expected to be two hours.
"The original film followed the transformation from a Miami football program that went largely unnoticed to ‘The U’ and all that [associated with it] both on and off the field," said an ESPN Films spokesperson. "It became a cult classic and remains one of the most talked-about ‘30 for 30’ films we’ve ever done. But that narrative didn’t end in the early 90’s and this sequel will pick up where the original left off."
The original “The U” film was watched by 2.368 million viewers during its Dec. 12, 2009 debut, which was ESPN’s highest-rated documentary at the time. Executives at ESPN Films will tell you that more people ask about “The U” than any other documentary they’ve done.
Take, for instance, “The Fab Five.” People knew about the Fab Five. What were you able to do to take that story to another level?
Tell it from the Fab Five’s point of view, go inside that group of players, and the fact that Jalen (Rose) was going to be a key part of that telling of the story with his teammates and that group, that it’s like a chance to look at the Fab Five from the inside out instead of the outside in.
That to me is what makes “The U” (on Miami’s wild football teams) special. I think one reason people responded to it was it was The U according to The U. (Director) Billy Corben didn’t just go out and line up a bunch of critics of The U. He didn’t go out and get all the people who don’t like Miami. He wanted to tell the story, he had a very specific vision; tell the story of The U through The U, through the people who are either playing for, coached it, or are part of that program in some way.
#TheU Blu-rays have arrived @30for30
.@30for30 #TheU on iTunes, Netflix and Amazon.
On the set of #TheU: @JimmyJohnson and @BillyCorben (Taken with instagram)
@billycorben and @alfredspellman at ESPN HQ to pitch #TheU
shoot with @UncleLukeReal1 for #TheU at Bella Rose (Taken with instagram)