For the first time in its history, USA Network has staked their claim on Sundance. Bonnie Hammer, President of USA Network and SCI FI Channel, announced today that she had obtained domestic rights to the highly touted Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story, directed by Dan Klores and Ron Berger which premiered on Saturday in the Doc. Competition. A moving story of love, violence and redemption, the film chronicles the life of six-time world boxing champion Emile Griffith, who in 1962 killed another fighter in the ring. The bout had a lasting impact on not only the sport, but also on the media and politics of the day. Klores and Berger’s first film, “The Boys of 2nd Street Park” also counted Sundance as its world premiere and was released to much acclaim in 2003.
The film is slated for 2005, according to Hammer.
“As soon as I experienced the raw intensity of this film, with its heartbreaking portrayal of a deeply flawed hero, I knew we had to have it,” said Hammer. “Its haunting treatment of a world champion’s sexuality, the subtexts of humiliation and the fear he had to endure, made me fall in love with it.”
Ring of Fire explores the events of Griffith’s life through compelling archival footage, interviews with champion boxers, journalists, historians and most movingly through the reactions of members from both families. The film includes interviews with Paret’s wife and son as well as some noted journalists and boxers of the day including Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill, Neal Gabler, the late Jack Newfield, Charles Kaiser, Carmen Basilio, Jose Torres, Gene Fullmer and Juan LaPorte.
“We were extraordinarily pleased by the enthusiasm and magnetic energy of Jeff Zucker, Bonnie Hammer and the NBC Universal family at our premiere at Sundance – so this became an easy decision for us,” said Klores.