A recent, generally well-received revival of Jason Miller's Pulitzer Prize winning drama, That Championship Season, by Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theater may have come and gone without much notice, but the play isn't disappearing so quickly from public view. On June 6, Showtime cable network will air a new TV-movie version of the piece, directed by and starring Paul Sorvino.
Season tells of the 20th reunion of a championship high school basketball team. All the players are now taking sides in local politics, while hoping not to upset their beloved, inspirational but morally-suspect and ailing coach.
According to a Showtime spokesperson, a host of actors, some Chicago based, will flank Sorvino's gung-ho, racist coach, including Gary Sinese (The Grapes of Wrath), Terry Kinney, Tony Shalhoub and Vincent D'Onofrio. After its premiere, the telemovie will air a few more times in June.
Sorvino starred in the show on Broadway as well as in Jason Miller's 1982 film version of the drama.
Originally produced at the Public Theater in 1972, Season transferred to Broadway later that year and played a total of 844 performances on and Off-Broadway. The original cast featured Walter McGinn, Charles Durning, Michael McGuire, Paul Sorvino and Richard A. Dysart. James Gammon, Dennis Boutsikaris and Dylan Baker starred in the recent Second Stage revival, directed by Scott Ellis. In a transcript of a January press conference Q&A, provided to PBOL by Showtime, actor Kinney said of Season, "This is the kind of piece you don't see anymore, where you get to see the rituals that men do that help them stay where they are, which is this sort of an adolescent hero / Peter Pan phase that is slowly, quietly drowning them, and yet they just keep rallying around it, because they don't have anything to replace it with. It's quite sad, and it's also kind of an epiphany to watch, because... you get to see something that you don't want to be."
Another notable American drama, Lawrence & Lee's Inherit The Wind, will also get the Showtime telemovie treatment, starting May 29. Last revived on Broadway with George C. Scott as the defense lawyer, Wind tells of a teacher arrested for teaching the theory of evolution in his classroom. The telepic stars Scott and Jack Lemmon, with Lemmon playing defense attorney Drummond and Scott starring as boisterous Brady.