Disney and Brittney Griner Strike Partnership to Tell Her Story Via ESPN, ABC News, Scripted Series

Disney wants to get into the Brittney Griner business.

The inspirational WNBA All-Star, who was arrested and held in Russia in 2022 and sentenced to nine years in prison, will give Disney the exclusive rights to share her story via a documentary feature from ESPN Films, the development of a scripted series through ABC Signature and an exclusive interview with ABC News anchor Robin Roberts. Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, will also serve as an executive producer on the projects.

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“Brittney is an exceptional athlete whose hardship and resilience are nothing short of extraordinary,” said Burke Magnus, president, content, ESPN, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with her to tell the nuances of her story and feel confident that this documentary will captivate audiences everywhere.”

Disney has tried to spotlight athletes with stirring stories in the past. In 2020, the company struck a first-look deal with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to tell of his journey from the San Francisco 49ers to activism. The pact called for a documentary series developed by ESPN Films as well as a production deal that was to emphasize scripted and unscripted stories that deal with race, social injustice and the quest for equity, and work to showcase directors and producers of color.

“The last two years have been the most harrowing, transformative and illuminating period of my life, and I am grateful to be in a place now to share my story with the world,” said Brittney Griner, in a statement. “I’m proud to partner with ESPN and Disney to share this very personal story because of its incredible potential to inspire hope around the world and their proven ability to do just that.”

Griner was in February of 2022 arrested at a Moscow airport for cannabis possession and detained for months, despite outcry from sports figures and the U.S. government. The documentary, Disney said, will examine “the circumstances that led to her playing outside the U.S. despite being one of the best players in the sport to her harrowing detainment and the unwavering determination to secure her freedom, as well as her subsequent advocacy for the release of other wrongful detainees,” and will use “exclusive footage, recordings and letters to and from Griner during her time in prison.”

Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent and executive vice president of talent at Wasserman, and Jon Liebman, co-CEO of the Brillstein talent-management firm which was acquired by Wasserman in September, will serve as executive producers. “BG is a hero – across sport, culture and humanity. We are privileged to serve as a part of her life’s storytelling journey, and to partner with her and Cherelle to bring Brittney’s legacy to audiences worldwide,” the two executives said in a statement.

“We are honored that Brittney has entrusted us to share her story of hope, faith and determination across our platforms,” said Debra OConnell, president, networks and television business operations, Disney Entertainment.

Premiere dates and further details on the projects and the ABC News interview will be announced at a later date.

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