Hulus Behind The Mask Stays On For Another Series

While the inaugural series of the documentary show is still 4 episodes from completion (with the final instalment set to come online on 17 December), the impact of the alternative sporting insight brought by Behind the Mask has clearly been felt by Hulu, as the online streaming giant confirmed a renewal of the format.

hulu_behind_the_mask_premiereThe show from Occupant Entertainment will now be back for a second season (rumoured to be premiering on Hulu and Hulu Plus in the latter half of 2014), and continuing the familiarity with viewers will cover the unique worlds of professional-level, minor league, college, and high school sports mascot-ry and the people beneath those large costumes for a period of 10 episodes.

Continuing the successful format, season 2 of Behind the Mask will be led by filmmaker Josh Greenbaum (who is also developing upcoming Netflix original documentary film The Short Game, based on the lives of child golf prodigies), while the executive production tasks will again fall to Occupant Entertainment representatives Felipe Marino, Joe Neurauter, and Kate Sharp.

One key change, though, will be what is seen on-screen, as Hulu confirm that the show will look at ‘three new characters’ in the second season (one each at high school, college and professional sport levels in America).

Head of development for Hulu Originals Charlotte Koh said of the renewal: “We are very much looking forward to working with Josh and Occupant on another season of Behind the Mask. Josh’s perceptive and empathetic storytelling is insightful and entertaining. He turns the mascots into everyday superheroes who we can all relate to and root for.”

While the big-eyed cartoon/animal faces are going to be changing, the show itself will not, so coming off what so far appears to be a successful first season, could the online-exclusive series be set to turn into a regular annual feature with thousands of costumed people to choose from as their stars? After all, it is an industry ripe with talent that is just waiting to be showcased:

Hulu Head Behind The Mask For Sports Mascot Documentary

The domain of ‘sports documentaries’ is one which most broadcasters can claim to have an active stake in, but it is a market that in recent years has become synonymous with ESPN‘s successful ’30 for 30′ series. A fresh challenger at least for a total of one documentary, however, could be online streaming service Hulu, who have announced the release date of original series Behind the Mask.

behind_the_mask_huluThe title could of course mean plenty of things both inside or out of a sporting context, but in this case refers to a forgotten hero usually ever-present in American and international sporting events – the full-costumed mascot.

The 10-part documentary series will follow the lives of a number of people who can list ‘sports mascot’ as thier occupation, including the duties and expectations in what is widely regarded as the least ‘serious’ side of a sporting event.

Featured mascots will be seen on 4 levelsof sporting competition in the USA, focusing on people inside Lebanon High School’s ‘Rooty the Cedar Tree’, college mascot ‘Hey Reb!’ of UNLV, the AHL minor league hockey franchise Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ ‘Tux’, and representing the NBA franchise the Milwaukee Bucks, ‘Bango’.

Trailers for the show released by Hulu (the first of which came earlier this week) can be seen below, with a launch for the full series set to begin with the first episode on Tuesday 29 October. Will Behind the Mask get the online stadiums to erupt?

ESPN Cancel Concussion Documentary On NFL Request

Sports network ESPN have had stand-out successes in their history (and in particular over recent years) with a line of documentary films on sport (namely the 30 for 30 series), but one that will not be joining their collection is PBS Frontline collaboration League of Denial, a piece aiming to investigate the reaction to concussions by top-level american football league the NFL (National Football League).

nfl_tackle_49ers_packersFirst announced as a PBS/ESPN joint production in November, League of Denial was planned to be a franchise of investigation looking at the topic through a documentary as well as reports through both broadcaster’s websites and a book co-written by ESPN writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru.

However, it appears now as though the dedicated sports broadcasters will not be participating in the project despite 9 months of planning and their attatchment naturally being a key draw to any plans PBS may have had.

An explanation given by the sports network in their public statement on the matter on Thursday (22 August) was fairly inconclusive, noting: “Because ESPN is neither producing nor exercising editorial control over the Frontline documentaries, there will be no co-branding involving ESPN on the documentaries or their marketing materials. The use of ESPN’s marks could incorrectly imply that we have editorial control. As we have in the past, we will continue to cover the concussion story through our own reporting.”

That statement will naturally not convince many people, with the popular belief being that the NFL intervened on account of ESPN’s broadcasting deal with them (one worth $15.2b), although the league have automatically taken a defensive stance, with spokesman Greg Aiello stating: “At no time did we formally or informally ask them to divorce themselves from the project. We know the movie was happening and the book was happening, and we respond to them as best we can. We deny that we pressured them.”

External reactions to the withdrawal have been negative, with The New York Times reporting of a meeting that NFL executives held with their ESPN counterparts a fortnight ago: “At the combative meeting, the people said, league officials conveyed their displeasure with the direction of the documentary, which is expected to describe a narrative that has been captured in various news reports over the past decade:
the league turning a blind eye to evidence that players were sustaining brain trauma on the field that could lead to profound, long-term cognitive disability.”

As the most extreme comments toward the NFL have seen them branded ‘conspicuously evil’, it remains to be seen whether the documentary will make it to air and what the reactions will be from the three main parties, so the current question is whether the NFL would be vindicated in protecting themselves against slander, or if the accusations surrounding the league’s handling of concussions in the sport would be fair. On a related note, the level of protection players recieve in american football, discuss:


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