Archive for November 2, 2010

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John Singleton 

John Singleton

Few athletes in Olympic history have reached such heights and depths as Marion Jones. After starring at the University of North Carolina and winning gold at the 1997 and ’99 World Track and Field Championships, her rise to the top culminated at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. There, she captivated the world with her beauty, style and athletic dominance, sprinting and jumping to three gold medals and two bronze. Eventually, though, her accomplishments and her reputation would be tarnished. For years, Jones denied the increasing speculation that she used performance-enhancing drugs. But in October 2007, she finally admitted what so many had long suspected — that she had indeed used steroids. Jones was sentenced to six months in prison for lying to federal investigators and soon saw her Olympic achievements disqualified. Now a free woman, Jones is running in a new direction in life and taking time to reflect. Oscar-nominated director John Singleton will focus on the evolution of Marion Jones.

Personal Statement

I’ve always been a track enthusiast. I used to run track in high school and, actually, got offered a track scholarship from the Pomona-Pitzer colleges, but I decided to go to USC and study film instead. But it’s always been an interest in me – running and runners and that whole drive to hone the body to perfection, to gain the most speed and the competition of speed amongst runners. So, this is just a natural topic for me.

My film on Marion Jones will chronicle the arc of her long journey through becoming a world class athlete at the top of her game, at the top of the world stage, with all eyes of every country and the eyes of the whole athletic world on her for a positive reason to a moment in time in which she had those same eyes on her for a much darker reason. It’s going to be a journey with and an exploration of a person who is still evolving and who, I think, is a symbol more so than any other sports figure out right now of where sports has gone and where it is going. Marion Jones was jailed for 6 months, in part, for lying to investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs. I thought it was very interesting that this black woman – gotta call it what it is – was jailed where few if any other athletes, no matter the sport, have ever served any time for their involvement with steroids.

For me, this is a story that transcends the world of track and athletics because this is that moment in time where you tell even your own children that nothing good comes from lying, you should always tell the truth. The film will be based on that one moment in which Marion had an opportunity to tell the truth, where her life was in one place and then, after that moment, her life went into a whole other place. I think that this happening to her is going to move her into a whole other zone in terms of someone to look to for a different form of heroism. The best sports stories are always those that start in athletics and then transcend it and are almost a commentary on the human condition and that’s what I think that this story is.