The first installment of Ryan Murphy’s American Sports Story anthology series for FX will star Josh Andrés Rivera as Aaron Hernandez and Patrick Schwarzenegger as fellow former NFL star Tim Tebow. The season is based on the podcast Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc from the Boston Globe and Wondery.
The project reunites Schwarzenegger with Murphy; the actor’s first TV role was on Murphy’s Scream Queens.
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These are no new developments that happened during the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike; both castings were done in early 2023 but never confirmed by FX. Deadline reached out to the network and producing studio 20th Television about both in January-early February; the deals are believed to have closed at around that time or soon thereafter.
“We have a fairly complete set of scripts for American Sports Story by Stu Zicherman,” FX chairman John Landgraf said at TCA on January 12, noting at the time that the series is “heading toward production.”
That obviously has been delayed by the WGA strike, which started in May, and the SAG-AFTRA strike, which has been going on since July.
American Sports Story, one of two new offshoots in Murphy’s “American Story” franchise alongside American Love Story, is a scripted anthological limited series focusing on a prominent event involving a sports figure and re-examines it through the prism of today’s world, telling that story from multiple perspectives.
The first installment charts the rise and fall of NFL superstar Hernandez and explores the connections of the disparate strands of his identity, his family, his career, his suicide, and their legacy in sports and American culture.
Tebow and Hernandez were longtime friends going back before their time in the NFL. They were onetime teammates at the University of Florida, where they won the 2008 SEC Championship and went on to beat Oklahoma for the BCS Championship title. Tebow was known for looking out for Hernandez while on the team, including protecting Hernandez from being kicked off over marijuana use and helping to diffuse a situation in a bar when Hernandez got into an altercation with the bar manager. The two first met when Tebow hosted Hernandez on a recruiting trip to UF before he graduated high school.
Zicherman is executive producing with Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall and Brad Falchuk. Hernan Lopez and Marshall Lewy of Wondery executive produce alongside Linda Pizutti Henry and Ira Napoliello of the Boston Globe.
Rivera next stars in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. He recently played Chino in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story. He notably performed in the original company on the first national tour of Hamilton. Rivera is represented by Paradigm and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.
Schwarzenegger recurs on Prime Video’s breakout The Boys spinoff Gen V. He also did an arc on Prime Video’s series The Terminal List and starred in Max’s limited series The Staircase. On the feature side, Schwarzenegger was most recently seen in Stowaway. He’s repped by UTA, Management 360 and attorney Patrick Knapp of Goodman Genow.
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