EXCLUSIVE: The Linsanity that Jeremy Lin touched off this winter has faded, a casualty of the New York Knicks point guard’s drop in productivity and the recent knee surgery that ended his regular season.
But the surreal period in which a former bench warmer led the Knicks on a seven-game winning streak while helping a lot of headline writers show off will live on, at least if Hollywood has anything to do with it.
Lin is the subject of a documentary that is being pitched to distributors in Hollywood by agency CAA; footage is currently being assembled.
According to a person familiar with the pitch who was not authorized to talk about it publicly, the movie (no firm title yet, so let your pun-riddled imagination run wild) looks both at Lin's unlikely run in the NBA as well at his humble background. Los Angeles-born and Palo-Alto raised, Lin shone at Harvard after being passed over by recruiters at college powerhouses, then bounced around pro basketball as an undrafted free agent before landing with the Knicks. The movie will also include elements of his Christian faith.
The Lin doc is being directed by Evan Jackson Leong, Lin’s friend and a filmmaker in his own right. A former assistant to “Fast and Furious” franchise director Justin Lin (no relation), Leong previously directed a documentary about Christianity in Asia titled "1040" and also has been shooting Lin for years. (A message left at Leong's production company was not returned Wednesday afternoon.) The film will be produced by 408 Films and Endgame Entertainment, which previously produced the Oscar favorite "An Education" and the documentary "Every Little Step;" it's currently working on a documentary series about American sports for HBO.
It won’t be the first time Lin will be seen outside the precincts of SportsCenter. Lin is active on YouTube, regularly posting videos to his own account. In addition, a series of "Day in the Life" videos, made with Leong's help when Lin was still a struggling backup with the Golden State Warriors, became a viral sensation after No. 17 hit it big with the Knicks.
Lin proved endlessly fascinating when he came out of nowhere earlier this year, showing unbridled enthusiasm while netting at least 20 points and seven assists in his first five starts. But does that interest live on, and will it be enough to sustain a theatrical or high-profile television documentary? Lin’s basketball future is also cloudy — he’s a free agent after this year — so we’ll see if the movie can, Lin-style, get by on large amounts of grit. Spike Lee, if ever there was a film project calling your name ....
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Jeremy Lin. Credit: Getty Images