Robert De Niro, once a raging bull, will be a ranting coach as it was announced today that the Academy Award-winner has signed on to play former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi in a motion picture scheduled for release on the weekend between the AFC and NFC title games and the Super Bowl in 2012.
The movie, tentatively named “Lombardi,” will be developed by ESPN Films, Andell Entertainment and the NFL. The production team includes Tribeca Productions’ Jane Rosenthal.
Eric Roth, who wrote “Forest Gump” and “The Good Shepherd,” has been hired to write it up. CAA — that’s Creative Artists Agency, not the Colonial Athletic Association — is aligned with ESPN to bring De Niro, Roth and Rosenthal.
A director has not been picked yet for the project.
ESPN/Andell have Lombardi’s life story rights through his estate and Vincent Lombardi, Jr. as well as the rights to the renowned sports book “Instant Replay” written by former Packers great Jerry Kramer and the late Dick Schaap.
“Having an icon portray an icon on film is amazing, and with a writer as talented as Eric working on the script, the results could be magical for NFL fans,” said Ron Semiao, senior vice president, ESPN Films – Motion Pictures.
“There are few actors who could accurately portray the fire, passion and grit of Lombardi and we’re thrilled to have Robert De Niro on our team,” said Charles Coplin, the NFL’s vice president of programming. “With the addition of De Niro, Eric and Tribeca Productions, we have a deep bench to produce a film worthy of the legendary coach and American icon.”
ESPN says “Lombardi” will span from 1959, when he was giving his first opportunity to be a head coach, to him landing with the Packers and transforming them into a five-time NFL champion. Lombardi’s Packers also won the first two Super Bowls ever played, including the first at the Coliseum.