OWN’s iced Michael Sam docu-series, resuscitated as a documentary, has been given an airdate: December 27 at 9 PM ET. The 90-minute special follows Sam — the first openly gay football player drafted into the NFL.
The Untitled Michael Sam Project was announced with great fanfare in May; OWN would partner with Pilgrim Studios and filmmaker Amy Rice to produce the multi-part original documentary series taking an up-close look at the All-American defensive end and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year as he enters the competitive world of pro football. Cameras would follow Sam as he worked to earn his spot on the St. Louis Rams after the team drafted him all while under the intense scrutiny of being the first openly gay player in the NFL.
At the time, Oprah Winfrey said how honored she was that “Michael is trusting us with his private journey in this moment that has not only made history but will shape it forever.”
But, faster than you can say “Wonder how the NFL feels about this one?” OWN abruptly changed course. Two days after unveiling the project, the network put it on hold, after the NFL denied it had any knowledge of the project before the draft, and after some expressed concern it could be a distraction.
“After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, The Untitled Michael Sam Project has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dream of making the team,” the network explained in re the switcheroo. “We will continue to support him in his journey to earn a spot playing for the Rams.”
Sam was eventually cut by the Rams and is currently without an NFL team after being dropped from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad in October.
Eventually, the project “transitioned” into the 90-minute documentary, now titled Michael Sam. It captures the moment when Sam was drafted by the Rams, the intense media scrutiny that immediately followed, and his struggle to stay focused. Following the documentary, Winfrey will speak with Sam in his first television interview since being cut from the NFL on a special episode of Oprah Prime beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Michael Sam is produced with OWN by Pilgrim Studios and is executive produced by Craig Piligian, Nicholas Caprio and Johnny Gould. Amy Rice, Ralph Wikke and Mitch Rosa are co-executive producers. Howard Bragman is a producer.