Everybody who lives in Liberty City knows the best ticket out of the rough, poor Miami neighborhood is a football scholarship, and Miami Northwestern High School has produced 19 NFL players. In 2001 all eyes were on senior linebacker Taurean Charles, including those of filmmaker Todd Lubin, whose Year of the Bull (Showtime, Sept. 7) follows the All-America for the season, interviewing the 6'3", 230-pound Charles and his widowed mother, twin sister, teachers, coaches, college scouts and community boosters. By day Charles struggles to raise his SAT scores to the NCAA-required 820. By night he is a star; one newscaster refers to the 17-year-old team captain as "Taurean Charles: the man, the myth." Rarely have the tensions and pressures endured by young athletes been as effectively conveyed as they are here, and while the film ends with Charles's enrolling at Florida, there's an unfortunate postscript: He's currently suspended from the team after twice being arrested for battery. --Nancy Ramsey
Just as in real life, what happens in Vegas will not actually stay in Vegas. Emboldened by the popularity of its World Series of Poker broadcasts and last year's pro football drama, Playmakers, ESPN is anteing up for another scripted series, this one set in Sin City. Tilt, which will premiere in January and be written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien (who wrote the 1998 poker movie, Rounders), delves into the lives of six card sharks. "Given the high stakes, drama and characters who often have unscrupulous backgrounds, poker lends itself to great, gritty storytelling," says ESPN executive vice president Mark Shapiro. And poker players aren't likely to whine that their wholesome image is being corrupted. "All of the elements of Vegas will be present," Shapiro says of Tilt. "This will be for mature audiences."