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Published: Friday, 12/13/2013

ESPN fixing 'creative liberties' in new OSU documentary


COLUMBUS — ESPN is making late adjustments to a documentary on the rise, fall, and redemption of former Ohio State star Maurice Clarett ahead of its premiere Saturday night after the network discovered what it called inappropriate "creative liberties."

Youngstown Boys, which examines the intertwined journeys of ex-Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel and Clarett, will debut at 9 p.m. Saturday after the Heisman Trophy ceremony. It is part of ESPN’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series and the latest work of award-winning brothers Jeff and Michael Zimbalist (The Two Escobars).

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A review copy of the documentary made available to reporters — and the version shown at the film's premiere in Columbus on Thursday night — featured several instances of deceptive editing. The score on an ABC broadcast from 2002, for instance, is changed to make it seem as if Clarett — not Maurice Hall — scored the game-winning touchdown in the OSU-Michigan game that season while quotes are taken out of context. There are two examples in which file footage of Tressel speaking of quarterback Terrelle Pryor — another hyped freshman who arrived in Columbus in 2008 — are passed off as about Clarett.

“ '30 for 30' is a filmmaker-driven series," an ESPN spokesman told The Blade in an email. "Some creative liberties were taken by the storytellers that ESPN Films did not feel were appropriate and we’ve been adjusting Youngstown Boys accordingly prior to its television premiere.”

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