Derek Jeter Docuseries Director Names the One Thing His Subject Was Reluctant to Discuss: ‘Alex’
Randy Wilkins, who directed the upcoming Derek Jeter ESPN Films documentary series “The Captain,” had one word to describe the topic he had to drag out of the stoic Hall-of-Fame shortstop: “Alex.”
New York Yankees fans in attendance at the June 12 Tribeca Festival Q&A following the first episode’s premiere got a kick out of that one. Jeter, who sat calmly on the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center stage beside Wilkins, perhaps did not. Wilkins, of course, was referring to Alex Rodriguez, an all-time-great Major League Baseball infielder in his own right. Jeter and A-Rod famously did not get along after the Yankees signed Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers star Rodriguez (whom many baseball pundits believed to be the superior shortstop).
Jeter held his literal ground on the left side of the infield: A-Rod switched positions to third base, and what had been an easy friendship forged at All-Star Games was never the same. So yeah, just wait for Episode 3 when we get into all of that.
Wilkins said there wasn’t much that the notoriously private Jeter would not discuss for his cameras, but admitted there were some “tabloid-type things” he did not ask Number 2. (Read: Women.)
A lifelong Yankees fan, Wilkins has said Jeter was his favorite player of all time. He got the directing gig after his mentor (and Jeter’s first choice), Spike Lee, was unavailable due to work on his own ESPN Colin Kapernick docuseries. Lee is an executive producer on “The Captain,” as is the Jeter-owned The Players’ Tribune. Much like basketball G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan and his own excellent Netflix docuseries, “The Last Dance,” Jeter likely had some creative control here. (You could probably argue more than “some.”)
Alex Rodriguez joins the New York Yankees
Wilkins spent more than 30 hours interviewing Jeter for the project. Wilkins also interviewed Jeter’s parents and sister; his wife, Hannah; Jeter’s former teammates Roger Clemens, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Darryl Strawberry, and Bernie Williams; their ex-manager Joe Torre, as well as hip-hop artists Fat Joe and Jadakiss, among others.
During a party at the Roxy ahead of the screening, IndieWire asked Wilkins how many hours of footage had to be cut down to seven; he said he couldn’t even count. During the post-screening Q&A, Wilkins said he could have easily made nine or 10 episodes. We’d have watched.
Again, mark your calendar for that A-Rod episode. That’s as appointment-TV as it gets ahead of September for any New York Yankees fan.
“The Captain” debuts on ESPN and ESPN+ on Monday, July 18 at 10 p.m. ET immediately after the MLB All-Star Home Run Derby. The loglines — and the TV/streaming schedule — for all seven episodes are below.
- Episode 1 (Monday, July 18, 10 p.m. ET After MLB All-Star Home Run Derby): Jeter’s upbringing as a biracial kid in the Midwest and his journey to the major leagues. This episode features never-before-seen footage of Jeter getting drafted by the New York Yankees.
- Episode 2 (Thursday, July 21, 9 p.m. ET): Jeter has an instant impact on the Yankees as he captures a title in his first season as a pro. This catapults him to superstardom but fame comes with a price. Jeter reveals the privileges and perils of fame. But through it all, Jeter becomes a leader on a team that is considered by many to be the greatest in the history of the game, the 1998 Yankees.
- Episode 3 (Thursday, July 28, 9 p.m. ET): The importance of loyalty and trust to Jeter as the Yankees cap off a threepeat beating the Mets, and his friendship with Alex Rodriguez is changed.
- Episode 4 (Thursday, July 28, 10 p.m. ET): The Yankees dynasty ends and we explore 9/11’s impact on New York. The Yankees and Red Sox’s ancient blood feud is decided in an epic Game 7. Team dynamics change with the addition of new players and personalities.
- Episode 5 (Thursday, August 4, 9 p.m. ET): The Yankees and Jeter suffer the most historic loss in baseball history. Jeter’s identity is under attack as he faces challenges in the press, on the field and in his clubhouse.
- Episode 6 (Thursday, August 4, 10 p.m. ET): Jeter wins his fifth and final World Series and celebrates his 3,000th hit, but it’s not all smooth sailing for this aging superstar. As his career begins to come to an end, he goes through a very public and difficult contract negotiation that changes his relationship with the Yankees. For the first time ever, Jeter’s wife Hannah gives us the backstory of their relationship and a behind-the-scenes look at Jeter’s recovery from a career-altering injury.
- Episode 7 (Thursday, August 11, 10 p.m. ET): Jeter and Hannah share intimate details of their difficult journey on the way to parenthood. Jeter achieves another dream by becoming the owner of the Marlins, but his journey is fraught with criticism and unfinished business.
“The Captain” is executive produced by Spike Lee, Mike Tollin, Mandalay Sports Media, Excel Sports Management’s media arm Excel Media, and Connor Schell, in association with The Players’ Tribune and Major League Baseball.
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