Las Vegas Sun

July 19, 2019

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Proposed movie on UNLV coach Tark may become series, son says

Jerry Tarkanian Inducted into the Hall of Fame

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian receives a standing ovation during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass.

A movie script by an Academy Award-winning writer about former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian ran a little long.

So the writer, Shawn Christensen, is turning it into a dramatic series that will be shopped around to outlets such as Showtime and other cable and streaming providers, the late coach’s son Danny Tarkanian, said.

Jerry Tarkanian

UNLV players Moses Scurry, left, and Anderson Hunt hug coach Jerry Tarkanian after their 103-73 victory over Duke in the NCAA Final Four Championship game, April 2, 1990, in Denver. Launch slideshow »

Tarkanian, speaking on Nevada Newsmakers, said there was an overabundance of material after Christensen finished the movie script. Christensen won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for his 2012 film “Curfew.”

“They did an initial draft and it was very long. It was going to be a five-hour deal, and they tried to cut it down,” Tarkanian said. Instead, the decision was made to expand it and pitch it as a series, he said.

The pilot is done or nearly done, Tarkanian said. “I’m very anxious to see it,” he said.

Jerry Tarkanian coached at UNLV from 1973 to 1992, leading the Rebels four Final Four appearances and a national championship in 1990.

His son said he and Christensen have some differences of opinion on the script.

“He wants to talk more about old Las Vegas and the alleged mobs that were running it and so forth and how it would change as a background of what my father did, working with the inner-city kids and overcoming a lot of obstacles,” Tarkanian said. “We’ve talked about the NCAA, and I’d like to see more focus on that. Hopefully there will be enough in it that will satisfy our family.”

Jerry Tarkanian, who died in 2015, had a running feud with the NCAA. He ended up getting a $2.5 million settlement from the NCAA in 1998 after suing the organization for allegedly trying to ruin his coaching career.

Danny Tarkanian said his mother, Lois Tarkanian, urged his father not to give up the fight against the NCAA.

“My dad fought the NCAA, which is the biggest, most powerful athletic organization in the country, and he took it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. No one has done that,” he said.

Danny Tarkanian, who was a star football player at Bishop Gorman High and was expected to play at UNR, instead played basketball at UNLV for his father from 1981 to 1984. He was the team captain and starting point guard at UNLV.