Winner 1997

Don King: Only in America

HBO Pictures, TheThomas Carter Company

This original film for television takes the tricky tack of telling the tale of a living legend—boxing promoter Don King. In less-skilled hands than those of executive producer Thomas L. Carter, producer David Blocker and director John Herzfeld, the risk of sinking into the worst kind of hyperbole or melodrama was possible, even likely. Happily, the film succeeds, even soars. The lead performance by Ving Rhames is nothing short of spectacular, and it is more than matched by a kind of stylistic inventiveness, in which the title character speaks directly to the camera from the center of a boxing ring, with scenes of his life and times projected behind him. This unique framing device practically punches the viewer with the wit, wisdom and bravado of Mr. King, and sets dramatic vignettes which follow into clear focus. Special mention is made of writer Kario Salem, whose script succeeds in capturing the rambunctiousness and rhetoric of the mellifluous Mr. King. HBO Pictures and the Thomas Carter Company have created a television movie brimming with intelligence, humor, bluster, and bravado, in perfect keeping with its subject. For this, a Peabody goes to Don King: Only in America.