Nevada Newsmakers

News - March 13, 2019 - by Ray Hagar

By Ray Hagar

Nevada Newsmakers

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, said the coach's son, Danny Tarkanian.

Danny 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," Danny Tarkanian said about the script. "It was going to be a five-hour deal and they tried to cut it down. Then they said, well, maybe they can do two movies on it. And finally, we decided -- with the way the society is going -- (to go with) these series of shows being shown on Netflix, Showtime and those things. So they are writing a series of these episodes now where maybe they can get nine hours in and be able to get everything in that he wants."

Of course, Coach Tarkanian is an icon of Las Vegas, winning the NCAA national championship at UNLV in 1990 and enjoying a career that spanned five decades and 31 seasons at three schools.

Progress is being made on the series about Coach Tarkanian, his son told Nevada Newsmakers host Sam Shad..

"He (Christensen) supposedly has the pilot done or it will be done this week, I've been told," Danny Tarkanian said. "I'll be able to see it and then he is going to take it to some places to see where the interest is. He said it has some good interest so far ... Showtime and a couple of other places. So I am very anxious to see it."

Danny Tarkanian said he and Christensen have a small difference of opinion about 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. 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."

Coach Tarkanian died in 2015 and is considered one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time.

Yet he had a running feud with the NCAA and late in his career at UNLV, powerful members of the UNLV administration soured on him.

Tarkanian, however, ended up defeating the NCAA, winning a $2.5 million settlement in 1998 after suing the organization for trying to ruin his coaching career.

Danny Tarkanian said on Nevada Newsmakers that 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 county, and he took it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. No one has done that," Danny Tarkanian said.

"My mother forced him to do it, "Danny added. "He (Coach Tarkanian) wanted to settle the case. Then he sued the NCAA after that and won $2.5 million. My dad wanted to settle. He didn't want to fight them anymore. He wanted to give up. He told my mom it would cost too much money and she refused. She was the one that kept him going."

Danny Tarkanian played at UNLV for his father from 1981 to 1984. He originally was expected to attend the University of Nevada to play football for Coach Chris Ault out of Bishop Gorman High School, where he was the All-State quarterback on the Gaels' state-championship team.

Danny Tarkanian was the team captain and starting point guard at UNLV. The Rebels won 24 consecutive games and were ranked No. 1 in the nation during his sophomore year. He was the 8th-rounf draft pick of the San Antonio Spurs in 1984.

Danny Tarkanian lost the general election last year as a Republican candidate for Nevada's 3rd U.S. House District.