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ESPN may acquire ‘The Contender’

ESPN said Monday it was close to acquiring the rights for a second season of “The Contender,” the Mark Burnett-Sylvester Stallone boxing reality series that drew poor ratings on NBC last season.

It was unclear whether Stallone would work on a second season of “The Contender” if it is acquired by ESPN. Some details remain to be worked out, the network said.

Officials from Mark Burnett Prods. and co-producer DreamWorks couldn’t be reached for comment on the future of “The Contender.”

If the show finds its way to ESPN, it could fit into the network’s other plans for dramatic series, said Will Staeger, ESPN Original Entertainment executive producer. ESPN, off the success of “Playmakers” and “Tilt,” could debut one or two more dramatic series this year.

“It’s very possible that (“The Contender”) could be paired with a boxing dramatic series,” Staeger said.

Meanwhile, ESPN has acquired the rights to the recent book “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning.”

The Jonathan Mahler book tells the story of the 1977 New York Yankees, which faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series that year. But first the team -- and the city -- had to survive the drama surrounding the Son of Sam killings, a blackout that was followed by arson and other crimes, and the advent of disco. The book follows the exploits of the Yankees -- including Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson and manager Billy Martin -- as well as former New York Mayors Ed Koch and Abe Beame.

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