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New '85 Bears documentary airs September 7 on WTTW

A new documentary on the 1985 Bears airs Sept. 7 on WTTW (Chicago's PBS) at 8 p.m. After one full length doc on the team plus multiple books and articles, is there more to know about Chicago's favorite season?

Mike Powell/Getty Images

Is there more to know about the '85 Bears? We'll find out next Wednesday when '85: The Greatest Team in Pro Football History airs on WTTW (Chicago's PBS) at 8 p.m., September 7th.

Along with co-producer Otis Wilson, the new documentary features 34 interviews, including Wilson, Mike Ditka, and 10 other members of the team: Jim Covert, Gary Fencik, Willie Gault, Dan Hampton, Dennis McKinnon, Jim McMahon, Steve McMichael, Mike Singletary, Matt Suhey, and Keith Van Horne.

Here's a teaser:

And here is a five-and-a-half minute sizzle reel and a press release. (The airing is only in the Chicago market. A wide-release date is coming soon.)

I suspect the question most Bears fans will have about this documentary is how it differs from the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary The '85 Bears, released in February.

The heart of the 30 for 30 was the relationship between Buddy Ryan and his defensive stars. Sickly in the film, Ryan died four months after its release, adding further poignance to that movie's most touching scenes. The new documentary was announced more than a year before the 30 for 30 aired -- I wrote about it in January 2015 -- and though I have not seen it, I have seen the interview list, and the members of the '85 Bears involved in this one is what immediately stands out.

Both films interviewed Covert, Fencik, Hampton, McMahon, McMichael, Singletary, Suhey, and Wilson. The 30 for 30 doc had Kevin Butler and Richard Dent. This doc has Gault, McKinnon, and Van Horne. Both films have Dan Marino, but this one also has Phil Simms, who lost to the Bears in the playoffs, then-strength coach Clyde Emrich, then-general manager Jerry Vainisi, and Jarrett Payton, son of Walter. That list of players plus other key figures of the day should be enough to intrigue viewers.

The new documentary will also have a greater celebrity presence than the 30 for 30, with no less than Barack Obama headlining a group that includes Rahm Emanuel, Jesse Jackson, Joe Mantangna, Jeremy Piven, George Wendt, and yes, Bill Murray. And then there are the journalists, including Bill Kurtis, Rick Telander, Michael Wilbon, and co-producer Chris Myers.

Ultimately, sports documentaries live and die with the information they provide -- the unearthed nuggets. The 30 for 30 was great for the Buddy Ryan material, both the letter that the defensive players wrote George Halas in 1981 to save Ryan's job, and the letter Ryan wrote to the players in October 2015 calling them his heroes.

We'll see what nuggets '85 holds.

The film is directed and co-produced by Scott Prestin ("John Wayne Gacy, Defending a Monster"). Rich Lenkov is lead producer (I told his story in the aforementioned 2015 article). Executive producers joining Wilson and Myers are Tom Pelligrini ("Jiro Dreams of Sushi"), and Joseph Klest.

AUTHOR'S NOTE, AUG. 30: The original version of this posted listed the movie as airing Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 7:30. That time was changed Tuesday evening to next Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 8 p.m. This story has been updated to reflect that schedule change. To keep up with news about the movie, follow the film on Facebook.