Michael Tollin
Other namesMike Tollin
OccupationDirector, executive producer
Years active1982–present

Michael Tollin is an American film and television producer/director who served as Executive Producer of the Emmy award-winning The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty. The series received rave reviews (96% on Rotten Tomatoes) and set numerous ratings records, being seen by nearly 15 million viewers per episode on ESPN and many million more on Netflix around the world. Tollin's other career highlights include Radio, Coach Carter, Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, and Varsity Blues.[1] He has also produced and/or directed such movies and television shows as Arli$$, Smallville, One Tree Hill, All That, Kenan & Kel, Summer Catch, Wild Hogs, Dreamer (2005 film), Good Burger, Big Fat Liar, and The Bronx is Burning. Tollin has also directed and/or produced documentaries, including The Comedy Store Documentary,Let Me Be Brave, Morningside Five, Iverson, Kareem: Minority of One, and Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?. He is currently the co-chairman of Mandalay Sports Media.[2]

Early life and education

Michael Tollin grew up in Havertown, Pennsylvania, a suburb outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[3] His father, Sol Tollin (1929–2006), played basketball and baseball for Haverford College from 1947 to 1951. Tollin has a passion for sports and remains fiercely loyal to his Philadelphia teams.[4] Both Tollin and his father were inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.[5][6]

He attended Haverford High School and graduated from Stanford University in 1977,[7] where he was a sports columnist and the play-by-play radio announcer for Stanford basketball.[8]


After graduating from Stanford, Tollin's first job was producer/writer for a syndicated series of sports documentaries called Greatest Sports Legends.[9] Within one year of his arrival, Tollin began directing the series. He went on to work with MLB Productions in New York and was one of the creators of an Emmy Award-winning series called The Baseball Bunch.[10] In 1980, he was the writer of the official World Series film in which his favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies, defeated the Kansas City Royals in six games. His script was narrated by Vin Scully.[11]

In 1982, Tollin formed his own company, Halcyon Days Productions, and was awarded exclusive rights to the United States Football League, a spring pro football league which played from 1983 through 1985.[12] Tollin later directed the ESPN 30 for 30 film, "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?" in which he and others associated with the USFL, notably former New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump, offered a retrospective on the league (the title came from a quote from Trump). In addition to its work on the USFL, Halcyon Days Productions also produced sports documentaries, children's shows and entertainment specials.[10]

After the fall of the USFL, Tollin moved to California and joined forces with Brian Robbins. Together they started Tollin/Robbins Productions.[10] In 1993, Tollin and Robbins produced their first documentary together Hardwood Dreams, which won the Crystal Heart award at the 1993 Heartland Film Festival.[13] The film became Tollin and Robbins’ calling card.[10] Over the next 15 years Tollin and Robbins teamed up to direct and produce more than a dozen feature films, award-winning documentaries and hundreds of hours of television. Some of Tollin/Robbins highlights include the films Varsity Blues, Coach Carter, Radio, Dreamer, Wild Hogs and Hardball; the television series Smallville, Arli$$ and One Tree Hill; as well as several award-winning documentaries, including Academy Award nominated Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, which Tollin wrote, produced and directed.[10] In 2007 Robbins and Tollin decided to amicably split up their partnership both citing a desire to work on their own passion projects.[14]

In 2012, Tollin partnered with Mandalay Entertainment chairman and CEO Peter Guber to form Mandalay Sports Media.[15] MSM is a media and production company, the focus of which is sports entertainment programming for all media platforms.[16] The company's portfolio runs the gamut from sports movies to scripted and unscripted series, documentaries, web series and branded content.[15] Tollin is the executive producer of The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty. MSM/Tollin have also produced the motion pictures Chuck and The Zookeeper's Wife; the documentaries Iverson, Kareem: Minority of One, Fastball, Morningside 5, CounterPunch, The Franchise, and the Katy Perry Superbowl Halftime Special; and the TV series/specials Sin City Saints, Wedding Band, Summer Dreams, Every Street United, and Bluegrass Kingdom.


Executive producer

TV series

Feature films, TV movies & unscripted TV series



Year Film Role Notes
1985 This is the USFL Director
  • Nominated – Sports Emmy Award for Best Sports Series
1987 Kids on Kids on Kids Director
  • Nominated – CableACE award Magazine Show or Series
1991 Let Me Be Brave Writer, producer, director
  • Sports Emmy Award for Special Class: Program Achievement
1993 Hardwood Dreams Director, writer
  • Crystal Heart Award – Heartland Film Festival
1994 All That Executive producer
  • Nominated – CableACE Award for Children's Series
1995 Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream Director, writer, producer
  • Peabody Award Winner
  • Nominated – Academy Award for Best Documentary
  • Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Special
  • Crystal Heart Award – Heartland Film Festival
1997 Sports Theater with Shaquille O’Neal Executive producer
  • CableACE Award for Children's Series
2003 Radio Director
  • Character and Morality in Entertainment Award
2005 Coach Carter Producer
  • Nominated – Black Movie Award for Outstanding Motion Picture
  • Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Film
2007 The Bronx is Burning Executive producer
  • Nominated – PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television
2009 30 for 30 Consulting producer, executive producer
  • Peabody Award Winner
  • International Documentary Association's "Distinguished Continuing Series"
  • Emmy for Outstanding Short-Format Nonfiction Program
2011 The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants Executive producer
  • Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Edited Sports Series/Anthology
2012 30 for 30 Shorts Executive producer, producer
  • Nominated – Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding New Approaches Sports Programing
2018 CounterPunch Executive producer
  • Nominated – Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Long Sports Documentary
2020 The Last Dance Executive producer
  • Winner – Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series


  1. ^ "TV/Film Producer and Director Mike Tollin on Finding New Ways to Reach an Audience". www.adweek.com. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "Mike Tollin: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  3. ^ http://www.tv.com/people/mike-tollin/
  4. ^ http://master.v2.capecodbaseball.org.ismmedia.com/ftp/News/news2007/CapeNews/CapeNews_25Jul07.htm
  5. ^ http://www.phillyjewishsports.com/viewInductee.asp?ID=95
  6. ^ http://www.phillyjewishsports.com/viewInductee.asp?ID=94
  7. ^ Marsh, Ann (November–December 2003). "A Good Sport Makes the Big Leagues". Stanford Alumni. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  8. ^ "Michael Tollin". Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  9. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245628/
  10. ^ a b c d e http://www.mediabistro.com/articles/details.asp?aID=12005&
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ http://espn.go.com/30for30/film?page=small-potatoes-who-killed-the-usfl
  13. ^ https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0866132/awards
  14. ^ https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tollin-robbins-going-solo-131870
  15. ^ a b http://deadline.com/2012/03/peter-guber-and-mike-tollin-partner-to-launch-mandalay-sports-media-246711/
  16. ^ http://www.csq.com/2013/06/peter-guber-mike-tollin-mandalay-home-court-advantage/