Robert Abbott (’86 B.S. Communication) has been the President of Hey Abbott! Entertainment since 2009. Abbott wrote, directed and voiced ESPN 30 for 30: The Last Days of Knight, which chronicles an investigation he did into Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight, while Abbott worked for CNN from 1987-2001. It runs 102 minutes and has been on the ESPN Plus App since April. It will be shown on ESPN tonight, November 29, at 7:30pm EST. The Last Days of Knight is the previously untold behind-the-scenes story of the Bob Knight investigation and all it produced – a chronicle of accusations, denials, and discoveries, riots and death threats, a smoking gun video, and the fall of a coaching legend. According to the movie’s official summary on ESPN, it’s a tale about success, power, abuse, institutions, journalism, and ultimately, a search for truth. You can view the official promo here or read more about the film including Abbott’s full take on the project by clicking here.
As President of his own company and past producer for media giants such as ESPN, CNN, and other countless successful projects to his name, Abbott says his greatest accomplishment comes from the relationships he’s made from mentoring. “Most people think my greatest accomplishment would be winning six Emmy Awards in five different categories but it’s not.” Abbott explains. “It’s the dozens of talented people I have mentored over the past thirty-three years who have gone on to do great things at CNN, ESPN, NBC, CBS, ABC, HBO, Showtime, Fox Sports, Golf Channel, Uninterrupted, Amazon and even in Hollywood. A number of them have even started their own production companies.”
Through his experiences at FSU, Abbott feels like he was able to gain valuable experience in a field where he had always had an inordinate amount of passion. “I always loved sports, watching TV, and was very curious.” Abbott explains, “Everyone has their own storytelling style and you can learn new things from all of them. Becoming a journalist, a television producer, and a director of films was a natural fit for me. I always knew what I wanted to do and Florida State University gave me the hands-on experience I needed.” Abbott describes his favorite part of the job as getting to travel the world and connect with people who share things they’ve never told anyone before. “There is nothing like having someone trust you… to tell their story.”
Abbott recently directed two films, one being Port of Destiny: Peace which is a forty minute documentary film on Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for settling the 50+ year civil war in Colombia. The film was shown at Harvard this fall, Oxford, at the next Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Norway and possibly at an event next spring celebrating the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland. While audiences watch the documentary, Abbott hopes that he can engage a higher audience. “I hope world leaders watch this film, and realize that if President Juan Manuel Santos can bring peace to Colombia, anything is possible.” says Abbott. “Santos knew his Port of Destiny, and despite the winds and challenges he faced over the years, he never wavered in his pursuit of peace.”
Working with some of the most influential names in sports television, Abbott has had the chance to receive invaluable advice from them. “Bill MacPhail the President of CNN Sports once told me ‘Robert, always return people’s phone calls, even if you don’t have to, or want to. It is a sign of respect.’ Another former boss, Bob Wallace, taught me ‘There is nothing better than a simple story well told.'”