Michael Tollin

Michael Tollin
Born (1955-10-06) October 6, 1955
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Occupation Director, producer
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Robbie Tollin
Children 2

Michael "Mike" Tollin (born October 6, 1955) is an American film and television producer/director. His career highlights included Radio, Coach Carter, and Varsity Blues. He has created and produced such shows as All That, The Amanda Show, Kenan & Kel, One Tree Hill, Smallville, What I Like About You, The Bronx is Burning, and Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream. He is currently the Co-Chairman of Mandalay Sports Media.

Early life and education

Michael Tollin grew up in Havertown, Pennsylvania, a suburb outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1] His father, Sol Tollin (1929–2006), played basketball and baseball for Haverford College from 1947-1951. Tollin has a passion for sports which started at a young age growing up in the outskirts of the sports-crazed city of Philadelphia.[2] Both Tollin and his father were inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.[3][4]

He graduated from Haverford High School and Stanford University in 1977,[5] where he was a sports columnist and the play-by-play radio announcer for Stanford basketball.[6]


After graduating from Stanford, Tollin’s first job was producer/writer for a syndicated series of sports documentaries called Greatest Sports Legends.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] In addition to its work on the USFL, Halcyon Days Productions also produced sports documentaries, kids' shows and entertainment specials.[8]

After the fall of the USFL, Tollin moved to California and joined forces with Brian Robbins. Together they started Tollin/Robbins Productions.[8] In 1993, Tollin and Robbins produced their first documentary together Hardwood Dreams, which won the Crystal Heart award at the 1993 Heartland Film Festival.[11] The film became Tollin and Robbins’ calling card.[8] 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.[8] In 2007 Robbins and Tollin decided to amicably split up their partnership both citing a desire to work on their own passion projects.[12]

In 2012, Tollin partnered with Mandalay Entertainment chairman and CEO Peter Guber to form Mandalay Sports Media.[13] MSM is a sports media and production company, the expressed purpose of which is to further define sports-entertainment programming through development in all current aspects of visual media.[14] The company’s portfolio runs the gamut from sports movies to scripted and unscripted series, documentaries, web series and branded content.[13]


Tollin is an active philanthropist and sits on the board of directors of several foundations. Those foundations include Common Sense Media, which is dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, and the Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream Foundation, a program that awards scholarships to assist youth in honing their skills through classes and tutoring.[15] Tollin has also founded several charities himself. On November 9, 2014 Tollin co-founded the first annual World Adoption Day to celebrate adoption and raise awareness about financial barriers that prevent potential adopters from becoming parents.[16] Tollin is also a founding member of PACE (Philanthropy And Community Engagement) a small, private organization dedicated to finding and supporting good works with a particular focus on children’s and family issues.[17]



Producer / Co-producer

Long-running TV series


Year Film Role Notes
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 at the Heartland Film Festival
1994 All That Creator
  • Nominated - CableACE Award for Children’s Series - 7 and Older
1995 Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream Director, Writer, Producer
  • Peabody Award Winner
  • Nominated - Academy Award for Best Documentary, Features
  • Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series
  • Crystal Heart Award at the Heartland Film Festival
1997 Sports Theater with Shaquille O’Neal Executive Producer
  • CableACE Award for Children’s Series - 7 and Older
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


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