(Editor’s Note: The following is courtesy of Katherine Hollar. She is a huge KU fan and great follow on twitter at @katiehollar. We met at a KU basketball game in Lincoln when she tried to run me over with her car (allegedly). She’ll be providing JHT ongoing updates about an exciting film project coming soon to a theatre near you!)
The Phog soon will roll onto the big screen.
Now in pre-production, Jayhawkers will tell the story of how Phog Allen and Chancellor Frank Murphy recruited Wilt Chamberlain from Philadelphia to play at Kansas…and how a group of unlikely allies changed college basketball and Lawrence in a parallel to the Civil Rights movement that changed the country.
At the helm of the project are writer/producer/director Kevin Willmott and writer/producer Scott Richardson. Willmott, an associate professor of film at KU, has directed two films (C.S.A.: Confederate States of America and The Only Good Indian) selected to the Sundance Film Festival. Richardson, a KU alumnus, has produced multiple projects for The History Channel and has written and consulted for many leading entertainment outfits, including A&E and AMC.
A full synopsis is available at www.facebook.com/jayhawkersmovie. The film will weave together the father of modern basketball coaching, the most legendary basketball player of the modern era and the tension of racism and segregation – only one year after Brown vs. Board of Education in Topeka, just 20 miles from Lawrence. As the filmmakers state, “The struggle for dignity and civil rights on the court would bond a team and change a town forever.”
The movie’s climax will come during the triple-overtime 1957 national championship game against the University of North Carolina, a game that has been called the greatest in college history.
More details will surface soon, but the movie will be shot in Lawrence (and the Fieldhouse), and Kansas fans will be tickled by the casting pick for Wilt Chamberlain, to say the least.
We talk a lot about tradition with Kansas basketball, but too often that conversation focuses on banners on the Fieldhouse wall, not the heritage of the Free State progressives. Jayhawkers will honor both – and fans will have opportunities to get involved. Like the Facebook page. Be an extra. Donate a few dollars, once the crowdsourcing effort is underway. Help Willmott and Richardson show the film community – and the nation – why we pay heed.
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