Finding Forrester : The Press Kit

I had never seen a press kit for a feature film before and I came across this one for Finding Forrester, one of Sean Connery’s best of his later period. Produced in 2000, it was a few years before these things went digital. It included a package of stories about the film, black & white 8×10 photos and colour slides.

I’ve packaged it here, adding the theatrical trailer and a few screencaps from the DVD release to fill in areas the stills didn’t cover.


Finding Forrester


“For if we wait too long, we risk learning that life is not a game that is won… or lost… it is a game that, too often, simply isn’t played.”


INTRODUCTION

He was a vibrant personality who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic novel four decades ago. And that’s the last the world heard of William Forrester.

That is until Jamal Wallace, a brash 16 year old with writing aspirations of his own, cracks the veneer of Forrester’s sheltered existence and re-ignites the dreams of this literary legend in the winter of his life.

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Photo: George Kraychyk

Known as the neighbourhood recluse, silver-haired Forrester (Oscar®-winner Sean Connery) is a man whose mystery and eccentricity border on the mythical. When Jamal (newcomer Rob Brown) – a talented African-American scholar-athlete who is recruited by an elite Manhattan prep school for his brilliance on and off the basketball court – sneaks into his apartment and accidentally leaves behind his backpack full of writings, they both get something unexpected in return. Compelled to look past skin color and suppositions, Jamal encounters not only his first fan, but a mentor who will challenge and change him forever, and Forrester has his first reason in years to emerge from his self-imposed solitude.

Family isn’t always what you’re born with – sometimes it’s the people you find, sometimes it’s the people who find you. From Oscar®-nominated director Gus Van Sant comes Finding Forrester, an uplifting story about the unusual dynamic between an isolated author and the confident teenager who changes his life.

Through their unique, occasionally contentious alliance, Jamal navigates a new world outside of the South Bronx home he shares with his loving mother and brother. Forrester is Jamal’s unlikely guide on his journey into the strange, strait-laced academic community in which he must now prove himself as a writer.

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Stephanie Berry portrays Janice, Jamal’s (Rob Brown) loving mother who does her best to support the dreams of her gifted son. Photo: Demmie Todd

“Forrester brings out Jamal’s intelligence, and Jamal brings Forrester back into life,” says Rob Brown. “They need each other in a way they never imagined.”

“This is just fantastic,” says Connery, “the idea of an aging, cranky character becoming the mentor and friend of a young boy, a black teenager.”

Forrester’s apartment, full of dusty stacks of classic tomes and the furious sound of a clicking typewriter, quickly becomes the place where the two writers meet, laugh, argue, learn and dedicate themselves to the one thing that irrevocably binds them together – love for the written word. Under Forrester’s tutelage, Jamal injects new passion into his work and enters the school’s writing contest. Forrester, alongside his youthful protégé, finds himself reawakening to the outside world he’s shut out for 40 years.

Ultimately, both men defy the assumptions they initially made about one another, assumptions about race and age, history and ability.

“This is a great event for Jamal,” Brown says. “No one has ever read his work with a critical eye before Forrester. It’s like a dream, having someone he respects taking him seriously as a writer.”

But the integrity of their friendship, as well as each man’s loyalty, is tested when a charge of plagiarism is levelled against Jamal by autocratic Professor Crawford (Oscar®-winner F Murray Abraham). Jamal’s academic and athletic future is jeopardized when he is left alone to defend himself against the powers-that-be at the school.

It comes down to a moment of truth for both men: for Jamal, a choice between following his dream or betraying a friend, and for Forrester, a decision to remain closed off or to look at the world through new eyes.

‘You need to know that while I knew so very early that you would realize your dreams,’ Forrester later writes to Jamal, ‘I never imagined I would once again realize my own.’

“I think the theme of unlikely friendships is one that movies can explore with particular depth and imagination,” says producer Laurence Mark. “At any rate, it’s certainly a theme that has always appealed to me. What could be more unlikely than the notion of a JD Salinger-like character becoming the mentor and friend to a 16-year-old black basketball player from the South Bronx? It’s unusual – and ultimately very moving.”


ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

The inspiration for Finding Forrester, a story about how an unlikely mentor helps a young man reach for his dreams, came from an observation by screenwriter Mike Rich.

“I was doing an interview with someone who had done very interesting profiles on some of America’s greatest authors, and I noticed a trend emerge. So many of America’s greatest writers, JD Salinger or Thomas Pynchon, for example, were eccentric, reclusive types,” says Rich, a former news director and radio personality from Portland, Oregon.

“I thought a story that showed how someone helped a great writer break through that barrier of isolation and re-enter the world would make a terrific story,” continues Rich. “It struck me that it would be even more interesting if the person who brings the writer out is someone young – teenager, for example – who is also in some way gifted.”

Director Gus Van Sant was also intrigued by the relationship posed by Rich’s script.

Van Sant, who saw Finding Forrester as a logical progression from and natural extension of his Oscar®-winning Good Will Hunting, explains the dynamic of the central relationship between Forrester and his young friend, Jamal: “Jamal reads seriously and can write, but to make things simple for himself, he keeps his abilities and his interests secret from his friends. By chance he meets Forrester, a man who has actually accomplished in life what Jamal would like to do with his. Forrester takes an interest in the young man and what he is doing, and he helps him.

“Jamal finds a teacher in Forrester who not only instructs him in his work,” continues Van Sant, “but also in life.”

Writer Mike Rich had faith in his completed screenplay and compelling storyline, but he wasn’t sure how to get it produced.

“I faced the typical roadblock for any first-time screenwriter, which is getting somebody to read what you’ve written. A friend in the business suggested that if I really believed in the script, I should enter it into a competition.”

Rich submitted Finding Forrester to the prestigious Don and Gee Nicholl writing competition that is sponsored each year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The only rule is that authors must never have sold a screenplay before. In 1998, the year of Rich’s submission, there were an astonishing 4,500 entries. Forrester survived several cuts to emerge as one of the five finalists, with a prize of $25,000 attached. The word was out in Hollywood about a terrific new screenplay, and everyone wanted to read it.

Jonathan King, president of production for Laurence Mark Productions, obtained a copy of Rich’s screenplay on a Friday night. He was so captivated by the drama between the two leading characters that, after he finished reading the script, he read it through a second time. Early Saturday morning he gave his copy to Laurence Mark, who was quickly taken with it.

Mark purchased the script for his company, which is based at Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Columbia Pictures. Everyone at the studio was extremely pleased with the acquisition – so much so that when John Calley, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, had lunch with Sean Connery, he gave him the screenplay.

“This was a tremendous stroke of inspiration,” Mark says. “Sean Connery is not someone you might immediately think of for the role of William Forrester, but if you ponder it for a moment, he’s totally perfect and a truly exciting choice.”

Connery’s company, Fountainbridge Films, is also based at Columbia. He and his partner, Rhonda Tollefson, president of the company, are constantly on the search for good material that they can develop for the actor to produce and possibly appear in.

“In the eight years that I’ve worked with Sean, I’ve noticed that seldom can you discover a role for him as an actor that isn’t something he’s already played before,” Tollefson says. “The character of Forrester immediately stood out as something different. Sean loves literature. The idea of playing a Pulitzer Prize-winning author held a lot of appeal for him. The fact that the writer was a recluse and a bit of a misanthrope made it even more interesting.”

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Sean Connery portrays William Forrester, a mysterious, reclusive author whose life is changed when he develops a friendship with a talented Bronx teenager. CT-1144R. Photo: Demmie Todd

But Connery’s interest went beyond just playing the role of Forrester. Connery not only decided to star in the film, he and Tollefson agreed to join Laurence Mark as producers.

“This is the kind of film I like: a contemporary drama that tells a constructive story about friendship,” continues Connery. “The last film I did about friendship was The Man Who Would Be King, and that was more than 25 years ago. I also think the literary motif is original and very entertaining, too.”

Producing has many attractions for the Oscar®-winning actor, not the least of which is that it gives him an opportunity to develop the material in which he will star. He and Tollefson founded their company, Fountainbridge Films, expressly as a means to that end. Connery looked forward to playing a significant role in the further development of the screenplay along with Mark, Tollefson and Mike Rich.

“I thought writing the screenplay was the hard part. Little did I realize that my work was really just beginning,” Rich says with a laugh. “I hadn’t written the role with Sean Connery in mind. Now I had to further refine the character. The first thing to do was to fill in the Scottish background, but there were other aspects that Sean came up with that never occurred to me.

“We made him more reclusive, more eccentric, more compassionate. This is a guy who’s ingratiating on one page and infuriating on the next,” Rich says.

Connery wanted the secrets of the character’s background and the conflicts he carries in his soul to remain unrevealed in the drama for as long as possible. And, as an actor renowned for playing powerful leading men – hard-boiled heroes who beat the odds – he was intent on stressing Forrester’s more vulnerable aspects. Yes, the character was tough, cranky, brilliant, hard-drinking – but he also had his fears.

Connery and the producers worked carefully with Rich on delineating these fears and on enriching Forrester’s inner life so that his past, and his reasons for retiring from the world, were completely convincing.

“Sean is brilliant at nuancing character,” Tollefson says.

Mark concurs. “Sean’s character notes were amazing,” he says. “It was all in the details. For instance, it was Sean’s idea to make Forrester a birdwatcher. Birdwatching is the reason he’s always looking out his window at the world, and why the world below sees him looking and wonders why.”


POLISHING THE SCREENPLAY

Rich worked diligently and expeditiously from these notes. It wasn’t long before a new draft of the screenplay was written that met everyone’s approval. The project was ready to move to the next level, which meant finding a director. All of the filmmakers agreed that Gus Van Sant was the ideal choice to helm Finding Forrester.

“It tumed out that Gus was travelling in India. It wasn’t easy, but we managed to reach him,” Tollefson says. “He seemed interested, so we faxed him the script. It took five hours to fax! The next day Gus telephoned and said he wanted to do the film.”

Several elements of the screenplay appealed to the director.

“Films condense and expand time in the telling of a story. I liked the way Mike’s script had accomplished that, says Van Sant. It communicated so much in a compressed period of time. Things go on that the audience doesn’t necessarily see, but the story moves forward. The characters themselves were great. I felt the characters suggested the visuals.”

Three days after agreeing to do the film, Van Sant returned to the States. Connery flew to California, and the two men met with Laurence Mark, Tollefson and Columbia executives. Everyone was in sync, and the deal for Van Sant to direct was clinched. A start of production date was determined for early April 2000, and Van Sant and the producers assembled a creative team for the film that included director of photography Harris Savides (The Game, The Yards), production designer Jane Musky (Raising Arizona, The Devil’s Own), Academy Award®-winning costume designer Ann Roth (The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley) and editor Valdís Óskarsdóttir, whose work includes the cutting-edge Danish films Celebration and Mifune’s Last Song.


CASTING JAMAL

One crucial – not to say monumental – task remained: the casting of the role of Jamal. Somewhere, the filmmakers needed to find a 16-year-old black youth who could project intelligence, play basketball and be able to hold his own in scenes opposite an actor of Connery’s stature and authority. Everyone was aware of the nature of the challenge and exactly what was at stake for the film. It was a major hurdle.

Auditions were held all over the United States: New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia. Casting directors Francine Maisler and Bernard Telsey and the producers and director saw hundreds upon hundreds of aspiring Jamals.

“I didn’t know of any actors who could play the role,” Van Sant says. “I knew what we were looking for – I’d see the type of guy in the Bronx when we were location scouting, and I even went over to one fellow and asked him to audition. Of course, most of these naturals may have looked right, but they weren’t actors, and they couldn’t make the transition from the page to portray real life.”

As the start of production approached and the search for Jamal continued, the field had narrowed down to a few hopefuls. Van Sant and the producers were close to making a decision when, all of a sudden, a young man with no previous acting experience named Rob Brown appeared out of nowhere. His very presence made the casting department take notice. Excitement began to build. As soon as he read, Van Sant and the producers knew they had found their Jamal.

“It was instantaneous,” Van Sant says. “We felt it at once. Here was Jamal. So we asked Rob to come back the next day to read with Sean.

“Since Sean is such a presence, we wondered what would happen,” continues the director. “We were all astonished to see that Rob could stand up to him, even match him. He handled himself so beautifully that I’m not sure how he did it with no previous acting experience – not even a lesson! We were all amazed.”

“Rob gave a jaw-dropping reading,” Mark says.

Tollefson was also bowled over. “He had this perfect inner stillness, this beautiful centeredness. Waiting for his audition, he didn’t even fidget or shift in his seat. I was impressed before he even spoke a word. It was as if he had done this a million times before when, in reality, he’d never been to an audition in his life.”

Van Sant recorded Brown’s extraordinary reading with Connery on video and sent it to Columbia Pictures with a note saying that this was the young man everyone wanted for the part of Jamal. The next day, Brown was signed for the film.

Like his character, Rob Brown was born and raised in New York City. He’s an excellent student and a good basketball player, and although he enjoys movies, he never thought about starring in one.

“One afternoon I saw a flyer in my school saying that Hollywood producers were looking for a 16-year-old black male who could play basketball to act opposite Sean Connery in a new movie,” Rob says. “I thought, hey, I kind of fit the bill. I was a high school sophomore, and I had just turned l6. I needed a bit of extra cash to pay my cell phone bill, so I decided to go to the casting call. At the very least, I thought I had a good chance of getting hired as an extra.”

Despite his calm exterior and self-contained manner, Rob did admit to some nerves at the call back when he was told that, as part of the audition process, he was going to have to play a scene with Sean Connery.

“I worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember my lines. There were a lot of them. But it went okay. I remembered them all.”

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Newcomer Rob Brown portrays Jamal Wallace, a 16-year-old scholar-athlete and aspiring writer who cracks the veneer of Forrester’s sheltered existence. CT-1098. Photo: Demmie Todd


ROUNDING OUT THE CAST

Once Rob was signed, several of the other young hopefuls whom the producers had been considering for the role of Jamal were also cast in the film to play Jamal’s Bronx buddies: Fly Williams III, Zane Copeland (a young rap artist from Atlanta who records under the name of Little Zane), Damany Mathis and Damien Omar Lee. Each of these young men – whose ages range from 16 to 19 – was playing his first role in a major motion picture.

Academy Award® winners filled two other major roles. F Murray Abraham, who was honoured in 1985 as Best Actor in Amadeus, was signed to play Professor Crawford, a prep school English professor who becomes Jamal’s nemesis when the boy transfers from a ghetto school in the Bronx to Mailor-Callow, an exclusive private school in Manhattan.

“This is a beautiful script,” says Abraham. “The writing is a pleasure.”

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F Murray Abraham portrays autocratic Professor Crawford, who levels a charge of plagiarism against Jamal (Rob Brown) that tests the teen’s friendship with Forrester. CT-909. Photo: Demmie Todd

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Photo: Demmie Todd


Anna Paquin, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar® at the age of 11 for her performance in The Piano, was signed to play Claire, the well-to-do prep school student who befriends the brilliant new boy in school. Stage and screen actor Michael Nouri was signed for the important role of Claire’s father, Dr. Spence, an influential Mailor-Callow School board member.

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Anna Paquin stars as Claire Spence, the well-to-do prep school student who befriends Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown).
CT-653. Photo: Demmie Todd

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Photo: Demmie Todd


Busta Rhymes, one of the most-respected recording artists in the rap industry, felt honoured when Gus Van Sant offered him the role of Terrell, Jamal’s brother.

“I wanted to show my appreciation by giving a good performance and showing Gus I was the right person for the job,” says Rhymes. “I could see a part of myself in the character of Terrell, a guy working hard to get ahead. I understood it. I was happy, too, to be in such company. It’s almost a shock to see a young man like Rob with no experience turn out to be such a professional, and Sean Connery is an icon. Even in the scenes where he has no lines, he commands such energy that you can’t help but notice his presence and be intrigued by him.

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Jamal (Rob Brown) gets advice and a much-needed favour from his affable brother, Terrell (Busta Rhymes). C70-19. Photo: Demmie Todd


BRINGING JAMAL TO LIFE

Now that he had the lead in the film, Rob plunged into a whirlwind of activity in preparation for shooting. The first order of business was some six weeks of basketball rehearsals under the tutelage of 25-year-old Russell Smith, a former college basketball star who served as the production’s basketball consultant. Rob and Smith rehearsed with the actors who were going to play Jamal’s Bronx friends as well as with the boys who would portray his Mailor-Callow teammates.

“We rehearsed twice a week for six hours at a time, and we constantly played full out. Rob adapted quickly,” Smith says. “He practically had it down at the first session. We kept at it, however, to insure that when we got to their scenes in the film, the Mailor guys resembled a real team, and the Bronx boys looked as if they’d been playing together all their lives.

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“Rob knew how to play basketball before he was cast in the film. He was good at it. He had the fundamentals,” continues Smith. “But I had to tutor him a bit on some aggressive moves – the street attitude, putting the ball behind your opponent’s neck, following through on a shot, squaring yourself against the basket. Jamal presents this cocky assurance to his prep school teammates as a way of making a statement about who he is and where he comes from. It’s a way of commanding respect.”

Full cast rehearsals got underway in Canada in March 2000, two weeks before the start of production. Van Sant commenced five days of rehearsals with Connery and Rob, going over all of their scenes together on the Toronto soundstage where the interiors of Forrester’s apartment would be shot. The following week, Rob worked on his scenes every day for five days with the rest of the cast.

Sean Connery is especially enthusiastic about the rehearsal process.

“I’m a big believer in it,” he says. “I feel that if you take the time to rehearse, block, go over all the bits and pieces and iron out the wrinkles, then everything is a bonus when you get to filming. Hard work and preparation really pay off.”

Van Sant concurs. “We started with the first scene and went through the whole script page by page. It helped us explore the material and work out details we would only have to work out further down the road in production. I’ve always liked a rehearsal period.”

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Photo: George Kraychyk


SHOOTING BEGINS

Production began in Toronto on April 3, 2000, with scenes set inside Forrester’s apartment. These crucial encounters between Forrester and Jamal provide the backbone of the story, and they chart the entire course of the reclusive author’s evolving relationship with the young boy who has broken into his apartment on a dare. Van Sant filmed the scenes more or less in chronological order, beginning with the angry confrontation between Jamal and Forrester when the boy first makes contact with the reclusive author.

Van Sant next shot the scenes in which Forrester, having discovered Jamal’s journal in his backpack, decides to mentor the boy, sitting Jamal at the typewriter and forcing him to type for hours and hours just to make the words flow.

Following this scene, Van Sant filmed episodes that depict the deepening nature of the relationship between the man and the boy – scenes in which Jamal talks about his home life and his decision to attend a new school, and Forrester opens up as well.

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Gus Van Sant directs Sean Connery in Finding Forrester, an uplifting story about the unusual dynamic between an isolated author and the confident teenager who changes his life. CT-194R. Photo: George Kraychyk


LEARNING CRAFT

An important sequence in which the boy coaxes a reluctant Forrester out of his apartment for the first time in ages to attend a basketball game was followed by other climactic scenes. Although such scenes were intense and demanding, work proceeded smoothly with little strife or conflict.

“Rob was a pro,” Connery says. “Apart from the fact that he’s a very intelligent kid, he’s got very, very good instincts. He fills the role completely. The similarities between him and the character of Jamal are quite striking. He’s a straight-A student who’s a lord of the court. I really think he’s quite amazing.”

Van Sant also points to the parallels between Rob and Jamal. “In our story, Jamal leaves his neighbourhood high school in the Bronx to attend an exclusive Manhattan prep school. Rob was also taken out of his neighbourhood school in the seventh grade, recruited by Prep for Prep, a program that places gifted minority students into more competitive, academically-enriched New York City schools. They enrolled Rob in a private school in Brooklyn, and he’s been there ever since.”

Rob continued to maintain his A average while filming, despite being tutored between camera and lighting set-ups and enduring lessons that lasted as long as five hours a day so that he could keep up with his grade level. While schoolwork was an unwelcome distraction from the excitement of filmmaking for the young man, working with Sean Connery and Gus Van Sant was pure pleasure.

“It was fun. I thought Sean would be all work and no play. He’s serious, but he clowns around, too,” says Rob. “I didn’t know exactly what to expect a director to do. I thought he’d be shouting ‘Action!’ and giving orders. But Gus isn’t like that at all. He’s very quiet.”

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Photo: George Kraychyk


FORRESTER’S APARTMENT

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Since all but a few of Sean Connery’s scenes in Finding Forrester take place in Forrester’s apartment, and the heart of the story is enacted there, the set assumed a great deal of importance for everyone connected with the production. The consensus is that the capacious pre-war Bronx apartment Jane Musky created for the film was a masterpiece of creativity and imagination.

“It had to be a place where you would never be bored visually, because so much of the movie is played there,” Laurence Mark says. “Jane’s set is so vast and various, with so much realistic texturing, that you could spend days looking around and never get tired of it.”

“We wanted the apartment to look like a kind of Never Never Land to Jamal, who comes from a normal street environment and lives in cramped quarters. Because it had to carry so many scenes, we decided to make the apartment oversize, almost palatial, so that the camera could move around in it freely,” Musky says. “Also, Sean Connery is a big man, so everything there – the chairs, the table, the bed – is oversize, too.

“We did painstaking research and looked at photos of large, seedy apartments all over New York. We even looked at photos of an apartment in Cuba, which I thought was right in terms of period, colour and design.”

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Finding Forrester traces the unique relationship that develops between eccentric, reclusive novelist William Forrester (Sean Connery) and the young, amazingly gifted scholar-athlete, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), who becomes his protégé. CN20-7A R. Photo: George Kraychyk

Probably the most complicated task for Musky was creating the sense that a man had actually lived in the space for 40 years, seldom venturing beyond its walls.

“We had to achieve 40 years of layering so that the apartment had the proper, authentic texture. It wasn’t supposed to be a fire hazard, you know, strewn with papers and all sorts of junk. On the other hand, it had to be crowded and filled wit… well, stuff. The problem was to fill it with the right stuff.

“We stacked yellowing copies of The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, various literary quarterlies and little magazines in piles everywhere. Also, Forrester’s many, many books were carefully selected. Each book had a history. Each book Forrester would have acquired himself and would have read, and re-read, many times.

“Then there were the areas of subtext – Forrester’s Scottish background, his interest in sports and in birdwatching. We actually filled notebook upon notebook with scribbles about birdwatching and scattered them everywhere. We also amassed all sorts of knick-knacks, mementoes and souvenirs – things a man like Forrester would acquire over a lifetime, things that just pile up in anybody’s house.

“Aside from all that, we needed present-day material. Forrester loves to read; he exists in a frenzy for reading material. Gus and I had to figure out just what he would actually allow the young publishing assistant to bring into his apartment that you could buy on newsstands today – which magazines, which tabloids. After all, Forrester loves reading the tabs. He says to Jamal, ‘The Times is dinner, but The National Enquirer, that’s dessert.’

“Finally, it all came together. The greatest thrill for me was the first time Sean Connery came onto the set. He walked around, peered into corners, took a deep breath and sat down. Then he looked up and smiled. He said he felt very comfortable, very much at home.”


ON CRITICS

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“Do you know what the absolute best moment is? It’s when you’ve finished your first draft. You read it by yourself. Before these assholes take something that they couldn’t do in a lifetime and tear it down in a single day.”

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“People love that book, man.”

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“Hah, I didn’t write it for them. When the critics started all this bullshit about what it was I was really trying to say. Well, I decided then, one book was enough.”

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“William, that was 50 years ago, man.”


VULNERABLE IN CANADA

With most of the scenes inside Forrester’s apartment completed, the unit traveled to the small city of Hamilton, Ontario, to shoot scenes inside Copps Coliseum, an arena which stands in for Madison Square Garden in the film. First up was the sequence in which Jamal, having lured Forrester out of his apartment with tickets to a basketball game, is separated from his mentor by the crush of the Garden crowd pouring in through the entrance doors. Searching frantically for Forrester, Jamal stumbles upon him hovering in a dark recess under the stands, frightened, shaken and hyper-ventilating. The scene, a delicate one between Jamal and Forrester, is unlike anything Sean Connery has done on screen before.

“The aspect of Forrester who is strong, who understands the world and can help this young man who has come into his life, is something we all know Sean can play, and audiences love to see him like that,” Rhonda Tollefson says. “But when we were developing the script, we decided to put in a scene in which we see the character’s strength breaking down. I remember a scene in On Golden Pond in which Henry Fonda is out picking berries and gets lost. When he finally gets home, he’s ashamed to let on to his wife just how frightened he was at having lost his way. The scene in Madison Square Garden is similar in feeling.”

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Jamal (Rob Brown) finds a fan and mentor in William Forrester (Sean Connery), and the novelist discovers an unlikely and talented friend in Jamal. 71-7 R. Photo: Demmie Todd

“Sean’s vulnerable qualities haven’t been seen very much,” Van Sant says. “Although he plays an authority figure in the film, the drama in the story comes out of the way in which Forrester and Jamal become dependent upon one another. They need each other. Sean hasn’t done a lot of this on screen. He’s showing a side of himself that will surprise people.”

The important episode between Forrester and Jamal completed, Van Sant next staged on the Copps Coliseum playing court the all-important basketball playoff game between Mailor-Callow and Creston, its rival school. It was the sequence in which the six weeks of basketball practice paid off for Rob and the rest of the boys.

Following the scenes at Copps Coliseum, the unit returned to the Toronto soundstage to complete filming a series of shots inside Forrester’s apartment as well as in the hallway and staircase outside his door. Van Sant then shot in a small apartment building near Toronto’s High Park several scenes that take place inside the Bronx apartment where Jamal lives with his mother. With these sequences, filming was completed in Toronto, and the unit travelled to New York City for six weeks of location work.


ON TO NEW YORK

Filming in New York City began on May 3 inside the city’s newly renovated, ultra-modem Planetarium – the Rose Center for Earth and Space – and across the street from it in Central Park’s grassy byways. Here, Jamal and Claire (Anna Paquin) go on a school trip with their fellow Mailor-Callow classmates.

Filming then shifted to the General Theological Seminary, a complex of red brick buildings organised around a quadrant occupying a square block on 20th and 21st Streets in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, between 9th and 10th Avenues. The interior of the seminary’s spacious dining room, Hoffman Hall, was transformed by Jane Musky and her crew into Mailor-Callow’s main auditorium, a space that has been appropriated by the school’s strict Professor Henry Crawford (F Murray Abraham) for use as his classroom. It is here that the winners of the school’s annual writing competition are honoured, culminating in a memorable showdown between Forrester and Crawford.

“In most films there’s nothing better than having a villain you can hiss at. But this is richer, deeper,” says F Murray Abraham, who plays Crawford. “Crawford’s not exactly a villain. He’s more a victim of his own pride and blindness. His tragedy is that he’s failed the one great student he ever taught, squandered his one chance at helping someone achieve true fame. I teach a course at Brooklyn College, and I know how fulfilling and truly satisfying it is to teach.

“The irony is that the one person Crawford worships, the novelist Forrester, is the person who has recognised the boy’s gifts and is mentoring him. When Forrester shows up in his classroom, the deluded Crawford believes at first that the great man has come to see him. When Crawford says, ‘To what do we owe the honour?’ he actually believes Forrester’s going to say, ‘I came because you’re such a wonderful guy and a terrific teacher. And of course, it’s just the opposite. He gets his comeuppance.”

Musky went for a richly-textured, wood-panelled look for Crawford’s classroom, highlighting the difference between it and Jamal’s Bronx school. “We went even further with it, however, and created a portrait wall in the back of the room, a kind of ancestral portrait gallery that you’d see in a great institution or a great mansion. It’s actually a gallery of paintings of the world’s great writers, everyone from Edgar Allan Poe, Louisa May Alcott and Henry James to TS Eliot, James Fenimore Cooper, William Henry Thoreau, Herman Melville and… William Forrester.

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“The portrait wall contributes to the idea that literature is sacred, an idea which is conveyed to Crawford’s students and is a revelation to Jamal,” continues Musky. It’s nothing he’s ever heard before, certainly like nothing that exists in his Bronx school. The wall contributes to the impact at the end of the movie when Forrester, who is represented in one of the portraits, actually shows up in the flesh. Every student knows how momentous this is.”


DRESSING THE BRONX

Following the auditorium scene, the unit moved to the South Bronx for shots of the window from which the aging author peers out onto the basketball court below. Seeing him day after day looking down at them through binoculars, Jamal and his friends dub the spectral figure ‘The Window.’

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Sean Connery portrays William Forrester, a vibrant personality who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic novel four decades ago before retreating into a self-imposed solitude. CN029-15 R. Photo: George Kraychyk

Nighttime scenes of Forrester riding his bicycle along the streets of the South Bronx were filmed at this location as well. Van Sant shot daytime scenes of Forrester riding his bike to and from the entrance of the Mailor-Callow school along Manhattan’s Park Avenue, creating a big stir as passersby stopped to glimpse Sean Connery negotiating New York’s bumper-to-bumper traffic on a bike.

In the South Bronx, Van Sant also staged scenes of Forrester and Jamal emerging from the platform of the elevated subway line on their way home from Madison Square Garden. Jamal convinces Forrester to take a detour and leads him to a deserted Yankee Stadium where Jamal’s brother Terrell – famed rap artist Busta Rhymes – works as a parking attendant. Connery cut an extraordinary figure in the Yankee Stadium scene, wearing Forrester’s ochre-coloured duffel coat, grey golf cap and dark glasses. One look at the figure striding out onto the field reveals that this is no ordinary man.

“We wanted something special for the coat. At first, we even tried using an oilskin material and painting it a vibrant yellow,” says costume designer Ann Roth, “but it didn’t work. After several other attempts that weren’t quite right, I gave up the idea and designed a traditional toggle coat using triple-weight Melton wool in a rich shade of orange-ochre. Melton wool is great fabric. In the end, the coat weighed 85 pounds. I suppose Sean Connery is one of the few people who could wear it comfortably.”

In order to dress Forrester, the Academy Award®-winning designer carefully researched the clothing of the literati of the 1940s and 50s, always factoring Forrester’s reclusive nature into the equation.

“Once upon a time he had one or two good suits from Brooks Brothers, and they’re still around,” says Roth. “Basically, because he never goes out, he just puts on anything from his closet. When he’s alone, he wears an old turtleneck sweater and pyjama bottoms. He’s perfectly comfortable. After a while, he’s so used to having Jamal around that he wears the pyjamas when the boy is in the apartment and never thinks twice about it.”

Roth’s designs for the film never call attention to themselves for their own sake, and her aim in the film (as in all her work) is to have the costumes illuminate the characters. She also used this philosophy to design the clothing for Jamal’s pals.

“In their own way, the boys in the Bronx have a real sense of fashion. They’re teenagers, and they dress up to show off. They love baggy pants, caps, bulky jackets, billowing shirts. They want to express an attitude, make a statement. Clothes are their plumage.

“They wear a lot of accessories,” continues Roth. “The character of Damon wears a stocking cap you see so many black and Hispanic boys wearing today all over New York. Jamal has a terrible fondness for his Peruvian Tibetan hat with its fake yak fur. He has it on all the time – until he goes to Mailor, that is.

“At Mailor, fashion is much less important. The uniform the kids wear there is imposed by the school’s administration, not peer pressure, so the prep kids downplay what they wear. They’re wrinkled and messy. It is their protest against authority. Jamal adapts to it, but not completely. He can never wholly give up his past.”


THE PRIVILEGED LIFE

Scenes completed at Yankee Stadium, the unit returned to Manhattan to shoot the party sequence in the Spence family’s penthouse apartment, located across from Carnegie Hall. Jamal attends the bash with his classmates after a Mailor basketball game. He is surprised to discover that the penthouse is Claire’s home, and that she is the daughter of Dr. Spence, one of the school’s most influential board members. Claire has been showing Jamal around Mailor – now she tries to make him comfortable in the heady, moneyed, ultra-social atmosphere of her home.

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“Jamal and Claire have a connection the instant they set eyes on each other,” says Anna Paquin. “There’s something about him she likes and trusts. She can’t really say why, but she wants to help him. She’s a strong character, and I respect that.

“One of the things that appealed to me about Claire is that I have never played anyone who lives in the here-and-now and has something in common with me,” continues Paquin. “Claire is someone I might know. The school I attend is not so different from Mailor-Callow. It’s very academic and college prep, just not as buttoned up as Mailor. But in many ways the goals of the students are similar. We all want to do well and get into a good college. I can relate to that.”

Many important sequences in Finding Forrester take place at Mailor-Callow School. The school represents the radical change that has occurred in Jamal’s life and stands for what the future may hold for him. In all, including the General Theological Seminary, it took four separate locations to create Mailor for the film. The scene in the Mailor cafeteria was filmed at the New School cafeteria in Greenwich Village on 11th Street, and basketball practice in the Mailor gym was shot on the roof of Boy’s Harbor, a community centre located at Fifth Avenue and 105th Street.

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Van Sant shot Mailor hallways and classrooms at Regis High School, a prestigious Jesuit Academy located on East 85th Street between Madison and Park Avenues. Van Sant and Musky chose Regis because the school’s architecture reflected the look they were after – the monumental, classical look of an establishment institution.

“The scale is big, grand, almost over the top,” Musky says. “Jamal is overwhelmed by the marble hallways, the austere nature of the building’s interiors. As it says in the script, he knows he’s not in Kansas anymore.”


A MORE PRACTICAL WORLD

The sequences at Mailor completed, the unit now turned to recreating Jamal’s world in the Bronx – in particular, the scenes set in his neighbourhood high school, Calvin Coolidge High. Scenes in the Coolidge cafeteria and in its hallways were shot at Seward Park High School on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. (Seward Park’s gym also stood in for several Mailor-Callow basketball games, games that chart the team’s progress toward the prep school playoff game). Scenes outside Coolidge’s main entrance and inside its principal’s office were filmed at John F Kennedy High School in the Bronx. Coolidge’s classrooms and hallways were filmed at DeWitt Clinton High School, also in the Bronx. The school’s wonderful choir also sings in the film.

Continuing work, the unit then returned to the South Bronx location at Park Avenue and 158th Street – the site of Forrester’s building and the basketball court it overlooks – for scenes with Jamal and his friends on their home turf.

For the exterior of Forrester’s building, Van Sant and his crew scouted every section of the Bronx to find the right pre-war (built after 1900 but before the Second World War) apartment house. There were three prime requirements for the building: a large window that fronted onto the street with a cornice above it to mark it distinctly, a location near low-income housing projects, and an area close by that could serve as a basketball court.

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A five-story, grey brick building at the intersection of Park Avenue and 158th Street was the first location the filmmakers saw. It seemed perfect. Not far from the Grand Concourse and Yankee Stadium, it was ideally situated in a Bronx neighbourhood just beginning to emerge from years of urban blight and decay. The building sat among several low-income, modern-style, 30-story highrises constructed in the 1960s and 70s that dwarfed the smaller edifice, making it stand out as a relic from another era. Although other locations were scouted, none measured up to this one. It was exactly what the filmmakers were looking for.

“There was even a parking lot across the street, a large empty space,” Musky says. “The first thing we did was convert it into a basketball court.”

Of course, the Park Avenue of the Bronx at 158th Street is very different from the luxurious Park Avenue of Manhattan below 96th Street, where the unit previously shot several scenes. Director of photography Harris Savides made no particular effort to contrast the differences between the two neighbourhoods. He wanted each location to speak for itself.

“I worked the same way in the Bronx as I did in Toronto and Manhattan. The story is realistic. Gus wanted a natural-looking movie, a look appropriate to the script, and that was our approach. We didn’t embellish anything, and we didn’t use any flashy camera moves. We wanted to represent the various worlds of the film as they are, as they appear to the characters.”

A building on Clay Avenue in the Bronx that was used for exteriors and for the lobby entrance of the apartment house in which Jamal lives with his mother illustrates Savides’ point.

“We had to do a scene in the lobby. It was a real building with families living there. Gus and I went inside to see what the lobby really looked like, how it was lit. This is how we shot it. I used lights to illustrate exactly what the entrance hall looked like normally – nothing more, nothing less – and that’s how it will look in the film.”

After shooting several scenes on the basketball court and various point-of-view shots of Forrester’s building, a scene was filmed in Margie’s Red Rose, a local Harlem restaurant where Jamal shares a quick meal with his Bronx friends. A series of shots of Forrester peering from his window and the scene of Jamal climbing Forrester’s fire escape then completed the work at the Park Avenue and 158th Street location.

On June 9th, a nighttime shot of a lone Jamal walking with his basketball down a desolate street where an abandoned car is aflame in the background marked the finish of shooting in the Bronx. Production wrapped in Manhattan on the following night, June l0, 2000, with a scene in the Science Library at Madison Avenue and 34th Street. Here, Jamal searches for Forrester’s book, Avalon Landing, only to find the shelves are empty because all 24 copies are checked out.


CODA

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In one of the final scenes in the film, a scene in which Forrester pays an unexpected visit to Mailor-Callow, the legendary author delivers a speech which crystallizes many of the themes in Finding Forrester. “Losing family… obliges us to find our family. Not always the family that is our blood, but the family that can become our blood,” says Forrester in front of a crowd of students, professors and Jamal. “And should we have the wisdom to open our door to this new family… we will find that the wishes and hopes we once had… for the father who once guided us, for the brother who once inspired us… those wishes are there for us once again.”

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With the help of his youthful protégé, Jamal (Rob Brown), brilliant author William Forrester (Sean Connery) rediscovers the outside world he’s shunned for 40 years. 2160-2A-14 R. Photo: Arthur Grace


ABOUT THE CAST

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Sean Connery (William Forrester/Producer) was last seen in 20th Century Fox’s thriller, Entrapment. He not only starred in the film opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones, but also co-produced it with his partner Rhonda Tollefson, president of Fountainbridge Films, the production company they founded in 1994.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Connery had small parts in movies and television before landing the role that would launch his stellar career. Cast as James Bond, agent 007, in a low-budget British picture called Dr. No, Connery inaugurated one of the longest-running series in film history. He starred as Bond in From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again.

Connery has also starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie, as well as in such films as The Hill, A Fine Madness, Shalako, The Molly Maguires, The Anderson Tapes, The Red Tent, Murder on the Orient Express, The Wind and the Lion, The Man Who Would Be King, Robin and Marian, A Bridge Too Far, Outland, Zardoz, Five Days One Summer, The Name of the Rose, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Family Business, The Russia House, The Hunt for Red October, Medicine Man, Rising Sun, Just Cause and First Knight.

Connery headlined opposite Nicolas Cage in the 1996 summer blockbuster hit The Rock and provided the voice and personality for the animated dragon in Dragonheart. He also recently starred in Miramax’s Playing By Heart.

In addition to receiving both the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award in 1987 for his performance in The Untouchables, Connery has received numerous other accolades. They include, among others, the Legion d’Honneur and the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (the highest honours given in France), and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Best Actor Award for The Name of the Rose in 1987. In 1990, he received the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award – a special BAFTA silver mask honouring “a British actor or actress who has made an outstanding contribution to world cinema.” The award was presented to Connery by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

In 1995, Connery was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contribution to the entertainment field,” given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at its annual Golden Globe Awards. In l997, he was honoured with a Gala Tribute by the Film Society of Lincoln Center for his lifetime career, and in 1998, BAFTA honoured him with its highest award, the British Academy Fellowship. In 1999, Connery was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient. He has been appointed a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List and is now known as Sir Sean Connery.


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Rob Brown (Jamal Wallace) was born in Harlem and raised in Brooklyn, New York. A natural who never studied acting and who has no professional acting experience, he makes his acting and motion picture debut in Finding Forrester.

Rob celebrated his 16th birthday just before the start of production. He is in his junior year of high school, where he is a talented athlete who plays basketball and football.


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F Murray Abraham (Professor Crawford) is probably best known for his Academy Award®-winning portrayal of the composer Salieri in Milos Forman’s Amadeus.

In addition to the Best Actor Oscar® for Amadeus, Abraham received a Golden Globe and a Los Angeles Film Critics Award for his performance. His other film credits include Star Trek: Insurrection. Children of the Revolution, Mighty Aphrodite, Last Action Hero, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Scarface and The Name of the Rose (in which he co-starred with Finding Forrester star Sean Connery). He is currently in production on Joel Silver’s 13 Ghosts.

Abraham’s television credits include Hallmark’s Noah’s Ark and HBO’s Excellent Cadavers, as well as the television movies And Quiet Flows the Don, Largo Desolato and Sex and the Married Woman.

On Broadway, Abraham starred in the musical Triumph of Love with Betty Buckley, as Roy Cohn in Angels in America and with Helen Mirren in Turgenev’s A Month in the Country.

Abraham has retained an active interest in the classics. His recent Shakespearean performances include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear. He has also starred as Cyrano and co-starred in the Mike Nichols production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

Born in El Paso, Texas, Abraham attended the University of Texas before training for the stage with Uta Hagen. A respected drama teacher, Abraham is currently professor of theatre at Brooklyn College, a branch of the City University of New York.


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Anna Paquin (Claire Spence) most recently starred in 20th Century Fox’s X- Men, based on the best-selling Marvel Comics franchise and directed by Bryan Singer; and Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, about a 70s rock band, co-starring Billy Crudup and Kate Hudson.

Paquin stunned the world in 1993 with her film debut as the daughter of a woman (Holly Hunter) who enters into an arranged marriage in Jane Campion’s The Piano. Hunter won the Best Actress Oscar® for the film and Paquin won the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

Paquin was also recently seen in Miramax’s A Walk on the Moon, All the Rage and She’s All That. Other credits include Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, Fly Away Home and Jane Eyre. On television, Paquin starred opposite Alfre Woodard in Frankie Adams, an adaptation of Carson McCullers The Member of the Wedding.


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Busta Rhymes (Terrell Wallace) is a superstar recording artist who first honed his outrageous style as part of the legendary hip-hop group Leaders of the New School, appearing with the group on two critically-acclaimed, gold-selling albums. On his own, Rhymes has released four multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated solo albums: The Coming (1996), When Disaster Strikes (1997), E.L.E. – The Final World Front (1998) and Anarchy (2000).

During his career, Rhymes has transformed rap music, reigning as the genre’s most incandescent visionary. He has also begun to build a solid acting career, having appeared in such films as Who’s The Man, Strapped, Higher Learning and John Singleton’s remake of Shaft, in which Rhymes co-stars with Samuel L. Jackson.

Rhymes has also lent his signature voice to the movie Rugrats, playing Reptar Wagon. In addition, he has made several television appearances, including a guest-starring spot on The Steve Harvey Show.


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Michael Nouri‘s (Dr. Spence) film credits include Heart of a Champion, Lady in Waiting and Yakuza. In the early 1980s he scored a personal success in Flashdance. Other early film credits include Goodbye, Columbus, The Imagemaker, The Hidden, Little Vegas and Da Vinci’s Way.

Nouri has appeared on such television series as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order. His other extensive television credits include Showtime’s Harlequin Romance, CBS-TV’s The Doris Duke Story, Between Love and Honor, Burke’s Law, Rage of Angels: The Story Continues, Quiet Victory, Love and War, The Gangster Chronicles, Beacon Hill, Second Honeymoon for CBS and the forthcoming 61, directed by Billy Crystal for HBO.

Nouri most recently hit the boards in Call Me Madame at the Freud Theatre in Los Angeles. He also co-starred on Broadway in the musical Victor/Victoria, directed by Blake Edwards. He appeared in the Stephen Sondheim musical Putting It Together at the Mark Taper Forum and in Rodgers and Hammersteins South Pacific, with the Long Beach Civic Light Opera.


ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS

Gus Van Sant (Director) received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Director for 1997’s Good Will Hunting. The film won two Academy Awards® including Best Supporting Actor (Robin Williams) and Best Original Screenplay (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) and six additional Academy Award® nominations including one for Best Picture.

Van Sant’s most recent film was a shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic, Psycho. Part tribute to Hitchcock, part new introduction for younger audiences, the recreated Psycho starred Anne Heche, Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen and William H. Macy.

Gus Van Sant has been winning over critics and audiences alike since bursting on the scene with his first widely-acclaimed feature, Mala Noche, which won the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Independent/Experimental feature of 1987.

Drugstore Cowboy, directed and co-written by Van Sant (with Daniel Yost), starred Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch. The film won numerous awards, including the 1989 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director, and the 1990 Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay.

His next feature, My Own Private Idaho, a poetic film about the search for family, starred River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. It won awards for Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Music at the Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the Critics Prize for Best Actor (for Phoenix) at the Venice Film Festival.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues followed, a new-age road movie exploring sexual identity and social change. It was adapted by Van Sant from Tom Robbins magical novel and starred Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Rain Phoenix and John Hurt.

Based on Joyce Maynard’s book, To Die For starred Nicole Kidman as an ambitious, small-town television reporter who intimidates two teenagers (Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix) into murdering her husband. The black comedy won a Golden Globe Award and was screened at the 1995 Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1952, Van Sant traveled around the country with his family. After earning a BA at the Rhode Island School of Design, he moved to Hollywood where he began working with Ken Shapiro, the maker of the cult classic The Groove Tube.

Since the 1980s, Van Sant’s short films have been winning awards in film festivals around the world. His work includes an adaptation of his literary hero William S. Burroughs short story “The Discipline of DE,” a dead-pan black-and-white gem which was shown at the New York Film Festival. Other acclaimed shorts include the darkly personal meditation Five Ways to Kill Yourself, Thanksgiving Prayer (a re-teaming with Burroughs which was exhibited with Derek Jannan’s Edward II) and Ballad of the Skeletons. The latter film starred the poet Allen Ginsberg, premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival and was produced by Finding Forrester executive producer Dany Wolf.

A long-time musician, Van Sant has also directed music videos for David Bowie, Elton John, Tracy Chapman, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Hanson, including their video “Weird,” one of the most requested videos on MTV in 1998.

Early in his career, Van Sant spent two years in New York creating commercials for Madison Avenue. Eventually, he settled for many years in Portland, Oregon, wherein addition to directing and producing films, commercials and videos, he taught film production for a brief period at the Northwest Film Center. He has also pursued his other talents – painting, photography and writing. He published his first book of photography, 108 Portraits (Twelvetrees Press), in 1995, and his first novel, Pink, a satire on filmmaking, in 1997 for Doubleday.

Van Sant currently resides in New York City.


Laurence Mark (Producer) received an Academy Award® nomination for producing Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Cameron Crowe. He executive produced As Good As It Gets, starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear and directed by James L. Brooks, which was also nominated for an Academy Award® as Best Picture.

Mark also recently produced Center Stage, directed by Nicholas Hytner; Hanging Up, starring Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton and Lisa Kudrow and directed by Keaton; Anywhere But Here, starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman and directed by Wayne Wang; The Object of My Affection, starring Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd and Nigel Hawthome and directed by Nicholas Hytner; and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, starring Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow and Janeane Garofalo and directed by David Mirkin.

Upcoming projects for Mark include Riding in Cars with Boys, starring Drew Barrymore and Steve Zahn and directed by Penny Marshall for Gracie Films and Columbia Pictures; All That Glitters, starring Mariah Carey and Max Beesley and directed by Vondie Curtis Hall for 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures; and, for television, These Old Broads, starring Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds, Joan Collins and Elizabeth Taylor for Columbia/TriStar Television and ABC.

Laurence Mark Productions is headquartered at the Sony Studios where the company has a long-term production arrangement with Columbia Pictures.

As producer or executive producer, Mark’s other credits include Bob Rafelson’s Black Widow, Mike Nichols Working Girl, Susan Seidelmans Cookie and Herbert Ross’ True Colors, as well as Sister Act 2, The Adventures of Huck Finn and Simon Birch. For television, Mark executive produced Sweet Bird of Youth, starring Elizabeth Taylor and directed by Nicholas Roeg; and Oliver Twist, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Elijah Wood and directed by Tony Bill.

Mark began his career as an executive trainee at United Artists after graduating from Wesleyan University and from New York University with a master’s degree in cinema. After working as a producer’s assistant on a number of films (Lenny, Smile), he held several key publicity and marketing posts in New York and Los Angeles at Paramount Pictures, culminating in his being appointed Vice President of West Coast Marketing for that studio.

Moving into production. Mark then worked as Vice President of Production at Paramount before joining 20th Century Fox as Executive Vice President of Production. At those studios, he was closely involved with the development and production of such films as Terms of Endearment. Trading Places, Staying Alive, Falling in Love, The Fly and Broadcast News.

In theatre, Mark made his debut as a producer in 1991 with Brooklyn Laundry, starring Glenn Close, Laura Dem and Woody Harrelson. The production was directed by James L. Brooks at the Coronet Theater in Los Angeles. Mark also produced the musical stage version of Big, which played Broadway’s Shubert Theater in 1995.


As the president and partner of Fountainbridge Films, Rhonda Tollefson (Producer) recently produced the hit motion picture Entrapment, which has grossed over $250 million worldwide thus far.

Starting in television, Tollefson began her career as a development assistant with producer Douglas Netter, working on a number of series, including Captain Power and Soldiers of the Future. Later, Tollefson moved over to film and went to work with director John McTiernan, assisting in the production of The Hunt for Red October and the development of future projects, including Medicine Man. Tollefson first started her working relationship with Sean Connery assisting him on that film, as well as on Rising Sun.

This collaboration led to their eventual partnership and the creation of Fountainbridge Films, which was founded in 1992 with Tollefson as president. Fountainbridge produced its first film, the dramatic thriller Just Cause, with Lee Rich and Warner Bros. in 1994.

“Our ambition is to make movies which are not only intelligent and thought provoking, but which embrace the hearts and minds of the audience,” says Tollefson.


Mike Rich (Screenwriter) was born in Los Angeles but spent the majority of his childhood growing up in eastern Oregon. He became interested in radio broadcasting during his high school years and used his on-air abilities to help pay his college tuition at Oregon State University.

Rich began his news anchor career at KREM-FM in Spokane and worked his way to KGW in Portland before settling at KINK-FM, also in Portland. It was three years into that stint that he began dabbling with a screenplay idea that was sparked by an on-air interview dealing with America’s classic authors.

Rich lives in Portland with his wife, Grace, and their three children: Jessica, Caitlin and Michael. He continues to stay active in the broadcasting field during the few hours a week he’s not in front of a keyboard.


Dany Wolf (Executive Producer) is an award-winning producer who began his association with Gus Van Sant in 1995. Wolf produced Van Sant’s short film Ballad of the Skeletons, which featured the poet Allen Ginsberg and premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. Wolf continued his work with Van Sant on commercials and music videos, including Hanson’s “Weird.”

In 1998, Wolf executive produced Van Sant’s controversial remake of Psycho, starring Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche. In the fall of 1999, in conjunction with Independent Pictures and Forensic Films, Wolf co-produced Van Sant’s first digital feature, Easter, the first part of Harmony Korine’s scripted trilogy, Jokes.

Wolf has been producing internationally for the past l0 years with many of today’s top filmmakers. Wolf produced John Woo’s Nike Airport commercial in Brazil, which aired during the World Cup and garnered a silver medal at the Cannes Advertising Festival. Wes Anderson’s first foray into commercials was a Sony DVD commercial that Wolf produced in the summer of 1999.

As an executive producer, Wolf has managed a number of top production companies, including Epoch Films and Satellite Films (a division of Propaganda).

A graduate of George Washington University, Wolf also received a master’s degree from the American Graduate School of International Management.


Jonathan King (Executive Producer) is president of production for Laurence Mark Productions at Sony Pictures Entertainment. Prior to joining Mark, King was an independent producer whose credits include Audrey Wells’ Guinevere, Evan Dunsky’s The Alarmist, John Enbom’s Starf*cker and Mark Christopher’s 54.

King worked for several years as a production and acquisitions executive at Miramax Films, based in Los Angeles. He began his career as a book scout for MGM in New York.


Harris Savides (Director of Photography) recently shot James Gray’s The Yards for Miramax. Among his other feature credits are John Turturro’s Illuminata, starring Turturro and Susan Sarandon; David Fincher’s The Game, with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn; and Phil Joanou’s Heaven’s Prisoners.

An accomplished cinematographer for music videos and commercials, Savides is a three-time winner of the MTV Music Video Award for Best Cinematography: in 1993 for Madonna’s “Rain,” in 1994 for REM’s “Everybody Hurts” and in 1998 for Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.”


Jane Musky (Production Designer) recently worked on Irwin Winkler’s At First Sight, starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino. She is currently working on the upcoming City by the Sea directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring Robert De Niro.

Musky was production designer on Ethan and Joel Coen’s first film, Blood Simple, as well as their next feature, Raising Arizona. In 1987, she designed three features: Young Guns, Illegally Yours and Patty Hearst, directed by Paul Schrader.

Among her other credits are Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally…, Ghost, Boomerang, Glengarry Glen Ross, Two Bits, Harold Becker’s City Hall, Alan J. Pakula’s The Devil’s Own and Nicholas Hytner’s The Object of My Affection.

Musky’s television credits include George C. Wolfe’s Fires in the Mirror for American Playhouse; NBC-TV’s LBJ: The Early Years and PBS’s The Little Sister and Under the Biltmore Clock.


Ann Roth (Costume Designer), long considered one of the most distinguished designers in the industry, received an Academy Award® for her work on The English Patient. She also received Oscar® nominations for The Talented Mr. Ripley and Places in the Heart and won the British Academy Award for Day of the Locust.

Roth’s extensive motion picture credits include In & Out, Sabrina, Q&A, Mambo Kings, Pacific Heights, Family Business, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Morning After, Sweet Dreams, Jagged Edge, The World According to Garp, Dressed to Kill, 9 to 5, Hair, Coming Home, The Goodbye Girl, The Owl and the Pussycat, Klute and Midnight Cowboy.

Among Roth’s numerous Broadway credits are Purlie and Play It Again, Sam. She most recently designed the clothes for the hit comedy The Allergist’s Wife.

Roth has a long association with director Mike Nichols, which began on Broadway and continued on screen for nine films, including Primary Colors, The Birdcage, Wolf, Regarding Henry, Postcards from the Edge, Working Girl, Biloxi Blues, Heartburn and Silkwood. Roth and Nichols also collaborated on the stage productions The Odd Couple, Lunch Hour, Social Security and the Lincoln Center revival of Waiting for Godot.

Roth continues to divide her time between stage and screen and recently designed costumes for the New York productions of The Allergist’s Wife, Cripple of Innishman and Mizlansky/Zilinsky.


Valdís Óskarsdóttir (Editor) has edited Celebration and Mifune’s Last Song, two of the films shot by the Danish film group, Dogma. Other recent credits are Julien Donkey-Boy and L’Amour, l’Argent, l’Amour.

Among the other films edited by Óskarsdóttir are The Dance, The Biggest Heroes, The Glass House Prisoner, The Last Viking, Dream Hunters, Remote Control, Frida’s First Time and Ingalo.


Academy Award® and Oscar® are the registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


CREDITS

Columbia Pictures presents
A Laurence Mark Production
in Association with Fountainbridge Films

A Film by Gus Van Sant

Starring
Sean Connery

FINDING FORRESTER

F Murray Abraham
Anna Paquin
Busta Rhymes
April Grace
Michael Pitt
Michael Nouri
Richard Easton
Glenn Fitzgerald
Zane R. Copeland, Jr.
Stephanie Berry
Fly Williams III

and introducing
Rob Brown

Casting by
Francine Maisler, CSA
Bernard Telsey, CSA
David Vaccari

Costume Designer
Ann Roth

Executive Producer
Dany Wolf

Executive Producer
Jonathan King

Film Editor
Valdís Óskarsdóttir

Production Designer
Jane Musky

Director of Photography
Harris Savides, ASC

Produced by
Laurence Mark

Produced by
Sean Connery and Rhonda Tollefson

Written by
Mike Rich

Directed by
Gus Van Sant

CAST

Forrester
Sean Connery

Jamal
Rob Brown

Crawford
F Murray Abraham

Claire
Anna Paquin

Terrel
Busta Rhymes

Ms Joyce
April Grace

Coleridge
Michael Pitt

Dr Spence
Michael Nouri

Matthews
Richard Easton

Massie
Glenn Fitzgerald

Damon
Zane R Copeland, Jr

Janice
Stephanie Berry

Fly
Fly Williams III

Kenzo
Damany Mathis

Clay
Damien Lee

Coach Garrick
Tom Kearns

Hartwell
Matthew Noah Word

Dr Simon
Charles Bernstein

Bradley
Matt Malloy

Sanderson
Matt Damon

Rapper
Jimmy Bobbitt

Opposing Player
Capital Jay

Student
James T Williams II

Claire’s Friend
Cassandra Kubinski

Librarian
Sophia Wu

Student Speaker
Gerry Rosenthal

Student Manager
Tim Hall

Old Money Man
Tom Mullica

Kid in the Hall
David Madison

Night Man
Joey Buttafuoco

Referees
Jaime McCaig
William Modeste

Hallway Boy
Daniel Rodriguez

Creston Player
Samuel Tyson

Big Band Leader
Vince Giordano

Violinist
Gregory Singer

Trumpet Players
Dean Pratt
Kerry Mackillop

Trombone Player
Harvey Tibbs

Sax Players
Jack Stuckey
Mark Lopeman
Mark Phaneuf
Larry Wade

Piano Player
Conal Fowkes

Guitarist
Matt Munisteri

Drummer
John Meyers

Mailor Priest
Ron Morgan

Jeopardy Contestant
Allison Folland

Alex Trebek
as Himself

Stunt Coordinator
George Aguilar

Stand in for Mr Connery
Roy Everson

Stunts
Tom Farr
Richard Hughes
Jamie Jones
Paul Rutledge
Al Thompson
Dave Van Zeyl

CREW

Unit Production Manager
Dany Wolf

First Assistant Director
David Webb

Second Assistant Director
Amy Lynn

Production Supervisor
Michele Giordano

Art Director
Darrell K Keister

Set Decorator
Susan Tyson

Assistant Set Decorator
B Lynn Tonnessen

On-Set Dresser
Joseph M Deluca

Property Master
James R Mazzola

Assistant Props
Vinny Mazzarella

Script Supervisor
Julie Oppenheimer

Camera Operator
Craig Haagensen

Assistant Cameras
Eric C Swaner
Michael Cambria
Caesar S Carnevale

Video Assist
Kevin McKenna

Steadicam Operator
Larry McConrey

Assistant Costume Designer
Michelle Matland

Key Costumer
Amy T Roth

Set Costumer
Iris H Lemos

Wardrobe Supervisors
Donna M Maloney
Joanna Brett

Wardrobe Supervisor For Mr Connery
Barrett P Hong

Key Makeup Artist
Michal Bigger

Makeup Artist For Mr Connery
Melanie R Hughes

Key Hair Stylist
John D Quaglia

Hair Stylist For Mr Connery
Lyndell Quiyou

Production Sound Mixer
Brian Miksis

Boom Operator
Paul Koronriewicz
Alfredo Viteri

Gaffer
Jay Fortune

Best Boy Electric
Thomas W Dolan

Rigging Gaffer
James V Malone

Best Boy/Rigging Electric
Gregory Farrell

Key Grip
George Patsos Jr

Best Boy Grip
Robert A Brennan

Dolly Grip
James H Pollard

Key Rigging Grip
William Patsos

Location Manager
Trish Adlesic

Assistant Location Managers
David Graham
Lin Saunders

Production Accountant
Nadine Wilson

Assistant Production Accountant
Antonia Proscia

Production Coordinator
Kerin Ferallo

Assistant Production Coordinator
Cliff Fuller

Production Secretary
Pamela S Marshall

2nd Assistant Director
Dylan Hopkins

Casting Associates – NY
Victoria Pettibone
Bill Woods

Casting Associates
Kathleen Driscoll-Mohler
Jon Strotheide

Extras Casting
NYC Casting

Unit Publicist
Larry Kaplan

Still Photographer
Demmie Todd

Executive for LMP
Petra Alexandria

Assistants to Mr. Mark
Chad Ahrendt
Eric Mansur

Assistant to Mr Connery
Joyce Tollefson

Assistants to Ms Tollefson
Rebecca Donaghe
Lynnette Ramirez

Assistant to Mr Van Sant
Jeremy Rizzi

Assistant to Mr Wolf
Jay Hernandez

Assistant to Mr King
Jeff Wallace

Production Assistants
Murphy Occhino
Noreen R Cheleden
Robert Dickerson Jr
Ginger Gonzales
Dan Jones
Elson C Williams III

DGA Trainee
Fareshta Ahmadi

Construction Coordinator
Fred Merusi

Key Carpenter
Louis J Porzio

Key Construction Grip
Thomas E Halligan

Scenic Charge Person
Patricia Walker

Catering/Craft Service
Premiere Caterers

Transportation Captain
Steven R Hammond

Transportation Co-Captain
Eugene Oneill

Technical Consultant
Casey Affleck

Basketball Consultant
Russell J Smith

Acting Coach
Barry Papick

Dialect Coach for Anna Paquin
Tim F Monich

TORONTO UNIT

Production Manager
James Powers

Second Assistant Director
Bruno Bryniarski

Art Director
Arvinder Grewal

Assistant Art Director
Sandra L Smirle

Set Decorator
Cal Loucks

On-Set Dresser
David Evans

Property Master
Tory Bellingham

Assistant Props
Jeffrey Poulis

Camera Operator
Philip W Oetiker

Assistant Cameras
Mark Cyre
Neil Trafford

Video Assist
Greg Williams

Costumer
Andre Schulz

Wardrobe
Cori Burchell

Makeup Artist
Mario Cacioppo

Hair Stylist
Veronica Ciandre

Sound Mixer
Wen Langevin

Boom Operators
Erika Schengili-Roberts
James L Thompson Jr

Gaffer
Scotty Allan

Best Boy Electric
Samuel Bojin

Rigging Electric
Davidson Tate

Rigging Electric Best Boy
Heinz D Gloss

Key Grip
Wayne Goodchild

Best Boy Grip
Glen Goodchild

Rigging Grip
Roland Gauvin

Rigging Best Boy
Cesare Digiulio

Location Manager
David McIlroy

Assistant Production Accountant
Luc Bernard

Production Coordinator
Beverly Sutton

Assistant Production Coordinator
Kwame L Parker

Production Secretary
James B Fraser

Office Production Assistants
Lee Ann Cotton
Wendy Ann Zellea

Extras Casting
Kleiman Casting

Still Photographer
George Kraychyk

Assistant to Mr Connery
Cassidy Watkins

3rd Assistant Director
Kirsteen McLean

Trainee Assistant Directors
Julie Oneill
John Sauvé

Construction Coordinator
John Mackenzie

Key Carpenter
Eric Taylor

Key Scenic
Reet Puhm

Transportation Captain
Dave Staples

Transportation Co-Captain
Stuart Mitchell

Catering
David’s

Craft Service
Starcraft

POST PRODUCTION

1st Assistant Editor
Helen Hand

Assistant Film Editors
Kathy Lacommare
Angela Barton
Kent Blocher
Tim Wilson
Paul Zucker
Dawn M Soliar
Clare Mara Bambrough

Supervising Sound Editor
Kelley Baker

Dialogue Editor
David A Cohen

ADR Editor
Peter Appleton

Re-Recording Mixers
Leslie Shatz, CST
David Parker
Gus Van Sant

Sound Effects Editors
Patrick Winters
Richard Moore
Michael Gandsey
Chris Potter

Foley Editor
Patti Tauscher

Assistant Sound Editor
Concha Solano

Foley Artists
Margie O’Malley
Marnie Moore

Foley Mixer
Steve Ontano

ADR Supervisor
Burton Sharp

ADR
Sound One – NY

Recordist
Frank Rinella

Supervising Music Editor
Ken Karman

Music Editor
Lisa Jaime

Assistant Music Editor
Lesley Langs

Pre-Mix Engineer
Dennis Sands

Re-recorded at
The Saul Zaentz Film Center

Digital Visual Effects by
Core Digital Pictures

Visual Effects Supervisor
Bob Munroe

Visual Effects Exec Producer
Shane Kinnear

Animation Supervisor
Ken Ouellette

Additional Visual Effects by
Syd Dutton
Bill Taylor, ASC
of Illusion Arts, Inc

Titles by
Howard Anderson Company

Opticals by
The Effects House – NY

Color Timer
Steve Sheridan

Negative Cutter
Executive Cutting Service

MUSIC

Verse Flow
Written and performed by Jimmy Bobbitt

The Love of God
Written by FM Lehman
Arranged by Claudia Lehman Mays

Feio
Written by Wayne Shorter
Performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Coffaro’s Theme
Written by Bill Frisell
Performed by Bill Frisell, Ron Miles, Curtis Fowlkes and Eyvind Kang
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products

Little Church
Written by Hermeto Pascoal
Performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Under a Golden Sky
Written and performed by Bill Frisell
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products

In a Silent Way
Written by Josef Zawinul
Performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Concierto de Aranjuez (Jazz)
Written by Joaquin Rodrigo
Performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Big Heat Fox Improvisation
Written by Carl Fortina

Foreigner in a Free Land
Written and performed by Ornette Coleman
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing and Courtesy of Harmolodic, Inc

Lonely Fire
Written and performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Little Blue Frog
Written and performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Weed, Hoes, Dough
Written by Mel Smalls and Sheldon Harris
Performed by Ruff Ryders, featuring Drag-On
Courtesy of Interscope records under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair
Written by John Jacob Niles
Performed by Marc Johnson, Bill Frisell and Peter Erskine
Courtesy of ECM Records

Bitches Brew
Written and performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Either It’s Love or It Isn’t
Written by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher
Black Satin
Written and performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Ain’t That Good News
Traditional
Arranged by William L Dawson
Performed by DeWitt Clinton High School Chorus

Sanctuary
Written by Wayne Shorter
Performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Happy House
Written and performed by Ornette Coleman
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing and Courtesy of Harmolodic, Inc

Beautiful E
Written by Bill Frisell
Performed by Bill Frisell, Hank Roberts, Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products

Recollections
Written by Josef Zawinul
Performed by Miles Davis
Courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

They Didn’t Believe Me
Written by Jerome Kern and Herbert Reynolds

Satan’s Brew Suite
Written by Peer Raben
Performed by Peer Raben Orchestra

Save Me
Written by Isaac Hanson, Taylor Hanson and Zac Hanson
Performed by Hanson
Courtesy of The Island Def Jam Music Group under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Orff-Schulwerk Gassenhauer from Musica Poetica
Written by Hans Neusiedler
Arranged by Carl Orff, Gunild Keetman and Bill Brown

Orff-Schulwerk Gassenhauer from Musica Poetica
Written by Hans Neusiedler
Arranged by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman
Performed by Karl Peinkofer Percussion Ensemble
Courtesy of Celestial Harmonics

Worry Doll
Written by Bill Frisell
Performed by Bill Frisell, Hank Roberts, Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products

Deep Night
Written by Charles Henderson and Rudy Vallee

Over The Rainbow
Written by EY Harburg and Harold Arlen
Performed by Bill Frisell

Winter Always Turns to Spring
Written and performed by Bill Frisell
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products

Soul On Fire
Written and performed by Craig Seganti
Courtesy of Music Source

Firmament
Written and performed by Algis A Kizys, Jonathan Bepler and David S Thorpe

Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful World
Written by EY Harburg and Harold Arlen/Bob Thiele and George David Weiss
Performed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Courtesy of The Mountain Apple Company Hawai’i/Big Boy Records

Additional Score by Bill Frisell
Music Supervisor/Original Score Producer Hal Willner
Soundtrack on Columbia/ Legacy/Sony Music Soundtrax

© 2000 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc

All Rights Reserved

Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc, is the author of this film (motion picture) for the purpose of copyright and other laws

Production Services by Finding Forrester Productions Limited Partnership

The Major League Baseball trademarks depicted in this motion picture were licensed by Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.

Pre-recorded videotape supplied by CNN
© Cable News Network, LP, LLLP
All Rights Reserved

Produced with the participation of the Government of Ontario
The Ontario Production Services Tax Credit

Special thanks to

The New York Public Library
Madison Square Garden and The New York Knicks
Albertine Anderson, New York City Transit Authority
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
James Grauerholz/William S Burroughs Communications
Bob Rosenthal and Andrew Wylie/Allen Ginsberg Trust
Jeffrey Hagenbuckle
Dr. Barbara Glatt
Victor LaValle
Cliff Preiss

Filmed in PANAVISION® Cameras & Lenses

Prints by DELUXE®

Color by Technicolor

MPAA Globe #37271

ACTRA IATSE KODAK DGC DOLBY SDDS DTS

The characters and incidents portrayed and the names herein are fictitious, and any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

This motion picture photoplay is protected pursuant to the provisions of the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any unauthorized duplication and/or distribution of this photoplay may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

A Columbia Pictures Release

A SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY


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