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Robert Redford to star in Jackie Robinson / Branch Rickey biopic - TCA Report

by Kristin Sample, posted Jul 11th 2008 1:03PM
Robert Redford ESPN Films is co-producing a film for theatrical release about legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. The film will center around their struggle to break down racial barriers in the late 40s. The project, which is yet untitled, will be produced by Robert Redford, Tracy Falco, Karen Baldwin and Andrew Cohen. Redford will star in the role of Rickey. No word on who will play Robinson.

ESPN Senior VP, Ron Semiao, says "ESPN Films is honored to be collaborating with such accomplished storytellers and filmmakers for such an important sports and American story." Semiao was at the Beverly Hilton yesterday along with Branch Rickey III to discuss the project. Semiao added that doing this theatrical film was a natural extension for the company which tries to serve sports fans "however they consume sports content."

Branch Rickey III, grandson of the famous manager, told the press that he and his family never wanted to sign off on any film -- the history stood as it was, for what it was. However, he's happy with the collaboration and his family approves of the film. One member of the press asked if Robert Redford looks at all like the real Branch Rickey. "Branch Rickey was a little bit better looking," Semiao joked.

Also on the panel was Spike Lee, who is doing a documentary for ESPN. One member of the press asked him how he felt about this movie getting made without his direction or input. Apparently, Lee has wanted to make a biopic about the baseball player for some time and never received enough funding. Lee said he was happy for Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife. He knows her very well and was gratified that her husband's story was being told. The director added that he's not the type to say if he can't be a part of something, no one can have it.

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Mike Doran

I've seen some film and video of Branch Rickey. All Redford has to do is lose about two or three inches of height, gain about 60-70 pounds, gravel up his voice (chain-smoking cigars for the next year or so should do the trick),and he'll still need four hours of prosthetics on his face to even come close to Rickey. Maybe he can talk Paul Newman into playing Leo Durocher (although lately Newman looks more like Connie Mack...).

July 11 2008 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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