In late October,
actor-director Emilio Estevez announced plans to spend five weeks filming a
feature-length movie about harness racing in Cincinnati, around Ohio, and also
in the Tri-State area starting in January.
The son of Dayton, Ohio
native Martin Sheen, and brother of Charlie Sheen, has spent ten years
developing the screenplay for “Johnny Longshot”.
Estevez will direct and star
in the film, which has a $12 million budget.
Shortly, after the news
release, I fired off a letter via snail mail to the Gersh Agency in California,
which represents Estevez.
My first thought was this
might be the only movie about harness racing in my lifetime and I want to
somehow be a part of it.
Much to my surprise, a few
weeks later, the former “Gordon Bombay” of Mighty Ducks fame contacted me to
not only do some race announcing for the production, but also to look over the
At first, I thought the call
was a prank, until he read my letter over the phone. From there it was a delightful conversation
about an exciting project. He made a
point to say I didn’t have to write the letter since he had intended on calling
me anyway, and I was duly flattered.
Estevez was quite adamant
about being true to the sport, he wants to get several insiders involved to
make sure any sensitive issues are handled right, and he also wants to give
harness racing a grand publicity tool.
Moreover, Estevez fully
intends on making a family movie about comebacks and second chances, which he
describes as “inspirational”.
Along the lines of the
Secretariat and Sea Biscuit movies, Estevez wants to create another family
franchise that shows the unique familial culture and international flavor of
Estevez also intends to make
a film about the down-to-earth people in the sport, as well as highlight the
Standardbred as a kind of unsung hero of the horse world, and use modern
technology to capture the excitement of harness races.
The story is about a retired
jockey from Cincinnati who tries other “regular” jobs and becomes miserable
until he heads back to the track and revives or reinvents his career as a
harness racing driver.
Estevez will play “John
West” in a script he wrote several years ago, but got sidetracked recently
shooting “The Way” with his father in Spain.
Estevez told me he’s already
been out on the track jogging horses with trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr., but will
reportedly have a stunt double.
Estevez has his own
production company, Estevez Sheen Productions, a Warner Brothers affiliated
company, and with favorable tax incentives in Ohio, he will employ some 1,500
local acting talents and technicians in his home state, where he will possibly use
Lebanon Raceway, Scioto Downs, Northfield Park, Turfway Park and River Downs.
His other options for the
shoot are The Red Mile and The Meadowlands.
The Estevez credits also include
The Outsiders, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Men At Work, The War at
Home, Rated X, Repo Man, Stakeout, Young Guns, Young Guns II, Mission
Impossible, The Mighty Ducks and Bobby.
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