William Hurt, who two weeks ago dropped out of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider after the tragic on-set death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, is circling the basketball drama Men Of Granite written by new scribe Armand Kachigian. The project was adapted from the book of the same name by Dan Manoyan (a former Milwaukee Sentinel sportswriter) and is based on a true story of how a group of poor, immigrant high school boys from the wrong side of the tracks rose above bigotry in 1940s small-town Illinois by proving themselves on the basketball court. There is no deal and his involvement is contingent upon financing.
The role that has Hurt’s interest is that of a high school coach suffering a string of losses and resigned to never winning a game. It’s not until this band of Armenian-speaking kids take the court that his passion for the game reignites. What’s really nice for a basketball movie, is that there is a fully-realized, strong female lead — that of Sophia Prather — a 50 year-old to 60 year-old schoolteacher, who watches over her “boys of Lincoln Place” with a steely eye, takes no guff and prods the boys into getting out of their broken-down neighborhood gymnasium and onto the high school court. By mentoring, encouraging and helping to pave the way for these downtrodden boys, she firmly believes that she is doing God’s work.
The project is set in my hometown of Granite City, a steel town in Southern Illinois across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. These families — Markarian, Hagopian, Parsaghian, Eftimoff — (more…)