SouthfieldJuly 25, 2012
Local youths get ‘big break’ as ‘Home Run Showdown’ debuts
By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer
SOUTHFIELD — He started out as pitcher.
Then he got moved to right field … then to base coach.
In real life, 15-year-old Donovan Luttrell of Southfield is a baseball star, but if you see him on the big screen this weekend, he’ll be playing an underdog waiting for his special moment.
“I played Josh, and I was visually challenged. They kept moving him because he couldn’t see, but by the end, I got glasses and finally hit the ball and everyone cheered for me,” explained Luttrell, an 11th-grader at Southfield Lathrup High School who in real life has played the game for nearly 12 years. “It was hard because it wasn’t natural for me to play like an underdog. I got used to it, though, and eventually adjusted.”
After two years of anticipation, “Home Run Showdown” — the film he and other local youth starred in — is being nationally released, and the premiere is happening in Southfield on Friday, July 27. To celebrate the locally filmed movie, several events will take place around town, including a Kids Derby Contest July 26 and a chance for the actors, like Luttrell, to walk the red carpet during the opening.
“Home Run Showdown” is a comedy that follows 12-year-old Lori (Kyle Kirk), a new kid in town whose mother has died and whose father is in prison. When Lori fails to make the local baseball league, he teams up with two other misfits — larger-than-life Tanker (Brandon Balog) and feisty tomboy Fassi (Emma-Lee Hess) — to try to make an unusual dream come true: He wants his dad to see him on TV playing the field at the Big League’s power-hitting tournament, the Home Run Showdown.
The film was directed by Oz Scott and also stars Dean Cain, Matt Lillard, Annabeth Gish, Barry Bostwick and Wayne Duvall, alongside more than a dozen local youth who jumped at the chance to be part of a film being made throughout metro Detroit.
Luttrell made the last-minute decision to audition for the film in 2010 after learning that the casting call would be held at The Westin in Southfield. After several call-backs and a lengthy process, then 13-year-old Luttrell got the call he was waiting for and was put to work as Josh, one of the players on the underdog team, the Cubs, called the “Scrubs” in the movie.
That summer filming changed everything for him.
“I was definitely really nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. Then, when the cameras turned on, it was a big deal for me,” he said. “When I got in front of the camera, I really liked the experience. It’s something I never thought I’d do, but now I want be an actor.”
Luttrell, who now pursues acting and recently joined a talent agency, believes this is kind of his “big break.” He said being reunited with the Hollywood actors from Home Run Showdown – on the red carpet, nonetheless — is something he’s looking forward to.
“I never thought I’d meet them, much less hang out with them,” he said with a laugh, adding that several of his young co-stars were kids he already played baseball with around the area.
For tomorrow night’s preview, Luttrell’s team, the South Farmington Blues, along with his family and friends, will be there to see how the film turned out. “It’s going to be crazy. I definitely plan to wear a suit or tux,” he added.
Several other local actors (and those in-the-making) can be seen during the film, too, including Southfield’s Anthony Talley, who plays one of the main Cubs in the movie.
Another local actor, 47-year-old Carlos Faison, originally from Detroit, plays “Coach Jeff,” and said it was great to work with both the stars of the film and the local children.
“Just listening to the stories (the actors) had about working in the industry and working with other people was amazing,” he said, adding that many of his scenes were with Cain, whose friend he played in the film. “Working with the kids was a great experience, too. There were some great local kid actors, and they have a very bright future.”
Faison (whose cousin is Donald Faison of “Scrubs” and also Frankie Faison from “Coming to America”) said he’s eager for this weekend’s festivities happening in Southfield, where he’ll include two of his children, ages 14 and 15, and will get to walk the red carpet for his first movie premiere.
“I always want to do stuff my kids can go to. This was a family film, and that’s something I can be proud of,” he said.
Celebrate the opening of “Home Run Showdown” in Southfield:
The Kids Derby Contest will be held 5-7 p.m. July 26 at the Southfield Civic Center Field, 26000 Evergreen Road. The free event is open to the public. Kids ages 8-14 can bring a baseball glove to participate in games and contests. More than $500 in cash prizes will be awarded.
The movie debut will include the red carpet walk at 6:30 p.m. July 27, with the film showing at 7 p.m. at AMC Star Southfield, 25333 W. 12 Mile Road.
Call AMC at (248) 368-1802, or for more information on the movie debut, find “Home Run Showdown” on Facebook.
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