Pinstriped child's story 'Henry & Me' to be released as animated movie, voiceover cast includes Richard Gere as Lou Gehrig, Chazz Palminteri as Babe Ruth, Paul Simon as Thurman Munson, and Arod as himself
"On the fourth floor at Steinbrenner Field yesterday afternoon, while the Yankees visited the Phillies in nearby Clearwater, chieftains Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and resident legend Reggie Jackson convened with a handful of others in a dark conference room and took in a movie.
animated film called “Henry & Me” that has been a long time in the making and serves as homage to the Yankees’ history.
It has been so long in the making, in fact — about six years now — that the film’s producers face a potential dilemma: Alex Rodriguez plays a small but important role in the film, hitting a big home run with the help of the film’s protagonist, Jack, a boy battling cancer.
Is it OK to keep portraying A-Rod in such a positive light, given the Biogenesis story?
Upon viewing the near-completed project yesterday, Hank Steinbrenner, who contributes his voice to the role of his late father, George, said that would be just fine. “I think it doesn’t matter,” Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ co-chairperson with his brother, told The Post. “The movie is about a child with cancer and his love of the Yankees. Everybody else is in it, too, Ruth and Gehrig and everybody else, so it’s really a small part of it.
“The focus really needs to be on what the movie is about. It’s really sad at the beginning and luckily a happy ending. It’s not about whether Alex is in it or not. Maybe it is to the baseball press, but it’s not going to be to anybody else.”
The film’s producers, Joseph Avallone and Joe Castellano, and director Barrett Esposito presented the movie along with executive producer Ray Negron, the longtime Yankees adviser whose pinstripe-centric children’s books are the foundation of the story.
Said Negron: “This is my tribute to The Boss and the Steinbrenner family and [team president] Randy Levine for all the things they’ve done for me.”
The intention of yesterday’s screening was to run it by the Steinbrenners, because the Yankees insignia and brand name are being used significantly, before continuing to pursue their goal of releasing the movie in tri-state area theaters sometime around Father’s Day.
Though Hal Steinbrenner and Jackson declined comment, the producers departed the meeting with the organization’s green light, as expressed by Hank Steinbrenner.
Negron helped secure a star-studded voiceover cast featuring Richard Gere as Lou Gehrig, Chazz Palminteri as Babe Ruth and singer Paul Simon as Thurman Munson. Myriad Yankees dignitaries such as Jackson, Yogi Berra, Bernie Williams, CC Sabathia, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman play themselves, and public address announcer Bob Sheppard taped a few lines from his Long Island home in January 2010, less than six months before he died.
In exchange for a $1,500 donation to a charity of his choosing, A-Rod met with the producers for two recordings — first in Manhattan in June 2009, just months after he confessed to using illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and then in Miami during the 2009-10 offseason, following his fantastic October 2009.
The film carries the vibe of those 2009 Yankees. There’s a trademark come-from-behind victory as well as A-Rod getting a pie in the face, though you won’t see pie-master A.J. Burnett.
“Alex hit a lot of big home runs for us in ’09,” Hank Steinbrenner said. “Realism-wise, it’s fine.” Of course, allegations now have emerged that A-Rod continued to use illegal PEDs through last year, creating another cloud of controversy over him. It’s not ideal for the film. But for anyone to get caught up in that and miss the greater meaning of the film — about not giving up — well, that would be pretty silly.
“We could change it,” Avallone said. “Give me another million, give me another year, we could change it. We don’t have a million. We don’t have a year. And you know what? It’s really bigger than Alex. It’s about giving back. It’s about the children.”
The film intends to donate $2 from each DVD purchase or download to the charities of the film’s actors."... Tweet Stumbleupon StumbleUpon