Veteran Producer/Writer Joe Cacaci Announces Plans For “INVISIBLE MEN,” A New Feature Film Based On The Real Life Stories Of The Negro Baseball Leagues
Original film, produced in conjunction with Odyssey Networks, to tell the real story of many of the trailblazing personalities, problems and successes of some of America’s greatest, and most forgotten, athletes and social pioneers
NEW YORK, October 20, 2011 – Award winning producer/writer Joe Cacaci today announced plans for a new original American film “Invisible Men,” the first-ever feature film account of the personalities that made up the Negro Leagues, and their stories before the integration of Major League Baseball. The film will center around a series of fictional characters, but will also bring to life some of the era’s most prominent personalities, ranging from Josh Gibson and Satchel Page to Branch Rickey and Leo Durocher.
“We are at a point in American society where some of the most poignant stories of both sports and integration are being lost to time, and we feel that ‘Invisible Men’ can help fill that void,” Cacaci said. “This is not just a baseball story, it is a story of determination, sacrifice, following your dreams and striving for success in difficult times, all themes which anyone can relate to with the challenges we face today.’
Cacaci will partner with New York-based Odyssey Networks, who most recently produced ”Serving Life” for OWN with Forest Whitaker, and “The Shunning” with Michael Landon Jr. and Brian Bird for Hallmark Channel. Since its founding in 1987, Odyssey, the nation’s largest multi-faith media coalition, has been using television to tell stories of redemption and personal transformation that win critical acclaim and deliver huge audiences. Their “Note” movies, produced for Hallmark, (“The Note” and “Taking a Chance on Love”) are among the highest-rated telecasts in that network’s history. A sequel “Notes From The Heart Healer” will air in 2012.
“Odyssey is delighted to be involved with ‘Invisible Men,'” said Maura Dunbar, EVP/Chief Content Officer for Odyssey, who will serve as Executive Producer, along with sports industry veteran Joe Favorito. “This is very much a film in the Odyssey tradition of television that touches hearts and minds. It tells a vital chapter not just in sports history but in the American story itself. People are hungry for heroes today and they are sure to find them in these forgotten giants of the Negro League.”
The story of “Invisible Men” centers on the fictitious Clarke family… brothers, Leon and Sam, who play in the Negro Leagues, their sister, Mae and their hard working and very hands on parents, Henrietta and Charles. Along with Nat Holmes, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Courier, they are the heart and soul of the movie. Real life characters who figure into the story include many Negro League luminaries, like star players, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, Buck Leonard, Oscar Charleston, Willie Wells, Jimmy Crutchfield and Cool Papa Bell, and the legendary Negro Leagues owner and organizer, Gus Greenlee.
Major League Baseball notables who drop in and out of the story include the long reigning and intransigent commissioner, Judge Keneshaw M. Landis, feisty player-manager, Leo Durocher, Dodgers’ GM, Branch Rickey and the immortal Babe Ruth, who makes a brief but pivotal appearance.
From as far back as the 1860’s and well into the 1940’s, The Negro Leagues caliber of play rivaled that of Major League Baseball, a fact that was inconveniently (for MLB) proven repeatedly in the All Star exhibitions the two organizations often played. Black teams, often white owned, proliferated and organized in to official leagues starting in 1920, when the Negro National League and its governing body, the National Association of Colored Professional Base Ball Clubs was formed, led by legendary player turned league president, Rube Foster.
While the teams and even the leagues themselves changed over the next thirty-eight years, what remained consistent and was particularly noteworthy given the time period, was that most of these teams were black owned. The leagues thrived, both popularly among black and white fans alike, as well as financially. After Jackie Robinson’s hiring by the Dodgers in 1946 and his ascendancy into MLB the following year, both major leagues began signing the best players away from their Negro counterparts, which ultimately rendered the need for a Negro League unnecessary. By 1958, the Leagues, having thus been reduced to minor league caliber, dissolved.
Cacaci, a lifelong baseball fan, conceived of the idea and created the original script. The veteran producer has co-created the CBS prime time series The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, starring Sharon Gless and has been the Executive Producer of two prime time series, SHOWTIME ‘s The Hoop Life and CBS’s The Education of Max Bickford, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Marcia Gay Harden. He has directed two indie features, Stranger in My House, starring Lindsay Crouse, and most recently, Snatched, starring Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Jay Thomas and Ernest Borginine. He is currently in pre- production for his short, Food for Thought, which he will also direct for Joe Mantegna’s Quickbites series. The piece will star Tony Shalhoub.
Joe produced the award winning Boston premiere of David Mamet’s American Buffalo and was Producing Director of NY’s Provincetown Playhouse where he co-produced Mr. Mamet’s OBIE winning play Edmond. He was the founding Artistic Director of East Coast Arts where he produced twenty world premiere plays over seven seasons, including work by Shel Silverstein. He was Producing Director of The Playwrights Kitchen Ensemble in Los Angeles (with founding Artistic Director Dan Lauria), and has directed plays for The NY Shakespeare Festival at The Public Theater (for the late Joseph Papp), The Westport Playhouse, Coconut Grove Theatre and commercially in New York and in Los Angeles, where he directed the world premiere of Victor Bumbalo’s Questa. He also teaches television writing in the graduate program of the Film School at Columbia University.
For more information on the project, visit http://www.invisiblementhemovie.com
Contact: Joe Favorito, firstname.lastname@example.org 917-566-8345