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Authorized Lou Gehrig Biopic ‘The Luckiest Man’ in Development

Variety logo Variety 6/22/2017 Dave McNary
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An authorized biopic of iconic baseball player Lou Gehrig was announced Wednesday, the 78th anniversary of Gehrig’s retirement from the New York Yankees.

The baseball team has given its endorsement to the new project “The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.” The film will be directed by Jay Russell (“My Dog Skip” “Ladder 49”) and based on the biography “Luckiest Man” by Jonathan Eig, with a screenplay adaptation by Dan Kay.

The movie will focus on Gehrig’s playing career from 1923 to 1939, when it was cut short by Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and his relationship with his wife Eleanor. Gehrig died in 1941 and his life was recounted in 1942’s “Pride of the Yankees,” which starred Gary Cooper and received 11 Oscar nominations.

The title is taken from a speech Gehrig gave at Yankee Stadium two weeks after his retirement. The speech began, “Fans, for the past two weeks, you’ve been reading about a bad break. Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”

Producers are Branded Entertainment’s Michael Uslan and David Uslan, Kingsway Productions’ Robert Molloy and Conglomerate Media’s Armando Gutierrez. Barrie Osborne and Jeff Steen will serve as executive producers. Principal casting will begin this month.

“Lou Gehrig is an iconic character, not just in baseball, but as a true American hero, a man who faced his intense, personal battles with quiet bravery,” Russell said. “While Gehrig’s story has previously been told in the beloved ‘Pride of the Yankees’, this will be a new depiction with a more contemporary style and approach.”

David Uslan said, “This is the story of how a shy, quiet man, at the moment in life that tests him to the absolute extreme, can step up to the plate and deliver extemporaneously, and from the heart, arguably one of the greatest speeches in American history. It can’t help but rekindle our belief in the best of humanity during today’s polarizing and dispirited times.”

Michael and David Uslan are represented by WME and Manatt Phelps & Phillips. Russell is represented by APA, Zero Gravity Management and Gang, Tyre, Ramer, and Brown. Kay is represented by APA, Circle of Confusion and Myman, Greenspan, Fineman, Fox, Rosenberg & Light. Osborne is represented by Gersh and Stankevich Law. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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