Friday, September 29, 2006
Frozen's Basketball Man rocks Vegas House of Blues
Cheers, laughs and rollicking applause rocked the Las Vegas House of Blues Wednesday night for the first-ever preview of Frozen Pictures’ documentary feature Basketball Man.
The event hosted by comedy superstar Tommy Davidson boasted dozens of sports celebrities and legends, and went well into the night as the VIPS took the year's most spectacular hoops party upstairs to the top of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino for an intimate and lively soiree in the exclusive Foundation Room.
It was a fitting way to announce the first feature documentary to tell the story of the life and legacy of basketball's inventor, Dr. James Naismith.
After a silent auction of sports memorabilia benefiting the Naismith International Basketball Foundation, the group's president, Renee DiGiulio, took the stage to introduce Ian Naismith-- grandson of the inventor and star of the film. Ian electrified the crowd with with his straight-talking charisma before bringing out executive producers Dee Pack and Keith Zimmerman of Double Dog Sports & Entertainment, and Frozen Pictures producers Brett Hudson, Burt Kearns and Jerry Peluso.
“This is a movie about heroes,” director Kearns told the crowd. “Dr. James Naismith, and his grandson Ian, who has taken his original rules and gone on a one-man crusade to use them in the name of something that may sound corny but is more important than ever today— sportsmanship.”
Host Tommy Davidson then got the big ball rolling by introducing a childhood hero, Harlem Globetrotter Gator Rivers, renowned as “The World’s Greatest Ball-Handler.”
After Gator took the stage, the crowd was treated to a piece of sports and entertainment history as Gator performed superhuman ball tricks to the tune of “Sweet Georgia Brown”—whistled by Davidson. For a few minutes, the glitzy House of Blues was turned into the Apollo Theatre…
The heat was only turned up when Gator looked into the audience and coaxed Basketball Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard— the first female Globetrotter— onstage to join him in some of the fanciest ball tricks this side of the Staples Center.
And then the big screen was lowered and Basketball Man premiered. The 25-minute teaser included scenes from the film and some of the biggest names in the game, including Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, and Michael Jordan.
The preview made clear the epic scope of the documentary, as it follows Dr. Naismith’s grandson Ian as sets off across the United States and Canada, seeking out out the milestones of his grandfather’s life in places as diverse as Almonte, Ontario and Lawrence, Kansas.
The audience was in for a surprise and a chuckle when they learned that the site of the original basketball game is now occupied by a McDonald’s restaurant.
There was a poignant moment when ailing Celtics legend Red Auerbach appeared to speak about Dr. Naismith’s intentions—and hearty laughs and applause for Red’s comments about what he thinks when he holds a basketball. Gator got even more cheers when he showed up onscreen to demonstrate how his trick ball handling relates to the game’s original 13 rules.
What do you do for encore to that? Tommy Davidson surely knew, as he treated the crowd to a side-splitting set of his standup comedy act. It was one more standing ovation on a night full of them.
Spotted in the crowd were stars including Oscar Robertson, Rick Barry, Norm Van Lier, Sam Lacey, Moses Malone, Marques Haynes, baseball great Al Fitzmorris (who composed and performed the film’s theme, “One In A Million”) and many others who partied til the early hours in the Foundation Room, overlooking the Vegas Strip.
The event was only the first as the Basketball Man promotional tour gets underway. Among its stops: Lawrence, Kansas, where Doc Naismith spent many years, and Springfield Massachusetts, where he invented the game.
Stay tuned here for the latest on Basketball Man…
MAN IN BLACK: Ian Naismith, star of Basketball Man, has a Johnny Cash moment at the House of Blues
BIG DOG: Executive producer Dee Pack of Double Dog Sports & Entertainemnt was the man behind the scenes of the sensational preview premiere of the Dr. James Naismith documentary
SUPERSTAR TALENT: Tommy Davidson with Harlem Globetrotters legend Gator Rivers
THE SPORTSMAN: Executive producer Keith Zimmerman, Dee Pack's Double Dog partner, gives props to the stars and legends who make Basketball Man such a riveting feature
THE PRODUCERS: Ian Naismith introduces Jerry Peluso, Burt Kearns & Brett Hudson, producers of the film about his grandfather's life and legacy
BIG NEWS: News media from around the country were at the House of Blues to interview Ian Naismith and other stars at the Basketball Man preview bash