Wow... that's a lot of "P"'s for a subject... anyway, first things first, check out the pics (click the following to go to the kodak gallery for printable shots: Pride Premiere):
So, check it out - Ebony & I attended the blue carpet (That's right - blue carpet not red carpet! The film is about swimmers!) film premiere screening for the movie, Pride up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Prince Music Theater! As the film is based on real life swimming coach & mentor, Jim Ellis, Ebony spearheaded efforts with her company, MENTOR - The National Mentoring Partnership, in supporting the film with Lionsgate Films. Check it out:
Lionsgate Films and MENTOR Share the Pride of Mentoring
January 9, 2007: A new film will open in theaters this spring that captures the powerful connection between caring adults and young people who want and need their guidance. Based on true events, Lionsgate's Pride tells the inspiring story of Jim Ellis, a charismatic schoolteacher and swim coach who changed lives forever when he founded an African-American swim team in one of Philadelphia's roughest neighborhoods. Directed by Sunu Gonera, this life-affirming drama stars Academy Award ® nominee Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac and Kimberly Elise.
Pride will be released nationwide on March 23, but one special mentor and mentee pair won't have to wait that long to see the film. In honor of National Mentoring Month, Lionsgate and MENTOR are inviting young people aged 13 and older to share how a mentor or coach has influenced them and changed their life. Eligible submissions will be entered in the Pride Mentor Sweepstakes, and the winner will receive a trip for four (for the mentor, mentee and up to two guests) to attend the World Premiere of Pride, taking place in Philadelphia. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on February 1, 2007. A short preview of the movie – can be found on the film's Web site www.pridefilm.com).
"Jim Ellis has played a powerful role in transforming the lives of young people for more than 30 years, and it all started when he took something he loved – competitive swimming – and shared it with youth in Philadelphia's inner city," notes MENTOR Executive Director Gail Manza. "Through mentoring and coaching, Ellis – as he so eloquently puts it – helps teens 'find the best parts of themselves.' We're delighted to join with Lionsgate to share this triumphant story of team spirit and courage, and to recognize other caring mentors who help young people reach for – and achieve – their dreams."
Doesn't my wife rock! What a great partnership! So, anyway, Ebony & I had a blast attending the invite-only premiere at the Prince Music Theater and after-party at Zanzibar Blue. The majority of the stars were in the house and we had a chance to meet and mingle with everyone. Among the stars in attendance, let's see... Philly Mayor John Street, Gamble & Huff aka Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff (legendary R&B men, creators of Philadelphia International Records), Terrence Howard (who was mobbed the whole time but real cool), Bernie Mac (busy eating with his wife the whole time at the after-party... when you gotta eat, you gotta eat), Jim Ellis (whom the film was based), Kevin Phillips (real cool cat, got to meet and take a pic), Tom Arnold (worked the room), Clifton Davis (star of Amen, who wasn't in the film... so, I was wondering why he was there... I sat next to him at the premiere and watched him exchange info with Terrence at the after party), Sunu Gonera (director, cool dude), Gary Anthony Sturgis (I swear that brotha could play James Brown in a bio-pic on him, he was all over the place working the room), Regine Nehy (all dolled up), Evan Ross (Diana Ross' son... sporting a hoodie and not stuttering but talking it up with the ladies at the after-party), Alphonso McAuley (all smiles and talking it up with everyone)... who else... a ton of swimmers that Jim Ellis coached (who were hooting and hollering)... some of the writers of the film were there along with members of the crew and people at Lionsgate... oh and I believe I passed Patti LaBelle too on the way out but I'm not sure... anyway, it was a real cool night and everyone was cool. Oh, I remember chatting it up with the costume designer and came to find out he was from Charleston, SC and that possibly I might of worked with him when I was in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls... what a small world! As for our thoughts on the film... it ran a lil' long and there were some story things I would have done differently but overall it was entertaining and a good feeling film. We did find out that the film may be edited again by its full theatrical release.
Here is the write-up on the event from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Swimmers and stars: A splashy screening
By Michael Klein, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia marked its first blue-carpet movie screening last night as a crush of stars visited for a high-spirited promotion of the film Pride.
Blue carpet? Blue, to match a swimming pool. Pride is loosely based on the inspirational story of swim coach Jim Ellis, who for many years has trained nationally ranked swimmers at Marcus Foster Recreation Center in Nicetown.
The stars, including Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac and Tom Arnold, clearly were in fine form, bounding from limousines outside the Prince Music Theater on Chestnut Street to sign autographs. Crowds began gathering more than two hours before the celebrity arrivals.
Howard missed the first 20 minutes of the screening, staying outside in his natty suit to sign and pose for cell-camera-toting fans.
Lionsgate, the studio, described last night's event as a screening, not a "premiere." (It's a Tinseltown thing; next month's "premiere" will draw even more paparazzi.)
Among the first on the carpet was Michael Gozzard, one of the screenwriters and a Temple University graduate. "This is amazing," he said beneath the twinkling lights, a searchlight probing the skyscrapers. "I left Philadelphia with two bags and a dream to be a screenwriter." His writing partner, Kevin Michael Smith, found Ellis' story in a magazine.
Mac - in a lime-green scarf and wool topcoat, a massive diamond earring in his left ear - greeted Mayor Street with a hug and a jovial "What's up, young man?"
Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, creators of Philadelphia International Records, strolled through. The soundtrack of Pride, set in 1973, includes several of their hits, including "Back Stabbers" and "Love Train" by the O'Jays.
Also on the carpet were some of the young actors who play members of Ellis' team: Regine Nehy grew up in Overbrook and left Archbishop Carroll High as a sophomore. Alphonso McAuley spent his blue-carpet time cutting up and hollering across the street. Eighteen-year-old Evan Ross said he asked his mother, singer Diana Ross, for examples of slang used in the early 1970s. "She kind of didn't remember that," Ross said.
Asked why he played a bad guy - as he did in the soap Port Charles and in many other roles - Gary Anthony Sturgis grinned and replied: "I do what they pay me to do." His performance as a thug notwithstanding, he called Pride "a feel-good joint."
The low-key Ellis, meanwhile, drew his own crowd. Clearly more comfortable in a sweater and khakis beside a pool, he yanked on the lapels of his suit jacket, grinned, and said, "Hugo Boss."
"I can't say this is a dream come true," Ellis said. "I never dreamt it."
The stars were expected at a party after the movie at the nightspot Zanzibar Blue.
Pride, opening March 23, is the Hollywoodized story of Ellis, the Bodine High math teacher and part-time Recreation Department worker who since 1971 has trained mainly African American youths to be swimming champions competing under the team name "PDR" - as in Philadelphia Department of Recreation. Since 1980, he has worked out of the Marcus Foster pool on Germantown Avenue, leading practice before and after school and on Saturdays.
In the movie, shot mostly in Louisiana by first-time director Sunu Gonera, it's 1973 and college grad Ellis (played by Howard) is hired to prepare a run-down Foster for closing. Driven by his love of swimming and his desire to help the neighborhood kids, he instead refurbishes the pool with crusty custodian Elston (Mac). Ellis whips the youngsters into a swim team. They encounter racism (Arnold plays an elitist coach at the fictional Main Line Academy), as well as bullying from local hoodlums (including Sturgis) and the scorn of a councilwoman (played by Kimberly Elise of the CBS series Close to Home), before they get to the big meet.
It's a sports movie, right?
In real life, Ellis was a water safety instructor from Pittsburgh who started a swim team at Sayre Rec in West Philly. He moved the team to Marcus Foster when it opened in 1980, and has mentored hundreds of kids, many of whom have gone to college on swimming scholarships.
Asked why he's kept it up, Ellis said: "I like kids."