"The Ultimate Gift" movie
“This movie is the "Ultimate Gift” ” The Dove Foundation
JAMES GARNER, BRIAN DENNEHY,
By Madelyn Ritrosky
The Ultimate Gift. What comes to mind? Unconditional love? A child? Self-sacrifice? A huge inheritance? Life itself?
If you ask Rick Eldridge, president and CEO of The Film Foundry, the ultimate gift would actually be many things. And they are wrapped up in an interesting package, the film version of the book of the same title, The Ultimate Gift. Eldridge served as producer and executive producer on the film.
The Ultimate Gift premiered at the Heartland Film Festival near the end of 2006, and will be released on 500 screens in March by 20th Century-Fox. Eldridge’s Film Foundry Releasing is co-managing the March 9, 2007, release.
It stars Drew Fuller (best known from the television series Charmed) in the lead role of spoiled-rich-kid Jason Stevens who has a lot to learn. James Garner is his wise, just-deceased grandfather, Red Stevens, whom we see in his videotaped, living will.
Co-stars include Bill Cobbs (Night at the Museum), Ali Hillis, Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), Lee Meriwether, and Brian Dennehy. Michael Sajbel (One Night with the King) directs. (See “More Heartland: Gifts of Life” for more about the film’s story.)
I had the opportunity to meet Eldridge at the Heartland Film Festival, and we talked about the film.
He was originally given Jim Stovall’s self-published book by a financial planner who was mentoring Eldridge’s two teenage sons. He carried it around for a while, finally reading it on a cross-country plane trip from Charlotte, North Carolina, Eldridge’s home base, to Los Angeles.
Eldridge describes the book as principle-centered rather than deeply philosophical: it’s about “the principles around life, core values, and legacies.” His timing turned out to be “one of those incredible opportunities.” Universal had optioned Stovall’s book, but the author “had maintained the right to approve the final script,” and three scripts were already in the dustbin. When Eldridge came calling, Stovall had just gotten back the rights. Continued...
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