Pic a foul ball, Chi sez

Reeves starrer 'Hardball' protested for negative portrayal of youths

Two Chicago officials say Paramount’s Windy City-set pic “Hardball” is not playing fair with foul language.

Mayor Richard Daley and public schools head Paul Vallas ripped the Keanu Reeves starrer for its profanity-peppered portrayal of inner-city youth, many of them black. Reality-based tale, stemming from the book “Hardball: A Season in the Projects,” chronicles a baseball team comprised of kids from Chi’s toughest housing projects. Reeves plays the team’s coach.

During a public appearance Wednesday, Mayor Daley told reporters the movie appeared to be ignoring the inner-city tykes’ positive traits and “trying to portray these kids as saying four-letter words.”

Added Vallas, according to Reuters, “This is not ‘The Bad News Bears’ that we’re filming here. This is an R-rated movie that seems to be reinforcing negative stereotypes about inner-city children.”

Neither Daley nor Vallas could be reached for comment Thursday.

Par officials noted the pic, which is three weeks into shooting, is not slated for a specific MPA rating.

Studio had no further comment except for a short statement asserting “Hardball” is “a dramatic work of fiction. While it is inspired by real events, all of the characters in this film are fictional.”

A small protest on the movie’s set Wednesday was organized by Bob Muzikowski, one of the real-life coaches who contends the kids depicted in the movie were never allowed to swear.

“We are kind of heartbroken,” Muzikowski told the Chicago Sun-Times, whose headline blared “Hey, Keanu, Clean Up Your Movie.” “They have come into our town and taken a wonderful story and dirtied it up because they think they know how black kids act.”

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