Howard Baldwin, a producer on “Ray,” has come aboard as a producer on Robert Redford’s untitled feature about Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947.
Redford will star as Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises and Baldwin Entertainment Group have secured the blessing of Major League Baseball, Robinson’s widow and Branch Rickey Jr. for the project.
Kirk Ellis, who won an Emmy for “Anne Frank,” will script.
Redford has been developing the pic for the past year through his Wildwood Enterprises and Deep River Prods. (Daily Variety, April 30).
Story will track Robinson’s upbringing in Southern California and center on the relationship between Robinson and Rickey. Robinson started for the Dodgers in 1947, enduring death threats, beanballs, abuse from fans, a rebellion by some of his teammates and the threat of a strike by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Redford and Karen Tenkhoff will produce along with BEG principals Howard and Karen Baldwin. The Baldwins are also partnering with Andrew Cohen on the project.
Changing face of baseball
“It’s simply a great story — and one that most don’t know about — how the color barrier was broken and changed the face of baseball and ultimately the country,” Redford said.
Robinson starred as himself in 1950 biopic “The Jackie Robinson Story,” with Ruby Dee portraying his wife. The Robinson story was recently explored in HBO telepic “Soul of the Game,” in which Blair Underwood played Robinson.
Howard Baldwin told Daily Variety that the film will conclude when Robinson takes the field for the first time as a Dodger in 1947. Baldwin is no stranger to sports, having owned and operated NHL franchise the Hartford Whalers for 17 years and the Pittsburgh Penguins for eight. He also produced the sports films “Mystery, Alaska”; “Swimming Upstream,” due out April 22 from IFC; and the upcoming “The Game of Their Lives.”
The Baldwins ran Crusader Entertainment for Philip Anschutz the past three years, then set up Baldwin Entertainment Group last year.
Ellis is adapting David McCullough’s biography “John Adams” as a miniseries for Playtone and HBO. Other credits include “The Beach Boys: An American Family” and “The Cold Six Thousand.”