Billy Bob Thornton to play ball

Actor signs on as producing partner in 'August'

Billy Bob Thornton has signed on as a producing partner on baseball-themed feature “Three Nights in August.”

Based on the book by Buzz Bissinger, story centers on the three-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs in 2003 — as told from the perspective of Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa.

Thornton joins Red Bird Cinema managing director John Loar as producer on the feature. Kevin Pollack, La Russa and Bissinger are executive producers. A director has yet to be set.

Thornton noted that he has been friends with La Russa for years and worked with Bissinger during the filming of 2004 football feature “Friday Night Lights,” which was also based on a book by Bissinger and in which Thornton starred.

“I was intensely aware of Tony’s story and experiences during this classic series between the Cardinals and their archrival Chicago Cubs,” he said. “This important piece of baseball history exemplifies why we love this game.”

Loar brought together Thornton and La Russa for the project.

“We’re confident (Thornton’s) love of baseball will help take this film to a new level,” Loar said.

In the book, Bissinger spent three games with La Russa, getting a feel for the joy and heartache of baseball.

Loar, La Russa, Pollack and Greg McCoy launched Red Bird Films in 2006. The shingle has three other features in the works, including one based on the life of boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. The Sandlot Group is Red Bird’s financing partner.

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