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‘Hardball’ up to bat

Preem benefits Hank Aaron Foundation

HOLLYWOOD — The Sept. 10 popcorn-and-peanuts preem for “Hardball” on the Paramount lot served as a benefit for the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, which helps at-risk youths flourish in subjects ranging from sports to music. Hank Aaron himself admitted he didn’t have it as rough as the boys in the film.

“There were no drugs when I was growing up,” said Aaron, who used to practice batting with a broomstick. “But I can relate to all the things that happened in the movie.”

Originally rated R, pic will now be more marketable to children. The task of re-tailoring the melodrama to fit a PG-13 rating came way out of left field for helmer-producer Brian Robbins.

“It probably wouldn’t have been as difficult if I would’ve known exactly what I had to do to get the rating,” Robbins said. “Because you don’t know, you’re frightened that you’re just going to have to rip it to shreds. Really, I only had to take out that four-letter word and that was it.”

Among the attendees were Paramount studio chief Sherry Lansing; Fireworks Pictures prexy Danny Diamond; CanWest chairman and CEO Jay Firestone; exec producer Herb Gains; producer Michael Tollin; the pic’s Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane, D.B. Sweeney, Graham Beckel as well as the 10 boys on the pic’s baseball team; and guests Jennifer Blanc, Marc Blucas, Amanda Bynes, Dana Daurey, Soleil Moon Frye, Ron Lester, Trina McGee-Davis and Gabrielle Union.

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