Luck rains on ‘Jones’ infomercial

Docu's second half harvests a 4.2 rating

NEW YORK — A theatrical biopic about the famous golfer Bobby Jones, starring Jim Caviezel, got one of the best pre-opening network-TV sendoffs ever on Sunday night because of a quirk of the weather.

Across the entire Eastern time zone, the second half-hour of “The Making of ‘Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius,’ ” a slick infomercial for the movie, ran in the killer time period of 6:30 p.m. on CBS following a nail-biting Masters golf tournament and preceding an original edition of “60 Minutes.”

Rob Correa, senior VP of programming for CBS Sports, said CBS had sold the noontime period on Sunday to Bobby Jones Films LLC, the producer of the movie, and Film Foundry Releasing, the picture’s rookie distributor, for the full hour of the making-of docu. (The movie opens in more than 1,000 theaters on April 30.)

But because the weather looked threatening for the Masters, Rick Eldridge, an executive with Film Foundry, said tournament officials decided to move it up by 90 minutes, which pushed an historical special called “Quest for the Grand Slam” up to noon.

That shift caused CBS to pencil in the making-of docu to 6 p.m. Eastern time; when the Masters spilled over to 6:30, the network picked up the docu in progress.

No complaints

Kim Dawson, an executive with Bobby Jones Films, said that even though the first half-hour got cut due to the Masters overrun, he’s not complaining: The docu’s second half harvested a gaudy 4.2 rating in the Nielsen overnights, which is close to four times the viewership it would’ve chalked up in the noon timeslot.

And CBS has promised to make good on the lost half-hour on a golf weekend before the movie opens, Dawson said. The deal is part of an overall advertising buy to get spots for the movie placed in the various golf matches CBS plans to run during the next month or so.

Eldridge said “Stroke of Genius,” directed by Rowdy Herrington, cost slightly under $20 million to produce. Film Foundry has set aside a total budget of about $13 million to market and promote the movie, which also stars Claire Forlani, Jeremy Northam and Aidan Quinn.

Although “Stroke of Genius” is not as harrowing as Caviezel’s previous biopic “The Passion of the Christ,” Eldridge said that after his illustrious career, Bobby Jones contracted a rare disease that turned him into a paraplegic, making him wheelchair-bound for the last 20 years of his life. He died in 1971 at age 69.

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