hawkhoops.com | Perry Reese Jr 1952-2000
Proposed Perry Reese movie still in holding pattern

The Times-Reporter

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since Perry Reese Jr. patrolled the sidelines as the coach of the Hiland High boys’ basketball team.

Later in 2000, Reese lost a courageous battle with cancer.

Sports Illustrated's Gary Smith told the story of Reese and his relationship with the Hiland community in "Higher Education," which was published in early 2001.

Shortly thereafter, talk of a major motion picture surrounding Reese and his life surfaced.

It's 2010 and, sadly, the project is still on hold.

Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of hit movies which among them are the sports-oriented "Remember the Titans" and "Glory Road," purchased the rights to Smith's article.

A representative from Jerry Bruckheimer Films said she did not know of any such project in development.

The author of "Higher Education" said he has no news.

"I wish I had some news to give you," wrote Smith in an e-mail. "All I've heard — and I haven't even heard anything in the last year — is that it's on prolonged hold."

SI recently called Smith's feature on Reese one of its best stories of the 2000s.

Wes Yoder, the agent representing the Perry Reese Jr. estate, also had nothing new to report. "I don't have any new information, only that the rights were sold to Jerry Bruckheimer," said Yoder. "They have not notified us of any plans to proceed."

Shelly Miller, who was mentioned in "Higher Education," knew Reese very well.

"He was one of my best friends, although if you'd ask 100 people here in our community, they'd all say the same thing," said Miller. "There was a group of us that just hung out all the time and he was like a big brother to me."

Miller has been in contact with both Smith and Gregory Allen Howard over the years.

Howard is the screenwriter for the project. He wrote the screenplay for "Remember the Titans" and he is doing likewise for "We are A Chain," the working title of the Reese story.

He sent a recent e-mail on the progress of the movie to Miller.

"I feel terrible we haven't gotten P's story told," wrote Howard. "Glory Road kind of killed us, but hope springs eternal. There's a new boss at Disney and let's see if he'll move forward. If not, then I'll start to try to push it forward myself."

"Glory Road" is the 2006 film based on a true story dealing with the events leading to the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship in which the late Don Haskins led Texas Western (now the University of Texas at El Paso) with an all-African American starting lineup to the title, a first in NCAA history.

My guess is that Disney doesn't want another "basketball movie" to be made so closely after "Glory Road."

It might be a while before the Reese story is made.

It was nearly 30 years after a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team (the T.C. Williams Titans) embarked on their first season as a racially integrated unit that "Remember the Titans" was made into a motion picture.

Still, the movie concerning Reese is so compelling I'm confident that one day it will reach the silver screen.

And it will be a hit.