with video: Chelsea teen gets turn in the spotlight with role in feature movie 'Home Run Showdown'
“We were in Michigan. Every bar, restaurant, gas station, restroom had a baseball game on. I was totally bowled over with how much baseball means to so many people in Michigan. What a great place to shoot this film So I decided to have auditions in this land of baseball,” explained Scott.
The auditions were more than Scott bargained for as he saw 1,000 kids in five hours. Plus, since many kids came with their parents and siblings, numbers swelled to between 2-3,000 people. Emma Hess of Chelsea auditioned wearing baseball attire.
“I’ve never played baseball before in my life, which was a really interesting experience to actually play for the first time. I got a little coaching, went (in to audition), and maybe a week later found out I got (the role)—I was so excited!” recalled Hess—who’s credited as Emma-Lee Hess and turns 15 on Aug. 19. This fall, she’ll be a freshman at Chelsea High School.
Hess plays Phyllis Bloom, alias Fasi, the tomboy who is the only girl on the local little league baseball team called the Cubs. Tired of playing nice at a softball game, Fasi attacks a girl—Molly Gundry, 12, of Fenton—and is kicked out of the softball league, prompting her to play with the boys. Someone records Fasi’s donnybrook and it goes viral online. Channel 7’s Vic Faust (playing himself) even does a report about it.
“It was fun, that scene,” said Gundry. “(Hess is) very nice.”
Filmed in Detroit, Taylor, Farmington Hills, Milford, and Toledo, the movie is an all-ages, family-friend tale about a kid named Lorenzo Moore (Kyle Kirk)—Lori to his friends—who plays for the Cubs and befriends Fasi and another misfit named Tanker (Brandon Balog). The three bond and become the best of friends. Lori wants his dad, who is imprisoned, to see him playing at the Home Run Showdown, the Big League’s power-hitting tournament.
Coaching the Cubs is Joey DeLuca (Lansing native Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in two live-action “Scooby Doo” movies and sports a Zingerman’s Deli T-shirt in two scenes), a slacker who has no desire to coach whatsoever. His team goes up against his older brother Rico’s (Mt. Clemens native Dean Cain, TV’s “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”) team, who are league leaders.
What’s more, Rico is a former Major League baseball player who owns a car dealership and isn’t shy about lording his success over Joey. The rivalry between the two brothers heats up and it comes to blows at a baseball game. Mediating these two hotheads is their father, a bar-owner named Big Al (Barry Bostwick of TV’s “Spin City”), who wants to retire and turn his bar over to one of his sons, but can’t decide which one.
“The adults in this film are as much kids going through the pangs of growing up as the kids themselves,” said Scott. “It’s a story about growing up, becoming an adult, finding the best in yourself when it’s staring you right in the face and don’t recognize it.”
Hess really enjoyed working with Cain and Lillard.
“It was really fun—(Lillard) used to do his Shaggy voice from Scooby Doo. He is so just generous. We went bowling with him one time and he bought ice cream for all the kids. He was so nice and so funny—he’s just like Shaggy,” said Hess. “(Cain) was awesome. I wish I would have been able to spend more time with him. It was awesome because he was Superman, and it was such a cool experience to meet him Being my first feature film the entire experience was amazing.”
Rounding out the cast are Annabeth Gish (“Mystic Pizza,” TV’s “The X-Files”), Wayne Duvall (“Duplicity”), and Dearborn native Dave Marcon, who played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, California Angels, and Detroit Tigers from 1990-1995. Josh Saba, 12, of Farmington Hills plays Dave, the podcast announcer at the baseball games.
Scott had high praise for the cast and crew.
“I was thrilled to have such a strong group,” said Scott. “The work and the commitment they had was phenomenal. Even with the limited resources that we had, they full took on their characters and set great examples of work ethics for the young actors.”
Watch the trailer for "Home Run Showdown":