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3) Indie Biopic Drama "Sweetwater" Has Many Roles

July 7 2008 at 12:39 AM


"Sweetwater", a drama independent feature, is now casting many roles for production starting in Late July.

PLOT SUMMARY: The movie is the true story of Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, who was the first African-American player to be offered a contract by an NBA team, the New York Knicks, in 1950.

"Sweetwater" was written and will be directed by Martin Guigui.

The film is being produced by Michel Shane and Dahlia Waingort.

Production begins in Late July.


Nathaniel "Sweetwater" Clifton: Late 20s-Early 30s, African-American. During the late 1940s, extremely tall, physically fit, athletic, exceptionally agile, Sweetwater is a talented basketball player whose "street" playing style and acrobatic ability has landed him a job with the popular Harlem All Stars, where he’s clearly a star. A decent man, intelligent, playful, willing to take risks on the court (at one small town exhibition game he takes a little girl from the stands and plants her on his shoulders, from which she makes a basket), Sweetwater is accustomed to the frequent racial hatred he and the team encounter on the road, though that obviously doesn’t make it easier to deal with. Unhappy with the meager pay with the All Stars, despite his bond with the eccentric All Stars owner/manager Ape Saperstein, Sweetwater is wary when he’s courted by the New York Knicks owner Ned Irish--who eventually offers Sweetwater the first NBA contract awarded to an African American player. Eager to be considered the Jackie Robinson of basketball and disappointed when that honor goes to Eddie Lloyd, Sweetwater nevertheless has earned a rightful place in sports history. LEAD ROLE

Mauric Podoloff: Mid 40s-Late 50s, Caucasian. The Commissioner of the NBA in 1950, Podoloff doesn’t weigh in on either side of the owners’ heated debate about whether to allow black players in the all-white NBA, determined to keep some objectivity as the leader of the contentious franchise owners. Later, when he realizes Ned Irish is serious about recruiting the All Stars’ Sweetwater Clifton, Podoloff warns him that it’s not the right time, fearing that Irish will lose his franchise if he goes against the majority of NBA owners who want the league to remain all white. Eventually, Podoloff sees three black players chosen in the 1950-51 season, igniting fierce controversy in the NBA as well as among the fans. Podoloff takes some heat from Irish when he schedules an early game that lets Eddie Lloyd get the distinction of being the first black NBA player instead of Sweetwater. LEAD ROLE

Joe Lapchick: Mid 40s-Late 50s, Caucasian. The head coach for the Knickerbockers, intelligent, open-minded, feared among his players but a fair coach, Lapchick works well with Ned Irish, whom he joins on a recruiting jaunt to look at young African American college basketball players. A man who has no problem breaking barriers, Lapchick is one hundred percent behind Irish’s determination to get a black player in the NBA, though he’s somewhat skeptical about Irish’s choice of Sweetwater Clifton over a younger player like Marques Haynes. Undaunted by the upcoming conflict, Lapchick handles the difficult opening game against Indianapolis that marks the first time an African American has played basketball in Madison Square Garden. LEAD ROLE

Jeanne Brown: In her late 20s-Late 30s, Caucasian, (she could be a little worn- someone who has been around the block), down-to-earth, smart. Jeanne is a talented singer with a "society orchestra" at New York’s Copacabana Club. Unenthusiastic about the popular favorites she’s required to sing, Jeanne’s an exceptional blues singer, and she sneaks in a bluesy number whenever the band leader, Hans, her boyfriend, lets her. Captivated by Sweetwater, who hears her sing and is entranced, Jeanne has a love affair with Sweetwater, feeling a kinship with him because in the same way he’s a black player about to break into a white man’s game, she’s a white woman who loves to sing the blues. Jeanne is grateful to Sweetwater for introducing her to Louis Jordan, a black jazz blues band leader who lets Jeanne sit in on a set and later offers her a touring job with the band. Please indicate if the actresses can sing but we will most likely let the actress lip sync the part. LEAD ROLE

Man/ESPN Sports Reporter: This man taking a cab in Chicago in 1988 is a basketball buff (and, we later learn, an ESPN reporter) who is thrilled to learn his cabdriver is none other than Nathanial "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first black player offered a contract with the heretofore all white NBA in 1950. After the man listens in fascination to Sweetwater’s story, he does an on-air story on it and brings the point home by asking people on the street if they know the name of the first African-American player in the NBA.

Marques Haynes: 20s, African-American, a talented basketball player and the guard for the legendary Harlem All Stars, the good-natured Haynes is a teammate and friend of Sweetwater’s. Haynes shares the good times and bad times with the team--the highs of playing a great game, the lows of the recurring racial hatred they encounter--and is an admirer of Sweetwater’s style.

Buddy McBrady: 50 - 60s, Caucasian. This NBA franchise owner makes no secret of his firm intention to keep the NBA a bastion of white players only. A bigot in general, Buddy goes head to head with Ned Irish as Irish fights to get African American players in the NBA to keep them competitive. It’s Buddy’s contention that the "decent, white, Christian families" who come to see his games "want to see white men play a white game--a clean game." Disgusted when Irish and two other owners draft black players, Buddy watches Sweetwater’s debut at Madison Square Garden with contempt, and his disagreement with Ned Irish eventually becomes physical.

George McCrae: Mid 40s - Late 50s, Caucasian. An owner of an NBA franchise, bigoted and emphatic, he agrees with Buddy and Swerman about not having any black players in the league: "I don’t want any of ‘em Negroes playin’ that razzle dazzle hot doggin’ s__t on our courts." He’s horrified when some of his colleagues announce their intention to draft African American players (the owners of the Knicks, the Celtics and the Washington Capitols) and later watches Sweetwater’s Madison Square Garden debut with contempt.

Earl Lloyd: African-American, in his 20s in 1950. He’s a talented basketball player and the star of the West Virginia college team. A down-to-earth guy, he’s one of the first three black players in the 1950 NBA draft, causing much media hype and speculation about which of the three (Lloyd, Chuck Cooper and Sweetwater) will earn the distinction of being the first African American player in the league. As history turns out, Eddie is the first of the three to actually play in an NBA game, though he doesn’t exactly cover himself with glory on his first outing.

Chuck Cooper: African-American, in his early 20s in 1950. He’s a star basketball player with Dusquesne College, playing with a confident, slick finesse which draws the attention of Abe Saperstein with the Harlem All Stars, as well as Ned Irish with the Knicks. Somewhat embarrassed when, at the Copa with Irish, Lapchick, Eddie Lloyd and Sweetwater, Sweetwater calls him on a poor play, Cooper winds up being one of three African American players in the 1950 NBA draft, prompting much media hype and speculation about which one will be the first to play in an NBA game.

Howard: This radio announcer, along with his partner Bob, calls a 1948 basketball game in Chicago Stadium between the Harlem Globetrotters and the NBA champion Minneapolis Lakers, which he’s calling the game of the century. Later, in 1950, Howard calls another historic game, in which Indianapolis, plays the New York Knicks with their first African American player, Sweetwater Clifton.

Bob: This radio announcer calls a 1948 game from Chicago Stadium between the Harlem Globetrotters and the Minneapolis Lakers. Partnered with Howard, in 1950 he calls the game at Madison Square Garden in which Indianapolis takes on the New York Knicks, with their first black player, Sweetwater Clifton.

Walter Brown: One of the NBA franchise owners (Boston Celtics) who’s notably silent during the heated debate about keeping the league all white, Walter Brown later stuns his colleagues during the 1950 draft by announcing his pick of Chuck Cooper from Duquesne, a young African American player. Despite protests from his colleagues, Brown calmly holds his ground, saying, "I don’t give a damn if he’s striped, plaid or polka-dot! The Boston Celtics take Chuck Cooper from Duquesne!".

Bones McKinney: Another NBA franchise owner (the Washington Capitols), McKinney, like Walter Brown, is silent during the contentious meeting where the owners insist on keeping the league for white players only. Later, during the 1950 draft, McKinney surprised his colleagues by choosing Earl Lloyd, a young African American player from West Virginia State.

Man #1: This man who comes into the Copa appears friendly towards Sweetwater, but in fact he’s just trying to lure him out of the club. When Sweetwater does leave, Man #1 shows up with a group of thugs who beat the hell out of Sweetwater, leaving him with the warning, "Stay off the court or there’ll be plenty more where that came from".

Dick McGuire: This New York Knicks player jokes to Sweetwater in the locker room when Sweetwater instinctively reaches for his Harlem Globetrotter’s jersey. Later, on the court during practice, McGuire takes some heat from choca lap chick, then is grateful when, seconds later, Sweetwater makes a play that makes him look good.

Proprietor: This racist proprietor of a gas station on the outskirts of Boston is verbally abusive to Sweetwater as he holds a shotgun on him when Sweetwater gets off the team bust to pump some gas. He sends them on their way with no gas.

Security Guard: This security guard at Madison Square Garden after a big college game observes a packed locker room full of reporters, friends, fans and recruiters.

Louis Jordan: This African-American band leader is a friend of Sweetwater who is impressed with Jeanne Brown, whom he invites up on stage to sing with them at an after hours club. He wants her to come sing with them again, and later asks her to go on tour with them.

Secretary: Ned Irish’s secretary, she tells him that Saperstein is there to see him without an appointment.

Little Girl: This little girl in the audience at a middle America exhibition game is thrilled when Globetrotter Sweetwater picks her out of the audience and carries her onto the court holding her above his head. At Sweetwater’s command, an opposing player gives the little girl the ball, Sweetwater carries her down to the Globetrotters’ basket, and she knows just what to do.

Reporter #1, #2, #3: These reporters interview Sweetwater Clifton, Chuck Cooper and Earl Lloyd, the first three African-American players to be approached by the NBA. While the reporters respect the humility of Earl Lloyd, this is a big story, and they want to get some mileage out of it.

Thug: This thug breaks into Ned Irish’s house to deliver a threat about giving an NBA contract to Sweetwater. He brings his point home by slamming his fist into Irish’s stomach.

Mrs. Lapchick: Joe Lapchick’s wife. She’s having dinner at home with the family when Lapchick receives a phone call, which he passes of as a call from Ned Irish. She has no idea it was a threatening call.

Sweetwater’s Father: Seen in flashback, Sweetwater’s father listens to the radio broadcast of the Olympics from Germany with his family. When Jesse Owens wins his fourth gold medal, Sweetwater’s father comments cynically on how white men will treat him now.

Fan: This Knicks fan at the Madison Square Garden game points to Sweetwater as he gets up off the bench to play.

Scorekeeper: The scorekeeper at the Madison Square Garden game calls out a technical foul on Sweetwater.

Woman: A spectator at the Madison Square Garden game, this woman’s husband has just run onto the court and kicked Indianapolis rookie Bill Tosheff in the butt. When Tosheff runs into the stands for revenge, she swings at Tosheff with a 3 foot long loaf of bread, catching him square in the jaw. He retaliates by grabbing her dress and ribbing it down the front, exposing her "mammillaries" to the crowd.

Security Guard: This security guard at Madison Square Garden congratulates Sweetwater on a great game.

Burly White Man: This burly white man approaches Sweetwater outside Madison Square Garden after the game, prompting Sweetwater to brace in anticipation of violence just as the Knicks team bus pulls up for him. The burly white man is merely there to ask him for his autograph, not to beat him up.

ESPN Announcer: This ESPN announcer announces the anniversary of the first African-American to play in the NBA. He turns the broadcast over to sports journalist at the famous 4th Street Courts in Greenwhich Village, New York City, "where you’ll see some of the best pick-up games anywhere".

White Player #1, #2: These two Caucasian basketball players at 4th Street Courts in New York City think they know who the first black player was in the NBA when questioned by a sports journalist. They’re both wrong.

Black Player #1, #2: These two black players playing basketball on the 4th Street Courts in New York City confidently answer the sports journalist’s question about who was the first African American player in the NBA. They’re both wrong.

Businessman: This businessman in New York City can’t answer the question of who was the first African American player in the NBA.

Black Kid: This black kid in New York City can’t answer the question of who was the first black player in the NBA.

Older Woman: This older white woman in New York is the only who comes even close to answering the sports reporter’s question of who was the first black player in the NBA. She seems to now a lot about Nat Sweetwater Clifton, leading the sports reporter to study her carefully (the inference being that she might be Sweetwater’s old love, Jeanne Brown).

Send photos and resumes to:

Suzanne Smith Crowley
Chrystie Street Casting
55 Chrystie Street
Fifth Floor
New York, New York 10002


This message has been edited by geoffmovies on Jul 7, 2008 12:40 AM

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