Full Court President – A Classic Sports Doc
Full Court President, in development by Vanguard Documentaries, reveals the power of sports: to forge identities, bridge gaps, and help us find our way. Shown through the eyes of Reggie Love, Obama’s former “body man” and co-captain of the Duke basketball team, the film is supplemented by interviews with pickup game regulars, White House personnel, presidential historians, and key figures from Obama’s past.
TOMMY WALKER Executive Producer
Tommy Walker, the oldest of three children, born to Mrs. Walker and the Right Reverend Bishop John T. Walker, the first African American Episcopal Bishop in Washington DC, graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelors of Arts in History.
Walker has worked in film and television for twenty-four years. He began his career in 1985 working in postproduction for National Geographic’s Explorer series. In 1991 Walker was the production manager for the PBS documentary “Mandela in America”, which followed Mandela on his first visit to the United States.. In 1998, Walker served as a segment producer on the PBS documentary “Tutu and Franklin-A Journey towards Peace,” which followed Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, John Hope Franklin and 21 students to the 21st Century Summit on Race and Reconciliation.
Walker has produced and directed short films for Kaleidoscope Productions who’s clients include Toyota, Mercedes, Chrysler and Hewlett Packard. These films have been used to brand and introduce new directions and products for these companies. In addition some of these films have been cut into spots for national and international campaigns.
Walker has also produced and directed several promotional films for multicultural non-profits such as the Robin Hood Foundation sponsored Kipp School and Norman Lear’s non-profit Declare Yourself a campaign to energize a new movement of young voters.
In 2005 Walker co- directed and produced the feature length theatrical documentary, God Grew Tired of Us. It ‘s a film about refugees from war torn Sudan, their subsequent immigration to America, and their experience in a Post 9/11 world. The film won Best Documentary as well as the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. It was released in theaters in 2006. In 2004 Walker produced the acclaimed primetime Emmy nominated feature length documentary film With All Deliberate Speed for Discovery Communications Doc Series. The film is a moving portrayal of the brave souls who fought to integrate America before the civil rights movement began as we know it. To bring life to a historical subject, they included young people talking frankly and intelligently about racial relations in our country today. Acclaimed actors and musicians including: Alicia Keys, Mekhi Phifer, Larenz Tate, Jeffery Wright, Joe Morton and Terry Kinney, brought the words of historical figures to life on camera. The film opened successfully in 5 cities. Also in 2004 Walker produced A Southern Town it centers on the people of Jackson, Mississippi. It has been a mainstay of programming on Discovery Times Network and has been critically acclaimed.
Walker is currently a producer and partner with Freemind Ventures a production company that has produced The Blacklist, the Latino List, and The Out List an HBO documentary series that reveals the diverse experience of being black, Latino, or LGBT in America through portrait style interviews with leading African- American, Latino and LGBT figures. In the fall of 2014 Walker was the interviewer and producer of the PBS documentary The Boomer List about the Baby Boomer generation. In 2015, Walker produced The Women’s List for PBS’ American Masters, which highlights 15 women who have shaped contemporary culture. Walker is also an Executive Producer for the feature documentary film, About Face, which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on HBO in the summer of 2012.
NICK TURNER Executive Producer
Nick Turner is a writer and producer from New York with a unique and distinguished background in government and academia. After graduating from Columbia University in 2010 with a bachelor’s in political science, Nick served as an intern for the White House National Economic Council and then as an intelligence analyst for the Department of Justice until 2012. After receiving his master’s in international relations from the University of Oxford in 2014, Nick moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in screenwriting and producing.
CHARLES HOBSON Executive Producer
Charles Hobson’s acclaimed four-decade career has included films such as “Harlem in Montmarte,” (Arte, PBS), “Porgy and Bess: An American Voice,” (PBS) “Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant” (FOX), “Jump Street: The History of Black Music” (PBS), “Negroes with Guns” (PBS )and “Producer, Like It Is. (ABC-TV). His awards include an Emmy, a Fulbright (Germany), The Japan Prize (Special Citation), and CINE “Golden Eagle”. Hobson has taught at SUNY, NYU Tisch School for the Arts, Vassar, and lectured at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. In 2010 Hobson was Artist in Residence at Art Workshop International, in Assisi, Italy.
REGGIE LOVE Executive Producer
Reggie Love is best known as President Barack Obama’s “Body Man,” or special assistant — a role he recently left to in order to pursue an MBA at Wharton Business School. During the past four and a half years, Love traveled nearly a million miles with Obama, spending more time with him than almost anyone else on the planet. He also filed his share of 18 hour work days. Love gave the President “a shot of youthful cool,” writes The New York Times, which describes him as “personal aide, shadow, caretaker, basketball buddy and roving diplomat.”
Possessed of classic Southern charm, Reggie Love began working for then-Senator Obama in 2007, starting in the mailroom. When Obama won the 2008 election, he chose Love as his personal aide, responsible for assisting with the coordination and completion of the President’s daily schedule as well as coordinating with other offices to set up long and medium range planning. Love graduated from Duke University in 2004, majoring in political science and public policy, with a minor in history; he also captained the basketball team and started for the football team. After short stints in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers,
he moved to Washington, D.C. in 2006.
Drawing from his coveted experience as President Obama’s personal aide, Reggie Love shares timeless — yet timely — lessons on crisis management, collaboration and leadership in the 21st Century. Humble, serious, and self-deprecating, he encourage audiences to realize their potential and become more politically active.
All American Speakers is a speakers bureau and booking agency providing information on booking Reggie Love for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Reggie Love speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next event.
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DAN SCHNEIDER Executive Producer
intellectual property and corporate law for more than 33 years in Manhattan and Woodstock, N.Y. A graduate of Vassar College (AB, 1979, Evans Fellow in Law) and Emory Law School (JD, 1982, Emory Scholar), he is admitted to the New York and Georgia bars, as well as to the U.S. District Court (Southern District, N.Y.). Mr. Schneider has been AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell. www.schneiderpfahl.com
In 2007 Dan formed Big Shoes Media with partners Mustapha Khan and Tommy Walker (see: www.bigshoesnyc.com ) . They specialized in producing PSA’s for non-profits and government agencies, including the CDC. Since 2010, Dan has continued to represent Mustapha and Tommy as directors on projects, including Mustapha’s debut as a narrative feature director in ROCKSTEADY. Dan has been developing both scripted and unscripted projects for film, television and the web in NY and LA. A member of numerous non-profit Boards, Dan currently serves as the Executive Director of the Florence Belsky Charitable Foundation (www.flobel.org).
FULL COURT PRESIDENT TREATMENT
A crisp, clear spring afternoon in DC. “When did you actually fall in love with this game, Mr. President?” former NBA player Clark Kellogg asks as Obama misses a three-pointer on the White House outdoor basketball court, his sleeves rolled up, tie flapping in the wind. “You know, probably when I was ten years old…and I just…I never got over it, even when I realized I wasn’t going to be Clark Kellogg.” They laugh. “I still love it. It’s the quintessential team game,” the President continues, “it teaches you how, at a certain point, to get outside of yourself…to be a part of something bigger.”
Full Court President, in development by Vanguard Documentaries, reveals the power of sports: to forge identities, bridge gaps, and help us find our way. Shown through the eyes of Reggie Love, Obama’s former “body man” and co-captain of the Duke basketball team, the film is supplemented by interviews with pickup game regulars, White House personnel, presidential historians, and key figures from Obama’s past. Along with Reggie, we have secured the enthusiastic participation of others who coached and played with the President, dating back to his days on the 1979 Hawaii state championship team.
THE POWER OF SPORTS
“This isn’t just politics anymore,” pollster Cornell Belcher said in the wake of the 2008 Democratic primary, “his campaign is taking on the look and feel of a movement.” Barack Obama was an underdog. He was unconventional. But he was also a man of the people, running a grassroots campaign fueled by the promise of change during a time when public skepticism of Washington was at an all-time high. Tantamount to the campaign’s success was Obama’s use of his own story to demonstrate the promise and ubiquity of the American Dream. “It was like people were voting for me,” proclaimed one eleven-year-old at an inner city school in New York at the time. Basketball was at the heart of this story.
Obama grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was one of two African-Americans in his class at the prestigious Punahou School. Struggling to fit in, young Barry turned to basketball, a link to the father he barely knew (Barack Sr.’s only gift to his son was a basketball) and a way to relate to the white, upper crust of mainland society. “On the basketball court I could find a community of sorts, with an inner life all its own,” Obama recalled, “it was there I would make my closest white friends, on turf where blackness couldn’t be a disadvantage, and that I would meet other blacks close to my age…teenagers whose confusion and anger would help shape my own.” As a senior, Obama was the only African-American on the varsity team – the year Punahou won Hawaii’s state championship. Fighting for playing time and respect, Obama grappled with prejudices and learned to “slip back and forth between black and white worlds.” Basketball “connected the disconnected parts of him – and he was good enough to play with the best bunch of guys on one of the best teams in the nation,” David Maraniss wrote. Obama’s passion for the game continued through college, law school, and into his career in public service. He played pickup games at every turn, so much so that the star of the 1979 Punahou team later conceded, “Barack is a lot better than Barry ever was!”
Nick Turner and Charles Hobson, Vanguard Documentaries
Obama wasn’t the only member of his future Administration who used basketball to help shape his own identity. Reggie Love grew up in a poor, African-American neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite financial hardships, Reggie’s parents sent him to Providence Day, a white, private high school on the other side of town. “I hated it,” Reggie recalled in his memoir, “all I wanted to do was play basketball.” For Reggie, the game served as a respite from the daily struggle to find his place in two communities that never fully embraced him. “I may have been an outcast on my block and in my new largely white classroom,” he remembered, “but sports, at least, was a reliable equalizer in both neighborhoods.” Reggie gave everything he had to the game, and the game repaid him. Passion and drive led Reggie to Duke University, where he won a national championship in 2001 and served as team co-captain under famed coach Mike Krzyzewski. After graduating from Duke, Reggie moved to DC, where he began an internship in the office of a young Senator whose own story seemed all-too familiar. “I realized then,” he wrote, “that I wasn’t the only person of color…struggling with identity, unsure of where he fit in.”
Having received word that one of his interns played at Duke, the Senator invited the young man to help him with his game. Following the announcement of Obama’s presidential bid, Reggie assumed the role of “body man,” logging 18-hour days doing whatever the candidate needed – carrying toiletries, babysitting kids, and organizing pickup games. Within weeks, the games garnered national attention, with Reggie at the center. “Hoops was a natural way for people to get a window into the candidate as I knew him,” Reggie recalled. It came as no surprise that a number of high-profile members of Obama’s inner circle and eventual Administration had their own basketball pedigrees: Arne Duncan (Education Secretary, captain at Harvard), Eric Holder (Attorney General, member of Columbia’s freshman team), Tim Geithner (Treasury Secretary, pickup game regular at Dartmouth), Susan Rice (National Security Advisor, star high school guard), Craig Robinson (Obama’s brother-in-law, former Oregon State head coach), and Martin Nesbitt (Obama Foundation chairman, longtime pickup game player), among others. Pretty soon, DC at- large was brushing up on its game, as members of Congress, lobbyists, and everyone in-between put away their golf clubs and dusted off old courts throughout the city in hopes of “hooping at the epicenter.”
Of course, basketball was more than just a networking opportunity: it helped Obama appeal to demographics no other candidate could reach, serving as a metaphor for the change his campaign embodied. “Obama loved the idea of connecting with locals through sports,” Reggie wrote. “As a former community organizer, he knew the value of that kind of informal interaction, how it built bridges and made connections with people who, typically, would have been the least likely to support him.” Presidents using sports to appeal to the masses was nothing new – Kennedy hosted touch-football games on the White House lawn, Clinton jogged his way through DC, the Bushes played baseball and owned baseball teams – but the narrative had grown tired. Golf outings, first pitches, and athlete meet-and-greets became old news, relics of middle-aged, white presidents of the past. For the first time, the nation watched as a youthful, African- American candidate regularly took part in a gritty, team sport that historically found its home in urban, impoverished communities. Obama knew this and capitalized on it. As Michael Lewis wrote, “The man has a tendency, an unthinking first step, to subvert established status structures.” Through basketball, along with other avenues that many credited Reggie with pushing, Obama’s celebrity soared. Media outlets touted him as the “hip,” “cool,” and “generationally relevant” candidate. “It’s like a dream,” one high schooler said after getting the opportunity to play with Obama on the campaign trail, “it’s all I ever wanted to do since the first time I saw him speak… it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Obama and Reggie played ball before every primary during his presidential run, except one: when he lost to Hilary in New Hampshire. He didn’t skip another game, and the results speak for themselves. But the presence and impact of basketball didn’t stop on election day. After taking office, Obama has built a court on the White House lawn and hosted pickup games with everyone from Kobe Bryant to George Clooney. He’s sat courtside at numerous professional and collegiate games, presented hoop legends with Medals of Freedom, and spoken at-length about how much the game still means to him. Reggie’s departure from the White House and Obama’s admission that he isn’t the same player he once was has led to reduced playing time in recent years. Still, the impact of the sport cannot be understated: it not only helped forge the identities of the President and his “body man,” whom Obama now refers to as his “little brother,” but also the nation’s perception of who its president is and should be.