LeBron James biopic now filming in Cleveland Heights

WJW Photo






SOURCE: FOX 8 News Cleveland | Alex Stokes
April 25, 2022

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — The lights, the cameras and all the action came to quiet Woodmere Drive in Cleveland Heights Monday.

“It’s been really exciting and a lot of fun to watch,” said neighbor Muffy Kaesberg.

The major motion picture being shot at a century home on the street is “Shooting Stars,” a biopic about Akron-born basketball legend LeBron James and his high school run with the Fab 5 to the championship in 2003.

“It obviously is a highlight for our neighborhood and we love our neighborhood,” said Myra Evans.

Mikki McCubbin owns the home that was tented to make it look like nighttime.

“This house is going to be the coach’s house from when he was little,” McCubbin said. “This house is from a couple of scenes from when he was young, and they were having parties in here and drinking and stuff.”

She is no stranger to the movie industry.

“I’m originally from Los Angeles, I used to work in special effects makeup so I have been around this a lot, it’s kind of like, it’s cool, it’s very cool though for this area and I love that they’re utilizing Cleveland,” she said.

Universal Studios also used the old South High gym, which according to a tweet from Slavic Village development was transformed into St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Filming is also happening in the Akron and Canton areas.

“In my opinion, this is the best region to make movies. It’s a Shangri-La for moviemakers,” said Greater Cleveland Film Commission President Bill Garvey.

He says the film will bring in an estimated $25.5 million dollars to the local economy.

“It spotlights the industry that we’re building in Northeast Ohio and bringing jobs and economic investment into our region,” he said.

Even though filming is well underway, Angela Boehm casting says they’re still looking for 6,000 extras for Shooting Stars.

We spotted actors like Caleb McLaughlin and Khalil Everage from Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and “Cobra Kai” respectively, on set.

“Our street seems to be famous. A few years ago Katie Holmes filmed a movie on the next block down,” said Kaesberg.

The residents we spoke to are excited to be part of the Hollywood story on the four-time NBA champion.

“I think LeBron James is just such a role model for so many people and especially young black boys so we are just so happy to see his story brought to the big screen,” said Evans.

Everything to Know About the LeBron James Biopic








SOURCE: People | Natasha Dye
April 20, 2022

The “kid from Akron” is getting the Hollywood treatment! With production on the LeBron James biopic — here’s everything you need to know…

The film’s working title is Shooting Stars, the same name as James’s 2009 autobiography co-authored by Buzz Bissinger.

Shooting Stars will tell the story of James’s childhood years and his time with his group of high school teammates he dubbed the Fab 5 as they set out to take home the high school national championship, according to Cleveland.com.

“A lot of it we want to stay very true to LeBron’s story,” casting director Angela Boehm told the site.

“We are looking to create the atmosphere of what his story looked like. Cheerleaders, band members stadium fans, librarians, cafeteria workers, all of it,” Boehm said on April 10 of her agency’s search for 600 extras.

From ‘The Avengers’ to ‘Shooting Stars,’ Bill Garvey brings Hollywood to Cleveland

GCFC President Bill Garvey










SOURCE: Cleveland.com | Joey Morona
April 10, 2022

CLEVELAND, OHIO — Northeast Ohio is ready for its closeup once again as filming on “Shooting Stars” begins in parts of Cleveland and Akron this month. Based on LeBron James’ autobiography of the same name, the Universal release focuses on the NBA superstar’s childhood years, telling the story of a close-knit group of friends who overcome the challenges of growing up in the inner city and find refuge together on and off the court.

The project is the first major Hollywood production to come to the area since the Netflix film “White Noise” (also known as “Wheat Germ”) starring Adam Driver wrapped in November. It’s also the latest win for the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, the nonprofit that works to attract film and television productions to the region. The production will be here into June and pour a projected $25.5 million into the local economy, hiring crew members, partnering with local vendors and businesses and booking hotel rooms.

To put that into perspective, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” shot here in 2019, had a slightly smaller budget of $21 million and hired 118 local crew and over 3,000 extras, worked with 60 local businesses and booked more than 1,000 hotel room nights during its stay.

“LeBron James is very loyal to Northeast Ohio,” said Bill Garvey, president of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. “I think he always saw this as a project that needed to film here. But ultimately these projects depend on a tax incentive to come.”

Garvey is referring to the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, which provides productions a 30 percent tax credit on their in-state costs. The state limits the maximum amount of incentive awarded at $40 million a year. “Shooting Stars” is taking up $7.6 million of that.

“We have a steady stream of content being produced here, but we also have more projects that are turned away because of the restrictions of our tax incentive,” he said.

Garvey said the state had to turn away $224.5 million worth of film and television projects over the past year because of the cap on the tax incentives available. In his view, those are opportunities the state can’t afford to lose.

“We want to take advantage of the arms race of the streaming wars that’s led to an exponential increase in the amount of production happening throughout the world,” he said. “There is more opportunity than there ever has been in an industry that is growing more than any other industry at the moment.”

Originally from Queens, New York, Garvey has been in the film industry for 26 years. Before his current role luring projects to the region, he worked on the other side of the equation as a location manager, finding places for filmmakers to shoot their movies and then working on the logistics to make it happen.

His interest in movie-making began while he was a business major at the University of Notre Dame. Needing an elective, the self-described movie buff took a film production class. Fate then stepped in when “Rudy,” the inspiring 1993 sports drama, came to campus to film scenes. Director David Anspaugh spoke to the class. Garvey was hooked.

“Here’s this director in front of me telling us how he makes his living, doing something he loves. It was a foreign concept to me,” he said. “It opened my eyes.”

After bouncing around the country, Garvey and his wife settled in Cleveland in 2008 to be close to her mother, who was suffering from cancer. He quickly realized he didn’t have to be in Hollywood or New York to continue what he loved doing. Not long after his arrival, a producer hired him to scout locations for a super-secret project. It was a big-budget movie set in New York City with elaborate action sequences that would be impossible to film in a city of eight million people.

avangers filming begins

Cars, taxis and trucks were smoking and tossed about like toys during the first day of filming on “The Avengers” movie set on Monday, August 15, 2011. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)The Plain Dealer

The film turned out to be “The Avengers.” Marvel originally intended to shoot it in Detroit, but those plans fell through. Luckily, Garvey knew of a place where you could easily shut down streets so Captain America and Thor could fight off an alien invasion, and also stand in for Stuttgart, Germany, where Loki could cause trouble. It was his new adopted hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

“That film was kind of the calling card that put Cleveland on the map and started a pipeline of other projects coming here,” he said.

Garvey followed that up by bringing “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Fate of the Furious,” “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “White Noise” to Cleveland. Those efforts plus his existing relationships with companies like Marvel, Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. led to him being named head of the GCFC last September.

Instead of the buyer, he’s the seller now. His pitch is pretty simple. With its unique and varied architecture, topography and climate, Cleveland can be anywhere the film needs it to be.

“Whenever I’m with a director or producer from out of town and I take them on a tour, I show them all this amazing architecture and I say that’s never been in a movie. They’re shocked because everywhere they’ve ever been, everything’s been on screen,” he said.

He also sells them on the cost of living here. But the city’s biggest asset, according to Garvey, is its people.

“I’ve filmed in many places and you don’t get the welcoming reception that we get here,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be able to go into a community, spend money and people appreciate it.”

Still, studios aren’t going to spend millions of dollars just because we’re nice to them. There are 4,000 projects currently in development and to attract some of them, Garvey said Ohio needs to stay competitive with places that offer higher tax incentives than the $40 million Ohio issues annually. States like Pennsylvania ($70 million), Kentucky ($75 million), New Mexico ($100 million) and Louisiana ($150 million).

“When the tax incentive goes away, so does the spending,” he said.

Garvey is working with state legislators and other stakeholders, trying to increase Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and make it more flexible. Since its inception in 2009, the incentive has generated $1.1 billion in economic impact and created over 6,000 jobs. The ultimate goal, he said, is to replicate the success in Georgia, which doesn’t cap the amount of tax credits it doles out or restrict when entertainment companies can apply for them to just two times a year as Ohio does. The result: film and TV production has become a major part of Georgia’s economy with $4 billion of spending annually, which has led to the creation of an infrastructure that now includes roughly 100 soundstages across the state.

“That’s why they’re the new Hollywood,” he said.

Garvey believes the film industry in Northeast Ohio has the potential to become a sustainable, year-round business, too. Some of the pieces of the puzzle are already in place. Studio projects such as “White Noise,” “Cherry,” “The Marksman,” Oscar winner “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and smaller ones such as “The Hunting” and “The Enormity of Life” have given local actors, artisans and technicians valuable experience on set. Film programs at Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland Institute of Art are producing the next generation of filmmakers.

“We have a pipeline of those kids going into these jobs, but we want more of these jobs for more of these kids,” he said.

That pipeline includes a few productions scheduled to arrive after “Shooting Stars” wraps. Garvey can’t elaborate on them, but he’s particularly excited about a Warner Bros. feature that will be partially shot here and another project he describes as “high profile.” Stay tuned.

For now, his focus remains on expanding the film industry here and across Ohio. He’s been encouraged by the progress so far.

“There have been so many silos over the years and my main goal is breaking down the silos and getting everybody cooperating as a film community,” he said. “Once we have a higher tax incentive, then we can have multiple projects shooting in multiple places at the same time. That’s what creates stability and longevity.”

Casting agency calls on Cleveland-area actors for roles in LeBron James movie

Basketball player LeBron James talks to reporters as he arrives for the special screening of his film, “Trainwreck” at the Regal Cinemas Montrose Stadium 12 theaters, on Friday, July 10, 2015, in Akron, Ohio. James is hosting the screening of the film which also stars Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. (Photo by Phil Long/Invision/AP)(Phil Long/Invision/AP)










SOURCE: Cleveland 19 News | Chris Anderson
April 1, 2022

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – Hollywood is coming to Northeast Ohio in the form of an upcoming film about LeBron James, and a local casting agency is looking for actors to fill roles in the movie.

Angela Boehm Casting said the roles would be featured in a Universal Studios production about James and the “Fab Five” at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron.

Potential parts include portraying a mascot, high school band members, basketball coaches, referees, and more.

The Northeast Ohio casting agency has previously set local actors up for other major movies filmed in the Cleveland area, including “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Cherry.”

Movie about LeBron James’ high school years could be filmed in Akron

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School’s “Fab Four Freshmen,” from left, LeBron James, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee and Dru Joyce, take a portrait in March 2000. Beacon Journal/Ohio.com File Photo











SOURCE: Akron Beacon Journal | George M. Thomas
March 23, 2022

An upcoming movie detailing the high school years of NBA superstar LeBron James and his friends who played with him could soon be filmed in and around Akron and Cleveland.

The movie will be adapted from Buzz Bissinger’s James biography “Shooting Stars,” published in 2009, according to reports. That book focused on James and friends Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce III, Willie McGee and Romeo Travis, who all played for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. They won three state titles and one national championship under the guidance of coaches Keith Dambrot, who went on to coach at the University of Akron and is now at Duquesne, and Dru Joyce II.



Professional stunt performers from northern Ohio team up to win national video competition

Professional stunt performers Jonathan Yurco (facing camera); Jason Cekanski (back to camera); and E. Ray Goodwin Jr. (standing sideways, to the right of Cekanski), prepare to shoot part of a scene on Feb. 26 for the video “Put the Bunny Back in the Box.” The video, produced by Richard Fike, won first place in the recent Shot 4 Shot Challenge, a national contest sponsored by Stunts Unlimited. The video was directed by Fike, of Madison Village, a professional stunt coordinator and performer who’s also a Stunts Unlimited directory member. Yurco, Cekanski and Goodwin all are northern Ohio residents and members of Stunt Predators USA & SFX, an organization owned and operated by Fike. (Photo courtesy of Richard Fike)
















SOURCE: The News-Herald | Bill Debus
March 9, 2022

A Madison Village resident and business owner spearheaded an award-winning performance in a national video competition for elite professional stunt coordinators and performers.

Richard Fike captured first place in the recent Shot 4 Shot Challenge conducted by Stunts Unlimited. Based in Los Angeles, Stunts Unlimited is the oldest and largest professional stunt organization in the United States.



Black Futures Month: Four Black Leaders Who Walk The Talk

SOURCE: Forbes | Morgan Simon
February 23, 2022

Black History Month is referred to by many as “Black Futures Month,” which the Movement for Black Lives defines as “time to both consider and celebrate our Black radical history and to dream and imagine a world in which we are free and self-determined.” More succinctly, Asheville-based Urban News named it, “about making space for Black people to envision and build the world of our dreams.”

Making space for Black brilliance to emerge is both a personal and collective task. This often gives Black professionals on the rise an unfair “double duty”— they have to push past systemic racism in their various fields in order to succeed, while also choosing whether or not to take additional time and space to mentor others and ensure they can also access their dreams.

And yet—research has shown that Black professionals often spend more of their personal capital mentoring young people and building inclusive spaces, which can take away from their own career objectives.  A 2017 study of Black professors, for instance, found “marginalized professors spent twice as much time mentoring, recruiting and ‘serving on various task forces,’” as white male counterparts. Experts in higher education note that additional energy could be spent on “the more career-accelerating work of publishing,” but that these professors are actively choosing to expend their energy building a more inclusive future.

This mentorship is not just Black professionals helping Black youth, but for people across racial identities. This has certainly been my personal experience as a white woman over decades: it was often Black people who reached out proactively offering mentorship and support.

For instance: Majora Carter, fresh off receiving her MacArthur Genius Award, approached me when I was 23 after I gave a talk to say “How can I help?” For years, running a low-budget non-profit, she hosted me in her home whenever I visited New York. She and her husband James made a transformative difference in my early career by sharing not only their couch, but also core lessons in organizational management and movement building.

In the context of my work as an impact investor with a focus on diverse entrepreneurs who are creating systems-level impact, I now often see an argument being made that funding diverse entrepreneurs is a social-change activity in part because these entrepreneurs will make great choices about ultimately giving back to the community with the wealth they build. In some cases this may be mandated structurally into a deal (like a certain percentage of proceeds going back to communities), or it may be an organic practice (like Diishan Imira, founder of Mayvenn, providing equity to employees at all levels simply because he felt it was the right thing to do).

So far, anecdotal data is playing out–there are so many fantastic examples of mid-career Black professionals who proactively take time and money to help the next generation even if it takes away these resources from their primary activity. Below are profiles of four inspiring individuals who show it’s possible to climb, while also extending that hand back to pull up others closer to their dreams.

Charlese Antoinette

What She Does

Over the past decade, Charlese Antoinette has established herself as one of the most talented and busy costume designers in the business, with a unique talent of creating characters that are imaginative yet grounded in reality. She’s most recently known for her amazing period looks in Judas and the Black Messiah featuring Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, for which she received a 2021 Costume Designers Guild Award nomination. The film also received two Academy Awards. Her work has also been seen on TV shows including MACRO/ Netflix Original Raising Dion (Michael B. Jordan), which was number one internationally, as well as Kenya Barris’s Netflix Original sketch comedy show, Astronomy Club.


How She’s Opening Doors for Others

Charlese is unique in how she’s worked to create more opportunities for both her peers, and for future generations. In 2019, Charlese launched the Black Designer Database with a mission to support Black designers through the amplification of their work and connect them to new consumers and media opportunities. And then in 2020, she launched DESIGN YOU in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland, Ohio.

Charlese explained, “I started the program while we were shooting Judas and the Black Messiah in Cleveland. We were shooting in an under-resourced neighborhood that was predominantly Black. And I could not see myself doing a film about the Black Panthers and not interfacing with the community that we were shooting in every day. I went to visit the boys and girls club of northeast Ohio with the cast including  Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield. After visiting I got inspired and asked the center Director Joseph Greathouse II if I could donate sewing machines and start a sewing lab and program.” She subsequently donated 11 sewing machines in 2019. She added,  “Currently we are doing the program on 1st and 3rd Fridays. And on the 3rd Friday of the month I have industry friends come & speak. So the kids get to meet other Black professionals in fashion and costumes, get a mini lesson & ask them questions.”  They are still hoping to add more machines to their programs, and seeking a number of related supplies. Additionally, 100% of the proceeds from Charlese’s curated collection on resale platform Dora Maar are available here.



Panel involved in ‘137 shots’ documentary speaks on Cleveland State’s campus

Photo by: WEWS

February 23, 2022

CLEVELAND, Ohio — It was a story that shocked and angered so many, including Jackie Russell.

“You’re used to hearing this about somebody else but not your own family,” said Russell.

Russell’s brother-in-law is Timothy Russell. Russell and Malissa Williams were involved in the September 2012 high-profile police chase that ended with officers firing 137 shots at the vehicle and leaving both dead.

What started as Rocky River native Michael Milano’s journalism graduate school project nearly a decade later is turning pain into education.

“There’s been multiple versions of the film, hundreds of different cuts and because it was such a sensitive subject manner, I really wanted to make sure we got everything right and that’s why it took many years,” said Milano.

Milano’s documentary 137 shots profile the story of the 2012 incident, and Jackie Russell who lived it is an actress in the film.



Film Crew Intensive Training Returns to Tri-C After Pandemic Hiatus

Photo by: Tri-C








SOURCE: WEWS News 5 Cleveland | Meg Shaw
February 22, 2022

CLEVELAND — Cleveland and Northeast Ohio have some deep roots in the film industry. According to the annual rankings from the magazine Moviemaker, Cleveland remains one of the best cities in the country to live and work in for those in the industry.

Now a film intensive class is returning to Cuyahoga Community College after a pandemic hiatus to help budding filmmakers get experience.

Led by an actor from the HBO Series “Band of Brothers” and the movie “Hook,” James Madio is helping aspiring industry professionals know the ins and outs of the film industry.



Multitalented Cleveland actress Alexis Floyd starring in Netflix series ‘Inventing Anna’

Inventing Anna. Alexis Floyd as Neff Davis in episode 102 of Inventing Anna. Cr. David Giesbrecht/Netflix © 2021DAVID GIESBRECHT/NETFLIX










SOURCE: Cleveland.com | John Benson
February 22, 2022

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Alexis Floyd was a talented, arts-loving multi-hyphenate growing up in Northeast Ohio,

It wasn’t uncommon for Floyd to spend her hours after school rehearsing violin for Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra appearances at Severance Hall while eating dinner in the back of the family van before going to Cleveland School of Ballet lessons.

The daughter of a music educator and attorney, the precocious youth was also a competitive figure skater at the Cleveland Skating Club before venturing into musical theater with performances at Cleveland Play House, Dobama Theatre and Cleveland Public Theatre and more.