Posted by Ken Warkentin on Wednesday, December 05, 2012 10:07 PM

Johnny Longshot 


In late October, actor-director Emilio Estevez announced plans to spend five weeks filming a feature-length movie about harness racing in Cincinnati, around Ohio, and also in the Tri-State area starting in January. 


The son of Dayton, Ohio native Martin Sheen, and brother of Charlie Sheen, has spent ten years developing the screenplay for “Johnny Longshot”.  


Estevez will direct and star in the film, which has a $12 million budget. 


Shortly, after the news release, I fired off a letter via snail mail to the Gersh Agency in California, which represents Estevez. 


My first thought was this might be the only movie about harness racing in my lifetime and I want to somehow be a part of it. 


Much to my surprise, a few weeks later, the former “Gordon Bombay” of Mighty Ducks fame contacted me to not only do some race announcing for the production, but also to look over the script.  


At first, I thought the call was a prank, until he read my letter over the phone.  From there it was a delightful conversation about an exciting project.  He made a point to say I didn’t have to write the letter since he had intended on calling me anyway, and I was duly flattered.  


Estevez was quite adamant about being true to the sport, he wants to get several insiders involved to make sure any sensitive issues are handled right, and he also wants to give harness racing a grand publicity tool. 


Moreover, Estevez fully intends on making a family movie about comebacks and second chances, which he describes as “inspirational”. 


Along the lines of the Secretariat and Sea Biscuit movies, Estevez wants to create another family franchise that shows the unique familial culture and international flavor of harness racing.  


Estevez also intends to make a film about the down-to-earth people in the sport, as well as highlight the Standardbred as a kind of unsung hero of the horse world, and use modern technology to capture the excitement of harness races.  


The story is about a retired jockey from Cincinnati who tries other “regular” jobs and becomes miserable until he heads back to the track and revives or reinvents his career as a harness racing driver. 


Estevez will play “John West” in a script he wrote several years ago, but got sidetracked recently shooting “The Way” with his father in Spain. 


Estevez told me he’s already been out on the track jogging horses with trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr., but will reportedly have a stunt double. 


Estevez has his own production company, Estevez Sheen Productions, a Warner Brothers affiliated company, and with favorable tax incentives in Ohio, he will employ some 1,500 local acting talents and technicians in his home state, where he will possibly use Lebanon Raceway, Scioto Downs, Northfield Park, Turfway Park and River Downs. 


His other options for the shoot are The Red Mile and The Meadowlands. 


The Estevez credits also include The Outsiders, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Men At Work, The War at Home, Rated X, Repo Man, Stakeout, Young Guns, Young Guns II, Mission Impossible, The Mighty Ducks and Bobby. 



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