23 July 2013 6:00 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

When Jordan Kerner, the prolific producer of tender family fare such as the “Smurfs” franchise, “George of the Jungle” and “Fried Green Tomatoes,” is asked to describe the root of his particular penchant for stirring stories that tug at audiences’ hearts — or make the little ones giggle — he brings up a pivotal moment in his childhood.

It was May 7, 1959. In the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the recently transplanted Dodgers and the New York Yankees were playing an exhibition game to raise money for the medical expenses of legendary catcher Roy Campanella, one of the first players to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier, who had been left paralyzed by a car accident. More than 93,000 people were in the stands, among them 9-year-old Jordan, dozens of World War II veterans in wheelchairs and a vivid cross-section of the country’s racial and ethnic mix, all united in their love for a wounded hero. »


- Nick Madigan

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