Chris Columbus to Produce and Direct John Grisham's 'Calico Joe'

June 4, 2012
Source: Variety

Chris Columbus / Calico Joe

Last year Chris Columbus had a good year as a producer since he was one of a few names behind The Help, which nabbed a Best Picture nomination. Now he's getting back in the director's chair with yet another adaptation to follow in the footsteps of his first two Harry Potter films and the launch of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. But this time, he's staying away from magic and heading into the ballpark as Variety reports Columbus will direct and produce an adaptation of Calico Joe, based on John Grisham's novel of the same name, set in the world of Major League Baseball and hit shelves in April. More below!

However, unlike Grisham's previous adapted works, this is not a legal thriller. Here's the story:

Whatever happened to Calico Joe?

It began quietly enough with a pulled hamstring. The first baseman for the Cubs AAA affiliate in Wichita went down as he rounded third and headed for home. The next day, Jim Hickman, the first baseman for the Cubs, injured his back. The team suddenly needed someone to play first, so they reached down to their AA club in Midland, Texas, and called up a twenty-one-year-old named Joe Castle. He was the hottest player in AA and creating a buzz.

In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen.  The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records.

Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever…

Columbus also adapted the book himself, so he's actually wearing quite a few hats this time around. The director says, "I knew that I had to write and direct Calico Joe. The story deals with universal themes of betrayal, tragedy and redemption." I feel like Columbus does a little better with grounded stories like this, only because his fantasy films seem to be a little too childish. Of course, his dramas do tend to be a little cheesy, but sometimes those kind of stories just hit the right spot. Plus, it's been awhile since we had a truly great baseball movie, right? We could use some more big screen action in the ball park.

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