Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer days away from movie deal
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Thursday, September 13, 2012
9/13/12 at 12:40 PM
A deal for the producer of "The Blind Side" to make a movie based on former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer's book "Bootlegger's Boy" could be completed as soon as next week, Switzer said on Wednesday.
After speaking in Fayetteville to the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club, so many people lined up with copies of "Bootlegger's Boy" to have them signed that he decided to tell them about the planned film, Switzer told the Tulsa World.
"In the next couple of weeks, I want my lawyer to look over things and get back with me, but I'm ready to do something, and they are, too," Switzer said of the filmmakers, including Molly Smith, an executive producer of "The Blind Side."
The best-selling 1990 book chronicled Switzer's career as coach of the Sooners in the 1970s and 1980s, from winning national championships to scandals that led to his resignation.
But it's the book's story of him being raised in Arkansas in the 1940s and 1950s, the son of a bootlegger who during a time of segregation became friends with black people who were like members of his family, that the film will focus on, Switzer said.
"If you saw 'The Blind Side,' you know that wasn't a football movie, but a human-interest story," he said. "That's the way that we see 'Bootlegger's Boy.' "
Switzer said that Smith - the daughter of Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx - contacted him after reading the book on the recommendation of her father. She didn't want to make a football movie, Switzer said, "and neither did I. That's the only way I would do the movie."
"It's more about how I was raised in a time when integration and civil rights wasn't a thought for many people there, in the world of the rural south, and being white and having a life connected to my daddy being a bootlegger, and these people were in my home all the time," Switzer said of the multiple black families working for his father's business.
One of only two coaches to win a national championship in college football (three at OU) and a Super Bowl (with the Dallas Cowboys), Switzer said he had been approached about making a movie based on the book several times since it was published 22 years ago.
But suitors had little interest in focusing on "a story of what it was like to be raised in the Mississippi River delta and how that can impact a person's life," said the coach who revolutionized the recruiting of black athletes into formerly all-white college athletics.
As Switzer would be depicted as a youth for most of a movie, he said, "It would probably be someone unknown, someone young, playing me, and that's the way it ought to be."
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
Listen to Barry Switzer tell his story to Voices of Oklahoma.Original Print Headline: Switzer film deal on tap
A movie based on Barry Switzer's book "Bootlegger's Boy" will focus on his childhood growing up in Arkansas. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World file