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THE LONGEST YARD

About The Production
Adam Sandler, whose previous sports comedy hits include "Happy Gilmore” and "The Waterboy,” returns to the gridiron for "The Longest Yard,” a new take on one of the star's all-time favorite movies. Sandler takes on the character that particularly resonated with him, quarterback Paul Crewe – the role originated by Burt Reynolds.  Producer Jack Giarraputo notes that the filmmakers approached the project with respect. "We called Burt Reynolds to get his blessing, which he gave,” he says. As it turns out, Reynolds was interested in becoming involved with the project in a major way.

"I didn't want to do a cameo,” says Reynolds. "I told them, ‘If you guys are going to the moon, I'd like to be on the ship.'” The star of the 1974 film now takes over the role of coach Nate Scarborough. "I'm honored that a movie we made 30 years ago is still around. Now seemed like a great time to do it again, and I can tell you that everything people loved about the first film gets even better this time around.”

"I saw the original movie with my dad, and now, guys my age are dads themselves who can take their own sons to see this movie,” says Giarraputo. "This was a great opportunity to bring these great characters to a new generation.”

Chris Rock, who plays Caretaker, the prison's go-to guy for anything from the outside world, notes that the cast and filmmakers looked to the classic for inspiration and tried to capture the good times and ensemble energy of the first film. "Our ‘Longest Yard' is a fun movie with a big cast – just the kind of movie I wanted to be in,” he says. "I don't know the last time I saw a movie like this – a movie where everybody gets to be funny and everybody is at the top of their game.” 

Director Peter Segal, who previously teamed with Sandler on the comedy hits "Fifty First Dates” and "Anger Management,” explains the approach to remaking a beloved classic. "It's like finding a '66 Corvette in a barn, it's a an American classic.” says the director. "You have to be careful in restoring it: you don't touch the body, but you start by adding some new wheels, redo the interior, and take it out for a spin. People can still enjoy what they loved about the first film.”

Rap artist Nelly makes his feature film debut in "The Longest Yard.” He says that audiences will find reason to cheer on the team of convicts. "Everybody likes to root for the underdog,” he says. "When you see a guy who's beat-down, with no reason to get up, and he gets up anyway – you want to see him overcome and get his payback. The warden keeps standing on these guys, and they keep standing up.”

Adam Sandler trained with former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury on throwing and moving like a quarterback. "At the time, Salisbury was rumored to be going to work with Dennis Green as the Arizona Cardinals' QB coach. He ended up with a much tougher assignment,” says Giarraputo.

"When I first saw Adam play pick-up basketball, I knew he had game,” says Salisbury. "It made my job easy.”

Mark Ellis, the film's sports coordinator, notes that it helped that the actor both wanted the action to be as real as possible and had the athletic chops to pull it off. "Sandler is such a competitor,” observes Ellis. "He works hard and the audience is really gonna believe this guy. This is the real deal.”

One of the reasons for the original film's enduring popularity, says Giarraputo, is the motley collection of memorable characters that populate the prison. With that in mind, the filmmakers turned to several former pro football players, wrestlers, and tough guys to bring them to life. "My favorite character in the original is the giant, played by Dick Kiel,” says Giarraputo. "We used him and other characters as inspiration for a different and just as memorable set of characters.”

The spirit of that character lives on in Dalip Si

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