Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on book about special Space Camp
Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 6:30 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Twenty-two years after a Grand Rapids, Mich., high school football coach and special education teacher first brought a group of special-needs students to Space Camp, a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie is being made to tell about that journey.
Filming for some portions of “A Smile as Big as the Moon” will start at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center next Wednesday, and about 100 cast and crew members are expected to spend about two weeks here working on the project, said Tim Hall, the center’s spokesman.
The story is based on the book, “A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Teacher, His Class and Their Unforgettable Journey,” written by the former coach and teacher Mike Kersjes with journalist Joe Layden and published in 2002.
“It’s a real Hallmark story,” said Dr. Deborah Barnhart, the space center’s CEO who was the director of Space Camp at the time of the special camp. “I’m thrilled about the authenticity and fidelity of the story.”
Barnhart is also excited about the exposure the film will bring to the space center and the city.
The movie will air on ABC on Jan. 29, Kersjes said.
Efforts to get a film made with some other production companies didn’t work out.
“By the grace of God and my agent working hard for me, we found a home for it,” said Kersjes, who is serving as technical adviser. Kersjes is in Wilmington, N.C., this week for filming until the cast and crew members move to Huntsville. “Everyone is so dedicated to making this movie.”
Kersjes, 58, has lived in the Huntsville area for the last 10 years and is a senior systems analyst with Venturi Aerospace.
In 1989, Kersjes founded Space Is Special, a nonprofit organization to help special education students enhance their science and math skills using space as a motivational theme. The organization, he said, has been able to send close to 3,000 youngsters in all from across the country to Space Camp.
Kersjes will be portrayed in the movie by John Corbett, who may be best known for his role as a radio DJ on “Northern Exposure” from 1990 to 1995. Other credits include his role as Aidan, Carrie Bradshaw’s boyfriend, on HBO’s “Sex and the City” and the movie, “Sex and the City 2.” He starred in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
Cynthia Watros, who has appeared in numerous TV series including “Lost,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “Titus,” will play Barnhart.
The director is Emmy Award-winning film director James Sadwith whose credits include two CBS mini-series “Elvis” and “Sinatra.”