It’s with a heavy heart that I have to report that one of America’s all time great movie directors, John Avildsen, the Academy Award winner for Rocky (Academy Award for Director and Best picture) died yesterday.
I got to know John during the last year and found him to be a really down to earth person. John who was 81 years old with the energy of a 30 year old had looked forward to bringing my book, Yankee Miracles, to the silver screen. Just last week we had meetings at Major League Baseball with officials from the commissioners office regarding rights etc. John’s vision saw Yankee Miracles as a “baseball Rocky.” Screen writer Robert Bruzio, who was to work with John on this project, broke the news to me last night. Even though he was battling pancreatic cancer, he was always hard at work!
During the last conversation that I had with John he congratulated my son Ricky on being drafted by the Atlanta Braves. Always a class act!
I had actually sat down with Yankee team president Randy Levine and co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner to keep them posted on the direction of the film.
John Avildsen was a great story teller who did a wonderful job for the youth of this country when he directed “The Karate Kid.”
My heart is selfishly broken because I will never get to see what he could have done with Yankee Miracles. At the same time I am so happy that we can always see the wonderful work that he left behind.
By the way, we had hoped to present Richard Gere with a copy of the script Yankee Miracles to entice him with the role of George Steinbrenner. Richard would have had to put on twenty pounds.
John Avildsen was a nice man with a great vision and will be sorely missed.
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