Sunday, October 14, 2012
The Kid From La Puente: Must See TV
It would be a rotten shame if the greatish new Canadian TV documentary The Kid From La Puente were only watched by diehard football fans.
This blazing hour of revelations from Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo is much more than a saga of a great footballer.
Tune in to the premiere on TSN Thurs. Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. to see if you don't agree with me.
It's part of a series of specials collectively entitled Engraved On A Nation commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup.
But Bell Media thinks it will find a wide audience and is scheduling instant replays on CTV2 Sat. Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. and on Sun. Oct. 21 on CTV at 5 p.m. Got that?
"The idea didn't come from me but from our team of researchers." says producer Dugald Maudsley (for Infield Fly Productions) "But the more I explored Anthony Calvillo's life the more I saw it had everything. And we got full cooperation from the family, there are times when his brother David is in tears and has to walk out of camera range. It's a family saga of survival and success."
Maudsley chose veteran director Shelley Saywell (In The Name Of The Family, A Child's Century Of War) because it's the kind of personal story she does so well.
"Again, it's a story that will attract as many women as men. And it's Shelley's first with a sports background."
Calvillo was born in 1972 in tough circumstances in East Los Angeles where drive-by shootings were not uncommon and youngsters drifted in lives of drugs and crime.
By chance the family had made wonderful Super 8mm family films that highlight the saga of this poor but determined family. The parents were teenagers when they married and there were three boys all of whom were victims of their surroundings. The eldest David , 13 when his parents separated after many scenes of violence, drifted into petty crimes that ended when he was convicted of attempted second degree murder, spending eight years behind bars.
But this was not the fate of Anthony who found athletics blocked his pain. With a series of mentors to protect him he'd spend his free time passing footballs in the neighboring park and eventually developed throwing skills few others could match.
Tose skills got him to Utah state University where coach Jim Zorn spotted his abilities and it got him into the CFL --NFL teams passed because at 185 pounds he was considered on the small side.
"This story needed Anthony's support and his brothers,"Maudsley says. "Without them we wouldn't have the story. With them it springs alive."
It took years in the CFL before true stardom came. These days Calvillo is celebrated as professional football's all-time leading passer. And under his leadership Montreal has won three Grey Cups.
But there was more tragedy --both Anthony and his wife have successfully battled cancer scares.
At 40 Anthony seems eager to share his story with less fortunate kids --that will be a mighty part of his legacy. To make it a truly family affair brother Mario narrates.
And there are tears and more tears at a testimonial dinner as Calvillo acknowledges how many people helped him along the way to become the man he is today.
Saywell pushes most of the buttons, and he hour is so successful the story could be expanded into a TV movie like the one that starred David James Elliott as footballer Terry Evanshen.
Infield Fly has two more documentaries in this series The Crash on TSN Fri. Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. and The Photograph on Fri. Nov 9 at 10 p.m.
THE KID FROM LA PUENTE PREMIERES ON TSN THURS. OCT. 18 AT 9 P.M.
MY RATING: ****.