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‘The Express’ Sept. 12 gala premiere a Syracuse community celebration of ‘Breaking Boundaries’
‘The Express’ Sept. 12 gala premiere a Syracuse community celebration of ‘Breaking Boundaries’August 14, 2008Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
The Sept. 12 gala premiere of the “The Express” at the historic Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse is the centerpiece of a weekend-long community celebration of the life of Ernie Davis and others who have built the Syracuse legacy of “Breaking Boundaries.”
Recounting the story of Syracuse University football great Ernie Davis-the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy-the film stars Rob Brown as Davis and Dennis Quaid as Coach Ben Schwartzwalder. “The Express” opens in theaters nationwide Oct. 10, but has its gala premiere on Friday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Landmark Theatre.
Davis followed his hero, Jim Brown, to SU in 1958 and one year later led the Orange to the national championship. He was a pioneer for African American football players in much the same way one of his idols, Jackie Robinson, broke baseball’s color barrier.
Central New Yorkers have a choice of four different ticket packages to attend the premiere festivities and throughout the Sept. 12-13 weekend can enjoy several free events and other opportunities celebrating Davis’ life and the “Breaking Boundaries” legacy.
Celebrities to walk the orange carpet on premiere night
Friday evening, prior to the film screening, Quaid, Brown and other cast members, along with Jim Brown, Floyd Little, Don McPherson, Art Monk and some 40 members of the 1959 championship team will walk the “orange carpet,” arriving along Salina Street in classic 1950s-era convertible automobiles.
They will be joined on the orange carpet by other SU alumni and members of the Central New York community who have broken boundaries in the tradition of Ernie Davis.
Bleachers erected along Salina Street in front of the Landmark will enable hundreds of spectators the opportunity to watch and photograph the entire orange carpet arrival program, which will also be shown on a large video screen at the corner of South Salina and Jefferson streets. The festivities will include food vendors and a live performance by The Coasters, presented by TK-99 and Galaxy Communications, playing original ’50s rock ‘n’ roll.
Following the orange carpet arrival, the movie premiere will take place inside the Landmark.
General ticket sales to the public begin Friday; order by phone
Tickets to the premiere for the general public go on sale Friday, Aug. 15, at the following levels:
- Purchasers at the $1,000 level will walk the “orange carpet” along Salina Street; enjoy a floor seat at the screening; receive a special gift pack; and have access to the VIP area at the ’50s-themed post-premiere party at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
- Tickets at the $500 level provide loge seating for the Landmark Theatre premiere and admission to the post-premiere party.
- Tickets at the $250 level offer balcony seating and admission to the post-premiere party.
Tickets at these three levels may be purchased by phone beginning Friday at 866-933-3334 (toll-free). Phone order hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. A portion of the cost of these event tickets will be tax-deductible.
Limited number of specially priced $44 tickets on sale Monday at the Dome
To ensure inclusiveness and an opportunity for members of the SU and Central New York communities to attend the premiere, 200 specially priced $44 tickets will go on sale at 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 18, at the Carrier Dome Box Office; in-person purchase is required as there is no phone or online sale of these tickets; sale of tickets is limited to two tickets per person. Box Office hours are Monday, Aug. 18, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The $44 tickets are for balcony seating at the Landmark Theatre screening and do not come with the other amenities of the premium tickets.
Blocks of free tickets for SCSD, Elmira, SU students
After the SU fall semester begins in late August, a block of free tickets to the premiere will be made available to current SU students through the Schine Student Center Box Office.
In addition, through the newly implemented Syracuse Say Yes to Education & Economic Development Program, 44 free tickets are being provided to each of the four Syracuse City School District (SCSD) quadrants to be distributed by the SCSD to deserving students who will have a unique opportunity to attend the premiere and view the inspirational story of Ernie Davis. Another 100 tickets to the premiere are being provided to the Elmira City School District to be distributed to Elmira students.
The Syracuse Say Yes Program is a partnership between the Say Yes to Education Foundation, the SCSD and SU to integrate the foundation’s hallmark programs within the entire Syracuse school district. Say Yes combines the promise of a full college education with comprehensive academic, social-emotional and health supports that are critical to enabling every child to achieve his or her potential. The Syracuse program is the only program of its kind in the nation at this scale (an entire school district) and aims to dramatically increase high school and college graduation rates for students and bring new economic opportunity and development to the city and region.
‘Express’ weekend full of activities, including unveiling of Davis statue
Earlier on Friday, SU students will have an opportunity to meet in master class workshops with Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Universal Pictures; Gary Fleder, director of “The Express”; Nelson Coates, “The Express” production designer; and Robert Gallagher ’71, author of “Ernie Davis, The Elmira Express: The Story of a Heisman Trophy Winner” (Bartleby Press, 1983), the book on which the film is based.
On Saturday, a special pre-game party featuring music by The Coasters will be held on the SU Quad prior to the SU vs. Penn State football game. A specially commissioned statue of Davis will be unveiled and dedicated at 1 p.m., and the SU football team will process by the statue during its “Quad walk” at 1:20 p.m. Kick off for the renewal of the classic football rivalry is at 3:30 p.m., with the game televised on ABC. The halftime show will feature a star-studded tribute to Davis.
Overall net proceeds of the premiere will benefit SU’s Ernie Davis Fund. The fund’s purposes include sustaining academic and personal development programming for football student athletes and their involvement in the ‘Cuse Cares Community Service Program.
For more information on the Syracuse premiere of “The Express”-plus a biography and action photos of Davis, video segments, publicity photos and the trailer for the movie, and background on “The Legend of 44” and the historic 1959 season-visit http://erniedavis.syr.edu.