Jere Cunningham
A Conversation with Jere Cunningham
(Co-Producer / Story)

Q: How did you become involved with the project?
A: When I brought my family out to live in Los Angeles in the 80s, we met some of the Raiders. I was at a game that was going badly and Raider fans started yelling, "Second String, Second String!" It occurred to me that most people are second stringers for one reason or another, and their greatest scorn is reserved for their own limitations. I knew the story instantly. I was writing a couple of features at Fox and pitched the story to Joe Roth and Roger Birnbaum, who gave me a producer deal to do a feature. During its development, ironically, SECOND STRING was copied by several features now already released, including a recent football picture made by people we had worked with on our own project. Michael London, my exec at Fox during feature development, finally got it made by TNT, and my hat is off to him and the director, the actors, the crew, TNT and especially to Tom Flynn for writing such a strong script.

Q: What do Bellows and Voight bring to their characters?
A: Great actors always find courage to bring to their role the depth of their own vulnerability, and the most enormous challenge for any male actor, I believe, is, at the same time, to evoke that requisite (and alleged) masculinity typically demanded of society. Working through their anger and fear, reaching for openness, honesty, and the willingness to change, these characters grow through each other, and Voight and Bellows make that exchange work on a visceral level -- playing the spontaneous impulsivity of Bellows' character against the structure-loving need for predictability and control of Voight's character.

Q: What are the themes in this story?
A: The opposites of fear and love are the prime drivers of life and the drivers of the main character of this story. There is great courage that is required for one to rise above their own limitations, which are usually self-imposed. Recognizing this fact is intensely painful. There is security in failure, ironically, and one must find the fear that awareness brings, awareness that one can be better, that one is better and that it must be proved. Throwing off the shackles of that fear requires incredible personal courage.

Q: What makes this particular sports story unique and entertaining?
A: The story is universal. We are all second stringers, until we make the decision not to be.

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