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Walt Disney Pictures has set indie darling Tom McCarthy to write Million Dollar Arm, based on the inspirational story of how sports agent J.B. Bernstein discovered professional pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel through his Indian reality show.
Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray’s Mayhem Pictures are producing alongside Joe Roth.
Million Dollar Arm underscores a pledge by Disney chair Rich Ross and president of production Sean Bailey to round out their slate with smaller films, similar to past Disney titles Secretariat and The Rookie, also produced by Mayhem.
Last month, Bailey and Ross were on hand for the premiere of McCarthy’s poignant comedy Win Win at the Sundance Film Festival. Win Win, written and directed by McCarthy, also deals with athletics and unlikely stars.
Million Dollar Arm will be McCarthy’s next writing project. There’s no word yet on a director, or whether McCarthy is a possibility for the gig.
Bernstein got the idea for the reality show one night while watching a televised cricket game from India. He realized that the throwing motion employed in cricket wasn’t that different from American pro baseball.
Reality show Million Dollar Arm launched in India in 2008. More than 40,000 contestants auditioned, including Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who emerged as the two finalists.
Bernstein brought Singh and Patel to the U.S., using action films and rap songs to facilitate their English. He also taught them the mechanics of baseball.
The efforts paid off. Patel and Singh became the first athletes from India to sign professional baseball contracts when joining the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In addition to Win Win, McCarthy’s writing/directing credits include The Station Agent and The Visitor. He also has a story credit on Pixar’s Up.
McCarthy is repped by Gersh.
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