John Schneider to star in 'Doonby' film

Actor playing modern George Bailey opposite Robert Davi

The actor who made Bo Duke a TV staple during the early 1980s will play a modern George Bailey in "Doonby."

In the feature film, John Schneider stars as Sam Doonby, a happy-go-lucky drifter who takes up residence in a small Texas town but seems suspiciously immune to the misfortunes that beset the other townsfolk.

The film is described as a cross between "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Crazy Heart" and also stars Robert Davi as the town sheriff.

Tommy Warren, who was behind the "Teed Off" series of golf comedies from National Lampoon, is producing with Mark Joseph, a marketing veteran whose campaigns included "The Passion of the Christ" and "Facing the Giants."

Joseph also is co-producing the film's soundtrack, which includes music from AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson.

"Doonby" is written and directed by British filmmaker Peter Mackenzie and will be shot at Spiderwood Studios near Austin.

"It's a real clever script that you can't quite figure out until the final minutes of the story," Schneider said. "But nowadays, it's the people involved in the projects that attract me more than the projects themselves. There has to be a high level of integrity, passion and skill."

Schneider, famous for his role in "The Dukes of Hazzard" series, recently wrapped a pair of Christian-themed films: He plays a drifter in "What Would Jesus Do?" scheduled for DVD release in August, and stars as Satan in the comedy "Holyman Undercover," in limited release. He also stars in the horror film "Snow Beast," set for release next year.

As Sam Doonby, Schneider is a mysterious stranger who takes a job as a singing bartender and always seems to be in the right place at the right time, a quality that inspires a dangerous level of envy from his new neighbors.

Joe Estevez, Jennifer O'Neill, Ernie Hudson and Jenn Gotzon also star.

"In some ways, 'Doonby' is a modern-day retelling of 'It's a Wonderful Life,' but with a little more edge," Mackenzie said. "But the central question remains the same: What would the world look like if we hadn't lived?"

In "Wonderful Life," Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a man who wishes he never was born who is granted that wish by an angel-to-be.
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