Moton Bets on Omaha Reading to Get Film Produced
August 19th, 2016
Omaha, NE — A screenwriter with Omaha roots will bring his story to the Omaha Community Playhouse.
On Monday, August 22 at 7:30 p.m., the Omaha Community Playhouse will host a special staged reading of the feature film script All Bets are On by Tony Moton. The reading will feature performances by well-known Omaha actors John Beasley and Patricia Belcher among others.
Moton cut his teeth in the 1990s as a columnist for the Omaha World Herald, covering restaurants, nightclubs and the arts scene. It was during that time that he got to know John Beasley and the two of them kept in touch, even as Moton moved away in 1999 to focus on journalism and teaching. Then he got the itch for screenwriting and in 2001, started writing All Bets Are On to get into the UCLA screenwriting program. While attending UCLA, Moton’s script ended up winning the university’s Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, an honor shared by such alums as Francis Ford Coppola.
Years later, Moton and Beasley reconnected about the possibility of Beasley playing the lead role in the film script. Moton then submitted the script to Omaha Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Jeff Horger who chose to feature it as a staged reading in the the Playhouse’s Alternative Programming series. For Moton, it’s a big step in the long road of getting his film made.
“I’m just thrilled, excited, all those experiences you’d have with the word ‘surreal’ because it’s been 17 years since I lived in Omaha, trying to apply my trade as a screenwriter,” Moton said. “This opportunity is not only a great chance to showcase this script but also to showcase some great talent from Omaha, including John Beasley.”
The script tells the story of a twelve-year-old Little League baseball player and his relationship with his philandering grandfather, set during the summer of 1969 in Chicago. The story is based off of Moton’s own real life experiences growing up as a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.
“The genesis of the script occurred when I was 12 years old,” he said. “My grandfather, who I was very close with, literally walked out the front door of our apartment on the southside of Chicago and we’ve never seen him since. He literally vanished off the face of the earth. The script utilizes the Chicago Cubs as a metaphor for loss and how you can redeem yourself, even if you feel like you can’t win or that things are hopeless. To lose someone in your family and not have closure is something I’ve been dealing with my whole life. This script has allowed me to take a real negative in my life and turn it into a positive.”
Moton’s script touches on a number of different issues from American race relations to multi-generational family dynamics to sports and even adult literacy. It’s a story that evolved many times over the years but with each evolution, Moton said, comes a story that deserves to be heard.
“It’s funny, as a writer, you don’t necessarily think about ‘What message this going to say?’ You just want to write the story and let the messages come from that,” he said. “I’ve had some time now to look back at it from it’s original draft and I really appreciate how certain things have come out of it.”
The staged reading of Tony Moton’s screenplay All Bets Are On will be held on Monday, August 22nd and 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the event is free and open to the public. For more information on the event, visit www.OmahaPlayhouse.com.
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