Ryan Merriman, Aidan Quinn and Andie MacDowell have boarded Rick Bieber's indie drama The 5th Quarter, about how a college football player's tribute to his late brother inspired his team to a record season.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, after the family's devastation of 15-year-old Luke Abbate's death in a 2006 car crash and their painful decision to donate his organs to five people, Wake Forest junior Jon Abbate (Merriman) asked his coach to change his jersey number to Luke's number, five. Just before the fourth quarter of each game, the linebacker began holding up five fingers along with his parents, Steven and Maryanne (Quinn and, in final negotiations, MacDowell) as they sat in section five of the stadium.
After news of the personal tribute spread, even opposing players and fans were joining them by the thousands, inspiring the family to launch the Five Foundation dedicated to educating young adults about responsible driving. Abbate's low-ranked team soon reached a school-record 11 wins and earned a trip to the Orange Bowl.
Writer-director Bieber is producing through his Angel City Pictures. Former Wake Forest player Robert McCreary and Alan Cohen are executive producing the $5 million-range project. Stacy Earl and Michael Harding also star.
Several real-life participants in the story will play themselves in the film, including the Abbates' Atlanta-based pastor, Jon Abbate's trainer and Wake Forest's game announcer. "We've also licensed tapes of Jon's games to intercut with scenes shot in Wake Forest's stadium for a heightened sense of realism," says Bieber.
The 5th Quarter will begin a six-week shoot Oct. 16 on and around the school's Winston-Salem campus.