‘Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself’

“Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself” screens at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 23 at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Tickets are $10.

After the film: Plimpton’s “Paper Lion” will be celebrated with readings by people influenced by the book, including sports historian Bill Dow and Jamie Samuelsen, co-host of the “Jamie and Wojo Show” on 97.1 The Ticket. Sharing remembrances will be several people who were with the Lions in the ’60s, including Hall of Fame cornerback Lem Barney; Tom Nowatzke, who played fullback from 1965 to 1969, and Bud Erickson, who was a publicity director and assistant general manager. Free Press executive sports director Gene Myers will moderate.

Title: “Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself”
Year: 2012
Minutes: 89 minutes
Director: Tom Bean, Luke Poling
Writer: Tom Bean, Luke Poling
Cinematographer: Jerry A. Henry, Quyen Tran
Editor: Maya Hawke, Casey Brooks
Producers: Tom Bean, Luke Poling, Terry McDonell, Adam Roffman, Fernando Villena
Executive Producers: Kris Meyer, Dennis Joyce, Antonio Weiss, Phyllis Alexander, Bill Deacon, Toby Barlow
Production company: Joyce Entertainment, The Offices of Spectre
Other film festivals: AFI –Silverdocs, Camden International Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Kansas International Film Festival, New Hampshire Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Festival, Docs NYC, Oxford Film Festival, It’s All True Festival, Sarasota Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Riverrun Film Festival
Rating: Not rated; some language

Detroiters will always remember George Plimpton for “Paper Lion,” the 1966 bestseller in which the journalist spent a season as a third string quarterback with the Detroit Lions. In “Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself,” viewers will learn about his other accomplishments, which include co-founding The Paris Review literary magazine and taking on a series of other professions as a pioneering participatory journalist. Plimpton was a Playboy magazine photographer, professional baseball player (he got Willie Mays to pop up at Yankee Stadium) and character actor opposite John Wayne. We also learn about his less-than-stellar career at college and his close ties to the Kennedy family, which include being just feet away from Robert Kennedy when he was assassinated. Ken Burns, Gay Talese, Hugh Hefner and local sports historian (and Free Press freelance contributor) Bill Dow all weigh on his legacy, but it’s Plimpton himself, his career well-documented in TV appearances and interviews before his death in 2003, who remains this film’s unforgettable star, including in moving return to Detroit for a final appearance with the Lions. Entertainment Weekly called the film a “remarkable doc about a life well lived.”

Directors: Tom Bean is currently working on a documentary about the Iranian hostage crisis featuring Jimmy Carter and Walter Cronkite. Luke Poling, a staff writer on the award-winning podcast Hello Simon, has been involved in several capacities with productions ranging from “The Departed” and “The Fog of War.”


George Plimpton practicing with the Boston Bruins, 1977 (Photo: Sports Illustrated/Laemmle Zeller Films)

George Plimpton practicing with the Boston Bruins, 1977 (Photo: Sports Illustrated/Laemmle Zeller Films)

George Plimpton watches the America’s Cup races with President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, 1962 (Photo: Laemmle Zeller Films)

George Plimpton watches the America’s Cup races with President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, 1962 (Photo: Laemmle Zeller Films)

Behind-the-scenes, Hugh Hefner with filmmakers Luke Poling (Center) and Tom Bean (Photo: Laemmle Zeller Films)

Behind-the-scenes, Hugh Hefner with filmmakers Luke Poling (Center) and Tom Bean (Photo: Laemmle Zeller Films)