Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A-Rod being cut from animated Yankees' film at a big cost

The New York Yankees might have just found one way to rid themselves of Alex Rodriguez — the editing room.

Rodriguez, who did his own voice work as the cartoon version of himself in the upcoming animated Yankees film "Henry & Me," will be removed from the film's final version due to fears from investors that the third baseman — who is currently appealing a 211-game suspension for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs— will hurt the marketability and profitability of the children's picture.

Though the producers and Yankees ownership gave their full support to the film and in February,  Hank Steinbrenner — who voiced his father's role — gave a big thumbs-up to A-Rod's part in the production. They can still offer their opinions about whether Rodriguez should be included in the final version. But the ultimate decision falls upon a group of eight or nine investors, who despite being fans of Rodriguez, believe that the controversy surrounding him will detract from the family-oriented film centered around perseverance and belief.

"We have investors that we have to answer to, just like the Yankees," said executive producer Ray Negron, a longtime Yankees adviser, whose children's books served as the inspiration for the film. "If ownership decides that this is a direction that we have to go, meaning our investors, we have to listen to ownership. That's just the way it is. It works just like a team. It's the same thing."

In a screening shown to a small group of reporters on Wednesday morning in Midtown Manhattan, Rodriguez was still in the film, hitting a home run with the help of the main character Jack, a boy battling cancer, and later visiting the protagonist in the hospital.

Rodriguez originally was cast in the role to replace Hideki Matsui, who had joined the Los Angeles Angels in 2010, but the retired Japanese star will be brought back to replace Rodriguez.

Though Rodriguez only has a few lines in the approximately one hour film, he is featured in 49 sequences. Producer Joseph Avallone said the editing process to remove Rodriguez will take four to six months and "cost a fortune."

"I love Alex Rodriguez, but I love kids more, and at the end of the day, we don't want to get caught up with everything that's happening right now," Negron said. "This is too important a message of what we're trying to relay to kids and we don't want to get caught up with that.

"We'll need to raise more money, but it's worth it if it means getting a good product out to the kids."
Negron later said that Rodriguez knows, "we have to do what we have to do," and "he'll understand" but that the Yankees slugger had not been informed of any changes yet.

The film, which chronicles the Yankees history and features team stars from the past and present, was originally going to be released in 2010, but will now hit a small number of theaters, primarily in New York, in April. It will then be released on DVD.

It stars Richard Gere, Chazz Palminteri and Paul Simon, along with Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Bernie Williams, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and now, Matsui. Each actor in the film agreed to donate their salary from the film to their individual charities. And $2 from each DVD sale will also go to charity.

There's always "Adult Swim" Alex.

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