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Blitz continues for film about Toledo Troopers

Social media, local support gain yardage for movie


By 1975, Linda Jefferson, running back for the Toledo Troopers of the National Women's Football League, had led the Troopers to 20 straight wins over three seasons and the world championship of women's football.

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A big social media campaign has begun for Perfect Season: The Untold Story of the Toledo Troopers.

Local support for the docudrama about Toledo’s ’70s-era professional women’‍s football team, being put together by Toledo native and Hollywood film director Brett Leonard, is growing in countless ways too.

From local mom-and-pop operations to Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, the film is drawing direct financial or in-kind services, Mr. Leonard said.

An executive board of local business leaders has been formed.

Gospel singers from Epiphany Lutheran Church on Reynolds Road provided stirring backup for the first song, “Hard Heart.”

Co-written by Toledoans Tom Cole and Jaime Mills, it has Mr. Mills on vocals and local horn players — the first of several songs that will include area musicians.

“It’‍s going to be a very interesting movie in terms of audio and music,” said Mr. Leonard’s brother, Gregg Leonard, the film’‍s music director.

The two Leonards said some of Toledo’s industrial factory and street sounds will be worked into the film “because Toledo itself is a character in the movie.”

In recent weeks, former Toledo Mayor Mike Bell has signed on as an executive producer.

Mr. Bell is using his contacts to help woo investors, Guy Stout, a co-script writer, said.

Former WTOL-Channel 11 news anchor Chrys Peterson has been enlisted as the spokesman and on-camera personality for the social media campaign.

The goal is to create as much buzz as possible before filming begins this fall.

The production crew is working with the digital and theater department at the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, and the Toledo School for the Arts. It hopes to engage Toledo Public Schools, Mr. Leonard said.

University of Toledo women’s basketball coach Tricia Cullop has offered to help as well.

Toledo area’s Crystal Bowersox, who has tip-toed into acting since her formidable singing talent became known as the American Idol runner-up in 2010, has told Mr. Leonard she would love to perform a song for the movie, but — better yet — take on a rough-and-tumble supporting role, such as a lineman or linebacker.

Mr. Leonard said he is intrigued with the offer but hasn’t made decisions yet.

Most of those will be left up to the film’s casting director, Deborah Aquila, whose nearly 150 movie credits include The Shawshank Redemption, A Good Day to Die Hard, Stand Up Guys, The Lincoln Lawyer, and Red, as well as television shows such as Dexter, The Shield, and Twilight.

Mr. Leonard and Ms. Aquila have collaborated before, including the 1995 film, Virtuosity, Russell Crowe’s first in the United States.

The Blade was told of two A-list movie stars being courted for lead roles as the team’s owner-coach, Bill Stout, and its star running back, Linda Jefferson, while getting an update on the project Tuesday from the two Leonards, Mr. Stout, and the script’s other writer, Steve Guinan.

They provided the information on the condition that names not be disclosed until contracts are signed, which Mr. Leonard said typically occurs just before filming begins because of the actors’ scheduling commitments.

Bottom line: “We are in talks with very significant people,” he said.

The big push now is on what’s known as the project’s “transmedia” effort, one which goes beyond traditional advertising to engage Internet viewers in discussions about issues, such as the dominant one in Perfect Season: equality in sports between the sexes.

The push is coordinated by Communica, a Toledo business that specializes in digital information.

An overview can be found on YouTube.

The concept is described as “storytelling over multiple platforms” to simultaneously engage Internet users on Web sites, mobile phones, tablets, and other devices.

Dozens of short videos are being produced, which will generate local jobs, Mr. Leonard said.

Golfer Nancy Lopez recently came to Toledo to be filmed for one of the transmedia shorts, he said.

“This is a unique and new way of developing an audience in the [independent] film industry, and we’re doing that in Toledo,” said Mr. Leonard, a 1977 DeVilbiss High School graduate recognized by Variety magazine as one of Hollywood’s noted film directors. “It’‍s all about connecting all of the dots in social media. ... We’ll have a tremendous audience for this movie even before we make it.”

The discussion is under way on Perfect Season’‍s Facebook page,​TheToledoTroopersFilmPerfectSeason.

Twitter followers should check #womencandoanything, Mr. Leonard said.

Perfect Season is to show how a former Toledo professional women’s football team, the Toledo Troopers, had an underrated role in advancing the women’s rights movement and, more specifically, Title IX, the civil rights act that outlaws sex discrimination in education, including sports.

The team won seven consecutive national championships in the 1970s.

Twenty women on the team participated in last weekend’s Old West End parade, with Mr. Leonard and Ms. Jefferson waving from an antique Cadillac convertible.

Contact Tom Henry at: or 419-724-6079.

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