Momentum Builds for "The Magician"
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Zip archive containing a PDF of the release and photos for print and web of Marlin Briscoe and of the West Omaha Films team.
(OMAHA, Neb.) — Four decades have passed since Marlin “The Magician” Briscoe became the first African American starting quarterback in the NFL as a rookie for the Denver Broncos in 1968. The dramatic story of Briscoe’s life and career as told in his autobiography “The First Black Quarterback,” is now close to becoming a feature length film with support of actor and Omaha native John Beasley.
“I’ve wanted to tell this story on the big screen for quite some time,” said Beasley. “Marlin’s journey encapsulates so much, and the path that he paved for African Americans and what he did for the game is just a part of it. Inspiration, perspiration, courage, hope, joy, pain and sorrow — it’s all there in his story.”
With a script almost complete and a new Web site launch this month, the movie tentatively titled “The Magician,” captures Briscoe’s historical feat and details the story of Briscoe’s rise to the top, his meteoric fall and his courageous and triumphant journey toward self-fulfillment. The project is a labor of love for Beasley, who formed the production company West Omaha Films in 2006, along with partners Terry Hanna and David B. Clark.
“Throughout the years, I’ve been approached about potential movie projects covering my life and career, and it’s never felt quite right,” acknowledged Briscoe. “When John expressed interest, I almost immediately felt at ease. He knows me very well and I trust him with my story. I know that he will encompass the ups and downs of my life with equal detail and respect.”
Briscoe and Beasley have a connection that dates back to their college football days. Having both grown up in Omaha, they played football together at Omaha University (now the University of Nebraska at Omaha), and continued to follow one another’s careers as Briscoe pursued his football dreams and as Beasley began to test his acting chops in local theatre productions.
Briscoe’s football career led him from being a 14th round draft pick for the Denver Broncos in 1968 to becoming an All-Pro receiver for the Buffalo Bills and an integral member of the 1972 Miami Dolphins — a team that remains the only undefeated team in NFL history. It was in his rookie year with the Broncos that Briscoe broke the color barrier in professional football, becoming the first African American starting quarterback, and finishing his first season with 14 touchdown passes, a rookie record that still remains.
Briscoe’s life, however, took a different turn following his departure from the NFL. He fell into the vicious cycle of drug addiction, a path that led to his being on the receiving end of a drug dealer’s gun, homeless and eventually behind bars. In a life filled with overcoming the odds, this situation proved no different. Perseverance prevailed, and Briscoe finally faced his addictions, his fears and his critics to become what he is today, a mentor to young people in Los Angeles. He coaches them about overcoming life’s barriers and the dangers of drugs.
In 2006, Briscoe became the center of a Nike marketing campaign which featured a fictional high school football team named the Briscoe High Hawks. The campaign also included other such football greats as Don Shula, LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Urlacher, Jimmy Johnson and Matt Leinart. Briscoe is also co-founder of the Field Generals, a nonprofit organization featuring black NFL quarterbacks including Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon.
It was Briscoe’s continued perseverance that ignited John Beasley to make “The Magician” a reality. Beasley’s own career has included theatre performances throughout the U.S., working alongside Oprah Winfrey in the television series “Brewster Place,” as well as numerous television and movie roles. Upon forming West Omaha Films, Beasley and his partners soon thereafter connected with screenwriter Patrick Coyle and announced the completion of a three-year option agreement with Marlin Briscoe to produce the movie about his life and career.
The response to the film has been positive. Omaha investors in the project, Michael G. Murphy and John Osterholm, have taken note, and word about the project is quickly beginning to spread nationally and to those throughout the Hollywood community. A partnership with Omaha-based advertising and public relations agency Bozell is also in place to manage the promotion and media outreach as the film progresses.
“We are delighted by the response to the project so far,” noted Beasley. “Marlin’s story needs to be told. For African Americans, football fans, the city of Omaha and more. It’s truly an inspirational American story.”