With the current popularity of poker, it was inevitable that Hollywood would follow along as well. From big budget pictures, such as the upcoming 'Lucky You' (currently in post-production) to independent films (such as M. J. Loheed's "Freeze Out", previously reviewed here at PokerNews), the film industry is coming along on the wave of popularity that poker is receiving. Another poker film is currently filming and the World Poker Tour will be a large part of the proceedings.
The new film is called "Deal" and, with the lead character's casting, it should at the minimum make some noise on the Tinseltown scene. Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds stars as an ex-gambler who stumbles across a hotshot young poker player, played by Bret Harrison (currently seen in Fox's comedy "The Loop" alongside actress/poker player Mimi Rogers). He begins to tutor what becomes his young protégé along the tournament trail as they battle their way to the WPT Championship. From what is said about the film to this point, think of the classic Paul Newman/Tom Cruise film "The Color Of Money" and you have the plot set out.
Some other members of the cast have some name recognition to them as well. Charles Durning ("Dog Day Afternoon" and "North Dallas Forty") is a part of the supporting cast as well as poker fan and player Shannon Elizabeth (of course known for her work in "American Pie"). Even some of the WPT players are getting into the "Hollywood" scene as well. Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari and Phil "The Unabomber" Laak will be featured in the film as well, presumably at the final table filming in New Orleans.
The WPT is going to be a part of the production of the film, as the set seen so often on television will make its debut on the silver screen. After the WPT Championship wraps up competition at the Bellagio in Las Vegas April 24th, the entirety of the set will be loaded up onto their WPT 18-wheelers and trucked to New Orleans for the filming of the climactic scenes of the movie. The opportunity of being featured in "Deal" was too good for the WPT executives to pass up.
"We are very excited about the World Poker Tour leaping from the small screen to the big screen," said Steve Lipscomb, founder and CEO of WPT Enterprises, Inc. "With the movie 'Deal', we will bring our enormously popular show on the Travel Channel to an even greater audience and we hope that it continues to fuel the explosion of poker worldwide." Most would admit there aren't many great poker movies out there, so with the current crop of films coming out perhaps we can find a new gem to put alongside "Rounders" and "The Cincinnati Kid". There is a good chance that, with the solid cast and support of the WPT, that "Deal" could be worth a trip to your local theater.
Ed note: Vince Van Patten of the World Poker Tour plays at Hollywood Poker