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Online Poker News Archives - July 20, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Business Wire

July 20, 2005 01:22 PM US Eastern Timezone

Headline: Poker Stars Soon to Be on Big Screen as Well as Small: 'Lucky You' to Showcase Game's Top Players in Featured Roles

Hot on the heels of the largest and richest World Series of Poker in history, poker fans will soon see their favorite poker stars on the big screen as well, in what will be the first film set in the exploding world of professional poker. In Spring 2006, poker fans will be able to see more than two dozen of their favorite poker icons sharing the screen with these Hollywood stars -- Eric Bana ("Troy"), Drew Barrymore ("Charlie's Angels") and Robert Duvall ("The Godfather").

Playing themselves or fictional counterparts in "Lucky You" -- the first Hollywood film to capture the excitement and drama of the worldwide poker phenomenon -- are Jack Binion, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Hoyt Corkins, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Farha, Maureen Feduniak, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Phil Hellmuth, Chau Giang, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harman, Dan Harrington, John Hennigan, Karina Jett, John Juanda, Jason Lester, Erick Lindgren, Minh Ly, Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, David Oppenheim, Max Pescatori, Matt Savage, Erik Seidel, Huck Seed, Mimi Tran, Cyndy Violette, Marsha Waggoner and Robert Williamson III. Brunson, Lester and Savage also served as consultants on the film.

Directed by Academy Award winner Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential," "Wonder Boys," "8 Mile") and based on an original screenplay by Academy Award winner Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump," "The Insider"), "Lucky You" explores the story of a professional poker player (Bana) who gets a lesson in life from a struggling singer (Barrymore) as he collides with his estranged father (Duvall) in the world of high stakes poker in Las Vegas.

"With millions of people watching poker weekly on television, it was important to capture the authenticity of the game and its players," said Hanson. "To that end, the poker tables in 'Lucky You' are primarily populated by poker players, not actors pretending to be poker players. Our stars trained for months in order to convincingly play side by side with top poker professionals cast in fictional roles."

The filmmakers shot for seven weeks in Las Vegas this past spring. The casinos featured in the film include the Bellagio, Binions and the Aladdin. Upon their return to Los Angeles, shooting continued on Hollywood sound stages that housed perfect replicas of Benny's Bullpen at Binion's (where the WSOP was played until 2004) and the Bellagio poker room (circa 2003).

After arriving at the Bellagio set, Daniel Negreanu exclaimed: "It blew me away. It was very strange and surreal. It's like this is the exact Bellagio poker room." The scenes depicted at the Bellagio poker room included Bana and Duvall participating in the "Big Game" with such players as Sam Farha, Barry Greenstein, Chau Giang, Minh Ly, Ted Forrest and Erick Lindgren. "One of the things that made it totally realistic," notes Negreanu, "is the fact that it's a lot of the real pros that actually play in that game."

Among the many other poker scenes in the film are some extended sequences that take place at a fictional World Series of Poker (circa 2003) and feature a myriad of recognizable pros. Jason Lester, who finished fourth in the final event at the World Series of Poker in 2003, served as an on-set consultant for the film's depiction of the WSOP. According to Lester: "This movie is getting it right. I can't recall any movie ever really showing high stakes gambling in such an authentic manner. Having real poker players makes it more realistic and that's so important for any kind of gambling movie."

Similarly, Erick Lindgren described the Benny's Bullpen set as "Unbelievable! I just feel like this movie is going be great because I see how authentic everything is."

"Lucky You" is a Deuce Three/DiNovi Pictures Production. The producers are Denise DiNovi, Carol Fenelon and Curtis Hanson. The executive producers are Bruce Berman and John Kirby. The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

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