The executive producers of "A Plumm Summer," an independent film set for a limited release Friday that includes several screens in the Twin Cities, admit that their friends were skeptical about the movie and the financial commitment that went into it.
Then again, those producers -- former Minnesota Twins pitcher Scott Erickson and his wife, Lisa Guerrero, who has had several high-profile broadcasting jobs -- don't come from a typical film background, and they don't necessarily have typical friends.
One early screener of the movie, for instance, was Erickson's pal Johnny Damon, a former teammate with the New York Yankees. But Damon's skepticism gave way to curiosity before the film downright won him over. The only problem was his copy was an old and worn DVD that stopped working with 20 minutes remaining.
"For the next two weeks, he was calling me and bugging me to see the end," Erickson said.
Erickson and Guerrero are hoping to similarly win over audiences with "A Plumm Summer," a kid-friendly movie with an admittedly strange premise based on a true story about a beloved TV puppet (Froggy Doo) that was kidnapped in Montana in 1968. The marionette (Happy Herb) is played by Henry Winkler, while Chris Kelly -- an up-and-coming 16-year-old from Minnesota who is also set to appear in the yet-to-be-released "Cirque du Freak" -- plays a boy who sets off with his younger brother to find the missing puppet.
Not your everyday plot, Erickson and Guerrero concede, but the film has garnered favorable reviews and is generating some Hollywood buzz for its sweetness and throwback style (read: based on story instead of special effects, somewhat of a rarity these days in a film aimed at kids).
Guerrero also has a role in the film, which was originally going to be the couple's only involvement. But when financial backing fell apart, Erickson and Guerrero stepped in to fund and produce it. The timing coincided with Erickson's departure from baseball in the summer of 2006.
"I took off my baseball hat and put on a headset and was basically instantly on the set," Erickson said.
Adds Guerrero: "We were either very naïve or very brave. Time will tell."
Shot in Montana in just 35 days, the film will open on about 50 screens -- all of them in the Twin Cities, California, Montana and Alabama. There is also a premiere tonight in Westwood, Calif.; among the first people Erickson and Guerrero mentioned as attendees are filmmaker Ron Howard and former major league pitcher Jesse Orosco. It's an interesting mix all around. But the producers are cautiously optimistic that it will be a success and even have their eyes on future film and TV productions.
"You don't get involved in anything you don't truly love," Erickson said, "and this is something we truly enjoy."
Mike Rand • 612-673-7564