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Friday, Jul 20 2012 09:40 PM

Costner in talks to play McFarland coach in Disney film

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Actor Kevin Costner is in talks to star in "McFarland," a sports drama to be directed by Niki Caro for Disney, according to the Hollywood Reporter 's website. Caro is best known for directing 2002's "Whale Rider" and 2005's "North Country," starring Charlize Theron.

Disney is banking on landing Costner to anchor the film, budgeted at 17 million. If cast, "McFarland" will join "Bull Durham," "Field of Dreams," "Tin Cup" and "For Love of the Game" as examples of the 57-year old actors' affinity for sports-themed projects.

The film will be based on a 1997 Los Angeles Times article about high school coach Jim White, who inspired students by forming a cross-country team at McFarland High. The school won nine state cross-country titles between 1987 and 2001, including five in the 1990s. The program was also the subject of a Sports Illustrated feature in 2004.

Open auditions for the film's cast and extras were held in East Bakersfield in December.

Mayhem Pictures, which has had success in the inspirational sports film genre with movies such as "Miracle," "Invincible" and last year's "Secretariat," will produce the film.

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