Emmy and Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth, Jeffrey Donovan, and Lil Rel Howery have joined Stephan James and J.K. Simmons in National Champions, the STXfilms sports drama which is being directed by Ric Roman Waugh. The film also stars Uzo Aduba, Alexander Ludwig, Andrew Bachelor, David Koechner, Tim Blake Nelson, and Timothy Olyphant.
Written by Adam Mervis, based on his play, the pic explores the big business of college sports when a star quarterback (James) ignites a player’s strike 72 hours before the biggest game of the year to fight for fair compensation, equality, and respect for the athletes who put their bodies and health on the line for their schools.
Chenoweth will play Bailey Lazor, the wife of Simmons’ Coach Lazor who has the erudition and taste of an upper east sider. Donovan is Mike Titus, an executive who calls a meeting of the NCAA and conference brass when the star quarterback begins his boycott of the big game. Howery will play Coach Dunn, the team’s defensive coordinator.
“This cast of some of the most respected veteran actors and rising stars is truly remarkable,” said Adam Fogelson, chairman of the STXfilms Motion Picture Group. “We’re thrilled that everyone responded to this story the way they did and we hope National Champions will spark a dialogue about collegiate athletics.”
Basil Iwanyk and Brendon Boyea of Thunder Road and Greg Economou of game1 are producing the film, which will commence production this month in New Orleans. It’s fully financed by BondIt Media Capital and The Capstone Group.
Executive producers are Jonathan Fuhrman of Thunder Road, Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor of Bondit Media, Christian Mercuri of The Capstone Group, Michael Smith, and Mervis.
Chenoweth, repped by ICM, 3 Arts, and Schreck Rose Dapello, most recently starred in the Netflix movie Holidate, voiced the character Daisy in HBO Max’s The Witches, and hosted the Food Network competition series Candy Land. She’ll soon be seen co-starring in the new AppleTV+ musical comedy Schmigadoon!.
Donovan, who can currently be seen in the Guy Ritchie-directed action thriller Wrath of Man, will next star opposite Letitia Wright in Surrounded as well as First Love with Diane Kruger. He is repped by ICM Partners, Anonymous Content, and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum.
Howery, most recently seen in the Oscar-nominated film Judas and the Black Messiah as well as the hit Netflix comedy Bad Trip, next stars opposite Kevin Hart in Fatherhood and in Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds. His reps are UTA, Fourth Wall, and Cohen & Gardner.