'The Ultimate Legacy'

Movie shot mostly in Oldham County gives locals a thrill

Author Stovall humbled by his success

January 2016 Cover

LA GRANGE, Ky. (January 2016) – Motivational speaker Jim Stovall never considered becoming a writer until he was in his 30s and had already experienced a very successful international public speaking and business career. When he sat down and took pen to paper, the result was the beginning of a whole new career for Stovall, and one with no end in sight.
Before writing “The Ultimate Gift” novel in 2006, he had written five or six nonfiction books. “I wanted to share the same lessons in a story, since ideal stories offer great impact,” said Stovall, 57.
“The Ultimate Gift” was turned into a Hallmark Channel movie starring James Garner and Abigail Breslin. Stovall went on to pen sequels “The Ultimate Life” and “The Ultimate Journey,” both of which were combined into the movie, “The Ultimate Life.” In 2013 he published “The Gift of a Legacy,” which has also been made into a Hallmark Channel movie, “The Ultimate Legacy.”
Several scenes for “The Ultimate Legacy” were shot in July and August 2015 along Main Street in La Grange. A resident of Tulsa, Okla., Stovall said, “The four books and three movies have created a phenomenon beyond my wildest dreams.”
So successful have the books and movies been that, Stovall said, “I thought I was done with this series before the “Legacy” book and movie. Now I feel there still may be some life left in these characters and this story.” The author seems to be as intrigued with his characters as his audience.

Hallmark Channel Premier

• “The Ultimate Legacy,” filmed entirely in Kentucky, with many scenes in Oldham County, is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, on the Hallmark Channel. The World Premier screening was held Dec. 4 in La Grange.

Stovall’s friend, Rick Eldridge, was the movie’s executive producer. “He allowed me to provide input on each of the scripts, and I played a cameo role in each of the movies,” said Stovall. In “The Ultimate Legacy,” Stovall’s character’s name was Sam.
In “The Ultimate Legacy,” Joey Anderson (Myko Olivier) is a globetrotting adventure junky who is abruptly pulled away from his freewheeling lifestyle to confront the ghosts of his past and forced to take hold of his future. His journey begins with Miss Sally Mae Anderson’s (Raquel Welch) bold decision to name him heir to the Anderson estate, against the wishes of her attorney Theodore Hamilton (Bill Cobbs) and Miss Hastings (Lee Meriwether).
Miss Sally enlists the help of Kelly (Katie McClellan), a charming young attorney, and several old friends to help guide Joey’s path. Brian Dennehy also has a brief role in the movie as Gus.
“The Ultimate Legacy” had its world premier Dec. 4 at CityPlace Expo Center, 112 S. First Ave. in La Grange. An estimated crowd of 280 military veterans, cast and crew members and the general public attended.

Photo courtesy of Laura J. Roppel

Pictured at the Dec. 4 world premier in La Grange are (from left) Director of Photography Kevin Bryan, actor Beau Davidson (Maximilian Swayne), Executive Producer Rick Eldridge and actor Torry Martin (Oscar).

This event had a dual purpose in that it benefited veterans. “We have been working in conjunction with Hallmark and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Louisville,” said Karen Greenwell, CityPlace Administrator. All proceeds from ticket sales were donated directly to the Robley Rex V.A. Medical Center in honor and support of all veterans. The V.A. Medical Center was also used as a film location in the movie.
Greenwell said veterans of the Wounded Warriors program came from Ft. Knox as well as veterans from V.A. Hospital who could make the trip. “It was a great opportunity to showcase Oldham County and honor our veterans.”
During the screening, cheers went up from the audience whenever a familiar Oldham County location appeared.

Photo courtesy of Reelworks Studios

This horse farm mansion in Oldham County, Ky., served as the Anderson estate in “The Ultimate Legacy.”

“A reception for veterans took place prior to the showing of the film to honor them,” Greenwell said. A complimentary Private Prescreening Reception took place in Pavilion 1 for veterans and Armed Service members. This private reception was catered by Serendipity in La Grange.
Edible choices included different cheeses, crackers, fresh fruits and vegetables with dip, and “10 different home-made candies and other pastries,” said Becky Kimbler, co-owner of Serendipity Café & Gifts.
Serendipity has “worked with CityPlace in the past to cater events."

Photo by Don Ward

Executive Producer and co-screenwriter Rick Eldridge speaks to the crowd during a pre-screening reception at CityPlace on Dec. 4 in La Grange, Ky.

Kimbler did not get to actually see the movie premier, but she said she is excitedly awaiting its début in early 2016 on the Hallmark Channel. She’s also excited about the possibilities for more movies to be filmed in the area. The movie is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, on the Hallmark Channel. One of the previous two movies in the series, “The Ultimate Life,” is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. that same night, according to the Hallmark Channel website.
When the movie crew hung a large moon behind Kimbler’s building for a night scene, her staff watched the crew at work, getting an early “premier” of their own, she said. “The crew would all come in for ice cream, also.”
Of the premier, Kimbler said, “There were so many people in town for it and the money was donated to Veterans Hospital in Louisville. It’s cool knowing that.” 
Screen and sound capabilities for the premier were provided by LP Productions, based in Buckner, Ky. General Admission tickets were sold for $10 per person. A limited number of VIP seats were sold for $50 each, enabling the ticket holders to attend the prescreening private event. The premier was a sold out show.

Photo courtesy of Laura J. Roppel

Actor and Kentucky native Ryan McIntyre poses with his mother, Debi Barnhill Phillips, during the pre-screening reception Dec. 4 in La Grange.

There was a red carpet entrance and special lighting to give it that Hollywood feel. Although none of the big name actors or actresses attended, several of the minor actors attended and took lots of selfies with the public.
Due to a previous engagement, Stovall was not able to attend the premier. He has recently finished writing “New Season of Hope,” his first novel in a new series of books and movies.
Stovall, who is blind, is a graduate of Oral Roberts University, has been a national champion Olympic weightlifter, and president of the Emmy Award-winning Narrative Television Network, an organization that has made television and movies accessible to the blind.
On hand for the premier were the movie’s director, Joanne Hock, and Executive Producer Eldridge, who stayed afterward for a Q&A session with the audience. Eldridge is CEO of Reelworks Studios, a Charlotte, N.C., company that shot the movie entirely in Kentucky.

Photo courtesy of Reelworks Studios

The film crew of “The Ultimate Legacy” prepares to shoot a scene on Main Street in La Grange, Ky., last summer.

Scenes were filmed at various locations in La Grange, including La Grange Coffee Roasters, owned by Lea and Chris Cockrell; the former Artful Dodgers Shop & Studio, owned by Kali Digrassi; and Rails Restaurant, owned by Randy and Ellie Troutman.
The office scene where Jason Stevens (Logan Bartholomew) works was shot in Louisville’s Flashcube building, located at Shelbyville Road and Hurstbourne Lane. A scene also was shot at Louisville’s Wallitsch Nursery & Garden Center on Hikes Lane. Cliff repelling scenes in the beginning and end of the movie were shot at Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky.
The location of the Anderson mansion was not disclosed due to privacy considerations, Greenwell said, but it is on a horse farm in Oldham County.

Photo provided

Novelist Jim Stovall wrote the series of books that inspired the Hallmark Channel movie series.

Prior to the screening, Eldridge addressed the crowd at the reception and described his experience of filming on location in Oldham County as “a fantastic experience.”
“I am very proud of the relationships we built around the film,” he continued. “We decided at the last minute to com to Kentucky, mostly because of new tax incentives offered through the Kentucky Cabinet for Tourism. The first two films were made in North Carolina. “So we came and explored and I said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’ ”
Eldridge, who has 30 years in the film making industry, said, “everyone in the crew will tell you that. The crew did a fantastic job, and it all culminates tonight. And it is great that some of the crew could come back and celebrate with us at the premiere.”
Eldridge said the audience was the first people to view the film outside of a handful of crew members back at the studio.
He told the audience that he expected great things for the film, considering the first two movies in the series have been seen by audiences in 70 countries.
“This is an exciting time for me,” Eldridge continued. “It’s a miracle that any movie is made when you consider the thousands of people involved. It’s takes location and the many moving parts to create a picture.”
As for returning to Kentucky for future film projects, Eldridge said, “We’d come back in a heartbeat.”
Although legendary actors Welch, Meriwether and Dennehy did not attend the premier, a handful of lesser-known actors did attend, including Beau Davidson, who played singer Maximilian Swayne; Torry Martin, who played the Anderson estate’s butler, Oscar; and Oldham County’s Sean Ramey, owner of Kentucky Tae Kwon Do & Fitness Academy in Crestwood who had brief role as a thug in the bar fight scene.
Kentucky-born actor Ryan McIntyre, 29, also appeared in the bar fight scene as another thug. Raised near Louisville, McIntyre, a former high school All State wide receiver, attended Western Kentucky University. Upon graduating in 2005, he headed to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.
Following the screening in La Grange, the movie was shown two nights later on Dec. 6 at Asbury College. Those are the only two pre-air screenings planned, Eldridge said. He added that after the movie airs on the Hallmark Channel, negotiations are under way to have the film shown as a limited release in theaters nationally.

The movie trailer can be viewed at the website:  https://vimeo.com/143158530.

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