October 19, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Filming Starts on Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie About Special Space Camp

Marian Accardi, The Huntsville Times

Hallmark Movie Filming
Enlarge Hallmark Hall of Fame movie crew and extras get ready to shoot a scene during a break in the filming of Hallmark Hall of Fame movie "A Smile as Big as the Moon" Wednesday Oct. 19, 2011 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The U.S. Space & Rocket Center was transformed into a movie set Wednesday as filming started here for a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that will premier on ABC in January.

"A Smile as Big as the Moon," based on a book by the same name, tells about a high school football coach and special-education teacher who works with another teacher to bring a group of special-needs students to Space Camp in 1988.

"I love Mike's story," said John Corbett, who plays the former coach/teacher Mike Kersjes, who wrote the book with Joe Layden. "I think people will be touched by it."

Corbett, who appeared in another Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions movie, "November Christmas," in 2010, said it's "a great honor" to be involved in another Hallmark project.

Some of the shooting on a chilly, overcast morning took place outside the entrance to the space center. In the scene, Corbett and Jessy Schram, who plays teacher Robynn McKinney, who teams up with Kersjes, meet Cynthia Watros, who portrays Space Camp Director Deborah Barnhart. Barnhart was the Space Camp director at the time of the special camp and is now CEO of the space center.

The movie is "a story of hope," Schram said during a break for the cast before filming resumed for another scene. After reading the first 10 pages of the script, "I fell in love with the characters."

Schram has appeared in "Falling Skies," "Hawthorne," "Veronica Mars" and other TV series and in the Hallmark Channel's "Jane Doe" movies.

Corbett, who was in "Northern Exposure" in the early 90s, played Aidan Shaw on HBO's "Sex and the City" and the movie, "Sex and the City 2." He starred in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and is appearing this year in the TV series "Parenthood."

Watros, whose TV credits include "Lost," "The Drew Carey Show" and "House M.D.," was also impressed when she read the script by Tom Rickman.

"It's a wonderful story -- a teacher who believes in his students" and doesn't put limits on them, said Watros.

In the movie, some of the special-ed students are played by young actors who have Down syndrome or autism. Space center spokesman Tim Hall said some students from Lee High School and Madison Academy were playing extras during today's filming.

Kersjes, who now lives in the Huntsville area and is a senior systems analyst with Venturi Aerospace, is a technical adviser with the movie.

"Everybody is working very hard to make it as authentic as possible," Kersjes said. "The crew and cast are bending over backwards to make this movie just like the book. I can't be happier."

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