Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself: A life well-lived

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Rare is the man (or woman) who squeezes numerous experiences into one lifetime. Rarer still is the person who isn’t afraid of failing at one – or all – of those endeavors.

George Plimpton, renaissance man./Credit Plimpton Family

Yet both describe the late George Plimpton, a renaissance man whose 20th-century life crisscrossed an assortment of genres, most notably literature (as a writer and co-founder/editor of The Paris Review) and sports. And he wrote about it all.

Now Plimpton, who died in 2003, is the subject of “Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself,” a documentary film in the making. Jerry Barca, a Freehold, N.J., resident and former newspaper colleague of mine, serves as associate producer and actively markets the film, which is slated for release late 2011/early 2012.

Until he began work on “Plimpton!” Jerry acknowledges he knew little about the man in question.

“(He was) in ‘Good Will Hunting,’ and he spoke with a funny accent,” Jerry recalls. “I’m embarrassed to admit it now.”

The film examines Plimpton’s many sports accomplishments – which include stints playing football with the Detroit Lions, hockey with the Boston Bruins and basketball for the Boston Celtics (of which he wrote about) – and how they impacted people. Also explored are Plimpton’s relationships with powerful politicians (President John F. Kennedy among them) and his experiences acting in several films, performing with the New York Philharmonic and photographing Playboy models for Hugh Hefner.

“There was a fearlessness to what he did,” says Jerry. “A willingness to fail and a willingness to poke fun at himself.”

Plimpton was also adept at immersing himself in his surroundings.

“How was a Harvard-educated guy able to relate to people?” Jerry asks. “He really brought who he was as a person to the table… He met people where they were.”

The film strives to get Plimpton “back in the consciousness of people.

“We want to hit the refresh button on who George Plimpton is,” Jerry explains.

And filmmakers Tom Bean and Luke Poling hope fans play an active role in that process. To that end, they’ve created a Kickstarter campaign, which seeks financial contributions to help offset the extensive licensing costs associated with the material featured in the film.

While $25,000 is the goal, pledges of all denominations are welcome. Donations of $30 or more will receive a DVD of the film, and those $100 and over will also receive a subscription to The Paris Review and other Plimpton-related swag. (Click here to find out how to donate now.)

“We want people to be part of this movement,” Jerry says.

And really, when you start thinking about all of the things Plimpton experienced and documented through his writing, how can you not cheer for him?

“He lived a life that obviously was very fulfilling,” Jerry says, “and I don’t think we will come across another George Plimpton again.”

To learn more about “Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself” visit www.plimptonmovie.com and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

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