TORONTO – Don Cherry is getting his own biopic.
The outspoken sports commentator, a mainstay of CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada,” will be the focus of a made-for-TV movie expected to air on the public broadcaster next year.
A publicist for the film says “Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story,” is set to begin shooting Wednesday in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba..
The script is written by Tim Cherry, Don Cherry’s son, who also serves as executive producer.
CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said Thursday that there will be plenty of material to mine in recounting the life story of Grapes.
“The guy has had a very interesting life,” Keay said.
“Love him or love him less, he’s one of those characters that everybody’s got an opinion on and I think this makes for a pretty compelling subject.”
Known for unleashing passionate tirades on his weekly “Coach’s Corner” TV segment, Cherry has managed to cultivate both a devoted following and significant controversy for his bold opinions.
His unabashed fondness for on-ice fisticuffs, outbursts on European and French-Canadian players, open support for right-wing politics and ardent patriotism have made him one of the country’s most iconic figures. Just about every opinion draws a rapid response from some quarter.
And then there are the outfits.
Cherry’s flamboyant double-breasted suits are as loud as his personality, agreed Keay, who joked that the fashion hound may have to be brought on set to advise the crew on wardrobe, or perhaps lend a few choice garments.
“To help defray the costs,” joked Keay, underscoring the beleaguered finances of the cash-strapped CBC, currently grappling with a $171-million budget shortfall.
It’s unclear, however, how much of Cherry’s broadcast career will make it onto the screen.
The film will reportedly include dramatizations of Cherry’s boyhood in Kingston, Ont., and follow his hockey career through the minor leagues and as a coach with the Boston Bruins.
It stars Jared Keeso as Don Cherry and Sarah Manninen as Rose Cherry.
Producers are inviting hundreds of volunteer extras to come out for three days of shooting May 24, May 31 and June 14 when an arena in Brandon will double for NHL play and a rink in Selkirk will provide the background for AHL action.
The film comes on the heels of a book detailing some of Grapes’ most memorable experiences.
The 75-year-old released a compilation of stories called “Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories and Stuff,” last December, along with the 20th instalment of his “Rock ’em Sock ’em” video.