"We Are Marshall," a rallying cry of football supporters since Marshall's days at Fairfield Stadium in the 1980s, will then follow the rebuilding of the Thundering Herd program, beginning in 1971 with the "Young" Thundering Herd, who won the first home game following the crash on a last-second play. The film will also briefly touch on the dark days of the 1970s, the re-birth of the program in the 1980s and very recent successes of bowl wins, conference championships and national rankings, towards the end of the film.
The party will be Saturday, April 1 (no fooling!), from 4:00-9:00 p.m. on Huntington's Fourth Avenue which will be closed for the party from 11th Street to Eighth Street. The main venue is in front of the historic Keith-Albee Theater, where the film may premier. There is no cost to attend, and street vendors will be available for food, drink and other concessions, including a special commenmorative issue of Herd Insider magazine.
The magazine, an extra-edition which will only be made available at the party, will feature articles on the upcoming movie, the Thundering Herd football program in 1970, the "Young" Thundering Herd of 1971 and the recovery of MU program in the 35 years since the crash, still the worst air-related sports disaster in American sports.
All actors involved with the movie have been invited to attend the block party, including lead Matthew McConaughey (who starred in "Sahara" in 2004 and recently opened in "Failure To Launch," with Sarah Jessica Parker) as MU Head Coach Jack Lengyel, who was hired in 1971 to rebuild Marshall football following the disaster; Matthew Fox (of ABC-TV's hit series, "Lost") as Assistant Coach William "Red" Dawson, who drove to the East Carolina game while recruiting and then helped rebuild the program after the crash; David Strathairn (of "Good Night, and Good Luck," for which he was nominated for best actor in the recent Academy Awards for his turn as CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow) as MU interim President Dr. Donald Deamon; and Anthony Mackie (of "Million Dollar Baby") as MU football player Nate Ruffin, who missed the flight to ECU due to injury and captained the 1971 Young Thundering Herd.
Others who are scheduled to attend are the film's director, McG, who has directed both Charlie Angel's films and many television programs, as well as acting as a producer on numerous projects. McG visited Marshall for a recent basketball game and scouted out the city for shooting, due to begin April 3. "I responded to the sheer emotion of the picture, said McG, on a March visit to Huntington. "To me, this is everything that's right with humanity. And none of us can live 70 years and say nothing bad ever happened to me. At some point or another in every human life, there is incredible grief. This is a snapshot of how if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You may not feel like it today, you may not understand it today, but tomorrow…it's going to come together, and you'll be thankful you kept moving forward into the light."
Others who have been invited to attend include Basil Iwanyk, the "We Are Marshall" producer. His most recent hit in theatre is Firewall, with Harrison Ford. Other officials may be attendance from Warner Brothers Studios, who will also handle world-wide distribution of the film, and the oher production companies officials, including (appropriately enough) Thunder Road Productions, Wonderland Sound and Vision and Legendary Pictures.
Get ready to party and to celebrate one of the most exciting events to hit Huntington in quite some time on April 1, from 4-9 p.m., when the block party on Fourth Avenue welcomes cast and crew of the upcoming movie, "We Are Marshall."