HOLLYWOOD -- Reggie Oliver was in the mix of stars for the Hollywood premiere of  "We Are Marshall."

Oliver was right there front and center Thursday night at Grauman's Chinese Theater in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, sharing the spotlight with lead actors Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox. Oliver isn't in the movie, but his character is played by Arlen Escarpeta.

The Warner Bros. Pictures film is about the rebuilding and recovery after a Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash nearly wiped out the Marshall University football program. All 75 people on the flight back from a game at East Carolina died, including most of the players and coaches and some fans.

Oliver was the starting quarterback for the 1971 Marshall team known as the Young Thundering Herd.

The movie ends with Oliver throwing a game-winning touchdown pass on the final play of the 1971 Xavier game to give Marshall a victory in its first home game following the crash.

"We are connected forever," said Oliver, a member of the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame. "The ones we lost would be proud of this movie. The Young Herd is proud. They got the story out the way they said they would. Stories like this go over well."

McConaughey stars in the movie as Young Thundering Herd head coach Jack Lengyel while Fox plays assistant coach Red Dawson.

The motion picture will be in theaters beginning Friday.

"Anyone who sees it will find it powerful," Oliver said. "It would be difficult not to."

Grauman's Chinese Theater hosted a premiere two days after a similar event in downtown Huntington where a crowd of people estimated at 10,000 turned out for some star-gazing and to see the movie. The Hollywood event was less formal and included a post-premiere tailgate party on a lot next to the theater.

At both locations the stars walked down a Marshall green carpet in place of the traditional red carpet used for most movie premieres.

Rick Meckstroth of Huntington, a Young Thundering Herd linebacker, was at both premieres.

"This has been quite an experience," Meckstroth said. "Hollywood did an amazing job. People everywhere -- everywhere -- will now know what we went through and what it took to recover."

Filming for "We Are Marshall" began April 3 in Huntington and continued for three weeks. The crew shifted to Atlanta for more filming and wrapped up in mid-June.

McG, the director, and his staff spent time in Huntington before the cameras rolled to learn about the people and the area and the toll the tragedy took on the school, town and state.

Football scene choreography was coordinated by Mark Ellis of ReelSports Inc. who has worked on more than 30 sports-related movies. Ellis put together five football teams for the film -- two from Marshall representing 1970 and 1971; East Carolina in 1970; Morehead State in 1971; and Xavier in 1971 -- and had to film at three sites.

Ellis was very interested in how things went in Hollywood.

"If it's good in the eyes of the people in here tonight, usually the rest of the country embraces it," Ellis said.

 

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