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"Pursuit of Happyness"


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another Chris Gardner article ( I post these because it gives more insight into the story)

Once homeless, broker's story hitting big


Associated Press

CHICAGO - It was just a movie set, but in a moment it showed Chris Gardner where he'd been - and how far he'd come.

There with actor Will Smith - who was playing Gardner, a former homeless man turned millionaire - Gardner stood in what looked like the train station bathroom where he once slept a quarter century ago.

Suddenly he was overcome with memories of teaching his 2-year-old son to never, ever open the locked bathroom door, no matter how hard someone pounded on the other side. It didn't matter that he now had three homes - one a condo in New York's Trump Tower - or that he'd gone from selling his own blood to buying Michael Jordan's car.

"I had to get out of there," he said.

The story of how the 52-year-old Gardner did just that, climbed out of homelessness and became a millionaire stockbroker with his own 15-employee Chicago firm, is being turned into a motion picture, due out in December. It's also the subject of Gardner's own just-released book, "The Pursuit of Happyness." The unique spelling of "happiness."

Even in the realm of rags-to-riches tales, Gardner's story is unique. Take, for example, the events that led to his descent into homelessness.

A medical supplies salesman barely making enough money to support his girlfriend and baby, Gardner had one of those Hollywood moments in a San Francisco parking lot in 1981 when he spotted a man looking for a place to park his red Ferrari.

"I said to him, 'You can have my (parking) place but I've got to ask you two questions. What do you do and how do you do it?'" recalled Gardner.

The man was a stockbroker. Gardner didn't know a single stockbroker or even what one did. But the man said he made $80,000 a month - $50,000 more than Gardner made a year.

Gardner found a brokerage firm willing to hire him and quit his job. But when he showed up for work he learned the guy who'd hired him had been fired. Gardner's job was gone.

Then, days before a scheduled interview with Dean Witter, a loud fight with his girlfriend brought the police to his door. The next thing Gardner knew they were asking him for $1,200 to clear up some unpaid parking tickets.

They may as well have asked for $12 million. Gardner spent 10 days in jail.

When he was released, his girlfriend and son were gone. He had no money, no home and the only clothes he had for his job interview the next day were the ones he wore to jail.

How was he going to explain showing up wearing jeans and paint-splattered Adidas shoes?

"I couldn't think of nothing that could top the truth," he said. He went with that and got the job.

A few months later came a knock on the door of the boarding house where he was staying.

"It's my ex and, guess what, she doesn't want the baby any more, here." he said. "The boarding house does not allow children. That's how we became homeless."

Some nights they stayed in a $25-a-night hotel, a park or under his desk at work. And a few nights were spent in an Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station.

"I had to teach my little boy how to play a game and the game is called SHHHH," he said. "That means no matter what anybody says on the other side of that door, no matter how much noise they make or what they threaten, we ain't here, OK?"

Finally, they moved into a homeless hotel in San Francisco, run by Glide Memorial United Methodist Church.

"There were no keys, so every day you take everything with you," said Gardner. "For a year, I'd take my son, his stroller, a big duffel bag with all his clothes in it, my briefcase, an umbrella, the biggest bag of Pampers in the world, one suit on my back and one suit in a hanging bag and we'd hit it every day."

When it rained, he covered the stroller with plastic sheets he'd picked up from dry cleaners.

Gardner told his co-workers nothing.

He also distinguished himself from others who turned to Glide for food and shelter.

"If you saw a man with a child, that was rare, incredibly rare," said the Rev. Cecil Williams, Glide's pastor. "I remember discussions about him, about how that man really loves that boy because he won't let him get away from him, he won't push him aside."

Day care took a huge chunk of his meager stockbroker trainee salary, and it took Gardner about a year to save enough to move himself and his son into their own home. From there, his his career blossomed, and in 1987 he opened his own firm in Chicago.

Today, signs of his success are everywhere, starting with an office that includes a gleaming desk made of a DC-10 tail wing, African art work, boxing gloves and photographs autographed by Muhammad Ali. Sharing space with pictures of his adult son and daughter are photographs of Gardner with Nelson Mandela, and a vase full of dirt that Gardner brought from Mandela's yard after visiting the former South Africa president.

He no longer has the Ferrari he bought from Jordan.

Gardner, who never went to college, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to education, writing checks for as much as $25,000 to teachers, janitors, bus drivers and others who work at schools.

Gardner is focusing much of his attention now on South Africa, trying to persuade major investors to invest $1 billion there - an effort praised by South African officials.

"In the current state of our economy, creating an investment fund is critical," said Yusuf Omar, South African Consul General in Chicago, who recently stopped by Gardner's office.

For Gardner, helping South Africans pull themselves up makes perfect sense.

"Everything I've learned working on Wall Street, 25 years, to be able to make a difference in the lives of a lot of people and we all make money, it (doesn't) get any better than that," he said.

source via google: http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/business/14676634.htm


abc article, relates to tonite's 20/20, LOVE the first line

New film shows man's extraordinary rise from poverty to wealth


(5/26/06) - It was Chris Gardner's life, and suddenly one of the biggest movie stars in the world was acting it out. Will Smith was playing Chris Gardner.

"He had begun to study me," Gardner said. "Now, that made me uncomfortable. I had never been studied before. But I've got to tell you … Will Smith played Chris Gardner better than Chris Gardner ever did."

Gardner's autobiography was published this week; Smith's film is expected to be released later in 2006. Both are titled "The Pursuit of Happyness." The word "happiness" is deliberately misspelled, just as it was on the wall of a day care center where Gardner once sought care for his infant son, Chris Jr., during some of his worst days.

Gardner used to be homeless, and on rare occasions, he holed up in a public bathroom with his son.

"There's a choice: You eat or you stay in a hotel. We chose to eat. And we stayed in a subway station. We rode the trains. We slept in bathrooms," he said.

Homelessness Is Not the Stuff of a Reality Show

Then, after getting himself into a training program and proving he could keep company with the best of them, Gardner became a multimillionaire stockbroker. It was one amazing ride -- a story told on "20/20" in January 2003. In the days just after the story was broadcast, Gardner fielded a lot of weird offers related to his rise from homelessness to wealth -- including a proposal for a reality show.

"Guy calls me up. He's got this great idea. He's gonna take some homeless people off the street, give them a job, and the one that does the most with their life is going to get a $300,000 house, $100,000 in cash. And I can't repeat what I said to the guy. But the gist of it was, being homeless is not a game, and if you think it is, I already won, so send me the money! Haven't heard from him again!"

Now Gardner's story is about how a life with much larger stakes than any reality show got turned into a book and screenplay. Examining his memories with movie and book writers, Gardner said, placed his life on a different scale.

"I would have never gone back in to take another look. Didn't need a second look. Hurt so bad the first time, you didn't need to see it again."

A Painful Start to His Extraordinary Journey

Gardner's story began in a Milwaukee neighborhood, with a kind of mystery: Why a woman with an incredible smile, a woman who turned out to be his mother, sometimes went missing.

"And no one explained to me, well, why am I living with this relative, or why am I living with that relative. My mother was in prison, twice. And it was one of those things that no one ever talked about."

One prison term was for allegedly receiving welfare while working, Gardner said. "And the second time she intended to burn down the house that my stepfather was sleeping in. She wanted to kill him for beating her. And I could say honestly, I'm sorry she didn't succeed. ... Until I went to the U.S. military, the worst violence I ever saw in my life was in my home."

Later in his life Gardner was heavily influenced by decisions he and his mother made, sometimes with just a look between them, when he was terrorized by his gun-wielding stepfather.

"There was gunplay in the house, consistently. I don't own a gun to this day. I'll never own a gun. My last Christmas at home, I was put out of the house, buck naked, at gun point. Till this day, I still have a problem with Christmas. But I made a decision that I was going to be everything that this guy was not. I'm not going to drink, and I'm not going to beat women. I'm not going to be ignorant. And one of the tactics that I developed as a young kid, I would read. And I'd read out loud. And [in my mind] I would be saying to this guy, 'Yeah, you can beat me down, you can beat me and you can beat my mom, you can put us out of here with a gun, but I can read, and I'm going places.'"

Gardner also learned to compartmentalize his reactions to trauma, including an incident of childhood rape by a man who was a member of a gang of thieves in his neighborhood.

"I don't know how any rape victim survives something like that. But ... a lot of us do block it off, shut it down, compartmentalize it, contain it, hide it. I know I did. There was no one I could talk to about it. And at some point in time, I did have an encounter with that gentleman. I expressed myself another way."

Gardner said he struck the man with a cinder block. "And walked away. And left the whole incident right there on the street."

Leaving the Neighborhood for the Navy

What got Gardner out of his neighborhood was the Navy. After four years of duty, he was a young man without a college degree who valued reading and who learned quickly. He became a medical supply salesman in the San Francisco area, supporting a wife and a young son. But he reached another turning point in his life when, in a parking lot one day, he met a man who drove a red Ferrari.

"And I asked him two questions that basically changed my life: What do you do, and how do you do that? Turns out this gentleman was a stockbroker who was making $80,000 a month."

That was all the motivation Gardner needed to start knocking on doors, applying for a training program at a brokerage even though it meant he would have to live on next to nothing while he learned.

"I cut grass, I did yard work, I did roofing, I cleaned basements to take care of my family."

The toughest times were still to come. Gardner was hauled off to jail for $1,200 in parking violations that he couldn't pay. His wife left him. First, she took Chris Jr. with her. Then she returned to the boardinghouse where Gardner had moved to ask him to care for their son. Haunted by his stepfather's abuse and by a promise he had made to himself at the time, Gardner was determined not to abandon his own child.

"Growing up hearing constantly, quote, 'I am not your daddy' with a few other words thrown in there, I made a decision when I was a little boy: When I grow up, and when I had children, my children were always going to know who their father is."

The bottom line was this: Gardner was studying for a broker's license on virtually no income; the boardinghouse where he stayed wouldn't accept children; and he had to live with Chris Jr. in cut-rate hotel rooms when he could afford them. Occasionally, as Gardner brought his son home from day care past a strip of cheap hotels in Oakland, he got help from unexpected sources.

"By the time we were coming home, the ladies of the evening were beginning their shift. And they would always see me, this baby and the stroller. They never saw a woman. So they kind of figured out, something's going on. So they started giving him $5 bills. And if it were not for those ladies of the evening giving that child $5, there would be times I could not have fed him."

Occasionally, he found a place to stay in a nearby Bay Area Rapid Transit station, where he could bathe Chris Jr. in the sink and lock the door when they needed time. One of the moments that changed his life came when the Rev. Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco saw Gardner standing with his son in a food line outside the church.

"I saw a lot of women with babies, but not a man with a baby," Rev. Williams said. "And it just began to be a rather regular scene, where Chris appeared."

"He had a program for homeless women with children," said Gardner. "And I [told him], 'Obviously, I'm not a woman but I am homeless; I have a child. I need some place to stay to get myself together.' And he let me in."

Gardner and his son stayed in a shelter provided by the church when they needed a room. And when he finally started accumulating money and had enough to rent a modest place of his own, Gardner recalled that his determination to raise his son paid off in one priceless moment.

"I was giving my son a bath by candlelight. We had no electricity, and it was at a point in time, where honestly, I didn't know whether I was going to quit, crack or cry. Some kind of way this child, this baby, picks up on it, and he stands up in the bathtub, and he says, 'Papa, you know what? You're a good papa.' That was all I needed to go on. And to this day I have yet to hear words that meant as much to me."

'It's a Green Thing'

Once Gardner passed his exam to become a stockbroker and the opportunity was his to seize, the success of the formerly homeless man was astonishing. He started with cold calls, was recruited by other firms, and eventually opened his own institutional brokerage firm in Chicago, benefiting from, among other things, government and pension fund rules that created business for minority brokers.

On his way, Gardner said, the business did have some unpleasant baggage attached to it. Because African-American brokers were rare, one particular phone client assumed that Gardner was white.

"This one guy, he would tell me every Jew joke, every nigger joke, every spick joke in the world, and then he would turn around and say, 'Well, buy me 50,000 shares of whatever you called me about.' And one day he calls to say he wants to meet this broker that's been making him all this money. I knew there were only two things that could happen. He was either gonna close his account with me or he was gonna close all the other accounts that he had and I was gonna get all his business."

Gardner said the client closed every other account that he had and, until his death, gave all his business to Gardner. "That's when I learned in this business, it's not a black thing, it's not a white thing, it's a green thing. If you can make me money, I don't care what color you are. So that's how I deal with that to this day."

When actor Will Smith found Gardner's story so compelling that he developed a film based on the stockbroker's life, Gardner joined the project as a consultant. "Chris represents the American Dream," Smith said.

Smith and Gardner both made large donations to Glide Memorial Church, and Smith hired the Rev. Cecil Williams to play himself. Smith's son played Gardner's son.

Smith also visited the transit station restroom where Gardner once went so he and Chris Jr. would have a place to stay for a few hours when they were homeless.

"I couldn't be there any longer than a moment," Gardner said. "And I turned to Will, and I said, 'Let's go.' He said, 'No, leave me here for a minute.' I left him. And I gotta tell you, when he came out ... the phrase I once heard him use was that it was if the ghost in the walls had jumped out into him."

A Warm Welcome from Nelson Mandela

One of the great details of Gardner's story is that when San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit System issued new bonds to raise money a few years ago, one of the underwriters was Chris Gardner's company -- run by a man who, when he was homeless, had bathed his son in the bathroom of its train station.

Shooting on the film wrapped earlier this year. Gardner has returned to being a star on the investment circuit, and he started an international mission designed to create economic opportunities in South Africa. For a man whose own father had abandoned him, he said that meeting Nelson Mandela was an unforgettable moment.

"He shook my hand and said, 'Welcome home, son.' And for the first time in my life, for a man ever to say the words to me, 'Welcome home, son,' and for it to be Nelson Mandela, I cried."

The quote on the cover of Gardner's new book, "The Pursuit of Happyness," echoes those sentiments. It reads, "I hold one thing dearer than all else: my commitment to my son."

source via goole: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=2003733&page=1

^ you can see a pic with Will and read an excerpt of the book at this link

I for one, cannot wait for this movie..and I gotta get that book

Edited by MissAshley
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Just finished watching the 20/20 episode featuring Chris Gardner, great story, the article above is basically a transcript of what was talked about and said on the show. There was some footage of Will at various red carpet events, some of him and Jada with Chris at the Glide a few months ago (that article's in this thread somewhere) a couple behind the scenes clips of them on the set of the movie laughing and talking, nothing in depth about the film but I'm sure we'll see that soon enough

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(an article with Gabriele, a bit about Jaden's casting as well)

Muccino recasts American Dream

Director applies neorealist touch to Will Smith film

(by Michele von Buren) (ANSA) - Los Angeles, June 2 - One of Italy's most talented young directors is hoping his European take on the American Dream will be the making of star actor Will Smith's next film .

Gabriele Muccino has spent the last 10 months in the United States filming The Pursuit of Happyness, a rags-to-riches drama featuring not only America's box-office magnet Smith but also his seven-year-old son Jaden .

Shot in San Francisco, the 60-million-dollar picture revolves around the true-life story of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who dragged himself and his child out of poverty to become a hugely wealthy stock broker .

The Columbia Pictures movie hits the screens next December, marking a rare mega-budget American debut for an Italian director .

Muccino, who has won a string of awards for his past work including Italy's equivalent of the Oscar, told ANSA here that his approach to the all-American tale was largely inspired by Italian neorealist cinema .

A postwar movement which aimed at the realistic depiction of the poorer classes, neorealism is synonymous with the name of directing legend Vittorio De Sica .

Muccino said he had taken much from De Sica's two most poignant masterpieces about poverty, Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thieves, 1948) and Umberto D. (1952) .

"Fans of these films will find a lot in The Pursuit of Happyness... I love De Sica and tried to make my film true in the same way," said the 39-year-old Roman director .

He said this influence, as well as his European background, had allowed him to portray the precariousness of the American social system in ways which a home-born director might have overlooked or been immune to. "It's a very daring story about the American struggle, about survival in a country where it's very difficult to stay afloat," Muccino said .

"There's a very thin line here and you have to fight to stay on the right side of it because you can find yourself in poverty in a second," he said .

"It's like the old Far West, nothing much has changed and everything is down to the individual. You have to find your own gold mine. The Dream is to aim high," said Muccino, who has made four previous feature films, all in Italian .

The Pursuit of Happyness is set in the early 1980s and tells the story of Chris, a self-employed medical scanning machine salesman who barely manages to make ends meet. Chris' situation deteriorates rapidly after his wife walks out, leaving him as the sole carer of their five-year-old boy. He takes on a job as an internee at a stockbrokerage firm, seeing it as his last shot at a better life. The only problem is that the six-month internship is unpaid work and the prospects of being hired at the end are very slim. As Chris fights to shine at his job while selling his remaining scanners, he and his child are thrown out of their home and end up trailing from one homeless shelter to the next, at one point reduced to sleeping in a public lavatory .

Nonetheless Chris keeps going and is rewarded at the end of the six months when his firm picks him as the one internee worthy of a job .

Muccino was full of praise for Smith, describing him as "the most sensitive and talented actor I have ever worked with" .

He said Smith, who is eyeing an Oscar with this dramatic role, had given his best performance yet .

But Smith's son could steal the show with a debut which the studios are convinced will win the public's heart .

Muccino said he picked Jaden after seeing more than 300 children .

"I just couldn't find the right one - they were all cute but I wanted someone truer. I asked Will if he minded me auditioning Jaden. He was flattered... and Columbia was very excited after seeing him. He was perfect," he said .

Muccino said he was particularly pleased with the way he had managed to develop the father-son relationship on screen, stressing that the result was very moving and far removed from the script he was originally given to work with .

The director said he could still hardly believe his luck in being chosen to make the film .

He said Will Smith had seen his 2001 hit L'Ultimo Bacio (The Last Kiss) and had loved it .

"He got in touch with me and sent me The Pursuit script. I was in total disbelief and thought it was a waste of time. But then I met Will and realised he was a big fan of my work," he said .

He said Columbia initially balked at the idea of him directing the movie because he was relatively unknown in the US but that Smith fought for him and brought them round .

Muccino's biggest success to date has been The Last Kiss, a bitter portrayal of today's responsibility-shy thirty-somethings. A smash hit, the sleekly shot movie clinched Muccino an Italian Oscar for best direction and went on to win the Audience Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival .

The film was so popular that an American remake directed by Tony Goldwyn is set to come out soon .

As for Muccino's future, the director said that although he missed Italy, he had "adapted well" in America and was set to make more films here .

"The thought of working here and bringing my ideas to the American film industry is very stimulating. Also, if you have the big stars, it means your films really will get seen around the world and that's something that mustn't be underestimated," the director concluded .

Copyright ANSA. All rights reserved 2006-06-02 18:51

source via google: http://ansa.it/main/notizie/awnplus/englis...02_1026309.html

*with every article I read, I aniticipate this movie more and more, now everyone who was suspicious of Jaden being cast can shut up lol :wiggle:

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  • 2 weeks later...

yet another cool interview with Chris Gardner (and Tavis Smiley), just an excerpt about Will and Jaden I thought it was pretty funny

The movie project. Will Smith. Will has sat in this very chair you're sitting in now. Will's a good friend. Look forward to talking to him when the movie comes out. Big Willie, over here, over here. Big Willie, I have a seat for you when the movie comes out. Come on back and see us. That said, I assume you're excited. One's got to be excited about Will Smith.

Gardner: Hey, man, look. I got to tell you, you're going to see Will Smith like you've never seen him. Right here. No space ships, no aliens, no cars, no guns. Just all right here. And I can say one more thing. This is basically a love story.

Tavis: And Will's son plays -

Gardner: - I wasn't going to mention that.

Tavis: The last time he was here, he told us he was working on something.

Gardner: Jaden Smith has got more talent in his big toe than Will got in his whole body.

Tavis: Ouch! (Laughter)

Gardner: I can say that to you. You know why? Because I told that to Will and he said, "You know what? If this was anybody else's kid, I'd have him put off the set." (Laughter)

Tavis: That sounds like something Will would say.

Gardner: Yeah, Will and Jada. After you see this little boy's performance, you'll agree with me that the Smiths have become the new first family of film.

Tavis: Yeah, they're wonderful people. I love them all. "The Pursuit of Happyness" by Chris Gardner with Quincy Troupe. The movie starring Will Smith coming out later this year. Again, we hope to see Will when it comes out, but in the meantime, Chris Gardner, what a pleasure to have you on the program. Nice to meet you.

link to full interview trancripts: http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archiv...transcript.html

don't think I've ever anticipated a film of Will's this much, can wait 'til the trailer and tv coverage and press starts..on another note checked the book out of the library, Chris thanks Will in his acknowledgements(hope it's ok to post)

"I am forever greatful to Will Smith. The boy is the REAL DEAL! It was to Will that I expressed any concerns during the filming of "The Pursuit of Happyness". I continue to be amazed at his grace, humility, and talent." - Chris Gardner

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