"The 60 Yard Line," the Packers comedy filmed primarily in Green Bay, premiered to a sold-out crowd Sunday at the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison. And yes, there was a cow on the red carpet.
MADISON - Eat your heart out, Hollywood. Wisconsin knows a little something about landing big stars on the red carpet, too.
Sunday’s world premiere of “The 60 Yard Line” at the Wisconsin Film Festival brought out not only the Green Bay Packers comedy’s human stars but their 1,800-pound cow co-star, Reaction.
The 4-year-old Holstein from Ebert Enterprises in Algoma made the trip to the Barrymore Theatre to walk the red carpet in a hat, tail bow with green and gold ribbon and hooves painted with gold glitter.
“It’s one of these things you don’t plan for,” said Randy Ebert, who, along with his wife Renee and their children, Jordan and Whitney, helped walk the cow down Atwood Avenue and through the theater’s front lobby doors.
At the Grammys red carpet, you might hear, “It’s Adele!” At the Oscars, “Over here, Mr. Clooney!” But at the premiere of a film about one fan’s love for his Packers — a movie filmed a cheese curd’s throw from Lambeau Field and complete with a cow cameo in the kitchen — it was an excited, “The cow is on its way!”
When the posing was over, an equally excited, “And no accidents.”
A sold-out crowd of 700 filled the Barrymore for the first chance to see “The 60.” Beloit native Ryan Churchill co-wrote and co-produced the 96-minute romantic comedy/buddy comedy with Nick Greco. It’s the story of a guy named Zagger (Churchill) who takes his wedding fund money and buys a house next to Lambeau so he can party on game days and be near the team he loves. His fiancee of eight years is not amused, and even less so when it eventually turns into the “Graceland for Cheeseheads.”
“The Packers are my life,” Zagger says. (We’re talking a guy who suggests sending out “save the date” cards for the wedding that read “savre the date,” as a fun nod to Brett Favre.)
Much of the low-budget, independent project was filmed in the fall of 2015 and winter of 2016 at the Ashwaubenon house at the corner of Oneida Street and Stadium Drive with a backyard that is just feet from the Lambeau parking lot. Other scenes were shot at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, which is used as the shipping company where several of the characters work. Several scenes were also filmed in Los Angeles, where Churchill and Greco live.
Former Packers players Ahman Green, John Kuhn and Mark Tauscher (and his son) have cameos. Green and Tauscher were both in attendance for the premiere and the Q&A session with the cast and crew after the screening.
Packers fans, especially those in Green Bay, are sure to see not only some of themselves in the characters but likely someone they know on screen. Among some of the many local touches:
» The man selling the house near Lambeau is veteran WFRV newscaster Tom Zalaski.
» Mayor Jim Schmitt shows up briefly as himself in a scene that got one of the biggest laughs of the night. (Sorry, no spoilers here.)
» Titletown Brewing Co.’s Green 19 IPA and Johnny Blood Red score some major camera time. It’s a movie about a Packers party house. Thus, lots of beer.
» One of the big game-day tailgating scenes features a host of local extras, recognizable superfans and a motorized picnic table.
» Green Bay rock band the Muddy Udders play “Pin Drop” during one of the party scenes in the house basement.
» Zagger has a fun nickname for his smelly, well-worn game-day chair, and it rhymes with Bart Starr.
» There are shout-outs to The Stadium View Bar & Grille, St. Norbert College (“St. Norbert’s”), “Kuuuuuhn,” De Pere, Chi-Town and the Brew Crew. You’ll have to wait to see it to find out what “Lambrew” is.
» Kim Crossman of New Zealand plays Zagger’s fiancee and had to learn how to do a Wisconsin accent. “About” becomes “aboot.”
» Interspersed throughout the film’s fictional story is actual footage from tailgating outside Lambeau Field and excerpts from Packers fans talking about what the team means to them.
“The 60” received a standing ovation from Sunday’s crowd; a second screening will be held tonight. During the Q&A, director Leif Gantvoort talked about the kindness of the people of Green Bay during filming and how they would show up with brownies and cookies.
“They made the experience one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without you, without them. It was an amazing experience.”
“Thank you, Packers fans,” Greco said. A Chicago Bears fan in the movie and in real life, he joked that’s the only time you’ll hear him say that.
Following its world premiere, “The 60” will make the rounds on the film festival circuit. It has been accepted into the LA Comedy Fest and IFS Film Festival, both in Los Angeles, and Phoenix Comicon. The hope is to get it purchased by a distribution company in time for release at the start of the Packers season in September, Churchill said. He would like to do a special showing at Lambeau Field or perhaps the parking lot behind “The 60” house, but either way, there will be a Green Bay premiere.
“It’s happening. I promise you,” Churchill said. “That’s so important to us.”
Pam Parish, program manager for Downtown Green Bay Inc., was in the audience on Sunday night and gave the film two thumbs up.
“It was so awesome,” she said. “It was really fun. I was very impressed.”
As for Reaction, she slept in a locked trailer while the Eberts caught the screening. As the closing credits noted, she was treated humanely on set, and she “didn’t poop in the house.”
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