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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

La Russa film company partner in legal trouble

It is bad enough that Tony La Russa’s St. Louis Cardinals are en route to missing the National League playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years. Now, his movie-making company is in the news for the wrong reasons as well.

The target of legal action in California is Sandlot Venture Group, a partner of La Russa’s film company, Red Bird Cinema. Red Bird Cinema’s website calls the two firms’ interaction a “strategic relationship.”

According to the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, three lenders filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against Sandlot in San Jose (CA) Federal Court on August 8, in an attempt to liquidate the firm via Chapter 7. The creditors allegedly issued loans to Sandlot of at least $575,000.

Sandlot Venture Group is run by managing director Don Herman, a funds manager in Silicon Valley. His “Sandlot Fund I” was touted to prospective investors as “a $25M venture fund focused on the development, production and distribution of a portfolio of high potential film projects.”

Red Bird Cinema is a film production company founded in 2007, with its three founders listed as “producers.” They are businessman John Loar, actor Kevin Pollak and La Russa. Red Bird also notes on its website that Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton and attorney Gregory L. McCoy “recently joined” as partners.

Sandlot’s biggest project, announced in November 2007, was a partnership with Red Bird Cinema to back Red Bird movies. Sandlot’s stated role was to hire script writers and actors, provide legal assistance with negotiating rights, work with producers to get the movies made and set up a network for distribution.

Sandlot’s website has been taken down and their last Tweet was dated February 2010. A previously-cached version of the site listed at least nine film projects. They included a proposed Sugar Ray Leonard movie, “The Boxer,” and “3 Nights in August,” a film adaptation of the Buzz Bissinger book written about and with La Russa and the 2003 Cardinals.

In a 2008 article in VentureBeat, La Russa was named among those having invested $25 million in Sandlot. The size of the manager’s participation was not identified, nor is he apparently named in the legal action.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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17 Responses to “La Russa film company partner in legal trouble”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Lots of financial doldrums through the US economy since the sunnier days of 2007. Ballpark Village has experience slow development, while the Memphis Redbirds landed in bankruptcy, and many folks have had houses foreclosed upon.
    A “venture fund” sounds like an adventure and during these straightend times, no surprise that its investment gamble into movie making might not flourish. Many investors have lost money in the film business, a sad truth amusingly parodied in a classic movie by Mel Brooks, the Producers.

  2. Brian Walton says:

    Sunday lineup: Jay CF, Craig RF, Holliday LF, Berkman 1B, Freese 3B, Schumaker 2B, Theriot SS, Laird C, Lohse P.

    • blingboy says:

      Well, that’s different.

      • friendmouse says:

        Yes…and much different from Thursday & Friday’s line-ups. Did anyone hear Tony on Shannon’s pre-game show Friday evening when he gave his starting line-up, he made a “crack” about using the exact same line-up (minus pitcher, obviously) as he’d used to start Thursday’s win. And then he went on to say “And I told the guys that if we win again tonight, we’ll use the same line tomorrow as well.” Well…we won, and TLR did NOT use anywhere near the same line-up on Saturday…and we lost! Okay, I get it that you cannot continue to start Craig in CF day after day, and Yadi needs a “blow” for a day game following the night game, but then he shouldn’t have said it. However, I do like his “intentions,” and maybe he’ll try something “crazy” like that again. But I’m not holding my breath.

        • Kansasbirdman says:

          TLR was asked about that during “TonyTV” postgame and he cracked something about “you have to give the bloggers and critics something to complain about” He was asked several times about the lineup issue. I will see if it is still on my dvr.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Maybe it is getting time to DL Lohse.

  4. Nutlaw says:

    The Cardinals are in a tough position, from where I stand. They’re barely better than a .500 team as is and they can’t afford to even keep all of their current players under contract for next season. Berkman and Pujols seem to be mutually exclusive at first base for 2012. Carpenter and Jackson are probably mutually exclusive as well with Westbrook, Lohse, Wainwright, and Garcia under contract. Dotel is gone. You have to figure that Theriot, Furcal, and Punto are gone.

    Miller and Martinez are exciting, but not yet ready. The nearest impact bats are at third base, where they aren’t overly needed behind Freese. The middle infield has no real in-house solution. Craig and Holliday will be the corner outfielders, but that leaves Jay as an everyday centerfielder.

    Would the team be better off sending LaRussa on his way, stockpiling compensation picks from all of their potential free agents, and rebuilding? The Cardinals never seem willing to enter rebuilding mode, but I don’t see how they will improve upon recent performances enough to go all the way in the short term.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Odd you never mentioned the biggest question of all and the one thing might might preclude rebuilding over all others…

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        Ok Westie, stop with the riddles!

      • Nutlaw says:

        Signing Pujols to a long term deal rather than signing Berkman? Well, they’d have Pujols and Holliday locked up long term, but not a lot of money left over. They’d probably be less competitive next year than in this current one as they would be shelling out more money for the same guys, who had only gotten older.

        • Kansasbirdman says:

          I like Berkman over Pujols. He would be a bargain for the same or better bat and wouldn’t lock up the same $ for all those years (always a risk). But we would sacrifice D.

          I hope we get a bargain on Furcal and he can come back, It has been a pleasure to see him play SS. And he seems to be exiting his funk at the plate.

  5. blingboy says:

    To whatever extent the offense had a spark plug this year it was Berkman, especially the first half when Albert could do little but kill rallies with DPs.

    A .400 OBP guy with league leading-ish home run pop, properly employed, is a keeper.

    IMO, if you could get either Lance or Carp for $10M next year, Lance would be the bigger contributor to wins.

    We need a middle infield that brings top shelf D. At least one would need to be a top of the order guy. Whether we have that in house, I don’t know. Not the SS at least.

    As impressed as I am with Jay, he’d be a great 4th outfielder. We need a speedy center-fielder with a cannon.

    We absolutely need to get rid of Tony, for a lot of reasons.

    The starters we have, plus Carp and those who may arrive in the bigs, might be good enough with a solid D behind them, and a more aggressive O that can do something besides wait for a homer.

    • blingboy says:

      The starters we have plus Wainy, I meant.

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        What’s frustrating is how hot and cold we have been with starting pitching and offense. We have Jackson, Westbrook and Lohse who have been hot or cold on the mound from day to day. Carp had a poor start but has gotten consistently better (plus some lack of run support factors in to his loss record) so I don’t count him as being hot and cold on a day to day. But Edwin seems to always be hot or cold depending on the day and Jake has especially seemed that way this year, taking a no hitter into the 4th or 5th and then falling apart for one example and then he has just not been consistent in starts at all. Lohse had a great start to the year and has faded into hot and cold territory.

        We can’t afford to be so inconsistent in our rotation next year. The Phillies have at least four number ones on thier rotation. The brewers have quality starters. As a fan I want to go into each outing feeling like we have a solid starter on the mound and a better than 50/50 chance that we are gonna have a great outing and win. I don’t want to have to make offerings to Jobu that we get a good start.

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