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R.I.P. Jeffrey Pollack – director of “Above The Rim” dies at 54

Published on December 27th, 2013 by Astramskas, David | 942 views

JPOLL

The name Jeffrey Pollack probably doesn’t ring a bell but his body of work should.  The producer of Will Smith’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and director of underrated films like “Booty Call (which received 2 thumbs up by now deceased film critics Roger & Ebert) and the basketball film “Above the Rim” was found dead earlier this week.

According to The Hollywood Reporter,

Pollack was found on the Greenbelt in Hermosa Beach, Calif., early on the morning of Dec. 23 by an unidentified woman out jogging who called the police,according to the Manhattan Beach Patch. Pollack was already deceased. He was dressed in jogging clothes and carrying an iPod, which was still playing the Eagles when the police arrived. Hermosa Beach police captain Tommy Thompson told EasyReaderNews.com that police do not suspect foul play, and it is believed Pollack died of natural causes while exercising. He was an avid runner and softball player.

Pollack was 54.

ABOVE THE RIM FLASHBACK

I still remember my dilemma when Above the Rim came out.  The Orlando Magic and Sonics were playing on the film’s opening night and there was a lot of hype about Shaq wanting revenge on George Karl and the Sonics because of the perception that Karl ordered a Shaq shut down in the NBA All-Star game, that took place a week earlier, by having the NBA’s leading scorer, double and triple teamed in what was supposed to be a fun game.  Thankfully I had a blank VHS tape (pre-TIVO) around so I was able to record Shaq and the Magic getting revenge and destroying the Sonics 124-93 and still see Above the Rim that night.

As for the film, I thought it was mediocre movie overall with a generic script and some less than impressive directing and production values but it did give us some memorable characters.  Kyle (Duane Martin) the selfish show off player that’s jealous of Eric Montross.  Shep (Leon Robinson) the old school player with mental problems that likes to play basketball without a ball.  Birdie (Tupac) the gangster/basketball coach that carries a blade in his mouth.  Flip Johnson (the late great Bernie Mac) a hilarious homeless guy that likes to play ball and Bugaloo (Marlon Wayans), friend of Kyle, who provided the great lines “Get off me” and “he looks like Daffy Duck with his beak blown off.”  The film also had a great soundtrack by Death Row Records that won the award for soundtrack of the year by Source Magazine.

The film only grossed $16 million (15.5 half more than Durant’s ThunderStruck) and was met with some poor critic reviews but has gained a cult following over the years.  Pollack, the director, would go on to direct the comedies Booty Call in 97 and Lost and Found in 99.

Speaking of losing and finding something, I need to find that VHS tape with the exceptional Magic/Sonics game mentioned above.  Shaq had 38 points and 20 rebounds and Orlando dominated from the opening tip by outscoring Seattle 40-15 in the first quarter.  After the game, Karl went ballistic on an Orlando reporter who accused the coach of trying to shut down Shaq in the All-Star game.

Karl and Shaq would have a feud that lasted for the rest of the decade even when Shaq moved to Hollywood to play for the Lakers and in movies that could of used Jeffrey Pollack’s help.

Back to Pollack’s film. If you liked Above the Rim then you should find the following pretty amusing.


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