Valparaiso's Carly Schroeder shines at film premiere

offBeat with PHILIP POTEMPA
2007-05-15T00:00:00Z Valparaiso's Carly Schroeder shines at film premierePHILIP POTEMPA ppotempa@nwitimes.com 219.852.4327 nwitimes.com

Lights, cameras, Carly

She's waited a decade and now Valparaiso's Carly Schroeder, at age 16, has graduated from commercials and costarring roles, to her first starring title role in a major movie.

Schroeder returned to Valparaiso last September to visit family and appear as the celebrity grand marshall in Valparaiso's Popcorn Parade.

This week, she's back in the region to promote her new film by Picturehouse Entertainment "Gracie," which opened with a special early advance premiere Monday at AMC River East 21 Theater in Downtown Chicago. (See my news story on A-1).

Schroeder plays Gracie Bowen, a young girl in 1978 trying to win a spot on a soccer team.

The film was actually inspired, in part, by the early life of Schroeder's co-star in the film actress Elisabeth Shue, who plays her mother Lindsay Bowen. Before Shue, who is also serving as a producer for "Gracie," began acting in films like "Cocktail" with Tom Cruise, "Karate Kid" with Ralph Macchio and "Adventures in Babysitting," like Schroeder, she also began her career in commercials, most notably "Burger King." And when she wasn't going to auditions or in school, she chased her dreams to play soccer on the boys' team before taking up gymnastics. The film was shot in New Jersey, in the same town and at the same school where Shue grew up. Elisabeth's brother Andrew Shue also stars in the film, playing coach of lead character Gracie.

On the subject of co-stars, Schroeder's little brother, Hunter, 12, plays her little brother in "Gracie," which will have national wide release in June.

When I first met Carly, she was just 6 years old and I drove down to her grandparents' house in Wheatfield, Ind. (not far from my own family's farm) to write a cover story that ran June 3, 1997 about her in this very section, our features INK kids' section. At that time, Carly had just netted her role as the TV daughter of another famous Hoosier Kin Shriner on the daytime soap opera "Port Charles," a spin-off of "General Hospital."

Carly had been discovered from her TV commercial work for Shake 'n Bake.

Since then, she's also appeared as snobby Melina Bianco the Disney "Lizzie McGuire" TV series and movie, portrayed child star Susan Olsen a.k.a Cindy Brady in the movie "Growing Up Brady" and played actor Harrison Ford's daughter in last year's feature film "Firewall."

Carly spends most of her time on the West Coast at the home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. she shares with her mother Kelli and brother Hunter, both who attended the Chicago premiere, along with her grandmother from Wheatfield, Jean Hunter, her grandfather from Valparaiso, Dick Schroeder, her aunt Nancy Crume, from Valparaiso and several of her cousins.

Child star update

On the subject of child stars, Jerry Mathers, the star of "Leave it to Beaver" is finally making his big Broadway debut, at age 58. He's joining the New York cast of the musical "Hairspray" beginning June 5 playing the role of Wilbur Turnblad. That's the same role Jerry Stiller played in the 1988 original film and the part that will be played by Christopher Walken in the remake starring John Travolta (in drag) as his portly wife Edna Turnblad.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at ppotempa@nwitimes.com or 219.852.4327.

celebBirthdays

Country singer Eddy Arnold and actor Joseph Wiseman ("Dr. No") are 89. Actress-singer Anna Maria Alberghetti and counterculture icon Wavy Gravy are 71. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and singer Trini Lopez are 70. Singer Lenny Welch is 69. Actress-singer Lainie Kazan is 67. Country singer K.T. Oslin is 65. Musician Brian Eno is 59. Actor Nicholas Hammond ("The Sound of Music") is 57. Actor Chazz Palminteri is 56. Musician Mike Oldfield and baseball star George Brett are 54. Actor Lee Horsley is 52. TV series creator Rod Laurie ("Commander in Chief") is 45. Football star Emmitt Smith is 38. Singer Prince Be of PM Dawn is 37. Actor David Charvet ("Melrose Place") is 35. Rock musician Ahmet Zappa is 33. Actor David Krumholtz ("Numb3rs") and Olympic gymnast Amy Chow are 29. Actress Jamie-Lynn

Sigler ("The Sopranos") and Princess Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips (daughter of Princess Anne) are 26.

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