On the Big Board
||Impossibly charming story never surprises but consistently satisfies.
||Searching for Bobby Fischer is still the genre standard.
Ashley White was a very real girl. Hailing from Washington, D.C., the inner city kid wowed friends and family with her amazing gift. She could spell as well as any child in the country. Her attempt to be recognized as the best was documented in Academy Award nominated 2002 release, Spellbound.
Akeelah is a fictional inner city girl. The resident of South Central Los Angeles also has the gift of spelling. Her success in this endeavor brings the community together in celebration of her talent. The locals work together to help her achieve her dream of competing in and maybe even winning the National Spelling Bee.
While one character is not based upon the other, it's obvious to trace the genesis of this film. Ashley White was a captivating presence whose fierce determination made her the people's champion. Fictionalizing this premise (with a Hollywood ending mixed in) is a marvelous idea for a drama about human endeavor. Laurence Fishburne has signed on to star in the film for writer/director Doug Atchison. (David Mumpower/BOP)