'Gumpfellas' could bring Tennessee football cheating scandal to cinema | Adams

Talk-show host Tony Basilio turned into a Hollywood producer on his Knoxville-based show Thursday. His theme: A movie based on the Tennessee Vols football recruiting scandal.

He asked listeners to provide the casting. As a guest on the show – and a movie buff – I had my own ideas. But some of the callers’ suggestions topped mine. So, I quickly changed actors without hesitation.

Laura Basilio, Tony’s wife, gave us the movie title: “Gumpfellas.” How could anyone beat that? “Goodfellas” and “Forrest Gump” are acclaimed as two of the greatest movies ever made.

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The title captured the essence of what we agreed should be a dark comedy. And while Basilio first presented this as a movie, the callers agreed it might be better suited for a series.

My choice for producer-director is Cameron Crowe, who directed two of my favorite movies, “Vanilla Sky” and “Almost Famous.” He also gave us “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Jerry Maguire.”

If Crowe weren’t available, I would love to have Clint Eastwood.

Here are the main players and the dream cast:

Casey Pruitt: The consensus was that the wife of former UT coach Jeremy Pruitt should be the star. So, you obviously would need a heavyweight in the role.

My first thought was a young Holly Hunter (think "Broadcast News"), but Jessica Chastain would be a better pick now. Reese Witherspoon was a strong nominee. I finally decided on Amy Adams, who was suggested by a caller.

Adams, no relation, can play dark (“Nocturnal Animals”) and comedy (“American Hustle”).

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Donde Plowman: UT’s increasingly popular chancellor also would require a strong actress. Meryl Streep is my preference, but I wouldn’t have a problem with Glenn Close. Wonder if they both would audition for the role?

If the budget were an issue, I would acquiesce to the caller who recommended Connie Britton.

Jeremy Pruitt: Let’s not overthink this. The caller who recommended Tom Hanks didn’t.

If Hanks could play Forrest Gump, he could play Jeremy Pruitt. It’s that simple, or should I say “simpleton.”

Hanks made my pick as Dan Aykroyd (think Beldar Conehead on “Saturday Night Live”) look ridiculous.

Phillip Fulmer: His name sparked plenty of candidates, including such stars as Robert De Niro and John Goodman. The late Fred Thompson would have been a natural in this role.

I thought of Joe Don Baker, but he’s probably too old. Goodman could win an Academy Award nomination as Fulmer.

Again, if the budget were a problem, a caller’s choice of Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone on “The Office”) would be a good option.

Bev Davenport: Most people have forgotten the former Tennessee chancellor, but she fired former athletics director John Currie and hired Fulmer as his replacement. That set the debacle in motion

My pick: Kirstie Alley. I would trust her to play “zany.”

Brian Niedermeyer: UT’s former “national recruiter of the year" played a role in the cheating scandal and deserves a prominent role in the movie.

A caller nailed it with Jonah Hill. I couldn’t match that.

Mike Leach: The Mississippi State coach was at Washington State when Currie desperately tried to hire him in the dying moments of his ill-fated coaching search.

Jeff Bridges would be perfect as Leach.

John Currie: “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm is my pick.

My favorite memory of him as Don Draper was during a staff meeting. A fellow ad man droned on and on about his idea for a project. Hamm then moved on to another subject without acknowledging his colleague’s existence.

I could see Currie doing that.

Although the movie idea is in its infancy, I’ve already picked what I think would be a spectacular scene: Streep as Plowman is reading the results of Tennessee’s internal investigation when she sees Casey's name listed among the violators.

She looks up incredulously and raises her voice to exclaim: “His wife?”

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or Follow him at:

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: 'Gumpfellas' could bring Tennessee football cheating scandal to cinema