WAYNE (WWJ) -- The Midwest movie premiere of "Infiltrators" will be screened Sept. 28 at the State-Wayne Phoenix Theatre in downtown Wayne -- the hometown of the film's co-star and Tony Award winner Greg Jbara and movie producer Sally Helppie.
Both are graduates of Wayne Memorial High School and will be joined at the State-Wayne Phoenix Theatres premiere night by the movie's other stars – Michigan-born Rocco Nugent, plus Hallee Hirsh (You've Got Mail) and Robert Picardo (of the Star Trek Voyager series).
The premiere will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night, Sept. 28 on all four screens and is presented by Champions of Wayne, an innovative and unique educational program for students that involve adult mentoring, customized academic goals and financial incentives at Wayne Memorial. The special premiere is a fund raiser for Champions of Wayne.
Jbara -- who in addition to numerous Broadway hits is a series regular on the hit CBS-TV crime drama Blue Bloods -- and Helppie, a Dallas-based lawyer and film producer, teamed up to make the urban adventure tale Infiltrators.
The film -- about modern-day treasure hunters battling for a hidden relic in a building that is about to be imploded -- recently premiered at Cannes Film Market, and then Dallas, where most of the movie was shot on location. Jbara plays Eric Volker, the leader of a team of sophisticated bandits who will stop at nothing to recover the relic. He was intrigued by the chance to play a character described as "an elegant predator." Jbara and Helppie were also aided by WMHS alum Gary Shackleford, who composed one of the songs for the film.
Helppie's brother, Richard Helppie, a metro Detroit entrepreneur and civic leader, is the founding sponsor of the Champions of Wayne, a charitable foundation that benefits their alma mater. Champions started in 2009 with 50 students and a handful of mentors. The program's popularity has rapidly expanded in recent years with 550 students and 130 mentors participating this past semester.
While students at risk of dropping out increases, the percentage of students completing ninth grade has doubled since 2009 and one WMHS grad begins at Harvard University this fall. Former WMHS principal Val Orr said that "It's important to understand the impact this program has on the community. People call and ask to send their kids to Wayne Memorial High School."
Bill Gray, who initiated the program in 2008, speaks warmly of his mentorship of WMHS alum Tim Hammer, class of 2004.
"This program came out of relationships like mine with Tim," Gray said.
Hammer added: "From my relationship with Bill, I had a chance to get guidance and mentoring that most students didn't receive or feel worthy of. It's something I was missing as far as someone to look up to on how to succeed."
Presale general admission tickets can be purchased for $20 at www.ChampionsofWayne.org. Tickets sold at the door the night of the event will be $25.
"When you combine a big movie premiere with such strong local ties to a community like Wayne, and know that students in need will have a better chance at success, there is no better formula for a great night at the movies," said Cory Jacobson, owner of Phoenix Theatres.
A limited number of Sponsorship Packages are available and include reserved tickets, valet parking, pre-party festivities, cast meet-and-greet photo session and much, much more. Please call Bill Gray at (734) 812-0545 for more information on these packages.
For complete information on Champions of Wayne, how you can help and to purchase tickets for this event, visit the website: www.ChampionsofWayne.org.
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