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Shonda Schilling reveals son’s Asperger’s

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / March 10, 2010

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Curt Schilling’s got a blog, but Shonda Schilling has written a book, and it looks a tad more interesting than most of the tomes penned by baseball wives. (Ever read “Juicy’’ by Jessica Canseco?) In “The Best Kind of Different,’’ Shonda writes about her son Grant’s struggle with Asperger’s syndrome, and its effect on her family. Though a common disorder on the autism spectrum, Asperger’s is often misunderstood, and that was the case with Grant. Shonda writes that the boy’s behavior was not just unruly, but irrational, and because her husband was busy playing baseball, he didn’t see what was happening. (We wanted to talk to the first-time author yesterday, but she isn’t doing interviews until the book, which is blurbed by Bob Costas, comes out March 23.) Shonda also reveals that her son Gehrig became anorexic while the family was dealing with Grant’s Asperger’s diagnosis; that she and Grant both wound up on medication, one for depression and the other for ADHD; and that she and Curt got counseling to save their marriage.

Snack previews
The Boston Underground Film Festival (BUFF) doesn’t start until the end of the month, but celebrations began last night at the Stuart Street Playhouse’s renovated movie theater. Fans of the quirky film festival (would they be called BUFF buffs?) gathered to snack on burritos, sip Harpoon, and view clips of some of the movies that will be shown during the festival, which runs March 25 to April 1. Revelers included Catherine Pfeifer of Brighton and Melissa Marsh of Boston (above, from left).

Clean water benefit gets FACE time
The Cambridge-based nonprofit FACE Africa is hosting its first annual clean water benefit on March 20 at the Taj Boston, and we’re told guests will include Liberian ambassador to the US M. Nathaniel Barnes, former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, Miss Massachusetts USA 2010 Lacey Wilson, Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 2010 Brooke Bibeault, Miss Connecticut USA 2010 Ashley Bickford, and “America’s Next Top Model’’ contestant Aminat Ayinde. (Peter Thum, founder of Ethos Water and a former VP of Starbucks, will be honored for his work on clean water issues.) FACE Africa was launched in 2007 by Saran Kaba Jones.

Locals nominated for Edgars
Congrats to former Globe writer Dick Lehr, who’s nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for a 2010 Edgar Award for “The Fence: A Police Cover-Up Along Boston’s Racial Divide.’’ (Lehr also wrote the Whitey Bulger book, “Black Mass: The Irish Mob, The FBI and a Devil’s Deal,’’ with former Globe editor Gerry O’Neill). Other locals nominated include Dennis Lehane for “Animal Noir’’ and Dana Cameron for “Femme Sole.’’

‘Evidence’ already a hit in R.I.
Steven Feinberg, executive director of the Rhode Island Film and TV Office, was crowing yesterday about the cast of the ABC pilot “Body of Evidence,’’ which is being filmed entirely in the Ocean State. Actress Dana Delany will play a medical examiner and Jeri Ryan plays her boss. . . . Boxer “Irish’’ Micky Ward dropped by a benefit for Surfers Healing: A Foundation for Autism at Atwoods Tavern in Cambridge the other night. Ward manned the taps while Dennis Brennan, Christian McNeill, Rick Berlin, and Jesse Dee performed.

Casting for ‘Boston’s Finest’
The TV pilot set to shoot around Boston has a solid local name - “Boston’s Finest.’’ Boston Casting put out a call yesterday for Asian men between the ages of 50 to 75 for the show, which is being filmed locally and will be helmed by writer-producer Richard Hatem. Hatem wrote the Richard Gere movie “Mothman Prophecies,’’ and has written and produced episodes of “Supernatural,’’ “The Dead Zone,’’ and local gal Eliza Dushku’s now-canceled show “Tru Calling.’’ Hatem’s Boston show, as its name suggests, will be about local police. It will star Katee Sackhoff of “24’’ and “Battlestar Galactica’’ fame. (Fans will remember Sackhoff as Captain Kara “Starbuck’’ Thrace). Unlike some pilots filmed around Boston, this one already has a home at ABC. We know this because Hatem recently tweeted, “abcpickedupmypilotabcpickedupmypilotabcpickedupmypilot . . .’’

Ride makes Boston stop
First woman in space Sally Ride was at the Omni Parker House yesterday lamenting the under-representation of women in the fields of science and math. (Hear that, Larry Summers?) Among those in the audience were former Governor Jane Swift, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, and Erika Ebbel, who combines beauty and brains. Ebbel is an MIT alum who was Miss Massachusetts 2004.

Cash for ’stache, or not
Since joining the Red Sox in ’04, Kevin Youkilis has given pitchers several different looks, and we’re not just talking about his unorthodox batting stance. Over time, Youk has sported all manner of facial hair, from Fu Manchu to goatee to clean shaven. Now, the first baseman wants to know what his fans prefer. For every dollar donated to his charity, Kevin Youkilis Hits for Kids, fans can vote on one of four manscaping options, and the look that gets the most votes - and money - is the one Enza Sambataro’s husband will have when he takes the field against the Yankees April 4. Vote at www.youkskids.org.

Tyler takes a leap with ‘Ledge’
Liv Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler) has been cast in a drama called “On the Ledge,’’ according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film - which is about a man who is literally about to jump off of a ledge - will costar Patrick Wilson, best known for his role in the 2006 screen adaptation of local author Tom Perrotta’s book “Little Children.’’ “On the Ledge’’ will be produced by Mark Damon (no relation to Matt), who is responsible for Charlize Theron’s “Monster.’’

Read the Names blog at www.boston.com/namesblog. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.