Many in Quincy are familiar with the HBO mini-series "John Adams," which brought national attention to the historic community south of Boston in 2008.
Now with a new short film featuring cast members and producers from the show, including Tom Hanks, Laura Linney, and Paul Giamatti, Quincy may be in for a new round of acclaim.
“Enduring Legacy,” which will premiere at Quincy High School on Sept. 21, has taken two years and almost $400,000 to make, with funding entrance fees at the Adams National Historical Park. After the debut, it will be shown as an orientation film to visitors at the park.
While the first showing is still a few weeks away, excitement is growing.
“We’re planning for a big premiere,” said Caroline Keinath, the deputy superintendent for the Adams park. “We selected the Quincy High School because we wanted the story based in the community. Where else can you go where two presidents were born and two presidents lived for so much of their lives?…We wanted this to be our gift to Quincy and the state of Massachusetts, but in particular the people in our community.”
Although the 25-minute film has brought on board some high-powered talent, the project initially had much more modest goals.
“The goal in the beginning was to create a film that would represent the Adams story and the idea of the Adams. We certainly considered people who would be most appropriate, exciting, and relevant to today’s and future generations. We wanted someone recognizable and talented in that way for voiceovers,” Keinath said.
Ideas for narrators were initially tossed around before the group decided that it wanted the movie narrated by a woman, in an effort to bring Abigail Adams to the forefront of the story.
The first person that came to mind was Linny, who portrayed Abigail in the HBO mini-series.
“Plus her love of history, her love of the arts, and we’ve seen her in projects such as this – we thought we would give it a try,” Keinath said. “We were so pleased and happy that she agreed to do the project.”
Feeling emboldened, the group decided to approach Tom Hanks, who produced the HBO mini-series. Much to the surprise of park officials, Hanks immediately jumped on board, agreeing to be the voice of Henry Adams.
“It’s through Henry Adams’s [perspective] that this story is told – he wrote a book and that’s the opening scene, Henry Adams sitting on the floor of the farmhouse going through congressional documents,” Keinath said.
In a statement, Hanks said he signed on to the project because "I love this process and the venue."
"'Enduring Legacy' at the Adams National Historical Park is non-fiction entertainment - another avenue for much of my work such as the JOHN ADAMS series and other projects for TV and films. That it is a part of our National Parks means it may run forever, reaching an audience that may not expect to be enlightened and entertained by our history," he said.
Having had so much success getting actors onboard, Park officials decided to shoot the moon and ask Paul Giamati if he could also reprise his role as John Adams in a voiceover part.
He, too, said yes.
“It’s amazing that this team, so associated with John Adams, has given voice to even more of the Adams. It’s quite remarkable,” Keinath said.
Edward James Olmos, known for his work on "Miami Vice" and "Battlestar Galactica," was brought on board as the voice of John Quincy Adams, and Edward Herrmann, known for his work as Franklin D. Roosevelt on television and on "Gilmore Girls," as the voice of Charles Francis Adams.
”If you could pick people who would be perfect for these voices, we got them. And Edward Herrmann as Charles Francis Adams -- each one of them, as we listened to them as they were recording, captures the spirit and voice of who they are portraying,” Keinath said.
The voiceovers are set to scenes featuring local actors who portray the historical figures.
Spanning 200 years of Adams family history, the film chronicles key events such as the Boston Massacre, the American Revolution, the presidencies of John and John Quincy Adams.
“It was a challenge to condense 200 years of Adams history into such a brief film,” director Peter Argentine said. “HBO had nine hours to tell John Adams’s story, and we had just 25 minutes to cover four generations!”
Though several scenes were filmed at other historical parks, including the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Minuteman National Historical Park and Old Sturbridge Village, much of the film was shot at the Adams National Historical Park as well as in locations in Quincy.
The end result will be a film that numerous people will be proud of, said Marianne Peak, superintendent of the Adams National Historical Park.
“We are thrilled to see the debut of this film in Quincy,” Peak said in a release. “This great city, this very American place, is alive with the spirit of the Adams family.”