Fans can have their name or that of a loved one included in the final credits of the upcoming documentary, "We Believe -- Chicago and its Cubs," to be released in spring 2009.
One half of all proceeds collected will go to two Cubs-related efforts. The money will benefit Project 3000, an organization which Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee helped create to find people affected with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a blinding eye disease. Money also will be donated to the non-profit Little Cubs Field, a replica of Wrigley Field scaled down to a kid-sized park located in Freeport, Ill.
This is believed to be the first time a film production has undertaken active viewer participation to support charities.
A limited number of spaces are available in the theatrical credits and they will be displayed alphabetically in the closing minutes of the documentary. The cost is $100 plus shipping and handling fees, and recipients will receive a certificate of authenticity as well as a "We Believe" T-shirt.
There also will be an opportunity to include names in the credits in the DVD version of the movie for $50 plus shipping and handling fees. People who want to be listed in the DVD credits also will receive a certificate and a T-shirt. The DVD will offer a director's cut, additional footage and stories, never before seen archival footage, and behind-the-scenes action.
The documentary follows the Cubs' 2008 season, which was the 100th anniversary of the last time the team won the World Series. Award-winning filmmaker John Scheinfeld is behind the project, and the goal was to show the passion and spirit fans have for the Cubs and Chicago. It's now 101 years since the Cubs last won the championship. Last season, they repeated as National League Central champs, but were swept for the second straight year in the first round of the playoffs.
"The disappointing closing of the Cubs' 2008 baseball season doesn't spoil the documentary project," said producer Chad Smith. "This is a love story about Chicago and its baseball team. With every love story, there is bound to be some heartbreak."
Lee, one of the Cubs players interviewed for the documentary, knows about heartbreak. His daughter, Jada, was initially misdiagnosed with LCA, and he and his wife Christina were told there was no cure. Jada now has been determined to not have LCA, an inherited form of blindness. The Lee family is still committed to helping identify the estimated 3,000 people who have LCA in order to offer genetic testing in an attempt to find treatment and a cure.
"I'm excited to be part of this project at every level -- as a participant and, even more important, as a parent who knows how much it will mean to other families who are struggling with this devastating disease," Lee said in a statement.
Edwin Stone, a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences who heads the LCA research program at the University of Iowa, said the movie's efforts will benefit thousands.
"Private support makes all the difference when it comes to conditions like LCA, which affect a relatively small portion of the population -- but when it's your child or friend or family member suffering from this disease, the statistics don't matter," Stone said in a statement. "What matters is helping LCA patients regain their sight, and thanks to contributions from individuals and efforts like 'We Believe,' we're coming closer to that goal every day."
The documentary's crew was at Little Cubs Field on June 14, 2008, for the grand opening of the ballpark. Former Cubs third baseman and current WGN Radio analyst Ron Santo attended the ceremonies.
Fans interested in having their name added to the credits should go to the movie's website, webelievethemovie.com. There will be a Chicago premiere of the documentary this year.
Chicago area musicians and bands also are encouraged to submit original recordings of a song about the city to be included in the documentary. Fans will be able to cast a vote online for the favorite song on the movie's Web site. All entries must be received by Feb. 15. The documentary will include some original songs by Chicagoan Billy Corgan.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.