The drive to attract a visit by the world's most famous television hostess, Oprah Winfrey, to Sesser is gaining momentum. Sesser has already put bumper stickers on their cars asking Oprah to call them and signs on the outskirts of town are up. School kids are busy writing letters and having yard sign contests. Sesser's own Mayor Ned Mitchell has offered the closure of beautiful half-mile long Franklin Avenuein Sesser's business districtto allow Oprah to film her opening show. [View Clip]
As you can see by the articles written below, concerted effort is being made to engage Oprah's support. Visit this page often to see if Oprah answers Sesser's call.
SESSER — With one out and nobody on, Mayor Ned Mitchell steps up once again to the batter’s box in hopes of scoring one for Sesser.
Mitchell began a media blitz late last month to obtain national coverage for Gary Moore’s book Playing With The Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World at War and a Field of Broken Dreams. The book is based on Moore’s father, Gene, a former Sesser resident who captivated the interest of a Brooklyn Dodger Scout before entering World War II.
But last week, the mayor learned that his challenge to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg struck out.
“I was kind of disappointed,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell’s challenge to Bloomberg was to get a fair review of Moore’s book in a New York publication and in return, Mitchell would promise a review of New York-based book, The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World, in the Southern Illinoisan.
But Bloomsberg’s office contacted the marketing department of Moore’s publisher to say the mayor is not interested in participating.
“I know he is a tremendously busy person … but it was just such an impersonal response,” Mitchell said.
Now, the Sesser mayor has issued the same challenge to former mayor Rudy Giuliani, and this time, he said he thinks he will receive a more positive result.
“I think he is more of a people-person,” Mitchell said.
Sesser has also set its sights on media icon, Oprah. A film was made and sent to the producers in hopes of catching her interest and featuring the book on her show. Students from the kindergarten through 12th grade classes lined up to do a cheer. Fans were made, saying “We’re Oprah fans!” and 500 bumper stickers were printed enticing Winfrey to call Sesser for a booking.
A billboard has been set up on Illinois 154 to let passersby know about the mayor’s challenge to Oprah. Mitchell has even promised to rename the Sesser Opera House “the Sesser Oprah House” for a day if the TV mogul decides to pay the Franklin County community a visit.
Mitchell said the story of Gene Moore is one of hope and small-town life and could make a great feature for the talk show.
“It’s unheard of in the day,” Mitchell said. “And it’s unheard of today.”
The book [Playing with the Enemy] is also set to be made into a feature film with Gerald Molen, who has worked on Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List and Minority Report. Gary Moore’s son, Toby, will play his grandfather in the movie.
Moore said at a November book-signing that he sees a lot of the qualities of his father in the people he has met in Sesser.
“I love coming down here,” he said. “It’s like my book has come full circle.”
SESSER - While MTV shouldn't be concerned about competition just yet, STV -that's "Sesser Television" - did get off the ground briefly Friday afternoon when a homemade video was shot in front of the Opera House Restaurant.
A grassroots effort that has taken hold to attract the attention of television talk show star Oprah Winfrey went to video this week at two different locations in this small Franklin County community.
"We thought it would be fun to make a video and send it to Oprah," said businesswoman Angela Furlow, owner of Anjo's Pizza. "We're fans of hers and we want her to come to Sesser and we want her to read our book."
The book that Furlow is speaking about is Playing With the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World at War, and a Field of Broken Dreams, written by Gary Moore, who lives near Chicago.
The book is being sold nationwide and details the life of Moore's father, Gene Moore, a 15-year-old baseball player from Sesser who attracted the attention of major league baseball scouts from the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early 1940s only to have his dream of playing professional baseball snuffed out by World War II.
Passersby along Illinois 154 - the main artery that runs through Sesser's business district - must have been somewhat surprised Friday afternoon at the large contingent of local residents smiling, waving, holding signs and generally hamming it up for the camera.
Furlow has helped spearhead the effort to get Moore's book in Oprah's hands. Along with Friday afternoon's effort, Furlow said a video was also made at the local schools, where more than 800 students took part.
"We also had fans made that are in the shape of a phone that say 'we're a fan of Oprah,'" Furlow said. "We had kindergarten through 12th grade in the gym and the cheerleaders made up a cheer. We even had a group of students make up a rap song inviting Oprah to Sesser. Even if Oprah doesn't come to Sesser I think it's great that the book has given our town some recognition."
Hollywood movie producer Gerald Molen ("Schindler's List," "Minority Report," "Jurassic Park") has acquired movie rights to Playing With the Enemy. Filming is set for mid-2007.
Sesser residents began a concerted effort a few weeks ago to engage the support of Oprah. Signs reading, "Dear Oprah, Please call us, we have a great American story to tell," have been erected on the three main arteries leading into Sesser.
Mayor Ned Mitchell said he believes the human drama and small town flavor of Playing With the Enemy make it the type of book Winfrey often promotes on her national talk show.
"Oprah has a book club and we believe this is a book she might be interested in," Mitchell said. "She occasionally gets out of Chicago and goes on the road with her show. We want to again extend an invitation to her to visit Sesser as our guest."
Mitchell said one of the main attractions on Sesser's Main Street is the Opera House Restaurant where the video was shot.
In extending the invitation to Winfrey, Mitchell said the city will be willing to officially change the name of the restaurant on the day of her visit to the Sesser Oprah House.
Along with the signs the city has also printed 500 bumper stickers that simply say, "Oprah Call Sesser" with the city hall phone number included.
Along with the challenge to Mayor Bloomberg, Mitchell said a concerted effort is being made to engage the support of Oprah Winfrey. Signs reading, "Dear Oprah, Please call us, we have a great American story to tell," have been erected on the three main arteries leading into Sesser.
Mitchell said he believes the human drama and small town flavor of Playing With the Enemy is the type of book Winfrey often promotes on her national talk show.
"Oprah has a book club and we believe this is a book she might be interested in," Mitchell said. "She occasionally gets out of Chicago and goes on the road with her show. We want to invite her to Sesser as our guest."
Mitchell said one of the main attractions on Sesser's Main Street is the Opera House Restaurant. In extending the invitation to Winfrey, Mitchell said the city will be willing to officially change the name of the restaurant on the day of her visit.
"We'll name it the Sesser Oprah House for that day," he said.
Along with the signs, the city has also printed 500 bumper stickers that simply say, 'Oprah Call Sesser' with the city hall phone number included.
"Oprah grew up in a small town so she understands what communities like Sesser are like," Mitchell said. "We've got some of the classes at the grade school involved in a letter-writing campaign so it has turned into a communitywide effort. I've got a bumper sticker on my car and I've been in other communities in the past few days and I've had people ask me about it. Oprah has a huge amount of fans."
Another staple of small communities is how quickly news travels. He said the move to attract Oprah's attention is the buzz all over town right now.
"It has certainly created some excitement around here," Mitchell said. "We just hope Oprah calls us."