An invited audience of more than 100 people --ncluding Payson Mayor Barbara Brewer, Vice Mayor Judy Buettner and Judge Ronnie McDaniel -- previewed the big-screen movie "Black Cloud" Sunday evening at Sawmill Theatres.
Also present were several cast members and the movie's writer, producer and director, former "NYPD Blue" and "Silver Spoons" star Rick Schroder. He and the cast arrived at the theater, to a red carpet welcome, in a stretch limousine.
A day later at the Cine Capri Theatre in north Phoenix, the movie debut drew another invitation-only crowd of fans eager for a glimpse of the celebrities.
According to former Payson resident Shawn Haught -- who helped promote the movie in Payson and Phoenix -- the two premieres were overwhelming successes.
Before the movie was shown in Payson, Schroder addressed the audience. He thanked Haught, calling him "a fine young man," for his role in promoting the movie.
Following the showing of "Black Cloud," Schroder, Eddie Spears, Russell Means and Julia Jones answered a battery of questions from the audience.
Schroder said he made the movie in part to help clear up misconceptions and stereotypes some people have about other cultures.
"Black Cloud" loosely resembles a true story unfolding on the Navajo reservation where a coach is teaching boxing to young tribe members.
Jones, the movie's leading lady, said "Black Cloud" sends the message that if you work hard and persevere you can achieve your dreams. The movie, made in Arizona and New Mexico reservations, is an inspirational story about a Navajo boxer, played by Spears, who faces personal challenges and the loss of his mother while trying to earn a berth on the U.S. Olympic team.
Following the private showing, a "meet and greet" session at the Mazatzal Casino drew a crowd of curious autograph seekers. Payson was a site for a premiere of "Black Cloud" because the Mazatzal Casino and the Tonto Apache Tribe agreed to sponsor the movie in Payson and Phoenix.