Oscar® Winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kimberly Elise
Star in TNT’s Inspirational
GIFTED HANDS: THE BEN CARSON STORY,
A JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® Movie
A frustrated young boy with problems in school overcomes the obstacles in his life to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon in the new TNT Original movie GIFTED HANDS: THE BEN CARSON STORY. This uplifting and inspirational JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® stars Oscar® winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire) and two-time NAACP Image Award winner Kimberly Elise (The Great Debaters, The Manchurian Candidate).
It is based on the true story of Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, whose lifelong journey led him to become director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a best-selling author and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The movie premieres Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), exclusively on TNT.
In GIFTED HANDS, Gooding plays Carson as an adult, while Elise plays Carson’s mother, Sonya, who inspired her son to study and work hard so he could rise above their inner-city roots. Also starring in the movie are Aunjanue Ellis (The Practice), as Carson’s wife, Candy; Jaishon Fisher (Lakeview Terrace), who plays Carson as a young boy; and Gus Hoffman (Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins), who portrays Carson as a teenager.
GIFTED HANDS was adapted by award-winning writer John Pielmeier (Agnes of God) from the memoir penned by Carson and Cecil Murphey. The film is directed by Thomas Carter (Coach Carter). It comes to TNT from Sony Pictures Television, Thomasfilm and The Hatchery LLC. Dan Angel (TNT’s Door to Door), Margaret Loesch (Benji: Off the Leash), Bruce Stein (The Haunting Hour: Don’t Think About It), Erin Keating and Carter serve as executive producers on the project.
The film opens with Carson’s childhood in Detroit. The young Bennie struggles in school after his father abandons the family and his mother, who suffers from bouts of depression, is forced to be the family’s sole provider, despite the fact that she can’t read and has only a third-grade education.
Seeing that her son is having problems in school, Sonya soon realizes it is because he has troubles seeing. With a new pair of glasses and encouragement to spend time at a library, Bennie dives into the world of books. The joy Bennie gets from reading and the undying love and support he receives from his mother pave the way for him to overcome his impoverished background and graduate from high school, college and medical school. To fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor, he also must face down racial prejudice and other obstacles that threaten to derail him.
Along the way, Carson gets married and starts a family. But his home life becomes strained when his work starts to consume his every waking hour, especially as he faces the challenge of becoming the first doctor ever to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the back of the head. In the end, however, Carson’s family comes to understand that his work is vital in helping other families, including a young couple whose twins’ lives are saved thanks to Carson’s remarkable skills, knowledge and courage.
Today, Carson stands at the top of his field as one of the most respected pediatric neurosurgeons in the world. He is living proof that, with perseverance, a devotion to knowledge and the loving support of family and friends, one can overcome any obstacles. Like his mother did for him, Carson now pours everything he has into helping young people overcome their medical limitations and fulfill their own dreams.
The book GIFTED HANDS was originally brought to TNT by The Hatchery LLC, which has held the option on the property since 2003 and subsequently partnered with Sony Pictures Television to produce the film adaptation. The Hatchery develops and produces family entertainment for all media. Its slate of projects in the works includes R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, a trilogy of movies based on the best-selling author’s hit book of the same title; a multiple television-movie adaptation of the V.C. Andrews series of novels Flowers in the Attic, Ruby and The Runaways; the world’s largest and longest-running paperback original franchise; a movie and television series based on one of the top 100 best-selling book series The Great Brain; and a theatrical remake of Leslie Bricasse’s beloved musical Scrooge, based on the Dickens’s classic. In December 2004, American Greetings Corp. (NYSE: AM), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of social expression products, acquired a significant ownership stake in The Hatchery.
GIFTED HANDS is the 10th TNT Original to be produced under the JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® movie banner. Past presentations include the critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning Door to Door, starring Emmy® winner William H. Macy; Miss Lettie and Me, starring Mary Tyler Moore and Burt Reynolds; Wilder Days, starring Peter Falk and Tim Daly; The Winning Season, with Matthew Modine and Kristin Davis; the Emmy-nominated The Wool Cap, which re-teamed Door to Door’s Macy and writer/director Steven Schachter; 14 Hours, with JoBeth Williams, Rick Schroder and Kris Kristofferson; The Engagement Ring, a romantic comedy/drama starring Patricia Heaton; The Ron Clark Story, starring Emmy nominee Matthew Perry; and A Perfect Day, a holiday tale starring Rob Lowe.
Johnson & Johnson has long supported the creation of quality programming, and through the JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® movie series, the company’s advertising affiliate has collaborated with TNT to bring inspirational stories to the American viewing public. Notable successes include the four-time Emmy-nominated JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® movie The Wool Cap and the six-time Emmy-winning JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® movie Door to Door.
Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr., M.D.
Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery and Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center
Benjamin S. Carson Sr., M.D., had a childhood dream of becoming a physician. But he grew up in a single-parent home, with dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper and low self-esteem. While that appeared to preclude the realization of his dream, his mother, with only a third-grade education, challenged both of her sons to strive for excellence. Carson persevered and today is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for nearly a quarter of a century. He became the inaugural recipient of a professorship dedicated in his name in May 2008. He is now the Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D. and Dr. Evelyn Spiro, R.N. Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery.
Carson’s career highlights include the first separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa and the first successful placement of an intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin. Although he has been involved in many newsworthy operations, Carson feels that every case deserves maximum attention. He is interested in all aspects of pediatric neurosurgery and has a special interest in trigeminal neuralgia (severe facial pain) in adults.
Carson holds more than 50 honorary doctorate degrees. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the Horatio Alger Society of Distinguished Americans and many other prestigious organizations. He sits on the board of directors of numerous organizations, including Kellogg Co., Costco Wholesale Corp. and the Academy of Achievement. He is also an Emeritus Fellow of the Yale Corp., the governing body of Yale University. He was appointed in 2004 by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics. He is a highly regarded motivational speaker who has addressed various audiences, from school systems and civic groups to corporations and the President’s National Prayer Breakfast.
In 2001, Carson was named by CNN and Time as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists. That same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 Living Legends on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Spingarn Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP. In February 2008, Carson was presented with the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House. In June 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the land. He has literally received hundreds of other awards during his distinguished career.
Carson is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. The fund is currently operating in 27 states and the District of Columbia, having awarded more than $3.4 million to more than 3,400 scholars. He also co-founded Angels of the OR, which provides grants to assist families with non-covered medical care expenses involving both adult and pediatric neurosurgery. Both programs are in national expansion mode.
Carson’s first three books – Gifted Hands, THINK BIG and The Big Picture – provide inspiration and insight for leading a successful life. His fourth book, Take The Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose and Live With Acceptable Risk, was released in early 2008. Carson has been married for more than 30 years to his wife, Candy, and is the father of three sons. His mother, Sonya Carson, who made all this possible, is alive and well.