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“Front of the Class” is scheduled to air at 8 p.m./7 p.m. CST on February 6, 2010, on CBS as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame series. Patricia Heaton, Treat Williams and Jimmy Wolk have been cast for the movie, which is being filmed in Shreveport, La. It is directed by Peter Werner. “While I was on set, Peter was definitely listening to my comments about how I handled different situations,” Cohen said. “He really wants it to be as authentic as possible.”
In the News
Brad Cohen, educator, noted author and subject of a made-for-television movie, answered the questions of Bradley teacher-education students for nearly an hour Monday, giving a detailed account of his remarkable life journey.
Cohen, ’96 and this year’s Outstanding Young Graduate, offered insight about his life story, which is the basis of the CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “Front of the Class.” He explained the struggles he has endured living with Tourette syndrome and his inspiration for becoming a teacher in a Web cam discussion with students on Bradley’s campus. Cohen spoke from a studio in Atlanta, Ga. The full question and answer session can be viewed online.
Brad Cohen met President Joanne Glasser in August 2008 at a president’s alumni reception in Atlanta. “We’re proud of all of Brad’s accomplishments and his determination to become an enthusiastic well-respected educator,” President Glasser said. “The national exposure of Front of the Class is another avenue for Brad to share his wonderful story. The entire Bradley family looks forward to celebrating this exciting time with Brad.”
“So many people didn’t believe in me when I was growing up because I had Tourette syndrome,” he said. “So many teachers thought that they knew the way to fix me; they knew the way that I needed to be educated. What so many of them failed to do was ask me. I could have explained to them the way that I learn best.”
Cohen, who is now a principal in the Atlanta area, stressed to the aspiring educators the importance a teacher can have in a child’s life.
“You’re that one person that can make a difference,” he said. “All it takes is one teacher to make a difference in the life of a child. As I sit here today with future educators, my challenge to you is to be that one teacher.”
“Front of the Class” will air on CBS Saturday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. CST. Cohen said he believes up to eight million people would be tuning in. The movie was originally broadcast December 7, 2008.
Cohen has been most impressed with Hallmark Hall of Fame’s interest in keeping the authenticity of the story. “I originally said when this movie comes out, I’m not going to watch it because I was so nervous Hollywood would get the best of it and turn it into its own monster,” Cohen said. “But what has happened is Hallmark has been so unbelievably concerned about being respectful to my story, they want it as authentic as possible. They really have had me in on the conversations.”
Cohen has received phone calls from Jimmy Wolk, who plays Cohen as a 22-year-old, and Dominic Scott Kay, who plays Cohen as a 12-year-old. The actors have asked Cohen about how he felt during trying times of his life. In addition, they’ve worked with a dialect coach to mimic Cohen’s mannerisms, tics and noises. “To see both of them living my life,” Cohen said, “it’s just that surreal moment of, ‘Whoa, this is really kind of weird.’ And at the same time, looking at it from a Tourette syndrome point of view, these actors have been working on learning me, the tics and noises, and they’ve really perfected it. These could be Emmy-award performances based on what they’re doing because it really is a challenge. I asked both of them, ‘At the end of the day, when you go back to your bed, are you fatigued or tired from doing all these tics?’ They both said were extremely tired. They really felt it in their neck because they’re twitching their neck a lot.”
“They’re hoping for 8 million people to watch the rebroadcast. It’s really a celebration of everyone who believed in me and stuck by my side when they could have turned away easily.” — Brad Cohen ’96
Cohen said the movie is a celebration for everyone who supported him throughout his life; however, he’s not sure he’s grasped just how far reaching this movie will be. “I told my wife I think this movie is bigger than I even know it’s going to be,” he said. “My only experience is when my book came out. Yeah, I was on “Oprah,” a huge experience with millions of people watching, but Oprah shared my story; Hallmark Hall of Fame is sharing my life. People are going to walk away really knowing me.”