In February 2006, young Luke Abbate accepted a ride home from a fellow
student following his high-school team practice. In a severe case of
irresponsible and reckless teen-age driving, and over the objections of
Luke and the other young passengers, the driver lost control of the car
at nearly 90 miles-per-hour, spinning off a narrow road and landing in
an embankment some seventy feet below. Luke suffered irreparable brain
damage, and died in the hospital two days later – just four days before
his sixteenth birthday.
While in the hospital, the Abbate family made the difficult decision to
permit the doctors to utilize Luke’s organs in a nationwide organ
transplant program. Five recipients were almost immediately identified,
including a young mother who was suffering with serious heart disease.
Sharing an uncommon blood type, Luke’s heart was flown to the young
woman’s hospital location across the country, resulting in a successful
heart transplant, and saving her life.
Following his brother’s death, Jon considered giving up his football
career – but knew that doing so would not properly honor the younger
brother who loved and idolized him. Upon his return to Wake Forest, Jon
was given the approval of head coach Jim Grobe to change his number from
his long-standing 40, to his brother’s number 5. And, in so doing,
dedicated the new season to the memory of his brother. The Abbate
family founded The Luke Abbate 5th Quarter Foundation for the purposes
of educating young people nationwide to the dangers and life-altering
consequences of irresponsible driving.
A tradition began to evolve during the following Wake Forest games. In
paying homage to Luke, Jon would signal his family sitting in the stands
(Section 5) by holding up his hand with all 5 fingers outstretched. He
did this at the end of the third quarter. Gradually, the rest of his
team started to do the same. Within a couple of games, players from both
teams, the fans in the stands, and those watching the games on
television, would begin the final quarter by raising their hands with
all 5 fingers outstretched in honor of Luke’s memory. The final quarter
became known as Luke’s Quarter, the 5th Quarter, and this humble signal
crystallized the entire team. And, although having lost their starting
quarterback, starting running back, and starting defensive end to
injuries at the beginning of the season, Wake Forest went on to complete
their most successful season in school history, winning 11 games against
2 losses. Coach Grobe was selected the ACC’s Coach-Of-The-Year, and Jon
performed brilliantly in the ACC Championship Game with fifteen solo
tackles against powerhouse Georgia Tech.
Ryan Merriman (Jon Abbate)
At age 27, RYAN MERRIMAN (Jon Abbate) already has 21 films and four major roles in television series to his credit, and has shared the screen with some of the industry’s most acclaimed actors. He recently starred in Wild Cherry, a romantic comedy with Tania Raymonde, Kristin Cavallari, Rumer Willis and Rob Schneider and Home of the Giants, co-starring Haley Joel Osment and Danielle Panabaker.
Other feature film credits include the lead role in Final Destination 3, The Ring 2, The Deep End of the Ocean, Halloween: Resurrection and Just Looking.
On the small screen, Merriman can now be seen on ABC Family’s hit series “Pretty Little Liars,” playing the role of Ian Thomas. He also appeared in Larry McMurtry’s “Comanche Moon,” a six-hour miniseries with an all-star cast including Val Kilmer, Elizabeth Banks, Karl Urban, Steve Zahn, Rachel Griffiths, Linda Cardellini and Graham Greene.
Merriman starred in the ABC series “Veritas” and played the recurring role of Young Jarod on the hit drama “The Pretender,” which ran for four successful seasons on NBC. He was also a series regular on the NBC sitcom “The Mommies.”
Made-for-television movie credits include “Backwoods,” a psychological thriller with Haylie Duff, and Lifetime’s “Dangerous Child,” “Rocket’s Red Glare,” Luck of the Irish,” “Smart House” and “Ring of Endless Light.” He was also seen in Hallmark’s “Night Ride Home,” “Lansky” and “Everything That Rises” as well as “Taken,” which was produced by Steven Spielberg.
Merriman’s talents have been recognized by many prestigious organizations that honor young performers. He was awarded a “One to Watch” award at Movieline’s 7th Annual Young Hollywood Awards. He has also received eight nominations for a Young Artist Award and won six times. In addition, Merriman has been nominated five times for The Hollywood Reporter’s YoungStar Award.
The actor began his career doing commercials, print work, vocal performances and local theater in Oklahoma. He participates in numerous state and local charity organizations and actively supports efforts to bring film production to Oklahoma.Merriman was recently honored during a session at the state capitol and presented with a citation for his commitment to film and charity work, as well as for acting as an ambassador to Oklahoma in his travels.
Merriman enjoys all forms of outdoor sports. An avid golfer, he also enjoys dirt biking, mountain biking, snowboarding, horseback riding and hanging out with his pet Rottweilers.
Aidan Quinn (Steven Abbate)
AIDAN QUINN was born in Chicago and began his acting career on the stage. Since then, he has starred in more than 45 feature films, among them Desperately Seeking Susan, Stakeout, The Playboys, Avalon, Benny and Joon, Legends of the Fall, Michael Collins, Looking for Richard, The Assignment, Music of the Heart and Songcatcher. He was also nominated for the 2005 Independent Spirit Award for Cavedweller.
More recently, Quinn starred in Flipped for Rob Reiner as well as Jonah Hex. He was seen opposite Meryl Streep in the drama Dark Matter, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. His upcoming credits include Unknown, alongside Liam Neeson and January Jones; If I Were You, opposite Marcia Gay Harden; and The Exodus of Charlie Wright, in which Quinn plays the title role alongside co-star Andy Garcia. He will also be seen in the forthcoming independent features Rushlights, Festival of Lights and The Greening of Whitney Brown.
In Ireland, Quinn produced and starred in This is My Father, written and directed by his brother Paul and filmed by his brother Declan, an award-winning cinematographer. He also starred in Song for a Raggy Boy, for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the Irish Film Awards. The film played at the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals. Quinn was also seen in Evelyn, directed by Bruce Beresford and co-starring Pierce Brosnan. Other credits from Ireland’s film industry include his sister Marian’s drama 32A, Vic Sarin’s Shine of Rainbows and Conor McPherson’s Eclipse.
In the theater world, the actor played the title role in a modern day, award- winning production of “Hamlet” directed by Robert Falls and staged in Quinn’s native Chicago. In New York, he starred on Broadway in “A Streetcar Called Desire” and Off Broadway in Sam Shepherd’s “Fool for Love” and “Lie of the Mind.”Quinn also performed Off Broadway in “The Exonerated” and “Salome,” directed by Estelle Parsons with Al Pacino. Quinn was also seen in “The Exonerated” at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival, in Dublin and London’s West End.
More recently, Quinn starred at the Public Theater as Brutus alongside David Strathairn and Brian Dennehy in Richard Nelson’s “Conversation in Tusculum.”
On the small screen, Quinn starred in the groundbreaking AIDS drama “An Early Frost,” for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award®, and “See You in My Dreams,” based on the short stories of Sam Shepherd and co-starring Marcia Gay Harden.
Other television credits include “Forbidden Territory: Stanley’s Search for Livingstone,” in which Quinn played the title role alongside Nigel Hawthorne. He also played the title character in NBC’s “Book of Daniel” and starred in HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” for which he received another Emmy nomination.
Andie MacDowell (Maryanne Abbate)
ANDIE MACDOWELL has established herself as an accomplished actress who has received worldwide recognition. MacDowell just completed production on the highly anticipated remake of Footloose for Paramount Pictures, for which she teamed with Dennis Quaid. She’s also wrapped filming on Monte Carlo with Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester, which Fox plans to release in early 2011.
In addition, she has two independent features pending release: Daydream Nation, with Kat Dennings and Josh Lucas, and Mighty Fine, alongside her daughter Rainey Qualley and Chazz Palminteri. Previously, MacDowell was heard as the voice of Etta the Hen in the animated feature Barnyard and co-starred in Beauty Shop with Queen Latifah.
On the small screen, MacDowell recently starred in the back-to-back Lifetime Original Movies “At Risk” and “The Front,” both based on Patricia Cornwell’s crime novels. She co-starred along with Rosie O’Donnell in the CBS telepic “Riding the Bus with My Sister,” directed by Anjelica Huston. MacDowell also earned praise for her performance in the Emmy-nominated HBO movie “Dinner with Friends.”Other film credits include The End of Violence, directed by Wim Wenders, which was selected to screen at the opening of the 50th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival; Robert Altman’s The Player and Short Cuts, the latter of which earned its cast a special Golden Globe Award® for Best Ensemble; Unstrung Heroes, directed by Diane Keaton; and the ever-popular St. Elmo’s Fire.
MacDowell earned the title of No. 1 female box-office draw worldwide with her performances in the smash hit romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination, and the Western Bad Girls, with Drew Barrymore and Madeleine Stowe. She also starred in the holiday classic Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray.
In other comedies MacDowell continued to partner with top leading men, including Gérard Depardieu in Green Card (for which she earned another Golden Globe nomination), Michael Keaton in Multiplicity and John Travolta in Michael.
Early in her career, MacDowell received critical acclaim for her performance as a repressed young wife in Steven Soderbergh’s indie classic sex, lies and videotape. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and garnered MacDowell the Independent Spirit Award and the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Actress as well as her first Golden Globe nomination.
MacDowell has been presented with the coveted César d’Honneur for her body of work, the Goldene Kamera Award from Germany’s HÖRZU magazine and the Taormina Arte Award for Cinematic Excellence.
For her philanthropic work, MacDowell was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Lander University and received an Honor of the Arts from Winthrop College. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of MacDowell’s relationship with L’Oréal, for which she serves as international spokesperson.
Rick Bieber (Director, Writer, Producer)
RICK BIEBER directed, co-wrote and produced the feature film Crazy. Inspired by the controversial and legendary guitarist Hank Garland, Crazy stars newcomer Waylon Payne and Ali Larter (“Heroes”). A favorite on the festival circuit, Crazy has garnered 17 major awards to date, including 11 Best Picture nods.
Rick is currently in post-production on the independent psychological thriller, “Rehab,” which he wrote and directed.
Previously, Rick produced or executive produced several feature films including Aurora Borealis, starring Josh Jackson, Juliette Lewis and Donald Sutherland; Flatliners, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Julia Roberts, Keifer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt; Made in America, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson; Radio Flyer, directed by Richard Donner and starring Elijah Wood, Lorraine Bracco and John Heard; Hard Promises, starring William Peterson and Sissy Spacek and The Illusion, starring Michael Goorjian and Kirk Douglas.
He has also produced or been responsible for the production of over 30 television and cable movies including “Caught In The Act,” starring Lauren Holly; “Mandela,” starring Danny Glover and Alfre Woodard; “Last Innocent Man,” directed by Roger Spottiswood and starring Ed Harris; “Clinton and Nadine,” starring Andy Garcia and Ellen Barkin; “Long Gone,” starring William Peterson and Virginia Madsen; “Baja Oklahoma,” produced by Ray Stark and featuring Julia Roberts, Lesley Ann Warren and Peter Coyote; “Apology,” starring Peter Weller and Lesley Anne Warren; “The Man Who Broke 1000 Chains,” starring Val Kilmer; “Act of Vengeance,” starring Charles Bronson; “12:01,” starring Jonathan Silverman and Helen Slater; “Lifepod,” starring Ron Silver and Robert Loggia; John Landis’ remake of “The Munsters”; and “Hostage for a Day,” John Candy’s only feature directing credit.
In addition to his own independent production company, Bieber has served as chief executive of several prominent entertainment companies. They include Stonebridge Entertainment, a company that he formed in partnership with Michael Douglas, HBO Pictures, Fox West Pictures and Harmony Pictures.In addition, Bieber co-founded Third Stone Music, a record label and satellite company of Atlantic Records which featured artists including Nona Gaye and Saigon Kick.
Bieber began his career in the New York offices of Columbia Pictures, after receiving a J.D. degree from Vermont Law School and an undergraduate degree from Hofstra University.
Bob J. McCreary (Executive Producer)
BOB J. McCREARY was born and raised in Caldwell County, the son of a factory worker and the oldest of four boys. He entered Wake Forest University in 1957 after earning a football scholarship. McCreary was the 64th selection in the 1961 NFL draft, chosen by the San Francisco 49ers. He would also play for the Dallas Cowboys in his brief professional football career.
McCreary joined Bernhardt Furniture in 1965 as a sales trainee. After 20 successful years in sales, marketing and management in the furniture industry, he founded McCreary Modern in 1986. The company now employs 800 and operates six manufacturing facilities in Catawba and Caldwell counties. In 2008, McCreary gifted 30% of the company to his employees. All McCreary Modern products are proudly made in the USA.
McCreary graduated from Wake Forest with a B.A. in communications, later served on the school’s board of visitors and is a member of its Deacon Club. He is very active in support of Wake Forest athletics and was twice named Deacon Club Member of the Year.
In 1985, Mcreary married his wife Michele. The couple live happily in Newton, NC.