After writing this week’s Cheap Seats column about the bizarre impact the movie “Remember the Titans” has had on the historical record of Alexandria, I came across a September 2000 story apparently from the L.A. Times posted on the personal website of Gregory Allen Howard. Howard is the screenwriter of “Titans,” and also the author of this L.A. Times piece, which goes over the process that led to the movie being made.
Howard’s script is uplifting and entertaining; his newspaper story is astonishingly wrong and phony. It’s full of errors so blatant that Howard, had he done even a fraction of the research he claims to have done before writing the “Titans” script, had to know they were errors as he was typing them into his L.A. Times piece. It’s as if he wrote the article to justify the historical inaccuracies in his movie.
Howard writes here that Alexandria consolidated “three segregated [high] schools…two black and one white” in 1971 and that George Washington and T.C. Williams High Schools were “all-black.” Wrong. All three of the city’s high schools were integrated , and majority white (Hammond overwhelmingly so) when the consolidation took place. And according to Alexandria school board’s statistics for the 1970-1971 school year, GW was 51.4 percent white/47.7 black; T.C. Williams 75.4 white/22.2 black.
The schools in the movie script, however, were all-black or -white.
Howard’s L.A. Times piece also asserts that racial unrest hit Alexandria in the summer of 1971 after a kid was murdered in an convenience store.
In real life, the shooting happened in the spring of 1970. The riots in Howard’s movie, however, happened in 1971.
Howard also wrote the script for “Glory Road,” a feature film allegedly about the 1966 NCAA basketball finals, which matched Kentucky and Texas Western. I’ve always been interested in that game, but never saw the movie. Now I’m scared to.
But it’s one thing to make things up for a script. Newspapering is allegedly a whole different ballgame. How did the L.A. Times let this crap run unchecked?
And what’s the statute of limitations on running corrections, anyway?