|John Travolta, Gabe Kaplan|
The breakout star of the series, however, was not Kaplan—it was a young actor named John Travolta (who played Vinnie Barbarino, the leader of the Sweathogs), who parlayed his small screen success into motion pictures like Carrie (1976), Saturday Night Fever (1977), and Grease (1978). Travolta was such a hot property that by the show’s fourth season he was only making sporadic appearances (billed as a “special guest star”). Gabe Kaplan also turned up MIA in the last season of the show that made him a star, though this was due to his contract dispute with executive producer James Komack…but upon the show’s cancellation, Kaplan decided to see if he could achieve the same kind of motion picture stardom as co-star Travolta with the comedy-drama Fast Break (1979).
Greene is only able to assemble four starters for his “dream team”—pool shark Leroy “Hustler” Monroe (Bernard King), con man evangelist Tommy “Preacher” White (Michael Warren), ex-high-school-player-turned-felon D.C. Davey (Harold Sylvester), and Roberta “Swish” James…who is persuaded by David to masquerade as “Bobby James,” because female. (Okay, before calls of “spoiler warning” start to permeate the blogosphere, let me say that this plot point is telegraphed in the freaking poster for the movie.) Greene will find his fifth man in Bull (Reb Brown), an ambitious athlete more suited for the football team—he’s designated as C.U.’s center. The New York talent allows Cadwallader to move swiftly up through the college basketball ranks, easily beating their opponents—but it will take Hustler’s talent with a pool cue to set up that crucial Nevada State game when he successfully hustles the team’s coach (Bert Remsen).
|Rhonda Bates, John Chappell|