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Story 6: In the News Tonight ...

(THEME MUSIC)

RACHEL HAMILTON: Good evening, and welcome to "Entertainment Update." Our top story this evening: A piece of Hollywood history celebrates its 10th birthday. Here's Greg Thomas with more.

GREG THOMAS: Thanks, Rachel. It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since the premiere of an unassuming little movie called "Rescued Hearts." Who'd have believed that this film would have such an impact? It had a tiny budget, no big stars, no high-tech special effects. What it did have was a great story,  something out of a fairy tale. But this fairy tale was all true.

(B-ROLL: SUNRISE PICTURES EXTERIOR)

Eleven years ago, it looked as if the sun were about to set on Sunrise Pictures. Then actress Ginger Grant approached the struggling studio with a movie that she called "pure gold."

(B-ROLL: HONOLULU HARBOR)

The story actually begins several years earlier with the shipwreck of the S.S. Minnow, a little pleasure boat that left Honolulu Harbor on a three-hour cruise with seven people aboard. The boat was lost in a storm at sea -- presumably forever.

(B-ROLL: CASTAWAY RETURN WITH CLOSEUPS OF GRANT, HINKLEY, SUMMERS)

But that presumption was premature. After years stranded on a remote island, the passengers and crew of the Minnow beat the odds and were rescued. One of the castaways was Ginger Grant. Another was scientist Roy Hinkley. And another was charming Kansas farm girl Mary Ann Summers.

About a year before their rescue, Professor Hinkley and Ms. Summers had fallen in love and were married.

(INTERVIEW: ACTRESS-PRODUCER GINGER GRANT)

"When I heard how the Professor and Mary Ann had discovered, after all those years, that they were in love, the first words out of my mouth were, `This is just like a movie!' And I knew it should be a movie."

(B-ROLL: CASTAWAY WELCOME PARADE WITH CLOSEUPS OF HINKLEY, SUMMERS, GRANT)

GREG THOMAS: But despite dozens of offers to buy their story shortly after their rescue, the Hinkleys weren't interested. They were concentrating on readjusting to civilization and putting their lives back together.

As was Ginger Grant. But Hollywood was reluctant to take a chance on a former starlet who had fallen from the sky so long ago. Finally, however, someone did.

(INTERVIEW: GINGER GRANT)

"Sunrise Pictures gave me a break. I made three movies for them: `Juliet's Daughter,' `Midnight Storm' and `Eyes of Tomorrow.' They gave my career a jump-start. Now people knew my name again."

GREG THOMAS: Grant's pictures were successful, but unfortunately, Sunrise's next two projects, "Blood on the River" and "Heavens Aflame," were expensive flops that left the studio on the brink of financial ruin.

(INTERVIEW: GINGER GRANT)

"I wanted to do something to save Sunrise. They took a chance on me when nobody else would; I owed them. And I knew I had a way to do it. I called the Professor and Mary Ann and said, `It's time to tell your story.' "

(B-ROLL: CASTAWAY RESCUE)

GREG THOMAS: Grant suggested that instead of selling their story to the highest bidder, the Hinkleys turn over the rights to Sunrise Pictures in exchange for a share of the film's future profits.

(INTERVIEW: GINGER GRANT)

"There was always a chance the movie wouldn't make any money, but I was sure it would. This story was pure gold."

(ARCHIVAL INTERVIEW: ROY AND MARY ANN HINKLEY)

MARY ANN HINKLEY: "Whether the movie made money or not didn't matter to us. We love Ginger, and we wanted to help her thank these people who helped her. So her suggestion was OK with us."

ROY HINKLEY: "Frankly, though, we didn't expect the movie to go anywhere. I mean, our love means the world to us, but we couldn't conceive of millions of strangers being interested in it."

(B-ROLL: RESCUED HEARTS TRAILER)

GREG THOMAS: The Hinkleys were wrong, of course. ``Rescued Hearts,'' with unknowns Simon Pugh and Lisa Gray as the castaway lovers, was an instant hit. Sunrise Pictures had spent less than a million to make it, and far less than that to promote it. But word of mouth was all it needed -- along with some favorable reviews.

(INTERVIEW: ROGER EBERT)

"I remember telling my audience that if this story were fiction, I would have had to dismiss it as too far-fetched. But it was true, and because of that, it grabbed me, just as it did millions of moviegoers."

(B-ROLL: RESCUED HEARTS TRAILER)

GREG THOMAS: ``Rescued Hearts'' transformed Pugh and Gray into A-list stars, Sunrise Pictures into an industry powerhouse and Ginger Grant into a major Hollywood player. Since producing the little movie that could, Grant's Desert Isle Productions has brought us several blockbusters, including ``Wild December" and ``Alienated."

(GREG THOMAS IN-STUDIO)

Sunrise Pictures is marking the 10th birthday of ``Rescued Hearts'' with a new home video edition, which includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Simon Pugh, Lisa Gray and Ginger Grant. It'll be in stores this fall.

RACHEL HAMILTON: I'm sure there are plenty of fans eagerly awaiting that release. Greg, can you tell us what's become of the real Professor and Mary Ann?

GREG THOMAS: Well, according to Ginger Grant, they are still together, the parents of three and as much in love as ever, proving that ``happily ever after'' doesn't just happen in the movies.

RACHEL HAMILTON:  Thanks, Greg. Coming up next ...

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