Smith, Tuohy family ties and the genesis of "The Blind Side"

As "The Blind Side" rises to No. 1 at the box office, the Memphis-based feel-good story continues to spark critical debate for its handling of the story of a well-to-do white family who adopt a disadvantaged black teenager who becomes a star offensive tackle. The Atlantic rounds up some of the more thoughtful pieces exploring the film's racial subtext and how it has been received among the African-American community.

Elsewhere, The Wall Street Journal blog Speakeasy points out a series of family ties that helped get the movie made in the first place.

Production company Alcon Entertainment acquired the picture from News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, after executives at that studio decided they didn't like its commercial prospects.

Alcon executives' attentions were brought to the movie by producer Molly Smith, whose father, FedEx Corp. founder and Chief Executive Frederick W. Smith, is also Alcon's owner.

But the Smith family's ties to the movie go even deeper, thanks to another of Mr. Smith's 10 children. Ms. Smith's youngest brother, Cannon, is in real life the long-time boyfriend of one of the movie's main characters, Collins Tuohy -- the daughter of Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy and the adoptive sister of Mr. Oher.

"Obviously, I knew the story," says Ms. Smith. "I read the screenplay and I fell in love with it."

[snip]

Like Mr. Oher, the younger Mr. Smith is a burgeoning football star. After playing one season for the University of Miami last year, Cannon Smith transferred this year to University of Memphis. NCAA rules prevent him from playing ball until next year, when he is expected to return as a quarterback for his hometown school.


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Deputy Online News Editor Mark Richens takes you through all the news about Memphis from sources outside the Mid-South.