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Film inspired by a Carrollton man ‘The Way Home’ starring Dean Cain debuting on GMC Friday

Dean Cain plays Randy Simpkins, a Carrollton father seeking his lost son in the film "The Way Home"

Dean Cain plays Randy Simpkins, a Carrollton father seeking his lost son in the film "The Way Home"

In March, 2000, utility contractor Randy Simpkins’ two-year-old son Joe disappeared from the driveway of his Carrollton home.

He had left Joe on his tricycle for a few minutes while grabbing a few items inside as the family packed to go on vacation. Scary thoughts filled Simpkins’ head. Was he kidnapped? Did he get fall into a ditch? Did he drown?

Within a few hours, about 400 townsfolk and dozens of cops scoped out the surrounding area searching for Joe. By late afternoon, media helicopters circled the area.  As hope waxed and waned, Simpkins faced his own crisis of faith, questioning his own priorities in life.

His story is told in a film starring Dean Cain called ”The Way Home,” which debuts Friday on Atlanta-based cable network GMC at 8 p.m.

In 2006, Simpkins shared his story with filmmakers Clint Hutchison and Lance Dreesen, who were scouting for film locations in Carroll County. Two years later, they asked him if they could make his story into a movie.

Dean Cain with the man he portrays Randy Simpkins

Dean Cain with the man he portrays Randy Simpkins

Cain, a 44-year-old single father of an 10-year-old boy, said he signed on after tearing up as he read the script.

It was a low-budget film, at around $1 million, much of it for Cain, best known as the star of the 1990s ABC series “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” They shot “The Way Home” in the fall of 2008 on Simpkins’ Carrollton property, which included his five-acre home and the surrounding 80-acre farm owned by his parents.

For a two-year-old, the area was treacherous, littered with construction and farm equipment, small lakes and swampy areas. Bobcats and coyotes abounded. Ed Walker, a retired engineer, found Joe more than seven hours later in a deep pocket of woods more than a mile from Simpkins’ home. Walker himself had lost a brother named Joe 40 years earlier and still tears up every time he sees Joe, Simpkins said.

Joe, now 13, is “a little bit embarrassed” by it all, Simpkins said. “His focus now is football, wrestling and cheerleaders. We’re trying to keep him focused on school and not make it a big deal.”

Cain said he has portrayed real people before such as convicted murderer Scott Peterson, but this was the first time he played an actual person who was there every step of the way.

“That’s a lot of pressure as an actor to have him there in his house on his land where it actually happened,” Cain said in a phone interview earlier this week. “You have a responsibility to do it to the best of your ability. I hope I got it right. There were times we’d finish a scene and he’d have to walk away. He was going through the pain again.”

Simpkins said he changed his life after that incident. Before, he was so focused on his job, he neglected his family, his church and his community.

“I had three children but I wasn’t plugged into their lives,” he said. “It was putting a strain on my marriage I wasn’t even aware of at the time.”

He believes his son’s disappearance was God’s way of straightening his priorities.

Simpkins cut back hours at his company. He stopped working Saturdays and began coaching his sons. To repay the community, he became a county commissioner and now has a job that ensures he can make it home every evening for dinner.

The family has traveled to several churches to give testimony and screen the film. He has made a commitment to spread his story and inspire other husbands and fathers.

“It’s the joy of the journey,” Simpkins said.”If I had kept on the same path, I can’t imagine how much I would have missed.”

On TV
“The Way Home,” GMC at 8 p.m. Friday, with repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday
Also will be available on DVD in select Christian inspirational stores on October 5 and wide release
October 26.

GMC, for folks aren’t familiar, used to be known as the Gospel Music Channel but now includes faith-oriented films and TV shows. It’s available on Comcast on Channel 189, Charter Channel 156, Verizon FIOS at 224 and DirectTV on 338. It is not available on DishTV.

Check out its schedule here. Shows include “Amen,” “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman,” “Early Edition” and “Highway to Heaven.”

11 comments Add your comment

YES!

September 29th, 2010
1:27 pm

Great news guys! I no longer have gag reflex!!

Shocked

September 29th, 2010
1:57 pm

A Puerto Rican restaurant in Lawrenceville? GO FIGURE

Great Article

September 29th, 2010
2:09 pm

Just Kidding bro

Hey Rodney

September 29th, 2010
2:13 pm

How’s the view up there on your throne of lies? Your days are numbered and your reign of terror is almost over

VICK SUPPORTER

September 29th, 2010
2:18 pm

WHAT IS THIS DEAN CAIN NOISE ABOUT? I THOUGHT SUPERMAN WAS DEAD LOL NO IM KIDDING THAT WAS CHRISTOPHER REEVES OR SUM’N. BUT NE WAY, WHAT DO YALL THINK ABOUT MIKE VICK BACK IN THE LEAGUE? HEY RODNEY STICK TO WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT…… WHICH IS NOTHING LOL

Vixzilla

September 29th, 2010
7:46 pm

The actress that plays his wife is a local product! Dalton Georgia!

Beverly Miller

September 29th, 2010
9:28 pm

I saw the premier of this movie at the Fox Theater. It is wonderful! It really touches your heart. Everyone needs to watch this one!

Rodney Ho

September 30th, 2010
12:26 am

I added that info at the bottom of the blog entry for your benefit.

Gabriel Aviles

October 1st, 2010
11:21 am

Jon, we’re excited to have this movie on gmc. We’re America’s favorite network for uplifting music and family entertainment. We’re on cable systems everywhere and on DirecTV. To check on your specific area, please log on to gmclife.com and type in your zip code on the top right. Thanks for your interest in gmc!

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TDYEarth

October 1st, 2010
6:02 pm

I enjoy GMC on Sky Angel IPTV – Looking forward to seeing this movie tonight!