Movie, TV stars to headline W.Va. reading campaign

May 16, 2011 by Greg Moore

Some famous West Virginians want to know what you’re reading.

Actors Jennifer Garner, John Corbett and Sam Trammell are joining Drema McNeal, West Virginia’s Teacher of the Year (and Headline Books author) in filming ads for the statewide reading campaign Read WV.

The campaign is “designed to encourage children and their parents and grandparents to make reading a priority early in life and to involve all West Virginians in the critical task of ensuring that children read every day,” according to the state Department of Education. Other sponsors include Read Aloud West Virginia, the West Virginia Library Commission and the Imagination Library.

Trammell, who grew up in Charleston and graduated from George Washington High School, is reading “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen in his ad. He says he loved reading “spooky books” as a kid — which makes sense, given his role as shapeshifter Sam Merlotte on HBO’s monster-heavy “True Blood.”

“Reading sparked my creativity and imagination and it can do the same for you and your kids,” he says in the ad.

Corbett, star of “Northern Exposure,” “Sex in the City” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” among many others, grew up in Wheeling. He says reading didn’t come easy to him as a kid. But a teacher helped him read better, and faster, allowing him to get through several movie scripts a week now — even if “most of them aren’t any good.”

(Corbett’s first film role, incidentally, was a small part in “Flight of the Intruder,” based on Buckhannon native Stephen Coonts’ novel of the same name. And Coonts was a featured presenter at the first West Virginia Book Festival, back in 2001.)

In her ad, McNeal encourages viewers to take their kids to a library and check out a book that they can enjoy together. She says her class is reading a Gary Paulsen book, and the one she’s holding is “Brian’s Hunt,” the final book in the Hatchet series. Like Trammell and Corbett, she ends her ad by asking, “What are you reading, West Virginia?”

Garner, star of the TV series “Alias” and movies including “13 Going On 30,” “Elektra” and “Arthur,” grew up in Princeton and Charleston and, like Trammell, graduated from GWHS. She’s slated to join the campaign next month.

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