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Naturally, Todd Zeile still hard at work


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http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/ny-spbaumbach0606,0,6769879.column

Todd Zeile's baseball career was defined by an inability to stay in one place for very long. All you need to know is that over 16 years he played five positions for 11 teams. So it's probably not all that surprising that Zeile began his post-baseball life with one idea and has ended up doing something a little different.

When Zeile retired after the 2004 season, his focus was on being an independent filmmaker, and he and a friend created Green Diamond Entertainment. But in the past year the former Met and Yankee's mission has changed. He's still making movies, however, now he has teamed with a non-profit company and together they have created a film company that doubles as a film school for Los Angeles youths.

During his first few years in the movie industry, Zeile found that he gravitated toward "the human spirit story." As he was researched a movie a friend pitched about a police sheriff's relationship with inner-city gangs, Zeile came in contact with the non-profit Institute for Maximum Human Potential (IMHP).

It wasn't long after that before Zeile and the company joined together to form Los Angeles Institute for Film Education, which he calls LIFE. "The principle behind it is that whether it be film, television or music, a lot of kids gravitate toward the arts and don't really have a way to find job paths," he said.

Zeile said the city of Los Angeles has been a big supporter of his endeavor, even designating property for him in an area of downtown that Zeile said the city is trying to revitalize. "In that space we're going to incorporate the studio facilities, production facilities, office space, sound stages and the educational component, with fully functioning classroom with resident housing for at-risk kids," he said.

Zeile still is very much into making movies. "We have three films sitting on the table ready to begin pre-production on," he said. But his interests in the industry have shifted beyond his own work; he's more than intrigued by the idea of helping youngsters who otherwise might not have a chance enter this business.

"The ultimate goal is that the Life Institute will be a fully functioning, self-sustaining production entity in five to 10 years," he said. "In the meantime we're getting financing assistance from a number of major institutions as well as some private equity funds that want to be involved in the film production side."

Of course, with Zeile this is not the only venture he's involved in. "I've always been the type of guy that has to have something to do," he said. His wife is opening a children's clothing store. The family is remodeling their house. And for the past five years Zeile has been on the board of Los Angeles chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to help find a cure for what ails his 10-year-old daughter, Hannah.

A part of him misses baseball, though only a small part, he said. For the most part he gets his baseball fill by attending games here and there -- he was at Shea last week -- and watching his three sons play. As for his career, he spent three full years with the Mets (2000, 2001 and 2004), and those will always stand out.

"I'm commonly asked which of the 11 teams did I enjoy the most, and it's a pretty easy answer," he said. "It's the years in New York with the Mets, those teams I played on. I made a lot acquaintances over the years but very few real friendships. Most of those friendships stem from my time with the Mets."

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