Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The MONEYBALL movie is not going forward – at least for now. Columbia Pictures President Amy Pascal didn’t like the last draft (that's what happens when you bring in someone else to rewrite a decent writer) and pulled the plug. The filmmakers are scrambling to set it up somehow and somewhere.
What puzzles me is how this project got on the fast track in the first place. First off, it’s a baseball movie. They usually tank overseas (as my international readers who are probably thinking of bailing just reading the word baseball can attest). And it’s from a non-fiction book. Here’s what I imagine was the pitch. You tell me if you’d buy this.
Okay, there’s this General Manager of a major league baseball team. And here’s the great thing – it’s not the Cubs or Yankees or Dodgers or any of those other over-used teams. It’s the Oakland A’s! No, that’s a real team. They play in Oakland. Anyway, this general manager has a great plan for turning them into a winner. STATISTICS!! He’s a number cruncher on the computer. Isn’t that COOL? Can’t you just picture the scene – he’s on his laptop and realizes that on base percentage is an important stat. I get chills just thinking about it.
So he institutes these really INSANE new methods based on research. When his players come up to the plate they’re not looking to hit home runs or triples or even singles. They’re looking to – hold onto your hats – they’re looking to DRAW WALKS! “Ball four! Take your base!” I mean, that just SCREAMS “trailer moment”, doesn’t it? They also never steal bases. It’s revolutionary!!
And for the third act, how’s this for a novel ending? They get to the playoffs and ... always LOSE. The strategy DOESN'T WORK! Tell me you didn’t see that one coming.
I picture someone like Brad Pitt playing the GM. Maybe we can get Steven Soderbergh to direct. Steven Zallian would be perfect to write it. He wrote SCHINDLER’S and the tone is very similar. So whattaya think? Christmas 2010? Summer 2011? “
Well, Columbia did buy it. Brad Pitt did agree to star. Steven Soderbergh is attached to direct. Steve Zallian did write the original screenplay. The only thing more baffling would be if Angelina Jolie had signed on to play first baseman, Scott Hatteberg.
But now it sits in limited turnaround – Hollywood-speak for “dead”.
Amy, if you have your heart set on doing a baseball movie, can I make a suggestion?
A TV comedy writer goes off and becomes a minor league baseball announcer. In the course of the film he finds love, discovers who he really is, rejuvenates an entire town, touching and improving thousands of lives. You could get Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Seth Rogin, Steve Carrell – any hot comedy leading man. It’s BULL DURHAM meets GOOD MORNING VIET NAM. Sound good? Here’s the best part, Amy: you already own it.
You have for years. It’s called PLAY-BY-PLAY, written by Ken Levine & David Isaacs. Go back through the files. There’s no sabermetrics but you might find there's something there.