People who grew up watching baseball will inevitably decide on who their favorite announcer is. For many, the announcer was like a family member who taught you the game from a distance and you didn't have to clean up after. The greats are easy to recall; Vin Scully, Harry Caray, Bob Uecker, Ernie Harwell, Bob Murphy and Phil Rizzuto immediately come to mind.
They were quirky, funny and at times didn't seem to give a damn about what they said on national television during the dog days of summer. As an individual who has been working as a journalist for most of my adult life, I have always had a bit of an affinity for television shows that gave a comedic look into the world of working media mavens. WKRP in Cincinnati, News Radio, Living Single and Martin were some of my favorites.
But what happens when you add the unintentional comedic timing of Harry Caray (R.I.P.) with the ridiculousness of WKRP in Cincinnati?
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I'm pretty sure it would look something like IFC's new baseball comedy Brockmire starring Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet. The concept for the show is actually almost ten years old and was formulated by some really funny people over at Will Ferrell's Funny or Die production company and written by Joel Church-Cooper. Hank Azaria's comic genius has been the catalyst behind multiple characters on The Simpsons, Family Guy as well as dramatic roles. He's currently thriving in his role as former FBI director Ed Cochran on Showtime's hit series Ray Donovan.
Amanda Peet's comparable accomplishments include long stints on The Good Wife, Bent and Togetherness.
Recently, The Shadow League was invited onset in Atlanta for the run down on the Independent Film Channel's next big comedy.
The Shadow League: This comedy has been more than five years in the making. What did you think when it finally got the green light?
Hank Azaria: "I didn't believe it until I saw it, and I still didn't believe it. It took me about a week. It's been amazing. I'm literally having more fun than I've ever had in my life."
TSL: You had some of the top sports announcers on set and in this series. What was the experience like?
Hank Azaria: "I'm so happy with those guys. I told them I'd be happy seeing them anywhere let alone actually having them here. We were all ready to cut their stuff in case they sucked as actors. But they were amazing."
Actress Amanda Peet will be featured prominently in the series as well. Never one to mince words, the actress went in on why this damaged character appealed to her.
Amanda Peet: "The moment I realized she was a middle aged woman owner of a minor league team in the middle of nowhere I was like 'sign me up'. Most of the roles I get are to be someone's wife or to be someone's girlfriend. Or the girl who's just a plot device but she doesn't have any substance. She certainly isn't funny. So, when I started reading I started getting excited when I realized she was a potty mouth who liked to drink who has no children. Not ruthless, just a potty mouth who drinks a lot."
Reporter: Are you a baseball fan?
Amanda Peet: "I'm not a huge baseball person, to be honest. I was watching Ken Burn's documentary but I still don't understand how anyone makes it to first base or pretty much anything."
Reporter: Do you know who Marge Schott is?
Amanda Peet: "Marge Schott? Oh yeah, she was a big racist. The only reason I knew who she was is because I looked her up to see what she wore. I tried to look for pictures of her out and about but then I found out she was a huge racist and anti-Semite."
TSL: Can you put the relationship between Jim Brockmire and Amanda's character into words?
Hank Azaria: "The way Jim describes it in the story is we both have the same level of functional alcoholism. This is a guy who has been through a hard time in his life. A genuinely hard time, not that it's not funny, but it's really painful. He meets this woman who is the only thing for him, really. A woman who owns a baseball team, a woman who appreciates him for who he was before he broke down, and who can see past all his horrible debauchery, and they're funny together. They just enjoy each other on a lot of different levels. What's that line? 'We're both sprinting from the center of God's sniper rifle.' She helps revitalize his career, but there's nothing romantic about this story, really."
Amanda Peet: "What?"
Hank Azaria: "I mean, there's nothing story book about it. They don't ride off into the sunset, they don't live happily ever after. It's very anti all of that."
Amanda had proven to be something of a playful tiger during the press conference in that she laughed and joked, but her words had a subtle edge to them. So much so that even Azaria had to choke back a few words here and there.
Here she gives her take on why she feels her character's relationship with Jim Brockmire is romantic, despite her co-star's belief to the contrary.
Amanda Peet: "I think it's very romantic, by the way. For all the stuff he just said. It's not predictable and sentimental and sugar-coated, and life isn't like that. Even though this is a comedy I think it's fun to have two people who are so (expletive) up and attracted to each other immediately, and share this incredible passion for the institution of baseball. I've done a lot of shows, and there are a lot of shows, about rich white people getting married and living in very rich enclaves and what their problems are. I was very excited about that this was just about baseball."
Brockmire is slated to debut on IFC in 2017 and is certainly plowing a fertile field with a character who was once a world famous sports announcer attempting to claw himself back to the top of the game and out of a liquor bottle. Keep an eye out for candid comments from current broadcast and announcing legends Joe Buck, Tim Kurkjian and Brian Kenny about their experiences on the set of Brockmire.