I remember a few years back, sitting on the Malibu pier having a couple of brewskies with actor James Van Der Beek, when ‘The Dawson’ mentioned out-of-the-blue that he was shopping around a baseball script (baseball is one of his great loves). He was really passionate about this script, stressing how special a flick it could be, but seemed deflated by the lack of enthusiasm Hollywood had shown in it. Not that it wasn’t a great story, it was, it’s just that Hollywood wasn’t chasing baseball flicks at the time – it’s a genre they’d seemingly grown tired of. And it’s a pity, because the field makes for a great movie setting.
Alas, with Van Der Beek’s star rising again as a result of his plum gig on the very funny “Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23″ series, he might get that baseball flick of his up now… heck, maybe even a flick about talking mosquitoes that live in trash cans.
Maybe all Van Der Beek’s baseball flick needed was a bigger drawcard involved… and he is that now. At the time he was between gigs, if you will, finished with “Dawson’s Creek” and waiting for that next big thing to come along. It took a few years before that next thing would arrive (but I tell ya, it should’ve come a lot earlier – did you Hollywood types not to see the guy’s amazing turn as Sean Bateman in “Rules of Attraction”!?).
I mention the Beek’s flick because I’m reading over at Deadline that Casey Affleck, someone who came up the ranks around the same time as Van Der Beek, has managed to get a baseball flick of his own up. He’s going to write and direct a film based on reformed drug addict and player Josh Hamilton (not to be confused with the actor from “Alive” and “With Honors”). No word on whether Affleck’s going to play the guy, but I reckon there’s a fair chance of it. And I also reckon there’s a fair chance it didn’t take much effort to get Thunder Road to sign up for the movie.
That fake documentary Affleck did with Joaquin Phoenix wouldn’t have won the DGA over, but the fact is… he’s an Oscar nominee, and appears in hordes of big-time movies these days, why wouldn’t someone open their wallet to a big-timer!? Furthermore, his brother Ben is now one of the hottest directors in town. There’s a fair chance that the reason this baseball flick got up, while Van Der Beek’s didn’t, isn’t so much to do with the subject of either film but the Affleck name right now.
Having said that, Hamilton’s story is tailor-made for the big screen. So lets put it down to a combination of both.
But I know it does help having someone like an Affleck… or a Costner… or a Sheen… or a Redford… attached to a sports project, let alone project, when enticing money-men.
If Affleck’s Hamilton flick works, maybe it’ll show those that passed on Van Der Beek’s pic that there is potential still out there for good ball dramas? Because that – I won’t tell you the story, theme or guts of it – is a goodie too.