Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Movie Idea: The Price of Sports

Sports movies are a bit played out. Hollywood has done every version of the underdog story to the point where they filmed Marky Mark Wahlberg playing the scrub who walked on and scored for the Eagles and Terence Howard in an inspirational movie about a black swimming team that beat a whites swimming team. They even remade The Longest Yard in a half thought out quest to make a cool $200 million. Hollywood doesn't like to do movies about a dominant teams kicking butt. Tracking a winning team isn't up to snuff despite the conflict and drama that happens over the course of a season. Society and culture have decayed to the point where we like the anti-hero or the deeply flawed, murky protagonist. One sports movie that can still get made is the character study that involves sports. The conflict and theater is in the heart and soul of the lead, and the sport or game is a backdrop. Let me try to sketch one.

Lead: Long time sportscaster. Made big name in '80s with iconic format for pre-game show, and has been voice of college sports for decades. Well respected by peers and loved by fans who watch at home. Dysfunctional family life due to travel for basketball and football seasons. Divorced, one son dead, another son a junkie in jail, and his daughter speaks to him randomly but better than boys do. Coworkers don't know why he's still working, as he harbors secret that he has been losing thousands, millions, gambling on games for years.

Setting: The month long build up during the holidays towards the national title college football game with flashbacks through the last 30 years (since early 80s).

Opening: Movie opens with voiceover play by play from our lead over whatever football video can be bought (prob USFL). It's a Thanksgiving weekend game. Some folksy sayings, camera pans up to show lead w/partner calling game as they kill time discussing what they did for Thanksgiving. Lead talks up a beautiful setting as we get visual of what really happened: he spent it alone. Voice trails off as he tries to phone his daughter on Thanksgiving. Minimal talking with grandkids, soft love yous. After the call, he then dials another number: his bookie. He mentions the games he wants to lay money on and sits back to watch the NFL games.

Different scenes will have the lead with people who bring up sports and how the lead is either an information maven or was associated strongly with that moment. These moments become flashback sequences where the lead's life will be told. The memorable moments are double edged swords for the lead as each success in the realm of sports will be funhouse mirrored by something horrible in his life.

1. A scene with his booth partner and information squad guys in a conference room will touch on the upcoming match up for the title. Someone will mention the pre-game show, and they crew will bring up how the lead doesn't do pre-game anymore but they're all just copying his format from the '80s. This leads to our lead flashing back to an '80s set fresh with new ideas and gimmicks. Maybe have a montage with him announcing and '80s clips. Some funny catch phrases. The key set up is a segment on who the gambling expert "Danny the Mick" likes in games. They film a cheeky scene with the guys showing great rapport. After the cut, the lead asks the Mick if he's serious or just playing the audience. The gambling expert says he's serious, and our lead places some bets with him. Flashback comes back with our lead explaining that the best broadcasting teams never last and that he was distraught when his friend, the Mick, died right before the 'how bout them cowboys dallas teams' say the Mick hated them winning and hated Jones.

2. Lead and partner grab a beer at a sports bar. Lead reacts a bit strongly to ups and downs of college b-ball game. The two talk about importance of family. Partner discusses birth of new son. Lead gives him fatherly advice on how to treat two boys, as he knows, he had two sons himself. His cell phone is buzzing at the end of the game and scene. This leads into the lead sitting on the side of a glass window. Buzzing sound announces call for phone next to him to pick up. His son picks up the phone. They hash out family drama shit, and we learn the son is in prison for drug charges but rejected the offer for rehab. Son throws it in lead's face about gambling addiction. Maybe a funny 'learned it from watching you, dad' reference. Lead explains he has a little money to help son when he gets out if he agrees to go to treatment. Son hangs up.

3. Another scene with lead in his apartment or condo on the phone rambling and angry. We can see basketball on a big screen TV. He's done with call, says something as he looks up like "Mick I need you boy", but then another call comes in and he gets pissed but his face changes when he sees the number.  It's his ex-wife. She's calling for a little remember when about the son that died years earlier. Lead tries playing cool about upcoming slate of bowl games he is working. Asking her about her life. Has that hopeful, looking for nookie, sound to his voice. She knows, shuts him down, hangs up.

4. Lead goes out on a date with a woman after Christmas. Younger, hot looking thing who may or may not be a well paid professional. At dinner, fan recognizes them and cautiously approaches. Asks for quick cell phone photo. After photo, fan says how he'll never forget the announcing the lead did during the  NBA Finals game between the Knicks-Rockets and the OJ Simpson Bronco chase. Fan explains how lead made it feel like scripted theater. We flashback with fade in to lead's announcing of that weird moment. Lead ends broadcast and goes home pumped up from the moment. Comes home and finds note from wife that she's taking the kids and leaving him. She calls him this time while he's in their home and chews him out while crying. He only hangs up on her as she is bawling and mumbling.

5. Does bowl game on new years day. During telecast, the partner has a semi-scripted for the network moment where they remember the lead's son who died on new years morning 10 years ago. he was on a new crew and died in a car accident just after midnight. We'd see the lead hold his head down for the cameras, but it segways to him with his head down trying to talk a bookie into taking his bets. He's been on such a losing streak, reference how he never was the same after the Mick died. Is he good for money? Lead gets indignant, says even if he loses he has always been good for the money. He manages to place bets. Right after hanging up, he's feeling triumphant about his name and money still getting him access. Gets call that son died. they'd be trying to reach him for an hour and thought he had held all calls. Lead breaks down. buries son with odd friendly mood with ex-wife, 2nd son already showing his rebel fututre junkie attitude, and daughter hugs dad, seeding ground for the ending.

6. Partner wraps up some prep work with the lead, and he joshes him for not retiring. Lead says he works to set his grandkids up. Lead gets going. The partner talks with the producer a bit and gets serious about the need to set up a future succession for when the lead does retire. He's all business talk and has that edge to finding a play by play guy who 'works positively for me'. The producer stops him and explains that the lead is never retiring. He's long known about the lead's gambling. A few suspected drinking ended the marriage, but the producer figured it out lining up phone calls with certain overexcited announcing routines at games. Lead may work 30 years but always insists on short term contracts. The scene ends with the producer explaining how they'll loan partner out for random combos on thursday night football games to see who meshes with him best from the network talent pool.

7. After they get a nice meal, nice drinks, and a nice toast to the lead before the title game, the game day crew breaks up for their hotel rooms. The lead makes a phone call. Tries to get his daughter. She hangs up pretty for domestic reason. Lead hangs up and then dials up bookie. Asks what he needs to clear debt. Just wants one more night, and then he's walking away. Bookie gives him shit. Asks for run down of long shot prop bets besides his normal wagering. He takes over, TD scored by a TE, West Oregon RB over 200 yards, fumble recovery in the first half and 3 INTs total. Makes final wager of West Oregon over Georgia State Tech University with the points. He places a $5000 bet on an all way parlay for those items. Bookie tries to stop him due to odd addition of game bet with his prop parlay. He loses all way parlay he's down $25000 (carving it out from game saves him $5K), but if it hits, he ends up ahead. Completely unnecessary, he can't quit.

Final Act: Announcer calling a barn-burner of a game at the big Taco for the Championship. He's completely amped up because he's announcing a game he has big money on. He gets text from daughter of pic of her family in it. A 2nd text says "hope you didnt bet on game". He responds with "can't lie, I did". The scenes show the good rapport he has with partner with some jokes here and there to show off his charm. We'd get big emotion from him, and the crowd, when a game event happens that is one of his prop bets. Even get a comical line of "And who would have thought we'd see 3 picks tonight?" Maybe a register cha-ching when a bet hits.  Big game for RB that lead bet on and has a nickname for that's catchy. There's got to be a booth review of a TD for the TE the lead bet on. It gets reversed in his favor. His phone is buzzing. What bad news is awaiting him this time? Weird play has to tie it so the game goes to OT. Lead plays up intense drama, as he and partner go over rules. During commercial break. Lead sees he has messages waiting. Reads them, nice small messages from daughter about honesty, admitting problem, and it is a step she wnts him to take since she loves him. He starts texting about GA meetings if she'll come with him, then deletes last bit, and says going since she loves him. (Pixar type tear moment). Cool OT possessions that lead to the upset victory by West Oregon with a swinging movie closer that captures the moment like "do you believe in miracles?' did.


What I just described is Brent Musburger meets Andy Reid. I'd have to weave the filler bits of the lead trying to connect better with his daughter, and how she always believed in him. He was obsessed and self destructive, not a hateful man. She sees good in him. There is a part of me that wishes this was true. I can just see Jimmy the Greek on CBS in the '80s roping Musburger into gambling because the Greek had his sources.

1 comment:

asdf said...

If you want a sports doc that explores excellence I recommend the America's Game series. They do a one hour doc on each super bowl winner. There are many years where that is the dominant team.

Actually almost everything put out by NFL films is very high quality.