I’ve never forgotten a quote that Moneyball star Brad Pitt gave to the L.A. Times last May (and which reporter Steven Zeitchik referenced in a 9.9.11 article), to wit: “I think the making of [Moneyball] is just as interesting as the movie itself.”
He was referring to the project’s prolonged and at times traumatic development, beginning with the purchasing of the rights to Michael Lewis’s book in 2003 by producer Rachael Horovitz to the shooting that finally happened seven years later under director Bennett Miller. But Pitt was mainly alluding, surely, to Sony’s June 2009 decision to abruptly pull the plug on a somewhat different version of Moneyball that Steven Soderbergh was about to direct, and how the project had to assemble all over again with Scott Rudin producing and Aaron Sorkin rewriting versions by the previously hired Steve Zallian (and then vice versa), and then Miller pulling it all together.
It’s always been a complex and challenging task to assemble a first-rate film, and some productions are more arduous or volatile than others but that’s what make a good “making of” story, right? Moneyball wasn’t easy and at times the creative principals didn’t know if it would come together or fall apart, but the various components finally kicked in and now everyone’s really proud of how it turned out, etc.
But you’d never know this angle from watching the “making of” documentary on the Moneyball Bluray, which I finally took a look at a couple of days ago. There’s no mention of Soderbergh’s name or input whatsoever — he’s the Man Who Never Was. And on some level I’m scratching my head about that.
I totally understood why no one wanted to talk about the Soderbergh chapter when Moneyball opened last fall. They wanted to sell the film they’d made and not get into the film that might have been but never was…fine. But “making of” docs on a Bluray/DVD are for posterity and history to a certain extent, and it seems strange that the Bluray Moneyball doc doesn’t just ease up and relax and just say “okay, this is how it happened…Soderbergh was on this project for a while and it didn’t pan out but he’s okay and we’re okay and everything probably turned out for the best. But it’s an interesting story.”
For all I know Soderbergh’s attorney might have told Sony that he doesn’t want his client’s involvement in Moneyball to be mentioned in the doc because it might make him look bad on some level…who knows? I just know it feels weird and incomplete to try and tell the story of the film’s production and not even mention the Soderbergh chapter.
I’ve heard that if the real story of how Moneyball came together was to be told in a documentary (or in an Indecent Exposure or Final Cut-type book) that it would be a good deal more than something “just as interesting as the movie,” as Pitt says. It would be, one insider says, “something you could go to school on…a case study in the Bonfire of the Vanities…something that only Eugene Ionesco or Paddy Chayefsky could do justice to.”