Last Monday night I saw Chapman and MacLain Way‘s The Battered Bastards of Baseball, and soon after wrote that it could and should be adapted as a feature film. The doc is about a scrappy-ass minor-league Portland baseball team called the Mavericks, which was owned and managed by the late character actor Bing Russell from ’73 to ’77. Actor Kurt Russell, Bing’s son and in his early 20s at the time, served as co-manager and an occasional designated hitter. Russell is an impassioned and entertaining talking head in the doc.
Headline for Kevin Jagernauth’s incorrectly reported story that was posted earlier today.
During the post-screening dinner party I mentioned to Russell that BBoB is obviously excellent material for a feature, and his response was “hmm, yeah, maybe…who knows?” I couldn’t believe Russell hadn’t at least thought about it, this being not just his dad’s story but his own. (Maybe he was pretending to be reluctant or noncommittal — maybe he just didn’t want to be candid with a journalist.) Somebody said at the party that if a movie version comes together an ideal director would be Todd Field (In The Bedroom), who was a bat boy for the Mavericks when he was 10 or 11 (and is also a talking head in the doc).
That was four nights ago. Today it was reported that a film version might indeed happen, but that the remake rights had been purchased by Fast and the Furious franchise helmer Justin Lin, who has always impressed me as one of the most brazenly shallow, corporate-kowtowing filmmakers working today. (Lin’s production company, Perfect Storm Entertainment, is the rights holder.) Lin will presumably produce in some sort of hands-on fashion…or maybe he’ll just be the money man. Let’s hope it’s the latter. A movie about the Mavericks needs a producer with modest integrity, a guy who believes in the spirit of baseball and underdogs — somebody like Moneyball director Bennett Miller, say — and not some reality-manipulating jizz-head like Lin.
To make a movie about the Mavericks you have to be in love with the smell of damp dirt and grass on a baseball diamond. Lin might be a baseball fan, but he seems like the kind of guy who’s more in love with the taste of Cristal champagne and expensive pussy.
But all is not lost. It was also reported that Field is “in negotiations to write and direct” the film, and that Russell is “also is in talks to participate creatively” — probably as a producer, perhaps as a cowriter or a costar…who knows? I’m presuming that these two won’t let Lin fuck things up. Perhaps Lin is trying to gain credibility as a serious filmmaker by producing this thing. Lord knows he’s not respected as a serious guy now.
The Battered Bastards of Baseball co-directors Chapman and Maclain Way on either side of Kurt Russell during last Monday night’s after-party at 501 Main Street in Park City.
I initially read about Lin’s involvement around 2 pm via an Indiewire story by Kevin Jagernauth. It initially stated that Lin would direct the Battered Bastards adaptation. This information apparently came from Tatiana Siegel’s Hollywood Reporter story which was posted a bit earlier. Both stories were later corrected.
When I first read about Lin directing I lost it. I was in the back seat of a cab on my way up from LAX, and I quickly posted some thoughts on Twitter. Tweet #1: “Justin Lin to direct narrative feature version of Battered Bastards of Baseball? BBoB is classic ’70s Americana and Lin…is the devil.” Tweet #2: “Lin is a sworn enemy of classic realism. He is a soul-less, amoral 21st Century robot director. He will murder BBoB in the crib.” Tweet #3: “Lin is a corporate-kowtowing, videogame-minded fiend who is incapable of getting BBoB “