Wednesday
Nov222006

Three Nights in August

For quite awhile now, I’ve been involved as a producer on a film project of a great book called “3 Nights in August,” which was written by Pulitzer Prize winner, Buzz Bissinger, who wrote the critically acclaimed and hugely successful book, “Friday Night Lights”.

Buzz wrote 3 Nights with, and about, Tony LaRussa, the manager of this year’s World Series champs, the St. Louis Cardinals. If you’re a baseball fan at all, I could not recommend this book more. Riveting, insightful, serious page-turner and a behind-the-scenes view, never before revealed.

As I said, I’ve been working on this project for a while. You would not believe how long it took the lawyers to draft a document that simply stated what all the parties had agreed to. Oh, no, trust me. It’s much longer than ANY type of logic or reality could possibly explain. Are ya sensing the lingering feelings of frustration and utter disbelief? And that’s coming from a guy who’s been to the dance a time, or seventy-eight.

OK, so, I’m finally at the stage of adapting the book into a screenplay, and that’s the exciting part that made the waiting game so very painful to live through. See, it was agreed to from the start (a year and a half ago), that along with my producing duties, I would be the one to write the screenplay of “3 Nights in August”. The book is so brilliant that my job, really, is to not screw it up. Sure, I have to basically edit a 268 page book into a 110 page screenplay, and create a visual depiction, filled with as many insightful, gut-wrenching, revealing, uplifting, humorous, shocking, heart-warming, tortuous, illuminating, satisfying, excruciating and inspirational moments as the book had, but hey, how hard could that possibly be?

Meeting a baseball legend like Tony LaRussa was incredible enough, even for a casual baseball fan, which I am. Which, by the way, is what made the book-into-movie such an instant goal for me. I felt, if someone like me, who can’t name the starting line-up of his favorite (hometown) team, the San Francisco Giants, found this insiders view of the game one of the single most spellbinding books he’s ever read, then not only was it a slam-dunk for true fans of the sport, but that there was a genuine universal appeal in its story.

As one could imagine, aside from getting a stubbornly reluctant LaRussa to agree to a film version of the book, one of the wildly, if not personally historical, moments for me was attending games 3, 4, and 5 of this years World Series. Now, remember, NO ONE, other than the fans and everyone professionally associated with the St. Louis Cardinals, thought they would get past the New York Mets, in order to get into the World Series. Hell, after the near-historical collapse of the Cards at the end of the regular season, everyone outside of St. Louis agreed that it was pretty much over for the Cards before the playoffs began.

I’ve always been a team player. I learned the love and true inspiration of playing for a team in high school, and became a crazed fan of the San Francisco 49ers during the hey-days of Joe Montana and then Steve Young. I’d been a fan of the team since the age of 6 or 7, when my dad would take my brother and I to the games. I also went to Giants games as a youngster, and got to see the great Willy Mays play, but the subtleties and strategic nuances of the game were lost on me, at the time, and I had no one in my life that loved the game enough to point them out. Hence, my love of the Niners took over at a tender age, and lasts to this day. As painful to watch as these days are.

I think my real, if not adult, appreciation for being a team player came from becoming an actor. Working on a movie with hundreds of cast, crew and the like, taught me to care about the greatness in others, who’s efforts, like mine, were put forth, at the top of their capability, for the nothing else but the fruit of their labor. To this day, whenever I see anyone I’ve worked with, be they an actor, actress, director, producer, or crew member, it’s as if we shared a foxhole in “the war,” and we are connected for life because of it.

Well, nothing prepared me for the love of one’s team like that which exists at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. From the first game there that I attended over a year ago, the “ocean of red” in the stands was something I’d never seen in any spectators sport. The St. Louis fans live for their Cards and very little else, with the possible exception of the only other game in town, Budweiser. Having said that, attending games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series in St. Louis, as a new fan, who had a TREMENDOUS personal, if not selfish, interest in the Cards somehow pulling off a miracle by winning, was simply not an experience anyone could have been prepared for.

I will go into greater detail soon, regarding the blow-by-blow events that I was truly fortunate enough to witness, as well as share some photos that speak volumes. The main purpose for this particular entry was to share my latest project with you, and the excitement I deeply feel for it. Thanks for indulging me, as I digressed, and I will certainly share all that I can about this new project as it unfolds.

In the meantime, please do yourself a favor and read Buzz’s wildly entertaining and insightful book, "3 Nights in August", whether you’re a fan of baseball or not, and let me know what you think of it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and oh, sorry it wasn’t funny in any way shape or form. I’m afraid this was the first entry for me in a RIDICULOUSLY long while, and my desire to share was COMPLETELY dominated by sincerity, and there’s no excuse for that, especially from such a mostly cynically funny bastard such as me.

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