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September 17, 1999 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-17

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 17,1999 - 11

tostner's 'Love' shares romance and baseball

The Hartford Courant
. In his upcoming baseball flick,
'For Love of the Game," Kevin
iostner gives new meaning to the
erm pitcher's mound.
Playing an aging Detroit Tigers
her, Costner's uniform is so tight
hat his sizzling fastballs seem to
:ome from a painful need to be
cleased from his his stingy jock-
strap.
At least that one aspect of the film
should ensure a healthy female audi-
,nce for the typically guy-heavy ter-
rain of typical baseball movies. But
Costner has proved with his two
atypical paeans to America's favorite
l time - "Bull Durham" and
. d of Dreams" - that he can
rake both sexes sit up and beg for
he human drama centering on the
aseball diamond.
"For Love of the Game," opening
riday, finds Costner on familiar
round, reveling in, as W.P. Kinsella
Nould put it, the thrill of the grass.
'ostner plays Billy Chapel, a former

All-Star at the peak of his career,
who reflects on his sport and his
apparently failed relationship with
the love of his life. All the while he is
concentrating on pitching a perfect
game against the Yankees. It's an
opportunity for the athletic actor to
get into Gary Cooper mode on the
mound: digging his cleats in the dirt,
fixing a hawk-eyed stare on the bat-
ter and winding up for a merciless
throw. Costner's best moments are
wordless scenes in which he locks
out all the sound and color of the sta-
dium to zero in on home plate, a
silent vacuum of pure mental and
physical concentration.
"My love of the game is playing
it," Costner said during a recent
interview in New York. "I was never
really a big fan, but playing the game
is different."
And he wears it well. Costner
looks so at home on the field, he
seems to have been destined to make
"Bull Durham" and "Field of
Dreams," two baseball movies whose

fans are legion. Adding " F o r
Love of the Game," in which Kelly
Preston co-stars, creates a tidy base-
ball trilogy for Costner fans.
- 'For Love of the Game' had that
same kind of gold dust on it when I
read it," he says, explaining his deci-
sion 'to make a third go at the dia-
mond. "I didn't think of it as a third
installment, but more of a good fit."
Certainly a better fit for Costner
than sporting gills in a world
engulfed in water in 1995's
"Waterworld" or the post-apocalyp-
tic messenger duds of 1997's "The
Postman." Costner is unapologetic
about those idiosyncratic films,
maybe even defensive.
"I really like 'The Postman.' I can-
not not like it," he says. "I think it's a
really good movie."
He worked so hard on "Love of the
Game" that his pitching arm has only
recently stopped hurting. To play the
major leaguer Chapel, Costner had to
throw hundreds of pitches at 80 mph
for 20 consecutive days. His pitches

aren't just fast, they're convincing.
The film's soundtrack amplifies the
sound of the pitch so dramatically,
you can practically feel the ball
whizzing by.
"My arm was traumatized the first
day," he says. "It hurt for about two
months after (the movie was finished)."
Where "Bull Durham" capitalized
on the loopy chemistry of its stars
and "Field of Dreams" mined the
mystical spirituality of the game,
Costner's new baseball film is very
much one man's personal journey
into his own heart. Spanning the
length of a single game (filmed at
Yankee Stadium), "For Love of the
Game" is as much a love story as it is
an examination of the game.
Having had such a winning streak
with baseball, would Costner consider
donning the uniform on screen again?
He gives that championship smile and
you know his answer immediately.
"Yeah," he says. "You only have to,
look at my career and know that I
would."

Kevin "I really like 'The Postman"' Costner drinks coffee in "For Love of the Game."

Networks haggle over new shows

aos Angeles Times
In Hollywood, it's often not
Dough for you to succeed.
requently, television executives
;ind themselves rooting for someone
lse to fail - especially if that some-
. is airing a show they helped
>riginate.
Two of this fall's most-ballyhooed
;ew prime-time series ---- "Roswell,"
i sci-fi drama that lands on the WB
ext month, and "Action," a profani-
y-laced Fox comedy premiering
hursday- both started life at other
ietworks. Developed for Fox,
'Roswell" changed venues when the
&vork balked at putting the pro-
V , on its fall schedule. "Action,"
meanwhile, was written for Home
x Office and snatched up by Fox
while the pay channel and production
)ompany, Columbia TriStar
elevision. haggled over financial
erms.
Such network-hopping has become
ncreasingly common. Other series
urrently shown on.a network differ-
,nt from where the seed was first
0ted include ABC's sitcom "Two
iuys and a Girl," which Fox let go
vhen officials decided they didn't
Save a proper home for it; "The
opranos," revived at HBO after Fox
oyed with a prototype starring
nthony LaPaglia in the central role;
nd "JAG," which has blossomed
To a successful CBS drama follow-
g a year airing on NBC.
e best example, however, may.
'3rd Rock From the Sun," for
*0h John Lithgow just picked up
i: third Emmy. NBC leaped at the
-'ince to acquire the show after
'1C - which first ordered it-- was
'iderwhelmed by the finished prod-
cL . Though "3rd Rock" hasn't
4ierged as the breakout smash it ini-
mfly looked destined to become, the
cision nevertheless proved an
mbarrassment at the time to ABC,
h was desperately in need of a
'ome dy.
::Television insiders say network
hechos - given the tenuous nature
ftheir jobs --can ill afford to turn
Dp their noses at a potential winner,
'en if that means they can't claim
'il credit for shepherding the idea
tong.
Timing is so important," noted
tn .Werner, a principal in the
*ey-Werner Co., which produces
" rd Rock." "Often, a good idea
doesn't get to the public because it
desn't fit the network's needs.... In
spmne ways, you have to get beyond
the impression of it being tarnished
by (starting out elsewhere)."
.';Execuves cite variousffactors
behind the flow of concepts from one

network to another, including the
mandate to cut costs and a general
sense of fear pervading the industry.
Frazzled studio executives who have
sunk money into series feel pressure
to get them on somewhere, continu-
ing to champion projects they once
might have let die.
"As things get more competitive,
the pressure makes people act in
ways they might not have acted
before," said Chris Albrecht, HBO's
president of original programming.
"There's such a frenzy (to sell
shows) that people are sending stuff
around before they finish business in
one place. I saw pilots this year that
were still being considered by anoth-
er network."
A subtler influence involves "ver-
tical integration" of the entertain-
ment industry, with networks and
studios aligned under the same cor-
porate umbrella. A case in point is
20th Century Fox Television, which
produces such programs as "The
Simpsons" and "Ally McBeal" for its
sister Fox network.
The studio's marching orders
include providing series to Fox, just
as Disney intends to supply its net-
work, ABC, and Warner Bros. serves
the WB.
Even so, 20th Century Fox TV
President Sandy Grushow suggested
companies also have to recognize
when tangled corporate relationships
result in a project being put in devel-
opment at the wrong place. "Shotgun
weddings between producers and
networks are replacing traditional
courtships," he said. "Every now and
then, you're going to wake up the

next morning and realize you're not
made for each other."
Grushow's unit has clearly been
aggressive in shopping fare to other
networks, including both "Roswell"
and "Two Guys," which were initiat-
ed at Fox. In the latter case, officials
felt the series didn't fit the Fox mold
and allowed the producers to take the
project to ABC.
Though broadcasters are ostensi-
bly pursuing the same audience -
adults 18 to 49, the key age bracket
sought by advertisers - program-
mers also appear to harbor narrower
views of what will succeed on their
channels.
"What you're seeing is specific,
clearer branding: a more defined
vision of what might work on a net-
work best. And from a studio point of
view, you always want an opportuni-
ty to see your producers' vision real-
ized, no matter where it is," said
Warner Bros. Television President
Peter Roth, who - while overseeing
the Fox network - cut "Two Guys"
loose and gave the go-ahead to
"Roswell." ,
Underscoring another factor that
causes shows to move around, Fox
fired Roth before he could order the
program, leaving that decision to his
successor.
There can be advantages to having
a network need to demonstrate just
how badly it wants a series. With Fox
hesitating about "Roswell's" future,
the WB ordered a full season's worth
of 22 episodes in advance - com-
pared to the usual 13-installment
commitment - and gave the series
an attractive time slot.

Jason Katims, the creator
"Roswell," was on vacation when
heard the news.

of
he

"I went to sleep Thursday night
thinking the show was going to be a
midseason replacement or dead (at
Fox)," he said. "By midnight Friday,
it was on the WB in the fall, after
'Dawson's Creek.'"
David Nutter, one of the executive
producers of "Roswell," added that
he prefers dealing with a network
that "got" what the program was
about. "A lot of times you sell the
show and they say, 'OK, you've got
to change this, and get rid of this
actor.' (The WB) didn't do that at
all," he said.
Having once run the Fox network
himself, Grushow conceded that pro-
grammers face a risk when they let a
property go to a rival. Indeed,
"Roswell" figures to compete direct-
ly with the new Fox drama "Get
Real" for teen and young adult view-
ers on Wednesday nights, which
should provide a little extra rooting
interest in that matchup.
"That's why the decision has to be
made at the highest levels of the
company," Grushow said. "If it were
up to network presidents, trust me,
shows wouldn't move.

I

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