Casting The ESPN Movie
According to Deadspin, the ESPN book is being made into a Social Network style motion picture. This makes perfect sense, since we could definitely see Scott Van Pelt hurrying across the Bristol campus while an ominous Trent Reznor score plays in the background.
Anyway, hearing this news got us wondering: which actors would be cast as which personalities? And which actors would we try to cast if we could? You will see the results of that exercise below. Keep in mind, this is a hypothetical world in which: 1) money is not an object; 2) all of our top choices say yes. And now that you've adequately suspended disbelief, SportsGrid's casting results for some of the major players in the forthcoming ESPN movie.
It's not just because they're both Chris Bs. Bauer has the powerful screen presence and intensity necessary for playing someone who is essentially the definition of "powerful screen presence" (for better or worse). As for Berman's remarkably old-fashioned tendencies (no e-mail, not really any internet in general)? Bauer played a guy trying to save a dying industry done in by modern times in The Wire (Frank Sobotka), so he's got that covered.
After starring as “It” girl Serena van der Woodsen in the hit CW television series Gossip Girl, Blake Lively has experience portraying leggy, center-of-attention blonde bombshells. From the mean girls of the Upper East Side to the mean girls of Bristol, Conn., Lively undoubtedly knows what it’s like to have people be jealous of you. She should be completely at ease channeling Erin’s bubbly personality. The jury’s still out on whether Blake can tell the difference between Derek Jeter and Derrek Lee, but whatever, that’s what writers are for.
While the ability to yell "Booyah!" a bunch of times will be essential to this role (and we're perfectly confident in Yarbrough's ability to do this), there's much more to it. And that's the real reason we feel good about Yarbrough, who honed his comedic chops on Reno 911. Additionally, the fact that Yarbrough has significant voice acting experience (The Boondocks, in particular) gives us all the more reason to believe he, too, can own the style that made Scott a household name.
A regular on All My Children with a brief stint on The O.C. to his credit, Michael Nouri has also recently appeared as Glenn Close’s cheating husband in the critically-acclaimed series Damages. So yes, much like Olbermann, he has experience making women (read: Suzy Kolber) cry. No telling how well he’ll be able to convey Keith’s very neurotic tendencies, but after 30-plus years in the business, we’re willing to give Nouri the benefit of the doubt.
We entrust the other half of SportsCenter's most successful team to one of TV's most successful fake newsmen, and we're confident Daily Show correspondent Jones is up to the task. Working with Jon Stewart & Co., he's picked up a thing or two about putting an irreverent spin on the news of the day. And if he needs to turn the joke back on himself? He can do that, too.
Griffiths has 86 roles to his credit, so we think he'll be able to step right in and assume the persona of Walsh, leader of ESPN's editorial/newsgathering side. While it'll require subduing his British accent, he'll be up to - oh, okay, fine, yes, he came up in a search for actors who look like Santa, and that pushed him over the top for this role.
When we first heard Colin Cowherd describe SportsNation, he compared his future co-host, Michelle Beadle, to Cameron Diaz. As soon as the show debuted, we realized we'd finally found something we agreed with Cowherd about. Remember that scene in There’s Something About Mary where Diaz invites Ben Stiller up to her apartment to watch SportsCenter? You could totally see Beadle doing that, right?
Both attractive women. Both look younger than they are. (Bill Simmons - we'll get back to him in a minute - did create the “Diane Lane All-Stars” for attractive women over 40, after all.) That alone isn't enough...but the fact that Lane is a pretty good match for Storm looks-wise, and boasts over three decades of Hollywood experience, is. Just watch out for...
Old, bald, grumpy, creative. Hell, aside from facial hair, it’s hard to find something that Seinfeld creator and Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David doesn’t have in common with PTI co-host Tony Kornheiser. How perfect would the easily agitated David be in a scene where he becomes increasingly frustrated with Hannah Storm’s clothes (or lack thereof), makes a joke in poor taste, and then begrudgingly apologizes. This could be good. Pretty, pretty good.
Michael Wilbon was one of the harder ESPN personalities to cast, with the guy who played Carl Winslow on Family Matters, the guy who played Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and even Ice Cube being tossed around as potential counterparts to Tony Kornheiser. But after digging a little deeper and past 90s sitcom stars, we re-discovered Chi McBride, best known for his work on Boston Public. McBride is a little gruffer than Wilbon, but we're confident he could spar with Larry David during a brief cutaway scene on a fake PTI set.
On The Wire, Gilliam portrayed a police officer who began the series as an immature hothead, but grew into one of the show's more noble cops - a relatively feel-good story for the ultimately bleak show. Likewise, Tirico's been the subject of some unflattering stories over the years, but he's seemingly done all he could to not let those stories define him, and now he's a network mainstay...Tony Kornheiser feud or no. And considering the constant conflict on The Wire, we're confident in Gilliam's ability to portray friction between coworkers.
Bill Simmons is a lot of things - self-deprecating, irreverent, and sardonic among them. But above all else, and at the heart of the Sports Guy persona, he's this: a regular guy who happens to be very passionate about sports. If there’s one actor who can reflect all those eccentricities while still bringing the comedy and “down to earth” factor, it’s Paul Rudd. Known for his improvisational work as a member of the Judd Apatow crew in Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, Rudd is the perfect candidate to tackle The Sports Guy’s growth from obscure internet person to sportswriting stardom.
Limbaugh's made himself into a larger-than-life figure by being louder than everyone else, irritating and downright enraging more than a few people along the way (that ability to say things that enrage people, of course, led to his quick ESPN downfall). Leland has just the kind of presence - and abrasiveness - we're looking for in Limbaugh, exemplified by his work as relentless booster Buddy Garrity on NBC's Friday Night Lights. Not everyone likes him...but when he's there, you know it. Leland will just have to eliminate that Texas twang FNL fans have come to know so well.
Indulge us for a second: in a year full of bad PR moves, would the crown jewel not be to reprise his own role in the smoldering ember-pile that was The Decision? He could give America something to unite against all over again. You want to talk about embracing the villain role? This would be embracing the villain role. Plus, guys with LeBron's size and overall physique don't come along every day. LeBron just might be the only believable LeBron.
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