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Moneyball: The Movie -- the director audition reels

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Blez, Slusser, and FSU aren't the only ones with sources on the inside.

Your simian correspondent stumbled out of bed this morning, went downstairs to fetch the morning fishwrap -- and lo and behold, I almost spilled my double macchiato all over the sidewalk when a slim, circular silver canister slid out from the thin, soy-stained folds of the Chron. Across the middle of the canister was a small strip of splicing tape, with a smudged legend written across it: FELDMAN.

I did a classic spit-take of my espresso, obliterating the "A's Notes" in the Sporting Green. Drat, I thought, I'll never be able to decode Slusser's secret acrostic hidden in the second letter of every line.

"What's in the canister, dear?"

It was Mrs Monkeyball, who had sidled up silently behind me.

"What, this? Oh, it's, um ... porn."

I held the canister up as nonchalantly as I could without being fully caffeinated, obscuring the FELDMAN tape with one thumb.

"That's nice, dear. Get back to work on your AN post."

Whew! She fell for it!

As she turned to go back inside,
I tucked the canister under one arm, and I mumbled something about needing to keep polishing the text ... and I skulked out to the garage, where I smashed the light switch off, and threaded the film strip from the canister into the 16 mmm projector by sense memory in the dark.

The projection bulb flickered to life, animating dust motes in the gloom, and I sat back to watch perhaps the most heavily guarded piece of intellectual property in the A's entire organization: the director audition reels for Moneyball: The Movie.

[continued after the jump]

What follows is transcribed from my jittery hand-scrawled notes describing what I saw this morning.

After a scratchy blip of Academy leader, a rough title card: CRONENBERG

  • A dingy room in a Moroccan slum. BILLY BEANE (Peter Weller) sits wearing a cheap suit and a fedora in front of a typewriter -- but not any ordinary typewriter. This typewriter is 1/3 Clarke-Nova, 1/3 giant insect, and 1/3 pitching machine. And it's TALKING to Beane/Weller: "General Manager is the ideal cover. You will infiltrate the organization and then deliver a report to me. Look -- you're already halfway done." Beane blearily sits forward, blinks to clear his eyes, and stares at the page in the typewriter: MONEYBALL -- A REPORT FROM THE TERRITORY OF STRIKEZONE. Beane smacks his lips, looks nonplussed, leans slowly back in his chair, and passes out.

Another title card: KUBRICK

  • BILLY BEANE (Jack Nicholson), his hair madly tousled, sits frantically hammering at a manual typewriter. He's in the great hall of a massive McMansion somewhere in the wilds of Contra Costa County. Beane/Nicholson stops typing, stands, stretches, and starts tossing a baseball against the wall of the great hall. JOE MORGAN (Shelley Duvall) timorously approaches the writing table and peers down at the onionskin -- and GAPES in horror. Over and over on the paper running across carriage returns: ALL WALKS AND HOMERS AND KS MAKES JACK A CHEAP BUY ALL WALKS AND HOMERS AND KS MAKES JACK A CHEAP BUY ALL WALKS AND HOMERS AND KS MAKES JACK A CHEAP BUY ALL WALKS AND HOMERS AND KS MAKES JACK A CHEAP BUY ALL WALKS AND HOMERS AND KS MAKES JACK A CHEAP BUY ALL WALKS AND HOMERS AND KS MAKES JACK A CHEAP BUY ...

Another title card: THE COEN BROS.

  • DOLLY IN from behind on a figure in a fedora and "wife-beater" T-shirt seated at a small table in a sweaty LA hotel room. We see that he has WADS OF TISSUE PAPER stuffed in his ears. Pushing in over his shoulder, we see his hands frozen over the keyboard of a manual typewriter. He has just started page 1: FADE IN ON AN OAKLAND BALLFIELD. THE CRY OF THE YOUR BLACK MUSLIM FISH SANDWICH MONGERS CAN BE HEARD. There is a POUNDING at the door. The man -- BILLY BEANE (John Turturro) -- turns, a mad gleam in his eye, and pulls the tissue paper from his ears. From his perspective, we cut to a view of the open door of his hotel room: the hallway beyond is ENGULFED IN FLAMES. BILL JAMES (John Goodman), carrying a SHOTGUN and a BASEBALL ABSTRACT plods inexorably after two GUMSHOES in cheap suits (Joe Morgan and Bill Plaschke). James is HOLLERING: "LOOK UPON ME! I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE GAME!" Beane turns away from the door, puts the tissue back in his ears, and resumes typing.

Then, a BRILLIANT WHITE FLASH on the screen -- and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in my bathrobe by the side of the freeway in Fremont, both of my hamstrings sawn in two. I dragged myself with my hands to a Jack in the Box, commandeered the headset from the teen in the driveup window, and called Blez to transcribe what I could recall of what I'd seen.