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Worshipping at the Church of Baseball
July 09, 2012
The cast and crew of Bull Durham try to wrap their minds around how, 24 years ago, a minor league baseball movie became such a major league Hollywood hit
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July 09, 2012

Worshipping At The Church Of Baseball

The cast and crew of Bull Durham try to wrap their minds around how, 24 years ago, a minor league baseball movie became such a major league Hollywood hit

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SHELTON: Not only did I have to fight for Tim, I had to fight for Susan [Sarandon, who played Annie]. The studio didn't want her. She was living in Italy at the time. And they were afraid her career was over. They wanted Kim Basinger.

BURG: Susan Sarandon at the time was not at the top of anybody's list. I think Ron's first choice was Ellen Barkin, but she passed.

SUSAN SARANDON (BASEBALL GROUPIE ANNIE SAVOY): At the time I had a child with an Italian, and we were living in a small village on the sea. My agent sent me this script. He said Orion had gone out to a number of actresses who were higher up on the list, but that they had refused to audition. I was at the bottom of the barrel, I guess. The studio wasn't even interested enough in me to pay for my flight to L.A. But the characters were so funny, and the speeches were so poetic. I knew I had to put my ego aside and just go for it.

MOUNT: Mike Medavoy thought Susan was too old and not funny. So I said to her, "This is what I need you to do: Go get a tight, tight dress that shows as much cleavage as humanly possible." I called Medavoy back and asked him to just meet her. I said, "Susan, your job today is go to Mike's office and show as much cleavage as possible. Lean over his desk for 30 minutes, and he'll say yes." She was game, thank God.

SARANDON: As a rule, most studio executives' strong suit isn't imagination. So when you're trying to get a part, it helps for them to be able to envision you in the part. I definitely didn't go in there in a T-shirt and jeans. I remember I had on an off-the-shoulder red-and-white-striped dress. It was very form-fitting. It was understood what I had to do.

MEDAVOY: Susan was a total revelation. She just charmed everybody.

SARANDON: I don't know if Bull Durham is Annie's story, but what was so revolutionary was: Here was a woman who was on equal footing with the guys sexually, and she got to be the one to choose who she wanted to be with. She liked sex, and she liked sports, and at the end of the movie she didn't have to die for it.

ROBERT WUHL (PITCHING COACH LARRY HOCKETT): Ron will tell you that when I came in it was probably one of the worst auditions he ever saw.

SHELTON: Robert came in and gave the worst audition I've ever seen.

WUHL: My character doesn't have that much dialogue, so I went to my guru, the late great Bruno Kirby, who I had worked with on Good Morning, Vietnam, and I asked, "What's the key to this character?" And he said, "In baseball the pitching coach is attached to the manager. If the manager goes up, he usually takes his pitching coach with him." So I thought, O.K., I get it; he's a yes man. Ron was putting together a ball club, and he knew every piece had to have a purpose. I was the comic relief. And what about [actor] Trey Wilson as the manager? What a sweetheart of a guy. He looked just like Danny Murtaugh, the old manager of the Pirates.

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