Archive for Wednesday, March 13, 2002

ESPN movie boldly went where it shouldn’t have

March 13, 2002

After furiously filling out brackets while the selection shows for the NCAA Tournament unfolded Sunday afternoon, college basketball fans could take an hour to collect themselves before watching an exciting made-for-television cinematic premiere.

Ah, yes, "A Season on the Brink," the story of the 1985-86 Indiana basketball season and former Hoosier coach Bobby Knight based on the book with the same title by John Feinstein.

For those viewers wanting a regular dose of Knight, ESPN offered the unedited version, while ESPN2 provided an unleaded, watered-down version, or more accurately, one with bleeps.

My viewing party opted for the F-bomb-filled @#$% and &*#*@!! version on ESPN. Unfortunately, I don't think I would have enjoyed the edited version, either.

First, it's doubtful that any actor could pull off Bobby Knight. Brian Denehey is a fine actor, but he couldn't become the tightly fit package of tempers and sarcasm Knight is known for.

No one could really be Bobby Knight.

The best part of the movie came in the closing credits and included various clips of Knight's best press conferences and an interview with Jeremy Schapp.

Denehey has been in more than 100 movies, but this performance didn't compare to Tom "Big Tom" Callahan II in "Tommy Boy."

There should be no real comparison between the two movies, but Denehey was fired up in "A Season on the Brink," and I was waiting for him to suffer a heart attack as Callahan did in "Tommy Boy."

Instead of providing entertainment, the movie left everyone in my watch party looking at each other with puzzled faces repeatedly.

One minute Knight is going ballistic in a practice or game, the next minute he's on a relaxing hunting trip with an assistant coach.

Scenes would switch from actors playing in a game to actual game footage from 1985 and '86.

Unfortunately, the "arenas" the movie used for Assembly Hall in Indiana and games at Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin just didn't do much for the movie watcher.

The movie's budget probably didn't allow for venues to be completely accurate, but maybe that's a hint to ESPN that, say, Paramount Pictures or MGM should release movies, not ESPN.

The sports channel is part of Disney with ABC, but it's Goofy watching a movie with so much hype on ESPN.

I probably shouldn't throw too many stones, as my attempts at producing a movie would be worse. Instead I plan to stick with what I can handle covering sports.

ESPN should do the same.

vvv

A trip to meet a friend halfway between Omaha and Kansas City landed me in Mound City, Mo., on Saturday.

We met at the local Hardee's where I found a great monument every sports fan should visit.

A plaque slapped on a rock formation proclaimed Mound City as, if I remember correctly, 1981 Missouri state basketball champions at 26-0.

As my eyes wandered up what I thought was a flagpole, I was pleasantly surprised to see a basketball goal for giants about 50 feet in the air.

The "net" of the basket appeared to be chicken wire, while a skeleton of a basketball that possibly lit up on special occasions was above the rim.

If you're ever on a leisurely drive down Interstate 29, make a stop.

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