April 17, 2017


Hank Azaria opens up about speaking Ladino and his latest TV role : Now in a popular cable series, the man of many voices says he feels 'most at home with Jewish characters' (CURT SCHLEIER April 17, 2017, Times of Israel)

"One of my favorite [of the voices in my head] was the generic baseball announcer voice I heard in the '70s growing up," he said. "It wasn't distinctive like Phil Rizzuto. It was this generic announcer voice you associate more with hacks or how they sold Ginsu knives or Ronco products."

"I found that voice fascinating. I wondered if that guy talks like that all the time, and that was the comic basis for the character." [...]

The show begins with a flashback. Ten years earlier, Jim Brockmire handled play-by-play duties for the Kansas City Royals. He was the youngest announcer ever in Major League Baseball and had the admiration of his peers.

Then he returned home unexpectedly and found his wife in, well, a very delicate situation with several neighbors. What made it worse -- as Brockmire describes in a drunken, obscenity-laden and very funny on-air meltdown -- the group included his next-door-neighbor, Bob Greenwald, and "I was just at his son's bar mitzvah."

Unable to find work in the States post-freakout, Brockmire has spent the past decade roaming the globe, finding announcing assignments where he can, notably calling cockfights in Manila. He's been lured back to the US by Jules (Amanda Peet), who owns the failing Morristown (Pennsylvania) Frackers, a minor league team named for the energy extraction method that gives the town its pungent aroma.

Jules feels if she can save the team, she can save the town. Meanwhile, computer illiterate Brockmire is unaware that his meltdown went viral -- that "keeping it Brockmire" had become a synonym for "keeping it real."

Azaria inhabits Brockmire like a second skin. While the character might not be Jewish, he does get some Jewish-themed quips: After a long home run, for example, he notes, "That ball can't be buried at a Jewish cemetery because it just got tattooed."

'That ball can't be buried at a Jewish cemetery because it just got tattooed'
While the show is frequently raunchy, it resonates emotionally and intellectually. The fracking company that lent Jules money to buy the club wants her to fail so it can use the stadium as a wastewater pit. And when Jules discovers she's pregnant, the topic of abortion also is addressed. For sports fans, there's also the surprise pleasure of cameos by play-by-play announcers like Joe Buck and ESPN commentators.

At its core, though, Brockmire is a story about relationships: There is Brockmire's growing bond with the team's young African-American social media intern Charlie (Tyrel Jackson Williams), who knows nothing about baseball or life, as well as Brockmire's inevitable romance with Jules -- two people who have made relationship mistakes in life, but may be on the verge of getting something right.

Amid the laughs, it's hard not to get vested in the three characters -- and apparently IFC agrees.

Posted by at April 17, 2017 5:16 AM