Behind The Scenes

Making ‘Moneyball’ Monday

Editor’s note: How did ESPN’s interviews with actor Brad Pitt, who portrays Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane in the new movie Moneyball, come together Monday? Carol Mayer, Director, Talent Producers & Development, gives you a look at the coordination.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Six weeks ago Jeff Freedman, an independent publicist whom studios hire to arrange media for movies — primarily sports films — pitched us the actors for the new film Moneyball.

John Walsh (ESPN’s Executive VP & Executive Editor) and I have worked with Jeff for years.

He came to ESPN early to make sure that we were offered time with the biggest stars — Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill — as well as Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane, whom Pitt portrays in the film.

We needed a field producer on the Oakland Coliseum site to make sure things went off without a hitch, and since I’ve field-produced in the past — day-after Super Bowl events with the Pittsburgh Steelers solo in 2009 and New Orleans Saints in 2010 with Audrah Cates (fellow Talent Producer) — I was up for the challenge.

Pitt was only available for two interviews, so we decided that SportsCenter and Numbers Never Lie made the most sense, based on the content of the movie.

After figuring out a master schedule with lots of moving parts involving other actors, we came up with 15 interviews: five TV hits; five radio hits; four Page 2 interviews; and an chat.

Other press outlets were also in attendance, and I got to finally meet tons of other media, including Darren Rovell [CNBC] and [NBC’s] Bob Costas, who we’ve booked on Outside the Lines several times in the past year.

While it’s not quite as exciting as shaking hands with Mr. Pitt (no disrespect, Bob), it’s always great to make the connection in person after years of phone/email conversations.

The ESPN setup was in the A’s owner’s box which provided a nice backdrop for the TV interviews.

Later in the day, we moved over to the premiere’s “Green Carpet” for a separate interview with Beane for Baseball Tonight.

Aside from Beane, I connected with agent Scott Boras, David Justice, Stephen Bishop (the actor who played David Justice), and Hideki Matsui.

Due to the tight schedules, we had to drop the SportsCenter interview with Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game) and an ESPN Radio interview with Scott Hatteberg (former player and special advisor to Beane this season, portrayed by actor Chris Pratt).

This was not ideal, but on a day like Monday, going 13-for-15 was OK.

We batted .866, just another day in the life!

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