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BULL DURHAM: Tim Robbins Nearly Fired After First Day

Bull Durham Tim Robbins Ron Shelton

It’s been 30 years since Bull Durham hit theaters, which is widely considered the best sports film ever and one of the best comedies of all time. Bull Durham is about aging catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) demoted back to the minor leagues to coach promising pitcher “Nuke” Laloosh (Tim Robbins) and encounters Annie Savoy, a fan who is also mentoring Nuke with an entirely different approach (Susan Sarandon).

At the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz sat down with Robbins and Bull Durham’s writer-director Ron Shelton.

One of the interview’s biggest revelations is that Robbins says the studio wanted to fire him after his first day of work. “This was my first big movie,” Robbins says. “It was the scene where I had just returned from a road trip and she’s trying to teach me pitching in the backyard. So, I’m supposed to be tired, right? The studio gets the dailies and they call Ron up and say, ‘This guy has no energy. I don’t know if this guy is going to be funny, he’s got no energy.’ Ron just told them, ‘Yeah, that’s because [his character] was on a road trip and he’s an actor.’ But, I think they wanted to fire me. Ron stood up for me.”

Tim Robbins Ron Shelton Bull Durham
Tim Robbins re-enacts how director Ron Shelton (seated next to him) handled a producer who tried to replace Robbins after the first day of filming BULL DURHAM.

Robbins shared his observations of how Shelton operated to then make sure that situation didn’t repeat itself. “So, the next day, we’re at dailies and I’m sitting next to Kevin and we hear this commotion behind us. We see Ron has a significant member of the production high, up off his feet, holding him up against the wall, saying, ‘Don’t ever talk to any of my actors again, I’ll f—king kill you.’ Kevin leans over to me and whispers, “Cujo…Cujo!”

Robbins says from then on, Cujo – the rabid St. Bernard in Stephen King’s 1983 movie of the same title – was the nickname for Shelton.

The moment stayed in Robbins mind. He says he was so impacted by Shelton’s behavior on his behalf that it informed his future career as a director. “What Ron was doing on the set the third day of shooting was drawing a line, saying I’m going to make my movie. You can fire me if you want, but I’m going to make my movie, and you’re not going to mess with it. That was a big lesson for me when I started to direct. If you care what you’re doing, sometimes you have to put it all on the line and say no.”

Bull Durham Annie Susan Sarandon Kevin CostnerAnother time Shelton had to say no was one of his favorite scenes – which happened to be one of his star’s favorite scenes. It’s a scene where Annie Savoy explains herself and how she came to pick a player to sleep with and mentor each season. “There’s a scene missing that Susan has not forgiven me cutting out from the movie, because it was her Oscar speech,” Shelton says. “It’s the old ‘kill your darling’ scene: there’s a point which your favorite scene is actually hurting the movie. There’s a scene in which Crash asks her ‘why baseball?’ and she tells him how she came to baseball. Every time we’d screen the movie… the air was going out of the room during the scene, in which Susan was great. We kept asking, ‘why, why, why?; and we kept trimming it, and trimming it, and trimming it. We finally said, ‘Well, take it out and we’ll see what happens.’ And, the movie just soared. What I think we’ve learned, 30 years later, is that [in the scene that is set early on in the film] there was such intimacy between them [Crash and Annie], that the movie was over. We still had a story to play out. It was the way people would talk when they are really trusting and have fallen in love, not before. But, Susan still has not forgiven me.”

Annie’s big speech isn’t the only scene to land on the cutting room floor. Crash’s pool hall brawl with Nuke toward the end of the film was completely reshot after the film was completed and turned in. “It was originally shot in a whorehouse in Durham with Kevin playing the piano. [Crash] was hanging out there because the owner of the place was an old ballplayer,” says Shelton. “It made me nervous when we shot it. It made me nervous when we cut it. After I showed the director’s cut to the studio, they said, ‘We don’t like it. What can we do about it?”

Shelton says he convinced the studio to let him reshoot the scene in a Los Angeles pool hall – and it worked. “I don’t think there was a line of dialogue that changed. Instead of playing the piano, they’re playing pool.”

Bull Durham Nuke Laloosh Garter Belt Tim Robbins Kevin CostnerAnother challenge Shelton ran into was that the story takes place in the summer in the South. However, they filmed Bull Durham in winter, which created one big visual problem. “You can see people’s breath,” says Shelton. “I asked the actors to put ice cubes in their mouth because I was told that would negate it.”

Robbins said another “fix” was that they put oil all over him so Nuke looked like he was sweating in the North Carolina sun. And one thing to watch for? Shelton says, “When [Robbins] did the scene with the garter on the mound, he’s freezing.”

The garter belt scene comes at a time when Nuke and Annie’s relationship has come to a place where he really trusts her – and Annie’s guidance is what she believes is her mission in life. Nuke does come off in the film as, well, dumb. Robbins says, “After the movie came out, I got so many offers to play stupid people.”

Even though Crash refers to Nuke as dumb, that’s incorrect. “Annie says, ‘He’s not dumb, he just lacks wisdom and it’s my job to teach him,” says Shelton. “Nuke is not dumb, he really is just young and immature. Tim brought such dignity to the part that we remember Nuke, we care about Nuke, and Nuke actually grows. At the end of the movie, he’s teasing Crash with clichés, he knows how to get under Crash’s skin, and his whole manner has changed.  He’s moving on, he’s learned his lessons.”

At the time, the studio was nervous that audiences would not believe sexy-smart Susan Sarandon would fall for young, lanky Tim Robbins, especially in the packaging of arrogant Nuke Laloosh. “Nuke could compete with Crash in any way except with a woman,” says Shelton. “I remember getting a call from the studio who said, ‘Are we gonna believe it?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah! You’re going to believe it!’

bull durham susan sarandon tim robbinsRobbins and Sarandon fell in love while filming Bull Durham, got married, and made a family of five. Their marriage lasted 23 years.

Sports Illustrated named Bull Durham the No. 1 sports film of all time – which is interesting because Shelton hated the genre.  Shelton says, “I never liked sports movies. Nobody hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series. It’s happened once or twice in

Bull Durham Mike Ferraro real Crash Davis

history. A game – and life – ends with a weak groundball to third base.”

So, Shelton gave his sports film authenticity, creating a work of fiction based on experiences he’d had and witnessed when he was playing in Baltimore’ farming system. “There were a number of guys I’d played with in the minors who were turning out to be career minor-leaguers, but they were great,” says Shelton.

However, there was one player who is the closest to the genesis of Crash Davis. “We played with a guy in the Triple-A named Mike Ferraro who was four years in a row International AAA All-Star Third Baseman. He never got to the big leagues* because he was backup to Brooks Robinson.  They didn’t want him sitting on the bench in Baltimore where he would be rusty in case Brooks got hurt, and Brooks never did. By the time Mike got to the big leagues, he was 32 and he was injured,” says Shelton, who retired at the age of 26. “There were a number of guys like that, and I have great admiration for them because they were complete professionals. I admire the professionalism of guys who would show up every day and did the job at a high level – even when it galled them to have to teach people like Nuke.”

Shelton got out of the game when the 1972 baseball strike was looming. But, he says leaving is a tough call: players are in it because they love the game. He says, “There is always the hope, and it’s somewhat delusional, that you’ll get the call when you’re 31 or 32. It happens once in a while…but it’s very rare that you get the break that way.”

The authenticity Shelton brought to the film famously followed into casting. The former infielder didn’t want what he calls a “Tony Perkins” situation that plagues sports films: great actors who are terrible athletes. Shelton made everyone audition. Robbins said he had the background for the role and actually had an offer on the table to star in another baseball movie that was going into production at the time, Eight Men Out. “I had played ball and played third base, so I had a pretty good arm. But, I’d never pitched before, so I had to learn all the mechanics of that.”

Tim Robbins Bull Durham 2018 CM Film FestivalFor Robbins, deciding which baseball movie to take wasn’t a hard choice. “The part of Nuke was so beautifully written and so funny, I leapt at the opportunity.”

Shelton added, “In a perfect world, I’d have cast a left-handed pitcher, because left handers are all insane. Left handers are goofy, so he’s a right-handed ‘lefty.’”

Shelton’s desire to create a different kind of sports movie provoked another kind of out of the box thinking. Shelton says he didn’t write it as a sports film, a romance, or a comedy. He wrote Bull Durham as a western. “[The script] was a western model when I started writing it. You don’t know where [Crash] is from, you don’t know anything about his background, you don’t think about his parents or his upbringing or his schooling. He’s just a professional, his “guns” are really the tools of his trade – in this case a catcher. And, he goes from town to town wherever he’s hired.”

Bull Durham is currently playing on Hulu and Epix on Demand. Check out our Bull Durham page for more insider info, fun facts and fresh analysis on the film:

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How BULL DURHAM Messed with the Minds of Men and Women – ’80s Movies: A Guide to What’s Wrong with Your Parents Podcast

Bull Durham Riley Roberts Susan Sarandon batting cage
Podcaster Riley Roberts gives the Gen Z take on BULL DURHAM. (photo by Victoria Igloi)

Bull Durham is the ultimate rom-com for men. The tagline says it all: “It’s about sex and sport. What else is there?” But the film provides plenty of fantasy for women (and not just Kevin Costner, who was at max dreaminess in 1988). Additionally, as much as it’s sexually progressive, it’s also detrimental.

On the ’80s MOVIES: A GUIDE TO WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR PARENTS podcast, ’80s Movie Guide co-founders Tara McNamara (’80s kid) and Riley Roberts (pictured right…age 17, so, still a kid) explore how Bull Durham is to men like Disney Princess movies are to women, creating an unattainable idea of the perfect woman. At the same time, for two hours women could live in an idyllic world where slut-shaming isn’t a thing. However, there’s a tragedy in Annie and Millie: they found a way to be an accepted part of the ballclub, but only by opening their legs.

Listen to the podcast to get historical perspective and to rethink Bull Durham in a whole different way:

Find out why Bull Durham was rad, behind the scenes info, and fun trivia on our Bull Durham page!


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FOOTLOOSE Explains Everything Going on in America Right Now: ’80s Movies: A Guide to What’s Wrong with Your Parents Podcast

Footloose Dance Your Ass Off Podcast Riley Roberts

Footloose isn’t just a story about a group of kids fighting to have a prom. It’s about:

  • a suicidal girl suffering from depression and no one is noticing all the red flags she’s waving,
  • a community grieving over the loss of their loved ones and grappling to prevent another tragedy,
  • youth fighting “The Man,”
  • religious intrusion: how much we should trust our pastor’s interpretation of scripture versus our own,
  • how in 1980s small-town America, older white men held all the power.

In our “’80s Movies: A Guide to What’s Wrong with Your Parents” podcast, mother-daughter movie critics Tara McNamara and 17-year-old Riley Roberts look back at Footloose for why it’s fantastic, how it revolutionized movie marketing, how it took teen movies a different direction, and ultimately, how it’s the hallmark to understand exactly why the United States has become so polarized into “conservative” and “liberal” factions. (really!). Give it a listen and always, always…dance your a** off:

Check out the Footloose page for all the behind-the-scenes info…like who really couldn’t dance, what happened when Kevin Bacon tried to get into character at the local high school, and how the film got the green light and how it almost lost it! 












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Do Two OVERBOARD Make a Right? ’80s Movies: A Guide to What’s Wrong with Your Parents podcast

riley overboardWith the reboot of Overboard, mother-daughter movie critics Tara McNamara and 17-year-old Riley Roberts explore the original 1987 Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell rom-com treasure, evaluate if it holds up today, and wonder why no one called out all the white slavery and stuff. The duo also review the new Anna Faris-Eugenio Derbez gender reversal remake and evaluate if the 2018 tweaks work and if it’s worth watching.

The duo have been reviewing and covering films for more than a decade on national TV programs like TODAY, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, INSIDE EDITION. They analyze what’s great about ’80s movies ..and what’s super. duper. messed. up.

Read all about made Overboard a classic, all the behind the scenes info, why it’s so ’80s, and all the headslap moments:



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All Was Right for the Women of THE RIGHT STUFF

The Right Stuff Veronica Cartwright Mary Jo Deschanel Ben TCM

“Do not eat the meat!”

Veronica Cartwright says that while filming the huge Houston barbeque scene in The Right Stuff, a booming voice shouted over and over again with a reminder to not eat the steak served on all of the plates. Indeed, in the film, plates and plates of food are shown, and Dennis Quaid and Fred Ward are even seen eating baked beans, but never does anyone take a bite of meat. (The cast and extras didn’t go hungry. Cartwright says after the scene was over, they were each handed a bag of McDonald’s food.)

Cartwright played Betty Grissom, wife of Ward’s astronaut character Gus Grissom, in The Right Stuff. She and Mary Jo Deschanel, who played John Glenn’s wife Annie, discussed the making of the film with Ben Mankiewicz at the 2018 Turner Classic Film Festival.

The Right Stuff tells the story of the beginnings of the U.S. space program through the eyes of the astronauts that risked it all to go into space and their wives.

The two credited writer-director Philip Kaufmann for creating an environment where the actresses playing the wives could bond, and therefore, quickly create the familiarity that developed over time amongst the wives of America’s first astronauts. “They stuck us in honey wagons. I [shared] with Pamela Reed,” says Cartwright. “We had big dresses so one person would have to stand on the toilet to get dressed, it was so small!”

Deschanel adds, “Phil told me, ‘I think the women are much more fascinating characters.’ And, he set up an atmosphere that supported the women.”

Both actresses were unable to meet their real-life counterparts. Gus Grissom’s portrayal in The Right Stuff is based on the scandal that unfolded but the portrayal is ultimately unfair,  leaving the audience to question if Gus Grissom did indeed “blow the hatch” of the Liberty Bell 7 capsule after splashdown (this accusation had been debunked long before the film was made). Therefore, Betty Grissom was not supportive of the film.  As for the Annie Glenn, John Glenn was running for president of the United States during the production of The Right Stuff, and Deschanel says the Glenns “didn’t want to have anything to do with the film.”

The real Betty Grissom seemed to have fun with fashion.

The actresses were still able to research their roles as Kaufmann provided each of the actors “huge packets of film footage” of the real people they would be portraying. One thing Cartwright saw in the footage stuck in her mind as a key to understanding Betty Grissom: her unusual straw purse she carried to a ceremony where she believed she was going to meet First Lady Jackie Kennedy. “I had to find that bag!” says Cartwright, “It said so much about her!”

Another fond memory the actresses shared was of the actors playing the press. Unlike in the film, the actors playing the reporters enhanced – not hounded – the lives of “the wives.” “The ‘press corps’ were all part of a theater company [San Francisco’s improv comedy troupe Fratelli Bologna],” says Cartwright. “They would sing and always be entertaining for us! It was a fun atmosphere.”

Mary Jo Deschanel Veronica Cartwright The Right StuffThe actresses took the note. Deschanel and Cartwright say by movie’s end, “the wives” had become a clique and spent time together outside of their shooting days. The women choreographed a song and dance number that they performed at the wrap party.

This year marks the 35th Anniversary of the release of The Right Stuff. This article was written the day it was announced that Tom Wolfe, the author of the novel in which the film is based on, passed away.

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Bill & Ted’s Make Most Triumphant Return to “Face the Music”

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves will return in their third "Adventure:" BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC

Time-traveling dudes are righteous again! Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter have signed on to star in Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third film in the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure franchise. The new film signifies a reunion of the franchise creators and writers, Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, who wrote the script for Face the Music. Directing duties go to Dean Parisot, best known for Galaxy Quest and whose most recent film work was RED 2.

Bill and Ted Face the Music

Bill and Ted were last seen in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Adventure (1991) where they were destined to save the universe with rock n’ roll. However, in the upcoming film, the Wyld Stallyns have been on a creative dry spell and haven’t fulfilled their destiny…especially now that they’re middle-aged dads with family and financial responsibilities. A time traveler from the future visits Bill and Ted to warn them that only they can save life as we know it. So, the dudes go on another time travel quest, bringing their daughters along, and visiting more historical figures and music legends to try and eek out some rad tuneage.

No release date has been announced, but one can only hope it will be in February of 2019, which will mark the 30th anniversary of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Source: Deadline

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I FEEL PRETTY is the unofficial reboot of BIG

Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty is a lot of things: an extremely relatable physical comedy, a statement on what society has done to women’s body image, and a demonstration of the power of self-confidence. And, it’s an unofficial sequel to Big.

It’s about a woman who is self-conscious about what she perceives to be her lack of beauty in today’s world. After watching the Tom Hanks ‘80s classic Big on a rainy night, she goes to a fountain and makes a wish to be beautiful. The next day, she suffers a blow to the head and wakes up seeing herself as beautiful, even though she looks exactly the same. What transpires is a display of off the charts self-confidence; the audience witnesses how her life changes just because she believes she is gorgeous by society’s standards. (See my What the Flick?! review below:)

Of course, the messaging is totally different than in Big, which is a gentle nudge that kids shouldn’t be in such a hurry to grow up and adults should hold on to their childhood.

Big gets the official tip of the hat, but I Feel Pretty is also reminiscent of a broad comedy from 2001: Shallow Hall. In the Farrelly Brothers movie, Jack Black plays a pig who dates women only based on their appearance. Then, Tony Robbins (!) hypnotizes him into seeing women’s outer appearance as a reflection of their inner beauty – and falls in love with a 300-lb. woman. When Hal’s “vision” returns to normal, he realizes that it’s who we are that counts, not what we look like. So, similar but still, a very, very different message geared to men, where I Feel Pretty deals with what it’s like to be a woman.

More gender or ethnicity-flipping ‘80s reboots are on the way: Overboard, Splash, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Of course, Ghostbusters set the trend.

Personally, I dislike the idea of remaking movies that are still relevant and a part of pop culture. However, by switching roles, it can freshen up an old property while paying homage to it – like the recent Jumanji redo. If it makes audiences interested in watching the classic, then, let’s celebrate it. What films would you like to see reimagined with some sort of role reversal?

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Molly Ringwald Says John Hughes Films Were Empowering But Damaging to Teens

80s Movie Guide is a site that celebrates what is wonderful about ’80s movies, while also pointing out how very, very messed up the messaging was to its target teen audience. Today, ’80s teen movie icon Molly Ringwald wrote a thoughtful, well-researched article for The New Yorker examining the films she made with John Hughes from both the movie-making experience and the final product. The article should be an eye-opener to everyone, except maybe us here at We created this site and its accompanying podcast ’80s Movies: A Guide to What’s Wrong with Your Parents with this notion in mind.

The very fact that the movie genre that defines the ’80s is the teen sex comedy should be unnerving. The good news is, we’ve come a long way. The bad news is that when we look at men (particularly in their 40s and older) and wonder why they think it’s okay to sexually harass, assault, mistreat or manipulate women, all we have to do is look at movies of the 1980s. The “boys will be boys” angle is played in nearly every film. Even in Pretty in Pink, best friend and nonthreatening Duckie makes a lewd comment to some girls at school about how he could impregnate them by Christmas. Oh, isn’t that so funny? No, that’s the kind of nonsense even 15-year old girls have to endure…and that behavior was perpetuated by films encouraging boys that it’s not only acceptable, it’s HILARIOUS. Of course, it gets worse.

Ringwald realizes points out that in Sixteen Candles, dreamy boyfriend Jake Ryan trades his long-term girlfriend Caroline (played by Haviland Morris) for a pair of Samantha’s underwear. Caroline is so drunk, she can’t tell what’s real. Her boyfriend, whom she trusts, gets rid of her by giving her to The Geek and having him “driver her home;” The Geek is a freshman who has been drinking alcohol and does not have his driver’s license…and does not get Caroline home. Instead, he rapes her in a grocery store parking lot while she is unconscious.

Ringwald recently spoke with Morris to get her opinion on the scene. The fact that Morris initially felt that Caroline was complicit in her own rape by getting drunk shows how much these films have affected women’s perspectives as well. I’d point out that Caroline got blitzed believing she was in a safe place – she was at her steady boyfriend’s home, at a party she was co-hosting. If we’re all being honest and facing the reality of underage drinking, we’d recognize that most minors are unlikely to know how much alcohol is too much and if there was a place to feel you could let go, it would be at your own party in the care of the person who supposedly loves you.

As the #MeToo movement is underway and we as a society try to evaluate what is and isn’t okay, just keep in mind that women received all of these mixed messages, too. Some women have spoken out to condone sexual misconduct by blaming the victim. Look again at ’80s movies, where audiences were shown that women’s primary value was as a sexual conquest. It’s “good” (virginal) girls vs “bad” (“slutty”) girls – that’s who we are to men. A hot, sexually aggressive girl is a man’s fantasy. If they trick her into having sex (i.e., Revenge of the Nerds), that’s depicted as funny — ha ha, jokes on YOU! With messages bombarding teen brains in our most formative years of self-identification, it’s no surprise that ’80s teens didn’t stand a chance.

At the same time, ’80s films were incredibly empowering to teens because they validated us. Going to the prom is important. Living our own lives outside of school is important. Taking the time to figure out who we are versus who society wants us to be was and is always relevant. Ringwald nails the complexity of the subject: for all the empowerment Hughes and ’80s filmmakers and studios (who were almost always men) gave Generation X by giving us the spotlight, they did equal amounts damage by marginalizing and sexually objectifying women.

So, as you watch ’80s movies…and you should because they are amazing…just keep an active mind, because the movies feel so right but the messages are so, so wrong.