Funny and foul
The baseball comedy “Brockmire” premiered on IFC on April 5. The bawdy and very funny first episode, which can be viewed on the IFC website, was so well-received that the series has already been renewed for a second season.
It centers on Jim Brockmire (Hank Azaria, 52), an award-winning baseball announcer. As the show begins, we see him suffer a total meltdown that ends his major league broadcast career. The gaffe happens as he’s calling a Kansas City Royals game and describes on air how he caught his wife in a kinky orgy. The orgy participants, Brockmire says, included a friend of his, Bob Greenwald. “I hosted his kids’ bar mitzvahs!” he snarls.
Ten years later, Brockmire tries to reclaim his career by calling minor league ball in a Rust Belt town. I don’t think Brockmire is a Jewish character, but near the end of the episode, while calling a home run, he spouts a line that sounds pretty inside-baseball: “Folks, that ball cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery, because it just got tattooed!”
The “Brockmire” character was created for “Funny or Die” videos that Azaria starred in and wrote. A great addition to the TV series is Amanda Peet, 45, who co-stars as the strong-willed, hard-drinking owner of the struggling team (the Frackers) that hires Brockmire. Peet has shown that she can do satirical comedy in films like “The Whole Nine Yards” and “She’s the One.” But she was wasted in her HBO series “Togetherness,” which was just canceled after two seasons. It was a comedy that was almost never funny.
Peet told Parade magazine that she didn’t know much about baseball but boned up by watching documentaries. Of course, Parade asked her if she ever lobbied her husband, “Games of Thrones” co-creator-writer David Benioff, 46, for a “Thrones” part. “I try really hard, especially when I’ve had a few drinks,” she said. “I’ll put on my English accent, such as it is, in front of Dan Weiss [the show’s co-creator/writer] and David. They just act really embarrassed for me.”
No lie: Weigert shines
The seven-part HBO series “Big Little Lies,” which concluded on April 2, garnered great reviews and big ratings. If you did see it, it’s probably still resonating with you. If you didn’t see it, you should. This murder mystery was set and filmed in beautiful Monterey. The third episode introduced Robin Weigert, 47, as Dr. Reisman, a therapist who begins treating Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and her abusive husband, Perry. In the last two episodes, Reisman becomes an important character who sagely advises Celeste on how to save her life. I hope Weigert’s sterling performance quickly leads to meatier roles.
I spoke to her in 2006, a couple of years after she got an Emmy nomination for playing Calamity Jane in “Deadwood,” and she said she was hoping to land enough good indie film roles to have a career comparable to Catherine Keener’s. The time for that has probably passed, but with so many new streaming series, a starring role could be in her future.
Exodus keeps on going
I recently learned that legendary musician Herb Alpert, 82, had an uncredited role as a drummer on Mount Sinai in the 1956 blockbuster “The Ten Commandments.” So fire up your DVR and record the annual showing of the flick on ABC (7 p.m. Saturday, April 15). Maybe you’ll spot him if you go through the recording slowly. Alpert and his wife of 43 years, singer Lani Hall, 71, will play the SFJazz Center on June 11.
The only credited actor still alive is Joanna Merlin, 85, who played one of Jethro’s daughters (not the one who married Moses). There’s a good chance you’d recognize Merlin (born “Ratner”) from her scores of TV guest shots, including playing Judge Lena Petrovsky in 43 episodes of “Law and Order: SVU.”