Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Honestly, is this a comedy or drama?

Um, is ESPN serious? Has anyone else seen these silly commercials promoting HU$TLE, the uber-goofy Pete Rose movie? If you haven't seen these previews consider yourself lucky. That said, I'll give you a lifetime supply of Pete Rose wigs if you can guess who ESPN cast to play, um, Pete Rose -- and you can even look at the photos.

Do you give up? Let me tell you, when I saw the advertisement for the first time, I was convinced it was a Saturday Night Live skit and that Darryl Hammonds was playing Pete Rose. Well, the knuckleheads in charge of programming at ESPN went one step further -- they got Tom Sizemore.

Now I don't claim to be the smartest guy in the world, and in fact it's seldom the case that I'm the smartest guy in a small room with few people. Nonetheless, even I can see that Tom Sizemore looks about as much like Pete Rose as Fat Albert looks like Denzel Washington. And then they put that squirrel on his head and top it off with a Reds hat and expect me to buy it? I would have loved to be in on that high-level meeting of the minds.

I was never a big Pete Rose fan to start with, but now you've got Tom Sizemore, perhaps the only guy in the country who's got more problems than Charlie Hustle (he was charged with hitting, harassing, and threatening his ex-fiancée Heidi Fleiss in 2003) to play Rose. If you're going for the totally ridiculous, why not cast Brad Pitt or George Clooney? I mean really, does it even make a difference?

At least when ESPN did the Bob Knight story you could buy Brian Dennehy as Bob Knight. And Tom Berenger was a convincing Bear Bryant in his youth (probably because I have no idea what Bryant looked like as a youth). But what in God's name gave anybody the idea that Sizemore was the right man to play Charlie Hustle -- because he's been known to cavort with strippers madams and prostitutes? Geesh, I'd rather see George Costanza play the part -- at least he has some experience as the Assistant to the Assistant Traveling Secretary during his time with the Yankees.

And I haven't even talked about how awful this movie looks -- if you have any doubts that it might actually be interesting, just look at the trailer. If after seeing this you're still interested in the movie you're either (a) mentally ill or (b) morbidly curious (I think I'm about 45% in (a) and 55% in (b)).

This is the type of television event where you invite over all your buddies, buy four or five kegs and finish off one or two before the movie starts. That's probably the only way to make this spectacle tolerable.

The great thing about dopey stuff like this is that it reaffirms that just when you figured ESPN couldn't do any worse than Around the Horn, or Dream Job, they go and out-MTV MTV. Ugh. Oh, HU$TLE premieres September 25th!