Whew, Oakland Looks Pretty Good

At the Moneyball movie premiere,  we received kudos from the stars.  Brad Pitt, who plays Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, declared  “Man, I hope [all Oaklanders] like it.  I think it’s a love letter.”  His Oakland A’s number-cruncher, played by Jonah Hill, added “I love the Bay Area, I love Oakland.”  That’s great, but we needed to see the love letter for ourselves.

After watching Moneyball this opening weekend, we felt uplifted about the A’s and pretty good about Oakland.  The Coliseum is a central backdrop, where Billy Beane places his bets on affordable hitters and their performance plays out.  Other city locations were used sparingly, and here’s the line-up:

  • The Coliseum – Yes, it appears realistically during most of the movie.  You see the playing fields, the locker room, offices and entry ways.  We think the locals who filled the place did a great job.  The real footage of the decade-old games looks just fine, too.
  • The Home – Billy Beane lives in a quiet, nice home.  The scenes take place in a comfortable-looking kitchen that would fit well in our Montclair homes.  One misfire?  There are collectible plates on the walls, which seems strange in an earthquake-prone locale.
  • The Port – Of course, when Beane is trying to figure things out, he goes for a drive and ends up in an open, empty lot.  The Port’s cranes are right there, trying to tell him that he’s protected in Oakland.
  • The Bridge – Yes, our Bridge just had to be in the movie, with the lights twinkling from San Francisco.  (We can’t wait until the new bridge emerges and there’s a view of our hills in future flicks.  Wishful thinking here.)
  • The Airport – There are a couple scenes at the gate, when Beane collects or drops off his daughter.  These small bits could have been filmed at Oakland or anywhere, and thus were too neutral for our tastes.

Moneyball primarily sticks to its Oakland A’s storyline, including the immediate business and sporting activities at hand.  There were no place-setting efforts to show off downtown landmarks or other great spots around the city.  Beane could have taken his daughter to Chabot Science, Lake Merritt or even the Zoo.  Alas, this movie isn’t a Oakland tourism promotion.  As Brad Pitt promised, it’s a true-love note to the Oakland A’s.

P.S.  Did you see District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf’s recent love letter to Oakland?  It does articulate the charms and challenges of Oakland quite well.  Check out Oakland:  The Self-Made City and find Schaaf’s letter in the right hand column.

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Brad Pitt Filming In Oakland Soon

Remember the saga of Moneyball?  We’re not talking about the book about Billy Beane, our Oakland A’s manager.  Instead, we’re all over the movie that was supposed to star Brad Pitt as Billy.  That flick is finally moving forward, with a scheduled 2011 release.

Last time we checked, this movie had been rejected by Columbia Pictures because Director Steven Soderbergh’s version was unacceptable.  We wondered if the movie would get resuscitated, and the news is even better.

According to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, the new Moneyball will be directed by Bennett Miller.  Who’s that, you ask?  The director of Capote, which won Philip Seymour Hoffman a best-actor Oscar.

With Bennett Miller as director and Aaron Sorkin (nee West Wing) as writer, we’re pretty sure that Brad Pitt will stick around and star in this biopic.  Expect to see Brad and his entourage tooling around Oakland, sometime next year.

No Brad Pitt In Oakland?

We’re not sure if you follow all the celebrity and movie news, this being Oakland and all.  However Moneyball was supposed to start shooting here this summer, a cool Steven Soderbergh-version of Billy Beane’s life – as played by Brad Pitt.  Oakland was going to be blessed with Brad and his entourage.

GM Beane's Parking Spot

As the Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane probably would have been too busy this summer to pal around with Brad and hang out on the set.  His story – Billy’s and not Brad’s – is an interesting one, as we all know.  He’s still hard at work trying to make the A’s productive this season.

But the real news came out this morning:  the $50 million picture may be kaput.  According to Variety, Columbia Pictures head Amy Pascal didn’t like the final script.  The film is getting shopped to other major studios this weekend.  Otherwise, the production goes on hiatus until things get worked out – or likely not worked out.

Even though Brangelina sells magazines, the Brad half isn’t seen as the sole driver of box office.  The movie studio now fears this newfangled movie about baseball and whether it has sufficient worldwide appeal.  We think Billy and Oakland are worth risking $50 million, don’t you?