FOX’s new series Pitch debuts next Thursday.
The series is about the first woman to play in the majors (a pitcher, hence the show’s title), and it’s benefitting greatly from a partnership between FOX and Major League Baseball.
Via The Hollywood Reporter:
The pact, where no money exchanged hands, extends Fox and MLB’s partnership beyond their $12.4 billion TV rights deal that includes postseason games and the World Series. Pitch has unparalleled access to big-league teams, stadiums and logos that lend the production an authenticity that makes its premise realistic. It marks a never-before-seen cooperation between Hollywood and baseball. “If we didn’t have MLB, I don’t think we could have done the show because I didn’t want to create fictional teams. That defeats the whole purpose,” says co-creator Dan Fogelman.
The series, debuting Sept. 22, will be a mix of baseball and family drama that uses the MLB calendar as a backbone. With game footage from ballparks in San Diego and San Francisco (and, in success, more), the show’s creators want to delve into storylines that cover the All-Star Game, trade deadlines, a Cuban sensation (Christian Ochoa) struggling to acclimate and hopefully at some point an openly gay player. The series also worked with MLB at July’s All-Star Game at San Diego’s Petco Park — where the Pitch pilot and subsequent home game episodes are filmed — and will feature Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) participating thanks to a loophole that the league shared with producers. (Expect Ginny to be added to the actual game via VFX.)
That’s a really cool deal, and a great get for the show. And it’s reasonable from MLB, too; they’re certainly getting some free advertising, but it wouldn’t have been unrealistic to ask for token fees.
Why is it such a great get? There’s nothing that takes you out of a sports movie faster than made-up teams or obviously false locations. Pitch is going to be beyond believable for a certain group of people as it is, so it’s probably best that the edges of the show ring as true as possible.
According to THR, the show is hoping to film at Wrigley and Fenway, among other stadiums, and wants to coax cameos out of current major league stars as well. It also goes into detail as to the props and uniforms involved, along with the fact that extras are mostly made up of former minor league players.
Of course, none of this will matter if the show isn’t any good, and we won’t know that until it debuts. But it’s still cool that MLB allowed the production to use real locations and league properties.
What would their reaction have been if the show was on CBS, or NBC, or another network with no stake in MLB broadcasting rights?
We might never know.