Dodgers vs. Mets: Inside a Showbiz Town's Epic Showdown
Everyone roots for the home team — that is, unless they're playing New York's long-suffering lovable losers. Says Matt Dillon: "To be a Mets fan takes a degree of masochism. If someone tells you that they're a Mets fan, you know they ain't lying."
This story first appeared in the Oct. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
When the Los Angeles Dodgers kick off their postseason push Oct. 9 at Dodger Stadium, not everyone in showbiz will be rooting for them. For every Bryan Cranston, George Lopez and Larry King loyal to Hollywood's home team, there is a Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin James and Matthew Broderick sporting orange and blue — the colors of the New York Mets, the Dodgers' National League Division Series opponents.
The showdown is a rematch of an NLDS matchup in 2006, the last time the Mets made the playoffs. Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and Warm Bodies director Jonathan Levine went to Game 3 at Dodgers Stadium clad in Mets gear. ("It was a huge mistake," says Esmail. "Beer bottles were thrown.") Meanwhile, 3 Arts manager Oly Obst brandished a smuggled broom in the stands, correctly predicting that New York would sweep L.A. Obst is part of an industry crew — including WME partner Zach Druker, HBO vp programming Steve Baker (whose son, Carter, is named after famed Mets catcher Gary Carter), Underground Films' Trevor Engelson and Steven Fisher and Hugh Fitzpatrick, who runs Howard Gordon's production company Teakwood Lane — that maintains an email chain to discuss the Mets' ups and downs (mostly the latter). "When we're winning, it's quiet," says Mosaic TV production president Sam Hansen. "But if something terrible is happening with the organization, I get an email."
There's been plenty to commiserate over in the past decades: freak injuries, late-season collapses and even millions of dollars lost by Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz from Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. "You don't know as a kid that this team you love is actually kind of terrible or cursed or destined for mediocrity," says 20th Century Fox TV vp comedy development Anand Shah, who came of age during the Mets' 1986 World Series-winning season. (Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori's fate was sealed when he witnessed the team's first World Series title in 1969: "I want my ashes spread in Citi Field, or wherever the Mets are playing then.")
So why not defect to a more consistent franchise like the Dodgers, who are making their third consecutive trip to the postseason? "There's something in show business that always goes with the underdog," says Glenn Close, who became a Mets devotee in the 1970s after befriending outfielder Rusty Staub. Matt Dillon, who along with brother Kevin and their four siblings was raised in the Mets tradition by their father, offers another reason: "To be a Mets fan takes a degree of masochism. If someone tells you they're a Met fan, you know they ain't lying."
But don't ask any Mets fans to trash talk L.A.'s local boys, because they'd rather discuss common ground. (Many industry Dodgers fans declined comment, but Nigel Lythgoe, a U.K. native turned L.A. season ticket holder, tells THR that his adopted home team is not apathetic: "You get a fire in your belly. No matter how many times you've been there, you want to win.") Says Blood & Oil executive producer Jon Harmon Feldman: "Mets and Dodgers fans share a sense of skepticism and a fear that at any moment, their team's fortunes can change." Mets devotee Jimmy Kimmel adds: "We're secret optimists: We live in fear of the roof caving in so we pretend that we expect the worst, but deep down we think the best will happen."
Even though his car was keyed in the L.A. parking lot, TV producer Ed Redlich still won't say a bad word. "That was when Dodger Stadium was at its roughest," says Redlich, whose license plates say "LGMets" (for "Let's Go, Mets") and who participates in a live text chain during games with industry pals R.J. Cutler, Ian Biederman and others.
In any case, Hollywood Mets denizens have waited nine years to see their team return to the playoffs. Game 2 falls on Brothers & Sisters alum Dave Annable's five-year wedding anniversary, but he's spending it with his wife, Odette, at Dodger Stadium. Julia Stiles also plans to be in the stands, wearing her vintage white satin Mets jacket.
Whichever team prevails, the rivalry seems to be a friendly one. "As a Mets fan, I've already been through so much pain and disappointment," says CAA agent John Campisi, whose client, Rob Reiner, bleeds Dodger Blue. "Regardless of the outcome, Rob and I will be there for each other."