11:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'A League of Their Own' Reboot Ordered to Series at Amazon
Months after wrapping production on the pilot, Amazon has handed out a series order for its reboot of A League of Their Own.
Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham created the hourlong series, which is described as a reinterpretation of the original, nearly 30-year-old feature film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The Amazon take, which stars Jacobson, will have the spirit of Penny Marshall's beloved movie while expanding its lens to explore race and sexuality as the series follows a new ensemble of women carving out their own paths in the league and outside of it.
"Twenty-eight years ago, Penny Marshall told us a story about women playing professional baseball that up until then had been largely overlooked. We grew up obsessed with the film, like everyone else. Three years ago, we approached Sony with the idea of telling a new, still overlooked set of those stories. With the help of an enormously talented team of collaborators, an amazing cast, and the devoted support of Amazon to this project, we feel beyond lucky and excited to get to bring these characters to life," Graham and Jacobson said in a joint statement Thursday. "It took grit, fire, authenticity, wild imagination and a crackling sense of humor for these players to achieve their dreams. We’re hoping to bring audiences a story with all of those qualities."
Jacobson, Chanté Adams, D'Arcy Carden, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Kelly McCormack, Roberta Colindrez and Priscilla Delgado star in the series, which features recurring guest stars Molly Ephraim, Kate Berlant and Melanie Field. Jamie Babbit directed the pilot. Sources say that some surviving members of the AAGPBL served as consultants on the pilot and are expected to continue on with the series.
"There’s no crying in baseball, or at Prime Video,” said Vernon Sanders, co-head of television at Amazon. “Will and Abbi have taken a classic movie, reimagining it for a new generation with new characters and their own fresh, modern vision on a timeless story of big dreams, friendship, love, and, of course, baseball. We’re so excited to partner with Sony to bring this emotional, exciting new series to our Prime Video customers around the world.”
First put in development in March 2018, the series is produced by Sony Pictures Television, whose Columbia Pictures produced the film about the real-life AAGPBL that was formed when World War II threatened to shut down Major League Baseball. The film followed two sisters, Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty), as they were recruited to join the AAGPBL and wound up playing for the Rockford Peaches (before a trade that would see them face off in the World Series). Tom Hanks played manager Jimmy Dugan, a character inspired by former big leaguers Jimmie Foxx and Hack Wilson. The cast also included Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Megan Cavanagh and David Strathairn, who played Ira Lowenstein, the league's GM who kept it going after owner Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall) wanted to shut it down after the war.
Sources say Graham and Jacobson reached out to both Penny Marshall (before her passing in December 2018) and Davis ahead of time to get their blessing for the Amazon take, which will — like the film — explore themes including prejudice and equality, among others. (The original movie included one short but important moment during which a Black woman throws a ball back to Dottie in a scene that briefly illustrated the segregation that existed at the time.)
Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel penned the original feature screenplay based on a story by Kelly Candaele and Kim Wilson. Penny Marshall directed the film. The feature, produced on a budget of $40 million, went on to gross $132 million worldwide. In 2012, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry for its portrayal of women's choices and solidarity during World War II that was both funny and feminist.
With the order, Graham now serves as showrunner on two Amazon series with League joining Daisy Jones and the Six. Both stem from his long-running overall deal with Amazon that started back with Mozart in the Jungle.
This is the second time that A League of Their Own has been rebooted for the small screen. CBS tried unsuccessfully in 1993 with a sitcom that featured Cavanagh and Tracy Reiner, who played Betty "Spaghetti," reprising their roles. Ganz and Mandel created the series, with Marshall directing. Sam McMurray took over Hanks' role. The series was pulled after three episodes. (A total of six episodes were produced, with three airing in April 1993 and two more in August of the same year.)