Brockmire, starring Hank Azaria as Jim Brockmire, is in the midst of airing its 3rd season on IFC. Not familiar with the series? Here’s what you need to know. Jim Brockmire suffered a catastrophic meltdown during the broadcasting of a major league baseball game. The meltdown was so bad he was drummed out of baseball. Several years later, Jim is given the opportunity to announce games for a small town team called the Morristown Frackers. Season 2 found Jim calling games in New Orleans, not exactly the place for the man known to overdo it with drugs and alcohol. And Season 3 finds a newly sober Brockmire doing play by play for a major league team in Oakland and trying to stay out of trouble.
Recently, we were able to visit the set of the series – and chat with star Hank Azaria and showrunner Joel Church-Cooper. Find out what they had to say about Brockmire Season 3 below!
What is at the heart of this third season?
Joel: This season is about Brockmire’s journey towards making better choices. Jim this season is being a nicer, more loving person and his struggles to live this life because he has always lived his life in an opposite way. So we have a lot of fun early in the season watching his failures. Halfway through the season, Jim says, “What’s the point of trying to be a good person? It seems I open my mouth, and the world craps in it.’ His friend Charles, played by Tyrel Jackson Williams, who we have known from the first season, replies to Jim “Yeah, that happens but the only way to keep good people around you is to be a good person yourself.’ Jim has been touched by the good people around him like Charles and Jules, his girlfriend in the first season played by Amanda Peet. These are people that he wants to be a part of their lives and Brockmire want’s to be a part of their lives. It’ hard for him to get to their level because he has always been a very selfish person. Season one was about getting to know good people and let them in. Season two was darker and Brockmire hitting rock bottom, and for Jim, that is really at the bottom. Season three is about trying to be a better person, trying hard for the people that love him.
Are there any new additions to the cast?
Joel: We have added a couple of new characters. One is Gabby, played by Tawny Newsome, who is Jim’s announcing partner. A very young, black woman who is a lesbian. Richard Kind plays his producer Gus. I wanted to go from the youngest producer in baseball which was Charles in season one, to the oldest. Gus has been out of the game for fifteen years. He lives in Montreal and hasn’t worked since the Expos left town. Brockmire has killed so many careers that no one will take this job. So the only person that takes the job, is someone who hasn’t worked for fifteen years. Gus is a terrible producer because doesn’t want to do any of the jobs that are actually part of producing. He has no interest in learning what the buttons do on the board or giving notes about the broadcast, so he is a constant source of frustration for Jim and Gabby.
Can you tease any upcoming special guest stars?
Joel: Yeah, sportscaster Bob Costas is going to be on the show. We have had a running joke on how Brockmire gave him pink eye that you saw Costas had on the Olympic broadcast years ago. Bob Costas really liked being on the set and yelling at Hank’s character Jim. And baseball’s great George Brett, we have talked about having him on the show for quite a while. So Brockmire was the Kansas City Royals broadcaster while Brett was playing there. We are having George come back and he steals a woman from Brockmire. You know because if you had the option, you would choose George Brett every-time. I like the Brockmire sports world mirroring the real sports world, so it’s nice to get real people from the real sports world. We want to get Joe Buck back on the show. He was too busy to do anything for the season but we are hoping for season four.
Hank, can you tell us a bit about your process to get ready for shooting a season?
Hank: Yeah, we say a lot of words. Some days are harder than others. Like today, there was a scene where I never ever shut up. Joel gets the scripts done really early. I get them about four months in advance, and I memorize them like a play because we have to go so fast. I treat it like it’s one big play. so I memorize two pages a day over many, many weeks. I could perform this whole season as a stage play. And maybe I will!
Joel: When we tell other actors what Hank has to do on this show, they are horrified.
Hank: They are appalled! Appalled! People ask me if I do any ab-libbing on the show. There is no way, Jim has a tendency to do these long-winded Shakespearean speeches. Those scenes have to be seamless as if it is just occurring to Jim. It helps if the script has been in my brain for a few weeks.
What’s like now having Jim sober all the time?
Hank: You know it’s been a little sad. I don’t get to cut loose as I did on the first two seasons. Jim’s in no way the straight man because he says a lot of funny things. He is talking to his sister who says ‘I want you to have fun.’ and Jim says ‘I don’t have fun anymore, I just tolerate and survive.’ That’s kind of what I think Jim is going through. He’s just enduring a lot which is funny too, but it was a lot more fun to pretend to be wasted.
Season 3 takes place at spring training in Central Florida. Why does Brockmire hate Central Florida?
Hank: Because Joel does. Things that Joel doesn’t like to come out through Brockmire. He is very much annoyed by the movies of Christophe Nolan. As Brockmire says, through Joel, ‘I just want to enjoy a story, I don’t want to be taught a lesson on how to solve a puzzle, I just want to watch it.’
Joel: As far as likes, I had a crush on Ann Margret as a kid, which is appropriate for Brockmire to have.
Hank: At one point this season Brockmire says ‘Central Florida is full of mosquitoes, swampland and the remnants of a decimated Seminole tribe. They thought in the 1920s, in order to get people to the beaches, hucksters started building places with low character, greyhound dog tracks and live mermaid shows, alligator farms. The rube stampede to this incubator of sweat.’ So that was all Joel’s. See what I mean by Shakespearean.
What do you think is the key to a successful celebrity redemption story?
Hank: It is very public. You know in these modern times everything is public. I guess coming back from that type of social media disgrace is its own path. You know in life and in art, one has to learn lessons and somehow bring that back in their public life. It seems like Tiger Woods has done. There are a lot of people who have done it.
Joel: You know we make a few ‘Me Too’ jokes on the show but it is clear that Brockmire was never that guy. It is clear that he was never that guy. He was never racist or homophobic or misogynistic.
Hank: He was just everything else.
Joel: Yeah, everything else. Jim’s feelings are very public and this season is about the work that you do to rehabilitate yourself. He’s really not doing that work publicly, with his AA meetings, with his sponsor, with his friends. He is coming up lacking sometimes but they hold him to account, and he is holding himself to account. That doesn’t sound funny, but when we do it, it’s hilarious.
Hank: It’s a real journey, that’s for sure.
You have said the character is based on some of the announcers you grew up with. Can you tell us how you came up with this character? And are you a baseball fan?
Hank: I’m a huge baseball fan and sports fan, especially New York sports fan. The character was really a vocal impression of the many impressions I did as a young man. (Hank starts talking like Brockmire) ‘I always thought this was a funny way to express themselves, especially if he wasn’t in the booth.’ I tried for many years to come up with a comedic premise that would work with the voice. We did the short for Funny or Die, almost ten years ago. That’s when I met Joel. He took over writing for the character, about 29,000 times better than I could. It is a good marriage. And as you have seen, Joel is angry a lot and there is plenty of material to vent about.
Joel: So we got a job doing one minute spots on the NFL Network. It was the year of Tim Tebow. I am a big NFL fan, so it was easy for me to do. So the joy I got out of writing Tim Tebow jokes and have Brockmire say them.
Hank: Of all the things Joel hates, Tim Tebow may be at the top. Watching the man fail in two sports, is there anything the man can do?
Joel: The Bizarro Bo Jackson.
Hank: I get away with saying a lot of things as Jim Brockmire that I would never say personally. I went into the booth this year as Jim Brockmire and said a lot of really bad stuff. If I went in as Hank Azaria and said just half the stuff, there would be so much blowback.
You guys shoot the series here in Georgia. What baseball stadiums have you shot at hehe?
Joel: We have shot at Sun Trust, Cool Ray Field, Macon, Rome. The only one in Georgia we haven’t shot at is Savannah because it looks like the Macon field. Oh, and we have not shot in Augusta because technically it is in South Carolina on the other side of the river.
Brockmire is on IFC network Wednesday nights at 10 pm EST, 9:00 pm CST.