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Oz Scott Talks Baseball, 'Home Run Showdown'
Prolific director Oz Scott ("The Cheetah Girls") tackles kids, baseball, and sibling rivalry in the new sports drama "Home Run Showdown."
Oz Scott, director of the new baseball drama "Home Run Showdown," said that making this film was, in a word, fun.
"The actors were fun. We had fun, and I hope that shows," Scott said when reached by telephone.
A multi-layered sports story, "Home Run Showdown" focuses on Lori (Kyle Kirk), a boy who is trying to make his father proud. Now living with his aunt, Lori tries out for a local baseball league, but he doesn't make the cut.
"[Lori] was a hard part to cast because, first of all, you need someone who can play baseball, which [Kirk] could. And you needed someone who could act and react and carry the emotions of the character. He is a character who has troubles," Scott explained.
The director also said he told Austin Wintory, the composer for the film, that he had to write to Lori's strengths: "[Lori] doesn't get who he is. You have to write [music] so that when he realizes who he is, he will be strong and powerful as opposed to writing for a 'Woe is me, woe is me, woe is me' character. He's an interesting character."
The story also features intense sibling rivalry between Joey Deluca (Matthew Lillard) and his brother Rico (Dean Cain). After failing in the Minor Leagues, Joey drifted through life while his Major League brother became a success. Both brothers end up coaching opposing baseball teams in the film.
"Matthew really worked with the kids. He took that responsibility of being Number One on the call sheet seriously. The kids really looked up to him. Even when he wasn't working, he would come out and make sure the kids were okay," Scott enthused. "I also love Dean Cain, who is win at all costs [in the film]."
As for casting the kids, Kyle Kirk and Kaleigh Ryan, who played podcaster Felicia Lee, hail from Los Angeles. A lot of the other children, though were from the Detroit area, including Joshua Saba, who plays an earnest announcer and podcaster. "At first, the writer had written [his character] with a lisp. I said 'No, your voice is funny enough. You don't need to do anything, just be yourself,'" Scott explained.
Through the character of Fassie, played by Emma-Lee Hess, many frustrations of youth baseball leagues come to light. Fassie wants to play baseball with the boys, but she initially is assigned to a girls' softball team. "I wish I had done more with [Fassie]. She had the strength of the film. There was real heart there," Scott said.
"Home Run Showdown" also looks at the "mercy rule" in baseball, which strives to end a game when one team has a substantial lead over the over. In some youth leagues, parents want both teams to feel like winners instead of losers. Other parents prefer that the children learn to deal with defeat.
"I played Little League. I played a lot of baseball. My kids played baseball. There was this one incident where this guy from New York was out in LA and all our kids were out there playing. He was out there yelling 'Pitcher can't pitch.' He was just razzing the pitcher," Scott explained.
The parents involved in this situation got together and formed a committee, came over to the coach, and told him to be more understanding and supportive of both teams.
"They were going through all this PC stuff and I am going 'The kid is striking us out,'" Scott said, laughing.
"Home Run Showdown" stars Kyle Kirk and Kaleigh Ryan will be on hand at the AMC Ontario Mills Mall in Ontario, CA, on Friday, August 3 for an opening night screening of their film. Professional baseball player Dmitri Young also will be on hand for the screening, which begins at 7:10 p.m.