Scattered around Hollywood, it seems, are warehouses (or hard drives) stuffed with scripts.
They’ve been purchased and pondered and then ignored. Few survive; one exception is the “Big Shot” series, which starts streaming Friday (April 16) on the Disney+ service.
“When Disney+ started, they … said, ‘Have you seen any scripts over the years that didn’t get made that you might like?’” John Stamos (shown here) – who stars as a guy who was once big in men’s college basketball, but now coaches high school girls – told the Television Critics Association.
Such script-searches can be futile. MGM once hired an expert to see it there were any good scripts the studio already owned. He found plenty, including five by William Faulkner; they were ignored.
This time, however, Disney found the TV equivalent of Faulkner. That’s David E. Kelley, the lawyer-turned-writer who has gone from “L.A. Law” and “Ally McBeal” to “The Practice” and “Big Little Lies,” getting 29 Emmy nominations and 11 wins.
He and Dean Lorey wrote “Big Shot”; ABC bought it six-plus years ago, Lorey said, then scuttled it.
“Out of the blue, a couple years ago, we got a call and they said, ‘We are creating this new streaming service, Disney+, and we want to pick you up, straight to series.” That soon surprised:
– Bill D’Elia, a director, “Dean said, ‘Remember that show we were going to do, years ago? … Do you still want to do it?’”
– Stamos, who had tried to land previous Kelley show. “I said, ‘He’s my favorite … Do I play a lawyer?’ (They said) ‘It a basketball show.’ And my heart sank, because I am so bad at sports.”
D’Elia was also out of his element: “My experience with basketball can be reduced to one word – baseball,’” he said.
Fortunately, there was a consultant to handle the details. She even ran a boot camp for a month or so, training people who had been chosen for their acting, not their jump shots.
Stamos didn’t have to go to boot camp, but he did go watch a pro team, the Los Angeles Clippers. “I guess they call it a practice,” he said, “but I called it a rehearsal. (Also,) I thought they were a college team, and that didn’t go over well.”
Fortunately, “Big Shot” focuses on people. “It’s about second chances,” said Yvette Nicole Brown.
She plays the headmistress who reluctantly hires the coach; Jessalyu Gilsig plays the assistant coach who often disagrees with him.
“I am blessed to have been on a few David E. Kelley shows,” said Gilsig, who was a regular on “Boston Public” and a guest star on several others. “They are so character-driven …. You just put these two well-drawn characters in a room and then you sort of release them.”
For the first time, the coach must ponder his own life and the lives of his players. Until now, D’Elia said, “he never cared about (them). They were just X’s and O’s” on a play diagram.
Now they’re people, which is just as well. Stamos and D’Elia know people; they don’t know what all those X’s and O’s are about.