Billy Corben, the famed documentary filmmaker behind such hits as “Cocaine Cowboys” and ESPN’s 30 for 30 “The U,” is back with a new film and it’s one he doesn’t think Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez will be rushing out to see.
“Screwball,” which premiers this Saturday at Doc NYC and will likely have a wider release as soon as spring of 2019, takes you on a fun trip back to when performance-enhancing drugs were all the rage in MLB and provides incredible details about A-Rod’s usage of PEDs (and all the things he did to try to keep it quiet) as well as that of other stars, such as Manny Ramirez and Ryan Braun, who also got busted.
The story dives into what happened after Rodriguez’s memorable news conference at spring training in 2009 when he admitted to using PEDs in the past and said that everyone should take his word on it that he wouldn’t use them again and to judge him on his actions from that day going forward. It goes into how A-Rod saw the success a juiced-up Manny, who would get hit with a 50-game suspension for PEDs, had with the Dodgers and asked Tony Bosch to get him on that program. It goes into how A-Rod hit three home runs in a game against the Royals shortly after starting treatments with Bosch. It goes into A-Rod’s battle with MLB to try to get his season-plus-long suspension overturned. It goes into Rodriguez paying protesters in pizza to show up outside of MLB’s NYC offices on the day of the arbitration hearing when he infamously kicked over a lawyer’s briefcase before storming out of the room.
“Our effort (in telling the story) isn’t to remind everyone what an a—— (Rodriguez) is,” Corben said, “it’s just to tell the truth in what happened in the story.”
But much like Corben’s other work, the tone of the film is done in such a fun way that it’s hard to look away from it during its 90-plus minutes.
“We were looking to create Coen bothers-esque experience of telling a quirky tale about a wild cast of characters… and highlighting the absurdity of it all was the goal,” Corben told For The Win this week. “The idea I came away from it [is], ‘These are the new values of America.’ That’s something I walked away with in the middle of some interviews we did during filming and seeing how Alex and MLB behaved. While it seems like a uniquely Florida story, it struck me as reflecting values of America now, ones that I think are warped and misguided. In the end, (the story) kind of had a ‘crime paid’ aspect to it. MLB and Alex ended up winning. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer and that’s so America 2018.
“I’m certain that this is a documentary that MLB and A-Rod would rather you not see, I’m certain of that,” Corben said.
The story is mostly told through first-hand accounts of two key guys, who happen to be two classic characters from the Miami area — Bosch, the founder and owner of Biogenesis who was also the fake doctor who controlled and oversaw all the players’ PED programs, and Porter Fisher, a South Florida resident who loved tanning salons and Bosch’s ability to make him look buff.
But what makes this documentary unique and enjoyable is that Corben used child actors to play out all the characters in the story, lip-syncing the lines being told by Bosch and Fisher. Here’s a taste of the film, make sure you stick around for A-Rod at the end of this:
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