Rosie O’Donnell’s ‘League of Their Own’ Cameo’s Emotional Story

In Amazon’s sixth episode A tournament of its own series remakeWe met an old friend.

Rosie O’Donnell, who starred in Penny Marshall’s 1992 film, appeared as the owner and bartender of an odd, human-friendly speakeasy that some members of the Rockford Peaches frequent back and forth. O’Donnell played Doris, a sly and shrewd aide to Madonna’s charming and manic Mae, in the original film.

If you were an ordinary person like me, who would watched A tournament of its own (movie version) about 63 times and can only quote about line by line, you know that Doris is the best character. That makes her surprise appearance in the new series even sweeter.

Created by Abbi Jacobson (who also plays Carson) and Will Graham, the series expands on the film’s premise — a professional baseball leagueGue in the 1940s recruited women to keep the stands filled while the male players went to war — by layering deeper backstory of side characterswhich the film fails to do, including exploring the strangeness of many of the team’s players.

(Maybelle Blair, who played in the real-life league on which the film and series are based and worked as a mentor on the show, came out as gay just this year – at 95! – while her friend from those days, Terry Scott and her partner for seven decades is the subject of the Netflix documentary A secret love.)

In particular, there’s an undeniable rigor to O’Donnell’s cameo in that role; the actress herself made her public debut in 2002, 10 years after the film was made. Here, she plays Vi, who serves as the de facto welcome committee to live the strange life for Jacobson’s character Carson. When Carson arrives at Vi’s bar for the first time, Vi follows her spiral of confused emotions: disbelief, surprise, and suspenseful excitement. After their conversation, Carson almost immediately felt that everything was going to be fine, although she was confused about her sexuality and worried about what might happen if she went public about it.

The episode is a stellar work in the underrated genre: Rosie O’Donnell Truly a breathtaking actress, people. (Watch HBO miniseries I know many of these things are true like Exhibit A.) And it turns out the guests were all the ideas of the former talk show host.

While it’s important for Jacobson and Graham to pay tribute to the 1992 film—before her death, they received Marshall’s blessing to create the series—they are wary of too much. direct references; mainly stunt actors. However, in an interview with The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, the pair said that changed when O’Donnell visited the writer’s room during pre-production and came up with the idea for the character.

Jacobson said: “I love Rosie in the movie. “There’s no overt weirdness in the movie, though it would be Rosie – even though she wasn’t even out at the time. But she is such a person, she is such an important part of strange American history. We don’t want to do a lot of cameos, but letting her do a cameo was the right thing to do. “

While visiting the writer’s room, she introduced the creators to playing Vi and what she envisions the role, down to her wardrobe and hairstyle. Things get more and more poetic, given O’Donnell’s role in the gay community, the mentoring role she’s volunteering with the writing staff, and the nature of the character she’ll be playing. .

“It became the perfect, most relevant summary of the show for me,” says Graham. “It’s a show about teams made by a team.”

In particular, the first scene that Vi appears in is about creating a safe space. Whether it was a pub in 1943 or a hot spot in Hell’s Kitchen today, gay bars were and still are sacred havens for the community. Having O’Donnell represent the source of that is an emotional experience for everyone.

“I love bars and weird spaces,” says Graham. “For me personally on this show, talking to your ancestors on the one hand, and your colleagues on the other, about this… that’s amazing. For Carson to step into that space and realize that she’s not alone and can talk for the first time without worrying about being overheard, which is an experience that has been described to us by some of the people we interviewed. . That feels very powerful to me. “

“The way she was revealed on the show was so much like Carson’s exposure to this weird community that I didn’t think she existed,” Jacobson said. “For Rosie, that moment was amazing.”

The episodes are both sweet and inspiring, until, at the climax, the bar is raided by the police. Carson and her teammates managed to run to safety without getting caught — at that point, freaks caught in public spaces would have their names printed in the newspapers and ostracized from the community. They’re hiding everywhere, in a movie theater that’s playing Wizard of Oz. One of the Peaches didn’t make it through. Meanwhile, Vi is violently attacked by an officer and beaten with a baton.

It was a series of horrors. It’s also very realistic, an experience that O’Donnell knows and is eager to portray.

“The ending of that episode was devastating, and really showed the audience and Carson how dangerous it is to be weird — and how dangerous it is to be weird in many places,” Jacobson said. ,” Jacobson said. “It’s a really important part of the weird stories we’re trying to tell, so for Rosie to be a part of that is pretty special.”

When Graham interviewed quirky people who were alive at the time the story was given as part of his research, he said that many of them would have a smile on their face — even when recounting their pain. these raids. Surviving is part of their pride, and their overall experience is something that means something to them. “I think at any point in history we weirdos have all found a space and a way to find joy and celebrate together but there is a risk to that,” Graham said. speak.

One of his favorite stories to tell about the carrying process A tournament of its own Life as a series is by O’Donnell. She was recounting one of her first meetings with Marshall about the project and pointed out to the director that, quite clearly to her, Doris was gay. She then gave the perfect impression of Marshall’s blunt, disinterested reply: “No.”

The series is an opportunity to make things right. And it seems, well, right for O’Donnell to be such an instrumental piece.

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