- The Bronx Is Burning
The Bronx Is Burning Format Drama Created by Jonathan Mahler Directed by Jeremiah Chechik Starring John Turturro
Country of origin United States No. of episodes 8 Production Executive producer(s) Mike Tollin
Running time 60 minutes Broadcast Original channel ESPN Original run July 9, 2007 – August 28, 2007
The Bronx Is Burning is a television drama that debuted on ESPN on July 9, 2007, after the 2007 MLB Home Run Derby. It is an eight-episode mini-series adapted from Jonathan Mahler's best-selling book, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning. The book focuses on baseball's triumph over the turmoil and hysteria of 1977 New York City and how the New York Yankees came to embody the hopes and fears of an unforgettable summer with Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson's warfare under George Steinbrenner's leadership.
The show stars Daniel Sunjata, Oliver Platt, and John Turturro, while executive producers Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola, writer/executive producer James Solomon, and director Jeremiah Chechik work on the show. The series is produced by ESPN Original Entertainment in conjunction with Tollin/Robbins Productions. Filming began on September 18, 2006 in Connecticut and New York.
The 2007 debut of the series marks the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Series win for the Yankees, the first under Steinbrenner.
The central theme of the adaptation is the 1977 New York Yankees against the backdrop of New York City. Yankee superstar Reggie Jackson (Daniel Sunjata) and manager Billy Martin (John Turturro) are locked in a perpetual state of warfare. Jackson was a perfect foil for the scrappy Martin, the hero of New York's fed-up working-class and a powerful reminder of the team's—and the city's—less complicated past. While owner George Steinbrenner (Oliver Platt) was providing General Patton-style leadership, he was intent on keeping his promise to the people of New York of delivering a World Series title. The show also features subplots concerning the NYPD's pursuit of the Son of Sam serial killer that summer and the devastating blackout and resultant widespread looting in July, all while the city suffered through financial bankruptcy and massive municipal layoffs. Another subplot focused on the 1977 New York City Mayoral race featuring incumbent mayor Abraham Beame, former Congresswoman Bella Abzug, future Governor Mario Cuomo, and Congressman Ed Koch, the eventual winner.
“ As night descended, ABC, broadcasting the game, cut to a helicopter camera for an overhead view of Yankee Stadium and the surrounding neighborhood, where, bizarrely, a large fire raged out of control. Howard Cosell intoned, 'There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.' ”
According to the source book's author, Mahler, at the time property taxes were so high landlords would burn down their buildings for the insurance money, and some tenants would set a fire in a decrepit, privately-owned building in order to get priority for the newer public housing. However, the burning of tenement housing in New York City in the 1970s was the end-game of urban renewal. After a building was red-lined, it was deemed unsuitable for sale in the eyes of the mortgage banking industry. A building's owner could not sell his building unless he received a cash payment. Landlords were forced to maintain a building that they couldn't afford to keep. Taxes collected by the city were greater than what could be charged to tenants (an unintended consequence of rent control laws). With nobody paying cash to buy the building, and no way to sell the building to a conventional buyer, the landlord's only recourse was to set it on fire.
The series has been lauded for maintaining the historical accuracy reflected by its literary source. However, one inaccuracy involves a reproduction of an infamous Miller Lite television commercial lampooning Steinbrenner's frequent threats to fire Martin: Its inclusion in the miniseries implies its creation and broadcast during the 1977 baseball season. In reality it was shot and televised during the 1978 baseball season, after Martin had resigned under threat of being fired, and then shortly thereafter rehired "for the 1980 baseball season," announced during that year's Old Timer's Game at Yankee Stadium. In this context, it lampoons Martin's actual "firing" in 1978, not threats of such during the 1977 season.
№ # Title Directed by Written by Original air date 1 1 "The Straw" Jeremiah S. Chechik Harley Peyton and Jonathan Mahler July 10, 2007 The year is 1977. The New York Yankees are coming off their embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 World Series. The Son of Sam has killed his first victim. Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin discuss which free agent to sign, settling on Reggie Jackson. As spring training begins, Martin and Steinbrenner argue. 2 2 "Team in Turmoil" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman, Michael Lucas, and James D. Solomon July 17, 2007 The 1977 season has begun, but the Yankees struggle. Tensions rise between Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson. Meanwhile, the NYPD creates the Omega Task Force to capture the ".44 caliber killer". Also, the election for mayor of New York is heating up. Incumbent mayor Abraham Beame is challenged by Representative Ed Koch, New York Secretary of State Mario Cuomo, and feminist activist Bella Abzug for the Democratic nomination. 3 3 "Time for a Change?" Jeremiah S. Chechik Kyle Harimoto, Michael Lucas, and James D. Solomon July 24, 2007 During a nationally televised game, Jackson fails to hustle after a ball, setting up a fight in the dugout with Martin. Steinbrenner decides to fire Martin, but is convinced by his players not to do so. The press continues to investigate the Son of Sam. Abzug takes the lead in the mayoral race. 4 4 "The Seven Commandments" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman and James D. Solomon July 31, 2007 Munson publicizes his discontent with the team in the press. A major blackout covers the city in darkness. Martin and Steinbrenner make a deal regarding Jackson, but he breaks the terms, leading Gabe Paul to ask Dick Howser if he would take over. The NYPD picks up the search as the anniversary of the Son of Sam's first murder approaches. 5 5 "Caught!" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman, James D. Solomon, and Jim Sterling August 1, 2007 With Jackson batting cleanup, the Yankees go on a hot streak. Following a new lead, the Omega Task Force closes in on the Son of Sam, making the arrest. 6 6 "The Game's Not as Easy as It Looks, Fellas" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman, James D. Solomon, and Jonathan Mahler August 8, 2007 Ed Koch wins the Democratic primary in the mayoral election, and the Yankees win the division. This emboldens Martin to ask for a contract extension, a request Steinbrenner declines. The Yankees face the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. Jackson's struggles lead Martin to bench him. 7 7 "Past Combatants" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman, James D. Solomon, and Jonathan Mahler August 15, 2007 The Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers face off in the World Series. Steinbrenner makes a decision about Martin's future. 8 8 "Mr. October" Jeremiah S. Chechik Michael Lucas and James D. Solomon August 22, 2007 Jackson makes history in Game 6 of the World Series.
Actor Role John Turturro Yankees manager Billy Martin Daniel Sunjata Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson Oliver Platt Yankees owner George Steinbrenner Kevin Conway Yankees president Gabe Paul Daryl Blonder Yankees batboy Ray Negron Rob Lavin Yankees pitcher Ken Holtzman Erik Jensen Yankees catcher Thurman Munson Loren Dean Yankees back-up catcher Fran Healy Seth Gilliam Yankees outfielder Paul Blair Joe Grifasi Yankees bench coach Yogi Berra Mather Zickel Yankees outfielder Lou Piniella Alex Cranmer Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles Evan Hart Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent Dock Pollard Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph Lou Provenzano Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry Darby Brown Yankees designated hitter Cliff Johnson Jason Kosow Yankees pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter Max Casella Yankees third base coach Dick Howser Leonard Robinson Yankees outfielder Mickey Rivers Christopher McDonald Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio Tom Wiggin Yankees Hall of Famer Whitey Ford Robert Ward Himself Alan Ruck Reporter Steve Jacobson Josh Pais Reporter Phil Pepe Dan Lauria Captain Joseph Borelli Nestor Serrano Detective Kavanaugh Stephen Lang Deputy Inspector Timothy Dowd John Mahoney News Reporter (Background Casting) Casey Siemaszko Detective Welker Josiah Schlatter Clubhouse attendant Michael Rispoli Newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin Paul Marini David Berkowitz Russell Woron-Simons Student watching TV Jason Giambi Taxi cab driver
- 1977 New York Yankees season
- 1977 American League Championship Series
- 1977 World Series
- David Berkowitz
- New York City blackout of 1977
- ^ Grimes, William (2005-03-30). "A City Gripped by Crisis and Enraptured by the Yankees". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/30/books/30grim.html.
- ^ Brown, Tiffany (2008-04-07). "'The Bronx is Burning' Author Visits Lehman". http://media.www.lcmeridian.com/media/storage/paper806/news/2008/04/07/ArtsEntertainment/the-Bronx.Is.Burning.Author.Visits.Lehman-3298371.shtml.
- Press Release: ESPN Original Entertainment to Develop Limited Series: "The Bronx is Burning"
- Press Release: ESPN Miniseries "The Bronx is Burning" to Begin Shooting for 2007 Premiere
- Press Release: John Turturro, Oliver Platt, and Daniel Sunjata to Star in ESPN's Upcoming Miniseries "The Bronx is Burning"
- Press Release: ESPN Announces Award-Winning Editor and Additional Cast for "The Bronx is Burning"
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