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Abbi Jacobson on reimagining ‘A League of Their Own’ with late director Penny Marshall’s blessing

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abby jacobson and her a league of Their Own Co-producer, Will Graham, has long shared the belief that the 1992 film doesn’t need to be remade.

So when Jacobson and Graham’s episode titled Penny Marshall drops on Amazon on August 12, they’re both hopeful that the show, which also stars Jacobson, feels different enough.

“We love those characters and that angle at the moment. We are not trying to do Dottie and Kit again,” Jacobson says, referring to the now-iconic roles played by Geena Davis and Lori Petty. “I’m not trying to pretend to be Geena Davis in any way.”

The series, for which he was blessed with Marshall, Davis and original co-star Rosie O’Donnell (who also had a cameo), explores themes of sexuality and racism that were largely removed from the original. Graham (who has a deal with Amazon) and Jacobson have spent the past half-decade researching the personal lives of women in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. broad city The creator-star series lead, Carson, serves as a ballplayer who discovers a new community after falling for a teammate.

Speaking from his Eastside LA home via Zoom in late July, Jacobson, 38, who is dating actress Jodi Balfour (for all Mankind) for two years – opens up about the possibility of re-visiting broad cityTrying Her Hand at Directing and Why She’s Already Tired a league of Their Own Being described as a “queer show”.

Later broad city finished, how did you think what was next?

broad city I had an amplified version. so much of my personal life was broad cityBut the tone had risen. The things I wear all the hats on – broad city And this – I [can’t] help that [they’re] super personal. This is the only fuel in my tank. How do I experience the world, what I see, how can I turn it into whatever story I am telling? I feel a huge responsibility on this show to tell these other stories that are based on real women, but I have added a lot to it.

This is not a remake. Is it fair to say that this is an extension of areas where the film was not found?

We want to talk about stories that were overlooked. We were talking about that throw. [In the movie, a Black woman retrieves a foul ball, indirectly nodding to the league’s racial bias.] We’re not trying to tell the story of white women who got to play baseball in the 1940s—that was told. Ours is about the women of that generation and what happens when that door opens for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and a lot of white women and white passing women have that opportunity. But what happens when it stops? What happens when Chantey Adams’ character, Max, isn’t allowed to try? Max Negro is based on three women playing in the league.

“I was doing a lot of what’s called ‘memory maps,’ right after I graduated,” says Maryland Institute College of Art alum Jacobson, exploring the places in my life that were important to me. ” “This one (I think – it was a long time ago) is the front part of the house I grew up in.” Yasara Gunawardena. photographed by

You and Will are both part of the LGBTQ community. Do you think it helped make the show happen?

I think it helps us tell the stories that we are telling in the show. I don’t know if that helped us sell the show. I don’t think so I would like to sell anything. But I also think that if two queuing listeners come along to tell you that there’s a really important story that’s been overlooked about the history of the queue, there’s probably a more convincing reason to make it up.

How concerned are you about so much leaning into LGBTQ topics at such a dangerous time for the LGBTQ community?

It’s never been dangerous. But in the last few months, what the fuck is happening?! I’m glad it’s going out into the world right now because I’m angry, and I think it’s more important than ever to show more representation like this. The fear is that people will see the poster and think that we are doing a vocal version of it. a league of Their OwnWhen in fact it is more true to what was happening at the time.

You and Will met with Penny Marshall before Penny Marshall died. What questions did you have for him?

It was a 15- to 20-minute call. She was really sick; That was just before she died. We felt very lucky that we got a chance to get his blessings. We get into the scene with the foul ball and the Black Woman who dodges it back. Penny said she felt like she couldn’t tell all the stories in the allotted time and wanted to point to other parts that were important, such as the throws. We have more real estate to do that. There is no queer in the film, and yet it is an iconic queer film. It’s just up in the air, and I don’t think it was intentional. If that’s how you feel and you look like an outsider, that’s the way you watch the movie and the way you feel. And a lot of queer people feel that way. We talked about the queue. Penny Was Telling This Story In 1992, And That Was a Very Different Time [in terms of] What stories were accepted for a huge studio film. If it’s hard for us to do it now, it was for him then.

“My favorite pen (currently): Stadler, Pigment Liner 0.3,” she says. Photographed by Yasara Gunawardene

Is it difficult now?

When the show keeps mentioning [with the descriptor] Before it’s “queer” all the time, it’s not bad, but we’re still in the moment when we’re labeling things as “queer shows.” It’s like being called “a female comedian”. It is divided unless it is called just a show or a comedian.

We talk a lot about who can tell or who can tell what story. Do you think the film will be greenlighted today considering where the industry is with diversity? It was written by two straight white people.

I don’t think it should be without acknowledging part of what it is [Black woman’s] Throw did it for us. It is not explicitly stated in the movie that he was not allowed to try. The original league, like any organization, has flaws. As a kid, I processed a bit of that: “She’s too cool and she can’t play.” This [crystal clear] What is the reality there? If that movie was pitched now, it should have included the stories that we’re doing, that’s why we’re doing it.

The great Mabel Blair – who has just come out aged 95 – is among the 20 or so former AAGPBL players you consulted. What stories about the league and its players were important for them to appear on the show?

He shared what it meant to him to be in the league at the time. With Maybelle, we haven’t talked about queuing for a while. We discussed this topic at a dive bar that she loves that she took us out to dinner. I said that it felt like some parts of the film related to queer women were missing. I told him Will and I were queer. He took a deep breath and said, “I’ve never really said that, but I’m quirky.” It was the first time he had said this outside his small community. It was so early in our development cycle, and from that point on, we grew closer to each other and shared a lot with each other.

A portrait by artist Helen Rae. “Rae was deaf and nonverbal and used fashion magazines as inspiration. Her style is different than anyone I’ve ever seen and she does all the things I look for art to do – inspire me, Awe, ignites and lands. Photographed by Yasara Gunawardena.

When it was first reported in early 2018 that you and Will were developing a league of Their OwnYou had no plans to act in it. Did it change?

We were always writing this character with our voice in our mind. It’s hard ’cause I wasn’t sure when we were ending broad city, It was and is a terrible thing to begin with. I had to wait until I was in love with what we were making.

In this era of reboots, there’s no interest in coming again broad city,

broad city Ended in spring 2019. That was not that long ago, but it seems like 20 years ago! Ilana [Glazer, her co-creator and co-star] And I always talk about the fact that we’ll only do it in a way that makes sense to us. When it gets to a point where we can’t do anything together, when will we do it? I can’t imagine not having anything to do with Ilana again.

So, what’s next for you?

We hope we get to do another season [of League], After I’m on vacation, the next thing I’m excited about is a short story I’d like to write as a film, chosen by Laurie Moore, and this film is my first foray into directing. It’s completely different from anything I’ve done before.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the August 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Please click here to subscribe,

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