Monday, April 24, 2017

Steve's Movie Blog: Every (Mad) Dog Has His Day

If you've listened to Mike Francesa's afternoon drive program on Sports Radio 101.9 FM and Sports Radio 66 WFAN in New York for the past 20 or so years, you know he's not the biggest ESPN fan in the universe, so you know something's gotta give when he agrees to participate in an episode of their acclaimed 30 FOR 30 documentary series (originally designed as a series of thirty documentaries to celebrate the Worldwide Leader's 30th Anniversary when it premiered in 2009) detailing his on- and off-air relationship with fellow sports talk personality Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo. This reporter had the pleasure to see MIKE AND THE MAD DOG (also the title of their long-running talk show which was simulcast on YES until just recently when Yankee radio sportscaster Michael Kay took over the simulcast time slot) at the Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan, (Since Robert deNiro founded the TFF as a means to stimulate the economy of the area after the events of 9/11, let me tell you that there's a scene in this movie about Mike and the Dog's reaction to the attack, and, without giving anything away, their Jewish fans and friends were not too happy.), and if your DVR allows it, set it for ESPN on July 17, because that's when this home run of a movie airs.

Not just a tribute to the titular hosts and the trend that started that has made sports talk an important format not just in the USA, but also in North America, the UK and elsewhere, but also a tribute to New York sports and the fans who love them, MMD relies on interviews with colleagues, competitors, and athletes and obviously copious amounts of research to tell the story of (A) the greatest creative collaboration since Lennon and McCartney and (B) the most explosive sports partnership since George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin. These two men turned a sports station with only one authentic New York voice (its first talk host Suzyn Waldman) into a bonafide voice for sports fans from the Bronx to Newark and everywhere in between. Find out what happened when the man who put them on the air was fired and they had to pinch-hit for him, when the inmates ran the asylum, and the surprise reunion last year at Francesa-con, Mike's annual fan gathering at punk palace Irving Plaza. (I wonder what will happen when Mike's contract with the FAN expires. We shall see what we shall see.)

You don't have to be a sports fan to SEE IT, but hey, it doesn't hurt! Sir Noel Coward once said, "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun." Change that to "Mad Dog and Francesa", because that's where they shone for two decades, especially in the toughest media market (and sports city) in the world.

As Chris used to say at the end of every show,


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