A League of Their Own, a series inspired by the 1992 film of the same name, premieres on Prime Video August 12. The series is based on adventures of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which launched in 1943.
Abbi Jacobson and Chanté Adams star, and Jacobson co-created the A League of Their Own series with Will Graham.
Graham described his younger self as "a queer kid playing Little League." He acknowledges the "no crying in baseball" axiom made famous in the Penny Marshall movie by Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan character, but concedes that he cried constantly during his time with the Chesapeake Bagel Bakery team outside Washington, DC. "My coach said, 'Will is very emotional,'" he shared.
As much as he loved the movie, Graham felt there were many more stories to tell about the women’s league. "The fact that it was a two-hour movie, and the league lasted 10 years," he said, "it felt like an opportunity to take that joy and sense of fun and comedy and unpretentious humor Penny and the cast brought to the film. We felt the story could go much wider."
Graham knew Jacobson, who created Broad City with Ilana Glazer, a bit, and sought her out as a partner. "Broad City was one of the funniest, but also one of the most emotional and warm, shows out there," he said of the Comedy Central series.
The two approached Marshall before her 2018 death about their idea for the series. Marshall was "wonderful," said Graham, and shared that her initial cut of the movie was 4 ½ hours long. "There was so much she wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to do," he said. "She said, 'these stories changed my life, and I think they will change yours too.'"
The pilot was shot in Los Angeles, and the rest of the first season shot in Pittsburgh, standing in for Chicago and Rockford, Illinois. Justine Siegal, the first woman to coach in Major League Baseball (Oakland A’s, 2015) was brought on as baseball coordinator, teaching the cast a few tricks on the diamond. "It was a huge part of this process," said Graham. "She really put them through their paces."
The producers sought out actresses who had softball or baseball backgrounds, Graham added, which made the process a wee bit easier.
There are eight episodes. D’Arcy Carden, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Nick Offerman, Roberta Colindrez, and Chanté Adams are also in the cast.
What makes a story set in the 1940s timely today? "It's a show about people in a really difficult time in history, finding joy and finding opportunity, even though they don’t know what the world will look like in three months or six months," said Graham. "We’re in an unstable time, and it’s hard to see what the future looks like."
Graham said Jacobson has been "a real joy" to work with in bringing A League of Their Own to life. "The show has a lot of voices and perspectives in it," he said. "That's part of the joy of it." ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.