Baseball’s Back, and So Is ‘Brockmire’

Hank Azaria in IFC's "Brockmire," season 2

Hank Azaria in IFC's "Brockmire," season 2

Actor Hank Azaria will take to the broadcast booth again as baseball announcer Jim Brockmire in the sophomore campaign of IFC’s comedy series Brockmire, premiering April 25. Azaria will again portray the flawed-but-lovable Brockmire as the series shifts to New Orleans and a new job opportunity for him to once again rebuild his reputation after suffering a notorious public breakdown surrounding his wife’s infidelity.

With IFC already greenlighting a third and fourth season of Brockmire, Azaria sat down with Multichannel News senior content producer R. Thomas Umstead to talk about the success of the series — season one drew more than 8.6 million total viewers in Nielsen live-plus-7 ratings — as well as the show’s full embrace of the sport of baseball, and the series’s uncanny ability to break through the comedy clutter — and thrive.

MCN: What should viewers expect from the second season of Brockmire?
Hank Azaria:
Brockmire continues to get very dark: Darker than season one, if you can believe that, because I couldn’t. Season two makes season one look like Saved by the Bell. They say that alcoholism and drug addiction — which are two problems that Jim Brockmire has — can be seen as fun with problems or just problems. I would say season two is solving fun with problems.

MCN: What’s been behind the success of the series?
It’s funny — that’s the most important thing to me — it’s comedy that’s actually funny. I know it sounds like I’m being simplistic or facetious, but that’s it. Bring on the drama and darkness, as long as it’s funny. It’s also really important to find a great writer, and we trust him to write the series. It also has a strong narrative; it’s a story that you can follow that’s not episodic; and we love the characters.

MCN: You’ve also successfully wove a scripted series around the subject of baseball. How important is the game to the overall identity of the series?
It’s very important for this show, but I think you have to approach it the right way. It was very organic to who this guy is, and he’s kind of what baseball is: an old-school, Americana, old-fashioned thing who has a difficulty transposing himself into modern society — kids, for example, don’t have the attention span for it. But you don’t have to be a baseball fan to love this show.

MCN: Obviously you’re keeping busy with Brockmire, but is there anything else you’re working on?
I’m always doing The Simpsons; I have for 30 years and that never stops. But Brockmire keeps me busy with producing and acting in the series.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.