Fox’s newly picked up series Pitch screened its first episode at the ATX Television Festival today and was received enthusiastically by audience, especially when it came to the ‘screw ball’ at the end that no one saw coming. After the screening the audience was treated to a Q&A session with co-creater and EP Rick Singer, EP Kevin Falls along with stars Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar.
Pitch tracks the circumstances surrounding the the first female major league player, described by Singer as what “like Jackie Robinson debuting with real-time social media” would be like. Singer originally thought of it as a feature until “Dan [Fogelman] got wind of it and thought it would make a much better TV show.” The series is the first of its kind to collaborate with Major League Baseball, which afforded the production some access to uniforms and the opportunity shoot at the all star games.
“As partners we’re very conscious of their brand,” Falls said. “As far as making sure the stories are strong baseball stories, we were provided with the authenticity.” The show is hoping to expand its relationship and access with the league. “There are certain topics MLB does not like to talk about” but “this is also the sport that broke the color barrier,” Falls said. “I hope that with success we’ll be able to tackle those things that other sports run away from, because this will be a chance to get in front of certain issues.”
On why they went with the San Diego Padres, Falls said that “MLB suggested it,” but access to the stadium and its close proximity to Los Angeles left no arguments on their part.
When first approached with the script, Bunbury recalled being “moved” by it. “It’s incredibly empowering. I was really excited to play a complex character,” she said, adding in the discussion that she loved the fact that her character Ginny was not a “superhero… she’s a regular person who has a lot of focus.”
Gosselaar gushed about the project. “It’s very rare that you get a script in television that you read and it just hits you, and you want to be a part of it… We cried when we saw the pilot. We’re so proud of the product and the people that we work with. Its an amazing thing to be a part of something that from start to finish has turned out to be what you hoped it would.”
On how she felt young girls will react, Bunbury is optimistic. “I think they’ll be empowered,” she said. “Just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done.” She continued “I think it’s going to give be them strength, and it’s really inspiring to see a woman – and also I’m a woman of color as well… this is the type of television that needs to be out.” Gosselaar, who has two young daughters, said the show hit home for him as well, and that he felt it would be a vehicle for women.
Singer also acknowledged its importance to the younger generation. “The idea that some young girl could be sitting in her living room watching this and use it as inspiration… is an idea we thought would be amazing. It’s not just about wether you can make the major leagues, it’s whatever dreams you are going for. Dream big and go for it. ”
Pitch premieres in the fall on Fox.