Set Visit: The Comebacks

When I made my way to Pierce College in Woodland Hills, two things came to mind. I haven’t stepped foot in a school for a long time, being the first, and the second was, I forgot my hat. I have this really kick ass old school Lynyrd Skynyrd black retro cowboy hat that keeps the sun out of my eyes and I had a feeling this would be a problem but who knows, maybe I would be spending the day in a classroom with a bunch of actors. But when I arrived, I found myself on a football field on a hot November day (this is Southern California folks) and I really needed a hat, but thanks to the wonderful Paulette Dauber, my hat issue was cured. Along with Paulette, this was where I met all the fine folks involved in the Fox Atomic football comedy, THE COMEBACKS.

PLOT: A hilarious comedy that spoofs the best inspirational sports movies ever made, THE COMEBACKS tells the story of an out-of-luck coach, Lambeau Fields, who takes a rag-tag bunch of college misfits and drives them towards the football championships. In the process, of course, this life-long loser discovers that he is a winner after all - redeeming himself, saving his relationship with his family and friends, and finds that there is indeed, no “I” in “team”! The film stars David Koechner, Carl Weathers, and a talented young cast including Matthew Lawrence, Brooke Nevin, Jackie Long, and Jesse Garcia. It also features plenty of sports cameos including folks like Michael Irvin, John Salley, Stacy Keibler, Dennis Rodman, Lawrence Taylor, Eric Dickerson and others...

It was a strange experience finding myself on the field with several faux fans in the bleachers, and let me tell you, they hired the best extras for this type of film. It reminded me of my years in West Valley , Utah and the sort of DELIVERANCE type of peeps that would go to the local football games. But there I was, surrounded by a variety of players including Matthew Lawrence, Jesse Garcia, Jackie Long, Martin Spanjers, George Back, Jermaine Williams and Noreen. They all got along and seemed to general dig working together, although much of the Jesse Garcia’s attention was on the “cheerleaders” and I don’t know if I can blame him.

They were nothing, and I mean NOTHING like my years in school. Only in Hollywood can you have the school cheerleading squad at this level of hotness, this was certainly not the case at the schools I went to, aside from the very attractive, and also childhood friend Kristyn Osborn who along with her sisters Kelsi and Kassidy are famous for the country singing trio SHeDAISY. Hey girls, how ya’ll doin? The rest I have no memory of and probably for good reason.  See what happens? I think of cheerleaders, and I digress.

So onto the football field we went, with Paulette and James Vejvoda from Ign.com, where we saw one of the many “on the field” scenes. In one scene, the worst coach in history (played by David Koechner) is yelling at the team and he begins throwing down his hat, his whistle, and finally pulling out what I assume to be his glass eye. They do the scene a couple of times and we talk a little about Mr. Koechner. The dude is funny and his energy is even more intense than all of the younger co-stars. He comes across as a complete professional who delivers the goods.

The next few scenes we get to catch include a bunch of reaction shots of the team, and the wacky behavior of their coach. Along with the main cast, there are several extras that are a part of the team and for such a young, somewhat inexperienced cast they seemed to be taking on the professionalism of the coach and by that I mean their director. Watching this I get the feeling that Tom Brady (not THAT Tom Brady) is a big part of the easy vibe on the set. Aside from the professionalism, there seems to be terrific energy on the set.  Whether you are talking to the actors, or even the crew, there is a definite family feel here.

Finally, we get to a scene with the usual, dumping the Gatorade of the coach in celebration of victory. This was a blast to watch as they rehearsed a few times without anything in the cooler. And then came the big moment as the cast got to experience this sports ritual. Yeah, I know, it’s just somebody pouring colored water on someone’s head but David’s reaction was funny as hell. As was a scene where he is dealing with hecklers in the stands without anyone saying anything; I don’t think all of it was scripted but he was coming up with some great stuff.

When it came time to sit and chat with the cast, there really was a sense of family here. You can usually tell when someone is bullshitting but there was none of that. From the interviews, to hanging out with the on-set medic this was a very welcoming group of professionals that are trying to make a damn funny movie. They made us very welcome and it was quite an experience.

So did it rekindle my memories of school and going to the football games with people like Otis and whatever trashy name you could come up with? Hell no. But it is always exciting to see a group of people come together and try and make a funny film. With Coach Tom Brady at the helm, it was easy to see that making movies is a fun and rewarding experience and the egos are not always needed, or even welcome. And with all that said, Mr. Carl Weathers was not available on the set that particular day but I thought I’d give a shout out to him anyway. Sorry we missed you Mr. Weathers.


Throughout our day on the set for THE COMEBACKS, we got to hang and chat with the team. For a group of guys that I wouldn’t for a second have believed that they would hang out together really seemed to consider each other friends. There was strong camaraderie amongst them, as there would be with a football team I would presume. For the most part, they were all young to the business of show aside from Matthew Lawrence whose family has been a part of Hollywood , most notably, his brother Joey. But they all shared an excitement for the project and seemed to enjoy the parody aspect of shooting in this kind of genre. As we sat down with each of them, it was clear that they were in it for the love of the game.

Jesse Garcia plays what he calls an “extreme badass” who is “the silent weapon” on the team while sporting a happy face faux tattoo, among others. Jesse is a confident and somewhat serious young man, at least when it comes to many of the choices he’s made as an actor, including his work in the acclaimed Indie Flick, “Quinceañera”.  He is also a very active young guy who played football and a couple of other sports in high school, and he was also a cheerleader. In comparing the two, he claims in football and cheerleading, “both you get to pick up chicks.” Which we were able to see firsthand as he hung out with all the cheerleader “extras” and sported around with them; this included the impressive act of balancing a girl on his hand and lifting her up in the air… Damn dude! This guy is one to watch out for.

Jermaine Williams gets to have some fun playing his take on Cuba Gooding Jr. in RADIO. As iPod, he sports a number of… well, what do you think? When asked what he liked about the script for THE COMEBACK, he echoed the excitement of the entire cast, “I’ve always wanted to do like a classic, just wild out movie like this.”  He mentioned some of his favorites including AIRPLANE and SCARY MOVIE. Although Mr. Williams is no stranger to comedy, as he recently appeared in the big screen version of FAT ALBERT. He has been acting for about ten years and is very thankful for his current opportunities. He also hopes that Mr. Gooding isn’t too offended by his “take” on Radio.

George Back is the newbie of the group. He plays Buddy Boy a “gregarious guy” who wants to play football because “he wants as many friends as possible and there are thirty-two people on the roster, so that’s thirty-two possible invites to his birthday party” and no, this isn’t Cartman from SOUTH PARK. George is a great guy from Oklahoma who is thrilled to be a part of this flick. He got this role when he “wasn’t union, wasn’t anything, nothing on my resume” but he booked the part and is having the time of his life. He is extremely positive and never wants the shoot to end. It’s nice to see somebody get an opportunity to shine, especially a good ole’ boy like George and it looks like he puts his energy to good use for THE COMEBACKS.

Next up, “Jackie Long… won’t ever do ya wrong.” a young man who is straight up, a blast to hang with. While describing his character, he boasts, “just think of Tyrell Owens, Dion Sanders, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neil; just cocky people, just cocky dudes.” He seems perfectly cast for the role; he has the ability to prove he is the best of the bunch. Jackie also spoke of his hopes for this to become a possible franchise with some funny, yet very R-rated (possibly X) titles that he came up with; “’The Comebacks: Coming Again’, ‘Comeback’s in yer F*ckin’ Face’”. He loves comedy but wants “to do it all” such as playing “the killer, the lawyer… just all type’s of stuff”. He carries high aspirations and seems confident that they will all come true. And you know what, he just might be right.

And of course a movie like this needs the Rudy/Lucas character and Martin Spanjers filled the look perfectly. He plays Randy, “your typical sports movie iconic underdog” who just “really wants to play”. I really liked Martin; he is a very intelligent and interesting nineteen year-old who has been acting since he was seven. He’s done quite a bit of television, most notably 8 SIMPLE RULES in which he played Rory Hennessy. He seems to be well suited to that kind of comedy and is very excited to be working on THE COMEBACKS. He has a surprising knowledge of football and seemed excited to be on the field playing pretend. When speaking about his director, he had nothing but positive things to say, “Tom Brady… is really relaxed, you don’t ever see him frantic… he doesn’t have that kind of energy.” And I’m not surprised that Mr. Brady was so relaxed, he was lucky enough to have a group of young actors excited and happy to be working on a film like this.

Finally, we got to speak to the most well known of THE COMEBACKS.  Matthew Lawrence seems to know his worth here and is a charming and extremely likeable guy. Throughout the years he has developed quite a career on his own and takes on the role of Lance, the team quarterback. About his character, “[Lance] is, in the beginning of the movie, deathly afraid of being the quarterback.” But he ends up playing baseball and has father/son issues more than a little inspired by FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. I was most interested in Matthew and the fact that he is such a down-to-earth guy. Not every actor would feel this comfortable telling us about his first day on the set where “we had to do a full on dance routine, in women’s panties.” Yes folks, this is unlike ANY other football movie you’ve seen before.

I also appreciated the fact that he was so open to talk about his family and how it intertwines with his career, “I will never let this business come in between my family and me… that, [family] is what’s going to be there in the end of the day.” He has a surprisingly realistic view of Hollywood yet he is not jaded nor does he give the impression that he is owed something because of his name. For someone who has been around compared to the rest of the team, he is optimistic but not willing to believe the hype.

After spending the day with these guys I came away from the experience feeling happy to have been able to meet the gang and find some of that good old-fashioned excitement about making a movie. They told stories about dance numbers in panties, tutus and each echoed how they felt they were with family. Yes, you do hear that a lot, but with this cast, and a terrific crew, this wasn’t bullshit. They are having a great time and looking for a few laughs along the way.  And hanging out with David Koechner, it is hard not to chuckle a bit.


THE COMEBACKS opens in theaters on August 24th, 2007 and stay tuned to JoBlo.com for interviews with director Tom Brady and star David Koechner. 

Source: JoBlo.com



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