Warner: ‘Wrestling match’ between egos and confidence

By Chris Smith

Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner spoke to SBJ about how his life story was turned into “American Underdog,” debuting Dec. 25:

Warner went from blue-collar worker to two-time NFL MVP.getty images

On his goals for a Hollywood feature film:

We probably met with six or seven different production companies early on, [and there were] different writers along the way that reached out because they knew the story and thought it could be a great story. But it was more about making sure that the story that I had visualized in my head was similar to the story that ended up on the big screen, that it wasn’t simply a football movie and a rags-to-riches story, but that there was more depth to it and stronger messaging that we felt we could use our story to impact and impart on people.

On the challenge of allowing others to tell his story:

We’d jump in there and say “Hey, have you thought about this?” or “This is how that really happened.” The beautiful part about it was we all have egos, and we all have things where we say, “Oh, it’s got to have this.” So it was a wrestling match between our egos and the confidence we had in what we were doing, and that means me, Brenda, [the directors], all of us together. And then being able to set our ego aside at times.

On the quality of the film’s on-field action:

They did a great job with the sports stuff. That’s one of the first things you hear people say, that it’s so vital in a sports film that you get the sports right to a certain level or you’re going to lose people. Zachary Levi is a 40-year-old actor that never played football, never threw a football or played quarterback, and you’ve got to make it believable that he’s a Hall of Fame QB. We all know it’s impossible to expect him to be at that level, but they did a tremendous job of being able to fit all that together.

There were often times on set where I would go, “Man, I remember that specific play.” They were running it exactly how we’d drawn it up. So that stuff was pretty cool.

On former Rams coach Dick Vermeil (played by Dennis Quaid):

Dick and I are really close. He has seen the movie and has actually done a couple showings for friends. I think he’s extremely excited about getting the story right. He’s very happy with it. I love the parallels between my journey and his journey. I know Dick is very proud of being a part of the story and seeing it portrayed the way it was.

SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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