'Moneyball' films scenes in Dodger Stadium
But a different kind of drama was playing out at Dodger Stadium on Monday when hundreds of extras poured into the arena to film scenes for "Moneyball," a big-screen adaptation of Michael Lewis' 2003 best-seller about the revival of the Oakland A's and its maverick general manager, Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt.
About 700 extras participated in a variety of baseball scenes, including a 1984 game between the Dodgers and the Mets, when Beane played for the New York team, and a montage sequence set in 2002 that chronicles the Oakland A's memorable season.
Sony Pictures had to get special permission from Major League Baseball to shoot at the stadium on Friday and Monday.
"Being a Dodgers fan and being here at Dodger Stadium, it was just great," said Todd Christensen, location manager for "Moneyball."
"Moneyball" is just the latest project to shoot at Dodger Stadium, which for many years has been a popular site among filmmakers partly because of its grand vistas of downtown Los Angeles and large parking lots, which make it ideal for production base camps.
This year alone the stadium has been used as a location for 16 productions, including the TV series "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "Criminal Minds" as well as commercials for Wendy's, Ford and Microsoft. In addition to "Moneyball," the stadium has been the venue for more than a dozen movies, among them the latest "Star Trek" film and "Fast & Furious."
The stadium, which has relationships with location managers around Hollywood, charges anywhere from $10,000 a day for use of its parking space to $25,000 a day for a shot inside the stadium. Management views the filming activity as an important way to market the stadium.
"We welcome the movie shoots," said Jill DeStefano, manager of venue sales and services. "We love to have them and it's exciting for us."
"Moneyball," scheduled to be released next year, almost never made out of the ballpark. Sony last year halted production on the film just days before it was to begin shooting. The move came after director Steven Soderbergh turned in a script rewrite that Sony Pictures co-Chairman Amy Pascal was dissatisfied with. Sony tapped screenwriter and producer Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing" and "Charlie Wilson's War") to revise the screenplay.
Sony began filming the movie, which cost about $57 million to produce, on July 12 and has shot scenes in Los Angeles and Oakland. In addition to Dodger Stadium, filming locations included Chatsworth, Malibu, Blair Field in Long Beach and the aviation-themed studio Air Hollywood in Pacoima.
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Dodger Stadium. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times