I was doing a little web-surfing and came up with a story from almost two years ago that I'd missed.
The February 27, 2009 New York Times reported that writer/director Todd Graff was planning to shoot a remake of "Damn Yankees," the classic Broadway musical - and 1958 motion picture - that would star Jim Carrey as the devil, Applegate, and Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe Boyd/Joe Hardy.
In the original, Joe Boyd is a middle-aged Washington Senators' fan who sells his soul to the devil to become young slugger Joe Hardy, and leads the Nats to an American League pennant. Tab Hunter played Hardy in the film to Ray Walston's ("My Favorite Martian") Applegate. There was some stock footage shot at Griffith Stadium, and in it, you could see Roy Sievers hitting some long balls for the home team. Sievers wore number 2, so Hunter did the same in the film. The baseball scenes in the movie were shot at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, where the old "Home Run Derby" show was filmed.
As the story continued, it was somewhat stunning to read that Graff intended to update the story to the present day and have Joe Hardy play for the Cubs, a National League team. He also intends to make steroid use part of the plot line. "If a character like Joe Hardy sprung out of nowhere and was hitting 70 home runs in a season, who would not immediately think 'steroids?'" Graff told reporters. "So, steroids is not even a side issue for us, it's our main character."
Graff is a self-admitted Mets' fan and claims that there's no writer/director who knows more about musicals and baseball and who hates the Yankees as much as he does. Congratulations. But in order to make the story work, wouldn't Hardy's team have to be an American League franchise?
If you're familiar with the story, you know that the title comes from something Joe Boyd mutters after watching the Yankees beat the Senators on TV yet again. "Those damn Yankees....," he says. Using the Cubs means the two teams could only meet, at most, 3 times during the regular season in interleague play, or in the World Series. The steroids angle almost completely obscures the whole 'good vs. evil' aspect of interplay between Joe and Applegate.
The fact that the NYT story is almost 2 years old and there's been little written about the project since, I guess it's possible that it's been put on hold. Maybe the Douglas Wallop estate had a problem with it. The UMd grad penned the story "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant" in 1954, and that spawned the Broadway show that ran for 1,019 performances beginning in 1955. He died in 1985.
The thought of the story without a Washington connection is troublesome, and a movie musical with songs about steroids is not particularly appealing either.
But it's Hollywood, and remakes of classics are a way of life, even if they get it wrong.