The Bronx Is Burning

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For the period of heavy fires in the Bronx in the 1970s, see planned shrinkage.
The Bronx Is Burning
The Bronx Is Burning.jpg
Created by Jonathan Mahler
Directed by Jeremiah Chechik
Starring John Turturro
Oliver Platt
Daniel Sunjata
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 8
Production
Executive producer(s) Mike Tollin
Brian Robbins
Joe Davola
Running time 60 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel ESPN
Original run July 10, 2007 – August 28, 2007

The Bronx Is Burning is a television drama that debuted on ESPN on July 10, 2007, after the 2007 MLB Home Run Derby. It is an eight-episode mini-series adapted from Jonathan Mahler's best-selling book, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning. The book focuses on baseball's triumph over the turmoil and hysteria of 1977 New York City and how the New York Yankees came to embody the hopes and fears of an unforgettable summer with Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson's warfare under George Steinbrenner's leadership.

The show stars Daniel Sunjata, Oliver Platt, and John Turturro, while executive producers Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola, writer and executive producer James Solomon, and director Jeremiah Chechik work on the show. The series is produced by ESPN Original Entertainment in conjunction with Tollin/Robbins Productions. Filming began on September 18, 2006, in Connecticut and New York.

The 2007 debut of the series marks the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Series win for the Yankees, the first under Steinbrenner.

After airing on ESPN, episodes could be viewed on ABC on Demand.

Summary[edit]

The central theme of the adaptation is the 1977 New York Yankees against the backdrop of New York City. Yankee superstar Reggie Jackson (Daniel Sunjata) and manager Billy Martin (John Turturro) are locked in a perpetual state of warfare. Jackson was a perfect foil for the scrappy Martin, the hero of New York's fed-up white working class and a powerful reminder of the team's—and the city's—less complicated past. While owner George Steinbrenner (Oliver Platt) was providing General Patton-style leadership, he was intent on keeping his promise to the people of New York of delivering a World Series title. The show also features subplots concerning the NYPD's pursuit of the Son of Sam serial killer that summer and the devastating blackout and resultant widespread looting in July, all while the city suffered through financial bankruptcy and massive municipal layoffs. Another subplot focused on the 1977 New York City Mayoral race featuring incumbent mayor Abraham Beame, former Congresswoman Bella Abzug, future Governor Mario Cuomo, and Congressman Ed Koch, the eventual winner.

The title refers to an off-the-cuff comment allegedly made by broadcaster Howard Cosell during the ABC telecast of Game Two of the 1977 World Series:

However, there is no recording of Cosell actually making that comment.[2]

According to the source book's author, Mahler, at the time property taxes were so high landlords would burn down their buildings for the insurance money, and some tenants would set a fire in a decrepit, privately owned building in order to get priority for the newer public housing.[3] However, the burning of tenement housing in New York City in the 1970s was the end-game of urban renewal. After a building was red-lined, it was deemed unsuitable for sale in the eyes of the mortgage banking industry. A building's owner could not sell his building unless he received a cash payment. Landlords were forced to maintain a building that they couldn't afford to keep. Taxes collected by the city were greater than what could be charged to tenants (an unintended consequence of rent control laws). With nobody paying cash to buy the building, and no way to sell the building to a conventional buyer, the landlord's only recourse was to set it on fire. In addition, the city's planned shrinkage policy in effect at the time drastically cut fire protection service in the Bronx with the intention of reducing blight by decreasing the population by prompting people to leave.

Episodes were filmed in New London, Waterford and Norwich in Connecticut as well as in New York City. The series' soundtrack consisted of songs by The Ramones.

Historical inaccuracy[edit]

The series has been lauded for maintaining the historical accuracy reflected by its literary source. However, one inaccuracy involves a reproduction of an infamous Miller Lite television commercial lampooning Steinbrenner's frequent threats to fire Martin: Its inclusion in the miniseries implies its creation and broadcast during the 1977 baseball season. In reality it was shot and televised during the 1978 baseball season, after Martin had resigned under threat of being fired, and then shortly thereafter rehired "for the 1980 baseball season," announced during that year's Old Timer's Game at Yankee Stadium. In this context, it lampoons Martin's actual "firing" in 1978, not threats of such during the 1977 season.

Episodes[edit]

No. # Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 1 "The Straw" Jeremiah S. Chechik Harley Peyton and Jonathan Mahler July 10, 2007 (2007-07-10)
The year is 1977. The New York Yankees are coming off their embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 World Series. The Son of Sam has killed his first victim. Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin discuss which free agent to sign, settling on Reggie Jackson. As spring training begins, Martin and Steinbrenner argue.
2 2 "Team in Turmoil" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman, Michael Lucas, and James D. Solomon July 17, 2007 (2007-07-17)
The 1977 season has begun, but the Yankees struggle. Tensions rise between Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson. Meanwhile, the NYPD creates the Omega Task Force to capture the ".44 caliber killer". Also, the election for mayor of New York is heating up. Incumbent mayor Abraham Beame is challenged by Representative Ed Koch, New York Secretary of State Mario Cuomo, and feminist activist Bella Abzug for the Democratic nomination.
3 3 "Time for a Change?" Jeremiah S. Chechik Kyle Harimoto, Michael Lucas, and James D. Solomon July 24, 2007 (2007-07-24)
During a nationally televised game, Jackson fails to hustle after a ball, setting up a fight in the dugout with Martin. Steinbrenner decides to fire Martin, but is convinced by his players not to do so. The press continues to investigate the Son of Sam. Abzug takes the lead in the mayoral race.
4 4 "The Seven Commandments" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman and James D. Solomon July 31, 2007 (2007-07-31)
Munson publicizes his discontent with the team in the press. A major blackout covers the city in darkness. Martin and Steinbrenner make a deal regarding Jackson, but he breaks the terms, leading Gabe Paul to ask Dick Howser if he would take over. The NYPD picks up the search as the anniversary of the Son of Sam's first murder approaches.
5 5 "Caught!" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman, James D. Solomon, and Jim Sterling August 1, 2007 (2007-08-01)
With Jackson batting cleanup, the Yankees go on a hot streak. Following a new lead, the Omega Task Force closes in on the Son of Sam, making the arrest.
6 6 "The Game's Not as Easy as It Looks, Fellas" Jeremiah S. Chechik Nick Davis and Gordon Greisman August 8, 2007 (2007-08-08)
Ed Koch wins the Democratic primary in the mayoral election, and the Yankees win the division. This emboldens Martin to ask for a contract extension, a request Steinbrenner declines. The Yankees face the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. Jackson's struggles lead Martin to bench him.
7 7 "Past Combatants" Jeremiah S. Chechik Gordon Greisman, James D. Solomon, and Jonathan Mahler August 15, 2007 (2007-08-15)
The Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers face off in the World Series. Steinbrenner makes a decision about Martin's future.
8 8 "Mr. October" Jeremiah S. Chechik Michael Lucas and James D. Solomon August 22, 2007 (2007-08-22)
Jackson makes history in Game 6 of the World Series.

Cast[edit]

Actor Role
Turturro, JohnJohn Turturro Yankees manager Billy Martin
Sunjata, DanielDaniel Sunjata Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson
Platt, OliverOliver Platt Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
Conway, KevinKevin Conway Yankees president Gabe Paul
Blonder, DarylDaryl Blonder Yankees batboy Ray Negron
Rob Lavin Yankees pitcher Ken Holtzman
Jensen, ErikErik Jensen Yankees catcher Thurman Munson
Dean, LorenLoren Dean Yankees back-up catcher Fran Healy
Gilliam, SethSeth Gilliam Yankees outfielder Paul Blair
Grifasi, JoeJoe Grifasi Yankees bench coach Yogi Berra
Zickel, MatherMather Zickel Yankees outfielder Lou Piniella
Alex Cranmer Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles
Evan Hart Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent
Dock Pollard Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph
Lou Provenzano Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry
Darby Brown Yankees designated hitter Cliff Johnson
Jason Kosow Yankees pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter
Casella, MaxMax Casella Yankees third base coach Dick Howser
Robinson, LeonardLeonard Robinson Yankees outfielder Mickey Rivers
McDonald, ChristopherChristopher McDonald Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio
Wiggin, TomTom Wiggin Yankees Hall of Famer Whitey Ford
Robert Ward Himself
Ruck, AlanAlan Ruck Reporter Steve Jacobson
Pais, JoshJosh Pais Reporter Phil Pepe
Lauria, DanDan Lauria Captain Joseph Borelli
Serrano, NestorNestor Serrano Detective Kavanaugh
Lang, StephenStephen Lang Deputy Inspector Timothy Dowd
Mahoney, JohnJohn Mahoney News Reporter (Background Casting)
Siemaszko, CaseyCasey Siemaszko Detective Welker
Josiah Schlatter Clubhouse attendant
Rispoli, MichaelMichael Rispoli Newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin
Paul Marini Berkowitz, DavidDavid Berkowitz
Wickersham, EmilyEmily Wickersham Suzy Steinbrenner
Russell Woron-Simons Student watching TV
Giambi, JasonJason Giambi Taxi cab driver

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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