SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Bananas dominate The Hostess City on summer nights. Is network TV next?
WSAV Sports Director Greg Talbott has confirmed that a team of Los Angeles-based screenwriters is currently pitching a sitcom based on the local baseball team.
“Nothing’s been bought or picked up yet, so we’re trying to keep expectations at bay, but it’s super exciting,” says Bananas owner Jesse Cole.
HOW IT CAME TO BE
The Savannah Bananas burst onto the scene in 2016 and instantly made their mark on the sport by going viral with their circus-like antics and social media savvy. With that came attention from the entertainment industry.
“Six or seven production companies in New York and Los Angeles reached out to us,” says Cole. “But it was important to us to make sure that if we partnered with someone, it was going to be a good fit, the right fit.”
Months later, Cole met a successful fiction writer at a conference who took the idea to a friend of his: up-and-coming Hollywood screenwriter Jono Matt. After talking with Cole for hours, Matt decided he had to see the spectacle for himself. He hopped on a plane, flew into Savannah to watch the last two games of the 2019 season and was blown away.
After experiencing Grayson Stadium firsthand, Matt developed a concept for a show based on the team and submitted his work for Imagine Impact, a California-based “writing accelerator” where young screenwriters work with established mentors like Ron Howard to develop TV and film stories. The group has an excellent track record: of the last batch of projects, about 80% were picked up.
For the last two months, Matt worked diligently on developing the concept, script and pitch he’d eventually deliver to network executives.
Less than two weeks ago, Matt and the rest of the Imagine Impact class pitched their concepts to over a thousand network executives. Of course, Jesse, his wife Emily and the yellow tux brought their signature flair to contribute.
“We ran around and threw Dolce And Banana (team-branded) underwear at television executives,” laughs Cole.
The splashy introduction and strength of the pitch clearly made an impact: the script has recently been read by network, cable and streaming service executives with additional meetings in the works. Jono believes the chances of the project being picked up are high.
“I laughed my a** off,” says Cole of the pilot script.
The format is similar to popular NBC “mockumentary” sitcoms, with a mix of the true Bananas story thrown in as the main ingredient.
“The pitch is: this guy in a yellow tux comes in to fix this baseball team that’s fallen apart. Like ‘Parks & Recreation’ and ‘The Office’ meets a baseball team that’s trying to turn it around.”
Although laughs and entertainment are important, Cole and Matt know it was the human connection audiences felt with the characters that kept them coming back.
“It’s funny, but there’s heart,” says Cole.
WSAV Sports will track the script as it makes its way through the production system.