"Million Dollar Arm" and the Susan Boyle audition - 1/25/15
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Submitted By: Anonymous on January 26, 2015
About the Video: In the summer of 2014, Disney came out with the movie, "Million Dollar Arm," a true story where a sports agent is down on his luck in recruiting sports talent to promote. His inspiration quickly turned when a reality show gave him a clearer vision to look overseas and hold a contest to find talented baseball pitchers. (read more below...)

The movie chose to use the agent's vision of a talent show like theme and Yao Ming's success by employing, for dramatic effect, Susan Boyle's Britain's Got Talent audition to nail that concept down.

Million Dollar Arm: J.B. Bernstein and Rinku Singh Interview (May 14th, 2014)

This weekend’s new movie Million Dollar Arm tells the story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein and his two athletic discoveries from India. Bernstein was a struggling sports agent who was inspired to hold a pitching contest for Indian cricket players called “Million Dollar Arm.” The two winners, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel came to the States to try out for MLB, and Singh got signed to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Gulf Coast League team.

With the movie coming out, I got to talk to the real Bernstein and Singh about the true story. It might be a little different than the movie, but it’s close. Bernstein really did hold a disastrous tryout at a Tempe, AZ strip mall, and he really did yell at the boys for cutting their hands in a cooking accident, as depicted in the film. Rinku really does stand like a flamingo before he pitches, as he was also an Olympic javelin competitor.

CraveOnline: J.B., was it really watching Susan Boyle and cricket that inspired “Million Dollar Arm?”

J.B. Bernstein: Yes and no. In reality, my business partners and I came up with this idea. Our goal was to find Yao Ming, so we needed a country with a billion people where they never had anybody successful in sports in the United States so that led us to India. And then watching the cricket match, it just kinda clicked. Hey, they have all these cricket players there and they obviously can’t all play professional cricket and I bet some of these guys can throw. So the question then becomes we want to go to India and try and find the kid who can throw fast from this huge pool of cricket players.

So the question is how do you do it? And for that, we stole Simon Cowell’s idea. When you’re looking for talent in masses, this “American Idol” is a great format. You do a TV show. You have talent turn out and instead of singing, we tried to find people who could throw as fast as they could. It wasn’t me in a vacuum sitting on the couch flipping back and forth between these two shows, but in essence, that’s a pretty good encapsulation of the two things that really inspired us to go do this. It works better in the movie than reality, but at the end of the day those are the two things that inspire this.



The film also has a reality show element to it and there's a scene when you're watching a clip of Susan Boyle and you get inspired. You’ve spoken before about reality shows not really being your cup of tea but what do you think about the positive side of reality TV?

I like the kinds of reality shows that celebrate people rather than denigrating them or making fun of them. I feel like there’s a certain element to certain reality shows that’s like “let’s highlight the bad” or “let’s turn the camera on and shake the box and see what happens” and I feel like that doesn’t help anyone. There are others that are inspirational and you see someone like Susan Boyle where she was sort of set up like “well this is going to be good” and then blew everyone’s mind. Those are the nice ones, those are the ones I can get behind. The ones that are just showcasing bad behaviour and celebrating it in some way, you can obviously figure out the kinds of shows that I’m talking about, I don’t understand that. I don’t understand why you would want to watch that. It’s the equivalent of watching a car crash. They are just terrible people behaving terribly.

Sadly there are more of those…

There are but the ones that I like, like Top Chef or Project Runway, are about people being celebrated for doing their jobs exceptionally well. Even American Idol or Britain’s Got Talent, I can appreciate the fact that people are doing something where they want to get to the next level and we all need a helping hand.

Has Susan Boyle seen the film?

[laughs] I don’t know. I hope she likes it. We should have her see it.
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