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Volume 25 No. 48
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ESPN's Latest "30 For 30" Installment Examines Ups And Downs Of Gooden, Strawberry

"Doc & Darryl," ESPN's "30 for 30" film that deals with the lives and careers of former MLBers Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, premieres tonight at 9:00pm ET, and director Judd Apatow said that the documentary "grew darker as it went along," according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. Apatow, who worked with fellow director Michael Bonfiglio on the project, said he was drawn to Gooden and Strawberry because he is "always interested in what the real story is" with the members of the '86 Mets World Series champions. Apatow: "We talked about being honest about what their experience has been and to not make it a rah-rah sports movie. That's part of the story. ... It's more of a character study than it is about this team" (NEWSDAY, 7/7). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir wrote "Doc & Darryl" is a "well-made film and a profoundly sad story" about how two young All-Stars had talent that was "briefly realized before their careers were derailed by drug suspensions, arrests and jail time." The film "strongly suggests" that they came to the Mets "unprepared for instant stardom in a city with too many temptations on a team with too many players willing to be tempted." The film "is a valuable work that synthesizes the lives of two men who uplifted fans for a certain time with their athletic skills but were unable to control their addictive impulses" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/4).

LONG TIME, NO SEE: The AP's David Bauder noted the "heart of the film is a conversation held before cameras" at a Queens diner, the "same one where scenes from the movie 'Goodfellas' were shot." Gooden and Strawberry's body language and "lack of eye contact betray a discomfort, reminiscent of get-togethers with friends who hadn't connected in years" (AP, 7/13). In New Jersey, Kara Yorio noted most of the documentary "is footage and interviews from the past and more recent interviews with each of them individually, along with former teammates, sportswriters, announcers, addiction specialists and famous Mets fans." It does "have a couple of memorable exchanges from the diner table, such as when Gooden tells Strawberry how much he appreciated how Strawberry helped him when the pitcher got to the team and, later, when Gooden tries to confront Strawberry about Strawberry outing Gooden's cocaine use" (Bergen RECORD, 7/12). In DC, Sam Tabachnik writes Apatow and Bonfiglio "deftly paint a picture of two men that are far more complicated than the black-and-white stories so often splashed across tabloids during their careers" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/14).

DARK OVERTONES: In Omaha, Tony Boone notes Strawberry and Triple-A PCL Omaha Storm Chasers Owner Gary Green, who was a co-exec producer of the film, "watched the final product together for the first time last month" in N.Y. It "turned out darker than Green expected, but he said Strawberry didn't mind because it was truthful" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 7/14). In N.Y., Mike Hale writes the film "bears less fruit than you'd hope." Gooden and Strawberry were "clearly uncomfortable," and they "don't have much to say to each other" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Steve Dollar notes the film "marks the nonfiction debut" of Apatow. Instead of "merely rehashing" the pair's trajectory, Apatow had a "different premise: Bring the two together, away from the spotlight, and get them to open up to each other" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/14).