The trade deadline is neigh.
During Thursday’s episode of Pitch, Entourage alum Kevin Connolly makes his debut as Charlie Graham, the interim Padres president of operations in the wake of Frank’s (Bob Balaban) ouster. The timing of his arrival couldn’t be worse as the episode focuses on the MLB trade deadline — in other words, nearly everyone in the clubhouse is up for grabs and the stress is palpable. EW turned to Connolly to get the scoop on what’s in store:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it about Pitch that attracted you to the show?
KEVIN CONNOLLY: I saw the pilot and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was incredible. Also, I’m a director, so I’m watching it going, “How do they do that?” That’s a good sign. What they’ve done stylistically and creatively with making it seem so real, I couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was so well done. I jumped at the opportunity. Also, Ginny isn’t coming in as this superstar; she’s on the cusp. It had a super realistic way about it with everything that it does. It’s not tied up with a neat little bow. It’s got a real feel to it.
As a fan of the sport, is it fun to be on set since it is so realistic?
It’s so close to the clubhouse that it really is the clubhouse! The sets and the attention to detail by production design, the directors, and the producers is incredible. I always get a kick out of looking around set and seeing papers on the desk; you open up those folders and it’s real paperwork, the littlest details, trades and statistics from previous years. They really surround you with such attention to detail, so it’s easy to roll with it.
What kind of guy is Charlie?
He’s got a tech background. He’s embracing his new job and he’s going to try to make a horse race out of this thing and get the Padres in the mix. It’s a lot of fun. It’s funny, because in real life, that would be my dream job. I would want to be in charge of a major sports team, so it’s been a lot of fun.
So the keyword here is interim. What does that mean for how long Charlie will be around?
Really what it comes down to is a creative thing and how it works out creatively. I know that I’m having great time on the show, so I’ll stick around as long as they want.
How will he be shaking up the team as the trade deadline hits?
When you follow sports, it’s a nervous time for fans. The thing about the show is they really get into detail about what that’s like for players and the people that it directly affects — they’re hearing things on the radio, the rumor mill and all that kind of stuff. That’s what the writers and producers do so well at Pitch, they really break down, in such a realistic way, what that’s like for players.
Is Charlie cavalier about the trade deadline?
Charlie does look at it as a business. I think every team needs to have that guy. You can’t let your emotions get in the way of either the bottom line or what’s ultimately best for the team. Mark Consuelos’ character, the GM Oscar, he’s caught up more with being emotionally attached to players and what it does for the dynamic of the team. Charlie is more about, “Hey, here’s the bottom line, here’s what we need to have happen, here’s how much you need to shave off the payroll, and here’s what we need to do to continue the machine working.”
What’s the dynamic like between Charlie and Oscar?
They’re trying to figure it out. I think Charlie really likes Oscar, and I think the jury is still out on whether or not Oscar likes Charlie. It’s a relationship that exists on all professional sports teams. It’s one of those relationships that is what it is — constantly back and forth between the bottom line and what’s good for the team.
Maxine replaced Frank, so is Charlie more of a company man, doing whatever she wants?
Maxine has given him carte blanche to do what he thinks is best for the team. Some would argue that Charlie doesn’t know a lot about sports, but he’s a numbers guy. He knows math, patterns and formulas, so that’s his approach to the payroll and what’s ultimately best for the team. I think he’s his own man at this point, and makes decisions that he thinks are best.
Though Charlie is here to shake things up, is he not all bad?
Yeah, that’s the thing. The challenging part as an actor is you want to stay true to the character, but you want to be as likable as possible. I certainly don’t want the audience to not like my character, but it’s one of those things where it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. I was thinking that, too. That was the first thing I thought: Is Charlie a good guy or bad guy? Ultimately, you want him to be a good guy, so we’ll see what happens. I know he cares, that’s for sure.
What does Charlie think of Ginny?
He knows that she’s good for business. He sees her as a valuable commodity to the team in terms of a business standpoint. I think he cares about her. You’ll see a different side to Charlie in a few of the upcoming episodes that while there is the business part of it, he does care about Ginny and the rest of the team. It’s not personal. It’s just he’s a bottom line numbers guy.
What’s next for you after Pitch?
I’m in post-production right now on the Gotti movie. It’s been a unique time for me. It’s been great. I’ve been living my ultimate dream: Acting and directing at the same time. Really, I’m going to finish up this movie and see what happens next year.
Do you think the Entourage film was the last time we’ll see Eric Murphy?
Yeah, I think that ship has sailed. It’s just time. We had such a good run. We did eight seasons and a movie over 10 years. That is such a unique experience, that’s lightning in a bottle, but there does come a point where it’s time to move on. I think all of us are ready to move on and see what’s next.
Pitch airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.