HOLLYWOOD — The San Francisco Giants have spent the last six months trying to get Barry Bonds to show up for work. Apparently, all they had to do was schedule a movie screening.
The controversial slugger, currently enjoying a $90 million contract while knee injuries have kept him from playing a single inning this season, surprised the crowd by striding briskly along the red carpet at Tuesday night’s premiere of “Dirty Deeds” at the Directors Guild of America.
The film is a raunchy teen comedy produced by a group of ballplayers and friends: Former player Todd Zeile (who appears in the film and executive produced it through his company Green Diamond Entertainment) was in attendance, but his Green Diamond partners and baseball stars Jason Giambi, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, Cliff Floyd and Kevin Millar were presumably with their teams.
“Deeds” actors Lacey Chabert, Zoe Saldana and Charles Durning visited with the assembled media during the pre-show event, as did hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
“I’m very excited for them,” Chabert said of the baseball-playing producers. “I’m not much of an athlete, so I was amazed. I think it was really smart of them, moving into moviemaking and [choosing] something lighthearted and as fun as this movie is.”
“I’m happy for Todd,” Gretzky beamed. “He worked his rear-end off — he was at every meeting and invested his own money and his own time. I hope this does great, because he’s put a lot of time and energy into it. My son has seen this movie 21 times.”
“I wanted to learn everything I could learn,” Zeile said of the film — his acting and producing debut — which opens this weekend. “There were definitely some butterflies, as there are right now — it’s like the first time I had a [playoff] experience. You definitely feel a little more amped up and nervous and you want to perform well. At least I know if I’m walking up [to the plate] with a bat in my hand, I have every opportunity to succeed; when I’ve got a film to screen, people could like it or hate it, and either way I have to have a thick skin. It’s a little more nerve-wracking.”
As the event wound down and the participants headed into the theater, a buzz began to build that Bonds, who has been dogged by accusations of steroid use while he chases the all-time record for career home runs (and has made few public appearances in recent months), would be attending but would not speak with the press. Soon, Zeile left the event and returned with Bonds, who was clad in a black T-shirt and jeans and was smiling brightly while he walked without any discernable limp.
Bonds, while ignoring the majority of the press, paused briefly to answer one question: Would he ever be interested in producing a movie of his own?
“Me?” he laughed. “No, I’m broke.”
The Giants, who managed just three hits in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies that day, might beg to differ.