Paul - congrats, bubbeleh!
The reviews are in and Normal People is a success. I hear that the burghers of your native land are up in arms and complaining about the sex scenes. Believe me, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, my friend. We’re away.
We have to talk, though. I see that everyone is talking about the sports content - how realistic it is, how rare it is to see a realistic depiction on-screen of Gaelic football (is that really what you call it? Marketing department, line one!)
This is fine as far as it goes, Paul, but I see you giving interviews. Talking about Kildare. Talking about being a minor and U21 county player.
Now some of that interview was harmless. Saying that your sport helped “in terms of self-discipline and being ready and being able to capitalize on opportunities” - that’s textbook actorese. Looks real, sounds real, but means nothing. Couldn't have put it better myself.
The other parts, I’m not so sure. “When it came to applying for colleges, I was putting down law and arts and things that would support playing Gaelic football”.
Come on Paul. That won’t fly. Nobody would believe that an amateur sportsman would make a career choice based on that. Believe me.
You may know Gaelic games, but I know the real world.
Better news, though, with the new scripts coming in. There are a couple of projects here - Anchorman: The Mick Lyons Story is one, Get Out (The Goalie Talks) - and as far as I can figure, your only real competition is Chris O’Dowd. You were telling me he was - am I right? - the Roscommon minor ‘keeper in the 1997 Connacht final, if any of those words mean anything in reality, but I think you have the inside track.
What we have to avoid, of course, is any danger of you getting pigeonholed as a Gaelic footballer, but we also need to tiptoe around a couple of other potential minefields.
For instance, just because you played club football in Kildare - am I even saying that right? - we’ve already been sent a few boxing scripts. I have no doubt you’d star in any of those roles, but what I want to avoid is having to get some poor boxer to say you could have boxed professionally as soon as the movie is released.
Let’s try to hold onto our self-respect in this lousy business, am I right?
The other genre we need to avoid is the old reliable - the movie star as hot-rod car racer.
Now, there was a time when this was good enough for Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Steve McQueen and Tom Cruise: they all made race-car movies, they all enjoyed them and - most important - those movies made money.
But now . . . the new green agenda, carbon footprints, electric cars: it’s just not as sexy any more.
You don’t believe me? Look up one of my other clients, he’ll tell you all about it. Le Mans ’66 is doing okay, and one of the main men in that movie is Matt Damon - he’s sheltering in place somewhere near you at the moment, I believe.
But Paul, I have to ask you to stay away from one topic if you meet up with Matt.
Everyone thinks he’s trapped in Ireland but he’s got another reason to hang out on the Emerald Isle.
He got an early look at Normal People and he’s decided to branch into filmmaking with Gaelic games as a template. Last week he told me he’s moving to some place in east Cork to prepare for his next role: shaving back his hairline, wearing blue contact lenses, using a hurley and ball to build up his skills for a new biopic.
(The name they use for this ball in hurling I can’t even begin to spell. Oy.)
It’s under wraps right now but I can tell you Aaron Sorkin has a second draft ready to go.
They haven’t cast the second lead, if you’re interested. How’s your Cork accent?
The curious anaesthetic of online sportsgear
Is anyone else scrolling absently through online sports-gear websites, mindlessly clicking on the availability of random tops and t-shirts for the simple comfort of having one’s attention blunted by plenitude?
Who knew, for instance, that you could get a personalised New York Subliners top for only $99? Or that a Brazil 1970 jersey (kids version) can be had for just £24, though the authentic sweat-stains need to be supplied by the wearer? Or a ROOTED IN OAKLAND t-shirt is available for just $22.49 (though shipping may be extra)?
What amazes me is the sheer variety, the infinite differences. I remember a seminal day in second year in school when one of our classmates produced a replica Barcelona kit for PE; his brother had been working in Spain and came through with this ground-breaking ensemble.
Now every last variation in the Barcelona catalogue is available to you at the click of a mouse. If you had told 14-year-old me that this world would exist I would have confidently predicted my instantaneous insolvency on assimilating that fact.
Now it just serves as an anaesthetic.
Apart from the Fanatics Branded Toronto Maple Leafs Blue/White Mission Full-Zip Hoodie.
That one’s mine.
A lesson for US college sports
There isn’t much happening in the way of sports news - see the largest chunk of this week’s column if you doubt me - but a development overseas caught my eye a few days ago.
You’re aware that college sports in America is a hugely lucrative business for the colleges involved - there have been suggestions that the shutdown of college sports in the States may actually endanger some colleges’ future, never mind the sports’ future, so central is that income to those institutions.
Last week, though, we learned the NCAA, the organisation regulating college sports, is to allow student athletes to cash in on their likenesses, images and names, thus bringing an end to what one observer called the greatest economic model ever conceived: one in which those generating vast revenues earn no part of those revenues.
This is an interesting development which has the potential to turn a century’s tradition on its head and create a financial/economic headache for those in charge of sports beloved across an entire country.
Feel free to draw any parallels you want with similar situations here.
The sailors' stories'
Many thanks to the Yale University Press for zipping out a copy of Sons Of The Waves by Philip Taylor. The subtitle should inform you of its appeal to me: The Common Seaman in the Heroic Age of Sail.
Like a lot of you I enjoyed Master and Commander, with Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany, but the books behind that movie I have to avoid in case of sudden, ruinous addiction to the works of Patrick O’Brian.
This Taylor book more than compensates. If you think it has no relevance to the current moment, think for a second. Here’s a book that tells you what it’s like for people to spend years on end living cheek by jowl with each other - literally - though hopefully in your situation scurvy is not a real prospect any time soon. A triumph.