'Eastbound and Down'
Danny McBride mixed the profane with a touch of the profound in last year’s low-budget feature “The Foot Fist Way,” but it turns out the movie was just a warm-up act for the tonal tightrope in his HBO laffer “Eastbound and Down.”The show, written with McBride’s “Foot Fist” collaborators Jody Hill and Ben Best, focuses on Kenny Powers, a baseball pitcher who has returned to his North Carolina hometown after a flameout in the major leagues. Powers is juvenile and self-centered, an equal-opportunity offender quick to degrade himself and anyone in his path but somehow possessing an awareness of exactly what he’s doing. “When it first came out, a lot of people, even HBO, weren’t sure what to make of it,” McBride says. “The tone kind of mashed potty humor with something else that was a little bit deeper, and it threw people off.” By the end of the six-episode run, its audience had increased by nearly a third, and HBO committed to a second season. McBride won’t divulge any details, but he and his collaborators know exactly where they’re taking Powers, last seen ditching his high school sweetheart and driving to Florida for what he thought was a shot with the Tampa Bay Rays. “We never planned on being around a long time, so we wanted to go against formula every chance we could,” McBride adds. “We’re taking you on a hero’s journey, but I don’t think you’ve ever seen a hero quite like this guy.” What do you like most about your character? “It’s interesting to put a guy like that, someone who had tasted fame just briefly, back where he came from. You have shame and seething resentment, yet somehow, hopefully, you sympathize with him. The playing field for this guy is wide-open, which is really exciting as a writer and actor.”