Hoop dreams fill thesp’s new niche

The near ubiquitous indie actor Steve Buscemi — he of the darkly comic, blood-spattered roles in such pics as “Reservoir Dogs,” “Desperado” and “Fargo” — has gone in a more commercial direction — literally. He’s added a new job title to his resume: commercial director.

Under the auspices of Michael Bodnarchek and Lawrence Bender’s A Band Apart Commercials, Buscemi recently helmed a series of 10 30-second spots for Nike and the Women’s National Basketball Assn.

The ads, which have just begun to air nationally, focus on an obsessive fan/amateur coach who appears in various situations accompanied by cardboard cutouts of WNBA team members. The guy, played by actor Toby Huss, is oblivious to the fact that the female athletes aren’t real.

Two-year-old A Band Apart’s roster includes arthouse feature directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez as well as commercial specialists Charles Wittenmeier and Terry Windell. The company recently signed award-winning ad helmer Geoff McGann.

Buscemi’s previous directing credits include one feature, Live Entertainment’s 1996 release “Trees Lounge,” as well as musicvids for Hayden and Maggie Estep.

A Band Apart Commercials has produced several commercials for such clients as Intel, Nissan, Dodge, Chrysler and Tostitos.

Even for the veteran of more than 50 productions, many of them low-budget, the pace of the commercial shoot was a challenge: All 10 spots were shot in two days in L.A.

Buscemi, who admits he’s not a big sports fan, says he never actually got to meet any of the real ball players: “I only met the cardboard cutouts. They were very nice.”

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