TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Eastbound and Down”

Danny McBride had a hell of a 2008, what with scene-stealing roles in “Pineapple Express,” “Tropic Thunder,” and…well, okay, maybe “Drillbit Taylor” wasn’t everything it could’ve been. But, still, the guy’s definitely on a roll, and although 2009 was already shaping up to be a good year for McBride, thanks to his co-starring role in Will Ferrell’s take on Sid & Marty Krofft’s “Land of the Lost,” he can now also claim ownership of a lead role in an HBO series.

HBO’s Sue Naegle was able to sum up the premise of “Eastbound and Down” in a single well-constructed sentence: the hilariously tragic story of Kenny Powers, a former major league pitcher whose bad-boy ways have him down and out and teaching phys ed. at his old middle school in North Carolina. As a man who’s spent his entire life within a 30-minute drive of the Tarheel State (though this is probably the first time I’ve ever referred to it as the Tarheel State), I admit to a certain affinity for the premise, particularly after hearing McBride talk about his reasons for doing the series.

“These guys both grew up in North Carolina,” McBride said, referring to his collaborators Jody Hill and
Ben Best, “and I grew up in Virginia, and we all met at film school down in North Carolina School of the Arts. We weren’t really happy with the way the South was portrayed in a lot of film and television. It seemed like it kind of stopped at the ‘Hee-Haw’ kind of deal, which is overalls and Billy Bob, so we kind of wanted to find new things to make fun of in the South.”

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