15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Eastbound & Down’
Featuring the most extraordinary mulleted TV character since the days of MacGyver, Eastbound & Down starred Danny McBride as Kenny Powers, the lovable piece of crap/disgraced ex-ballplayer who returns to his hometown as a substitute gym teacher “several shitty years” after his professiojnal career imploded. So with the baseball season up and running again, there’s no better time to enjoy some trivia about everyone’s favorite fake baseball pitcher, such as…
The Show Is Named After a Jerry Reed Song
Eastbound & Down seemingly got its title from the Reed song “East Bound and Down,” which happens to have been recorded for the soundtrack for the Burt Reynolds classic Smokey and the Bandit.
Kenny Powers May Have Been Based on a Real-Life Pitcher
Some have speculated that the inspiration for Powers may have been John Rocker, who similarly played for the Atlanta Braves and “was one of the best closers in professional baseball,” but “also one of the most disliked people in the game.”
Kenny Was Definitely Named After a Real-Life Stuntman
The name “Kenny Powers” wasn't an invention of the series; it also belongs to a stuntman famous for his attempt to jump the St. Lawrence River, which required crossing the mile-long distance from Canada to the U.S. It did not go well.
Will Ferrell Based His Character on Ric Flair
McBride Didn’ t Think It Would Last Longer Than One Season
McBride and co-creators Jody Hill and Ben Best didn’t think that the show would necessarily last longer than one season. As McBride told an interviewer, “When it got picked up as a series, we figured we wouldn’t get picked up beyond the first season so we had to make this one count and have it, at the end of the day, just make for a really weird movie if you watched them all together.”
Kenny Powers’ Mullet Is Really an Extension
The premium TV equivalent of finding out there’s no Santa Claus, McBride’s mullet was really an extension. “It was honestly my wife,” he explained. “She just would not let me walk around with that haircut outside the set!”
Ike Barinholtz Originally Auditioned for Jason Sudeikis’ Role
Barinholtz, who played rival Russian pitcher Ivan Dochenko, originally auditioned for the role of Shane, which ultimately went to Sudeikis. Barinholtz later revealed that he based his accent on an imitation of his Russian landlord.
Co-Creator Jody Hill Directed Commercials for Hooters
Apparently, Eastbound & Down didn’t pay all the bills for Hill, who took a side gig directing a few puppet-heavy commercials for Hooters, who were attempting a “brand refresh" at the time.” Critics called them “unpleasant" and "obnoxious.”
The Sitcom ‘Mike & Molly’ Torpedoed Plans for the Third Season
Part of the reason why a fourth season was necessary was that Katy Mixon, who played April, wasn’t available for more than two episodes in the third season due to the success of her sitcom Mike & Molly. McBride called the scheduling conflict a “real stumbling block” that “fucked up what our plan for the whole season last year was gonna be.”
Harris Wittels Became a Writer on the Show Thanks to an Unproduced Script and an ‘Insane’ Sample Scene
The late Wittels got a job writing for the show after scripting an unproduced movie for McBride and Aziz Ansari called Olympic Sized Asshole and also by submitting a “totally insane” sample scene involving “Kenny boogie boarding and a shark eating one of his hands, and quitting baseball.”
McBride Was Invited to Play with an Actual Minor League Baseball Team
Following the show’s success, the Pensacola Pelicans, part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, invited McBride to join the team. “Danny has played at the highest level, and after seeing the show, we think he still has some athletic potential,” the team’s owner stated.
A Surprising Number of People Have Kenny Powers Tattoos
Apparently, a not-insubstantial percentage of the American public has willingly chosen to permanently brand their skin with the image of Powers’ goateed face and mullet.
The Finale Was Watched by Nearly 900,000 People
Co-Creator Ben Best Passed Away in 2021
Sadly, co-creator Best (who also played Clegg) passed away in 2021, just one day before his 47th birthday.
Kenny Powers Appeared in a Series of Shoe Commercials
In 2011, McBride appeared in character as Powers in a series of ads for K-Swiss shoes. The premise of the "big swing" campaign was that Kenny Powers was the company’s new CEO. To be fair, he would still be far from the world’s most problematic corporate CEO.
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