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The Bronx Is Burning

For the period of heavy fires in the Bronx in the 1970s, see planned shrinkage.
The Bronx Is Burning
Created by Jonathan Mahler
Directed by Jeremiah Chechik
Starring John Turturro
Oliver Platt
Daniel Sunjata
Country of origin 23x15px United States
No. of episodes 8
Executive producer(s) Mike Tollin
Brian Robbins
Joe Davola
Running time 60 minutes
Original channel ESPN
Original release July 10, 2007 – August 28, 2007

The Bronx Is Burning is a television drama that debuted on ESPN on July 10, 2007, after the 2007 MLB Home Run Derby. It is an eight-episode mini-series adapted from Jonathan Mahler's best-selling book, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning. The book focuses on baseball's triumph over the turmoil and hysteria of 1977 New York City and how the New York Yankees came to embody the hopes and fears of an unforgettable summer with Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson's warfare under George Steinbrenner's leadership.

The show stars Daniel Sunjata, Oliver Platt, and John Turturro, while executive producers Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola, writer and executive producer James Solomon, and director Jeremiah Chechik work on the show. The series is produced by ESPN Original Entertainment in conjunction with Tollin/Robbins Productions. Filming began on September 18, 2006, in Connecticut and New York.

The 2007 debut of the series marks the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Series win for the Yankees, the first under Steinbrenner.

After airing on ESPN, episodes could be viewed on ABC on Demand.


The central theme of the adaptation is the 1977 New York Yankees against the backdrop of New York City. Yankee superstar Reggie Jackson (Daniel Sunjata) and manager Billy Martin (John Turturro) are locked in a perpetual state of warfare. Jackson was a perfect foil for the scrappy Martin, the hero of New York's fed-up white working class and a powerful reminder of the team's—and the city's—less complicated past. While owner George Steinbrenner (Oliver Platt) was providing General Patton-style leadership, he was intent on keeping his promise to the people of New York of delivering a World Series title. The show also features subplots concerning the NYPD's pursuit of the Son of Sam serial killer that summer and the devastating blackout and resultant widespread looting in July, all while the city suffered through financial bankruptcy and massive municipal layoffs. Another subplot focused on the 1977 New York City Mayoral race featuring incumbent mayor Abraham Beame, former Congresswoman Bella Abzug, future Governor Mario Cuomo, and Congressman Ed Koch, the eventual winner.

The title refers to an off-the-cuff comment allegedly made by broadcaster Howard Cosell during the ABC telecast of Game Two of the 1977 World Series:

However, there is no recording of Cosell actually making that comment.[2]

According to the source book's author, Mahler, at the time property taxes were so high landlords would burn down their buildings for the insurance money, and some tenants would set a fire in a decrepit, privately owned building in order to get priority for the newer public housing.[3] However, the burning of tenement housing in New York City in the 1970s was the end-game of urban renewal. After a building was red-lined, it was deemed unsuitable for sale in the eyes of the mortgage banking industry. A building's owner could not sell his building unless he received a cash payment. Landlords were forced to maintain a building that they couldn't afford to keep. Taxes collected by the city were greater than what could be charged to tenants (an unintended consequence of rent control laws). With nobody paying cash to buy the building, and no way to sell the building to a conventional buyer, the landlord's only recourse was to set it on fire. In addition, the city's planned shrinkage policy in effect at the time drastically cut fire protection service in the Bronx with the intention of reducing blight by decreasing the population by prompting people to leave.

Episodes were filmed in New London, Waterford and Norwich in Connecticut as well as in New York City. The series' soundtrack consisted of songs by The Ramones.

Historical inaccuracy

The series has been lauded for maintaining the historical accuracy reflected by its literary source. However, one inaccuracy involves a reproduction of an infamous Miller Lite television commercial lampooning Steinbrenner's frequent threats to fire Martin: Its inclusion in the miniseries implies its creation and broadcast during the 1977 baseball season. In reality it was shot and televised during the 1978 baseball season, after Martin had resigned under threat of being fired, and then shortly thereafter rehired "for the 1980 baseball season," announced during that year's Old Timer's Game at Yankee Stadium. In this context, it lampoons Martin's actual "firing" in 1978, not threats of such during the 1977 season.


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No. # Title Directed by Written by Original air date


Actor Role
Turturro, JohnJohn Turturro Yankees manager Billy Martin
Sunjata, DanielDaniel Sunjata Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson
Platt, OliverOliver Platt Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
Conway, KevinKevin Conway Yankees president Gabe Paul
Blonder, DarylDaryl Blonder Yankees batboy Ray Negron
Rob Lavin Yankees pitcher Ken Holtzman
Jensen, ErikErik Jensen Yankees catcher Thurman Munson
Dean, LorenLoren Dean Yankees back-up catcher Fran Healy
Gilliam, SethSeth Gilliam Yankees outfielder Paul Blair
Grifasi, JoeJoe Grifasi Yankees bench coach Yogi Berra
Zickel, MatherMather Zickel Yankees outfielder Lou Piniella
Alex Cranmer Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles
Evan Hart Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent
Dock Pollard Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph
Lou Provenzano Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry
Darby Brown Yankees designated hitter Cliff Johnson
Jason Kosow Yankees pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter
Casella, MaxMax Casella Yankees third base coach Dick Howser
Robinson, LeonardLeonard Robinson Yankees outfielder Mickey Rivers
McDonald, ChristopherChristopher McDonald Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio
Wiggin, TomTom Wiggin Yankees Hall of Famer Whitey Ford
Robert Ward Himself
Ruck, AlanAlan Ruck Reporter Steve Jacobson
Pais, JoshJosh Pais Reporter Phil Pepe
Lauria, DanDan Lauria Captain Joseph Borelli
Serrano, NestorNestor Serrano Detective Kavanaugh
Lang, StephenStephen Lang Deputy Inspector Timothy Dowd
Mahoney, JohnJohn Mahoney News Reporter (Background Casting)
Siemaszko, CaseyCasey Siemaszko Detective Welker
Josiah Schlatter Clubhouse attendant
Rispoli, MichaelMichael Rispoli Newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin
Paul Marini Berkowitz, DavidDavid Berkowitz
Wickersham, EmilyEmily Wickersham Suzy Steinbrenner
Russell Woron-Simons Student watching TV
Giambi, JasonJason Giambi Taxi cab driver

See also


External links