John Stamos coached into starring in ‘Big Shot’

Rick's Reviews

John Stamos takes on a new role as a basketball coach for the Disney+ series “Big Shot.” (Photo courtesy of Disney+)

(KGET) — The explosion in the number of streaming services has not only translated into more entertainment options for viewers but also created more opportunities for the creative community. Projects and performers who have been sidelined are now finding new life.

That’s what happened with the upcoming Disney+ series “Big Shot” scheduled to debut April 16. The production surrounding the fall and rise of Coach Marvyn Korn (John Stamos) was written six years ago by Dean Lorey (“Arrested Development”) and David E. Kelley (“Big Sky”) and sold to ABC. Eventually, the network opted not to make the series and it went into limbo. Then Lorey got a telephone call.

“Out of the blue, a couple years ago, we got a call and they said, ‘We are creating this new streaming service, Disney+, and we want to pick you guys up straight to series.’  So, suddenly, we found ourselves sort of on a dime just making this show,” Lorey says. “We put it together and started doing it.

“It’s been a process because we’ve been doing it during a pandemic, but we’ve got the season shot.”

The 10-episode series that finally will get in front of an audience starts with Coach Korn committing an act that not only gets him fired from his college basketball job but also makes him a persona non grata with the entire NCAA. The only coaching job he can get is at an elite private high school.

He soon learns that the teenage players require a softer touch than he had used with his college team. Once the young women on his team girls learn to take themselves more seriously they begin to find their footing both on and off the court. While Korn teaches his new team to be tougher, he also begins to grow into the person he’s always hoped to be.

Stamos, 57, was excited when his agents and managers called to say he was going to get an offer to star on a new David E. Kelley show. The chance to work with Kelley was a dream come true for Stamos. Then reality hit. Because Kelley has had so much success with legal programs such as “Boston Legal” and “The Practice,” Stamos was excited about the possibility of portraying a lawyer. Stamos was told there would be a court involved but of the basketball variety.

“My heart sunk because I am so bad at sports.  And I said, ‘I don’t play.  I don’t play.  I’m not a player.’  Right?  ‘Do I play?  Am I an old player?’,” Stamos says. “Then they said, ‘No.  You are coaching.’ Then it was, like, ‘Do coaches have to play?  Do I have to play?’”

Stamos isn’t exaggerating when he says he is not a big fan of basketball. His research for the role started with Jerry West, who is on the board of the Los Angeles Clippers. Stamos made the mistake of asking him if he could watch a “rehearsal” and West had to explain it is called a practice. He also thought the Clippers were a college team.

“That didn’t go over well.  But I really took it as a challenge, honestly, because it was just such a character that I’ve never played,” Stamos says. “And it was the first character that I’ve been offered that everybody is talking about him like how unlikable he is and what a crab he is and he’s not a nice person.

“So I dug into that, because I felt like I could probably go a little further than other actors, say, you know, Jeremy Piven or something.”

Stamos earned the good guy tag for his years starring on “Full House” and then “Fuller House.” Even his work on “ER” had him playing a likable member of the emergency room staff.

Starring on “Big Shot” gives Stamos a chance to play a more complicated character. Instead of the role being light and fluffy he found Korn to be very layered and flawed.

Add to that, Stamos is a huge fan of Disney and the Disney+ series had all the right elements for him even without a working knowledge of basketball. Joining Stamos in the cast of “Big Shot” are Jessalyn Gilsig, Yvette Nicole Brown, Richard Robichaux, Sophia Mitri Schloss, Nell Verlaque, Tiana Le, Monique Green, Tisha Custodio and Cricket Wampler.

The actors selected to play the members of the basketball team could not be like Stamos. They had to be able to make their time on the court look as real as the rest of their performance. Stamos has high praise for the young cast members.

“I’ve always said that this show won’t work unless those girls work. And each episode, as you’ll see, I mean, they really find their characters, and Dean writing really specific things for them and they came through,” Stamos says. They’re fantastic.”

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