I don’t usually get my sports news at Gawker — although they remain my favorite source for non-news about mysterious NYC media “celebrities” I wish I didn’t know about — but this post proved an exception. Readers outside the New York media area (or who aren’t masochistically watching the Knicks on the DirecTV NBA package, like GC) have likely not seen the “Real Knick Fans” commercials on television.
But you’ve almost certainly seen something like them: generally slovenly dudes unself-consiously going over their baroque, ritual-laden obsession with Sports Team. How this is supposed to be enticing to non-fans is unclear to me; it might have more to do with making similarly dysfunctional fans feel better about their dys/non-functionality (i.e. “I may be hugely obese and sit on my couch in full Browns Dawg Pound regalia, but maybe I could be on TV someday?”). But whatever the Knicks ads’ purpose, the New York Press, a perpetually about-to-go-under free paper, discovered a few days ago that most of the real fans in these ads are really actors. Really. The Press‘s Becca Tucker reports:
Clyde Baldo, a 52-year-old psychotherapist who changed his name from Roy to honor his favorite Knick, is a familiar name to those few fans who still follow Knicks basketball on MSG, the Madison Square Garden Network that has broadcast all 24 of the team™s tragic losses this season. In commercials promoting the worst Knicks squad in recent memory, Baldo confesses to a Knicks addiction that, in the context of current events, suggests a devotion that runs deeper than logic.
“I love going to the Garden, but if not, I watch the game on MSG. And I have a ritual. I turn off all the phones, because do not bother me when a Knick game is on. And I keep the remote in my right hand and if they’re losing I put it in my left hand. If they’re losing by more than 10 points, TV off. I go back to the game. If they’re winning again, right hand. You have to understand, my remote is the sixth man. By the end of the game, I feel like I’ve played. I’ve gotta go get in the shower.”
What’s not so familiar to fans, or, apparently, to the Knicks management, or the ad agency that created the 30-second spots, is that Baldo is an actor. He has appeared on “The Sopranos”, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, the History Channel’s “Breaking Vegas”, series, 11 movies, a cable Optimum Online commercial and over 40 plays.
And by the way, that story about how Baldo holds the remote? Not true.
…The Knicks team itself was surprised to hear that their “real fans” had some experience in front of a camera, particularly since the ads are clearly intended to suggest otherwise. Of six “real fans” reached by the New York Press, there were 10 filmed in total, five happen to be actors. “I do know that when asked for the casting call, we asked for non actors,” Knicks spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz said.
Most of these people were, it seems, actually Knicks fans — and since the Knicks at least tried to hire non-actors, albeit via some rather low-sophistication methods — so I’m not sure this is really a story. Also, if everything else Clyde Baldo said was true except the part about his remote-related ritual, I could deal with the commercial. If, you know, it were bearable in the first place.