Behind the camera with Eddie Vedder and the Cubs' 'Bryzzo'
MESA, Ariz. (AP) Eddie Vedder walks through the door, guitar in his right hand, folder in left, a backward Chicago Cubs batting helmet on his head.
He places the folder on the desk, swings the guitar around and begins his pitch to Cubs players Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. The Bryzzo Souvenir Company needs a jingle, so the Pearl Jam frontman starts playing a punk rock-esque song that ends with: ''That ball was Bryzzo-ed!''
Bryant and Rizzo rise, high-five and shout: ''Yes! That's it!''
They do the scene again and again , at least a half-dozen times, each take filled with the same enthusiasm.
Vedder and the two ballplayers are not actors, but nail the scene each time.
This is part of what made the Bryzzo Souvenir Company commercial so good last season and what should make this year's spots even better.
''They're great,'' director Jacob Rosenberg said. ''Teams that fight for their championships are tight units and working with them, you see just how well they jell together.''
Bryant and Rizzo teamed up last season to shoot a spot for the fictional Bryzzo Souvenir Company as part of Major League Baseball's (hash)THIS ad campaign.
The first commercial featured the teammates pretending to be working at the souvenir company that combines their names, ending with the catchphrase: ''We put the ding in dinger.''
This year's spots have more star power.
In addition to Vedder, a huge Cubs fan, the commercials will include current Cubs players Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber. It also features David Ross, the catcher on last year's World Series team, working as the intern after retiring from baseball.
Ross plays the role to perfection, equal parts try-hard and bumbler.
While stamping boxes, he fastidiously makes sure every corner of stamp hits the cardboard, slowly blows on the ink then smiles with a look of satisfaction. In another scene, he has his arms full of baseballs and tries to bump a box back onto a table with his hip. He spills the balls on the floor and feigns disgust, leading to laughter by the crew watching the monitor outside.
''How we doing?'' Ross asks after emerging from the office. ''I'm sweating in there from trying so hard.''
Ross' job is to bring the bosses their coffee-and-danish order. Before Ross can read off the fake list of items on his tray after walking through the door, Rizzo bursts out laughing at his former teammate playing intern.
''I can't do this!'' he says between laughs.
The trio gather themselves and run through the same scene multiple times, each with a different twist: Ross running off a list of breakfast items; Ross talking too loud before sheepishly realizing his bosses are on the phone; Ross meekly asking if there was a scratch on the van before he left.
Then word hits the set that Vedder has arrived.
''Is Eddie in the house?'' Rosenberg asks.
The scenes in the conference room wrap up with closer shots of Bryant and Rizzo, who reel off lines rapid fire fed to them by Rosenberg and the writers.
Bryant and Rizzo move out to the main office to shoot a scene of them walking through the cubicles with coffee, saying hello to Baez and Clark, the Cubs' mascot.
Vedder, waiting for his turn, hangs in the back and watches the scene on the monitor, breaking into a smile as Rizzo nails a line.
When he gets the call, Vedder enters the conference room, says hello to the players, then goes over his role with Rosenberg.
The golden-throated singer wrote several songs a few days earlier - all to the same tune - and began singing them to the Cubs players, who feign excitement with each one.
The group decided the version that ended with Bryzzo-ed was the best fit, so they went through several takes of Vedder singing and the players reacting in different ways. Vedder surprises the guys with a handful of Bryzzo picks, which leads to them flicking them at the camera.
Vedder's job done, he grabs a bag that has two custom-made ukuleles that he brought from Hawaii and hands them Bryant and Rizzo.
While the three stars pose for photos, Rosenberg and a crew member repeatedly drop the picks on the table, trying to get just the right splash for the close-up.