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Monday Night Mayhem

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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(Sep 10, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

There was more action behind the scenes of ABC's Monday Night Football telecast than there was on the gridiron. This film offers a dramatic look into the lives of the on-air team of Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and Don Meredith.

Based on the book by Bill Carter and Marc Gunther, this immensely entertaining made-for-cable film tells it like it was in chronicling the golden age of Monday Night Football, a bold experiment in prime-time programming that transformed the pop-culture landscape. Carrying the ball for the lesser-known ensemble is John Turturro's Emmy-worthy performance as Howard Cosell, who played the role of "provocateur" in the then-revolutionary three-man booth that included in its heyday "Dandy" Don Meredith (Brad Beyer) and Frank Gifford (Kevin Anderson). John Heard gives a career-best performance as ABC producer Roone Arledge, who nurtured his brainchild and brilliantly massaged the egos of his stars. His prickly, more complex relationship with Cosell is the heart of this film. Rich with incident, Monday Night Mayhem spans from Muhammad Ali's controversial anti-Vietnam War stance and the blood-soaked 1972 Munich Olympics to John Lennon's death, which Cosell announced to a shocked nation. Also comic and compelling is the behind-the-scenes in-fighting and the colorful backstage characters. This film will score even with viewers who preferred watching Mayberry RFD on those Monday nights long ago. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Turturro, John Heard, Kevin Anderson, Nicholas Turturro, Brad Beyer
  • Directors: Ernest R. Dickerson
  • Writers: Bill Carter, Marc Gunther
  • Producers: Bryan Gawron, Leslie Greif, Lewis Kleinberg, Natascha Tillmanns, Tiffany McLinn Lore
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • DVD Release Date: September 10, 2002
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006FDBV
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,421 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Monday Night Mayhem" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I recently witnessed ESPN's "25 Greatest Sports Movies of the Last 25 Years" going back to 1979. This film was not on that list for obvious reasons -- it portrays a warts and all image of Monday Night Football, showing Howard Cosell's drunkenness in Philadelphia to Chet Forte's gambling addiction to the insensitive way Roone Arledge replaced Keith Jackson with Frank Gifford after one season calling "Monday Night Football".

It even shows Cosell (portrayed by the outstanding character actor John Turturro) taking off his toupee in one scene. In another scene, Cosell boils over after talking head Gifford continues to refer to Dallas Cowboys safety Dennis Thurman as Thurman Munson.

"Didn't Thurman Munson die in 1979," Cosell asks a producer after Gifford goofs another call during a broadcast. "So how is he making all these tackles?!"

So ESPN's "25 best sports films" could not embarrass its ownership (ABC) by giving credence to this movie. But you should give credence to it at your earliest opportunity. It is by turns informative, entertaining, funny and melancholy. It has all the ingredients of real life and television that make both so interesting.

TNT was praised and criticized for this production and seems to have responded by no longer programming it. That is a pity for this is one of the most truthful movies about professional football since "North Dallas Forty", the Pete Gent book made into a feature film about the Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s.

There is one direct parallel between the films -- Don Meredith. He was portrayed in both movies as something of a buffoon. Was he? I don't know. But watching this movie over and over when it first came out was one of the most fun-filled events of my autumn 2002. If you enjoy sports films, this one should be in your library.
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By A Customer on May 14, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Monday Night Mayhem" is extremely entertaining, even for viewers who don't have much interest in football. My wife falls into that category, and she really enjoyed it.
This was originally a made-for-TV movie (TNT network) depicting the formation and early years of ABC's Monday Night Football. It's fast-paced, funny, occasionally moving, and always interesting. The script is heavily based on the book of the same name, which I would also recommend (authors are Bill Carter and Marc Gunther).
The movie's focus is on Howard Cosell. John Turturro is absolutely terrific as Humble Howard, America's most beloved and most hated sportscaster. John Heard as Roone Arledge turns in an excellent job, too. The rest of the cast is nicely filled out as well. Having several old MNF games from the 1970s on videotape, I can attest that the makers of the movie put a lot of effort into getting the look of the times just right. The soundtrack also does a nice job of bringing those years to life.
I'm fortunate to have grown up watching MNF in the '70s and remember fondly the magic of the early years when MNF was so cutting edge. In those days before cable, there was nothing else like it on TV. As an earlier reviewer put it, it would be nice if another Howard Cosell came along to liven up Monday Night Football again, but it's safe to say there will never be another Howard Cosell.
I highly recommend this movie, both for older folks like me who will enjoy the nostalgia, and for the younger generations who can get a taste of what they missed.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Football fans will be able to enjoy this film and have that pregame feeling about the start of what is still the longest running weekday "prime-time show" known as Monday Night Football on ABC. Sports history buffs can get a sense of many things, including the peaks, valleys and drama of all the behind the scenes action. After seeing this film, one doesn't get the sense that it was made for cable (TNT originally aired it.... More than once!)
John Turturro plays Howard Cosell, and does a great job. The voice, mannerisms, and dramatizations are worthy of noting during this great performance. The only issue is that it seems Turturro was too young to portray Cosell during any era, especially by the early '80s when the real Cosell looked quite a bit older. Eli Wallach and John Heard were terrific as ABC president Leonard Rothstein and MNF producer Roone Alredge, respectively. These two men turned in great performances and were cast perfectly. You are able to gain a sense of what these men were like, even if you had no idea who they were. The on screen portrayals of fellow broadcasters Don Meredith and Frank Gifford are simple but still pretty good.
The movie does a great job telling the story of how MNF was born. Roone Alredge from ABC truly revolutionized the game by adding flare, more cameras, more angles, and the three-man booth.
One problem is that film lacks real game footage that was true to the era (1970-85.) There seem to be re-creations of the games and their moments, and the uniforms are a bit "off" during some of the game highlights. Colors don't match, and stadium backdrops are not true the game that was going on at that time. For example, take a close look at the Joe Namath shot. (That is not him.
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