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Texas-sized problem for Ferrell

February 16, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Aimee McDaniel, the all-time assists leader for Pepperdine University, spends her days assisting in other ways.

McDaniel, who played at Pepperdine from 1990 to '94, works for the Sports Studio as a sports coordinator for movies, keeping them as authentic as possible.

One of her more recent jobs was one of her more challenging: "Semi-Pro," a movie about a fictional American Basketball Assn. team staring Will Ferrell.

"Will was great and he is so off the cuff," McDaniel said. "We'd say, 'The 24-second clock wasn't there,' or, 'You could do this but not that,' and Will would say, 'That's not funny.' In the end, it's a comedy and you're Will Ferrell. Do what you want."

McDaniel, though, had the last laugh. The screen saver on her computer has a photo of Texas scoring the winning touchdown against USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl -- her father and other family members attended Texas.

Ferrell, a USC grad, was none-too-pleased.

Said McDaniel: "Will came into the room to get his ankle taped one day, saw that and said, 'Aimee.' I said, 'Oh, you want me to go while you get taped?' He said, 'No, but seriously, you got to get a new screen saver.' "

It had to make Ferrell's face turn a nice shade of Ron Burgundy.

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Trivia time

What was Ferrell's major in at USC?

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Who wears short-shorts?

McDaniel said her company researched the old American Basketball Assn. for the movie, using documentaries and film clips, as well as interviewing former ABA players. Trouble was the authenticity clashed with modern day basketball fashion.

"We try to be as historically accurate as possible," McDaniel said. "The real basketball players in the movie didn't like the shorter shorts. They kept going, 'Oh Aimee,' and tried to cheat by pulling the shorts down lower.

"I finally told them, 'My favorite thing to look at isn't a lot of white legs either, but that's how they wore them in that period.' "

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No, Adrian!

It's unclear where "Semi-Pro" will rank among sports movies, but the London Times reran a 2005 readers poll this week ranking the top 50 sports movies of all time.

Boxing, it seems, is not a dying sport on the big (or little) screen, as it had the most films on the list with nine, including "Raging Bull" at No. 1. Of course, enough is enough. Rocky V did not receive a single vote, although that didn't stop Sylvester Stallone from making another sequel, "Rocky Balboa."

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Lost in translation

The easiest way to tell this was a London Times poll and not a Los Angeles Times poll?

Among the top 50, there are four films about football and six about soccer including No. 11 "Victory," in which a group of Allied prisoners of war (including Stallone) are challenged to a soccer match by the Nazis, then refuse to escape at halftime because they think they can win.

Thankfully, "Victory II" never got any traction.

The top 50 also includes movies on mountaineering ("Touching the Void"), cricket ("Lagaan") and rugby ("The Sporting Life") . . . at No. 5!

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All that jazz

Grammy winner Kenny G will perform the national anthem before Pepperdine's game against Santa Clara tonight. It'll be a change of pace for Pepperdine, which has heard the Fat Lady sing a number of times this season.

Still, the Waves, winners of only two West Coast Conference games, might be better off if Dr. J performed instead.

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Trivia answer

Sports information. Ferrell even served as an intern in the sports information office.

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And finally

USC sports information director Tim Tessalone, when asked about Ferrell's days in his office, said, "Whatever happened to that guy? He could have had a nice career in sports information."

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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