MONDO EXTRAS

When Billie Beat Bobby

by Heathen April 25, 2001
When Billie Beat Bobby

With three days to go, we learn that Bobby is the favorite among Las Vegas bookmakers, and the odds are so tipped in his favor that pundits suggest betting on the score, because that's the only way to make money. A scrawny man is hawking Bobby's supplements. "Laurence Welk, Bobby Riggs -- powerhouses because of these nutrients," the man says, seriously. Hee! "Battle of the Sexes" merchandise flies off the shelves.

In walks Nora Ephron, who the subtitles tell us is a "journalist and feminist wit," although anyone who's seen Hanging Up -- the movie she vomited out with sister Delia, and Diane Keaton's still scrubbing up the stains -- would disagree. Bobby tells her to keep her money, which she's betting on Billie Jean. "It's like taking candy from a baby," he patronizes. "I don't think so," Nora says. And that's it. Wow. What a great moment of television. Thanks so much for stopping by. Back at her dressing room, Billie Jean is modeling new tennis dresses; Bobby, meanwhile, is filming a commercial for Sugar Daddy candy. He's blatantly exhausted, and Lorney tries to send him to bed, which only makes him feign more feistiness. "Even Ali needs to rest," he says. But Ali wasn't an old, disgusting windbag with saliva so globby it could double as Elmer's Glue. Although I'm sure he'll really appreciate the comparison.

Two days before playing Bobby, Billie Jean is in Houston and has just struggled in a tour match against Margaret Court. While she showers in the locker room, a gaggle of tennis players walk in and start dishing the match. Chrissie Evert says that, given Billie Jean's performance against Margaret -- who got creamed by Bobby -- then Mrs. King has no hope of winning. The others say Billie Jean looked terrible during her match that day. "She overexerts herself. Riggs looks terrific," says one player. "It's going to be a slaughter." Margaret walks in, and upon being accosted, says simply, "I think Riggs is the devil." Furious at this movie's gross misrepresentation of her true identity, Satan -- who we know simply as "Leelee Sobieski" -- vows to end Holly Hunter's movie career. Oooh, sorry, Satan. Too late on that one. Angry and hurt, Billie Jean decides to prance out of the shower in the nude, proving, in no particular order, that she's heard everything those women said, that she's gonna wash that man right out of her hair, and that she would be very controversial on The Real World.

With one day left, Billie Jean strolls the Astrodome and examines the court that's been set up there. She daydreams that Bobby walks up with "beautiful roses for a beautiful lady," and she whacks him over the head with the bouquet. Jerking awake, she continues bouncing a tennis ball on the ground, but this time with a wry smile. I smell a wacky idea!

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When Billie Beat Bobby

by Heathen April 25, 2001
When Billie Beat Bobby Sweaty and panting, Billie Jean keeps practicing even though she's exhausted her hitting partner. In the top left corner, a counter ticks off the number of smashes she's practiced, and it tops 200. But when she asks for one more, she has a hallucination that Bobby is lobbing for her, and she loses track of it in the sun. "I'm better at this than you, you can see that," he explains to her, calmly. Then her mother arrives and says, "That was out," as if to say, "That lob totally left the closet but someone we know has not." Then, racing for another lob, Billie Jean runs smack into an apparition of Margaret Court. She's bumping into everything but her true sexuality here. The phone rings; this was yet another dream sequence. This time, Larry is on the phone telling her he's heard rumors that Bobby Riggs is getting half the ticket revenue. Billie Jean freaks. At Perenchio's office, a random posse of African-Americans says that Billie Jean demands a split of the proceeds. I'm so glad, because I was starting to wonder how any business deals got made without the appearance of random, nameless jive-ass dudes and their sweet-style posses. I'm rendered inept without mine, certainly. Larry and Perenchio are on the phone as well, and Jerry hears a fuming, screaming Billie Jean in the background. 'That's one serious woman," Mr. Billie Jean King says. Billie Jean and Jerry -- who has flown in to meet with her -- argue. "Something about this stinks," she complains. Jerry says fine, pull out and he'll get Chrissie Evert to play Bobby instead. "Okay…I have no problem with that…I won't do it unless there's a level playing field," Billie Jean retorts defiantly. Jerry simply shrugs and points out that any contract with him -- like Bobby's -- is going to maximize a person's marketability and subsequent earnings, but as far as ticket proceeds, Bobby isn't getting half. "By the way," he smarms, "my daughter's betting me a month's allowance that you're going to win." Billie Jean glares at him, then looks away. In front of the television, Billie Jean pumps iron. She stops when she sees a promo for the Battle of the Sexes, "the Lover vs. the Lobber." Disgusted, she switches channels and watches a football game's halftime show. The announcer says the marching band that's on the field is wishing Billie Jean good luck, and as he says it, the band forms BJK on the field. Near tears, Billie Jean smiles thinly. "Honey, whose résumé is that in the driveway, muddy, torn and stick under the tire of that new silver Kia?" "It's yours, Frank." "It iiiiiiiiiis, isn't it?"

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