For a sports league as rooted in tradition as the MLB has been in the past, Monday was an eye-opener. Not long after commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear MLB needs to join the conversation about changing gambling regulation in pro sports, another story broke that indicates the league is moving more and more into a progressive way of thinking.
Recently, filmmaker Matthew Aaron worked on a movie called Landline, which will be released on VOD on Tuesday, April 4. It’s a movie that stars two gay men, set in the city of Chicago. The remarkable thing about the movie as it relates to MLB is that it is the first LGBTQ film to ever be officially licensed by a national sports league in America.
According to Aaron, MLB’s Robin Jaffe (Senior Manager, Presence Marketing at Major League Baseball) helped Landline become the first LGBTQ film to garner such licensing.
“In my research, there’s never been a film that stars LGBTQ actors made with the association of the MLB, the NBA, the NFL, or the NHL,” Aaron told EW of the film, which also stars Parks and Recreation‘s Jim O’Heir and comedy staple Tom Arnold as Ted’s supportive uncle and father, respectively. “[But] it’s not a film about being gay. It’s about two husbands who are going through their marriage together — typical, normal problems that everyone has.”
Landline cost just around $250,000 to produce, which is a drop in the bucket compared to most films made these days. Apparently, however, that was one of the reasons it landed the licensing agreement to shoot in Wrigley Field itself.
“We never thought we were going to get [licensing for] the Cubs, and we never thought we’d get [to shoot at] Wrigley Field. We were just hoping that my character would be able to wear a Cubs jersey here and there for a couple thousand dollars,” Aaron explains. “Robin really wanted to support indie filmmaking, which they’ve never done before, and they wanted to support this film. To top it all off, they wanted to support a film with LGBTQ leads in it.”
No matter what your personal beliefs, this is a momentous decision by MLB to support and license this film, which Aaron calls a “light comedy” that is also “a gay baseball movie.”