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Arts and Entertainment

Bill Murray's potential conflict: Attend Cubs Game 7 at Wrigley or Kennedy Center event in his honor?

By Geoff Edgers

October 19, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Bill Murray watches Game 1 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. If the series goes seven, what does that mean for his Sunday appearance at the Kennedy Center? (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

[Editor's note: A couple hours after this post was written, Bill Murray actually called. His whereabouts on the night of Oct. 23 were discussed, and the Kennedy Center has nothing to worry about, except a guest of honor who might look like he'd clearly rather be somewhere else. Says Murray: "Ugh. If this [NLCS] goes to a Game 6 or 7, which it is going to, I'm not going to be there. I'm going to be there [at the Kennedy Center] having people say, 'Oh, he's a funny, funny man.' I'd much rather be sitting there in a good box seat at Wrigley Field."]

Bill Murray was once asked whether he thought he'd win an Oscar or the Cubs would win a World Series first.

"The Cubs winning the World Series," he said. "That's really more important."

Whatever Bill Murray is thinking right now – he's been too busy crashing your kickball game to call us back – an intriguing subplot is developing as the "Ghostbusters" star prepares to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Sunday night.

Related: [The greatest role of Bill Murray’s life has been playing Bill Murray]

Check the schedule. There's a chance that Murray's beloved North Enders will be locked in the high drama of Game 7 at the exact moment he's supposed to be at the Kennedy Center listening to famous people blather on about his cinematic chops.

Will he definitely be in D.C.?

"He has to, pretty much, right?" says Joel Murray, the comedian's youngest brother.

Well, yes, it would be bizarre even by Murricane standards for him to skip out of the most prestigious comedy award in the country to pound a Bud with the Wrigley faithful. As a Kennedy Center spokesperson told us Tuesday, "he's a class act who is really looking forward to Sunday night."

Still, can Murray ignore Jake Arrieta on the mound with a chance to head to the World Series for the first time in 71 years?

This is a man who has a professional hit to his credit, is part-owner of a minor league team and has been regularly spotted at Wrigley this fall, including during Game 1, an 8-4 win for the good guys.

"They've won every game he's been to," notes Joel. "He's got that going. Thinking, 'maybe I'm the good luck charm.'"

[Bill Murray knows how to celebrate the Cubs. Eddie Vedder? Well…]

So will Murray be given a TV backstage to monitor the game? Does he have the MLB.com app on his iPhone? Does he even have an iPhone?

"As of today," the Kennedy Center said, "[there has been] no discussion about special provisions for Cubs playoffs game watching or monitoring during Mark Twain."

Will that change? Consider 2003, when the Cubs came closest to killing the Curse of the Billy Goat. Murray had signed on to film Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" in Italy. Phenom Mark Prior and slugger Sammy Sosa were leading the boys to the playoffs. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that he required in his contract that he get a satellite feed of Cubs games.

"That sounds more apocryphal than real and I think I would have known about it," says producer Barry Mendel. "What I do remember is that Bill was totally excited about the Cubs and focused on it and they were in the playoffs while we were filming 'Aquatic.'"

So the star had a satellite dish installed on the 15th century palazzo he was staying in on Rome's Via Giulia. On the fateful night of Oct. 14, 2003, when Steve Bartman reached out for a foul ball, Mendel remembers watching the game with Murray, director Sofia Coppola and a few friends.

When the shoot moved to Naples, so did the dish. Mendel remembers watching the 2004 Super Bowl (New England 32, Carolina 29) with Murray in Italy. The star had the North American Sports package.

So what would Mendel suggest Murray do if he's stuck watching "Stripes" clips when Kris Bryant comes to the plate?

"If it was me, I would just tape the game and tell everybody around to shut up so you can experience it later," he says.

All 2,400 people in the Kennedy Center?

"I produced the movie, 'The Sixth Sense,'" says Mendel, "and what I found is everybody enjoyed the movie and nobody gave it away to their friends."

Joel Murray has his own issues. He's performing with his improv troupe in Washington State Saturday night. He's got four tickets to Game 7, if it takes place. He's also got to figure out if he has time to get to the Kennedy Center.

The solution? How about the Cubs take three in a row and wrap this series Saturday night?

"It's a conundrum," says Joel Murray. "I've had to do this. I was in San Francisco doing shows and we had my computer set up backstage facing the stage. I think it'd be something like that. This is near and dear to his heart. Let's hope it's a non-factor."


Geoff Edgers, the Washington Post's national arts reporter, covers everything from fine arts to popular culture. In the last year, he's profiled Bill Murray, outlaw country singer Billy Joe Shaver and told the story of the making of Run-DMC's version of Walk This Way.

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