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BONDS BALL BRAWL FROM YEARS AGO NOW DOCUMENTARY In the fall of 2001, Mike Wranovics was a dot-com casualty writing a fictional screenplay about a road trip with a psychopath. Then Barry Bonds hit his 73rd home run of the season, and Wranovics ended up making a documentary about litigation with a narcissist. A longtime aspiring filmmaker, Wranovics was stirred into action when Patrick Hayashi, who caught the record home-run ball, was promptly sued by Alex Popov. Popov claimed that he had caught the ball but was accosted in the ensuing scrum by Hayashi, who, Popov claimed, went so far as to bite a bystander’s leg in order to steal the ball. To Wranovics, the notion that a man was possibly brutalized for a baseball engendered a latter-day “Paradise Lost.” “I said, ‘Oh my god, it’s come to this.’ I thought of it as a symbol of falling from grace,” he said. “The funny thing is that it became a tale of greed for another reason.” Hayashi, it turns out, didn’t pummel, bite or full-nelson anyone en route to getting the ball. So, Wranovics decided to make a movie — his first — about the legal skirmish, which reached its apex in a San Francisco courtroom. The film, “Up for Grabs,” has won several awards at film festivals around the country. It officially opens April 15 at San Francisco’s Landmark Embarcadero theater and on April 22 at seven other Bay Area theaters. And while the quiet — even meek — Hayashi comes off in the end as the protagonist, it’s the preening and loquacious Popov who’s the star. “I’m really thankful that I had such a great character,” Wranovics said. “The camera loves Alex, and Alex loves the camera.” The lengthy legal proceedings — which included a roundtable discussion on ball ownership convened by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Kevin McCarthy — also made stars of the men’s lawyers: Martin Triano, who represented Popov, and Donald Tamaki and Michael Lee, who represented Hayashi. As evidenced by the ball’s eventual fate, the mixing of sport and court left many with a bad feeling. But Tamaki — who, along with Lee, waived most of his fees in the case — said he is as enthusiastic about baseball as ever. But not about Bonds, or the Giants; he’s a longtime A’s fan. “It’s more consistent with my personality,” he said. “I root for the underdog.” — Justin Scheck SUCKED BACK IN James Brelsford’s tumultuous ride on the dot-com rollercoaster hasn’t scared him away from startups. Last month he left Jones Day to become general counsel of Mforma Group Inc., which provides games and subscription information services for mobile phones. For Brelsford it’s a return to the in-house life. In 2000 he left Perkins Coie for Excite At Home, a provider of cable-based Internet access, only to see it slide into bankruptcy the following year. He subsequently joined Jones Day as a partner in 2002. “I was missing the excitement and fun and challenge of being closer to the business,” Brelsford said. He was also intrigued by Mforma’s mobile content business. The next generation of the Internet is moving to a mobile wireless platform, he said, and there’s “excitement at being in the front end of that.” Brelsford is involved in licensing, distribution, intellectual property, employment and international tax and corporate structuring. This month Mforma inked deals with Billboard and CBS Sportsline.com, gaining access to music, top 10 charts and fantasy baseball games for its mobile content. And in December the company won licensing rights to use Marvel comic book characters in its games. It’s a different sort of company than Excite At Home, and a different kind of job. Brelsford was senior vice president of business development at Excite. At Mforma, Brelsford said he has an opportunity to expand the company’s law department, which currently consists of one other full-time attorney and a part-time lawyer. The 4-year-old company will soon be moving its headquarters from Bellevue, Wash., to San Francisco. While the economy has stabilized since the dot-com era, Brelsford says the frenetic pace of working in-house hasn’t changed. “It is easily four times as much work,” he said. “I’m working 12 to 14 hours a day, 6 to 6 1/2 days a week.” — Brenda Sandburg ON THE MIKE In between the banter about cheerleading movies, Barry Bonds and the death of Foghat guitarist Rod Price, City Attorney Dennis Herrera had his turn on KNBR’s morning show Friday. The former maritime lawyer turned city official discussed the renewed commitment of the 49ers and their owners to build a new stadium (“I think it’s very realistic”), got in a plug for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s three-on-three basketball tournament called March Gladness, and even responded to an ongoing joke about Newsom’s hair gel by playing off some earlier discussion on the show about Jheri Curl — “You can see from my hair, it’s totally natural.” He also rooted for his alma mater, Villanova University, which made the Sweet 16 this year and was set to play North Carolina that day. “I’m a big Wildcat,” said Herrera. According to his spokesman, Matt Dorsey, Herrera is a sports fanatic. “If somebody gave him a job as a sportscaster, he would leave politics in a heartbeat,” Dorsey said in a telephone interview after the show. — Marie-Anne Hogarth

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