In the world of entertainment, audiences and executives alike are constantly on the lookout for the next triple threat, that special person who is phenomenally talented at everything they do. But as pop diva Madonna has proven time and time again, being talented in one field doesn’t necessarily mean your talent will transcend to the world of acting.
This week, I made the horrible mistake of seeing the film Game Plan, starring former wrestler turned actor The Rock. He plays a star quarterback who suddenly finds out he has an eight-year-old daughter to take care of. Although Dwayne Johnson has made a string of somewhat successful movies over the past few years, it’s apparent that his talent as an actor is much less the cause for his success than his name recognition. Filmmakers are counting on that name recognition to help propel the movie or television program by creating the buzz that will equal dollar signs at the box office, but sometimes sports figures should stay just stay on the court. Everyone from ice diva Nancy Kerrigan, to football god Brett Favre has picked up the acting bug at one time or another, so here is a little examination about just “what happens when sports stars act.”
Following the media circus surrounding her at the 1994 Winter Olympics, Nancy Kerrigan decided to capitalize on her misfortunes and appeared on Saturday Night Live to poke fun at the debacle that had caused her much criticism. Little did she know that her performance on the show would only draw more criticism. She played in terrible sketches that were almost too embarrassing to watch, and the cue card girl seemed to have an extensive workout just to help Nancy get through the 90-minute show. She was even asked to sing “Endless Love” with equally unfunny Adam Sandler. Yikes! She did pop up again a decade later in Blades of Glory but, fortunately, they limited her screen time. The pain Tonya Harding caused was nothing compared to Kerrigan’s ever-so-brief foray into acting.
Mitch Gaylord was one of the hottest guys ever to take to the gym when he catapulted the American Gymnastics team to their first-ever gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. Unfortunately, Olympic glory did not follow him into the acting realm. He made a few appearances as himself on some of the hottest shows at the time, but it was the 1986 gymnastics film American Anthem where Mitch really got to show that he just couldn’t act. The film was lackluster and Mitchell, as he calls himself now, just seemed like a weepy dreamboat who had stumbled into the movie. But it gets worse: He followed his performance with some latenight Skinemax made-for-video trash with humorous titles like Sexual Outlaws and Animal Instinct, the latter starring Shannon Tweed’s career doppelganger, Shannon Whirry. Let’s face it, the only reason people wanted to watch was to catch a glimpse of that tight, sexy gym body. Ironically, Mitch had apparently missed a whole lot of workout time because he looked more like Bela Karolyi than his former self.
Someone who definitely hasn’t let his body go is wrestling super star John Cena. His flawless good looks are enough to dredge through his recent film The Marine, where Cena tracks down a band of diamond thieves who have kidnapped his wife. The movie is slow and the action could have been taken out of any Schwarzenegger movie from the ’80s, but John is just so friggen hot. It’s a film you could watch with the mute button on and still get the same enjoyment, but there’s no denying John is definitely a star.
Everyone loved Saved by the Bell. Admit it. Zach and Kelly and Slater and the stripper, I mean Jessie, all hanging out at Bayside going through puberty. Well, when the kids grew up, the show that never ends had a new incarnation called Saved by the Bell: The College Years. No more Mr Belding, although the bane of my existence, Dustin Diamond, was still omnipresent. To flesh things out, the show brought in former NFL pro-bowl defensive end Bob Golic to fill the spot as head teacher for the old gang, plus two new random girls no one really remembers. The one-season mess of a spinoff just didn’t capture the same spirit of it’s predecessor, and Golic, who always seemed to be just a tad too big for the wardrobe department, had a hard time coming across as a real role model for the kids.
After a few stints at Wimbledon in the late ’60s, upbeat and constantly perky Kathy Lee Crosby thought it was time to try her hand in television when she was given the title role on Wonder Woman. The gig lasted a year, and then Lynda Carter took over to much better success. But Kathy never gave up. She did what all celebrities looking for a career do – joined the Church of Scientology. WHAM! She had a career as the host of the popular reality series That’s Incredible in the ’80’s. She still does a few films and makes appearances on TV, but one wonders if she wouldn’t have just been better off sticking to tennis.
So there it is. A small glimpse of some of the tragedies and triumphs made by sports legends who have tried to cross over into the acting world. If your favorite isn’t here, add it! And tune in next time when I discuss the acting nightmare that is Shaquille O’Neal. Blog Hard!
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– Dylan Vox