We watch... so you don't have to.

It's a Long Fly Ball to DeLuise...

If there's one thing we Americans don't get enough of these days, besides trivial annoyances like exercise, education and leaders worth a damn, it is celebrities. These hard-working people, some of whom are famous and revered for reasons even they don't understand, have had to work extremely hard to overcome the harsh obstacles life has thrown at them such as flawless skin, strong chins and five percent body fat. Yet these people are barely ever on television anymore.

My God, people -- E! only has 24 hours a day to devote to celebrities! Laurin Sydney on CNN is given only 30 minutes for Showbiz Today. And if you total up all the various syndicated entertainment news shows, you don't get much more than an additional eight or nine hours a day.

That's why I'm grateful for that ultimate melding of celebrity scintillation and broadcast technology. No, not The New Hollywood Squares. I'm talking about celebrity sports events.

After all, it's not enough that we pay to see these people entertain us, that they invite us into their houses for Barbara Walters' specials and that we voluntarily spend $10.50 for the chance to eat a cheeseburger under the watchful gaze of the toupees from "Hudson Hawk." No, to really get in touch with our famous demigods, we must watch them humiliate themselves on the fields of pseudo-play.

Plus, watching them crash and burn in the "Famous TV Dogs" category on Celebrity Jeopardy.

Take the recent Celebrity Winter Sports Invitational, which featured such notably famous luminaries as Steven Rockefeller Jr. and Ingo Rademacher. Ingo Rademacher? Yes, the Ingo Rademacher. Of the Charleston Rademachers.

The Invitational was a fund-raiser for some pissant environmental cause that couldn't do better than Jean Claude Van Damme as its biggest name. The Sierra Club this wasn't. Of course, it also had the Paul Mitchell hair care products guy, John Paul DeJauria. And while he might be able to tease, curl and highlight with the best of them, his chief athletic credential seems to be that he resembles Richard Marcinko.

Oh dear. I seem to have compared one of this nation's fiercest warriors to a hair dresser. I'm sorry, Commander Marcinko. Please don't kill me.

Among the sports the alleged celebrities competed in was snowshoe racing. Let me tell you, you've never seen snowshoe racing until you've seen Bobby Kennedy, Jr. snowshoe racing. There were also two versions of skiing -- slalom and cross-country. Yes, take the fingernail-gnawing excitement of Olympic cross-country skiing and combine it with amateurs who are desperately out of shape. It's still boring, just a lot slower.

Richard Dean Anderson, as it turns out, is a pretty decent downhill skier. If by decent you mean being able to get down the mountain without screwing the pooch in a spectacular heap that reminds viewers of the opening of Wide World of Sports. Unfortunately, MacGyver won the slalom event with just himself and a standard pair of skis. Duct tape, gum wrappers, and shoe strings were lying all over the place -- yet he'd rather rely on skill than construct a pair of hover skis.

Sadly, celebrity sports don't dominate the TV like they used to. Back in the good old days there was Battle of the Network Stars, which did nothing if not prove that even famous people don't look good in skintight jogging shorts. For some reason, stars like Mindy Cohn actually believed they could make it through events like the obstacle course. Yet every time they hit the climbing wall, it was the same story: Collapsing in a pile of athletic ineptitude, tears streaming down their faces as nightmares of elementary school dodge-ball trauma came flooding back.

Golf is another frequent celebrity pastime, and if you think watching pros toodling around the links for hours is boring, try following an Ian Ziering/Jason Priestly duo thorough 18 holes. Maybe boring isn't the right word. After all, a celebrity using his driver on a narrow par five is one of the most exciting moments in sports... at least for those standing downrange.

If actors can compete in sports, why can't athletes have their own category at the Oscars or Grammys? Perhaps the Oregon Shakespeare Festival could have a celebrity "Hamlet": Albert Belle as the doomed prince, Bonnie Blair as the Queen, and Don Zimmer as Polonius. Just like MTV's "Rock n' Jock" events, which reduce actual athletic talent to mere afterthought, maybe the play could be rewritten to take advantage of an athlete's experience.

"To dong or not to dong, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to hit for average or suffer the slings and arrows of repeated strikeouts..."

Yes, with their long and glorious history, it's apparent that, for whatever unfathomable reasons that lurk in the darkest recesses of the human mind, people actually do care how fast David Chokachi can sprint 50 yards in snowshoes.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before we see ESPN-C, the celebrity sports channel. And right after that, a new line of celebrity sports cards.

Jason Bateman
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Plays: Teenage rascals with hearts of gold.

Ted McGinley
TDs: 14
INTs: 7
Shows cancelled: 12

It could be worse, I suppose. At least they aren't playing Magic.


TeeVee - About Us - Archive - Where We Are Now

Got a comment? Mail us at teevee@teevee.org.

* * *