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Sports and showbiz — a money-making machine

He did come back: two times as governor, two times to the Land of Oz — showbiz!
He did come back: two times as governor, two times to the Land of Oz — showbiz!

Sports and showbiz have merged into one seamless money-making machine. You can’t tell, with precision, where the line is that marks the boundary between one world and the other. Saying that, there is a tiny group of world-class athletes who have gone so far over the line that they now abide in the most exclusive category known to showbiz. They are genuine, money-in-the-bank movie stars.

Let’s get Arnold out of the way first. Schwarzenegger, 68, is number 1. In fact, he’s been a movie star for so long, one forgets he was ever a sports star. To wit: Mr. Universe (amateur and professional), Mr. World, and eight-time Mr. Olympia. The man has been making movies for 46 years.

Movie

Stay Hungry ***

thumbnail

The sole survivor — and notorious bad penny — in a family of landed gentry outside Birmingham, Alabama, cultivates an interest in the hangers-out at the grubby Olympic Spa gymnasium, which is bristling with excitement as the resident muscleman, an immigrated Mr. Austria, trains in secret for the upcoming Mr. Universe contest. (The physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a bona fide Mr. Universe, is kept under wraps until the finish; and his long-awaited unveiling is no disappointment.) As in director Bob Rafelson's <em>Five Easy Pieces,</em> the privileged hero, exercising his inherited freedom of choice, turns his back on the American Dream, which in this case is made up of colonnaded mansions, country clubs, fancy-dress balls, and cutthroat capitalist enterprise. There is, all the same, an unmistakable wish-fulfillment at play in this tale, and also a kind of reverse social striving ("You sure got some peaked-looking relatives," observes the healthily sun-tanned, eternally perky Sally Field). Rafelson is less than a probing social analyst; he tends simply to go along with the tide. Yet he is, as a result, a fairly reliable weathercock of current biases and sentimentalities. The gymnasium itself, with its elaborate and elegant body-building contraptions, and also the backwoods moonshiner's retreat, are well-chosen and strong-smelling subjects; and it's a pity that Rafelson gives them only a glancing treatment. He does better — perhaps because of his natural cursoriness — at keeping tabs on the large and diverse cast of characters, ranging from top to bottom across the entire social scale. With Jeff Bridges, R.G. Armstrong.

Find showtimes

According to IMDB, Arnold’s first movie was the 1969 sleeper Hercules in New York. That was but prelude to mainstream artistic recognition. Arnold actually won a Golden Globe Award (Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture) for the 1976 epicurean gangster thriller Stay Hungry. Either Golden Globe members were drunk or Arnold, as thespian, peaked early in his career. He’s made at least 48 movies.

Movie

Terminator ***

thumbnail

Unpretentious and fast-moving science fiction, not at all swelled up or slowed down by the Biblical overtones of its plot. A half-human, half-robot assassin (Arnold Schwarzenegger, well within his acting range) has been sent back through time from 2029 A.D. to the present day, under Herod-like orders to kill the woman destined to give birth to a "deliverer" who will lead the rebellion against the genocidal mechanocracy, so to call it, that acceded to power after nuclear holocaust. Fortunately, one of the rebel soldiers has got through on the time machine, too, just before it was destroyed; and he is ahead of the police on the trail of this new sort of serial killer, targeting everyone in the L.A. phone book with the name of Sarah Connor. The future, more than ever, is <em>now</em>. What could have been a repetitive situation (you can't keep a good cyborg down) has been worked out with some clever variations; and the paradoxes that come with all time-travel stories are, in this one, squarely faced up to. Or as the problem is succinctly expressed for us: "God, a person could go crazy thinking about this." Within the precepts of such stories, this one is as neatly tied up — and in that unexpected epilogue in a desert gas station, as touchingly so — as one could ask. And in the turn of events whereby the soldier from the future becomes retroactively much more than just a loyal disciple of humanity's savior, it is also as <em>romantic</em> a use of this sci-fi staple as anywhere outside of <em>Somewhere in Time</em>. With Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn; directed by James Cameron.

Find showtimes

Without question, his breakthrough role was The Terminator (1984). He played, using haiku method acting, a homicidal cyborg out to save Earth. Arnold spoke 18 lines in that movie. Eighteen lines. International mega-superstar unto the next generation.

Yes, he was elected governor of California twice. But more amazing to me was his Return to Oz. Since disrobing in 2011, Schwarzenegger has appeared in five movies and four more have either been completed, are in post-production, or have been announced.

So, there’s the bar.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, 43, comes from pure wrestling stock. His grandfather, “High Chief” Peter Maivia was a professional wrestler. His grandmother, Lia Maivia, was a professional wrestling promoter. Dad, Rocky Johnson, was an elite professional wrestler in the ’80s.

Dwayne was a defensive tackle on the 1991 Miami Hurricanes football team, a semipro franchise that won the national championship. He played from 1991 to ’94, subsequently graduating with a degree in criminology and physiology. Johnson wasn’t drafted by the NFL but was picked up by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He was cut two months into the 1995 season, which ended up being a lucky break. Dwayne put down football and turned to the family business, professional wrestling. The Rock became very rich and famous.

Movie

Fast Five *

thumbnail

<em>Ocean’s 11</em>-style caper pic with more mayhem and darker skin. (Paul Walker’s whiteness here gleams like marble; his performance is similarly statuesque.) You get plenty of pretty machines and pretty ladies to go with your muscles, explosions, and bro-banter, but for a film stuffed with two of the hardest hardbodies in showbiz, it’s awfully soft in the middle. Notable: Dwayne Johnson’s surface bluster as a by-the-numbers federal agent makes Vin Diesel’s pudding-faced, lovable lug seem soulful by comparison.

Find showtimes

Johnson has appeared in 30 movies since his first in 1999. Best known for his roles in Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7, he’s on pace to blow past Arnold’s movie total by the time he’s Arnold’s age. That’s if everything goes right. There was a time when Tiger Woods was on pace, was a lock, to pass Jack Nicklaus in major championship trophies. Now, Vegas puts Tiger at even money to miss the cut at the 2015 Masters. Back to Dwayne. His 2013 earnings were $46 million, 2014 earnings $52 million. The world is his big, yummy cupcake. For now.

Jim Brown was a running back for the Cleveland Browns. Regarded by many as the best NFL player of all time. He played nine years, led the league in rushing eight years. Retired in 1966. The New York Times lists 41 movies in his filmography.

Movie

Draft Day

thumbnail

A two-hour commercial for the National Football League from Ivan Reitman, a man who once had sufficient command of his senses to direct <em>Stripes</em>. There's a great movie to be made about the chess match that is the NFL draft; this isn't it. Why on earth would the NFL bother to get on board with a (fictional) story about a real-life annual event that already rates its own prime-time extravaganza? Because the real thing is about stats and ingredients and the endless quest for cash via conquest - damn the concussions, full speed ahead - and that isn't the kind of PR the League needs right now. So instead, we get <em>Draft Day</em>, a film about heart and character and gut instincts and dead fathers and pregnant girlfriends and earnest young men and dreams coming true. A film full of exposition, canned sentiment, on-the-nose dialogue, and an endless parade of split screens that do little to heighten the drama of guys talking on the phone. Kevin Costner stars, sort of. With Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary.

Find showtimes

And he’s still at it. Brown’s latest movie, Draft Day, was released in 2014. His first, Rio Conchos, was released in 1964. He’s been making movies for 50 years and counting. Okay, why isn’t he number 1? That question was referred to a panel of effete movie critics. Turned out it was an easy call, the one thing sports and movies have in common is lust for money. According to Box Office Mojo, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s movies have taken in near $8 billion through 2014. A bitter, tough ruling against Jim Brown, especially hard for a man who, unlike Arnold, is enshrined in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Chuck Norris, professional middleweight karate champion six years in a row. He’s made 36 movies over 43 years and has one more in preproduction. He belongs.

O.J. Simpson. Heisman Trophy winner at USC, won the NFL rushing title four times. Played for Buffalo. He was a legitimate movie actor, appearing in 13 films and at least 34 television shows over 24 years.

Odds to win 2015 Major League Soccer Cup

Who else? A lot of great athletes did movies, but usually only a few, which disqualifies them from being dubbed “movie star.” Michael Jordan appeared in one movie, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made brief appearances in four, Shaquille O’Neal has been in 12 movies over 20 years.

Mike Tyson might make it if he starts taking roles where he’s not playing himself. He’s appeared in 13 movies since 2009.

Mike Tyson, movie star. Has a ring.

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Thai Joints rule in the Heights

Pick up or delivery, Thai fans have it good on Adams Avenue
He did come back: two times as governor, two times to the Land of Oz — showbiz!
He did come back: two times as governor, two times to the Land of Oz — showbiz!

Sports and showbiz have merged into one seamless money-making machine. You can’t tell, with precision, where the line is that marks the boundary between one world and the other. Saying that, there is a tiny group of world-class athletes who have gone so far over the line that they now abide in the most exclusive category known to showbiz. They are genuine, money-in-the-bank movie stars.

Let’s get Arnold out of the way first. Schwarzenegger, 68, is number 1. In fact, he’s been a movie star for so long, one forgets he was ever a sports star. To wit: Mr. Universe (amateur and professional), Mr. World, and eight-time Mr. Olympia. The man has been making movies for 46 years.

Movie

Stay Hungry ***

thumbnail

The sole survivor — and notorious bad penny — in a family of landed gentry outside Birmingham, Alabama, cultivates an interest in the hangers-out at the grubby Olympic Spa gymnasium, which is bristling with excitement as the resident muscleman, an immigrated Mr. Austria, trains in secret for the upcoming Mr. Universe contest. (The physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a bona fide Mr. Universe, is kept under wraps until the finish; and his long-awaited unveiling is no disappointment.) As in director Bob Rafelson's <em>Five Easy Pieces,</em> the privileged hero, exercising his inherited freedom of choice, turns his back on the American Dream, which in this case is made up of colonnaded mansions, country clubs, fancy-dress balls, and cutthroat capitalist enterprise. There is, all the same, an unmistakable wish-fulfillment at play in this tale, and also a kind of reverse social striving ("You sure got some peaked-looking relatives," observes the healthily sun-tanned, eternally perky Sally Field). Rafelson is less than a probing social analyst; he tends simply to go along with the tide. Yet he is, as a result, a fairly reliable weathercock of current biases and sentimentalities. The gymnasium itself, with its elaborate and elegant body-building contraptions, and also the backwoods moonshiner's retreat, are well-chosen and strong-smelling subjects; and it's a pity that Rafelson gives them only a glancing treatment. He does better — perhaps because of his natural cursoriness — at keeping tabs on the large and diverse cast of characters, ranging from top to bottom across the entire social scale. With Jeff Bridges, R.G. Armstrong.

Find showtimes

According to IMDB, Arnold’s first movie was the 1969 sleeper Hercules in New York. That was but prelude to mainstream artistic recognition. Arnold actually won a Golden Globe Award (Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture) for the 1976 epicurean gangster thriller Stay Hungry. Either Golden Globe members were drunk or Arnold, as thespian, peaked early in his career. He’s made at least 48 movies.

Movie

Terminator ***

thumbnail

Unpretentious and fast-moving science fiction, not at all swelled up or slowed down by the Biblical overtones of its plot. A half-human, half-robot assassin (Arnold Schwarzenegger, well within his acting range) has been sent back through time from 2029 A.D. to the present day, under Herod-like orders to kill the woman destined to give birth to a "deliverer" who will lead the rebellion against the genocidal mechanocracy, so to call it, that acceded to power after nuclear holocaust. Fortunately, one of the rebel soldiers has got through on the time machine, too, just before it was destroyed; and he is ahead of the police on the trail of this new sort of serial killer, targeting everyone in the L.A. phone book with the name of Sarah Connor. The future, more than ever, is <em>now</em>. What could have been a repetitive situation (you can't keep a good cyborg down) has been worked out with some clever variations; and the paradoxes that come with all time-travel stories are, in this one, squarely faced up to. Or as the problem is succinctly expressed for us: "God, a person could go crazy thinking about this." Within the precepts of such stories, this one is as neatly tied up — and in that unexpected epilogue in a desert gas station, as touchingly so — as one could ask. And in the turn of events whereby the soldier from the future becomes retroactively much more than just a loyal disciple of humanity's savior, it is also as <em>romantic</em> a use of this sci-fi staple as anywhere outside of <em>Somewhere in Time</em>. With Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn; directed by James Cameron.

Find showtimes

Without question, his breakthrough role was The Terminator (1984). He played, using haiku method acting, a homicidal cyborg out to save Earth. Arnold spoke 18 lines in that movie. Eighteen lines. International mega-superstar unto the next generation.

Yes, he was elected governor of California twice. But more amazing to me was his Return to Oz. Since disrobing in 2011, Schwarzenegger has appeared in five movies and four more have either been completed, are in post-production, or have been announced.

So, there’s the bar.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, 43, comes from pure wrestling stock. His grandfather, “High Chief” Peter Maivia was a professional wrestler. His grandmother, Lia Maivia, was a professional wrestling promoter. Dad, Rocky Johnson, was an elite professional wrestler in the ’80s.

Dwayne was a defensive tackle on the 1991 Miami Hurricanes football team, a semipro franchise that won the national championship. He played from 1991 to ’94, subsequently graduating with a degree in criminology and physiology. Johnson wasn’t drafted by the NFL but was picked up by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He was cut two months into the 1995 season, which ended up being a lucky break. Dwayne put down football and turned to the family business, professional wrestling. The Rock became very rich and famous.

Movie

Fast Five *

thumbnail

<em>Ocean’s 11</em>-style caper pic with more mayhem and darker skin. (Paul Walker’s whiteness here gleams like marble; his performance is similarly statuesque.) You get plenty of pretty machines and pretty ladies to go with your muscles, explosions, and bro-banter, but for a film stuffed with two of the hardest hardbodies in showbiz, it’s awfully soft in the middle. Notable: Dwayne Johnson’s surface bluster as a by-the-numbers federal agent makes Vin Diesel’s pudding-faced, lovable lug seem soulful by comparison.

Find showtimes

Johnson has appeared in 30 movies since his first in 1999. Best known for his roles in Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7, he’s on pace to blow past Arnold’s movie total by the time he’s Arnold’s age. That’s if everything goes right. There was a time when Tiger Woods was on pace, was a lock, to pass Jack Nicklaus in major championship trophies. Now, Vegas puts Tiger at even money to miss the cut at the 2015 Masters. Back to Dwayne. His 2013 earnings were $46 million, 2014 earnings $52 million. The world is his big, yummy cupcake. For now.

Jim Brown was a running back for the Cleveland Browns. Regarded by many as the best NFL player of all time. He played nine years, led the league in rushing eight years. Retired in 1966. The New York Times lists 41 movies in his filmography.

Movie

Draft Day

thumbnail

A two-hour commercial for the National Football League from Ivan Reitman, a man who once had sufficient command of his senses to direct <em>Stripes</em>. There's a great movie to be made about the chess match that is the NFL draft; this isn't it. Why on earth would the NFL bother to get on board with a (fictional) story about a real-life annual event that already rates its own prime-time extravaganza? Because the real thing is about stats and ingredients and the endless quest for cash via conquest - damn the concussions, full speed ahead - and that isn't the kind of PR the League needs right now. So instead, we get <em>Draft Day</em>, a film about heart and character and gut instincts and dead fathers and pregnant girlfriends and earnest young men and dreams coming true. A film full of exposition, canned sentiment, on-the-nose dialogue, and an endless parade of split screens that do little to heighten the drama of guys talking on the phone. Kevin Costner stars, sort of. With Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary.

Find showtimes

And he’s still at it. Brown’s latest movie, Draft Day, was released in 2014. His first, Rio Conchos, was released in 1964. He’s been making movies for 50 years and counting. Okay, why isn’t he number 1? That question was referred to a panel of effete movie critics. Turned out it was an easy call, the one thing sports and movies have in common is lust for money. According to Box Office Mojo, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s movies have taken in near $8 billion through 2014. A bitter, tough ruling against Jim Brown, especially hard for a man who, unlike Arnold, is enshrined in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Chuck Norris, professional middleweight karate champion six years in a row. He’s made 36 movies over 43 years and has one more in preproduction. He belongs.

O.J. Simpson. Heisman Trophy winner at USC, won the NFL rushing title four times. Played for Buffalo. He was a legitimate movie actor, appearing in 13 films and at least 34 television shows over 24 years.

Odds to win 2015 Major League Soccer Cup

Who else? A lot of great athletes did movies, but usually only a few, which disqualifies them from being dubbed “movie star.” Michael Jordan appeared in one movie, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made brief appearances in four, Shaquille O’Neal has been in 12 movies over 20 years.

Mike Tyson might make it if he starts taking roles where he’s not playing himself. He’s appeared in 13 movies since 2009.

Mike Tyson, movie star. Has a ring.

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