The problem with “Rockstar Curling,” the reality show that the Toronto Star reports NBC is planning to air, is that it’s redundant.
Curling is rockstar, baby. It’s rocketship. It’s monkeylove, darling.
The Star reports that the Peacock has an exclusive option to air the 10-week series, the aim of which will be to form and train a team that will compete for the U.S. championship and a spot in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The hook, the “Rockstar” part, is that the show’s producers are trying to get Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi involved, possibly as hosts.
“According to sources,” Star columnist Chris Zelkovich writes, “the two rock stars are among a group of entertainment types who rent arena time on occasion to pick up brooms instead of guitars.”
We will now pause, right here on the brink of like half a dozen zingers about curling, which I love but which according to typists union rules must be zinged in American publications, and another couple about how Bon Jovi trading in his guitar for a broom would constitute the Olympic Movement’s greatest contribution to civilization, for a brief meditation on celebrity.
From time to time this column has noted that we, the public, really can’t know public figures through their portrayal in the media, though it often feels like we do. This isn’t exactly an earth-shattering or original observation, but it’s accompanied by insouciant hand gestures you can’t see that give it a little oomph.
One of my favorite stories to illustrate this point was my own occasional mid-’80s observations of ballplayer George Hendrick, who had a reputation as a surly guy, largely because he refused to speak to the media. He didn’t speak to me, but I couldn’t help noticing whenever I was around him that he seemed to get along famously with his teammates. It was an early object lesson for me that the media can distort as well as illuminate.
Another favorite story of mine involves Springsteen himself acknowledging the phenomenon. I have a bootleg recording of a concert at which a woman yells out “I love you, Bruce!” After a little cheer dies down in the crowd, Springsteen says, “But you don’t really know me.”
Now whether you love Springsteen or not, I want you to think about all the things you know about him and all the things you might have guessed. Of course we don’t really know celebrities we’ve never met, but come on, a guy like Springsteen, who’s written hundreds of often personal songs and given thousands of interviews and been the subject of more thousands of profiles and the occasional academic symposium over a 35-year-plus recording career, we have a pretty good idea if we want to have one, don’t we?
So come on, biggest Springsteen fans in the world: Did you ever once imagine that the guy is into curling? Reportedly.
In a follow-up piece Tuesday, Zelkovich writes that if the two Jersey rockers are dumb enough to pass up this obvious career move, “there’s a long list of celebrities who’ve hurried hard at one time or another, according to thecurlingnews.com.” I love it when Canadians talk curling.
This column, not a Canadian, was unable to find that report on that Web site, but was able to enjoy this headline: “Regina will rock! Can any Scotties Hotties upset the Kelly show?”
Curling is big on wordplay involving the word “rock,” you see. That’s why Springsteen’s such an obvious fit. He’s big on wordplay involving the word “Mary.”
The list of third-choice hosts, according to Zelkovich, includes country singer Toby Keith, who digs the rock, as well as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has publicly curled before. American skier Picabo Street and speedskater Dan Jansen competed in a made-for-TV curling event last year, the Sun reports. That one obviously did boffo ratings.
Picabo Street, if I may digress again, is my second favorite winter Olympics subject, after curling. In my musician days I made up a song inspired by her name: “Peekaboo Street.” My baby lived on it. It was writing songs like that that made me the man I am today: a former musician.
A far more likely choice, and I’d bet a better host, would be Bill Clement, the hockey commentator and former player who loves him some curling.
But I want to throw my hat in the ring, or slide my stone in the house, or something. I would venture that this column is the sport’s most enthusiastic proponent in the American mainstream national media, except maybe Bill Clement, who once almost kissed Jim Lampley on the mouth on NBC in his excitement over Olympic curling.
I’ve even thrown stones, and, unlike with Springsteen, Bon Jovi or even Picabo Street, I wouldn’t detract from the curling excitement with any of that pesky star power.
“Rockstar Curling” figures to air on Saturday afternoons leading up the Olympics in 2010. I’m free. I think the American viewing public would love me.
Then again, they wouldn’t really know me.
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