Glimpses of an unsettling future aired during the last week of the Olympics. Fortunately the athletes were in London and they missed the 30-second portals into the dark side. One of the most frightening featured Picabo Street. Remember her? She is the bubbly multi-medaling downhill Olympic skier (at left)who, when she retired from the sport, waltzed into the charmed t. She works for NBC offering color and commentating for skiing events, she had her own sports show and she travels the world as a motivational speaker and ski instructor. Yet she is so attached to the spotlight, or is in such dire need of money, she agreed to participate in Stars Earn Stripes, a competition show set in a war zone facsimile. Everything about it seems wrong. Do we really need to recreate war with 'stars' when the actual is taking place all over the world with people who are not protected by the producers and their heavily insured riders? Street appears as a hardcore knuckle cracker (at right) in this testosterone-driven vehicle. It can be easily confused with the other steroidal roundup of old farts, also in heavy commercial rotation, The Expendables, with Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. Both shows have the whiff of desperation as much for the age of the headliners as their plot lines.
If television producers are desperate for reality stars in dynamic situations, look no further than the gymnasiums of Russia. There, gold-medal winning gymnast Aliya Mustafina, is eager for every theatrical opportunity. The girl can run through her arsenal of expressions in each of her two minute-exercises. Her best is the pout. Following Mustafina around as she trains, whines, competes, pouts, and applies eye shadow, would be so much more interesting than the housewife franchise of spoiled gold diggers who do little more than shop and party plan.
There are so many early warning signs at work. Every time gold medal man of the moment Usain Bolt (left) opens his mouth I fear he will begin to spout the dribble of Terrell Owens (right). They look alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk...oh, wait, that's the theme song to the Patty Duke Show, only the ancient ones will remember that. Still, it's a cautionary note. Someday Bolt may be as Owens is now, all talk and no action. Say less, run more while you can and know it won't last.
Decathalete Ashton Easton (at left) needs to be cautious as well. Remember Bruce Jenner, (below left) the decathalete from '76 who was the hunkiest thing on the track during the bicentennial year? He has been reduced to stud services for the manipulating mama Kardashian. Jenner's done little but go under the knife and his multiple plastic surgeries have left him (ar right) looking like a burn victim. His is a tragic end. He'd have been better doing work rather than having it done.
For all the athletes who are going home with medals of any color, and those who are medal free, know that there will have to be a day job in your future. This moment does not last.