Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
ESPN revealed plans for its 30 For 30 Shorts, an offshoot of its 30 For 30 documentary series, at today’s TCA panels. The short films, ranging from 3 to 12 minutes, will be produced in collaboration with Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com. The shorts will first be presented on the website beginning September 26 and later will be featured on all of ESPN’s digital platforms, said Connor Schell, vice president, ESPN Films.
And on the panel was the subject of the first installment, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first short focuses on the former California governor’s teenage years with the Austrian Army.
Just before the panel featuring Schwarzenegger and Michael Zimbalist, co-director of the short, ESPN presented a panel on 30 For 30 Volume II, featuring directors of the next crop of 30 documentaries on sports figures that begins in October and continues through 2014. Included on the list was Billy Corben, director of Broke, a documentary about athletes who squander their fortunes. He joked that his appearance was just a “screensaver” until Schwarzenegger arrived. (The other “screensavers” were Coodi Simmons, co-director of Benji and Michael Bonfiglio, director of You Don’t Know Bo).
During the panel, Schwarzenegger talked about his goal of becoming a bodybuilder before the sport became popular in Austria. His military stint, he said, was to come to America to become known as the strongest man in the world, but “you can’t go to America without a passport, and you can’t get a passport unless you serve in the military”.
He said that growing up, family and friends were suspicious of his fascination with bodybuilding, especially his mother. She always worried because young Arnold had pictures of “naked men oiled up” on his walls instead of women. As Schwarzenegger put it, “She thought maybe I was going south”.
Schwarzenegger was quick to admit when asked that he “did steroids” during his early career. “It was more experimental when I was competing, then it exploded with growth hormones”. He said that every sport is trying to combat steroid use, including bodybuilding. However, “just because we have drug tests doesn’t mean that people can’t get around them”.
Schwarzenegger called beating the odds to pursue his sport “the blueprint for my life” and said the attitude served him well in surviving the roller coaster life in both politics and the movie industry. He also talked about his return to acting with Sylvester Stallone. He has made appearances in The Expendables and The Tomb with Stallone and also will be in the upcoming Expendables 2.
“We love each other,” Stallone joked when asked about the partnership. “I don’t know if there will be another movie that we do together, or 10 more, we have no plan. The way it looks right now, the test scores for Expendables (2), it’s going to be a big hit, a bigger hit than the last one”, Stallone said. “He will probably be coming back again to ask me to be in the next movie”.
After the session, Schwarzenegger said he has other movie projects in the works besides the Stallone projects, including a police drama.
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