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The Last, Disposable Action Hero

Hollywood studios are increasingly focusing on creating expensive action movies with less costly unknown actors. For some of these unknowns, it's a chance to skyrocket into fame, but it's not that easy:

Hollywood has gotten creative in its hunt for the next big action star. Producers have considered scouting high-school football games. Brett Norensberg, an agent at Gersh, decided to structure a significant part of his practice around recruiting mixed-martial-arts fighters, professional wrestlers and martial artists. His list includes a karate whiz named Leo Howard, the star of Disney XD’s “Kickin’ It.” “He’s just turning 16. He’s almost 6 feet tall, and he’s got an eight-pack. He’s a thicker Keanu Reeves. The sky’s the limit for him.”

These efforts, though, belie a truth about action heroes: Almost any actor, even some of Hollywood’s most scrawny, can be physically transformed for the part if he’s willing to put in the hard work. The studios know this, which is why any inexpensive unknown can be chosen. The cast for “300,” including a post-“Phantom of the Opera” Butler and the relative newcomer Fassbender, were put on a brutal program with Mark Twight, a trainer whose workouts incorporated medicine balls, kettlebells and rings to emphasize the athleticism of the Spartans.

PUBLISHED: Feb. 28, 2014
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3801 words)

The Sound and the Fury

An oral history of the first all-sports talk station, WFAN, which included Don Imus, Mike Francesca, and Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo:

"Jeff Smulyan (founder and CEO, Emmis Broadcasting): Imus was just getting out of rehab when we bought the station. His agent was a friend of mine; we laughed because we had a bad radio station and a bad personality who's probably going to be a drug addict for the rest of his life and a baseball team [the Mets] with rumors about drugs. It was kind of like the grand slam.

"Mike Breen (updates, 'Imus in the Morning'): He was a bad drunk and a drug addict. You didn't know what you were gonna get. The first day I started working with Imus at NBC, I asked the program director to bring me back to meet him; it was two o'clock in the afternoon and he was drunk. So the program director says, 'Can this kid fill in on sports for Don Criqui tomorrow?' And Imus was like, 'Sure, now get out of my office.' He didn't even look up. When I went in the next day, I sat down and he had no idea who I was. So he shuts his mic off and he looks at me and he says, 'Who the f--- are you?' I said, 'I'm filling in for Criqui.' He turns his mic back on and he says to Charles McCord, 'Charles, do you know this kid? He claims he's fillin' in for Criqui.' Now this is on the air, this part. So he spent the next 10 minutes interviewing me, asking me how I got to work on his show."
SOURCE:Grantland
PUBLISHED: July 10, 2012
LENGTH: 62 minutes (15675 words)