Which stars should box each other?
So now, from the network that brought you ”The Glutton Bowl,” ”Temptation Island,” and, legendarily, ”When Animals Attack,” we’re going to get ”Celebrity Boxing.” The Fox network has booked three-round bouts between skater Tonya Harding and Paula Jones, the Bill Clinton affair-accuser (the initially-announced ”Long Island Lolita,” Amy Fisher, has dropped out), with an under-card featuring two cult junk-sitcom has-beens, ”The Brady Bunch”’s Barry Williams and ”The Partridge Family”’s Danny Bonaduce. Scheduled to air on March 13, it’s apparently a live-action version of MTV’s ”Celebrity Deathmatch,” with the fighters going three rounds wearing over-sized boxing gloves to minimize the trauma to their obviously already shaken brains.
I have no sympathy for Williams, who’s been trading on his Greg Brady fame for years with increasing desperation, or Bonaduce, who co-hosts the hideous daily guy’s-point-of-view talk show ”The Other Half.” But Harding, who did time for her involvement with the kneecapping of Nancy Kerrigan, and Jones, who like Fisher dallied with a married cad who should have known better, are already attracting cheap shots as being ”trailer trash,” the implication being that this is the only way they can sustain the small amounts of infamy. (Could it be that a convict who’s served her time and a woman whose character is permanently besmirched might actually be in real need of whatever little dough they might make from this humiliating project?) Attach it to the male aberration for watching women fight (when I lived in L.A. there used to be clubs that specialized in ”foxy boxing” female bouts), and the entire Fox enterprise seems pretty repellent.
Getting off my high horse, though, I can see the humor in the concept. It’s fun to think up one’s own celebrity boxing matches. Beyond the obvious – ”West Wing” creator-rabblerouser Aaron Sorkin versus White House spokesman Ari Fleisher, in a grudge-match over the propriety of criticizing the President? Jonathan Franzen versus Oprah? Kiss’ Gene Simmons’ versus National Public Radio’s Terry Gross? David Letterman versus Ted Koppel versus Jay Leno, in a tag-team match? How about historian Doris Kearns Goodwin against journalist Philip Nobile, the muckraker who’s being doing his darnedest to vilify Goodwin as a serial plagiarist? Goodwin may have sinned academically, but Nobile’s mercilessness has come to seem obsessively malicious; he could use a good pasting.
How about big John Madden versus Dennis Miller? The bull-necked Madden recently signed an ABC Monday Night Football contract that will let him replace the comedian who liked to work mangled Nabokov references into play-by-play and then sit back and giggle. Maybe Miller’s steamed enough to get in the ring with the aging Madden. But I’d wager that the older broadcaster would still deck the younger one before Miller got so much as a mention of Harold Bloom out of his yap.
Does the notion of celebrity boxing offend you? What celebrity duke-outs would you like to see?