Interview of the week: Tom Arnold

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   March 13, 2003 at 2:36 PM
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NEW YORK, March 13 (UPI) -- Tom Arnold has some advice for people seeking fame by appearing on reality TV shows: think carefully about what you want to be famous for.

Roseanne's ex-husband knows what he is talking about. Although he has proven his own comic talents in film and television, Arnold is best known for his stormy relationship with the diva.

"My only advice to these people is -- being famous -- and I know this from my experience -- you want to really consider what you want to be famous for before you get famous," he told United Press International in a recent interview.

"If you want to be an actor, there are better ways to do it than, for instance, the way I became famous, which is by being with someone who is famous. For these people to be taken seriously as an actor it would take a long time. People are always so psyched about being famous and then they're always so disappointed."

Arnold confessed that producers of reality TV shows featuring former celebrities have been beating down his door ever since the phenomenon began.

"I get asked to do them all, but the reason I don't do them is because I would like to attempt to be in movies," he said, adding he thinks real actors who appear on shows like "Celebrity Mole," "The Surreal Life" and "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here," are damaging their careers.

"For instance, that 'Mole Hawaii,' I was afraid that people would have to take their shirts off and I don't do anything where I have to take my shirt off, number one," he explained.

"Then this one they wanted me to host called, 'Are You Hot?' They called and explained it to my agent. I would be judging people on their bodies, so immediately I'm out of that one and then I saw it. How do you judge people on their bodies? First of all, all those people are hot that are on that show. They're way hot. It's brutal. They have a laser pointer that Lorenzo Llamas points at people's thighs and criticizes them. I honest to God couldn't. I would rather literally be working in a meat-packing plant for $9 a hour than to do that job. I couldn't do it emotionally, I just... How do you do that? But he does it. He does it well. Good for him. Good for the people on there. It would make me insane."

Arnold said he isn't interested in reality programs like "The Surreal Life," which featured former celebs like MC Hammer, Gabrielle Carteris and Corey Feldman living together, and didn't require anyone to take their shirt off.

"I wouldn't want to sleep in the same house as people," he said. "'The Surreal Life,' I watched it a couple of times, I think it's good entertainment, but I just don't want to do that. I don't want to do those things."

Arnold noted that of all the reality projects he has been offered, the one that irked him the most was the invitation to participate in Fox's "Celebrity Boxing."

"Fox does my sports show and does 'Celebrity Boxing.' They offered me a script deal," Arnold revealed. "They offered me a couple of hundred thousand dollars and the whole time I'm thinking, 'This is what you think of me? This is what Fox thinks of me? I was in 'True Lies.' I was in 'Nine Months.' I've busted my butt on this sports show and this is what you guys are going to offer me? And then they wanted me to fight a woman. They wanted me to fight Chyna the wrestler and I was like, 'No matter what happens how can that come out well?" Let's say, I win, then what happens? Let's say she wins, then what happens?' But just to show how much they respect me at Fox, Joey Buttafuoco did it."

Asked if he feels he is taken seriously now that he hosts television's "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" and has a string of screen acting credits on his resume, Arnold admitted he is "taken as seriously as I want to be."

"If there are any misconceptions about me it is because I have perpetuated them by acting stupid, by acting loud, by acting obnoxious, by acting hyper, so to by taking seriously..." he said. "I'd like to be taken seriously in my own home and if I am, and I am sometimes, that's good enough... If my friends take me seriously, that's good enough. If the show I work on a daily basis takes me seriously, then that's good enough."

Arnold can now be seen in the Jet Li action film "Cradle 2 the Grave" and on TV's "The Best Damn Sports Show Period."

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