LOS ANGELES, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Skating champion Scott Hamilton must not worry about overexposure -- otherwise, why would he host two upcoming TV specials less than three weeks apart?
The 1984 men's Olympic gold medalist appears on NBC Christmas night with country star Lee Ann Womack in "Holiday Celebration on Ice," then returns on Jan. 11 as the star of "Scott Hamilton & Friends," also on NBC. The January special features performances by singer-pianist Michael Feinstein and legendary singer Darlene Love -- providing live accompaniment for Hamilton and company.
Hamilton is also looking forward to touring select U.S. cities in 2004 and developing a production company that will produce even more skating shows.
This is a lot of work for a guy who had a farewell tour in 2000-01.
But it fits into the strategy that has helped him survive after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1997, and decided that he would take his treatment -- but not his cancer -- seriously.
"Cancer doesn't like to be treated with a lack of respect," said Hamilton in an interview with United Press International. "I laughed a lot. I decided I wasn't going to respect it. For me it was all about looking ahead. I tried to inspire other cancer patients to approach it with the same mentality."
That approach has led Hamilton to develop a Web site (chemocare.com), intended to help others in similar circumstances understand their situations better.
"Information available to me over the Internet was very much in medical journal language," he said. "It scared me more than helped me."
Hamilton said the information on his Web site is designed to educate people about chemotherapy -- how it's administered, potential side effects and ways to deal with them.
"One of the big ones is fatigue," said Hamilton -- even as he was still in production on both TV specials.
In an interview to talk about his participation in "Scott Hamilton & Friends," Feinstein talked about Hamilton's immersion in the project, which will hit the air a matter of weeks after it was taped.
"I spoke with Scott a couple of days ago," said Feinstein. "He told me he has been re-editing camera shots. He is a perfectionist in the best sense of the word."
That may have something to do with his knack for winning skating championships -- such as the 16 consecutive championships he won after a fifth-place finish at the 1980 Winter Olympics. For a career that included not only Olympic gold in '84, but also a number of U.S. championships and world championships, Hamilton was inducted in 1990 into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
At 45, Hamilton is far from thinking about retiring from the ice -- but he doesn't skate anywhere near as much as he used to.
"You never retire," he said. "You just do less."
These days, he skates enough to stay in shape and perform at a high level, without spending too much time away from his family. He wants his production company to return skating to what he suggested were higher standards, set in the mid '90s
Hamilton said one of the sport's problems is that skaters who advance past the Olympics are not as interested in turning pro as they might have been in the past.
"A lot of skaters think when you win the Olympics, then that's it, we're set," he said. "But all (the Olympics) is, is kind of your diploma. It's what you do with it that establishes your career."
Hamilton said the economics of amateur skating these days complicate a skater's decision to turn pro.
"They can make a lot of money," he said. "Michelle Kwan has no need to turn pro, because what she makes now is about what she could make as a professional."
Continuing in the tradition of ice shows, Hamilton's TV specials highlight the integration between skating and music. In "Scott Hamilton & Friends," viewers will get a taste of Feinstein's new project with Jimmy Webb -- who wrote such pop hits as "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Up, Up and Away." Feinstein said the program also includes Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire."
"It spans the entire 20th century of American popular music," he said.
Love, who had classic pop hits of her own -- including "He's a Rebel" and "Da Doo Ron Ron" -- performs a duet with Feinstein on "Sunday Kind of Love," and a treatment of "Cry Me a River" that she described as a heavy metal arrangement. Both Feinstein and Love said the only tricky thing about live accompaniment for skaters is that the tempo better be just right.
"It can't be too fast and it can't be too slow," said Love. "It has to be perfect for the dancers."
Love -- who has been touring in the 20th anniversary edition of the musical comedy "Nunsense" -- said she has been busier than usual this year.
"Busy trying to do two things at once, which I didn't expect to be doing at my age," she said.
Doing the skating show, said Love, was something of a revelation -- even for a show business veteran such as her.
"It's amazing to see the ice skaters and the music going at the same time," she said. "It was actually mind-boggling to me that I was actually doing (an ice show)."