Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mr Pundit goes to Washington (Mr Wrestler goes to Hollywood)

I never made mention of this at the time, but Al Franken is no longer on fulltime duty as a pundit on the APF roster. January of this year, Franken announced his departure from Air America Radio and formally announced that he would run for Minnesota's Senate seat in 2008.

In wrestling its not surprising to see a successful personality leave the squared circle for the bright lights of Hollywood. Trading in their status gained from wrestling, the fanbase they've garnered and converting it into mainstream success.

Many wrestlers didn't always start off on their current career path. Duane Johnson was defensive tackle for the University of Miami. He went on to the NFL signing a 3yr contract with the Denver Broncos. He didn't play a game and was cut after 3 months. Duane then followed the paths of his father and grandfather before him and entered the wrestling business. Duane Johnson would come to be known as 'The Rock'. He would dominate the industry gaining many fans with his charisma and electric personality. He became a household name as a wrestler and moved on to the larger stage of Hollywood to headline blockbuster movies.

Al Franken started his career as one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live. He also starred on the show creating popular characters like self-help guru Stuart Smalley. Al Franken wrote many lighthearted books on Politics starting with "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations" (1996), a fictional Franken campaign for President in "Why Not Me?" (1999) and the best-selling "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" (2003). Al Franken became a mainstream celebrity as a comedic political commentator. He signed on to headline Air America Radio's flagship show early 2004. During this time Al consolidated his place as the entertainment world's 'Face' of the political left.

Al became immersed in the world of politics, traveling the country representing liberal viewpoints, rubbing shoulders with political and media players on his show and at fundraisers. As well getting accustomed to daily attacks from his opponents.

Wrestlers at the end of the day are entertainers. Its only natural they would go to Hollywood if the opportunity presented itself. They are perfectly equipped for it. Wrestlers write and recite their own lines, they're versed in timing, drama and comedy. They act live in front of packed audiences and they perform their own stunts.

Pundits/Talk Radio personalities are similarly equipped for politics. The fan base they've established can be converted easily into their voting block. The intimacy of the talk radio format helps in creating a feeling of trust and kinship. Radio hosts are accustomed to talking about and researching the issues as part of their daily duties. They have honed their presentation and are practiced in debating, as they engage daily with callers (aka voters) and studio guests. Its a natural transition, rather than using their influence to champion their beliefs from the sidelines. They can run for office and affect policy directly.

Besides Al Franken running for Senate. Other noteable pundits who have had political aspirations include: Michael Savage teasing a run for President. Boston radio talk-show host Chuck Morse running for congress. Former Air America host Jerry Springer nixes a run for Senate. Progressive Tony Trupiano and sometimes Ed Schultz fill-in runs for Michigan's 11th District House seat.

While Al Franken hopes Minnesota turns the comedian-cum-pundit into their next Senator. Stranger things things have happened. Minnesota after all was the place where they turned a Wrestler into a Politician.

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