It's not easy making the jump from sports notable to entertainment world celebrity. But given how much fanfare surrounded David Beckham's arrival in Los Angeles three years ago, you'd be forgiven for expecting a more graceful leap.
Beckham, whose English football team is center stage at the World Cup as it prepares (without him) to play the United states this weekend, was following in the path of plenty of Southern California athletes who made the transition to a film and television career, including pretty much the entire 1970s L.A. Rams. And he had the likes of Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg and pretty much every agency bigwig in town eager to give him a hand. (His representatives at CAA and Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment had an elaborate game plan to make him and wife Victoria screen stars.) So why didn't it work out?
Experts for a story we wrote for the Sunday Calendar section had numerous explanations for why Beckham didn't gain more recognition in Hollywood, many of them having to do with his soccer career. He wasn't a goal scorer. He was often injured or playing in Europe. He was seen as a mercenary. And maybe most crucial, he was dragged down by the low profile of the sport he played instead of, as all those Hollywood well-wishers had expected, lifting up that sport to his level of prominence.
Beckham's representatives took an unusual tack in explaining why he and Victoria never became Hollywood royalty. Instead of saying basically that life got in the way, they volleyed that the couple never wanted an entertainment career in the first place.
Asked whether the Beckhams are satisfied with their Hollywood run, a representative for the pair responded: "Your questions imply that David and Victoria have an interest in becoming involved in the entertainment industry. This is simply not true. David's focus has always been and will continue to be soccer, in whatever capacity that leads him. Victoria's focus is raising her family and her fashion line. Her dress line is going into its fifth season and is extremely successful."
Maybe so. But given all we'd heard a couple of years back, and all the effort the power players expended, fashion and football seem like inadequate replacements for filmic fame.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: David Beckham. Credit: Los Angeles Galaxy