Arnold Schwarzenegger: Is his career going, going, gone?
Before the news broke that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had secretly fathered a child out of wedlock more than 10 years ago with a member of his household staff--here's the original story--it looked like the aging action hero was going back to his old career. His handlers were so upbeat about his comeback that CAA's Bryan Lourd confidently told the New York Times: "Never count Arnold out. Once a movie star, always a movie star."
But now Schwarzenegger has bowed to the inevitable fallout from his paternity scandal, with news surfacing Thursday that he has pulled out all of his film projects. But is this a temporary crisis management ploy, with the hope that the scandal will quickly blow over? Or is it a tacit admission that the media will be on red alert for years to come, looking for more garish skeletons in the Schwarzenegger closet?
I suspect that the initial reason for backing off from any career moves is based on crisis management, since for now, it would be impossible for Schwarzenegger to do any kind of career promotion without being forced to answer all sorts of uncomfortable questions about his personal life. But as time goes on, you have to wonder if there's any kind of career niche for Schwarzenegger to occupy.
It was already pretty obvious that the Gubernator was too old and out of fashion to play a serious action hero, especially since the one action genre he could plausibly occupy--the leader of an over-the-hill gang--had already been thoroughly mined by Sly Stallone in "The Expendables." But having Schwarzenegger playing a washed-up horse trainer with a complicated relationship with an 11-year-old boy who suddenly turns up in his life--which is the story of "Cry Macho," the film he'd been attached to star in--now seems way too close for comfort as well.
The more you study Schwarzenegger's options, the more it looks like he should find himself a new, less visible line of work until the media can work through the cycle that begins with real reporting and outrage and often ends in tawdry fascination, cynical wisecracking and jaded boredom. But as for that CAA-inspired "once a movie star, always a movie star" business, I can only say: Mel Gibson? Nicolas Cage? Russell Crowe? I know Yogi Berra said it ain't over till it's over, but in showbiz, when it's over, its over for good.
Photo: Arnold Schwarzenegger with Maria Shriver at the Governor's Inaugural Ball in 2007 in Sacramento. Credit: Brian Baer / Sacramento Bee