Hollywood Notebook: Apolo Ohno not skating through life

The Fresno BeeDecember 15, 2013 

U.S. Olympic short-track speek skater Apolo Ohno is moving onto new challenges, including working as the host of "Minute to Win It" on the Game Show Network. 04-POST.TO.FACES; 15000000; 15056007; 15073002; 2010; apolo anton ohno apollo anton ohno; dancing with the stars; krt; krt2010; krtcampus campus; krtedonly; krtintlsports; krtnational national; krtolympics olympics olympic; krtolywinter; krtolywinter10; krtspeedskating speed skating speedskating short-track speed skating short track speed skating short-track speedskating short-track speed skating; krtsports sports; krtussports; krtwinter winter; krtworld world; mct; mctcaricature; OLY; SKAT; SPO; STSK; u.s. us united states; ware


It's not a surprise when Apolo Ohno says: "I've never been one to back down from a challenge or try something new."

He showed that kind of dogged determination to become the most decorated American Winter Olympics athlete with eight medals in short track competitions. That's two gold, two silver and four bronze medals for those of you keeping score. He also showed drive on the fourth season of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" as he and Julianne Hough took home the championship.

Now Ohno has moved into new arenas. Along with being part of the NBC broadcast team for the Sochi Winter Games that start Feb. 6, he also has been working as the host of "Minute to Win It" on the Game Show Network (GSN).

These jobs off the ice are all part of Ohno's plan to find the right career. He started looking at his options after the 2002 Winter Olympics when he settled in Los Angeles. "Dancing With the Stars" was the first time he could see what life away from being an athlete would be like while still using his athletic skills.

"I did 'Dancing With the Stars' partly because it's competitive. When you commit to something like that, you want to win," Ohno says.

"Minute to Win It" allows Ohno to test his own skill set and try to gain experience in front of the camera. It didn't hurt that he was a fan of the game show.

Next year, Ohno will face the challenge of reporting on many athletes that he has known for years. He expects the job will be easier because he has gone through what the athletes are experiencing. He has seen the good and bad that can come from being an Olympic athlete.

And he is prepared to ask the hard questions — even if he is talking to a friend.

"You have to ask tough questions. Even if I have relationship with a specific athlete, at the end of the day, I have a job to do. This is what I'm trying to report on. I'm trying to bring the best content I can," Ohno says.

Being a sports reporter or a game show host may not be the final career path for Ohno. He is going to keep looking until he finds just the right job. And he plans to enjoy every moment.

"You have to do fun stuff because you only live once," he says. "I may fail at some things and succeed at others. But, I think I won't know what I'm fully best at until I've tried it."

Talk with an accent

You wouldn't know it by listening, but films and TV shows are loaded with actors from points all over the globe. The reason programming doesn't sound like the United Nations is that the actors almost always have to use an American accent.

Maintaining an accent is demanding on an actor. That's why it's a relief when he or she can use his or her normal speaking voice. That is what Luke Evans gets to do in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."

His character, Bard the Bowman, lives in a floating city where many of the residents sound like they come from the same Welch ancestry as Evans.

"Having my own accent was very special. It was a lovely gift," Evans says. "It's the first time I've ever used my own accent in a movie. And, probably the last.

"It was nice because it freed up who I am, my own heritage. My personality was very much a part of Bard. It did do something different for the character. My performance was different because I was speaking with my own accent."

Accent or not, Evans offers little about his role. That's because there is another film in the trilogy and he doesn't want to give away any key points.

If you want to hear Evans without a Welsh accent, his past work includes playing Apollo in the 2010 film "Clash of the Titans." He also has been in "The Immortals," "The Raven," "The Three Musketeers" and "Fast & Furious 6."

Farrell loves kids

One of the accepted ideas in Hollywood is to avoid working with children or animals because youngsters and beasts either make the working conditions impossible or steal the scene.

Colin Farrell disagrees.

He found working with the very young Annie Rose Buckley in the upcoming Disney film "Saving Mr. Banks" to be a very enjoyable time. Annie plays the young P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), writer of "Mary Poppins." Farrell plays her loving father.

Farrell jokes that it was a matter of alternating between beating her with a stick and giving her sugar that made the work go so smoothly. Then he gets serious and calls the young actress a dream.

"I think people say you shouldn't work with children or animals, but you must only work with children, because you work eight hours a day. From what I could tell, she didn't exude ambition and sometimes kids do," Farrell says. "Which is not to say she's not ambitious and that would be fine if she was. But she didn't exude ambition and she didn't seem to be too fazed by any of it.

"She was just a really, really sweet presence to be around."

You can see their working relationship when the film about Walt Disney's (Tom Hanks) efforts to secure the rights to make "Mary Poppins" opens Friday.


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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