Eerie WWE Reappearances Precede Warrior’s Death, 54
The WWE universe was rattled deeply by the death of one of its biggest superstars, The Ultimate Warrior.
The wrestler, whose real name was James Brian Hellwig, collapsed and died on April 8, hours after appearing on the WWE’s highly-rated series Monday Night Raw on USA Network. According to published reports, the 54-year-old wrestler suffered an apparent heart attack while walking with his wife at a Scottsdale, Ariz., hotel.
Warrior was a major fixture on the WWE’s pro wrestling stage in the late 1980s and early 1990s. With his colorful, signature face paint, flamboyant wrestling outfits and energetic, high-flying wrestling skills, he starred in some of the biggest Wrestlemania events, alongside WWE icons Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage.
Hellwig, who legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993, had only just returned to the WWE after a nearly two-decade-long dispute with the organization. He was inducted into its Hall of Fame on April 5 and spoke during Raw on April 7.
He eerily discussed death and remembrance when he told the sold-out crowd at the New Orleans Superdome that “every man’s heart one day beats its final beat” and urging them to use their lives to make “the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something that’s larger than life.”
“We are grateful that we were able to welcome Warrior back and honor him in his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame,” Michelle Wilson, WWE’s chief revenue and marketing officer, told The Wire. “He appeared on Wrestlemania and Raw, and we are grateful that we had that opportunity to make that happen. Obviously we’re quite shocked about the timing of his passing.”
Raw’s Monday episode will feature a tribute, acknowledging “what a significant contributor he was and what an icon he was to WWE and his fans around the world,” Wilson said.
Last week, the WWE Network re-aired WrestleMania 6, in which Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan, and the Hall of Fame ceremony. On Wednesday (April 16), the network plans a one-hour special on the Ultimate Warrior.
Summers Marks 25 TV Show Gigs With Food’s ‘Rewrapped’
Food Network is expanding its junk-food programming waistline with Rewrapped, a cooking competition show that challenges contestants to get creative with classic snack foods.
Launching April 21, it’s hosted by Joey Fatone, with Marc Summers as head judge.
Summers, who calls himself the “king of junk food on the Food Network for the past 14 years,” also hosts the companion show Unwrapped, which highlights the history of similarly well-known snack items.
That only scratches the surface of his TV career, though. In fact, Rewrapped marks a milestone. His publicist, when asked, generated a list of 25 shows in which Summers has starred, co-starred, hosted or had a recurring role.
He might be best known for hosting Nickelodeon’s Double Dare (circa 1986), but he has also emceed game shows including Couch Potato and GSN’s Win Tuition. The 10 shows on his executive-producer credit list include Food series Restaurant: Impossible and Dinner: Impossible.
“The way I describe [Rewrapped] is Chopped with junk food,” Summers told The Wire. “It’s a very interesting, very fun show, something that I’ve never been involved with as a judge.”
It operates in a two-round structure. In the first round, contestants are asked to recreate versions of popular snack foods such as Twinkies and Goldfish crackers, in terms of both the taste and looks of the original product.
In the second round, contestants are challenged to create an entirely new dish incorporating the original snack as an ingredient.
Fatone and Summers are joined by two guest judges, an actively working chef plus the head of marketing or president of the company being featured on the show, for example, Hostess and Pepperidge Farm.
“They know their products probably better than anybody, so when they say the color was off or the taste was off, you’ve got to buy in to it,” Summers said.
Some of what the contestants cook up is quite unusual, such as a turkey meatball sandwich encrusted with chocolate chip cookies.
“It was actually amazing, the combination of sweet and savory,” Summers said.
He said he feels a heightened sense of responsibility when judging these types of products, because his comments could make or break the contestants’ future career success.
“I felt a lot of pressure to make sure that I judged it fairly,” he said. “I wasn’t a Simon Cowell. I wasn’t negative in any way. I tried to give constructive criticism with the knowledge I have on the products that we did.” Rewrapped debuts on Food at 8 p.m. ET on Mon., April 21. Unwrapped continues both on Food Network and the Cooking Channel during daytime slots.
— Will Hagle
NBCU’s Green Pitch: Switch Lights Off When Screens Are On
NBCUniversal has added a new filament, er, element, to its annual celebration of Earth Week (actually Earth Five Days, April 21-25).
“Lights Off. Screens On” is the latest environmental awareness campaign from the company, asking multitaskers to bathe in the glow of all those video screens and spare a bulb or two.
The idea is to reduce carbon footprints by turning off the lights when watching TVs, computers, tablets or smartphones, often in combination. According to government statistics, NBCU said, if every household in the country turned off just two light bulbs for an hour every day, it would save more than 5 billion kilowatthours of electricity a year.
NBCU properties will drive traffic to a new website, www.lightsoffscreenson.com, where, starting April 21, users can pledge to turn off the lights and enter a contest to win an energy-efficient TV set and other environmentally- themed prizes, like Green Is Universal mugs and T-shirts.
On Earth Day, the Universal Orlando theme park will feature a solar recharging lounge and playground equipment that will harness youthful energy to help “power” the event.
The party moves to Universal Studios Hollywood on April 25 with a “Lights Off. Screens On. Music Fest” featuring Syfy’s McKenzie Westmore (wouldn’t that make it a Lights Off. Screens On. FaceOff ” event?) and mun2’s Liz and Jackie, as well as bands and DJs. Dancers will power the party thanks to a ‘kinetic’ dance floor. (Is there a Green Peacock version of the “funky chicken?”)
In its seventh year, Green is Universal is NBCUniversal’s effort to raise environmental awareness and make its operations more sustainable, thus making its own contribution to a greener planet. The company airs environment- themed content throughout the year, but gets especially green-focused around Earth Week.
— John Eggerton
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.