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Coming to You Live and in Color: Shaqvision


The vagaries of Shaqspeak.

A topic on Siskel and Ebert's show recently was media behemoth Shaquille O'Neal, whose resume to date contains two more films and many more TV commercials than NBA titles. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert agreed that Shaq's second and latest big-screen outing, as a genie opposite a snotty little twerp in the summer movie "Kazaam" is the pits and inferior to his first effort in a 1994 movie titled "Blue Chips."

Shaq must choose his film projects more carefully, Siskel cautioned with such chin-stroking weightiness that he could have been referring to a career misstep by Denzel Washington.

The point being that more Shaq movies are a given. As is more of Shaq himself, even though he's already panoramic, pretty much ingrained and omnipresent in the media thanks to the July convergence of his movie release, prominence on the U.S. Dream Team in Atlanta's Summer Olympics and, above all, signing with the Los Angeles Lakers for a cool $120 million across seven years.

In the eyes of the media, and TV in particular, this genie is genuine. No wonder, then, that "Shaq" now joins "Magic" and "O.J." in a lexicon of nicknames that far transcend mere sports. Much of what you see, hear and read these days extends the legend of O'Neal as a sprawling conglomerate of interests, as if we require moment-by-moment Shaqtoids concerning what he is saying and feeling about the life decisions he faces.

Yet, hints of a Shaqlash have surfaced in some circles, low grumbling by cynics who question his stature as a towering icon in popular culture. What they fail to appreciate is his value as a role model for America's youth, someone proving to young boys that they, too, can earn $17.1 million a year in the land of opportunity (not including movies, commercial endorsements and other outside income), if they grow to 7 feet 1 with a body of granite, have great basketball ability and a memorable name, and then hire a shrewd sports agent.

Thus, the more we know about Shaq, the better, right?

In that spirit, Calendar's exclusive Shaqsource has gained access to Shaq's personal journal, from which entries for a recent day are printed below.

* 9:20 a.m. Saw on television that Ross Perot makes more money than I do. Feel deceived, disrespected. May consider demanding Lakers renegotiate my contract.

* 10:40 a.m. Got bored. Bought the Netherlands.

* 11:02 a.m. Boris Yeltsin called while I was on phone with some king named Carl or Gustav or something about the Nobel Peace Prize in Sweden. Will call Boris back. Probably wants Dream Team tickets. Asked this Carl-Gustav dude if Nobel as big as MVP award. Need to know if better shoe contract in it. He seemed teed off. Probably got attitude. Made mental note to send him autographed ball and passes to "Kazaam."

* 11:30 a.m. Read proposal for PBS series on great plays, "Shaq Presents. . . . " Can't decide without knowing lead-in. Sitcom a possibility if creative team can come up with another "Seinfeld." TV movie on me, based on coming autobiography titled "It Wasn't the Money," a no-go from my end unless part of long-term deal with my production company.

* 12:04 p.m. Ate lunch served by Chick Hearn.

* 1:40 p.m. Returned Bob Dole's call. Something about being on the ticket as vice president. Told him no, job pays bupkis.

* 2:10 p.m. Held interviews for entourage. Told this governor dude would like him aboard, but he couldn't be flying off all the time to Sacramento.

* 3:14 p.m. Investment team called with real estate poop. About Hearst Castle in San Simeon, bad news. Zoning rules stop basketball court and neon "SHAQ" sign on roof. Geez! Also getting nowhere on big Santa Monica property. Threw in court-side Lakers-Bulls tickets to sweeten offer, but pier still not for sale.

* 4:10 p.m. Called staff together to announce making anniversary of my Lakers signing annual day off with pay. Still waiting for White House reply to proposal making it national holiday. Clinton should have called by now. When he does, may be good time to pitch him on my picture for 32-cent stamp. If he balks, he'll change tune when he wants tickets to playoffs.

* 4:22 p.m. Someone from White House called about Clinton doing rap spot with me at Democratic convention in Chicago. Yeah, like I'm in a mood to do him favors. I said maybe, if they get back to me about national holiday. That Gore dude on the phone really nervous. Let him sweat it.

* 4:38 p.m. Read script for "Shane" remake, titled "Shaq." Liked it, but made note to work monster dunk into shootout sequence. Thumbs down, though, on "Shacklock Holmes" project unless Charles Barkley available for Watson and Worm plays Moriarty. Still reading "The Shaq" treatment. Based on silent movie called "The Sheik" or something. May do it, but with Harley, no horse.

Agree with agent about danger of typecasting and need to play classics. So "Othello" appealing, except violence could hurt image for commercials and coming rap concert tour. Maybe instead of killing this Desdemona lady I could stuff her when she goes up for a shot. And instead of saying, "I hate the Moor," this Iago guy could say, "I hate the mother." And then I could do my grin. Just to keep it modern.

If project goes ahead, though, a definite no to press agent plan to plant stories in trades that "Othello" written by Shaqspeare. What do they think, I have no class?

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