Over the last 30 years, Jerry Bruckheimer has been involved in more than his share of Hollywood power plays. The executive producer of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies and "CSI" TV dramas would rather take his power plays on ice, however, playing his favourite sport - hockey.
Bruckheimer's passion for the game came up earlier this month at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. It was during a session for one of two new shows he's producing for the fall, ABC's "The Forgotten" (the other being the cable crime drama "Dark Blue," which stars Dylan McDermott).
Christian Slater was asked how he came to be cast as the lead in "The Forgotten," a drama about a team of amateur sleuths who look into cold cases involving forgotten murder victims.
"Jerry plays hockey, and I think in the locker room, my agent also plays on maybe a different team, but they ended up talking about it. And Jerry said he was looking for an actor for a new show that he was doing, and my agent put it together. So this all sort of came together in the locker room."
Jerry Bruckheimer and Gary Bettman
Bruckheimer confirmed the story. He said he was changing and sitting next to an agent who said: "I understand you're casting your show, 'The Forgotten.' And have you ever thought of Christian Slater?"
Recalls Bruckheimer: "I said, 'Christian Slater is a terrific actor. Would he actually do television?' And he said, 'Let me talk to him.' And that's how it started."
Slater himself doesn't play hockey, and laughed when it was suggested to him he better start lacing 'em up if he wants to stay in the Hollywood power loop. "I'm going to have to get in the game," he said.
Asked after the session if he'd ever consider suiting up opposite some Canadian TV critics, savvy Bruckheimer joked that we'd be "too good."
The 63-year-old Detroit native has invested in a new sports arena in Las Vegas, and his name always comes up in rumours about possible ownership in an NHL franchise there. He got into hockey after working out with former L.A. Kings tough guy Marty McSorley. Another ex-King, Luc Robitaille, is part of Bruckheimer's puck posse. Now Bruckheimer scrimmages at least once a week whenever he's in the L.A. area, with famous actor clients such as Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding, Jr., sometimes joining him on the ice.
Bruckheimer's not the only TV mover and shaker to put his passion on ice. On the east coast, actor/writer/producer Denis Leary suits up once-a-week in Brooklyn, N.Y., with cast and crew members of his series "Rescue Me" before heading to the set. Leary even works hockey players into his series, like former Boston Bruin great Phil Esposito, who usually pops in once a season as a hot-headed rival firehouse captain.
Not all of the actors who skate in Bruckheimer's league are famous - yet. David Henrie, a 20-year-old who stars in the Disney/Family Channel comedy "The Wizards of Waverly Place," plays hockey with the producer on a regular basis. Henrie grew up in the not-so-hot hockey bed of Phoenix, but nonetheless, as a youngster, took part in hockey tournaments all across North America. He couldn't believe his luck when he moved to L.A. to pursue his acting career and got invited to skate with Bruckheimer and the many stars - from hockey and Hollywood - who make the games part of their weekly routine.
This year, Bruckheimer jammed his two press tour sessions between dates for his annual "Bad Boys" hockey tournament in Las Vegas. It's named after his 1994 Will Smith film "Bad Boys." On the ice is a mix of Hollywood and professional hockey talent, with Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick, Jarome Iginla and Paul Kariya taking part in past years.
Apparently the tourney lives up to its name. Kiefer Sutherland used to play every year, but not anymore. "The deal runs four days," Sutherland said at last year's press tour, and, by the fourth day, "it's just not conducive to playing hockey anymore."
Too tough for Jack Bauer? Maybe the Leafs should start recruiting from Jerry Bruckheimer's Hollywood hockey league.
Ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky arrives with his wife Janet Jones for the premiere of пїЅThe Hangover,пїЅ at the GraumanпїЅs Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California on June 2, 2009.