The German TV Show That Made Hollywood Actors' Lives Hell
Tom Hanks, beloved actor and father to hilariously embarrassing progeny, is nothing if not versatile. He began his career looking like he'd be a zany comedic TV guy, then upended expectations by showing that he could handle every type of role that wasn't that. But that willingness to tackle just about any challenge, no matter how much an agent may scream and plead with him to play it safe, can sometimes result in unfortunate situations. Like so:
Whether Hank's decision to appear as a judge on the German variety/talent show Wetten Dass (loosely translated as "Wanna Bet?" but referred to as "Stupid German Tricks" by The New York Times) in 2012 was an act of free will, a lost bar bet, or a blackmailer's demand is an open question. Yet appear he did, possibly unaware that the production would last longer than the average Lord Of The Rings movie.
Instead of sitting on a lofty pedestal, issuing a thumbs up or down over the Teutonic talent, Hanks was thrust into various skits and activities (like getting a manicure). Fatigue appears to take hold somewhere in the fourth hour, when he is forced to bear witness to the unbridled excitement of a potato sack race. At this point, there is no concealing that his patience has collapsed into consternation. His air of slouching defeat can't be mitigated even by the inexplicable fuzzy cat hat on his head.
Another respected thespian who needed to promote a movie and probably considered firing whoever booked him on Wetten Dass was Denzel Washington. The highlight (presumably apart from the moment he hightailed it back to his hotel) was the Academy-Award-winning actor trying to be supportive of a grown man guessing how much liquid was in a bottle by sticking his finger down its neck and making a popping sound.
One might suppose a television show that lasts four hours and features amateur performers embarrassing themselves with stupid antics until they manage to break the will of the celebrity judges wouldn't last long. Well, it likely wouldn't in America, as Hanks observed in a later radio interview: "In the United States, if you are on a TV show that goes for four hours, everybody responsible for that show is fired the next day."
Anyway, Wetten Dass was cancelled in 2014 after an ignominious 33-year run. There is currently an unoccupied for niche for a four-hour variety show starring Gerard Butler and a kid whose talent is breaking 50 walnuts with his ass.
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