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NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, who joins the Cleveland Cavaliers next season, will star in an ABC reality series that pits him against elite athletes from sports outside of his NBA comfort zone.Â Â Â Â Â Â
Filming begins Wednesday in Pittsburgh for "Shaq Vs.," when the Hoops star will on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in football, reports USA Today.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Future hour-long episodes will feature Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, tennis pro Serena Williams and beach volleyball Olympians Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. O'Neal, 37, says he's also hoping to book his friend Lance Armstrong for a cycling competition once the Tour de France ends.Â Â Â Â Â Â
The series is set to premiere Aug. 18 and will air Tuesdays at 9 ET/PT.Â Â Â Â Â Â
O'Neal says he came up with the idea as a fun way to help train for the NBA season and figured sports fans "would really want to see an athlete play another sport." He knew most of the athletes and recruited some of them on Twitter.Â Â Â Â Â Â
ABC was immediately interested. "He's very playful, almost everyone can relate to him. He has a fun sort of childish persona, and at the same time he's a superstar," says John Saade, co-chief of ABC's reality programming, says of the 7-foot-1 O'Neal. "Our real hope is you come for the absurdity but you stay for the sport."Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Each episode is to include preliminary challenges, banter from news conferences, interaction with needy kids, and O'Neal and his rival negotiating a handicap. The laughs come from "trash talking," but "when it comes to competing, there is no joking," O'Neal says.Â Â Â Â Â Â
At the finish is the marquee event, usually on the athlete's home turf, but there's no cash prize: "Bragging rights are always better than any monetary prize," O'Neal says.Â Â Â Â Â Â
He says he's "not that skilled at tennis" or in a baseball home-run derby, though he expects to excel at football and swimming. But how would his rivals do in a basketball contest if the tables were turned? "They'd be good, but not good enough," he says.Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â In 2007, O'Neal he had his first ABC summer series, Shaq's Big Challenge, in which he helped overweight kids lose pounds in Florida. (That show averaged fewer than 5 million viewers an episode.)Â Â Â Â Â Â
ABC cleared O'Neal's participation with the Cavaliers; he's scheduled to report for NBA training camp Sept. 15.
Tito Jackson is convinced that his late brother Michael was the biological father of all three of his kids, despite reports that Jackson's dermatologist Arnold Klein might have been the sperm donor for the eldest two.
Â "They are all his children," Tito told British tabloid The Daily Mirror of young Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince "Blanket" Michael Jackson II. "Blanket is Michael's, I can tell. Those eyes don't lie. Them eyes are Michael over again. I see a lot of Michael in him."
Tito went on to dispute any suggestion that the children's light complexions prove the fact that Jackson is not their father.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
"Paris and Prince are Michael's children," he said. "Yes, they are. Just because they look white doesn't mean they are not his."Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â While it is known that Debbie Rowe is the mother of the eldest Jackson children, the identity of Blanket's mother is unknown, even to the Jackson family.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â "Nobody knows who his mother is, nobody," he said. "That's the million-dollar question. When I find out, I'll call you!" Courtesy of EurWeb.com