Skating great Scott Hamilton is anxiously counting down the days ’til Nov. 7 — when he’ll perform on ice for the first time in five years and eight months. “I’ll never feel like I’m ready,” he says.
“The last time I came back, from cancer, I was 12 years younger. From diagnosis through chemo and back was six and a half months. Those muscles, as much as they’d been shocked and were atrophied for a few months — I still had something to work with. This time, all those muscles were gone. I had nothing,” recounts the 51-year-old Olympic Gold medalist, who retired after being treated for a benign brain tumor in 2004, and who has been in hormone replacement therapy for years.
“For the past 11 and a half months, I’ve been slowly, methodically building up my strength and endurance again, trying not to get hurt in the process. I’m respecting nature.”
Hamilton’s re-appearance on ice is for his “An Evening With Scott Hamilton & Friends” gala benefiting the Cleveland Clinic where he has received care. Following that, he’ll perform in the “Kaleidoscope” ice spectacular in Washington, D.C. with fellow cancer survivor Dorothy Hamill and an all-star lineup. Promoting cancer survivorship and women’s health, Kaleidoscope will be shown Thanksgiving (11/26) on Fox — Scott’s first skating performance on TV since his farewell.
Why go through the grueling regimen he says has put him in pain every day?
“There are many layers to this,” he says. “One is, I really felt myself physically failing. My health was falling apart. I could literally touch my two middle fingers and thumb and make an ‘O’ around my thigh, but I couldn’t see my feet because my belly had gotten so big. I tried to get back in the gym. That really helped, but it doesn’t give me the same benefit as skating does. It’s not the same high level of activity. I needed a goal, a reason to show up every day. Not three times a week in the gym — every day.
“Skating has always been the way I’ve gotten my health back in the past,” notes the athlete, who overcame a long childhood illness through skating. “It’s the only thing that’s done it for me.”
He knew he’d need a deadline, he says, so he committed to the performance in Cleveland, and announced his intention on Oprah Winfrey’s show. Now, he feels he’s at an “okay” place to perform, but envisions improving and doing even more next year.
As for wife Tracie, “She’s been 100 per cent supportive, but she’s also been kind of trying to talk me into being more conservative with my approach. She’s afraid I’m going to get hurt, badly,” admits Scott. “But, if you set the bar low, that’s as far as you’ll go.”
CHANGE OF PACE: It’ll be a very different Jason Earles on Wednesday’s (11/4) installment of the Disney XD series “Aaron Stone” than the actor’s “Hannah Montana” fans are used to seeing. “I had to learn fight choreography and sort of be the cool guy,” reports Earles, best-known as Miley Cyrus’ brother, Jackson, in his regular series role.
Earles plays a “cyborgy guy” who’s been programmed to accompany and protect Aaron Stone (Kelly Blatz) — until he short-circuits and goes on the attack, becoming “a mini-Terminator” as Earles puts it. “I’d never had to do hand-to-hand combat training before and I got 15-20 minutes with the stunt guys to learn the choreography. I had to be pretty good; otherwise, they’d use the stunt doubles in it. I actually saw a final cut of the episode, and it’s mostly me, so I was pretty proud about that,” he says.
Earles does say he was able “to work in a little bit of goofiness with the character. Humor is my strength. I was interested in the similarities between physical comedy and fight choreography,” he adds. “When the timing is right, you feel it.”
Earles will be seen back in action as Jackson in a new episode of ‘Hannah Montana’ Nov. 8.
THE INDUSTRY EYE: Director Renny Harlin and Val Kilmer, whose careers have each seen better days, will be off to the former Soviet Union shortly to make “Georgia,” with “Entourage’s” Emmanuelle Chriqui and hot Brit talents Rupert Friend and Richard Coyle.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Harlin and Kilmer can make something special of their tale of a war reporter who goes to cover the Georgia-Russia conflict and its atrocities after nearly being killed in Iraq — and finds one of his big problems is disinterest back home.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster