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Does a gold medal equal silver screen success?

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Phelpspitt_l_2Could Michael Phelps be the next Brad Pitt? The short answer, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is probably not.

Back in the film industry’s earlier years, it was common practice to insert Olympic stars like Norwegianfigure skater Sonja Henie and U.S. swimmers Buster Crabbe andJohnny Weissmuller into films. (For a few more athlete-turned-actor roles, check out our gallery of 9 Olympian Movie Efforts.)

“Once upon a time studios would find these beautiful creatures andput them in movies,” Hollywood publicity guru Tony Angellotti said.”And if someone isn’t that facile with the English language, like Weissmuller, well, you just make him Tarzan.”

Today, Hollywood’s fickleness is leaving many former Olympians on the bench, and for good reason. Phenomenal athletic abilities do not often translate into Oscar-caliber acting chops. Does any one else remember gymnast Keri Strugg’s awkward cameo on a 1996 episode of Beverly Hills, 90210? That girl belongs on the uneven bars, not acting in front of a camera.

So where is an athlete to turn when he/she wants a little TV face time? You guessed it it! Reality shows, where they can presumably be themselves but still get the exposure they want. (Rumor has it beach volleyball phenom Misty May-Treanor is hoping to cha-cha her way onto Dancing With the Stars.) 

What do you think, PopWatchers? Are there any Olympic athletes you’d like to see in a movie or on TV (either acting or in a reality show)? Or is every four (or two) years enough?

addCredit(“Michael Phelps; Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty Images”)

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