Scott Hamilton puts snowman Snowden on ice again
||November 22, 1998|
Copyright 1998 The Buffalo News
Scott Hamilton may be a snowman's best friend.
The figure skating star narrated and co-produced last year's
special "Snowden on Ice," about a wintry creature's effect on a
dejected skater. The latter role was played by Ekaterina Gordeeva, who
reteams with Hamilton for the new CBS sequel "The Snowden, Raggedy Ann
& Andy Holiday Show" at 8 p.m. Friday on Channel 4.
As the title indicates, two of the most beloved characters in
children's lore join the snowman for a rink-bound fantasy. Also helped
by his friend Doc (played by Hamilton), a ballerina (Gordeeva) and
arguing siblings (fellow skaters Kurt Browning and Josee Chouinard),
Snowden tries to fulfill youngsters' wishes by taking them through a
mirror into a holiday wonderland.
Hamilton was a founder of the "Stars on Ice" touring show, so
veteran variety producers Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion sought the
Olympic gold medalist's expertise for the first "Snowden" special.
"They know the television business, but they were just coming into
the skating business," Hamilton says. "I was flattered that they
invited me to come in and consult with them, but I've just tried to
stay out of their way more than anything else."
The first "Snowden" telecast was received well, but there was no
guarantee of a second. "After anything that's a first," Hamilton
reasons, "you go back and look at it and think, 'If only we'd done
that a little differently.' Now that we know, we can do it a lot
better the second time around. Research showed what viewers did and
didn't like, and all of that input was applied without ego or
hesitation. The result is a show that's more humorous and more
As co-producer again, Hamilton made casting suggestions. "Kurt was
a given, since he's arguably the best professional skater in the world
right now. His versatility really lends itself to this type of
show. Also, there's a lot more acting and dialogue, and Kurt's very
experienced in front of the camera. Josee came in last year and wowed
everybody, so she was an automatic choice.
"I've always felt skating is unlimited as an entertainment
entity," Hamilton adds. "When it's competitive, you can only reformat
certain things because there are expectations athletically. In
entertainment terms, there are a million facets to skating. You can do
things on ice that you can't do off it, so as long as you keep an open
mind, you can push the envelope and really make a difference."
Through the "Snowden" specials, Hamilton is linked to the Target
department store chain, which plans to open its Target House for
cancer patients and their families next May. "It's great to be with an
organization that has that kind of civic involvement," he says. "That
also goes for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, where they're
learning to cure children's cancers. There's another breakthrough
every day, and it's pretty amazing to be a part of that."
Hamilton survived his own bout with testicular cancer in 1997, and
he reflects, "You can never compare two years. The year I was sick was
unbelievable, but I was able to go back out on tour without missing
too much. This was also an Olympic year, which was brutal because I
was covering the Games for CBS. You're not al-lowed to skate during
that, so just as I was getting back into really good shape, I had to
spend a month off the ice.
"I got pretty burned out during the second half of the ('Stars on
Ice') tour, plus I was fighting an ankle injury that I recently had
repaired surgically. Because of the ankle, a slightly torn stomach
muscle turned into a full-blown injury. Also, I turned 40 this year,
which can be a psychological barrier if you let it. I'm getting
through it pretty well, but there's always a challenge. It never