All fun and Games
Initially wary of what his role at the Olympics would involve, Rove Mcmanus has grabbed the baton with both hands, writes Darren Devlyn
IT was one of TV’s big bombshells of 2009: Rove McManus, who had been celebrating his 10th year in commercial television, announced he was pulling the pin on his Channel 10 variety show.
It was a shock decision because McManus had said earlier that year: ‘‘ This show is my love and my passion.’’
The triple Gold Logie winner acknowledges he took a major career risk moving to the US with wife Tasma Walton, but no sooner had he arrived in Los Angeles than the gamble began to pay off. And it has given him a clearer perspective on what he wants from his career and life.
McManus has flown to London and will play a role in Foxtel’s Olympics coverage. He will appear alongside Eddie McGuire for the opening ceremony and will, each day of the Games, present a Rove’s London ‘‘ colour’’ segment.
‘‘ My first response when I was asked to do the Olympics was, ‘ Well, don’t expect me to commentate. I know even the casual fan does not take kindly to people who take the p--- too much’,’’ he says.
‘‘ Now that my role is de- fined I’m really looking forward to it, so excited about the opening ceremony and being a part of that. I’ve been given a small phone book of things you can and can’t say during an Olympics broadcast, which is good to know. The only time I’ve ever done anything like this is when I did commentary for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. I got a couple of complaints for things I said on that, so I will be mindful of being complimentary of (opening ceremony director) Danny Boyle’s work.
‘‘ We had lawnmowers, we had Nikki Webster on a cable (2000 Sydney Olympics). If we had Ned Kelly, maybe they’ll (London) have a giant inflatable Jack the Ripper or something. They’ve had their share of infamous villains so that would be all right.’’
Once the Olympics are done, McManus will return to the US and begin preproduction on a new season of Rove LA, which will be filmed at the Warner Bros. Studios and screened in September.
It’s now hard to believe McManus andWalton went to the US two years ago with the intention of staying just three months — part working trip, part sabbatical.
He makes occasional appearances on Jay Leno and Chelsea Lately and took the bold step of exploring the US stand-up comedy circuit.
‘‘ We are in constant conversations (with Leno’s team).
‘‘ Jay is really supportive. I caught up with him the other night. He was asking me how I was enjoying it (doing Leno’s show). He was saying if there’s anything he can do I should just let him know.
‘‘ The Tonight Show is the reason people like me do this. It’s the show everyone has since copied in one form or another. To be part of that family in some small way is very important to me.’’
Asked if he’s had a chance to check out Leno’s extraordinary trove of collectable cars, McManus says, ‘‘ No, I’ve not gone to the aircraft hangars (where the collection is stored) to have a look. Because I can’t talk cars. I’ve tried to edge my way into a conversation about cars with Jay, but it would be like talking to me about professional wrestling or something to do with wildlife. All of a sudden you hit that nerd button and you’d struggle to keep up.’’
Work commitments have recently kept McManus and Walton from travelling to exotic places to explore wildlife, but he remains an ambassador for conservation group Flora and Fauna International. Walton sits on the organisation’s board in Australia. While covering the Olympics, McManus aims to visit the organisation’s base in Cambridge, England.
‘‘ My plan is to catch up with David Attenborough or Stephen Fry, who are the fellow international vicepresidents, and hopefully get one of them on camera as well,’’ McManus says.
Winning team: Rove McManus and (below) his wife, Tasma Walton