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

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

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

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