The Phoenix Suns’ Shaquille O’Neal prepares to play a blissfully non-gymnastic solo round of Twister.THE SETUP IS SIMPLE ENOUGH. Inside an RV parked outside a Brooklyn soundstage, the Phoenix Suns’ Shaquille O’Neal prepares to play a blissfully non-gymnastic solo round of Twister. As he provides his own color commentary, ESPN’s Mike Breen and Stuart Scott do their best to ignore his enthusiastic bleats. The set hushes; the first part of the TV spot proceeds as planned.
But when Shaq rises to his feet after repeatedly tripping over them during the game, he smacks his head on one of the RV’s kitchen cabinets. The sound is enormous, somewhere in the timbre of a door slam or a thunderclap. Breen and Scott drop their feigned indifference and bolt from their seats to check on him. Shaq, however, continues with the take, announcing, “I’m gonna take a nap,” as he shuffles over to a nearby couch.
A few minutes later, he emerges from the RV, no worse for wear. “I did that on purpose,” he cheerily quips. “I’m an actor. I’ll do whatever it takes for the shot.”
Shaq’s noggin-buster underscores the reality of this ESPN commercial shoot: However effortless the end product may appear, producing the network’s quirky deadpan spots is hard work. It is not for the impatient, nonchalant, or, as Shaq has so inadvertently illustrated, soft of skull.