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Television

January 13, 2002|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

So, the Ravens' Tony Siragusa is headed for Hollywood upon his retirement from the National Football League. His agent at the William Morris talent agency says the Goose has screen-tested for HBO's The Sopranos and that a network sitcom could be in the works for Siragusa.

Tony Siragusa with his own sitcom, imagine that.

Given network television's penchant for sticking with the tried and true and then repeating it one too many times, we thought that's exactly what we'd do -- try to imagine the kinds of network shows in which we might be seeing Tony.

Jeers

(an ensemble comedy for NBC)

Tony opens a sports bar in Baltimore. It's a bar where everyone knows your name.

Tony, known as a ladies man, is always behind the bar, helped by his sidekick, a slow-witted but beloved character known only as Coach (played by Brian Billick, who was driven out of the NFL just a year after Tony's retirement after an 0-16 season with Elvis Grbac as his quarterback).

Coach is always three or four orders behind -- and he always gets them wrong. But Tony keeps him on out of loyalty for the old days when they went to war together on Sundays. Also, Coach has a warm and winning personality, as well as such a deep sense of humility that he reminds some viewers of St. Francis of Assisi.

Since every hit sitcom needs a stupid catchphrase, Jeers has one of those, too. Every so often, apropos of nothing, Coach will take off his ridiculous black mesh cowboy hat (the one he wore on HBO's Hard Knocks) and scream: "I'm an offensive genius, you know!" Each time he says it, everyone at the bar laughs, while Tony flaps his arms and says, "Yeah, and I'm the Swan!" And then he smacks Coach on the back of the head.

Like the Fonz in Happy Days, all Tony has to do is smack the jukebox to make it play. Unfortunately, it only plays one song: "Who Let the Dogs Out?" There are, however, 150 versions, ranging from a rap version by Ray Lewis to the Six Fat Dutchmen, of Hibbing, Minn., doing a tuba version at halftime of a Green Bay Packers' game.

Moonstuck

(a CBS romantic comedy)

Borrowed from the big screen and filmed right here in Charm City, this show has Tony playing a ruggedly handsome but melancholy baker in Little Italy. Banking on Siragusa's innate good looks -- the "Italian Brad Pitt" as he's known in the neighborhood -- the series has him being pursued each week by a different woman.

In the pilot, it's Cher, to remind viewers of the movie that inspired the series. Then, not necessarily in this order: Cindy Crawford, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Britney Spears.

Network budget constraints, however, could mean "repurposing" the women who cover the NFL -- Suzy Kolber, Pam Oliver -- as the guest stars chasing Tony. (If the series winds up on low-rent UPN, it will be men who cover the NFL chasing the Goose -- Dick Stockton, Eric Dickerson, John Madden.)

First Monday,

Any Given Sunday

(an ABC legal drama designed to counter-program CBS' new James Garner-Joe Mantegna series about life backstage at the Supreme Court)

In the ABC version, Tony plays a newly appointed Supreme Court justice who almost always finds himself as the key vote able to break the deadlock between the liberal and conservative blocs -- if Tony can make it back to Washington, that is.

Only days into his first session on the bench, Tony gets a call from Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, asking Tony to come out of retirement and shore up his depleted defensive line. Feeling the pinch of trying to live in Washington on the salary of Supreme Court jurist, Tony jumps at the chance to earn a few extra million. But the commute's a killer: Each week revolves around Tony trying to make it from the field on Sunday to the bench on Monday.

Al Pacino co-stars as a profane, hard-drinking chief justice at the end of his career trying to hang on for one more year. Oliver Stone is executive producer, and there's a large supporting cast of Cubans and Texans working with the CIA to secretly manipulate Tony's schedule and opinions. A "sweeps" episode finds a lost and dazed Tony wandering around the grassy knoll in Dallas after a particularly bad game against the Cowboys.

Tony's 24

(an action-adventure series for Fox)

Told in real time, each episode covers one hour during Tony's first official day of retirement. The pilot is mostly taken up with Tony trying to find his bathrobe.

This might sound boring, but since this is Fox, it turns out that the bathrobe's not where he left it, because Jessica Alba (Dark Angel) was wearing it -- and she dropped it on the bedroom floor when she got into a catfight with Ally McBeal's Lucy Liu. The hour ends with Tony waking up in the shower, remembering he's retired and going back to bed.

A sitcom for Siragusa? Let's visualize the possibilities.

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