Tyson hopes Broadway stint bails him out

There are not an awful lot of firsts left for Mike Tyson.

Written by New York Times | Published:June 20, 2012 1:14 am

There are not an awful lot of firsts left for Mike Tyson. Fights,world records,championships,prison,prostitutes,drugs,Hollywood blockbusters,pigeons: all checked off. But a little before 3 pm on Monday,on a spotlighted West 48th Street stage,Tyson marked one more milestone,as he answered a question from a reporter from Playbill magazine.

What,the reporter asked,can audiences expect to see from the former boxer’s planned one-man Broadway show?

“I’m not saying I’m a mesmerizer,” Tyson said,“but I had people mesmerized.” Later,he added,“I don’t know if I’m people-friendly,but I know I entertain them.”

The show,unveiled Monday at the Longacre Theater,will be called “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” and will have two previews starting July 31 before four scheduled shows in four days. Front orchestra seats were listed at $198.50 on Telecharge.com,and a meet-and-greet-Tyson premium package at $299.50. Tyson,45,is not the only one making his Broadway debut here. So is the director: Spike Lee. “Timing is everything,” he said,sitting beside Tyson,“my fellow Brooklyn brother.”

Tyson said the idea came when he and his wife,Lakiha Tyson,saw Chazz Palminteri’s semi-autobiographical one-man show – A Bronx Tale.

“This is what we decided to do after I gave up drugs and being a pig,” he said. Lakiha wrote a loose script and Tyson took it to Las Vegas,performing six nights in April at the MGM Grand Hotel. (Randy Johnson,who directed the Las Vegas show,has a co-writer credit.) The show earned mixed to positive reviews. “Some of it can still make you shift uncomfortably in your seat,like when Tyson talks about being with Japanese prostitutes before his upset loss to Buster Douglas in Tokyo,” The Associated Press wrote. “Somehow,though,it works — in a lot of ways.”

Lee did not see the show,but a friend did,and urged him to check it out. The director said he obtained a video and,calling it a “great American story,” called the producer James L. Nederlander and said,“We’ve got to take this thing to Broadway.”

Tyson’s acting experience could be summarised in the time it takes the theater usher to tear a ticket: pretty much playing himself in the “Hangover” movies and some online comedy bits. But his inner thespian seemed unlikely to step out from behind his familiar,rough-edged persona. To end the news conference,he said: “I’m trying to get paid and get out of debt and stuff. I love you all. See you at the show.”

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