Prior to embarking upon his successful and lucrative acting career, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the main subject of George Butler’s fascinating 1977 documentary Pumping Iron, which follows him during his time as the champion of the international professional men’s bodybuilding competition, Mr Olympia.
After taking a few years off to govern California, Schwarzenegger has been lining up more acting projects and has already starred in The Expendables 2 and Kim Jee-Woon’s action thriller The Last Stand, but now he’s planning to make a return to his roots with a new TV show that’s all about bodybuilding.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Pump, a new hour-long drama show executive produced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been sold to Showtime with the possibility of being ordered to series. The show is based around a Pacific Avenue gym called Pump and the fitness-obsessed customers who frequent it. If Showtime decides to order Pump to series, Schwarzenegger plans to star in a recurring role.
If the gym in Pump is based on Gold’s Gym, where Schwarzenegger himself trained, then it’s possible that Pumping Iron may be used as a direct inspiration for the series. The pilot episode will be written by Michael Konyves (Barney’s Version), who will also executive produce alongside Schwarzenegger and the Tannenbaum Co.
There is plenty of material to be mined here, and if done right, Pump could be to the fitness industry what Mad Men is to the advertising industry (though that’s a pretty tall order to meet). The THR article describes the show as seeking to explore “the origin of the present-day fitness industry and culture of body worship.” Whatever your opinions are on bodybuilding as a profession, there’s no denying that Pump could be an ideal platform through which to examine aspects of modern culture.
Perhaps the most obvious of these is the possible dangers of promoting or glorifying virtually unattainable body images and unhealthy lifestyles (bodybuilding has a long-standing reputation for being fuelled by steroid abuse) – which by itself offers the potential for a practically unlimited amount of drama storylines – but the show could also explore the connection between body worship and art, since both drawing and photography of human subjects could be considered another form of body worship.
After all, Pumping Iron opens with Schwarzenegger being taught to use ballet moves to better demonstrate his musculature and, when prompted by Butler, Schwarzenegger says that he considers his body to be a sculpture.
Is Pump what Showtime needs, or does it sound like a vanity project (in more ways than one)? Let us know what you think of this concept in the comments.
A pilot episode of Pump is already in development, but we’ll let you know if the show gets ordered to series.