Sometimes my name trips people up on the phone. This morning, for instance, Hulk Hogan wrestled with it.
“Bill Brioux–sounds like a wrestling name,” said the WWE’s ultimate showman. Hogan was on the line to promote the finale of American Gladiators, happening Feb. 17 on NBC and City-TV.
Told the Hulkster I had never done any wrestling. “Well it’s a great name–Bill Brioux–I’m going to use if for one of my wrestlers.”
Sounded good to me. Anything to raise my coolness level.
Later in the day, got in line on another one of those network conference calls. This one was with NBC’s upcoming game show Amne$ia, with executive producer Mark Burnett and host Dennis Miller on the line.
I came late to the party–NBC tends to let these things run a full hour–and Miller was getting pretty giddy. When some rambling blogger asked Burnett where was the strangest place he’d ever been pitched a reality show, Miller cut in with, “I think the old Bob Eubanks answer was, ‘In the butt.'”
Miller was referring to an old urban legend involving The Newlywed Game. Back in the ’70s, a female contestant was asked, “Where was the strangest place you and your husband ever made whoopee?” The woman stammered for a second before blurting, “In the ass.”
The remark seemed to cause Burnett to fall off the phone. Miller thought his new boss had hung up in disgust. “Wasn’t he a Navy SEAL or something?” Miller asked while the NBC folks scrambled to re-connect with Burnett’s cell. “And he can’t take the Eubanks line?”
Burnett came back on and said his phone simply dropped the call. Miller kept goofing about Eubanks, wondering if the story was apocryphal. “Does anyone remember that story?” he asked. Since I was in line with the next question, I worked in a plug for my book Truth & Rumors: The Reality Behind TV’s Most Famous Myths and let him know the exchange did indeed happen. (You can see the Newlywed Game clip in question here on YouTube).
Trouble is, the NBC publicist pronounced my name on the conference as “Bill Brew.” Miller went off on another one of his word association rants, referencing the Canadian paper The Daily Brew and asking if I was related to “Molson or Labatt.”
I didn’t bother straightening him out. Bill Brew would be a lousy wrestling name, I thought.
The whole deal reminded me of an interview I did a few years ago when I was still at The Sun. It was with movie wild man Gary Busey, the actor known for not wearing a motorcycle helmet and nearly bashing his brains out in a bad spill or three.
Busey was in town to promote his short-lived reality series I’m With Busey. We chatted in a bar at a swank Yorkville hotel and actually hit if off pretty well. At the end of the interview, Busey asked me to say my name again. “Bree-yo,” I repeated, giving Busey the same Anglo-spin the name has been saddled with west of Kingston these past several decades.
“That’s not how it’s spelled,” he corrected. “It’s French, isn’t it? You don’t even pronounce your own name right,” he said, glaring at me with that crazy stare. “YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE.”
He was right. My name is Breee–ou, not Bree-O. Not a wrestler, not a beer guy, just somebody who was saved by Gary Busey.