30 for 30 (2009–…): Season 4, Episode 29 - The American Gladiators Documentary: Part Two - full transcript

A documentary covering one of the biggest cultural phenomenon in the 1990s of course couldn't be fit into just one part

At the end of Part one.

We’ve learned
all about the show,

but there’s a wrinkle at
the end that we discover.

Dan Carr,

who is the

co-creator of the show,
is still alive and out there,

but we’re not allowed
to speak to him.

We weren’t really
prepared for where

the story was going to take
us, and we really go on this

pretty insane odyssey
where we meet these

incredible individuals that
led to meeting other people,

that led to other facts,
and we just kept on going.

One of the things that
was most surprising

was the amount of
people that 40 years later

are still extremely
invested in the story

and invested in
having it told fully.

I think this project has a lot

more to offer than
people expect.

-Alright, Johnny on four.

Mark Sussex.

-You’re rolling, Kirk.
-Yes, sir.

So, Johnny, there’s
a quote I think...

that I enjoy from
Winston Churchill

that I think goes
"History will be kind to me

as I plan to be
the one to write it."

Uh-huh. Any thoughts on that?



Dann Carr, known as
"Apache" Dann Carr,

is a legend in
Erie, Pennsylvania,

especially among the
ironworker community

and tough guys in town.

But due to restrictions
imposed by Johnny,

how is a production meant
to tell a full, truthful story

without Dann’s
firsthand account?

What could have gone so wrong

between these
two alleged friends

during their
years-long partnership

and what would
Johnny stand to lose

from an uncensored Dann Carr?

All these questions
and more tonight on...

Gladiators! Ready!

There’s this
mysterious Dann Carr,

who I’ve never
met, and I never...

I don’t know if he exists.

I couldn’t... I couldn’t
pick him from a lineup.

Dann Carr.

I knew nothing
about Dann Carr at all.

I didn’t even know he
was alive, tell you the truth.

You know, I really...
I know the name,

but I don’t know
how involved he was

in the whole
creation of this show.

I’ve always just been
there with Johnny.

So in my experience,
Johnny Ferraro

is the sole impresario
of "American Gladiators."

Well, welcome to
Erie, Pennsylvania,

Tech Memorial
Junior High School,

birthplace of...

of the "American"...
Let me do that again.

Welcome to Erie, Pennsylvania,

home and birthplace of
the "American Gladiators."

Directly behind
me is where we had

the very first "American
Gladiators" competition.

And that night, we had
almost 4,000 people here,

and the excitement
was through the roof.

Hi. How do we get clearance
for the office? We’re with ESPN.

You’re with ESPN?
Yeah. Documentary.

This is where it was
born. This is the home.

Okay. Yeah.

That’s news to me.
Okay. News to you.

It’s news to him. He
doesn’t even know.

Hello. Johnny
Ferraro. How are you?

Good. I’m Jeff. Yeah. Yeah.

This is home of the
"American Gladiators."

We started this March 27, 1982,

and we’re filming a
documentary for ESPN.

Have I... Sorry.

Have you heard the name
Johnny Ferraro? I have not. No.

Yeah, I’ve been
gone a long time.

I’ve been gone a
long time. Yeah.

I left here when I was only 26.

Alright. Yeah.

Have you heard the
name Dann Carr?

I have. Yeah. Yeah. Dann.

Yeah. Yeah.

What have you
heard of Dann Carr?

What have I heard?

I think he was a big
wrestler, wasn’t he?

If I remember it
correctly. The Carr family.

I might be totally wrong,

but the Carr
family’s big wrestlers.

I don’t know if that...

No, Danny wasn’t a wrestler.
He was an ironworker.

But we’re probably
way out of your time.


Alright, guys.

Why is it the mention
of Dann’s name

seemed to make Johnny
appear awkward and frigid?

The production
comes upon an article

from the "Erie Times-News"
dated January 2008

entitled "Erie Creator
out in the Cold,"

written by a
certain Gerry Weiss.

It appears to be the last-known
public record of Dann.

The production tracks
down writer Gerry Weiss,

who now works at the
Second Harvest Food Bank

of Northwest Pennsylvania.

Hello, welcome
to Second Harvest.

Sorry. I’m not wearing a mask.

That’s okay.

Does Gerry Weiss...
Is Gerry Weiss here?

Yes, he is. And
let me call Gerry.

Can I give him your name?

Ben Berman. Ben Berman.

One minute, Ben. Thank you.

You’re welcome.
Thank you very much.

Hi. How are you?

And he is off today, gentlemen.

Apparently he has... Yes.

He’s scheduled
off. He’s not working.

He’s not working at all today.

Oh, bummer.

Okay. We’re doing a documentary

on "American
Gladiators." Do you know...

Absolutely. Absolutely.

And the "American
Gladiators" actually started here.

In Erie. Yeah.

Actually, I’m trying to
think of the gentleman.

Was it one of the Carr brothers?

I can’t remember. Danny.

Danny’s from here, a
Lower East Side guy.

So everybody was very
proud of his accomplishments.

And Danny was part of the fabric

on the east side of town, so...

But I know that
Dann felt slighted

that somebody took
the gladiator’s platform

and... and did what
they wanted to do with it.

And I think Dann was left

in the, you know,
in the past of it.

It starts becoming clear

that the narrative most
popular among Erie

is one of Dann being cut
out of "American Gladiators"

and presumably
feeling great disdain.

If this account is true,
one could only imagine

how Dann felt as he languished
in obscurity in his hometown,

while "American
Gladiators" not only thrived,

but went international.

Now you start seeing the
whole world loving your idea.

It was just unbelievable.

Germany, Africa, Australia,
they all had their own show.


The guy was strong
guy, but I am dynamite.

They adapted
it to their culture.

In Japan, half of it was
"American Gladiators."

The other half of the show was

see how much
water you could drink

without having to
go to the bathroom.

It was the same
base of the cake,

and they added on
their different frosting.

Back in the United States,
I was called to compete

in what they called the
champion of champions,

where they brought
all the contenders back

who had won from previous years.

Sabre waiting
on the 5-yard line.

Scoops trying to make some
quick moves, and he did it.

Whoever won that show

was able to go on to
Birmingham, England,

to compete in the first
international championship.

They came to England
from around the globe.

The mightiest gladiators
from Great Britain,

Finland, Russia and America.

United for the first time

to challenge international
champion contenders

in a battle that will decide
who is the best in the world.

The idea I had was to
bring the countries together

for an International
Gladiators tournament,

a sort of mini Olympic
Games, if you will.

They brought out
their gladiators.

They brought out
their contestants.

And, of course, a
huge hero was formed...

the guy called Two Scoops.

Two Scoops!

Yeah, baby!

Two Scoops. Too legit to hit.

Do you know how
many points you got?

No, but if you tell me, I got
something for the people.

How many? 16 points!

Every time I won, it
was for the people.

You was proud to be an American.

But the arena was always
cheering for the David.

So when you read the Bible,
who do they talk about? David.

You don’t hear them say
nothing else about Goliath.

He was beheaded,
and he was whupped

with a rock and a sling by
a little shepherd boy, right?

So that’s like
"American Gladiators."

Two Scoops from the USA!

It was very uplifting
to be in that arena.

3, 2...

Australia’s Shane Saltmarsh.

47 seconds.

Wesley Berry is the
champion of champions.

He came from behind...

I want to say, first
of all, I thank God

for my health and my strength,
to all the young children

for staying in school
and being positive,

to my lovely wife and to
everybody in Birmingham

and around the world,
God bless you all.

You are champion of
champions. Well done.

Two Scoops is the
best in the world.

Two Scoops...
he’s light. He’s light.

And that’s why Two Scoops
was the best that ever did it.

There was so much drama
that grabbed people immediately.

Millions turned in.

Johnny should be so proud.

He created an idea
that permeated television

around the world.

Johnny’s crazy thoughts
made me famous

all over the world,

and we kept going
and going and going.

So that concludes another season

on "American Gladiators."

For Nitro and all of
us, I’m Mike Adamle.

We’ll see you again
next year. We’ll be back.

I got the call, and
I felt really bad.

It’s pretty devastating.

Man, all this
time, all this work,

all these dreams,
all this stress.

For what?

I loved it. I strived it.

I got up every day
going, "This is great."

And you become like a family.

♪ Wake ♪

♪ From your sleep ♪

I felt like Johnny felt
like we were his kids.

Like he was like a proud papa.

He said, "This is my baby,
and I finally delivered my baby.

And I feel really, really
elated that this is happening."

But now it was over.

This is the last gladiator
walk out these doors.

I’m feeling mighty
sad right now.

♪ Pack ♪

♪ And get dressed ♪

You get used to seeing
the gladiators and friends.

You get used to being
part of something really big.

We were on TV Saturday
and Sunday here,

and now you have to
get a job at Marshalls.

You know, it’s kind
of... It’s kind of rough.

Open mikes, Mike.

And Sabre.

And I was blindsided

because we had just
started "Gladiators 2000."

To reduce back injuries,
what type of activities

should you avoid?

And Ryan Seacrest was
the host on "Gladiators 2000."

So I’m thinking we’re
branching out maybe bigger.

We’ve been going overseas
to England every year

for the world championships.

So I didn’t think that it
was going to end like that.

♪ Sing ♪

Most shows last
one or two years.

The successful
shows go four or five.

We were very lucky.
We went seven years.

It ended in 1996.

Over time, the
ratings started to drop.

It depends upon what
is in trend, though,

because whatever’s on
television is a microcosm

of what we are as a nation.

And they were shifts in society.

It’s the dawn of a new age.

And from this day
forward, the world in sports

will never be the same.

Oh, my goodness.

People are fickle.

They’re gonna go
to the next thing.

is a gift!

♪ Send me ♪

Aah! Oh!

♪ Now ♪

So all of a sudden,

there was a loss of interest
in physical-combat shows.

♪ That you choke ♪

It’s like, "Wow,
this thing is great.

It’s never gonna stop."

And when it stops,
it’s like you hit a wall

at 100 miles an
hour because it stops.

It’s now, "Now what?

Where do I go? What do I do?"

In all competition,

there’s the thrill of victory
and the agony of defeat.

But who doesn’t
love an underdog?

Apache Dann Carr.

Ben and the crew learned
of a 2017 documentary

about tough guys
entitled "Tough Guys,"

in which Dann briefly appears.

My name is Dann
Carr. Danny Carr.

Apache Dann, the former
world arm-wrestling champion.

And I am the creator of
the "American Gladiators."

The crew locates the
film’s producer, Craig,

and flies to New York
to attempt a meeting.

New York City, home
of the Statue of Liberty.

And in 1626, was purchased
from the Canarsie Indian Tribe

for the equivalent
of $24 American.

Working around Johnny’s
contractual stipulations,

the production
attempts to license

the raw footage of Dann
from Craig, the producer...

quite possibly the only
way to hear from Dann

in this documentary.

The crew leaves optimistic.

However, after weeks
of back and forth

and a deal finally in sight,

Craig, the producer,
suddenly goes silent,

leaving more
questions than answers.

Luckily, "Erie Times-News"
reporter Pat Cuneo

is able to help fill
in some blanks.

After I come into
this as a sportswriter,

Dann Carr has already won

five arm-wrestling
national championships,

two worlds at that point.

And then he dons this
character of Apache Dann

for his arm-wrestling stuff.

The eye thing...
right there. You see?

Right. Apache.

Native American and Irish...

this is a tough combo.

He credits his inner Apache
from helping him recover

from an unbelievable accident.

In 1970, he’s doing
a job at Hammermill,

a paper company.

Falls 100 feet, breaks
his back in three places,

goes all the way from
his gargantuan size

down to like 120, 130 pounds.

He spends a month in
the hospital and survives

and then has to
make his comeback.

What people don’t
know about him,

he’s a very sharp man.

I think people
would not know that.

He’s torn with, you
know, his intellectual side

and his man, mountain,
brutish side his whole life.

But in 2005,

one of his daughters talks
him into writing about his life.

And that is where I saw...

I’ve... I’ve seen
some of that writing,

which is just spectacular.

It draws on his days
as a union worker,

the "American Gladiators," his
perceived betrayal from Johnny.

It’s unvarnished.

I think Dann Carr is one of
the best writers I have ever read.

This is a fascinating thing.

Do you have that writing?

Yeah. Sure.

Would you be able
to share that with us?

Got it in my car. I brought
it in case you might want it.

Yes. Yeah. Wow.

Storytelling in all its forms

and throughout history
has been used as a means

for sharing the
human experience.

You’re thinking more?

But the same story can be
told in many different ways.

In lieu of having access
to Dann Carr himself,

the production just
discovered the next best thing...

...Dann’s own words.


"The hand that rings
the bell on my door

is connected to the arm
that connects the shoulder,

that holds the neck,
that carries the jaw

that I intend to break."

"When I open the
door, I’m not surprised

because it’s just
who I knew it was...

Elvis Presley.

Well, not the king himself.

This particular
imitator is John Ferraro,

my so-called friend and partner
in the "American Gladiators,"

the reality TV show.

But the only reality
for me at this moment

was the onslaught of
anger rushing over me."

"Back in the early ’70s,

during John’s Elvis days
at Anthony’s Lounge,

I protected him from
many a would-be assailant."

"This was the beginning
of our relationship...

me as a protector
to John Ferraro.

But the mouse is supposed
to extract the painful thorn

from its protector’s
paw at a later date.

John, the ungrateful
mouse, would actually end up

becoming a major
source of pain for me."

"Only the winners in
war are allowed the luxury

of writing the official

The losers won’t find
their accounts of action

on any bestseller list.

I look forward to presenting
the "Gladiator" story

with John not being
able to distort the facts."

What time is it? Oh,
we should probably go.

Let’s go, man, let’s go!

Come on!

Come on! Let’s go! Let’s go!

Guys, it’s not
gonna happen today.

But let me tell you something.

It’s like I said, sometimes
you have failures.

I always fail forward
because failure is never final

unless you let it
be in your mind.

It’s always a motive
to move forward.

So when I fail and I fail plenty
of times doing these feats,

I think, "Okay, moving on."

Doesn’t change my character.

So when you fail,
you’ve got to stay positive.

You’ve got to stay positive.

Just press the
spacebar. You got it.

Press play? This one?

Yeah. Go ahead.

Where did you find this?

Where did you find this?

Coming to the ring,
weighing 235 pounds,

from Hollywood...

Where did you find that?

The Internet.


And what name did
you go by wrestling?

Malibu. Yeah. I just
used my Malibu name.

I mean, people knew
who I was already,

so I had a built-in
audience that was gonna,

you know, follow me
and recognize me.

And so I just kind of
went in that direction.

That was my very first match.

I had just three matches
of working a small circuit,

and that was it.

I got to be honest with you,

moving forward from the
"American Gladiators," it hurt.

So I just started trying
to do anything I could.

Your swords match your manhood.

And all of a sudden, my
career was just taking off.

I started doing "B"
films and commercials,

then I booked this great job
with "Married... with Children."

So things... Yeah, we were
just looking really, really good.

And about that
time I got married,

so my life took on
another dynamic,

and my wife and I had a
baby and it was pretty amazing.

Starting a family.

Finally I was home.


Welcome to my childhood home.

Mom, this is Ben.
Ben’s the director.

He’s taking pictures of me?

Yeah. You’re on camera.

Sit down.

Well, you look pretty
good. You look pretty good.

You look pretty
good. You feel okay?

I feel good, honey.
I feel good. Alright.

So you got those earrings on.

I see you got the
earrings on. Yeah.

So you’ve been out doing
anything with them all?

Johnny was my joy.

He was born in
platinum blond, curly hair.

Well, I thought my
son was beautiful.

So naturally I dressed him up,

and I entered him
in a beauty contest.

He’s got a little crown on him.

He’s standing on a chair
with a little cape on him.

And sure enough, he won.

And he was always smiling.

He was always
a happy little boy,

always smiling,
always from little.

Yeah. So my my dad passed
away in October 15, 2005.

And so we got this for
my mom. She had it made.

And this way, she always feels

like my dad’s
always here with her.

You were so easy
to make friends with.


My husband was that way,
and he raised the kids that way.

You want to have friends?

Don’t ever say anything
bad about your friend.

You know, Johnny
never did anything wrong.


Thank God he turned out good.

What’s something about Johnny

that we wouldn’t know?

You know, I
always felt in my life,

it goes in three ways.

You like me, you
hate me, you love me.

You like me because
I’m a likable guy, I think.

You end up hating me because
you don’t understand me.

And once you understand
me, then you go,

"He’s really not that bad. I
really love him," you know?

So that’s kind of how my life...

I feel people...
how they look at me.

My question would be,

what phase do you
think we’re at now?

You and I?

This movie and...

-Well, Ben, you know,
this is your vision.

This is what you
have in your head.

So right now, does my vision

like you, hate you, or love you?

It’s not over. But
you know what?

My life is in your
hands. Here I am.

And it’s pretty much I’m
pouring out everything to you.

You do what you need to do.

I’m gonna do what I need to do.


"The games we played
at our summer picnics

were substitutes for
the excessive buildup

of testosterone
mixed with the alcohol

that led to sporadic
fights and disruptions."

"This took place over
12 years until 1982,

when I pursued a thought
that I could do more with it."

"I spent weeks
hammering out the details.

I wanted to glorify the athletic
abilities of the working man

as opposed to the
professional athletes,

and gave the name
of the first show

’The American
Gladiator Olympics.’

But my financial resources
were limited, and I felt the need

to recruit a backer to
help in this area of concern.

This is where John
Ferraro came to mind."

"John had married the
daughter of a millionaire

and really enjoyed
showing the money off."

"The first ’American
Gladiator’ event was a success.

And my efforts as the
creator, promoter, producer

and show’s emcee

gave me the belief that
I could do more with it.

A friend of John’s told us I
had a hot property on my hands

and it would be
wise to get legal work

started as soon as possible

before someone
steals the concept.

John gave me that half grin

that carried over from
his Elvis impersonations.

But his eyes never smiled.

He said he’d put his
lawyers on it right away."

"John sent back paperwork
that read ’American Gladiators,

written by John
Ferraro and Dann Carr.’

That didn’t look right, but
John said it was necessary

for when he was knocking
on doors in Hollywood.

Months went by, no word.

After five years,

I got a call about an
article in the newspaper

concerning a new show with
the name ’American Gladiators’

attached to it.

There it was.

I remember the first
time I’d seen it in print...

’John Ferraro, creator.’

It jumped off the page like
a 500-pound gorilla’s hand

squeezing the life out
of a hopeless intruder.

I called John for
an explanation."

So, Mr. Horton, what
are you gonna do now

that you’ve left

the "American
Gladiator" show behind?

It’s a personal question.

No personal questions on TV.

What do you say
to your fans that say

you’re just running
away from "Gladiators"?

There is no escape.

After "Gladiators,"
I didn’t want

anything else to do
with television business.

I didn’t even want to
hear it. I didn’t answer.

I didn’t want to talk to
anybody about "Gladiator" stuff.

Because it would
rehash some stuff

that I can barely
stand about me.

But the Gemini
character still lived on,

and it seemed like more
people knew me then

than when I was doing the show.

I mean, I got woke
up on airplanes

and everywhere I went,
"Oh, no, no. That’s Gemini."

10 times, 15 times
a day, all the time.

And I had times with my kids

when someone would
ask for an autograph.

They would say, "Come
on, Dad, come on."

They couldn’t even
tolerate it anymore.


As much as I tried to beat
it away, I couldn’t escape it.

After the show got canceled,

I wanted to be the next
Arnold Schwarzenegger,

Sylvester Stallone.

So I was doing stuff.

I was trying to go.

Hey, buddy. How’d your lunch go?

You remember the
TV show "Entourage"?

David Schwimmer,
my favorite friend.

Wow. This is a first.

They would do all of this wooing

of actors at the big table,

and they would have
all these people around.

That was me. And I
sat at the head table.

They sent me a project.

And in that project, it was a...

They called it an
urban action movie.

My character’s doing a drug deal

at a McDonald’s.

The drug deal goes bad.

We struggle over the
gun, the gun goes off,

kills the baby in the carseat.

I steal the car and
they find the car later

stripped with radio
and wheels gone

and the baby
still in the carseat

with shoes stolen
off the baby’s feet.

And I said, "No, man. No.

This is not what I
want to do," you know.

You know, said, "Give
me another script.

Let’s read that
one." And they said,

"You’re free to find
different representation."

I saw firsthand
how they work it,

how they make you
compromise your soul.

So I left Hollywood.

But I didn’t know
what I was gonna do.

How’s it going?
I’m Ben. Hi, Dale.

How you doing?
Good. Nice to meet you.

Same here. I got my slippers on.

But you ready
to come on in or...

Sure. Alright.

Oh. I was just figuring we’d
talk off camera first, but...

So what I have going on
on this TV here right here is...

And I’ll give the
flash drive for you.

So it’s just some
rotating photos of Dann,

and some things are happening.

I put captions in,
and the captions show

Dann and Donny back in the day.

He always calls us the
real American Gladiators.

Of course, we... we admire
him, and he admires us.

It’s really neat.

Of course, the Native
American background.

We’re proud of our mother
being Native American,

and he’s taken that path.

So you are Dann Carr’s...

Half brother. We
have the same mother.

Does Dann know that
we’re here talking with you?

Yes. Yeah, I told him.

I told him, "Hey, they’re
coming," just to let him know.

But that’s about it.

What does he think about that?

Oh, he’s excited.

Yeah. This is Ice.

If you ever see the show... Ice.

And I have a whole
duffel bag full of these.

These are the gloves
that they would wear.

And what’s the
tree? Well, okay, so...

So I usually put
different things on

for different occasions.

"American Gladiators,"
one of the original shirts.

Show started in Erie.

Talk about the local
athletes, anniversary show,

article there on Dann.

What about Dann and
Johnny’s relationship?

What can you tell us about that?

Oh, it’s a great...
A matter of fact,

I wasn’t sure if Johnny
was gonna be here coming

because I wanted
to thank him also

because a lot of
this is going on.

So a matter of fact...

We heard that the relationship
throughout the years

has been kind of up
and down, touch and go.

I can feel it... As
far as John goes...

I knew John before Dann did.

We were in a band together.

The gladiator name came
from Donny and Danny

were gonna be...
go to wrestling school

and be in WWF and they
were gonna be a tag team.

They were gonna call themselves
the American Gladiators.

That’s where the
name comes from.

Let me just say, I think
it’s a great partnership

that Dann and John had,
and I’ll be honest about it.

No, no, you can’t...

You can’t replace...
You can’t replace Dann.

You can’t change the fact

that he is the one that
created "American Glad..."

The whole idea was his.

John came later.

Do you have a
relationship with John

or talk to him?
No. No, I haven’t.

And to be honest, if I did,

I would not be
prying into or asking.

"Well, how much did
you make out of this?"

And I don’t ask my
brother that either.

You know what I
mean? But what I do say

is that I hope I’ve showed...

try to do everything possible

to make your...
this documentary.

I’ll say not yours, but ours,

because really, we
have an interest in it.

And you have an interest in it.

Thank you very much
for showing us around.

This was a great presentation,

and I hope to be in touch soon.

Appreciate and thank
very much for doing this.

And we do appreciate it

and being on the
positive side about it.

Absolutely, positive
side. Thanks.


Despite Dale’s positive
and outgoing disposition,

the crew leaves with more
questions than answers.

Questions like, "Why did
Dale and his brother Ricky

have such conflicting versions
of Johnny and Dann’s history?

And who was this mysterious
Donny that they mentioned?"

Donny. Donny. Donny.

Dann and Donny back in the day.

Donny Plonski...

allegedly Dann’s best friend,

protégé and tag
team wrestling partner

and someone the
crew needs to talk to.

Beautiful flowers.

Hello. Hi. We’re
looking for Donny.

Come on in. Thank you.

You Ben? Yes.

Nice to meet you. How you doing?

Donny interview. Take
one. Soft sticks, mark.

Has the true story of
"American Gladiators"

ever been told?

Not that I know of, no.

How it originated from
a little town like Erie

all the way to California.

I don’t... I never heard it.

I waited 39 years
to talk about this.

You know, 39 years.

And there’s a lot of
unanswered questions

that I’d like to have
answered for me.

What happened along the road?

Okay. My name is Donny Plonski.

My nickname was Sledge Hammer,

and I was an original
American Gladiator.

We’ve interviewed
Johnny many times.

In one of his
interviews, I asked him

where the "American
Gladiator" name came from,

and Johnny said, "I’m
not gonna answer that."

Why would he do that?

’Cause that was Dann
and I that created it

at the gym...
Firehouse in Erie, P.A.

You and Dann Carr

came up with the name
"American Gladiators."


I can say I was a co-creator.

I mean, it was just me
and him in that gym.

He knows it. I know it.

We spent many hours
talking about this show.

When he met me, he
thought I was his clone.

I had a 50-inch
chest at 19 years old.

Because I was a legend. I
was a good athlete and crazy.

I used to stand outside
of bars underage

and guys would come
out of the bar and I’d go,

"Hey, what’s up?
What do you want?

You want to fight?"
Like, "Yeah, I’ll fight."

I mean, apples for
apples, we were the same.

Dann and I ended up
going over everything

and getting all the
games together.

And then he says, "We’re
gonna do a show in Erie."

He goes, "You’re gonna compete."

He goes, "You’re gonna be
the original American Gladiator

that I pick to compete
against everybody."

He said, "You are the one
and only that I would use."

A lot of my posters that
I signed and he signed,

he would point to Donny
"Sledge Hammer" co-creator,

"American Gladiators."

John came to the
show after the fact of us

putting the show together.

You know, now I knew he
was gonna be a deejay there.

And then the next thing I
know, then he’s in with us.

Dann was good friends with
John, and they’re working it out.

And I’m like, "Fine." And then
all of a sudden, Dann’s like,

"We’re gonna be
going to Hollywood."

Dann brought the contract to me.

It said on there we’re gonna
get so much of every million

and we were gonna have a
part in all the "Gladiator" show.

I signed it, he signed it,

put it in a manila envelope
and shipped it out there.

We’re in.

We had it all over Erie news,
and everybody was all excited.

I’m like, "Well, I’m young
and I’m gonna be a millionaire.

We did it. Two guys from
Erie, PA, construction workers,

you know, thugs, street
walkers, fighters, bikers.

We made it big."

You know, and years went by,

and then nothing
ever came about.

But I just kept asking Dann,
I mean, "What’s going on?

Are we getting paid for this?

Are we getting our money
that we are entitled to?"

And he goes, "I’m working
on it. I’m working on it."

Universal Studios, Hollywood.

"When the first
show was televised

after much anticipation,

I could see very clearly

that my name was
missing on the credits."

"My phone rang off the hook.

Seems I wasn’t the only
person upset over this.

But the figures John threw
around were mind-boggling.

That was part of the
dream that me and Janet

clung to like a life raft

waiting to be rescued
from mediocrity.

The show’s ratings
were skyrocketing.

What fun it was gonna
be getting Jan a new car,

letting the kids trip
out at Toys "R" Us,

a vacation to Vegas
for Mom and Dad.

Finally the big day arrives

when my first royalty
check comes in the mail.

I stare blankly at the
number in front of me,

$150 and no cents.

When I call John, he deflects.

He explains that he
went to the mat for me

and was able to get
me a co-creator credit.

However, he says, ’Hold tight’

because it’ll now be the
second or third season

before any real money rolls in.

On top of everything,

Jan announced to me
one day, ’We need to talk.’"

You know, people just...
They kind of fade out

and then blow away,
as they say in the song.

But "American Gladiators"
is not a "used to be."

"Used to bes" don’t count.

And all I could say is someday
it’s gonna happen again.

He talks about it constantly.

He goes, "Are you kidding me?

Do you know how
big this could be?"

And he still has these
illusions of this being,

like, the biggest thing
out on television again.

But I think if he didn’t
have that in his life,

I honestly don’t know
what he would do.

I want to get the show
back on the air again.

I want a professional
rugby league.

I want to do the animation,

pet supplies and
Gladiator munchies,

biscuits for dogs and stuff.

You know, it’s a brand.

I think you can easily
become fixated on something

that you have created

and that is the only
thing you’ve created.

But he has to move on.

I won’t do anything
else but "Gladiators."

And this started as a movie.

Until there’s a movie,
I’m gonna feel like I failed.

So before I die, there
has to be that movie.

Hey, I’m Peter Iliff.

I’m a screenwriter of "Point
Break" and "Varsity Blues."

And in 2009, Johnny
Ferraro approached me

to write the movie
"American Gladiators."

The idea is a fun
one because we loved

a film called "Galaxy Quest."

These were out-of-work
actors from a hit series,

and suddenly they’re thrust into

a real "Star Trek"
Enterprise in outer space.

And they have to become
the best version of themselves

to save the day.

So we took that idea
with our gladiators.

The feature for
"American Gladiators"

follows a bunch
of former gladiators

whose series just got canceled.

They’re kind of down
and out. They’re losers.

And in the real world, they’ve
got to rise up and be bad ass.

Do they save the world?

They save a kid.

And we had a character,
the Shark, and his line was,

"You’re gonna
need a bigger boat."

Sounds like good stuff.

I’m so curious to ask you this.

Do you feel like the concept

of who’s the hero,
who’s the villain,

has it changed? The
concept of heroes

really has evolved
from classic literature.

You can look at a film I
wrote called "Point Break."

I mean, the character Johnny
Utah, played by Keanu Reeves,

and Bohdi, played
by Patrick Swayze,

they’re the same guy,

but they’re on opposite
sides of a badge.

Certainly in real life,

the line between heroes
and villains can be very vague.

Heroes and villains switch
all the time in good films.

It’s a matter of the
dawning of a realization.

There is a raw deal that
made the villain this way,

and it breaks our
heart, hopefully.

And the more it
breaks our heart,

the more interesting
that villain is.

It’s like wrestling.

There’s good guys
and there’s bad guys.

There’s cowboys and Indians.

You know, there’s
a God and the devil.

It’s just how they’re perceived.

"I remembered Christmas

taking a trip to Toys "R" Us.

There was an "American
Gladiator" game from Nintendo

and an "American Gladiator"
CD in the music section.

I even thought
about stealing them

and letting myself get caught

just to embarrass
the show and John.

It would have made
’Inside Edition’ for sure.

This was always
John’s biggest concern,

that I’d do something that would
put public shame on the show

and somehow hurt the ratings.

There was a big write-up
in the Las Vegas paper

about the new show
that was coming nightly

to the Vegas Strip.

John was operating out of a
suite in the Imperial Palace.

Maybe it just slipped
John’s mind to let me know

anything about this.

Logic jumps in and tells me
he doesn’t want me to know."

"One night I stopped at Taco
Bell at 1:00 in the morning.

My daughter, Fawnfeather,
worked there at nights.

She smiled when
she looked at me,

but her eyes were
dark and tired.

I detested myself for
putting her in that situation.

I failed in the
most important task

a man could assign himself...

to raise his own family.

I had enough."

"I gave away everything I had,
left town with one duffel bag.

When I got to Vegas,
I went to the buffet

to give myself a last
meal, but I couldn’t eat."

"I went to a bank of phones

and called John in
the suite upstairs.

He asked me where I am
and I tell him I’m in the lobby.

He told me he’d be right down.

I planned on snapping his
neck with my bare hands.

I had a plastic
gun in my pocket,

and I was gonna
pull it on the cops

and force them to take me out."

"John’s life of deceit was
about to come to an end."

"John must have
tuned in to his ESP

because it was like he
sensed that this time,

I wasn’t walking away
and neither was he.

The first thing out
of his mouth was,

’It’s good to see you.

I need your help
around here, partner.’

This was quickly followed
up with an offer for a free room

to stay in at the hotel
and 500 cash to help out,

he says.

He also tells me I’ll be in
charge of special promotions

and working with the
gladiators and contenders

in all areas of training."

"I was derailed from
my deadly mission

by a high-powered stun gun.

Stunned into
submission with tangible

and believable proof
right before me."

All I can say is
I’m still amazed

at what he pulled off that day.

The next stop...

the ’American Gladiator’
dinner show in Orlando."

Hi, I’m Peter Bloustein,

producer of the "American
Gladiators, Orlando Live."

We’re located in front
of the Gladiator arena,

which has now turned
into a rock church.

-What is a rock church?
-I have no idea.

I don’t know whether
as a Jew, I’m allowed in.

When Johnny first came
to me, I was a little cautious

simply because the
"American Gladiators"

had been off
television for a while.

But Johnny is a
very exciting guy,

and he just gets the
verve going in you.

And so I said,
"Alright, I’ll produce it."

My idea was to have
my television stars

go to a city where there was
only a whale and a mouse.

We were the only
live stars in Orlando.

The Bloody Chicken was
the nickname for the show

because it was a dinner
theater, musical version

of "American Gladiators."

The arena sat 1,600 people,

and while the gladiators
were performing,

they were served a hot
meal and they’re seeing

their favorite television
stars 10 feet from them.

They had dancers,
and they had aliens.

And it was just
an incredible show.

In the halftime
show, they had a thing

where an alien would
come down on a spaceship.

And he comes out and
he’s got this alien head.

He’s doing this
stupid little dance.

I mean, I actually played
the alien a couple times, man.

It was really weird.

Somebody unwrap me.

And all of a sudden
he pulls off the head,

reveal he’s a gladiator.

And I was like,
"Nice. Wow. Exciting."

It was just...

It was a very strange show.

Don’t forget...

The Gladiator breakfast
buffet every morning,

7:00 a.m. to 11:00.

The Gladiators will be
there. You should be, too.

One of the performers
of the dinner theater show

was a young and powerful
woman named Shannon Hall.

She’s Dallas!

After Ben reached out to
Shannon for an interview,

this was Johnny’s response.

Dallas take one, mark.

Ben suspected there was
more behind Johnny’s response.

-Hi. How are you?
-Good. How are you?

It turns out Dallas
was much closer

to the original
Gladiators than he let on.

And these are
my girls right here.

So this is when I first
started "Gladiators."

1993, I guess.

But her relevance to
"American Gladiators"

didn’t just end there.

Florida’s my home
and my spirit family

and all my tribe is here.

Fantastic. Who is that tribe?

Well, of course, a lot
of part of the Gladiators.

You know, my friends
Shirley, that’s Sky,

and Dann Carr.

What Ben finds next

is his closest link
yet to Dann Carr.

Not many people know Dann Carr.

Dann Carr is very guarded.

He is very in the shadows.

So I didn’t meet Dann
until I moved to Florida.

Dann Carr was in charge
of getting everybody

ready for battle, and
Dann is an ass kicker.

You do not want to
piss off Dann Carr.

But inside of this giant monster

is one of the most beautiful
hearts in anyone I’ve ever seen.

Like, when I came
in to the dinner show,

I was a lost cause.

I was wild and didn’t
really have a family.

But he has been more family,
more father, more friends,

more respectful
and honorable to me

than anybody else in my life.

And what I’ve seen him
do, helping other people,

I would not be who I am
without Dann’s influence,

without his love.

Dann Carr is the actual
American Gladiator

and what every
Gladiator wants to be.

So he needs to be
able to tell his story.

And I say uncensored by Johnny
because Johnny’s half lawyer.

He’s like, "I don’t have
to involve you in this."

And he doesn’t. He
doesn’t... legal-wise.

Friend-wise, he does.

They are like brothers,
and there’s that tug-of-war

with, "I did it. No, I did it."

But during the dinner show,

we were all having
such a good time.

"I finally felt

like I was a presence in
the show I had created.

This was the happiest
I’ve been in over five years."

I always, always enjoy
working with Dann.

I’d go down and
visit him every day.

He was way
downstairs in the arena.

I was upstairs in it, you know.

But we go down and
we talk and, you know.

We were friends for 40 years.

I mean, that’s like... We’re
not like this, you know?

"I was making a
salary, but the issue

with my royalty checks
was still a sore spot.

Now that the TV show
concluded its last season,

there’s no excuses now.

Where’s my money?

I hadn’t seen John
around for a few days,

so I asked Peter, our
producer, where he was."

We ran short of
money and I think he felt

so bad about it that he
didn’t want to be there.

"Bad business dealings

had caught up with him.

Most of the crew worked
several weeks with no pay

and some even longer.

Then one day we came to
work and the doors were closed.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Elvis has left the building."

This was my baby, and I went
bankrupt supporting my baby.

And now my actual babies
need money, and I don’t have it.

So it’s a... It’s
difficult being back

because you really
don’t remember.

All you remember is how happy
you were here doing the show.

And so all you can think
of now is how sad I am.

Johnny’s brain is different.

I think he’s in this other world
where he does shit wrong.

He doesn’t really know he’s
done the wrong by people.

I really do believe that.

"I called John several times

but couldn’t get through."

"Later, he sends me
a letter from his lawyer

saying that he owes me nothing.

He says that we
were never partners

in ’American Gladiators.’

The reason that I know
he’s a liar and a fraud

is from legal
documents left from me

from one of his secretaries.

The most damning is the
copyright he signed that proves

he intended to rip this off
from the very beginning.

And he claims to
be the sole originator

of the ’American Gladiators.’"

"Do you think that the people
of the first nation on this land

would have succumbed so easily

if the alien explorers announced
their ultimate intentions?

No. A wall of lies is
built one brick at a time."

At this point in the book,

the "American
Gladiators" chapter ends.

And with it our unedited glimpse

into Dann Carr’s
version of the events.

And cut.


Ladies and gentlemen,
that is a wrap on Dann Carr.

After the dinner theater show,

I definitely missed doing
the "American Gladiators."

But seven years
into my marriage,

my wife and I were training
to go back into the WWE.

They actually wanted to
use my wife as a wrestler.

That’s my baby. Come
on. Alright. Nice job, huh?

Life doesn’t stop after
you become a mom.

I mean, I love my kids and I
would do anything for them.

But I’m Drzan as well as Mommy.

If she can handle the training,

which is gonna be very tough,

we’re gonna go places.

I pay him to say those
things. My personal manager.

The next thing I know,

I happen to be away
doing a ministry.

And she decided
that while I was gone,

she was gonna get liposuction
to get rid of the last 15 pounds

that she didn’t
need to get rid of.

A blood clot broke
off from her thigh

and traveled up into her
system and went into her lungs.

And then she just had a major
catastrophic event and died

on her kitchen floor.

It was awful. Awful.


Because I still have my
daughters to take care of,

I went back to work.

I was hired on as a stunt man.

Once again, straightaway.

It was just kind of
one thing after another.


...my hip was crushed so badly.

I mean, I was on
crutches for a year, in tears

because I was in so much pain.

When I went into the orthopedic
surgeon’s office, he said,

"You need to try this drug
and it’s gonna help your pain."

And I just think I was in
such a place in my life,

I’d just given up.

And so I took the OxyContin,

and I became
horribly addicted to it.

Over the next several
years of my life,

I’d drown myself in drugs.


I found a doctor that was
an "American Gladiator" fan.

And so he was
giving me more drugs

than anybody should
have ever gotten.

And I was taking them and
running out every month.

I found myself in my
living room one time,

getting on my
knees and telling God

that he could take
me if he wanted to.

And the only reason
why I didn’t kill myself

is because I still
had my daughters.

We were driving one time
for me to get my medication,

and I was going
through withdrawals,

throwing up in a bag with
my daughter sitting next to me.

I started feeling
like I was worthless,

like I didn’t feel like
anybody loved me.

And I was just so
broken and so alone

that I made a decision to
try and get myself clean...

and hopefully find love again.

Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq.

Who will become the
next American Idol?

Shuttle Columbia blew apart
with seven astronauts aboard.

It was a part of my life
where not much was going on.

Without a TV show, I was lost.

George Bush has won reelection.


The Enron trial continues today.

It was pretty tough, you
know, night after night,

day after day, month
after month, year after year.

Finally, it’s 2007.

And I’m working every day...

as a yacht salesman.

And after all these
years of doing this,

just kind of get
a little beat up.

It takes a toll.

And I just stood on the
edge of my bed, you know?

And I just... I was just...
kind of at the end of your rope.

And I had a cross on my wall.

And I said, "God, I’m done.

Just do with me
whatever you want.

I’m just done."

All of a sudden, my phone rings.

I got a call from NBC.

"American Gladiators."

And that’s when
everything changed.

Explosions, hard hits,
crashes into water.

Iconic brand. Everybody
knows what it is.

Now’s the time to
bring the show back

and make it bigger than ever.

God, I remember this
like it was yesterday.

So I’m sitting in his office
and I said, "Why am I here?"

He says, "You’re here
because you have the rights."

So we put together another deal.

Within 10 minutes,
I’m getting 100 calls.

We’re meeting Hulk
Hogan for host. He’s in.


Nothing gets better than this.

I fly out, and you walk in,

you’re like, "Wow,
this is unbelievable."

Swimming pools
and special effects.

They had lighting like
nothing on the planet.

Go big, go big, go big, go big.

No, I remember the call.

I remember the call from
John himself called me and said,

"Hey, we’re bringing
the show back.

Do you want to be part of this?"

And I was like, "100%. 100%."

Didn’t even wait two seconds.

And, wow, that’s...

That’s big.

A mystical breed of warrior

is back and ready for battle.

If you seek victory,

you must conquer them.

Good luck with that.

Oh, my gosh. Oh.

We’re really getting
desperate now.

A lot of hand dancing
going on early.

Oh, my goodness!

So, yeah, I thought
it was terrible.

I watched one
episode of it and I said,

"This is really awful."

It’s kind of like making
the NFL be flag football

when it’s supposed to be tackle.

They took the smash out.

It’s Hellga time.
Viking power. Let’s go.

Then he had, like,
She-Wolf and Bark Boy and...

They looked like
they had rabies.

No disrespect to
the new Gladiators,

I love you, but they
were all forgettable.

Welcome to the new
"American Gladiator."

You’re gonna put a
cartoon character in there

as a announcer with that
voice, it’s not gonna fly.

You were on fire, brother.
12 big points, dude.

They took it as, "Oh,
we’re gonna do WWE."

No, no, it’s about
the games, stupid.


And they violated that.

Hi, my name is John Katz,

and I was the
audience coordinator

on "American
Gladiators’" 2008 reboot.

So my producers told
me that the best way

to keep the audience
captive would be

if we sent some busses and vans
out to Santa Monica Promenade,

gathered up a bunch of
tourists and took them back

to Culver City to film

where they would not
have any way to escape.

And I remember that one
of the audience members

was not happy with this system,

and she protested
by just peeing,

just peeing where
she was seated,

and it went all over the stage.

But at the wrap party, I
ended up getting this hat.

It’s a shame because it was

probably a by-product
of real estate

and when we had come back
for our second cycle so soon,

that the juice wasn’t
worth the squeeze.

Like, why do you think the
show came back in 2008?

Like, why specifically then?

Was there a writers
strike that year?

Next to the Hollywood
writers strike that began today,

the first industry-wide walkout
by TV and movie writers

in almost 20 years.

The writers are up against

some wealthy
media conglomerates.

They will fill the airwaves.

Yes, there was a writers
strike, and they needed property.

So along comes
"American Gladiators"

that filled that niche.

And I’m glad it did.

Wasn’t there also a
writers strike in 1988,

the year the show
first premiered?


For almost five
weeks now, the writers

of television dramas, soaps,
variety and other shows

have been on strike
against producers.

Producers cannot deny the
strike is having a negative impact.

It’s right there on television
for everybody to see.

That is amazing.

I did not know that the
"American Gladiators"

was built on scab-ism.

That is the height of irony.

I mean, you got people
undercutting the unions

based on an idea
that was union-born.

I mean, that’s... that’s...

Do the ironworkers
in Erie, Pennsylvania,

are they aware of this?

I mean, are they, like, a
little cheesed off by that?

When the "Gladiators"
come back on,

I couldn’t watch it.

You know,
everybody’s all excited.

"Gladiators" are back on TV.

I said, "What’s there
to be excited about?

Dann’s not excited.
I’m not excited.

We should be part of that."

Dann was supposed
to be my partner.

He’s always promised me,
"You are the original Gladiator.

You will get whatever I get."

But in a small town,
people talk, you know,

and people are like, "I
think you got sold out."

I’m like, "What you
mean, sold out?"

They go, "Dann got paid."
But he’s always said no.

But he took off to Florida
without me... him and John.

They said, "You stay
up in Erie and wait for us.

When we need you,
we’ll let you know."

And then nothing.

I could have quit crawling
around on the steel,

working on bridges.

You know, living a
good life, you know?

Well, that never happened.

Is it true? Did
they sell me out?

I can accept it.

I mean, if they feel they
didn’t want me there,

and they took it and
ran with it, be a man.

Look me in the eye and
say, "I didn’t want you there,

I took that show
and ran with it."

Who’s telling the truth?

I mean, who’s telling the truth?

Don Plonski

is one of the original
American Gladiators.

Plonski was there from
day one in the late ’80s

with Dann Carr and John Ferraro.

And I was all for it. He goes,

"You’re gonna be the
one that’s gonna do it.

You’re gonna be the
first original Gladiator."

Now it’s in the
national spotlight again.

We, of course, had to come
and we’re happy to be here in Erie

to help tell the real story
of "American Gladiators."

How did you hear about it?

Well, I grew up
watching "American"...

Implementing a new strategy,

Ben takes to the airwaves.

Using the power of
the local news media,

he attempts to signal
to Dann Carr directly.

I hope to make a very
engaging documentary

that tells truth,
giving their truths.

The real story of
"American Gladiators."

Tell something truthful.

The real story of
"American Gladiators."

But will Ben’s dog whistle
reach the ears of Dann Carr?

After the news piece
aired, Johnny reached out,

having received a troubling
phone call from Dann.

Apparently Dann was furious
that Donny had been interviewed

for the documentary and
featured on the news, yet he hadn’t.

Dann demanded
answers from Johnny.

Had Ben’s news
gambit actually paid off?

Tune in to the next
scene to find out.

Well, there was
another individual in Erie

that was Friends with
Dann, and he took it.

You know, I never
got part of that.

I wish I would have.

We’re still trying to
define what the story is

and what it isn’t.

It seems to be growing.

Some people go out, and
they’re remembered for bad things.

As soon as you
say a name, it’s like,

"Oh, that guy’s a creep."

I don’t want to be that guy.

Hopefully my name
is never tarnished.

Great. Nice to see you.

I see you.

Cool. How is everyone feeling?

We got "A" and "B,"

we got Dann Carr here,
so we can’t be too bad.

We got the man.

See? You made me smile.

I was wondering if you
could get me to smile.

Just want to show my teeth once.

I think we can go
ahead and start it up.

Yeah, I’m excited
to talk with you.

Yeah. Because words live.

I can look at you,
look in the camera,

say, "Now the world will know."

Because I read so many things

or not even close
to the... the truth.

And the truth is, I
guess, what you’re after.

And as a native,
we always say that

truth is like an arrow,

and it must penetrate
to be effective.

And sometimes that’s gonna hurt.

Right. Did you ever question

why it took so long for
us to get to this interview?

Absolutely, yes.

It just seemed like nobody
wanted to talk to me.

We wanted to talk
to you much sooner.

But it was... it was Johnny

that was keeping us from
being able to interview you.

Why would Johnny try to keep you

from speaking and
appearing in this documentary?

Well... Well, I guess that’s
something I’ll have to ask him.


Because if you’re
gonna do a documentary

on the "American Gladiators,"

how would you do it
without Apache Dann? Right.

How would you skirt around that?

Well, we talked to
people close to you

in lieu of having you. Really?

And we also found
your book, "Tuf-Luck."

You say you’re
gonna kill Johnny in it.

How do you respond to that?

I actually had a
hunch that some of this

might come back to...

I’m not gonna say haunt
me. It ain’t gonna haunt me.

I just said... That
was what I really feel.

Everything I said
in it, I absolutely...

I will not take back one word.

That’s how I...
Exactly how I felt.

Yeah? And you read, too,

my daughter in high school,

sleep on a couch in a trailer.

We have the most
successful show, right?

And then one day I pull up...

You know, she had a
job, they said, at Taco Bell.

1:00 in the morning,
I pulls in there,

At the window,
there’s my daughter.

It’s my daughter.

I’m the creator of this show

that’s the biggest
hit on the show.

I’m the co-creator, creator,

whatever you want to call it,

but somebody with
my family like that?

You’re right I’ll take you out.

That’s the Apache in me.

We didn’t believe
in an eye for an eye.

10 eyes for an eye.

So yeah, at that time,
that’s exactly how I felt.

I’m a truth teller, you
know what I mean?

And things have changed.

The only thing
constant in life is what?

Change. Mm-hmm.

It’s the only thing that
stays constant in life...

things will change.
Now I don’t feel that way.

And what changed for you?

I refer to the teapot.

That teapot has the hole
in the top for a reason.

Man, if it don’t
blow that steam,

you keep everything
inside for long enough,

that teapot explodes.

I had three strokes
and my daughters,

when they come back in 2008,

my daughters still to
this day relates it to that.

I mean, I did feel when I would
see "Gladiators" mentioned,

you go through pity, anger.

I’ve never watched
an episode after that.

I didn’t want to hear it.
People would bring it up.

I never believed that
anger kills and all that crap.

You know, I guess it does.

So if I didn’t release this
and you seen the vitriol,

the anger that I
had in there, right?

How long was I
supposed to keep that in?

Man, move on, you know?
Let’s deal with life right now.

I don’t know if he wants
me to tell this or not,

but again, there’s
that arrow again.

I’m gonna shoot that
one out there. Please.

So after me and
Johnny parted ways,

there was a 18-year gap
where we didn’t ever talk.

I lost my friend.

I moved on with my life.

But then he called me one
day in 2017, after 18 years.

I didn’t want to hear it.

But after I was
called three times,

I finally agreed to meet him.

And I’m looking at him. I
didn’t ever think he’d ever...

I’d ever see him within
distance of me again

like that, you know?

And he says he
couldn’t sleep at night.

He said he physically
would be thinking

about what was done wrong to me.

So he did apologize.

Handed me a peace pipe.

It was almost, like, surreal.
I was ready to wake up.

And he says, "What do you want?"

"What do you mean,
what do I want?"

"What do you
want?" I looked at him.

I says, "I want you to honor
your original agreement,"

that’s all.

He wrote up an
official agreement,

then we signed it.

I don’t want to reveal
any money details

and all that kind of stuff.

But I’m really happy
with what’s going on now.

I felt when a man apologizes,

I look at a man’s
eyes for a smile.

And I never used
to see that with John.

This time I could see
that smile in his eyes.

He really meant it.
So that... that was it.

That was that... that
release from both of us.

I look at the
"American Gladiators"

as a great eagle that was born,

hatched and nourished
in Erie, Pennsylvania,

and an eagle needs two wings.

And I always looked at me and
John as two wings, you know.

An eagle with a broken
wing will be grounded.

He’s changed. I’ve changed.

And that eagle’s flying again.

Both wings are
flapping good now.

I think maybe the last question.

We spoke with
Donny Plonski in Erie,

and one of his questions
was, "Is there any world

in which you were
a part of keeping him

from the success
of ’Gladiators’?"

Absolutely not.
Donny knows, too,

that I was the one kept out of
the loop for those seven years.

Yeah. If I did,

Donny Plonski would have
been one of the original Gladiators.

Thank you very much, Dann.

Great to meet you.
Nice to meet you, too.

If you have two different
authors telling a story,

some stories are gonna have
a little more smoke and mirrors.

Some is just gonna be
raw, drove hard and deep.

So Johnny’s story,
Dann’s story...

But them together made the show.

If it wasn’t for this, you
wouldn’t have the balls.

The show would have no balls.
Dann is the balls of the show.

If it wasn’t for this,

we wouldn’t have
had "Da da da da."

We wouldn’t have the
majesty of the show.

But the story isn’t over yet.

And the success of the
Gladiators in the future

is dependent upon Dann
and Johnny’s relationship.

If Johnny is doing
right by Dann,

the show will flourish.

If Johnny’s not doing
Dann right, the show will fail.

All this should
be for Dann Carr...

...because everybody
else has had the limelight

except for Dann.

He should have the last word.

But can I say one thing, though?

What happened to
the comfortable chair?

You know, Danny’s
my longest best friend.

He really needed to be
part of this documentary.

There is no way that this could
happen without Dann involved.

And I would honestly,
if it would happen

without Dann, probably
wanting to shoot myself,

you know, it was...

It would be a travesty in
my life that I would regret...

not having him in
this documentary.

You know, it’s just things
like, "Why did I do that?

Why did I do that?"

I’m glad he...
you put him in it.

We ended up where we are.

You know, it is what it is.

I like fairy-tale
endings, you know?

Like, "Wow. The guy
really pulled through.

You know, he really
is okay." You know?

And, uh...

As Danny would
say, in wrestling,

it’s all about the finish.

It’s all about the finish.

♪ I pity the country ♪

♪ I pity the state ♪

♪ And the mind of a man ♪

♪ Who thrives on hate ♪

♪ Deception annoys me ♪

♪ Deception destroys me ♪

♪ The Bill of Rights throws me ♪

♪ In jails they all know me ♪

♪ Frustrated are churchmen ♪

♪ From saving a soul man ♪

♪ The tinker, the tailor ♪

♪ The colonial governor ♪

♪ They pull and they paw me ♪

♪ They’re seeking to draw me ♪

♪ Away from the roundness ♪

♪ Of the light ♪

Johnny’s never
fucked anybody over

more than what he has given them

because we were all
part of something amazing.

He helped all of us
become the people we are.

When my wife passed away,
the pain was so devastating.

I was numb for a long time.

But I knew God
had plans for my life.

I could say I found
someone really special.

Love her. Yeah, she’s awesome.

I’m clean and I’m sober.

This is an awesome
time in my life,

and I want to
make the most of it.

She speaks very,
very little English.

♪ Silly civil servants ♪

♪ They thrive off my body ♪

I came into the arena,
haggard, beaten up, bloody.

Regret is just a...

It’s just a part of life.

♪ Small are the lives ♪

This idea that we would care

for each other
a little bit more,

it’s the ideal American dream.

Oh, that dream was gone.

Why didn’t Dann stick up for
me and say, "What about Donny?"

I was just as big a part
of that show as anybody.

I can say I was a co-creator.

We were like miniature
creators placed in a situation

where we can create
through competition.

"American Gladiators"
showed us who we really are.

When we did the last
interview, it dawned on me

that I’d probably been
holding this negative energy

for too long,

and that was an
opportunity to kind of let it go.

You know, family means life.

It is an element of life
that I hope no one misses.

♪ Police, they arrest me ♪

I was fodder for the
streets or whatever.

I have not been an angel,
but I have been reborn.

Don’t sleep. Da da da da da da.

The scripture says
the spirit of truth

will lead you into truth
into all things. Hallelujah.

I’ve been given
the title, Rebiah.

I teach scripture full time
now. My spirit is at peace.

♪ Government is bumbling ♪

♪ Revolution is rumbling ♪

♪ To be ruled in impunity ♪

I have no animosities right now.

The thing that I want to
come across, number one,

is I’m a warrior.

It’s unbecoming of
war to be a whiner.

♪ And the mind of a man ♪

Well, what do you
want your legacy to be?

♪ That thrives off hate ♪

It won’t have anything to do
with "American Gladiators."

That was a couple
of rounds in my life.

My life had so many
other things in it.

So listen, it’s
about the people.

It’s struggling of the people

that go over the odds, they
make a difference. Yeah.

You know, you got a brand
that’s all over the world,

you know, 100
countries. It’s just massive.

I don’t think there’s
anybody in the world

that knows "Gladiators"
better than I do.

I guarantee it.

Do you know the name Dann Carr?

I do. Who’s Dann Carr?

He started the "Gladiators."

Original American Gladiators.


"Gladiators" started
out as a movie.

And even though there’s
been TV shows and tours,

I got to do the
movie before I die.

You know, I just
have to do that.

I don’t think I
knew that origin.

Do you think that
there’s a world

in which this is the movie
that he’s always wanted?


This could be the movie
that he always wanted,

that he just never envisioned
he wouldn’t be in charge of.

That’s who Johnny
is. He is a grinder.

He is a go-getter.
He is a creator.

When Johnny’s on his
deathbed, he’s gonna go,

"Hey, man, film this

and see if we can’t get
it sold for something."

♪ I pity the country ♪

♪ I pity the state ♪

♪ And the mind of a man ♪

♪ Who thrives on hate ♪

So, you know, hopefully
there’s a great future

for "American
Gladiators" and America.

Is there anything
else you want to share

before we cut and move on?

I’d like to say
thank you, America,

for letting me into your
homes and sharing my story

about my journey with
"American Gladiators."

And I wish you all the best
and have a safe and healthy life.

The success of the
"Gladiators" in the future

is dependent upon Dann
and Johnny’s relationship.

We did a pilot at the
L.A. Equestrian Center

in horse manure. It was
horse manure everywhere.

I stepped out of my trailer and
you stepped in horse manure.

Johnny came in to
my trailer and I thought,

"I’m gonna take my $750
and never see this guy again.

This is some goofy-ass shit."

There’s an
intensity building up,

an excitement in the air.

He’s getting whipped
around there like a rag doll.

The events had not
been thought out.

A lot of this, you’re
scratching your head.

Like, "What?" The
equipment kept breaking down.

They had to set this stuff up.

They were having a hard
time because the horse manure

was everywhere and it was soft.

We did have names, but
they weren’t the names

that we eventually had.

You were Cattulus. Cattulus.

Yeah. Yeah. Cattulus. I don’t
even know what that means.

I remember the day the pilot
was delivered and title came up.

Title looked pretty cool.

And the Gladiators were fine.

But when you got
into the pilot itself,

it was a fairly
rinky-dink affair.

Very depressing day.
Lots of wine that night.

And what channel is this on?

It’s a sports channel.

I mean, this is ESPN, right?

Do they know
they’re getting this?

Their audience is tuning
in looking for sports.

And what are you giving them?

What are you giving
them? What is this?

It’s a... it’s a salacious
journey for the truth.

I can’t help but think

this is a tremendous
mistake by ESPN

to acquire this property.

It has nothing
to do with sports,

and their audience
won’t like it at all.