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TRUE CRIME: Mike Tyson’s UNDISPUTED TRUTH Heads To Broadway
Spike Lee will use opportunity to make his Broadway debut as director.
There’s something that is much more disturbing about the kinder, gentler Mike Tyson that has emerged from the hysteria of his cameo in The Hangover than there ever was about the Mike Tyson that made a Skoal pouch out of Evander Holyfield’s ear and turned pre-fight press conferences into riots. It might be that the Old Mike is still visible under that thick veneer of carefully balanced psychotropics. It’s the same face, half-framed by the same tattoo but now creased by a plastered-on grin and offset by a pair of eyes that are suddenly much wider and glassier than they ever were before.
The turnaround was too abrupt. I think that’s what it was. Tyson’s life thus far has been one long descent, the rate of which has increased with every documented triumph and tragedy. When his daughter died in a freak accident in 2009, three years after Tyson’s final unravelling as a pro boxer and two years after being convicted on cocaine possession charges, it would have been an easy assumption to make that Iron Mike’s own end might not be far away.
Flash forward a couple years, Tyson’s doing a one-man show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, like a mescaline-induced reimagination of Jake LaMotta’s lounge act, only on a scale outsized to scale to suit the man in the spotlight. Mike Tyson. One man show. You know, just like any of us would have probably guessed when he came out of prison in 1995 and knocked Peter McNeeley’s smile through the back of his head.
The appearances got a lot of press, with the reviews ranging from mixed to good. And like anything else good that has ever occurred in Tyson’s life, there was a group of moneymen in place to make sure that this success, too, would be magnified to the maximum possible level. Spike Lee, who has as much experience directing for the stage as I have coordinating satellite launches, will direct the inexperienced Tyson, jumping into a long line of ill-equipped mentors who have taken Tyson’s hand over the years.
Even after all that he’s been through, Tyson still apparently has a way with the press, and the ladies. On Tuesday’s Today Show, Tyson got everybody real comfortable as he discussed his days as a serial solicitor of prostitutes, referring to himself as a “prostitute hunter,” while being backed by a chorus of nervous laughter from the Today talent. Tyson chatting up the ladies of the Today Show or The View or The Talk is every bit as bizarre a scene as Tyson dancing to Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.”
When I was a kid, I had a picture of Iron Mike Tyson on my wall. It was a long time ago, before the tattoo. Before the rape allegations and the conviction. Before all the “pit bull” and other borderline racist animal comparisons were made. When Mike was just a kid fighting his way out of the situation he was born into. It took a long time to manufacture the monster they made of him, and longer to tranquilize him. Now they can wheel him back out into the spotlight again.
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth will be a money-maker, that’s for sure. If there was one thing that Tyson excelled at, apart from rendering opponents unconscious, it was making money for his investors, usually to his own inevitable financial detriment. And these Broadway fans, they’ll go to see almost anything, anyways.
Undisputed Truth is currently set for a limited run at New York’s Longacre Theater.