5 Questions: Fortune Dane
Our Gladiators of the Gridiron week continues here on Bulletproof Action and today I take a look at my personal favorite footballer turned action star, Carl Weathers!
Specifically, I’ll be talking about the ill fated Carl Weathers TV series, known as Fortune Dane. I managed to procure a copy of the pilot episode on VHS, which was released by the fine folks at Vidmark and recently gave it a watch.
You are probably asking, what is Fortune Dane?
Fortune Dane is not a what, it is a who and Carl Weathers IS Fortune Dane. Dane is a former pro football player turned cop, fighting crime in Bay City. But after watching this rare Weathers film, I felt like a cop myself because I was asking so many questions…
1. Why was footage from “Working Out with Weathers” used in the opening credits of Fortune Dane?
The work out opening for a cop show was a little baffling to me. I get that they were trying to show off the amazing condition of the star of the show, but it felt more like the beginning of a “Working Out with Weathers” exercise program than the beginning of a cop show. And the whole shower part? Something for the ladies I guess.
I believe the action in the show really highlighted Weathers’ physical prowess and the whole working out open wasn’t needed. For example, there’s a scene where Fortune does a jumping tackle (and I’m 99% sure it was done by Weathers himself) it is almost like he was flying! Great stuff.
2. I’ve mentioned this before, but how is it that the characters that Carl Weathers portrays have some of the coolest names in history?
Fortune Dane, Jericho “Action” Jackson, Sundog and of course Apollo Creed… Carl Weathers has had some pretty bad ass character names in his illustrious career. But I guess the real question is, is it the name that makes the man or the man that makes the name?
For example, if my name was Fortune Dane would I have suddenly been one of the coolest kids in school?! Highly unlikely.
Meanwhile, if Carl Weathers name was Oswald Dorkson he would still be one of the coolest and smoothest cats on the planet! So I definitely think it is the man who makes the name.
3. How do you establish that the villain of your show is pure evil?
Obviously there are some constraints with how far a villain can go on network television, especially back in the 1980’s. You aren’t going to see your villain killing a senior citizen, kids or dogs on TV. But Fortune Dane wanted to show just how evil Warlock (Sonny Landham) was, so they had him massacre a bunch of people with an uzi, among those people was a little person. I guess if you can’t mow down a senior citizen, a kid or a dog… the next best thing is a little person.
4. Does Sonny Landham only work in projects with Carl Weathers?
I can’t recall ever seeing Sonny Landham in a movie that didn’t have Carl Weathers in it as well. A quick look at Landham’s filmography would say the answer to that question is no (he was also in 48 Hours and Best of the Best II), but Fortune Dane does reunite Landham and Weathers for a third time. The two also worked together in Predator and the fantastic film known as Action Jackson!
5. And speaking of Action Jackson, wouldn’t an Action Jackson series have been the perfect television vehicle for Carl Weathers?
I’m not sure if it was Weathers, his management or a combination of both who seemed bound and determined to make Carl Weathers a big TV star. Fortune Dane was actually the second cop show pilot he had done in a two year span. In 1985 he starred in Braker, along with Joseph Bottoms (nice name!) that was about a veteran cop named Harry Braker (Weathers) being paired with a green cop named Eddie Kelso (Bottoms).
Weathers would eventually find a home on TV, first joining the last season of the Vietnam themed Tour of Duty, then Weathers would go on to star on two seasons of Street Justice before moving over to In the Heat of the Night.
But how did Action Jackson never become a TV series!?! It would have been perfect, especially since the company that put out the movie, Lorimar, was actively in the TV business. That is why the show Perfect Strangers is on the TV at Jackson’s apartment in the film, Lorimar produced Perfect Strangers. Carl Weathers could have done what Chuck Norris did with Walker, Texas Ranger before Chuck Norris could do it. I’m guessing this is an example of timing is everything and if it was just a year or two later, especially with shows getting hot in syndication and more and more basic cable networks looking for original content, the world could have been blessed with an Action Jackson TV show.