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Looking at Pau Gasol's cameo appearances

April 11, 2011 |  5:56 pm

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Making cameo appearances has become so common for Lakers forward Pau Gasol that he has an active IMDB page, treats stints with a ho-hum attitude and is ready to start receiving awards beyond All-Star honors and the Larry O'Brien trophy.

"My movie career is really taking steps forward," Gasol said, jokingly.

That's because Gasol will appear in the season finale of the telenova "Eva Luna" tonight at 8 on Univision, which Gasol says is the highest rated show in Latin America. Gasol appears to have this acting thing down pat, considering he revealed no secrets about the upcoming show, other than saying he's a friend of one of the main characters. But Lakers Coach Phil Jackson will likely have more ammunition to needle Gasol, beyond occasionally questioning his toughness. It certainly wouldn't be the first time after joking that Gasol's hamstring injury last season happened when he was on set of "CSI: Miami" and telling him he should "keep his day job."

With Gasol's contract running through the 2013-14 season and worth up to $64.7 million, depending on NBA salary-cap figures to be determined later this year, that's not a bad gig. But so is appearing in numerous television shows. Below the jump I look into the other appearances Gasol makes.

CSI: Miami

Jackson had good reason to question Gasol's acting abilities in this episode. The same polite demeanor  he displays to teammates during practice and reporters after games is in evidence when he's trying to save a woman's life from a burning car. Either Jackson's Zen philosophies have really touched Gasol into hiding his boiling emotions and handling  pressure, or Gasol really doesn't know how to sound frantic making a 9-1-1 call. Regardless, Gasol's appearance gave everything Jackson needed to tweak Gasol about his prolonged left hamstring injury that made him miss the first 11 games of the 2009-10 season.

Gasol actually "got injured on CSI and he's not telling the truth," Jackson joked. "I actually watched that program just to see if that's what happened. When he dragged that kid out of the car, I'm sure that's where he got his injury."

Playful insults flew with Jackson making fun of Gasol's acting, El Spaniard firing back and questioning Jackson's acting where he didn't say a single word in a T-Mobile commercial, and the media more than willingly played along. Nearly a year removed from that episode, Gasol acknowledged this season that Jackson's tweaking at the time really bothered him.

"He was joking around with it a little too much," Gasol said. "To me, I'm unhappy when I'm not playing and I'm not helping my team. It wasn't a time to joke around with it."

Numb3rs

Spectators crammed the entrance to the gym. Some tried to snap pictures with a camera or cell phone. Others just tried to catch a glimpse.

Whenever Gasol connected on alley-oop lobs from Jordan Farmar, fans let out loud cheers. But this wasn’t at the Staple Center. It was at Cal Tech’s Brown Gymnasium in Pasadena two years ago where they played alongside the Cal Tech men’s basketball team.

“They were all great,” said Han Bin Man, then a senior guard with the Beavers. “Gasol dunks like it’s nothing.”

Gasol, Farmar and members of the Cal Tech men’s basketball team filmed a cameo “Numb3rs,” a CBS drama that entails an FBI agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) and brother and mathematician Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz) solving a wide range of criminal cases in Los Angeles. 

“I want to do as much as I can while I’m home,” Farmar said at the time. “There’s no guarantee how long I’ll be here so for me it’s a matter of enjoying my life and having fun. It’s just another chapter.”

In this episode, Charlie tries to end the losing streak of the Cal Sci men’s basketball team (modeled after Cal Tech’s current 310-game losing streak in conference play that ended this year). After realizing mathematical equations won’t solve the team’s shooting woes (Farmar says in the show the Pi Triangle is “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”), professor Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol) brings in Gasol and Farmar as ringers.

“We kept saying ‘We have to find some way to touch on Cal Tech’s basketball team,’” said co-executive producer Cheryl Heuton, whose show frequently films on campus. “Every year we’re preempted for March Madness, so why not try to tie it in a bit?”

And even though Beavers Coach Oliver Eslinger acknowledged “the storyline feeds the stigma about Cal Tech,” most of his players didn’t want to pass up the chance to appear on TV and meet Gasol and Farmar. Nine of the 17 players on Cal Tech’s roster spent the entire day on set (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) while most squeezed in homework between shots.

“It’s a long time to come back home and then go to Phoenix,” said Gasol, who returned to L.A. the morning after a road game against the Jazz and three days before the NBA All-Star Game. “There were a bunch of things you had to do, but at the same time it’s a good opportunity for us.”

That opportunity entailed Gasol and Farmar both memorizing two lines before playing in a full-court game as Cal Sci players. They found out that brief appearance requires multiple takes from multiple angles.

“I was going to give them notes, but I decided not to because they were a lot better than I thought they would be,” said Judd Hirsch, who plays Alan Eppes, Don’s and Charlie’s father. “They looked eager. I think they came prepared to have what is known as fun.”

Producers and actors alike noticed a fun atmosphere, thanks to a larger presence of 190 members of cast and crew on hand. During a promotion filming, Farmar gave Krumholtz a breezer. In between shots, fans surrounded Gasol and Farmar for autographs and pictures, including Cal Tech junior guard Jie He, who says he snapped between 30 and 40 pictures. Even on their way from lunch at an off-site trailer, Farmar and Gasol were greeted with similar attention. “It’s part of the gig,” Farmer said, matter-of-factly.

“You like to listen to all possibilities and opportunities that might come along,” said Gasol. “Maybe I’ll be in a movie someday.”


NUMB3RS - Jordan Farmar & Pau Gasol by kokobystander

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com


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