It’s All-Star game day for Major League Baseball, and even though I’m out of love with professional baseball I remain in love with all stars.
It’s exciting to see people who are the best at what they do all together in one place. Are they excited too? Do they geek out over meeting each other? Are they petty? Can all their egos fit in one room?
I try to at least catch the starting lineups for the All-Star game, even if I don’t watch all nine innings. I really enjoy seeing everyone being announced, even the scrubs.
I’m the same way with the National Basketball Association All-Star game. I like the music, the lights, the National Anthem, the weird dances that Shaquille O’Neal has performed in recent years.
(The NFL’s pro bowl seems like an afterthought to me, and the players aren’t really into it, so I’m not either. And college football all-star games — well, a lot of times I’ve never really heard of the players.)
But all-star teams don’t have to be limited to sports:
– USA for Africa
Are you kidding? Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson and a dozen others all in one place to sing “We Are the World?” Lionel Ritchie also played a big part in this song, and although he might not seem like an all-star now, he was at the time. There were some kooky selections, too. Dan Aykroyd? He’s a Blues Brother, but he’s not a popular music all-star.
How did they all get along? What did they talk about? Were they all cool with each other? Did anybody think anybody else was weird?
Of interest: Waylon Jennings apparently got impatient and left.
– The Traveling Wilburys
They get the nod over the Highwaymen just because they seem so much more unlikely to ever get together. The Highwaymen are a smokin’, drinkin’ Mount Rushmore of country musicians — Waylon, Willie, Kris and Cash. But the Traveling Wilburys? Who REALLY thought Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and that guy from the friggin’ Electric Light Orchestra would get together for two whole albums? Awesome! Sadly, many of those musicians have since passed on. Myself, I advocate a super-group merger of those still living — Dylan, Petty, Willie and Kris, plus the Electric Light Orchestra guy, who gets in on the strength of still being alive and his big curly hair, plus let’s throw in Ringo Starr. Poof! They’re the Traveling Highwaymen. May they never be short of doobies.
– All-Star Squadron
I considered the Justice League and the Avengers for this spot. And they’re totally all-stars. Except they’re standing all-stars, together as teams for decades. (Did you catch the one time they got together in that joint effort by DC and Marvel? Geek-tastic!)
But to me, all-stars are a special occasion. And I LOVE the All-Star Squadron.
It’s a group that DC put together back in the mid-80s to, you know… fight Hitler. For the most part it was the B-list heroes (OK, now that I type that, I realize B-list heroes maybe can’t exactly be all-stars. But, trust me, they were more than the sum of their parts! And anyway, B-list comics heroes can be all-stars just like minor league baseball can put together all-star teams) that had been around during comics’ heyday put together for what was then modern times. You had guys like (stop me if you’ve heard of these) Shining Knight, Johnny Quick, Firebrand, Robotman and Liberty Belle fighting alongside slightly better known heroes like Hawkman and the golden age Green Lantern to try to save the world from Hitler. They were your (great) grandpa’s heroes, the pretend Greatest Generation.
– The Scooby Doobies
Oh man, do I love Laff-A-Lympics. Not really for quality scripting because you could count on the Really Rottens to cheat and get caught every, single, episode. But for sheer cartoon star power, it cannot be beat.
Laff-A-Lympics was an Olympics
knockoff -style program featuring the best of the Hanna-Barbara cartoons. The Really Rottens, led by rasafrasin’ Muttley, were the villains and cheaters. The Yogi Yahooeys, led by Yogi Bear, were the talking animals like Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw. And the Scooby Doobies were the crime fighters like Blue Falcon and Dynomutt.
There was so much cartoon firepower in one place, it wasn’t even funny — except that it WAS funny.
– Young Guns
Speaking of the Rat Pack, how about the Brat Pack?
For sheer star power this gets the nod over “The Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo’s Fire,” although now that I’m thinking about it, I could be wrong.
Anyway, Charlie Sheen AND his step-brother Emilio Estevez, plus Lou Diamond Philips and Kiefer Sutherland — plus, in the next movie, Christian Slater. With bullets and horses.
– ABC team, “Battle of the Network Stars,” Season 1, 1976
Battle of the Network Stars was totally one of my favorite television events when I was a kid. It was appointment TV, especially back in ancient times when there was no way to record programs.
The network stars of the show’s title were pitted against each other in a two-hour sequence of physical challenges including swimming, kayaking, volleyball, golf, tennis, bowling (on custom-made outdoor lanes), cycling, 3-on-3 football, the baseball dunk, running, and the obstacle course.
The show was hosted by Howard Cosell, who announced the contests in his dramatic style.
So many great and not-great stars appeared on this program during its decade on television, it’s hard to single out a particular team of all-stars. So I’ve gotta go with the inaugural season, and from there I’ve gotta go with the ABC team, which had Gabe Kaplan as its captain and featured both Lynda Carter and Farrah Fawcett. That’s really enough for me, but luckily they were the champions that year, defeating a Telly Savalas-led CBS team in the tug-of-war.
Other members of the team included Richard Hatch of the original Battlestar Galactica, Ron Howard of Happy Days, Hal Linden of Barney Miller, Penny Marshall of Laverne and Shirley and, I’ll be honest, a couple of people I’ve never heard of. Oh! — and Juan Epstein of the Sweathogs!
– Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
This video game for the Wii system puts together the greatest heroes of the Nintendo and Sega worlds — Mario, the world’s most famous plumber, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Other characters like Luigi, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Tails and Dr. Eggman are also along to compete in events like alpine skiing, ski jumping and speed skating.
It’s a cool game to play, not least because lots of really fun video game characters are all together. Plus you figure there were a lot of trademark hurdles for corporate lawyers to leap to get this game done at all.
* Special new, weird and worth keeping an eye on category:
This is the new group that Mick Jagger is with. The other members include Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, reggae maestro Damian Marley, soul songtress Joss Stone and “Slumdog Millionaire” composer A.R. Rahman.
I’m not sure you’d exactly call this a supergroup, although Dave Stewart and Joss Stone are household-ish names, if not living legends like Sir Mick.
So, that’s interesting. Particularly in the sense that Joss Stone is easier on the eyes than Keith Richards.
“Working with four other vocalists was interesting to me,” Jagger said in an Associated Press interview. “I’ve never actually done it before. Normally, I have to do everything, which I’m quite happy to do. Don’t worry. It was kind of fun because when we had to finish it off, I realized we all had a part to play.”
Where’d they get that name, though?
If they pick a Stones song to perform, I’d recommend “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” It’s structured so lyrics can be traded around, plus there are lots of background doo-doos and “oh mys” for the entire group.
Anyhow, it’s good to know that new all-star groups remain on the horizon. I, for one, welcome them. And if this doesn’t work out, maybe Mick can join the Traveling Highwaymen supergroup that I thought up.
Can you think of any great all-star teams I missed?