O'Neal vs. Roethlisberger in reality show

| Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and NBA center Shaquille O'Neal are members of the same mutual admiration society.

O'Neal wanted Roethlisberger to be on his new reality show as much as Roethlisberger wanted to be a part of it.

"Shaq vs." debuts Aug. 18 at 9 p.m. on ABC in an hour-long reality show featuring O'Neal challenging fellow professional athletes in a variety of sports. The premier episode will involve Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl winner, taking on O'Neal in a variety of football skills.

The show will be taped at 6 p.m. Friday at Ambridge High School's Moe Rubenstein Stadium.

Media Rights Capital is producing the show in association with dick clark productions, inc.

"It's hard to argue with the Super Bowl winning quarterback as your first show to launch the series,'' said Will Staeger, senior vice president of programming at dick clark productions. "Ben couldn't have been more interested.''

Over the course of the series, O'Neal will also challenge Olympian and World Champion Michael Phelps in swimming; reigning U.S. Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Serena Williams in tennis; championship fighter Oscar de la Hoya in boxing; two-time National League MVP and St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Albert Pujols in baseball, and two-time Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor in beach volleyball.

Roethlisberger and O'Neal will compete in football skills that include 7-on-7 passing — not that Roethlisberger is worried about the outcome.

"Does Ben feel he needs to train for that, or does he feel he needs to watch some ESPN• I don't think he's overly concerned at this point,'' Staeger said.

The show will also present Roethlisberger in a relaxed setting away from football. Staeger said O'Neal is aware that basketball was Roethlisberger's first love and that topic could be explored on the show.

"Shaq's mentality is he wants to get to know them, not just see them compete,'' Staeger said. "We'll spend time with the kids from Ben's charity, Ronald McDonald House, and tell that story. We'll show some sides to Ben's and Shaq's personality, as well as the city of Pittsburgh.''

Ambridge athletic director Randy Cosgrove, who is also the public address announcer for Steelers games at Heinz Field, said he was approached about hosting the event because of the high school's new stadium.

Gates will open to the public at 5 p.m. Admission is free but no cameras or cell phones will be permitted. Donations will be accepted with some of the funds being used for purchasing state championship rings for the girls' volleyball team that won the PIAA title last year.

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