CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW "SHE'S THE MAN" INTERVIEW WITH "CHANNING TATUM" - By Tim Nasson, Wild About Movies publisher!
New York City – Channing who? Yes, Channing is his first name, and Tatum is his last. And, no, he is not in any way related to Carol Channing (or Tatum O’Neal). And, Channing Tatum is his birth name, not just some wild name thought up in a duplicitous publicist’s office.
You may not have known his name, but now that you do, it will be hard to forget – the boy’s face and body has graced the pages of virtually every glossy magazine in the world, (Nautica, Aeropostale, Dolce & Gabbana and A&F ad campaigns), and on television in one of Mountain Dew’s most popular commercials, "Drive" – now that he is co-starring with Samuel L. Jackson and Ashanti in "Coach Carter."
It’s quite unusual for male print and television models to make the transition to the big screen, and even more surprising when they can actually, well, um, ‘act.’
Standing at six feet, one inch tall, the (almost) shaved headed, twenty-four year old, with the most well-defined jaw my I have ever seen, greets me with an outstretched hand, clenching mine firmly, staring directly into my eyes. "How are you? Channing Tatum," he says, as polite as he can be, upon entering the suite in which we share a breakfast on a recent Sunday morning at the Drake Hotel, during the hustling and bustling Christmas shopping season in the Big Apple. You see, Channing is not a native New Yorker, nor Los Angelino. He is, what many, including him, would describe as ‘white trash."
"Yeah, I am white trash, by blood," he says, his piercing blue eyes, glowing, trying to convey with his looks and charisma that the trash is long gone. "I was born in Alabama, raised in the summers by my grandparents, Nana and Papa, in Mississippi and then my parents decided to move to Mississippi to be closer to my grandparents. I was definitely an outdoors type of boy, getting into trouble all the time. But my Nana would always say to me, ‘Oh, Channing,’ when she knew I was feeding her a line of bullshit."
And what were those lines of bullshit? Well, for starters, he was not supposed to be playing in the bayous. "There were (and still are) alligators, rattlesnakes, and Jesus knows what else in those swamps," he laughs. "And I was the one who was always spending as much time as I possibly could down by the bayous, against the advice and, dare I say, orders of my Nana."
Channing Tatum has come a long way from the bayous. He might still be weathered and tanned, i.e., beautiful, ‘fuck-me,’ white trash, but the evolutionary process has taken hold. He has, it seems, become more civilized during the plethora ad campaigns in which he has appeared, clothed, (sadly), – in the latest, most popular U.S. fashions, groomed and to die for.
"I love modeling," he chimes, sipping a bottle of Evian, and then picking at a fruit plate, (slices of watermelon, pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, and strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and grapes.)
"But, I ‘loved’ making my first movie. I did an episode of ‘CSI,’ [the original], this season, (September) – I shot it after the movie – but the movie was the fucking bomb. I can see myself, at least part of the time, acting. I love modeling but acting is a great distraction."
As rumors abounded in the late 90s and early 00s, A&F solicited models on the street and didn’t pay them. According to the rumor mill, A&F used their models as slave laborers. The models got free ink and A&F got hot, young, tight-assed boys. "That’s a crock of shit," says Channing, when I ask him how he got involved with A&F. "I have an agent and my agent got me that contract. Contrary to what the urban legend is, A&F pays their models, they are not solicited in malls or in parking lots. They leave that to the government," he chuckles, referring to a scene in "Fahrenheit 9/11," proving he is not a vapid model, cum actor.
"I know that modeling is not going to last forever, so I need to find something else that will keep me busy for the next forty years," he explains, in all sincerity.
"’Coach Carter’ was such a godsend," he says. "I never, in a million years, expected to be cast in an MTV/Paramount collaboration. I mean, they are the partners behind ‘Save The Last Dance’ (which grossed over $100 million US), and that catapulted Julia Stiles to fame."
Is Channing Tatum destined to multiplex, name recognition status? You will be the judge. Do you think he is hot enough to plop $10 down for one hour and forty-five minutes worth of pleasure on the big screen?
If I didn’t think "Coach Carter" was worth the price of admission, I would be the first to omit my praise for the movie in my "Channing Tatum Feature." I mean, it would be that easy. I wouldn’t have to say I liked it, or I hated it.
The truth is, even if one removed Channing Tatum from "Coach Carter," the movie would be a crowd pleaser, unlike anything since "Hoosiers," "Lean On Me," and "Remember The Titans."
He just adds to the fabulosity of the film.