Good article I hadn't seen before:
Andy Roddick: Tennis Phenom's Uneasy Move to Pop Stardom
By Nicholas F. Benton
Andy Roddick is more comfortable as a tennis star than as a pop star. The 20-year-old American professional tennis phenom is on a roll in his sport, despite losing to Britainís Tim Henman in the Legg-Mason Tournament in Washington, D.C., last week. With a new coach and a vastly-improved backhand, the powerful youngster, who tied the record for fastest at 149 miles per hour a couple months ago, is expected to make a major run at his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open later this month.
But Roddick is also launching a second, parallel career as a teen idol, and his competitive temperament doesnít easily conform with that so far, as his reaction to a question at one of his post-game press conferences in Washington, D.C., last week demonstrated.
Early this year, Roddick made headlines when he signed on with the William Morris Agency, the heavyweight Hollywood star-maker outfit that represents and promotes some of the biggest names in the entertainment world. Someone convinced Roddick of his potential for turning heads off the tennis court. Thereís a huge market out there, he was persuaded, among adoring teenage (and older) girls more interested in those pouty lips, those puppy-dog eyes and that tail structure that drives those 140-mile-per-hour serves than in just the serves, themselves.
Without a doubt, the Morris Agency folks are pros at getting the most out of such a market.
Shortly after he signed on with them, Roddick appeared in a multi-page photo spread in Interview magazine, the modestly-edgy New York fashion scene showcase for especially offbeat up-and-coming actors, models and musicians.
It was a study in black-and-white facial close-ups featuring a sullen, unshaven look.
Advancing to the next stage, Roddick was ready for some more popularly-read teen magazines, like Teen Vogue and others. Again, he was there not in the role of tennis star, with Sports Illustrated-style action shots, but as a stud, a hottie, a teen idol posing in the latest fashions like a model.
Behold, it was in the context of this sequence that People magazine publicized the fact that Roddick and teen movie star Mandy Moore (starring in 'How to Deal,' a teen flick currently in theatres) were an ìitem.î How convenient for furthering the Morris Agencyís advancement of Andyís pop star image!
Yes, news and photos in all the gossip and teen magazines about whoís together and whoís not always sell big. Along with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston, Ryan Gosling and Sandra Bullock, now comes Andy Roddick and Mandy Moore, among others.
(The Demi Moore-Ashton Kutcher case bears the strongest resemblance to a career-advancing vehicle. It has been instrumental in lifting Kutcher from ìThat 70s Showî doofus to Hollywood hunk status in all the tabloids).
Poor Andy. Even if his friendship with Mandy Moore did unfold as innocently and genuinely as they both claim, he can't help but worry that skeptics, especially those sports purists who donít readily appreciate his teen idol side, think itís more a career-driven thing.
Comes the Legg-Mason tournament in Washington, D.C., last week, and being peddled all around the Fitzgerald Tennis Center were copies of Deuce magazine, the official magazine of the ATP, the organization of the professional tennis tour. On the cover: Andy Roddick. But not in his role as a tennis great. Rather, beneath a seductive close-up of his face is the headline, "Andy Roddick: American Idol Tops the Charts."
Inside, photographs of a host of other tennis stars appear, all showing them in action on the court. But of seven photos of Roddick inside, all are in the fashion-model mode. The closest thing to tennis comes in a shot of him holding a racket, fully clothed chest deep in a swimming pool.
The accompanying article is all about him and Mandy Moore. Good work, Morris Agency!
But in the press conference after his quarterfinal round victory over Greg Rusedski last Thursday, Roddick revealed that he is still a little uncomfy about this new aspect of his emerging career.
After an array of questions about the match, one reporter asked Roddick, innocently enough, about all the buzz, including in the ubiquitous Deuce magazine, about his relationship with Mandy Moore.
"So how's your marriage going?," Roddick shot back at the reporter. "Are you and your wife getting along OK? How about the kids? Is everything really all right?"
Roddick's sudden, sharp rejoinder unsettled everyone in the room. It was, clearly, an attempt to suggest that the question was out of line, delving, as it were, into his personal life. (Protecting his 'personal life' with Mandy Moore was hardly something Roddick's involvement with the Morris Agency implies he has a claim to care that much about).
Roddick was trying to put the reporter on the defensive, as well as to stifle any further questions on the subject. He succeeded. When the press conference ended moments later, he jumped up, shot his arms over his head let out a loud "Yes!," following by an inaudible comment that heíd made it through another press conference without some particular question (unknown to this reporter) being asked. He then loudly pronounced to a reporter he knew standing near him, in seeming jest, "If you'd asked that question, I'd never call on you again."
Thus, when it came to dealing with questions surrounding his new pop star status, Roddick knew only how to respond in the manner of a tennis star, by drilling the man on the other side of the net (or the microphone) with his best forehand.
Moving on with a career he has every right to, this intelligent and articulate young man, as he reaches his 21st birthday later this month and destined great heights in the ranks of professional tennis, will ease into success by learning that most in the media are, for better or worse, the allies, not the adversaries, of idols.