Last August, while doing an exhibition in which he attempted to drive a golf ball from one side of Niagara Falls to the other, Daly was told that he would need to take a helicopter from the Canadian side to the New York side to do an interview. It was to be a four-minute journey.
He reluctantly agreed.
The pilot told John, Dont worry. Weve never had a problem with this helicopter. It was like telling him that he hadnt missed a 4-footer in a month. The jinx had been set.
What happened next can be seen Wednesday night at 10:30 p.m. ET, when his new reality show, 'The Daly Planet,' debuts on The Golf Channel.
This will be Episode 1 of a scheduled 13. Its a very personal look into a man who has lived a very public life.
Last week, Daly partook in a media tour to promote the show. He did four different talk and sports shows in Los Angeles before taking a red-eye ' on a private jet ' to do three more in New York.
His first stop in L.A. was at the Tribune Studios off of Sunset Boulevard.
Daly arrives there around 8:30 Tuesday morning with his wife, Sherrie, and his 6-year-old son, Austin. About an hour later hes accessed into the building to tape a segment for ESPN Hollywood.
Before he does his promotional interview with host Thea Andrews, he first joins Gene Simmons in an office for another taped segment called Hook-up, in which one celebrity interviews another.
This time, Simmons is the interviewer. Theyve never met before, but Daly does have a guitar signed by the KISS frontman and guitarist Paul Stanley.
The 20-minute session can be described in but one word: surreal.
Topics stray well outside the boundaries of golf and into marriage and sex and all things men and women.
Daly has been married four times; Simmons none. The latter tells the former, Ive been happily unmarried to the same woman for 22 years. Those two decades dont involve monogamy, however, and Simmons tells Daly all of his reasons why.
When Simmons emerges from the room, he provides a classic rock star moment. He sees an attractive public relations woman working with Daly on this trip and says confidently and smarmily, Hello. I like girls.
'I know you do,' she responds. As he walks away, she adds, 'Creepy.'
Daly goes on to do his interview with Andrews and it takes roughly 18 minutes. The questions are mostly relegated to the show. He tells his helicopter story and talks about some of the things that they had to cut out of the show. They also go into his charitable work and who is the best celebrity golfer (former hockey player Dan Quinn, Daly says). Its entertaining and informative (Daly reveals that hes a neat freak). Nothing too edgy.
Thats to come.
After wrapping up the first quarter of his interview set, Daly and company pile into a black, stretch Hummer limousine thats just big enough for all in tow, including luggage and camera equipment.
The company consists of Dalys family and the film crew who has been documenting his life over the last eight months, as well as me.
Its barely past 11 a.m., but this is the only time for lunch. Were pointed to a Mexican restaurant which can accommodate. While eating, Cleveland Browns running back Ruben Droughns stops by to say hi. Daly takes notice of his watch, which has enough bling to make the late Liberace blush.
After an hour of decent and filling dining, we head back to the same studio lot for the next show, Jim Rome is Burning.
This ones got Daly a little nervous. For one, this interview is live. And though hes never met Rome, the gregarious, goateed one has been highly critical of Daly on past shows. But Rome proves all bark in ones absence and no bite in ones presence.
Before the interview, Daly is shuttled up three flights of stairs, which proves to be the most frivolous trip of all time. They want to pretty him up. I dont do make-up, Daly says flatly. And thats that. Back down stairs.
At 1:34, Daly goes live with Rome. The questions barely skim the surface of Dalys storied and notorious past. Instead they mostly focus on his playing career, the show and his generosity off the course. It goes quite well from Dalys standpoint. It even lasts two segments, marking the first time Rome has ever done an extra session with an in-studio guest.
Daly admits, I feel I should have won a lot more than I have Im nowhere near where I should be; as well as, When youve got four kids, you tend to chill out a little. He also says that he broke his right hand last November when his brother slammed it in a door.
The second segment ends and the two shake hands. Rome tells Daly that what he really wants to see is the stuff on the editing room floor.
On his way back to the limo, Daly does a pre-interview with a producer from The Tony Danza Show, which he is slated to do Wednesday in New York. He will also do 'Fox & Friends and Late Night with Conan OBrien, as well as a phone interview with the Dan Patrick Show and a sit-down interview at lunch with a reporter from the New York Times.
It all begins at 8 a.m. ET ' just enough time for him to arrive in N.Y., take a shower and change clothes.
At the present, however, its 2:12 p.m. PT, and Daly still has two more shows to do before flying out.
His next destination is 20th Century Fox Studios for The Best Damn Sports Show Period.
We arrive 40 minutes later and get checked in through security. After a pleasant stay in a waiting room filled with sodas and sweets and fruits and cheeses, and ex-athletes, its time for the show, which is taped live.
At 4:20, Daly is introduced on the show following a Planet promo featuring the helicopter incident. There is a live studio crowd being pumped up by a hyperactive stage manager, who is choreographing their laughter. He's like a bald and bearded Richard Simmons. Its very high energy.
Its also Dalys best performance. He appears laid back and very relaxed. Not that he was uncomfortable or unhappy before, but he definitely enjoys this one more than the previous two.
As if to 1-up Rome, Best Damn keeps Daly on for three segments. In the first one, he sits down with host Chris Rose and show regulars, former basketballer John Salley, former footballer Rodney Peete, and former baseballer Rob Dibble.
They talk more about the show and his career. They also bring up Michelle Wie (Daly thought she would make the cut at the Sony Open) and who his buddies are on tour (he mentions Pat Perez and Jason Gore, among others).
In the second segment, they move to another area of the studio, where Daly analyzes the 6-foot, 11-inch Salleys swing. He does the same for Peete, who was a quarterback, before hitting one himself. His son then takes a club and whacks one into the center of the net. Hyper Boy pumps up the crowd and they go to break.
The third block consists of a Big Break-style challenge in which Daly has 45 seconds to break three panes of glass. If he does, his name will go on their Wall of Flame, which is a reference to the sports-energy drink which sponsors the segment.
At first they give Daly a driver. This will never work, because the panes of glass only stand about 3 feet high. Daly takes a 7-iron instead, and after missing on his first three tries, he break the middle pane on his fourth attempt, the left pane on his fifth, and the right pane on his sixth.
The sixth ball, by the way, breaks the glass but also ricochets off the frame and rockets backwards, just clearing Salleys head by inches.
Hyper Boy pumps up the crowd and they put up Dalys name alongside that of former linebacker Hugh Douglas and basketball bad boy Ron Artest. Some prize.
At 4:57, we finally leave the Fox Studio and head to the Hyatt Hotel for CMI: Chris Myers Interview.
We take the elevator up to room 816, where Myers' crew has everything ready to go. Daly gets micd up and again avoids make-up (You cant make me look pretty, baby, he tells the make-up girl).
They begin the interview at 5:19 and it starts with most of the same questions hes already answered. But then the edge, the one that he had expected with Rome, enters the conversation.
Myers asks him why he hasnt won more, about his past marriages (Daly says this one works because, We love each other a little more than we hate each other), and what advice he would give his youngest son, Little John, 2, if he should ever play professionally (Just dont do what daddy did, Daly says).
The total interview lasts about 25 minutes and is broken into three segments, of which No. 2 cuts the deepest.
It starts innocently enough, with Myers asking about the show. Daly says that there are no skeletons in my closet. And that opens up a big door.
Myers riffles one question after another about Dalys past ' his drinking, his depression, his relationships. Its not done in a rude or ruthless manner; its more of a this-is-what-youve-done-how-do-you-explain-it manner. To his credit, Daly answers them all and never shows any signs of discomfort. He says that the longest he has gone without drinking was from a period in 1992-96. He says that he still drinks beer, but that he avoids hard liquor.
The final segment is much tamer. They talk about what his favorite club is in his bag (Daly says its the L-wedge, not his driver). They also talk about his golfing roots. Daly says that he always wanted to win like Jack (Nicklaus) and play (fast) like Fuzzy (Zoeller) or (Lee) Trevino.' In a word association game, Myers says, Tiger. Daly responds, Will be the greatest. Myers says, Jack Nicklaus. Daly responds, Is still the greatest.
They talk about the future of the game and Daly says that he intends to play golf until Im 6 feet under. And thats that.
Daly and Myers shake hands, no hard feelings.
Its 5:57, roughly 9 hours after the day of questioning and promoting and cramming eight people, luggage and camera equipment into a black, stretch Hummer limousine began.
Daly slides back into the limo and gets ready to head for the airport. Unfortunately, this is where we part ways. Hes headed to Burbank to catch his private jet to N.Y. Im headed to LAX for seat 19A on Delta Song back to Orlando, Fla.
It was good, Daly says of the day. Things went well, I think. He then cracks open a Diet Coke and falls back into his seat.
And with that he's off. Off to do it all again tomorrow. Just another day on John Daly's planet.
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