The Erie-born creator of the “American Gladiators” TV series feels as if he’s been cheated out of credit and royalties he deserves.
The series was resurrected this week by NBC, which needs to fill airtime otherwise devoid of new content because of the Writers Guild strike. The show, which airs Monday nights on WICU-TV (12) in Erie, along with WPXI-TV (11), WJAC-TV (6) and WTOV-TV (9), is hosted by former WWE wrestler Hulk Hogan and boxer Laila Ali.
Danny Carr, 60, created the syndicated “Gladiators” series that ran from 1989 to 1996, but tells the Erie Times-News he won’t watch a minute of the new show. “It’s too painful,” he says.
According to the newspaper, “Gladiators” evolved from a series of “strongman” competitions that Carr staged in Erie at union picnics, beginning in the 1960s.
The first organized show was staged in 1982 at Tech Memorial High School in Erie, and one of the original “Gladiators” was Donny Plonski, a 255-pound construction worker nicknamed “The Sledgehammer” who trained by pulling a sled full of concrete blocks.
Plonski also refuses to watch NBC’s new version of the show, and tells Gerry Weiss of the Times-News it “still hurts” for people not to know that the series “originated from little Erie, Pennsylvania.”