ABC Family places ‘Christmas Bounty’ on WWE superstar The Miz

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

When WWE superstar The Miz took his fiancée and her mother to a screening of his upcoming holiday TV movie “Christmas Bounty,” visions of sugar-plums didn’t dance in his head. Rather he hoped his fiancée wouldn’t be dancing sugar-plums on his head.

ABC Family’s original film “Christmas Bounty” stars The Miz as Mikey Muscles. The new movie, a WWE Studios production, is part of ABC Family’s annual Countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas. To be part of that list is a pretty awesome deal during the holiday season.

“Christmas Bounty” (7 p.m. EST Tuesday, Nov. 26, ABC Family) is an action-filled comedy about Tory (the lovely Francia Raisa), a former bounty hunter turned elementary school teacher. Determined to have a normal life with her new fiancé, James (Will Greenburg), Tory would love to keep her bounty hunter past a secret. She reluctantly returns home for Christmas when a past bounty returns for revenge. When James follows her home for the holidays, she struggles to hide her wild family business and Mike (The Miz), the bounty hunter ex-boyfriend she thought she’d left behind.

That’s the storyline.

In the real world (no pun intended), The Miz is engaged to the beautiful Maryse, a former WWE diva. So sitting next to your future wife and her mother while the mistletoe appears on the big screen makes for an interesting moment.

“I was actually curious to see her reaction,” The Miz said. “When we went to the screening of the movie, I took her and her mom. They both loved the movie, and her mom was actually laughing so hard that I almost asked her to leave because I couldn’t hear what the next lines were.

“Maryse as well as her mom thought we did a great job, and I was really happy with that, because anytime your fiancée is watching you kiss another woman, you don’t know how she’s going to react. She knew it was a movie. She was proud of me.”

As much as he enjoyed working with Raisa on “Christmas Bounty,” The Miz would love to do a movie with Maryse.

“She can definitely play a lot of different characters,” The Miz said, “but I think everyone would love to see her as the bad guy’s girlfriend, the French Canadian sexy bombshell.”

The Miz, too, can play different characters. He began his climb to stardom on “MTV’s Real World,” birthing The Miz persona (arrogant, cocky, preppy). He parlayed that character — with some minor adjustments — into a top WWE superstar. He then rode that wave of success into mainstream acting.

The Miz acted as other characters on TV shows “Psych” and “Disney’s Pair of Kings,” and his chops as Jake Carter, the lead character on the WWE Studios movie “The Marine 3: Homefront,” led to another opportunity. WWE is not only in the sports entertainment business but also movie making.

“I was talking to Michael Luisi, the president of WWE Studios, and he said that I did such a great job with ‘The Marine 3: Homefront’ that I really earned the ‘Christmas Bounty’ movie. When he read the script, he knew I was the right person for that role, and he had confidence that I could really do it and knock it out of the park.”

The Miz, real name Mike Mizanin, is Mikey Muscles in “Christmas Bounty.”

“I am a bounty hunter in the movie, and Mikey Muscles is definitely different than any other character I’ve played,” he said. “Mikey Muscles is a Jersey guy. The Miz is from Cleveland, a good ole boy, but there are a couple similarities as well. Still, you’re not going to see Miz from WWE in ‘Christmas Bounty’, which is what I was going for.

“It was kind of like what I did, acting in ‘The Marine 3: Homefront.’ I don’t think anyone sees The Miz in ‘The Marine 3: Homefront.’ They see Jake Carter, the character I played.”

The Miz is his own best critic.

“After watching ‘Christmas Bounty,’ I’m pretty happy with it, and I’m proud to say we did this,” The Miz said. “We did a great job. Gil Junger, the director, really guided me and shaped me, and Francia, the lead actress in the movie, was just incredible to work with. WWE always surrounds me with great talent.”

Like “Extra” co-host Maria Menounos, Francia told Mix she would like to get in the ring.

“Hopefully, she’ll do some things in WWE,” The Miz said. “She really enjoyed that stuff.”

Whether it’s movies or Monday Night Raw, WWE showcases plenty of great talent, and The Miz is an A-list WWE superstar.

In the ring, The Miz won the WWE title in 2010 by cashing in Money in the Bank on Randy Orton. A few months later at WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta, The Miz beat WWE’s top superstar John Cena with a little help from hugely successful movie star and top of the line WWE talent The Rock.

The Miz helped jump start the reality TV craze. He headlined that WrestleMania in Atlanta as WWE champ and won. He’s starring in movies.

“My dream was always to headline WrestleMania,” The Miz said. “To do that in a sold-out Georgia Dome in front of a live audience was absolutely incredible, and it’s very, very hard to top that, but if I was going to try to top that, ‘Christmas Bounty’ is right up there.”

The Miz enjoyed stepping back from sports entertainment and action movies to partake in a holiday comedy, suited for the entire family.

“I loved it,” he said. “This movie actually has it all. It has action, comedy, drama. It’s got romance. It’s not everyday you get to see a WWE superstar involved in a romantic situation, but we developed it, and the movie worked out well.”

•  WWE, MTV, ABC and Fantasy

The Miz, 33, is an accomplished WWE superstar. He is a former WWE champion, two-time Intercontinental champion, two-time U.S. champ, three-time WWE tag team champion (John Morrison, Big Show, John Cena), two-time Slammy Award winner, Money in the Bank winner and WWE Triple Crown winner.

In 2011, “Pro Wrestling Illustrated” ranked him No.1 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500. He was also PWI’s Most Hated Wrestler that same year.

A longtime wrestling fan, his success in reality TV and later WWE provided this new platform for him to entertain the masses.

“I’ve always considered myself a cross-over talent,” The Miz said. “There are very few superstars who have that cross-over appeal, and it’s really been a huge benefit for me, because when I’m doing these movies, it’s not only WWE fans who will be watching, but people who watched ‘The Real World’ are watching it.

“I always prided myself as a person who is well rounded and can do almost anything. Now I have a radio show on Sirius XM. I like to dip my talents into whatever I can get it into.”

Since 2011, The Miz has hosted a fantasy football show, “First & Awesome,” on Sirius XM.

The Miz is a huge fan of NFL Hall of Famer and former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, whom he met (in awe) during the WWE WrestleMania 28 Press Conference in Miami.

Raised in Cleveland, The Miz attended Normandy High School, where he was the captain of the basketball and cross-country teams. He also participated in swimming, student government and was editor of his high school yearbook. Attending Miami University in Ohio, where he was a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity, he studied business at the Richard T. Farmer School of Business.

Even though he grew up admiring Marino, The Miz is a fan of the hometown teams -- Cleveland Cavaliers, Indians and of course the Browns.

What better way to watch football in Cleveland than with a Romanburger from Mr. Hero, 7134 Denison Ave. The Miz worked there as his dad, George, owns the place.

The Miz said: “Making that Mr. Hero sandwich for four years of my life, I’ve become quite an expert and a professional at making it. The Romanburger is a top seller.”

The Romanburger (Two juicy grilled burgers topped with melted Swiss-American cheese, grilled Genoa salami, Italian luncheon loaf, shredded lettuce, tomato, and onion, sprinkled with Mr. Hero’s original blend of Italian oil and spices, and special Mr. Hero mayo on an Italian roll)

http://www.mrhero.com/index.php

The Miz won the first WWE Magazine Fantasy Football League in 2010.

“This year has been one of ‘those’ years,” The Miz said. “I haven’t been making stupid mistakes but just mistakes. Players who are projected to do well, supposed to do well, and then they do nothing and give me a big fat zero, a big goose egg. It’s not like I’m doing the wrong thing. It’s just players who are supposed to do the right thing aren’t doing it. I’m having troubles, but one of the leagues I’m in first place and another one I just got out of the playoffs, and in the other one I’m in the middle of the road. We’ll see in the upcoming weeks if I can make the playoffs in two out of three leagues.”

The Miz’s MVP is Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles.

“Anyone who has [Denver Broncos QB] Peyton Manning definitely has what they need to take it all the way to the top,” said a knowledgeable Miz. “Peyton Manning has been absolutely dominant. Any wide receivers you have from that team [Broncos] are definitely steals.”

After wining the inaugural WWE Magazine Fantasy Football League, The Miz finished runner-up the next two years. This year...

“So I started off really, really good [winning the first one], but now I can’t even make the playoffs,” The Miz noted. “It’s a little disappointing, especially with how great my draft went.”

Who in the WWE locker room is giving The Miz a challenge?

“You know who’s really good at fantasy football? Curtis Axel,” The Miz said. “Curtis Axel knows his stuff, gets it done on the waiver wires and is very smart in all of fantasy football.”

•  Merry ChristMiz?

Best Christmas gift?

“Nothing. If you give me nothing for Christmas, that is the best Christmas gift you can possibly give me. I hate getting gifts. I hate the fact that you can sit there and go, ‘Oh, wow, thank you. That’s amazing,’ and you don’t really like it, but you have to say you that you love it, and then the person asks a hundred times, ‘Do you like it? Do you like it? Do you like it?’ I don’t like that situation. I’d rather not get anything.”

Favorite Christmas food?

“I love sweet potatoes. I love a little turkey, a little ham. I enjoy good stuffing. Right now I’m in the mood for Thanksgiving [Mizfest]. That’s my favorite time of year where you just feast and get fat. Even though I try to stay on a strict diet, I think one day I’m allowed.”

Where will The Miz be spending Christmas?

“I’ll be spending Christmas Eve with Maryse in Montreal where nobody speaks English, which is a lot of fun for me. Then we go to Cleveland to visit my family. So we’ll be doing a little bit of traveling on Christmas Eve and Christmas.”

Second favorite Christmas movie?

“‘Christmas Vacation’ [Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Randy Quaid]. Third would be ‘A Christmas Story.’ I’m hoping like what they do with ‘A Christmas Story’ on TBS 24 hours a day, they do the same with ‘Christmas Bounty’ on ABC Family.”

Would you rather have mom, dad, stepdad sitting ringside watching you wrestle or sitting at home watching “Christmas Bounty” on TV?

“They can watch me wrestle 250 days a year. They can only watch ‘Christmas Bounty’ on November 26 [on ABC Family]. I’m trying to get the highest rating possible. So I want everyone, all over America, whoever gets ABC Family, watching ‘Christmas Bounty’ that day, that night.”

•  “Christmas Bounty” with The Miz premiers 7 p.m. EST Tuesday, Nov. 26 on ABC Family.

The cast features The Miz (“The Real World,” “The Marine 3: Homefront,” “I’m Awesome”), Francia Raisa (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Will Greenburg (“Modern Family,” “The Office”) and Chelan Simmons (“The L.A. Complex”). Simmons plays Liz, Tory’s (Raisa’s) best friend. Cast as Tory’s mom, Gale, is April Telek (“Hell on Wheels”). “Christmas Bounty” is written by Andrew Black and Vivian Lee, James Berg and Stan Zimmerman and Claudia Grazioso.

Speaking of writing, WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley featured The Miz in his holiday children’s book “A Most Mizerable Christmas.” Miz felt honored the hardcore legend, former WWE champ and New York Time’s Best-Selling author chose him to be the foil. The book sends a positive message to kids which Miz professes.

• http://www.abcfamilymedianet.com/web/showpage/showpage.aspx?program_id=3156568&type=lead

• http://www.wwe.com/superstars/themiz

• Twitter: @MikeTheMiz

• WrestleMania XXX is Sunday, April 6 at the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in New Orleans. Tickets are now on sale.

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