- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2001

We've seen Ted Leonsis the AOL executive and Ted Leonsis the sports team owner. Next up is Ted Leonsis the actor.

Leonsis will appear as himself Sunday night on HBO's popular sports comedy, "Arli$$," marking yet another notch in the Washington Capitals owner's aim to raise the profile of the franchise and Washington in general.

"Arli$$" centers on the comedic foibles of ethically challenged sports agent Arliss Michaels, played by Robert Wuhl. In the episode, Leonsis is asked by Michaels to allow a women's pro golfer client of his to design Leonsis a golf course next to downtown MCI Center, of all places. The course would then serve as bait to help lure Leonsis' real-life business partner, Michael Jordan, out of basketball retirement.

"He could work on his short game during halftime," Leonsis says jokingly in the episode.

A dark secret from the golfer's past is then revealed, sending the entire plan into jeopardy.

Wuhl and Leonsis became friendly early last year through questions Wuhl had about his AOL account. The actor later offered Leonsis a standing invitation to do a cameo on the show, and the scenes were shot in April during a trip to Los Angeles.

"It was a lot of fun, especially since the whole show is a spoof, a total send-up of the industry," said Leonsis, recently returned from a two-week vacation in Italy. "The basic idea was to just be myself, but kick it up to 125 percent. Everything had to be louder, bigger, more demonstrative.

"I have an unbelievable new appreciation for the acting business and how hard it is. I had two, maybe three, pages of dialogue, and it took all day. Retakes, closeups, different camera angles. There was a ton of stuff that went into this," he said.

The episode will air several more times next week. HBO took a calculated risk by including the lines about Jordan. The Washington Wizards president originally was to have made a decision by July on his possible comeback but recently delayed it to mid-September. Network officials said the lines would have stayed in had Jordan announced his plans.

"The show is real in that they use tons of real people and real events as a basis for the stories, but it's all done in such an over-the-top way, it gives you the freedom from having to stick just to the facts," Leonsis said.

Also guest starring in Leonsis' episode are Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, boxing analyst Bert Sugar and Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones. Other local sports figures who have previously appeared on "Arli$$" include Jordan, Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Tony Siragusa and former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann.

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