May 24, 2017

Jean Claude van Damme, Reality Star for A&E?

By Roger Friedman

Jean Claude Van Damme–the “Muscles from Brussels”–is about to become a reality TV star. In America, we will likely see him on A&E.

He’s arrived in Cannes, is staying on a yacht, and has brought his 20ish son Kristopher van Varenberg as Creative Director. Tomorrow, on the Apache, he’s throwing a cocktail party to announce that he’s going to become the next Ozzy Osbourne or Gene Simmons. Why not?

Van Damme is already an international star. There should be a lot of interest in seeing him as he gets ready for an October fight with Somluck Kamsing, the 1996 Olympic gold medalist in boxing. (The joke, of course, is that Van Damme will need “some luck” to beat this guy. Ha, ha.)

There was a lot of buzz about British firm ITV doing this deal with Van Damme last winter. But now the 50 year old superstar tells me it’s really happening, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

“You’re going to see my family, and everything that surrounds it,” he told me last night at the “Robin Hood” premiere in Cannes. He was accompanied by his French agent and by Kristopher, whose mother is Gladys Portugues–van Damme’s third wife and his current wife (they were divorced but remarried in 1999).

There’s certainly going to be speculation that JCVD at 50 won’t be in shape for a big kick boxing match against an Olympic winner. But he is solid as a rock, to quote Ashford & Simpson. When you tap him on the arm, he feels like steel. Unlike Kirstie Alley, Van Damme has physical goals that will be met–and be obvious to the viewer.

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About Roger Friedman

Roger Friedman began his column in April after 10 years with Fox News where he helped create Friedman’s prior experience on the Internet is with MSN’s Cinemania column. Friedman also wrote the Intelligencer column as a contributing editor at "New York Magazine," where he covered the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. In addition, Friedman has been involved in book publishing and filmmaking (Only the Strong Survive). For more about Roger go to

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