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Docu-reality series follows musicians' gridiron gig

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HOLLYWOOD -- They want to rock 'n' roll all night. That much, you already knew.

But these days, the next part of the song lyric could just as well be "and score touchdowns every day."

As owners and ambitious promoters of the Arena Football League's Los Angeles Kiss, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are bringing a very different kind of spectacle into arenas around the U.S.A. And their efforts have been turned into a docu-reality series, 4th and Loud, which premières Aug. 12 on AMC.

Stanley and Simmons sat down, makeup-free, to talk some football during AMC's portion of the U.S. networks' press tour in Los Angeles, and what became immediately apparent is that the founding members of rock's most incendiary band are determined to turn their fledgling AFL franchise into an entertainment option that's worthy of Kiss Army-sized following.

"This is really about Kiss mentality," Stanley says. "It's about the philosophy of the band. The band has always been about bang for buck. The band has always been about giving people spectacle, respecting the people who show up. So, with that in mind, we wanted to create something that's sports-based but at the same time is enveloping in a way that makes it family entertainment."

In preview clips for the series that were screened here last week, Stanley and Simmons are shown boldly declaring to the new AFL team's players that they expect to become the first franchise ever to win a league championship in its first year. Current AFL standings show the L.A. Kiss with a record of 3-13-0, so the rockers-turned-owners have had to temper those early expectations.

"Look, we came into this, and it's documented in the show and part of what makes it so interesting, that we have this take-no-prisoners attitude," says Stanley. "But there's also a certain naiveté. We came in believing we would win the championship, that this would be our season. We are doing our best but failing in many of these games.

"Quite honestly, the people who are attending the games love it, (but) would love to see the team winning more. But let's face it -- we are an expansion team that actually was put together at a very inopportune time. Most of the players in the league were in the middle of a two-year contract, which (limited) who we got to choose from. We were fortunate to get (linebacker) Beau Bell and a couple of guys who are stellar players. We will build on that."

The L.A. Kiss has not been a big winner on the indoor turf in its first season, but Stanley and Simmons are quick to point out that other aspects of its operation -- attendance, merchandising and the like -- have very much been worthy of an end-zone dance.

"We see we see the potential (in the team) that we saw in Kiss, and so far, so good," Stanley says. "We are the envy of all the other teams. We sold 8,000 season tickets before we ever announced anybody who was on the team, and already people are signing up again for next season in spite of not having a stellar season on the field."

Simmons, no stranger to the reality-TV realm, said the pair's involvement in arena football grew out of a simple invitation to perform at last year's AFL championship. But now that they're involved as owners, they plan to give their team's fans the full Kiss Army treatment.

"The big picture is that Los Angeles (didn't) have a football team, and when we got involved and were asked to play at the Arena Bowl by the AFL, we loved the experience so much, and the AFL liked us so much, and there was a love affair that happened very quickly," he recalls. "We all started looking at each other and going, 'Hey, one plus one equals three.' So it didn't take a genius to figure out, 'Hey, if there's a Kiss-branded football team that comes out of Los Angeles, maybe we can get some traction.'

"And this is just the beginning. (Season tickets are) 99 bucks. You don't have to mortgage your home. And if you are a season-ticket holder, Kiss is going to be giving you a special concert for free at the Honda Center. We intend on being sort of like the Cracker Jacks box of life, which is, you get your peanuts and your popcorn, and you are going to get a prize. Thank you so much for coming on board and believing in us; we are going to make it worthwhile to you."

Rock 'n' roll all night. Touchdowns every day. It probably makes for some pretty interesting tailgate parties in L.A.

 

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2014 C3

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Updated on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 8:05 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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