History professor featured on 'Deadliest Warrior'

LONG BEACH - Andrew Jenks, an associate professor of history at Cal State Long Beach, brings his expertise on Russia's scariest czar, Ivan the Terrible, to Spike TV on Aug. 31 when he visits the popular cable series "Deadliest Warrior."He will also appear on the series' website on Sept. 2 to answer questions in a segment called "Aftermath." "Deadliest Warrior" offers information on historical or modern warriors and their weapons, which are used to determine who is the "deadliest" based on tests performed during each episode. The show begins with the introduction of either two types of historical or contemporary warriors, or two historical individuals. Two teams of guests are brought onto the show to test weapons spotlighted as being used by each of the warriors. The Aftermath, produced in a roundtable format, focuses on a specific match-up and debates the issues pertaining to the episode raised by viewers in Internet forums. "My job is essentially to be Ivan's coach - I'm the 'brain' - along with an actor who plays the role of Ivan's warrior," explained Jenks, who noted that the warrior - the 'brawn' - is played by an ex-Russian special forces guy and stuntman trained in shooting, horseback and swordsplay. "When I was asked to appear on the show, I'd never heard of it and asked my 12-year-old boy, Alex. He, of course, knew all about it." In Jenks' episode, Ivan the Terrible faces off against the conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortes. "They of course, have their team of experts," Jenks said. "Their brain is an actor and their brawn an expert marksman, fencer and stuntman." The series, currently in its third season, is one of Spike TV's highest-rated shows with about 2.5 million viewers. "The show features the experts talking trash against their opponents and making references to the historical record," Jenks pointed out. "'Just give us more stories about torture' they kept saying. I must have heard that 100 times." The show consists of gruesome tests using the weapons of each side. Then the experts evaluate damage and assess lethality using wonky gadget wizardly talk. "I chime in with riffs on this or that battle, Ivan's traveling chamber of torture horrors, stories about horrific deaths and insanity, and just how blood-curdling it all is," he said. Jenks doesn't recall much glamour from his stint in television. "We had a day of going over the script, which I tried to amend in the direction of historical perspective, then two days in the field on a production ranch north of Los Angeles, and then a day at the show's inside set in a warehouse in Los Angeles," Jenks recalled. "It was grueling - hours and hours of set up, sun-up to sun-down, hundreds of takes," he added. "They seemed to like goofy and animated ways of explaining Ivan's terrible tendencies, and so they hired me. This will likely play a limited role in my promotion, but it was fun and will command the respect of my son (though not of my wife)." For more information, visit the "Deadliest Warrior" website at spike.com/shows/deadliest-warrior.

********** Published: August 25, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 19