He's back! Arnold Schwarzenegger to voice animated superhero, 'The Governator'

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced his first entertainment job since leaving office – an animated TV show in which The Governator will battle G.I.R.L.I.E. Men.

Lionel Cironneau/AP
Arnold Schwarzenegger poses for photographers during the MIPTV convention in Cannes, France, Monday. He is back in Cannes for the first time in eight years to unveil a new international television series, 'The Governator.'

The man who starred as Conan the Barbarian, the Terminator, and the 38th governor of California, has now signed up for his first role since leaving office.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is teaming up with Stan Lee, creator of the Hulk, Iron Man, and the X-Men, to work on a forthcoming animated TV show called "The Governator."

Gone are the scourge of chronic budget deficits, replaced by the global terror crime wave. Gone is governor's smoking tent, replaced by a subterranean man-cave that includes an array of “SuperSuits” that make him invisible, let him walk through walls, or turn into a submarine. Instead of his famous cigars, the Governator can reach for a throat spray that lets him speak any language.

Far more camera-ready than Assembly Democrats, likely opponents will include an organization called Gangsters, Impostors, Racketeers, Liars, and Irredeemable Ex-cons (G.I.R.L.I.E. Men for short). He will have a pet shih tzu named Foofi. Wife Maria Shriver and his four kids will help.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger is returning to his acting career, providing the title character’s voice for an animated action-comedy cartoon TV series," notes Iowa State University political scientist Steffen Schmidt.

This is in contrast to his term as governor, which was an “inaction comedy,” he quips.

But the idea is for real. It was formally unveiled Monday at the MIPTV international television content convention in Cannes, France. The show is set to launch in 2012, on a channel to be determined.

Speculation has swirled for years about what Schwarzenegger would do after sitting atop the world's eighth largest economy. Perhaps he might become a climate adviser to President Obama or chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America. Some say he has his eyes on a US Senate seat.

No matter which route he chooses, the foray into animation is being seen as a plus for him.

“The lines between celebrity and politics have long since blurred," says Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento. "It enabled him to come into office with high public value because people felt they knew him, and this rebuilding of his entertainment persona can only help him.”

Although the most recent Field Poll shows 6 of 10 Californians say Schwarzenegger is leaving the state worse than when he found it, Ms. O’Connor says that Schwarzenegger has left a long list of accomplishments in energy, health care, and economics that time will show more clearly.

“He does everything he does with a great sense of humor and we certainly need that in these political times,” says O’Connor. “He is also very good at explaining complex issues to lay audiences.”

In a question-and-answer period at the Cannes unveiling, Schwarzenegger told audiences that his new animated venture does not preclude him doing other projects – from movies to politics. Although much was made several years ago about possible moves to amend the US Constitution that would allow Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, to be president, he says he is not holding his breath.

“I don’t think it will be changed in my lifetime,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “But I’ve made it clear that yes, I would run. I would be out there now … if the Constitution would let me do that. It is a challenge. And I have a very clear vision about where we need to go.”

Beginning with a White House man-cave, perhaps.

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