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Frank Deford
February 07, 1977
Promoter Bill Riordan is at it again. Suddenly he's into skateboarding and is about to lay it on the little screen
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February 07, 1977

Promo Wiz In Kidvid Bid

Promoter Bill Riordan is at it again. Suddenly he's into skateboarding and is about to lay it on the little screen

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"The money, the money!" the cheerful little tyke replies.

Riordan, standing next to him, interprets this response for the gentleman of the fourth estate. "What Mr. Boyden means to say," Riordan announces, "is that he seeks to do something for the youth of America, whom he so nobly represents in America's fastest-growing youth entertainment."

Bobby (Casper) Boyden looks deadpan at Riordan. Connors, at least, laughed at Riordan's jokes, but, stony-faced, this kid orders a Shirley Temple on Riordan's tab. "What the hell's that?" Riordan asks, but gives up. "Never mind. They have their own language." One bit of new argot the kids picked up was "per diem," which they were quick to insert into their vocabulary after they got a fresh $20 for the day the first morning.

But for their part, here are some of the expressions that Riordan and his middle-aged colleagues had to get a handle on: bongo, road rash, street pizza, massive header, doing a Mr. Wilson, machete, space walk, walk the dog, a 360, power stand, endo. And, as they say, it takes a while to get a good board wired. After a recent accident, Bobby (Casper) Boyden had to wear a neck brace. Plus a lot of stitches. "The asphalt never forgets," Shu-Fly intones.

"I think we're on the tip of an iceberg," Riordan says. "This thing is going worldwide. They sold 10 million skateboards in '75. And the big companies, like Mattel, are just getting into it, and so far it's had no PR, no direction. Imagine, $300 million a year and nobody promoting it!

"I brought Ty Page and another kid named Bryan Beardsley into New York. We got Dolph's sports car out in front of the Burlington building on Sixth Avenue at lunch hour. You won't believe this, but it was the biggest turnout I ever had. Police lines. Bryan was gonna jump the car. The skateboard goes under, he goes over and lands on it, see. They say New York's sophisticated. Well, these blas� New Yorkers say, 'Bill, you mean he's gonna jump the car?' I say, 'He's gonna try.' He can do it in his sleep, but I had him miss the first two times. Then he did it perfect, and it made all the TV news, it goes coast to coast."

By the Dwarf Village, everything is set up for the taping. There is even a hokey name, the kind the networks usually only give to second-rate golf tournaments: First CBS Youth Invitational. "Skateboarding's got all the elements," Riordan goes on. "It's clandestine—the kids have all these secret riding spots. It's got speed and danger. It's got its own language. It's got a mystique. You won't believe this, but these kids just know me as the guy who represents skateboarders. They don't know about me and Jimmy Connors at all.

"And wait'll the TV hits. That's Saturday, Feb. 12, 1 p.m. I've already had Chris Chaput on Challenge of the Sexes, and Jerry Golod says people in seven million homes will watch our special. That was the last figure. The estimates are going up. All we need is the TV superstar now. Chris or Bobby. Girls—I got Laura Thornhill or Ellen Oneal. I got Pat (Kid) Flanagan, best young slalom champion. And wait'll you see Tony Jetton. A bowl rider. And all terrific kids. These are apple-pie guys."

The show goes so well Jerry Golod starts talking about a Frisbee special next. More kids' sports on KidVid. Of course, sports will never replace Isis, but let us be fair to our children. If grown-up television gives us a choice between bowling, barrel jumping and celebrity senior mixed doubles, shouldn't children's programming provide at least one athletic alternative to Flintstones reruns?

Wait'll you see it. Pat (Kid) Flanagan—the chalk in Riordan's slalom line—won that competition. Chris (Wonder Boy) Chaput was out front on the engine in his first heat, but he came up endo when he crashed right after the jump. Unfortunately, he stumbled and fell just out of camera range and Dolph had to "re-create the crash." Chris went along with it willingly, a real pro. These are now TV kids. They understand where show biz and sports mix. They're never going to ink any one-year pacts with the fuddy-duddy old Cincinnati Reds.

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