When I first read that Cameron Daddo of Models, Inc, She Spies, and Big Momma’s House 2 fame was hosting Mark Burnett’s new CBS reality show Pirate Master (premiering tonight at 8 p.m.), I had two thoughts: 1) Why him? 2) When I ask him that question, will I also mention that he was my first in-person celebrity interview a decade ago — and that I still remember the black leather pants he was wearing? (Of course I did. And he growled. Which is why I heart Aussies.)
Below, Daddo’s qualifications for hosting a show in which 16 aspiring buccaneers — living, working, bartering, and backstabbing on a 179-ft. vessel — vie for $1 million in treasure:
He actually is a pirate. Well, maybe. "Pirates have fascinated me since my grandfather told me that we were descendants of the Spanish pirates that came down through England and Ireland. We’d be put to bed with Long John Silver stories, which would keep me up scared as hell for three hours. It just seems to be an ongoing theme. I actually played Black Bart in a Canadian series called Mentors [in 2001], which was fun. I’ve written songs about pirates. I have a film script that’s sitting here waiting to be produced about a group of golfers who refer to themselves as "the golfing pirates." Even in F/X: The Series, with those leather trousers you’re talking about…"
He is a menace in the water. "The staff at the hotel that I stayed at down in Dominica [during filming] nicknamed me ‘the Water Man’ because I swam everyday. I swim competitively, and when I train, I wear a Speedo. So I’m in my Speedo, training for the U.S. Masters Nationals, and I got pulled out of the water by the police twice for swimming in the wrong places. I guess they thought I was smuggling something because in Australia, we call [Speedos] Budgie Smugglers."
He’s walked something more dangerous than a plank — like a tightrope on the 2005 Aussie reality hit Celebrity Circus."It was totally the most intense experience of my life. I have aninnate fear of heights, so it took a good couple of weeks for me to gettwo steps out on the wire. I would sit up on the platform, eat mybreakfast, have cups of tea, play my guitar just to get comfortablewith the height…. [Finally], I got up one morning, after aparticularly long night on the Australian Shiraz, with a hangover thatyou wouldn’t believe, and just went for it. The grand lady of thecircus, who’s been there for like 100 years, came over and said, ‘Myboy, you did it! I’m so proud of you!’ I burst into tears. (Laughs) I think I just needed to be numb. Your senses are so electric up there."
He’s no stranger to mutiny. Country star Keith Urban sang background vocals and played some guitar on Daddo’s early-’90s album, The Long Goodbye."In retrospect, I should’ve named it something different, because Iwould have loved to have done a second album." (It did hit No. 2 on theAussie country charts.)
He knows what real treasure is… "My family. I’ve been married coming up on 16 years. I have three kids: 11, 7, and 1."
… He would, however, gladly accept (greater) fame. "One of thefirst things that came out of my mouth when I got this job was, ‘Oh myGod, I might even be able to play in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am [acelebrity golf tournament] if this show hits!’ A friend of mine went,’I can’t believe you could be hosting like a Top 10 program in theUnited States, and all you care about is playing Pebble Beach Pro-Am.’"
What do you think PopWatchers? Will you watch Pirate Master? Should Daddo polish his TaylorMade clubs? Weigh in now, then continue the discussion tomorrow on EW.com’s TV Watch.