LINCOLN, Neb. — Multi-tattooed rocker Tommy Lee, a high school dropout, plunged into life as a University of Nebraska student Thursday — for reality TV.
Lee mingled with fellow Cornhuskers for an NBC show in which he’ll take classes in chemistry, literature and the history of rock ’n’ roll.
Flanked by production crews and cameras, Lee bought books and Nebraska apparel at the University Bookstore while a mass of onlookers strained for a glimpse. “It’s like a big circus,” student Paul Penke said.
On Monday, the Motley Crue drummer will even try out for the Nebraska marching band.
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NBC spokeswoman Susan Ross said the network hopes to get six episodes worth of footage for a series set to air next summer. Lee will have a tutor and live off-campus.
Lee told the Lincoln Journal Star he was looking forward to “a little music, some education, some partying — the whole college experience.” Asked why Lincoln was chosen, Lee responded: “Because it rules, man.”
Not everyone is so pleased.
“Why Tommy Lee?” said Bob Moyer, executive director of the Family Violence Council.
Lee spent about four months in jail after pleading no contest to kicking his then-wife, Pamela Anderson, in February 1998. And though school officials have said the show is a way for potential students to learn about the university, using Lee to get that message out is causing some trepidation even among administrators.
“I hope that turns out to be the right judgment,” Chancellor Harvey Perlman wrote in an e-mail to faculty Thursday. “I am tempted to say something like, ‘If it doesn’t work you can vote me off the island,’ but I’ve already used that line. All I can say is join me in keeping your fingers crossed.”
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