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Video: Will love child tarnish Schwarzenegger?

updated 5/24/2011 8:03:45 PM ET 2011-05-25T00:03:45

Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to showbiz has succeeded in one way: He's a hit in late-night.

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The former California governor has been preparing a return to Hollywood, but becoming a punch line wasn't on the agenda. Yet that's exactly what's happened since Schwarzenegger acknowledged Tuesday that he had fathered a child of a longtime household staff member more than a decade ago. The revelation followed last week's separation of Schwarzenegger and his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver.

Everyone has lined up with their Schwarzenegger impression and puns on movie titles like "Twins" and "True Lies." Schwarzenegger has long been a source of parody, but these revelations threaten to sully the generally positive image he's created over decades of moviemaking and seven years in government.

Story: Shriver takes dig at Arnold at Oprah taping

Many believe Schwarzenegger — who had been positioning himself as a highly paid speaker and green energy advocate — is politically relegated to John Edwards oblivion. Showbiz, however, can be forgiving of even the most appalling indiscretions. But the 63-year-old Schwarzenegger may have made rejuvenating his dormant movie career more challenging.

It doesn't help that the first project Schwarzenegger announced after leaving office in January was a children's cartoon, to be globally distributed by a company called Your Family Entertainment.

Story: Mansion where Arnold's affair began is for sale

"The Governator" is a planned animated TV series, which is also to be spun into a comic book, video game and movie. It's a production of famed comic book author Stan Lee's Pow! Entertainment, Archie Comics and A2 Entertainment, and while it already has international deals, it doesn't yet have a U.S. network home. Schwarzenegger touted it at a press conference in Cannes and in an Entertainment Weekly cover story.

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The show, in which he voices a superhero character, is to draw heavily from Schwarzenegger's personal life. At one point, Schwarzenegger said that Shriver was to voice a character, too, but those plans were scuttled.

Last week, Lee said Schwarzenegger's separation merely meant that the series will now include "a lot of girls having crushes on our hero."

"A2's 'Governator' animated series and its lore is fictional and stands on its merits," Andy Heyward, co-president of A2 Entertainment, said in a statement. "The series stands on its own and is going forward as such."

Story: Son dropping Schwarzenegger's last name

He added: "Of course we wish the family the best in this challenging time."

Release is scheduled for late 2012.

Schwarzenegger told The Associated Press last month that his focus was now on show business, that "entertainment is the important thing right now." He's found Hollywood eager to welcome back an actor whose films have grossed more than $1.6 billion domestically, and whose international fame is greater than most A-list stars.

On the big screen, the most anticipation will fall on Schwarzenegger returning to arguably his most famous role: the cyborg in the "Terminator" films. 2009's "Terminator Salvation" attempted to reboot the franchise without him (Sam Worthington played the part) and made $125 million domestically, plus $246 million internationally.

The franchise is now being resuscitated for two more films. A package featuring Schwarzenegger as star, Justin Lin ("Fast Five") as director and Robert Cort producing was reportedly bought by Annapurna Films last week.

Annapurna Films declined to comment.

Arnold's kids break silence on dad's infidelity

Schwarzenegger is also to star as a horse trainer in the planned drama "Cry Macho." It's scheduled to begin shooting in August, with Brad Furman ("The Lincoln Lawyer") directing a script based on the 1975 novel by N. Richard Nash.

For his rebooted movie career, veteran publicist Howard Bragman says the scandal is "a non-issue."

Son faces 'a lot of confusion'

"Moviegoing audiences have seen a lot worse from celebrities," says Bragman. "The moviegoing audience tends to be younger males, and they just don't care."

Schwarzenegger has generally drawn largely male audiences. Female viewers are seen as more likely to boycott a performer who has betrayed his wife.

"Probably shouldn't try to do a romantic comedy right away," Bragman says. "But I don't see any reason Arnold can't have a much better movie career than he had a political career."

Will Maria Shriver talk to Oprah?

Though action films have generally favored the young, recent box office history suggests aging stars can be quite bankable. "Red," which starred Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren, earned more than $90 million domestically last year. Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables" did even better, taking in $103 million domestically and an additional $171 million internationally.

Story: Schwarzenegger’s housekeeper now center of attention

The last time Schwarzenegger starred in a film was 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." He's also made a handful of cameos, including in "The Expendables."

As bad as Schwarzenegger's image may be at the moment, many have recovered from seeming disaster. Though badly damaged from a prostitution scandal, Eliot Spitzer is now hosting "In the Arena" on CNN. Jude Law's image wasn't derailed after his affair with his children's former nanny. Hugh Grant eventually shook off his arrest with a prostitute.

Art imitates life in Arnold's next movie

And it will likely be a year or more before any of his projects in development see the light of day. The landscape could be very different for Schwarzenegger by then — so long as further skeletons aren't revealed.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Sex scandals and elected officials

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  1. David Wu

    Oregon Democratic Congressman David Wu speaks after a luncheon in Hillsboro, Ore, March, 7, 2011. Wu announced his resignation on July 24, 2011, amid political fallout from an 18-year-old woman's allegations she had an unwanted sexual encounter with him. The seven-term congressman was the subject of news stories of unusual behavior earlier in the year and several of his staff had resigned. (Don Ryan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Anthony Weiner

    Rep. Anthony Weiner speaks during a press conference at a hotel in New York on June 6, 2011, where he admitted that he had communicated with women online before and after his marriage and sent them explicit photos. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Following the announcement of the couple's separation in 2011, Schwarzenegger said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff. In the photo, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver greet supporters before he is sworn in for second term on January 5, 2007 in Sacramento, Calif. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Chris Lee

    Left: House Speaker John Boehner, left, shakes hands with Rep. Chris Lee, alongside members of Lee's family during a mock swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill on Jan. 5, 2011. His wife, Michele, holds the bible and his son Johnathan, leans against his dad. Lee abruptly resigned his seat on Feb. 9, after a gossip web site, Gawker, reported that Lee had sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist (right). Gawker.com printed a series of e-mails which the lawmaker apparently had exchanged with the woman, who asked not to be identified. (AP, Gawker) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Mark Sanford

    After going AWOL for seven days, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford admitted on June 24, 2009 that he'd secretly flown to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he'd been having an affair. The married politician, who’s also a father of four, said he’d known the woman for eight years. "What I did was wrong. Period," he said. (Davis Turner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. John Ensign

    On June 16, 2009, Sen. John Ensign announced that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with a campaign staffer who was then employed as one of his top aides. The senator said he disclosed the relationship after an attorney for the woman’s husband made "exorbitant demands for cash and other financial benefits." (Isaac Brekken / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. John Edwards

    In this image taken from video and released by ABC News, Bob Woodruff interviews John Edwards Friday, Aug. 8, 2008 in Chapel Hill, N.C. The former North Carolina senator, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, confessed to ABC News that he had lied repeatedly about the affair with 42-year-old Rielle Hunter.

    At the time, he denied fathering a baby with Hunter, but on Jan. 21, 2009, he released a statement exclusively to NBC News admitting that was was indeed the father of Francis Quinn Hunter. (ABC News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Eliot Spitzer

    New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, addresses reporters with his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, at his office in New York, apologizing for a "private matter" but making no reference to a March 10, 2008, New York Times report linking him to a prostitution ring. Spitzer resigned later that week. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Larry Craig

    Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after being arrested in June 2007 in a Minneapolis airport restroom. The undercover officer who arrested him said Craig tapped his feet and swiped his hand under a stall divider in a way that signaled he wanted sex. Craig appealed, arguing that the law is invalid. He insisted that his actions were misconstrued and that he is not gay. He said he pleaded guilty in hopes of resolving the matter quietly (Troy Maben / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. David Vitter

    Sen. David Vitter, R-La., acknowledged in July 2007 that his Washington phone number was among those called several years before by an escort service. The admission came after Hustler magazine told the senator that his telephone number was linked to the service. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Antonio Villaraigosa

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, walks with Mirthala Salinas, then a reporter for Telemundo 52, on the north steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento in June 2006. Villaraigosa later acknowledged he was involved in a romantic relationship with Salinas. (Robert Durell / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mark Foley

    Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., abruptly resigned in September 2006 after reports that he sent sexual messages to teenage male congressional pages. The Foley scandal helped Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives in the November 2006 elections. (Lawrence Jackson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. James McGreevey

    Dina Matos McGreevey stands next to her husband, Gov. James McGreevey, a Democrat, as he announces his resignation during a 2004 news conference in Trenton, N.J. McGreevey admitted he is homosexual and had an extramarital affair with another man, Golan Cipel, pictured right. McGreevey later wrote a book, "The Confession," about his life; Dina Matos McGreevey also later wrote a book, "Silent Partner," about their marriage. (AP photos) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Jack Ryan

    Jack Ryan, a Republican, dropped out of the 2004 Senate race in Illinois when his wife, TV actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, filed divorce papers that alleged he had taken her to "bizarre clubs" and asked her to have sex in front of other people. Ryan denied that but acknowledged they went to one avant-garde club in Paris where they both felt creepy. Ryan's Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, easily won the Illinois seat. (Stephen J. Carrera / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Bob Livingston

    Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., was on the verge of becoming House speaker in 1998 when he acknowledged straying in his marriage. He resigned from Congress a couple of months later. (Khue Bui / AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Bill Clinton

    President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, gave evasive and misleading testimony under oath and publicly denied having sexual relations with former intern Monica Lewinsky, only to be forced into a humiliating reversal. He was impeached by the House and then acquitted in a 1999 Senate trial. (APTV file) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Bob Packwood

    Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., resigned in 1995 amid allegations he made unwanted sexual advances to 17 female employees and colleagues, solicited jobs from lobbyists for his former wife, and altered his personal diaries to obstruct an ethics investigation. (Nathaniel Harari / Congressional Quarterly/Getty Im) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Barney Frank

    Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., was reprimanded by the House in 1989 for using his influence on behalf of male prostitute Stephen Gobie. Frank admitted paying Gobie for sex, hiring him with his own money as an aide and writing a letter on his behalf. Frank faced constituents at a meeting until they ran out of questions, acknowledging, "I did not handle the pressures of having a public life, of being a closeted gay man, nearly as well as I should have." He has won re-election ever since. (Terry Ashe / Time Life Pictures - Getty Image) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Gary Hart

    Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., was a front-runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination when The Miami Herald reported he'd spent a night and a day with a young woman while his wife was away. Hart, who had challenged the press to check on rumors of philandering, initially denounced the report. But his liaison with Donna Rice, who had been photographed sitting on his lap near a yacht named "Monkey Business," sank his campaign. (Steve Liss / Time Life Pictures via Getty Ima) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Dan Crane

    Rep. Dan Crane, R-Ill., left, cries as he talks to reporters in 1983. Crane said he was sorry he hurt his family by having an affair with a 17-year-old congressional page. Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., right, speaks to reporters on the steps of the Capitol. The House ethics committee cited Studds and Crane for misconduct for sexual activity with teen pages. (AP file photos) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Wilbur D. Mills

    Rep. Wilbur D. Mills, D-Ark., stands with Fanne Foxe, an exotic dancer. Mills sparked controversy in 1974 when police in Washington stopped his car for not having its headlights on. Although Mills was not driving, he was drunk, and Foxe jumped out of the car and into the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial. The episode caused Mills' downfall. (AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
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