When Tommy Lee descended on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus to film a TV show, there were concerns about how the finished product would make the school and the state look.
Fear not, say those who were part of “Tommy Lee Goes to College” and others who have seen it.
“We look better than we maybe really are,” said Matt Ellis, a Nebraskan and Lee’s roommate for the show. “I know I look better than I do in real life.”
The six-part NBC series premieres 9 p.m. ET Aug. 16.
UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman has already seen a couple episodes featuring the Motley Crue drummer in a variety of fish-out-of-water situations, and they made him laugh.
“I thought the university came through very well,” Perlman said. “I think the comedy is a joke on Tommy and not a joke on the university.”
If promotional clips are any indication, the university will be in the middle of the action.
They include shots of Lee playing drums with the Huskers marching band during halftime of last year’s Baylor game at Memorial Stadium. There are also scenes of him struggling in class and being assisted by tutor Natalie Riedmann, who’s beginning medical school at the University of Nebraska come fall. (Lee, however, was not enrolled and did not receive actual credit for any classes.)
‘Tommy’s hot tutor’
Riedmann, a blond former beauty pageant contestant described in the promos as “Tommy’s hot tutor,” is already drawing attention — from FHM magazine, among others.
Riedmann, who was cast by producers who spotted her on campus, said Nebraskans shouldn’t worry how their state or university is portrayed.
Ellis, who graduated in December and is working as an administrative aide to a state senator, agreed.
“It makes the university and Lincoln and students and the faculty and administration and everyone involved look great,” he said.
Lee was on campus for about a month last fall to film the program, which was endorsed by UNL officials as a way to possibly increase enrollment.
“Our admissions people tell us there is certainly a buzz about the university when you talk to high school kids across the country,” Perlman said.
The 42-year-old Lee agreed to behave himself and follow the student code of conduct. But his appearance on campus led to criticism from the university’s Women’s Caucus, since Lee had served about four months in jail after pleading no contest to kicking then-wife Pamela Anderson in February 1998. The group circulated a petition decrying the program, while local domestic violence and family groups also voiced concerns.
From the get-go last fall, Perlman knew Lee’s standard sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll resume — not to mention his infamous sex tape with Anderson — could make him a lightning rod for complaints.
“They offered us Tommy Lee, they didn’t offer us Snow White,” Perlman said.