Sorbo the Greek

Mound, Minnesota--

KEVIN SORBO, STAR of TV's Hercules, is here in his hometown of Mound to host a rededication ceremony for Langdon Park--but there's a shuttle-bus driver who's a little worried. The supply of posters for Kull the Conqueror--Sorbo's first feature film, due out next week--is dangerously low. Down to his last two, the driver radios in to headquarters: Someone had better take care of the situation soon, lest things get ugly. Already, one girl and her mother have been exchanging harsh words about which of them should present their poster to Mr. Sorbo for his autograph.

On this cold and rainy Sunday, Langdon Park is packed with more sightseers than ever before, all of them craning their heads in anticipation of seeing Herc in the flesh. But first, a few proud local pols want their nanosecond in the spotlight. "Therefore, be it resolved," one says, "that the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners recognizes Kevin Sorbo for the gracious way he represents all Minnesotans--particularly those of Hennepin County and Mound--and congratulates him for being recognized by his home community."

Sorbo stands at attention. Dressed as he is in a cotton shirt and khakis, this homeboy could never be confused with a deity--or at least not until he begins to speak. "I'll talk later," he tells the crowd. "I want to give the mayor a chance. Thank you very much." Indeed, it's the mere sound of his voice--deep, warm, and velvety--that causes the ensuing frenzy. The air thickens with the rhythm of women's moans and the frantic winding of funsaver cameras. He's so cute.

Pause for station identification: another leader, another outpouring of sentiment. "We know that Kevin went through school without ever really identifying the yearning that he had, that inner calling to get into the acting field, but I think that we're all very happy that he responded to that urging and went on the great heights in his new career. And I suspect that his career is going to continue to soar like the eagle that he's going to be releasing here shortly..."

For another 40 minutes, congressmen, mayors, and fan-club presidents bubble and gush about the pride that Sorbo has brought to his hometown. After each of these speeches, Sorbo stands, gives humble thanks, and reminds everyone here that the honor is his. "I was called Minnesota Nice, and I can't think of an honor that would be higher than that."

Next, Sorbo hands a heavy sword to Mound's mayor, which actually seems to glint despite the cloudy weather. "This is one of our 'hero swords' on the television show Hercules. It's something to return back for the honor that you have bestowed on me today. This represents the sword of veracity, which deals with truth and honor, and I couldn't put it in a better man's hands." This just about slays the audience. The photo-ops are boundless, but the mayor would do well to move a little to the left. As one lady put it: "I got him with the sword but I don't need the mayor in there."

As Sorbo treks to the top of the hill where he'll release a bald eagle--thus renaming this Sorbo Park--he blesses us with his wisdom once again. "I was raised to follow my dreams," he says, "and I try to get this across to everybody on a daily basis. I write it on a lot of the autographs I sign." Then, on a more serious note: "I had a lot of failure in my life. It's not the success that's satisfying, it's the effort that makes it all worthwhile. Thank you and God bless."

Dozens of women clutch at wet handkerchiefs and sigh in unison, "Thank you." It's been a proud day in Mound.

Kull the Conqueror starts Friday at area theaters.

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