Brooke LaValley / Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch

Ex-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger beams Friday after unveiling an 8-foot statue depicting his bodybuilding days in Columbus, Ohio, home to the Arnold Sports Festival.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger turns to his fans for the latest re-invention

Published: Thursday, Apr. 12, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 8:13 pm

Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking for stories … about himself.

At work on his autobiography, the former governor asked his league of Twitter followers and Facebook fans Wednesday what they want to read when "TOTAL RECALL: My Unbelievably True Life Story" comes out.

More than 2,000 people responded: Talk about bodybuilding, your childhood and your time on movie sets, they wrote.

Talk about politics.

And sex.

Almost a year after it was revealed that Schwarzenegger kept secret for more than a decade fathering a child with a member of his household staff, splitting his marriage, the 64-year-old is trying to rebound.

In addition to his autobiography, scheduled for release this fall, Schwarzenegger will act in four upcoming films. A fifth, a sequel to the 1988 comedy "Twins" is in development.

"He's back on the rise," said Randy Jennings, president of TheArnoldFans.com, a fan club.

Schwarzenegger "hit the bottom" last year, Jennings said, but traffic on his website surged in recent months.

"For Arnold and fans," Jennings said, "the future looks really bright."

Publishers urged Schwarzenegger for many years to write his autobiography, and when Simon & Schuster announced last fall that it would publish the book, it characterized it as "one of the most anticipated autobiographies of this generation."

Peter Petre, who co-wrote Alan Greenspan's autobiography, was hired to help.

"I'm sure it will come out of the gates like a blockbuster," said former Schwarzenegger speechwriter Gary Delsohn, a former Bee reporter. "The real test will be how much he reveals about, you know, all the different things that he's been involved in throughout his life, including the controversies."

Simon & Schuster declined to say how much Schwarzenegger is being paid.

It is unclear to what extent – if at all – Schwarzenegger will address the sex scandal.

Schwarzenegger adviser Adam Mendelsohn declined to discuss contents of the book in any detail.

"His life is full of, is filled with stories that people have experienced with him, from the bodybuilding competitions to the movies to his time in politics," Mendelsohn said. "There's far more that has occurred in his life than he could capture in his book, and he spends a lot of time trying to figure out which stories will go in the book."

By the end of his second term as governor, Schwarzenegger's public approval rating had plunged to 23 percent. Early last year, as he left office, he was criticized for shortening the manslaughter sentence of the son of a political friend, Fabian Núñez, and, months later, for his infidelity.

But in December, Schwarzenegger was applauded in San Francisco when he joined Gov. Jerry Brown at a conference on climate change. In March in Columbus, Ohio, where Schwarzenegger won the Mr. World Contest in 1970 and holds the annual Arnold Sports Festival, the city unveiled a 600-pound bronze statue of him.

For the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-politician-turned-actor, said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, an autobiography is "a logical place to mark the pivot."

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has reinvented himself at least half a dozen times since he moved to California from Austria," Schnur said. "Why would anyone be surprised that he's ready to reinvent himself again?"

Mendelsohn said Schwarzenegger's public appeal for book ideas was the governor's own idea.

Schwarzenegger's former press secretary Aaron McLear said it's "right in line with how he's always interacted with the public."

McLear said Schwarzenegger "likes that feedback," though he declined to offer any of his own suggestions for the book.

Democratic strategist Bob Mulholland was happy to.

"Blank pages, if you ask me," said Mulholland, who fought the effort to recall Schwarzenegger's predecessor, Gov. Gray Davis, in 2003. "He's been a bodybuilder all his life, and being in the governor's office was, from a historical point, a failure."

Jennings, who lives in Citrus Heights and has a room full of Schwarzenegger memorabilia, said he's writing a book about Schwarzenegger's fans.

Schwarzenegger's autobiography, he said, is highly anticipated.

"We'd like to hear some stories that we have never heard from him in the past," Jennings said. "I want to know if he's ever cried or felt defeated by anything, and what his best day was."

Jennings said he would "love to learn all the details" about the affair, but he doesn't expect to. He understands, he said, if Schwarzenegger "doesn't want all that information to get out."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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