Michael Phelps Plans To Keep 'Shaq Vs.' From Taking A Ratings Dive

August 19, 2009: Michael Phelps is scheduled to dive into the pool, and in turn help Shaquille O'Neal from taking a dive in the ratings, when he films a segment of Shaq. Vs. for ABC on Aug. 23.

The event pitting the Olympic hero against the NBA all-star will take place at the Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center in Baltimore. Phelps overseas the Michael Phelps Swim School at Meadowbrook, which the North Baltimore Aquatic Club also uses as one of its training venues.

O'Neal is trying to be the big man on campus in his Shaq Vs. reality show, in which he faces other athletes on their home turf. Unfortunately, the premiere episode on ABC on Aug. 18 came in third in the ratings (4.3 million viewers) at the 9 P.M. slot behind, ironically, two other reality shows: America's Got Talent (11.6 million) on NBC and Big Brother (8.1 million) on CBS. The numbers, according to Nielsen Media Research, did put Shaq ahead of More to Love (4 million) on Fox and a repeat of 90210 on The CW.

O'Neal and ABC hope that upcoming episodes fare better. On Aug. 18, Shaq. Vs. was in Las Vegas, where O'Neal went five rounds against Oscar De La Hoya at the Planet Hollywood Hotel. Shaq weighed in at 7'1", 325 lbs, De La Hoya at 5'10", 154 lbs. Other scheduled athletes include Serena Williams and possibly Lance Armstrong. A faux-feud with David Beckham has dead-ended.

The premiere episode on Aug. 18 featured a team of semi-pro football players led by O'Neal facing off against a team lead by Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As he did in the ratings, Shaq lost the challenge. O'Neal already has filmed episodes challenging volleyball pros Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh (scheduled to air Aug. 25) and a home run derby against Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals (scheduled to air Sept. 1), both of which he lost.

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