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Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch heading to ‘Mars’ in new Fox show

NFL running back Marshawn Lynch interacts with fans and customers at the opening of his store, Beast Mode, in The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay Place on Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Las Vegas.  (Tribune News Service)
By Rob Owen Special to Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Fox is sending former Seahawks players Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman to “Mars” – the new reality series “Stars on Mars,” that is. The series, premiering Monday on Fox, will sequester 12 “celebronauts” in a faux Martian colony.

Lynch and Sherman were joined by Lance Armstrong, Natasha Leggero, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Adam Rippon, Ronda Rousey, Tom Schwartz, Tinashe, Porsha Williams Guobadia, Tallulah Willis and Ariel Winter. “Star Trek” actor William Shatner served as “ground control” for the mission.

“Stars on Mars” filmed in the South Australian mining town of Coober Pedy, with exterior sets built in the red sand desert that’s been previously used for the movies “The Red Planet,” “Pitch Black” and “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.”

Sherman said it took 30 hours to reach Coober Pedy from Seattle.

“It’s not a trip I’m gonna make in my spare time, that’s for sure,” Sherman said in a late May phone interview.

As for which former Seahawk was on board for the show first, Sherman said, “I think that’s up for debate. I think I might have said yes after he did, but we both wanted to do it. We were both excited about it. That he was doing it was definitely a lot of the appeal.”

“Stars on Mars” executive producer Chris Culvenor (“Holey Moley”) said getting the two friends together proved to be “television gold.

“It’s one of the best buddy comedies you’ll see on TV this year,” Culvenor said. “They give each other grief in the best way possible. Marshawn brings a lot of comedy into our show. And Richard’s got this big personality. He’s very funny – self-deprecating – but also throws himself into the experience. He played to win. He’s a super-competitive guy, and you’ll see that in the show.”

Celebronauts compete to be the last person standing (aka “the brightest star in the galaxy”), and Culvenor confirms that at the end of every episode there’s a vote and one celebrity will be eliminated each week. He’s cagey on particulars of how that will happen and won’t say if contestants get sent back to Earth on a CGI rocket or blown out the airlock.

“What we’re looking for is the person who has all the skills to survive on Mars,” Culvenor said. “This experiment is designed to simulate life on the base with missions out in the field and the emotional, mental and physical challenge that being in a Mars colony puts you through.”

Sherman said challenges the celebronauts face on “Stars on Mars” include rationing food, taking care of the base, gardening and inventory.

“There’s one major challenge every episode, but life on Mars is never predictable,” Culvenor teases. “There’s emergencies that could happen at any time of any day. So as soon as you think they have a system, there’s a format, there’s a pattern, then there’s going to be surprises that hit you from every angle on this show. Just like it hit the celebrities.”

Sherman said he didn’t take any Seahawks paraphernalia with him to fake Mars, just some family pictures of his wife and kids.

As for the other celebronauts, Sherman said he enjoyed spending time with them.

“Lance (Armstrong) was really cool, so it was great to meet him. Tom (Schwartz) was a really good cook,” Sherman said. “Everybody was really cool and I appreciate them and enjoyed them really well.”

His astronaut gear was another story.

“That was a bit of an adjustment. That suit was a bit much,” Sherman said. “It was heavy and kind of bulky. It was tight in terms of the actual helmet. You’d think playing football you’d be used to wearing helmets, but no.”

Sherman said on some missions his helmet’s window fogged up at times.

“(Wearing those suits) gives you a lot of respect for the real astronauts, the people who do it for a job,” he said.

Regarding future TV endeavors, Sherman said he’ll be back as a studio analyst for Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football” this fall.

“I’m looking forward to year two where we’ve got all the kinks out and it should be a better product this year than it was last year,” Sherman said.

He’s also excited for the Seahawks’ 2023 season: “I think the defense is gonna be very much improved.”

But Sherman’s “Stars on Mars” experience hasn’t gotten him interested in visiting the real red planet.

“Fake Mars,” he said, “is more than enough for me.”