‘It’s chicken parm’: Peyton Manning’s gladiator-themed Super Bowl open meets John Malkovich’s disapproval

ATLANTA Ga. – Peyton Manning thought he’d nailed it with his idea for a Super Bowl opening.

But executives respectfully disagreed. And actor John Malkovich—not so respectfully.

Manning—a Super Bowl champion, er, two-time Super Bowl champion—unleashed his idea for a high-powered opening that included gladiators and the Roman Coliseum.

“It’s a metaphor,” he tells executives.

“I don’t think this is gonna work for us,” one of the executives says.

Then Manning explains that he’s rented out the Coliseum for the actual shoot.

“You rented out the Los Angeles Coliseum?” one of the executives asks, befuddled.

“No, we rented out the Roman Coliseum,” Manning gamely answers.

While the executives aren’t completely sold on the idea, actor John Malkovich absolutely hates it, dressing down Manning in the boardroom via a teleconference from Rome.

“What is this gladiator stuff? This is the most clichéd thing I’ve ever seen. Peyton Manning, seriously? Why is he there?”

The executives explain that Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion with acting experience.

“Oh, of course, veal parm,” Malkovich says, referring to one of Manning’s many memorable commercials.

“Chicken parm,” Manning interjects.

“Cut that meat. How could I have forgotten? I mean, it shook me to the core of my being,” the actor continues ranting. “The idea is so dumb. I don’t—”

Click. Manning’s had enough.

“Did you just hang up on John Malkovich?” the executive asks.

Malkovich dials back in and continues his tirade.

“It is about the game. It’s the Super Bowl! The only story you need, Peyton, will be right in front of your eyes! Patriots! Rams! That is what the audience is waiting for. You know it!”

“John, it’s chicken parm,” Manning says.

“It’s what?” Malkovich, in disbelief, asks.

“You said veal parm. It doesn’t taste as good—“

“Don’t call me anymore.”

It’s OK, Peyton. We think it would’ve been a great opening.

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