Talking to the Year’s Hottest Pitchman

Old Spice guy meets The Most Interesting Man in the World. Can we turn on the mud hose when the wrestling begins?

Isaiah Mustafa, the smooth-talking horseman and the year’s hottest pitchman on Yahoo!, gives us one more shot at his altar by hosting TBS’s “Funniest Commercials of the Year” (10 p.m. December 16). And in the parallel universe of cable and commercials, Mustafa gets face time with Jonathan Goldsmith, the interesting man of Dos Equis, and David Hasselhoff, of mysteriously persistent fame.

But sadly, expect no smack talk between Mustafa and Goldsmith, or some stare-down with Hasselhoff for that matter, either. “Jonathan is actually a friend of mine,” said Mustafa, who met the 72-year-old charmer through his manager. “We get along pretty well. He’s a funny guy, and he’s got so many great stories.”

The towel-draped fave also has nothing but fanboy praise for Hasselhoff, who returned in kind when they met for the TBS special.  “I was a huge fan of ‘Knight Rider,’” he reminisced. “It was awesome to meet David Hasselhoff. He’s so full of energy, full of life.” The former ‘Knight’ and “Bay Watch” star also gave back as good as he got, telling Mustafa, “’You’re such a funny guy, and I’m so proud of everything you’ve done.’”

If you’re getting the sinking feeling – the kind of sinking feeling you get falling onto a pile of goose-down pillows surrounded by frolicking puppies – that Mustafa is as affable a spirit as he is athletic (former NFL wide receiver) and well-groomed, then yes, there will be no mud-wrestling matches on countdown of the year’s top commercials. About the only smack talk Mustafa indulges in is this silken-delivered line: “The Old Spice guy doesn’t need to be the most interesting. He is the most interesting.”

That now-famous delivery, incidentally, is not quite his real voice, but his mix-up tape of James Brolin, Robert Wagner, Adam West, and “a hint of Billy Dee Williams.” Sadly, none of these four gents have yet reached out to thank Mustafa, or employ a bit of nepotism and get him a movie deal with a son, like, say Josh Brolin.

After all, the man set off a Search stampede since February, when his Old Spice ad first landed, and then later that summer with one of the better sequels of 2010. Talk show hosts like Ellen Degeneres couldn’t get enough of him, Mustafa’s probably the most-searched pitchman of 2010 on Yahoo!, and YouTube has him at No. 5 on its Rewind list – more than the Giant Double Rainbow guy. For a guy as nice as he is chiseled, we want the Cinderella story that Charmin-squeezing Mr. Whipple never had.

Not that Mustafa isn’t keeping busy. After the TBS special, the next place to catch him would be an upcoming episode of “Hot In Cleveland,” where he worked with Betty White and Jon Lovitz. He also will be on the NBC mid-season replacement show, “Love Bites,” an anthology-style approach to romance tales and a 21st-century take on the 1970s show “Love American Style.” Mustafa, who fittingly plays an out-of-this-world astronaut, got to work with the “amazing, talented” Ken Jeong of “Community” and “The Hangover.” No confirmation that Jeong is the love interest, which would indeed make this must-watch TV.

However, “Love Bites” isn’t the show. NBC signed him up back in June and they were eyeing future sitcom possibilities. So far nothing definite has materialized, but at least Mustafa’s also taking bit parts on the big screen, notably Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family” (April 22) and “Horrible Bosses” (July 29).

Whatever comes, Mustafa is there to make people happy. “Really, my whole goal in life is to further someone else’s experience,” he explained. “I like when people have a good time and enjoy a laugh. If I can make someone else’s experience, so much the better.”

No word yet on another Old Spice take, maybe mud-wrestling that other NFL-sculpted spokesperson, Terry Crewes. (Look, Mustafa has to mud-wrestle someone at some point. We’ll take Ken Jeong. Or puppies.) But of course, given all the rumors lately of couplings, the real question that’s on everyone’s minds:

What happened to the horse?

“The horse?” Mustafa repeated. “There were three. They just can’t stand there forever. Two of their names are escaping me, one of them is Aspen [the one who consented to a backwards rider]. They’re all up in Ventura County [California]. I can visit them anytime. They’re always welcome to stop at my place.”

Okay, now we have an in. Get the mud ready.

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