Title: "Setting The Record Straight"
Interview 5 of 12
Written By: The 61 Minutes News Team (Pink-Green-White-4ever and Shawn30)
Summary: With two years of false news reports, lies written in many articles, privacy-invading prime time exposes, and unofficial books written about them and their former lives as Power Rangers the original twelve decide to finally set the record straight in a series of one-on-one interviews with Barbara Walters.
Timeline: Early 2007. Power Rangers Dino Thunder took place, although Tommy and Kim reunited during it. All will be explained in their own words. EVERYTHING else is canon, but keep in mind the Rangers are adults now and we're writing this as if the events in the PR universe happened in real life.
R for no holds barred adult language.
Couples: Outside of Tommy and Kim just keep your eyes open evil grin
Email: Notes 1. In early 2005 secret Government files were accidentally opened to the public revealing the names of the first twelve Power Rangers. The C.I.A were covertly keeping tabs on everything that took place in Angel Grove during the Rangers tour of duty and discovered over the years the identities of the Power Rangers. They never learned all the details of what happened behind the scenes with Zordon or the various enemies they fought, but enough intelligence was gathered that names and addresses were discovered. Upon being outed to the public, the former Rangers anonymous lives were over as they became instant, overnight celebrities.
But the lights of stardom tend to fade and after while their privacy was being invaded from all sides. Former friends and family members began writing books and giving interviews for money. News crews hounded their residences. Paparazzi hounded them everywhere they went, as well as their work places. Nighttime news programs ran intense exposé on their lives, loves, and pieced-together history as Power Rangers. Outright Lies, crazy assumptions, and rude invasions of privacy have led the former Rangers to finally break their silence and tell their story in their own words.
As is posted on the ABC: The profile of Barbara Walters, she has arguably interviewed more statesmen, Presidents, and stars than any other journalist in history. She is so well known that her name and a brief biography is listed in the American Heritage Dictionary. And when the former Ranger's new publicist contacted her to conduct the interviews she jumped at the chance to bring the story of Earth's greatest heroes to the world in their own words, while humanizing the larger than life warriors that risked their lives to protect the world for so many years.
Choosing a small, intimate studio audience while allowing call-in questions to be taken live on the air, the former Power Rangers will at last tell their story, answer Barbara's pointed questions as well as your own concerning their professional and private lives. Expect the unexpected as this prime time interview series will air on HBO instead of network television.
Authors Notes 2: Kimberly Ann Hart-Oliver opens the new groundbreaking series, followed by her husband Dr. Tommy Oliver, Jason Lee Scott and Trini Kwan. The next series will involve Dr. Billy Cranston, Adam Park, Katherine Hillard, and Aisha Campbell. The last series gives us Tanya Sloan, Rocky DeSantos, Zackary Taylor and Justin Stewart. Concluding things will be a huge round table discussion with all of the Rangers present.
Authors Notes 3. Rita Repulsa first attacked the Earth on August 28, 1993. That's twelve and a half years ago. Our walk down memory lane begins now...
The Alpha Stunts team is the crew that does all the stunts for the Power Rangers television series. We did not make this team up nor do we own the name and we aren't associated with them.
The applause in the studio was deafening as the host for the evening's festivities walked out from behind the stage. She stood before the crowd and smiled. "I'm Barbara Walters, and I'd like to welcome to you Setting The Record Straight." The audience applauded more, as the large television screens set up around the now familiar stage began to flash clips of the show's subjects, as well as clips from the past four interviews - there were images of Kimberly wiping away her tears and then smiling valiantly talking about her road back to the love of her life; Tommy blushing when he was talking about how his fans have depicted his relationship with his wife; Jason, eyes blazing with emotion as he talked about his time in New York; Trini winking at the camera when talking about a day in her life. Other images blared across the screens as well, images of all twelve Rangers as the public had come to know and love them, in and out of uniform.
"This marks the start of the second set of interviews with the enigmatic heroes known as the Power Rangers." Images of the Morphin', Zeo, and Turbo Rangers in their suits fighting various enemies flashed across the screen, the final three being the Black Morphin', Green Zeo and Green Turbo Rangers before the last image melded into one of a shy smiling man with spiked black hair and soulful almond colored eyes. "My guest tonight comes from humble beginnings in the craggy area of Southern California simply known as Stone Canyon. He's risen to fame as one of Hollywood's leading stunt experts, but there is more to him than just fame and fortune."
All eyes tuned into the television monitors as the black screens lightened with the image of a young Asian man, a young African-American woman, and a little girl who had her mother's nose and eyes and her father's smile. "He was not the first to wear either of his colors, but he made each of them distinctly his own. He's a shy, humble, sensitive man who has been quoted as saying his biggest accomplishments in life are not his deeds as a Power Ranger, but in taking care of his wife and daughter, and being the best son he can be for his parents. It's with great pleasure that I ask you to welcome Adam Park to our stage."
The audience applauded, some of them even yelling out in greeting, as Adam came out from around the corner and onto the stage. He was dressed in a pair of nice black jeans and a black and green polo shirt. His smile, which had once been shy, was now confident, but still held a hint of the quiet man he was. He briefly shook Barbara's hand before the pair sat down in the chairs before the audience. "Adam, thank you for being here."
He grinned and nodded. "Thank you for helping us put our story out there," he told her, genuine relief in his voice.
"I image it's been pretty hectic since all of this started."
Adam nodded. "You have no idea, and even though some of the intensity has died down since we started doing the interviews, it's still very prevalent."
"Understandable. Adam, are you ready to start?" Barbara asked, watching with a bit of sympathy as he took a really deep breath, exhaled and then nodded. "You weren't one of the original six Rangers, were you?"
"No, I wasn't. I was the second Black Ranger, stepping in when Zack left for the Peace Conference with Jason and Trini," he explained, thankful that she started out slow.
"From what we've learned, you, Rocky, and Aisha grew up together in Stone Canyon. Can you tell me what it was like for you to become a Power Ranger with two of your best friends?"
The former Black and Green Ranger tilted his head a little and looked quite serious for a moment. "I couldn't have asked for anything more," he started. "Rocky, Aisha and I have been three peas in a pod since about third grade; we've literally gone through every milestone together. Becoming a Ranger with them right there with me is something I'm thankful for."
"Care to elaborate?" Barbara prodded.
Adam grinned. "When we became Rangers, we were stepping up for three of the originals, and that in and of itself was a hard thing, because of the pressures and expectations we put on ourselves. What's more, Tommy, Kimberly and Billy were still there, and they were the veterans and it was intimidating to start working with them, despite our fledgling friendship with them," he explained, taking a moment to pause and reflect before he started again. "Having my two best friends, who were also completely clueless in the superhero department, right there with me, learning and fighting beside me as we had done for most of our lives, was wonderful for my self-esteem and for getting comfortable with the role I was taking on."
"And yet, you were the last of the three of you to retire," Barbara injected.
Her comment caused Adam to let out a chuckle. "Trust me, if Rocky hadn't gotten hurt, he wouldn't have stepped down from the team. I'd like to think that by the end of our Turbo days, I was pretty confident, even without Rocky and Aisha right there with me."
"Would you say that's because of your wife?"
Adam was about to answer when the audience ooohed and awed at the picture that had appeared on the television screens. It was one of Tanya and him from their senior prom. "Okay, wow, that's an old picture," he laughed, shaking his head. "And yes, I think a lot of it had to do with my wife. Like I had before her, Tanya joined a team that had already been through so much together, who had already bonded over experiences she'd never share. We both had moved from our homes – me from Stone Canyon and her from Africa - to a place where all we had to keep us grounded were our teammates."
Barbara's smile told Adam and the audience she had something up her sleeve. "How did you and your wife end up together? Obviously, being Rangers together helped with that, but how did you two finally know you were it for each other?"
"It was a very long road for us," Adam started. "We started out very close friends, and then I don't know if you can call it dating, but right about the time we went from Zeo to Turbo, we went out on a few dates, but nothing serious. It wasn't until we were in college that things took a turn for the more serious."
"Would you mind sharing with us?" Barbara asked.
"Tanya got a full ride scholarship to go to UCLA after we graduated and I was given the opportunity to work as a stuntman with Dreamworks. It kept us apart, physically, but we stayed in contact via email, phone calls and the occasional visit," Adam explained, his face taking on a look that said he was lost in memories. "It was… it was really hard. We actually mutually broke up a few times, because at the time we weren't completely official. It wasn't until just after September 11th that we finally sat down and decided that we were sick of wanting each other and not doing anything about it."
"September 11th has held more than a bit of meaning with the Rangers, as it has with everyone in this country, wouldn't you say?" Barbara asked carefully, watching Adam's face harden slightly.
The former Ranger chose his words carefully, knowing that no matter what he thought, they would make and impact with someone somewhere. It was the same kind of thoughts he'd had when he'd been a Ranger; whatever he thought of that duty, somewhere, somehow, someone would be impacted from the job he did and the words he said. "I think if there was one lesson all of us had reaffirmed that day, it was not to take anything for granted, because you'd never know if you got another chance to do all the things you wanted to with your life," Adam spoke slowly and clearly, letting the emotions he felt seep into his voice. He knew the audience wanted real and unscripted, and they were getting it. "As Power Rangers, we had that lesson handed to us each and every time we powered up. I think in the years after we stopped being Rangers, we forgot the meaning of take every day as if it were your last, and the tragedy of September 11th just hit home what we'd already learned, what we had once lived by."
The audience remained silent as Adam finished what he'd been saying. Barbara was also silent, wanting to give Adam's emotional statement a moment to settle over the studio and television audiences. "Are you ready for some audience questions, Adam?" she asked carefully.
The pensive look on his face disappeared behind a slow smile. "I'm more than ready."
Nodding, Barbara motioned to the microphone where a young woman of about twenty-two stood there waiting patiently. "Go ahead young lady."
"Hi Adam, I'm Carissa," she smiled at him.
"Hi Carissa. What can I answer for you?"
"I was just wondering, how has your life changed, for good and for bad, since you became a Ranger? Not the big things, but just the simple, every day things."
Adam looked a little shocked by the question but really seemed to think about it. "Well, big thing is my lack of privacy now that my identity has been broadcast to the entire world," he joked. "I mean, I just love waking up in the morning, heading downstairs to fix my daughter breakfast and looking out the kitchen window to find reporters snooping around my backyard." The audience didn't know whether to laugh or not until Adam wiggled his eyebrows. "Of course, my dog just loves that. Gives him practice chasing people, and of course, helps me keep up on those old Ninja skills what with me sneaking outside and sneaking up on people."
The audience laughed at the mental image of Adam sneaking around in a pair of boxer shorts. "Honestly, there aren't really small things that I could point out. I mean, it's kind of cool that I have people come up to me and tell me how much I've changed their lives, whether from saving them or from inspiring them. At first, that was a little weird. Again, the invasion of privacy now. Being a Ranger meant I had to get use to keeping my identity a secret. When someone got hurt or killed because I couldn't get there fast enough, I had to hold the guilt in. Like Tommy said, we had to paste on the happy teenager smile and act like nothing had happened. I can't count the number of times after a battle that I hid in my room for hours and just cried because of the guilt."
"You didn't confide in the others?" Barbara softly questioned. She was only momentarily surprised by Adam's admission of crying, but surmised he was comfortable enough to admit something that most people would consider unmanly.
Adam shook his head. "Not always. We all had demons we had to learn to overcome, and sometimes we just needed to do that on our own. You know, everyone laughs we say that one of us was this or one of us was that, but each of us had our roles to play within the dynamic of the group. Tommy and Jason were the leaders, the ones who kept us focused on what we were doing. Aisha and Tanya were the nurturers, the ones who took care of all of us, made sure we took care of ourselves. Billy and Justin were our brains, the ones who got us out of any and every situation. Trini and I were the confidants, the ones everyone came to when they just needed someone to let it out to. Rocky and Zack were the jokesters who kept everything light and easy going. Kim and Kat were our heart and soul. I can't count the number of times that Kim or Kat would come and just sit with me, not saying a word. They were our constant encouragement, the ones who reminded us why we were fighting and what we had to lose if we didn't succeed."
Carissa nodded. "In all honesty," he told her, looking right at her as he spoke. "I think that not a whole lot has changed, really, other than people know. At the heart of all of us that served the Power, we were already heroes, already warriors – being Rangers just gave us the power and the opportunity to prove it to ourselves. I hope that answers your question."
"It does, thank you."
"Our next question comes from a caller. Go ahead caller," Barbara spoke.
"Hi Barbara, hi Adam. I'm Roger from Alaska."
"What can I answer for you, Roger?" Adam started.
"Could you describe your first day on the job for us?" Roger asked.
Adam laughed. "Oh, man, you're really killing me here."
"Sorry, I'm just really curious."
"No, that's cool man. Believe it or not, the first day on the job, I wasn't even a Ranger," Adam started, grinning. "It happened a few weeks before I became a Ranger, when Rocky, Aisha and I beat the Angel Grove team in the Team Ninja competition that year. We actually met Tommy, Kim and Billy in the park that afternoon while Rollerblading. We saved a baby in a stroller from going over a hill, got kidnapped, almost turned into Zedd's evil Rangers and found out the identities of the Power Rangers."
"Oh wow!" Roger gasped. "What about the first day you became a Ranger?"
Adam's face took on a wistful quality. "My first day as a Ranger consisted of destroying one of Zedd's devices before I even got my powers then suddenly finding myself in the Command Center receiving Zack's powers and saying goodbye to three new friends before I ended up on the battlefield trying to beat back this ugly looking monster and getting my butt kicked. Overall, it's an experience I will never forget."
"Thank you Roger," Barbara spoke. "We're going to take our first break, and when we come back, we'll talk to Adam a bit more about his family."
"Welcome back to Setting The Record Straight. My guest tonight is Adam Park, one of the longest serving Power Rangers of not only the original twelve but of all of the Rangers of Earth."
The camera panned away from Barbara and honed in on Adam who was sitting quietly in the chair taking a sip of the water he'd been provided. "Now Adam, at the risk of repeating myself, I'd like to ask you something I've asked everyone else."
"Shoot," he grinned.
"How did your parents react to finding out your secret identity?" Barbara candidly questioned.
Adam's face was a mixture of emotions – regret, relief, understanding and a little bit of fear. When a picture of him and his parents flashed across the television screens, he carefully and silently worded his answer before speaking. "You'd be surprised," he spoke softly at first. "I expected some yelling, maybe some accusations, but you know, my parents are really quiet, really simple people, and I don't mean that as an insult. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life when either of them has really been upset with something I've done. They're just really laid back about most things, and were even when I was a kid."
"They weren't mad?" Barbara asked.
"Not so much mad as disappointed in the fact that I hadn't felt the need to tell them, at least initially," he started, a gentle smile easing onto his face. "Like the others, Rocky, Aisha and I got our parents together, sat them down, and explained to them exactly why we hadn't told them before and let them get all of the questions, rants and the likes out of the way. Surprisingly enough, the only thing my parents asked at that meeting was if there were any lasting scars or pain from being a Ranger, having obviously seen some of our battles on television."
The veteran journalist nodded. "What did you tell them?"
"How do you explain to your parents, who think they've raised you in the safest environment they thought possible, who taught you to stay out of trouble, that you have scars, mentally and physically, and you have issues that will never quite heal? I felt like I'd disappointed them somehow, because I couldn't be who they thought I'd grown into," he sighed, his face looking pained as he explained the situation. "There are things about my time as a Ranger that I refuse to share with them, even to this day, because I won't allow those things to touch my family, just like I won't allow them to touch my child. Tanya and I made an agreement when all of this first started happening that while we would tell our parents as much as we could, there are just some things that someone in our position cannot and will not tell those they love. It's one thing for you to be touched by things first hand; it's another to have it touch the people you love most."
"So after the initial confrontation?"
"My parents are pretty cool with it. My mom, every now and then, gets on my case about it, for obvious mom reasons, but my dad is just tickled pink about it," he rolled his eyes then grinned. "They're a little freaked out by people trying to contact them about it, to get in contact with me since I have an unlisted number, but they've taken it in stride, and to be quite honest, the people of Angel Grove and Stone Canyon have been more than understanding about leaving our parents alone, since most of our parents do still live there or near there."
Barbara smiled and nodded. "And how has your daughter, who's only what, four, dealt with it?"
Adam sighed happily when a picture of his daughter flashed across the screen. "Peanut Butter's really too young to understand, to be honest. She knows we were Power Rangers, but I don't think she fully understands what that means. Right now, the most important things to her are playing, eating Peanut Butter sandwiches, and playing with her many aunts and uncles."
"Does she have a favorite?" Barbara asked, a twinkle in her eyes.
"Surprisingly enough, her favorite uncle is Billy, cause I think when he's with her, he challenges her to think. As far as aunts, I honestly think her favorite is Kimberly. I mean, she seriously looks up to Kim in so many ways, which would probably be a first for Kim," Adam snickered, causing the audience to roar at the joke about Kim's height. "Sorry Kim!" he told the camera, knowing his cell phone would have several messages on it after he was done. "Kim's probably spent the most time with her, since Peanut's training at Kim's gymnastics academy. She sees her aunt doing something and man, she's so fearless she's all trying to do stuff she shouldn't. On more than one occasion we've had to have Kim come over to the house and explain that the gymnastics needs to stay in the gym or outside, not near the stairs."
The audience got a good chuckle out of that. "We're going to take an audience question now. Go ahead young man," Barbara motioned for the man in his late twenties standing at the microphone to ask his question.
"My name is Mike, and I was just wondering, you've called your daughter Peanut Butter, and so have the others, care to explain where the nickname came from and can you tell us her real name?"
Adam grinned. "That was a Trini given nickname after she was born," he started, grinning. "The reason we call her Peanut Butter is because she's biracial – I'm Korean-American and my wife is African-American – and Tri thought it was quite funny that the one thing throughout her entire pregnancy that Tanya craved was Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. It just sort of stuck. As far as her real name, it's Isabella."
"If her pictures are anything to go by, she's beautiful and her name fits her. Thanks Adam."
"Thank you, her mother and I think she's the most beautiful girl in the world, and you're welcome Mike, thanks for the question."
"Adam," Barbara started, gaining his attention. "Obviously, being a Ranger changed you, but while we're on the subject of family, how has fatherhood changed you?"
A huge grin spread across his face, making several of the fan girls in the audience ooh and aww over him. "It makes you a lot less selfish," he started, taking a deep breath while he thought about all the ways having his little girl had changed him. "It also makes you ten times more aware of how bad the state of the world has gotten, and that's saying something for me since I knew how bad things were fifteen years ago. It's also made me ten times more afraid every time one of us steps foot outside of the house, because you never know when you won't see each other again. I worry about her constantly – am I making the right decisions for her, is she happy, is she growing up healthy. She's also a constant joy to me, and I feel very blessed to have witnessed all her firsts – first steps, first word, first haircut, first tooth, the first time she tied her shoes."
"Now that you're a father, do you look back at things you disagreed on with your parents from when you were younger?" Barbara asked, grinning.
"Oh yeah. It's like, now, I step back and am all 'Okay, now I see why Mom or Dad said this, did this' because I look at her and all of sudden, I can so see her, just from her personality, doing that and getting into tons of trouble or doing it and getting hurt. That's one of the best things about her that she got from Tanya is that she's daring, a lot more daring than I ever was, and she's smart. But overall, I think the biggest change is that I never thought after I realized I loved Tanya that I could love anyone as much if not more, and with my daughter, I do."
"We're going to take another audience question. Go ahead young lady."
A pretty young woman with mocha colored skin and light brown hair was standing at the microphone. "Hi Adam, I'm LaKita."
"Hi LaKita. What can I answer for you?"
"Now that your identities have been revealed, we've gotten to see that the Rangers, at least Mighty Morphin up through Space, are a very diverse group, ethnically," she started, causing Adam to nod. "And obviously, you are involved in not only a biracial marriage but you have a child. How have you coped with that and how are you coping with it in terms of your daughter?"
"That's a really good question," Adam started. "And you're right, we are a pretty diverse group; Tommy's Native American, Trini's Chinese, Vietnamese and French. I'm of Korean dissent, Billy's got a little Dutch in him, Aisha and Tanya's families are both originally from Africa, Kat's Australian, Rocky's Mexican-American, and the list goes on. Despite the hardships we faced as Rangers, we never had to deal with that type of un-education in the group, though we definitely have dealt with it outside of the group," he explained, licking his lips as he thought how to word his answer. "I've had my fair share of people who've looked at me in disgust or looked at mine and Tanya's marriage with disapproval, but for the most part, no one has come up to me and said anything. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that both Tanya and I are former Rangers, because in a perfect world I'd like to think that people have more common sense to butt in where it isn't any of their business. People are entitled to their opinions, but I am raising my daughter with the understanding that your skin color doesn't matter, it's what's inside that counts. She's never going to look at someone and judge them because their different than her. I also want her to be proud of her heritage, because it's rich and diverse. One of my favorite sayings is something I got from Tommy's mother. Mrs. Oliver always says 'If God wanted us all to be the same, he'd have made us the same. He gave us different colors, different religions, and different backgrounds for a reason.' I honestly, truly, sincerely believe in that saying, because from what I've seen in my time as a Ranger and as a person in general, it's so true."
"Thank you Adam," LaKita told him before sitting down.
Barbara shifted in her seat, looking at Adam directly, a smile lighting her face. "You're and Tanya are the first of the team to have a child. After all of the things you've been through together as a team, how did that affect the dynamic of the group?"
"As a group, I really think that it was an affirmation of all the times we put our lives on the line," Adam truthfully told her. "My friends adore my daughter, and I think when Tanya and I had her, it just brought all of us closer together than ever before. She's the reason we never gave up, the reason we fought to survive. I honestly can't wait until the others start having kids, so that they can experience what it's like."
"Does that mean there may be a few buns in the oven?" Barbara teasingly pried.
"As of right now, I honestly can say I don't know, but if and when the others start having children, I'd like to ask everyone to kindly give them their privacy. Having a child is stressful enough, doing so in the public eye is probably worse. We're a very private group despite that some of us have very public careers, and despite past exploits, we'd like to be treated like normal people, because at the end of the day, that's what we are."
Barbara nodded and turned to the camera. When we come back, we'll delve more into Adam's past and see how he dealt with being a Power Ranger while being a teenager."
"Welcome back to Setting The Record Straight. In case you're just tuning in, my guest tonight is Adam Park, former Black and Green Ranger. Adam, are you ready for some more audience questions?"
The dark haired young man nodded. "Definitely."
"Our next question comes from a caller. Go ahead caller."
The voice of a young man sounded. "My name is Elijah, and I wanted to ask you, Adam, how hard was it juggling being a Ranger and going to high school and how did you manage it?"
"Well, Elijah, it was the hardest thing I've probably ever done in my life," Adam admitted. "We were prepared to go into battle at any moment, as we should have been, but most days, the attacks didn't happen until school let out. I honestly don't think we missed any classes the entire time any of us were Rangers. I know we missed a few extracurricular activities, and were really late for some other things, but we never missed a class, which is really strange in the grand scheme of things. I've always wondered about it myself," he paused, a goofy look crossing his features before he shook his head to clear it. "Rita, Zedd, Mondo, and Divatox had every opportunity to attack while we were stuck in class and they never did, or if they did, it was usually the last class of the day. The only time I can remember really missing something was my high school graduation and that was because Divatox decided to be a nuisance."
"So you lived in fear?" Elijah asked over the line.
"I wouldn't say I lived in fear, I'd say I was prepared for anything to happen, and it most often did; it just, looking back on it now, it never happened during school. As far as our grades and stuff, Billy and Trini really did a bang up job of keeping us focused on our school work on top of being Rangers," Adam grinned. "Zordon also made sure to instill in us how important it was that we continue to live our lives as normally as possible, because it would help us deal with being Rangers but also because we couldn't give away any indication that something was wrong. The first sign of us giving anyone reason to suspect would have meant people would start digging into our sudden disappearances and considering we wore our colors on a daily basis, it really wouldn't have been that hard to find out who we really were."
"Maybe that's why the American government found out so easily?" Elijah joked, causing Adam to crack up.
"Now, now, let's not get into politics," Adam scolded lightly. "The government is doing what it sees as necessities, even if not everyone agrees with it."
"Now, Adam," Barbara started, gaining his attention. "Didn't any of you ever aspire to be politicians after you gave up being a Ranger? I know that transition from saving the world to being normal again couldn't have been easy."
"Even with Jason, Zack and Trini having left for the Peace Conference and Kim and Tommy running for student council during our time as Rangers, I don't think any of us, after all was said and done, would have wanted the spotlight of being politicians," he told her, his voice dropping. "We knew all too well the problems facing not only our own country but countries around the world. I don't think we could have done the job and not revealed our identities to the entire planet at the time. We just simply knew too much."
Barbara nodded. "The transition was that hard, wasn't it?"
Adam's face showed so many emotions that it was hard to name them all. He bowed his head slightly as he tried to think of how to speak what he was thinking. AS he did so, the audience and Barbara became deathly quiet. "When you've held something like that inside of you, to suddenly not have it any more, it's hard," he started, searching for the words. "Tanya, Kat, Tommy and I weren't given the choice, really, about retiring. Dimitria basically laid it out for us that now that we were transitioning into our adult lives, the burden of being Rangers needed to be passed to a new generation, to a new group of people that we deemed worthy of taking our places. It hurt to be told that, hurt to give up that life because it was all we really knew, but in the end, I think we were soothed by the fact that we were allowed to choose our successors."
Just as Adam's words came out, the television screens flashed clips of four young people, each one wearing a signature color and each one smiling – T.J. Johnson in red, Ashley Hammond in yellow, Carlos Valerte in Green and Cassie Chan in pink. "These four...your chosen," Barbara murmured.
"We couldn't have picked better people than those four to take our places, to charge with saving the world," Adam told her, passion seeping into his voice. "Like us before them, they made mistakes, learned from their defeats and their victories, but in the end, they learned the two most important lessons any Ranger could learn – anything's possible and once a Ranger, always a Ranger."
The veteran journalist smiled at Adam's obvious pride in the four men and women that were chosen so long ago to take his and his friends' places. "Adam, what did you do in the years after you retired from being a Ranger? You've told us some of what you did earlier, like finally coming together with Tanya and having your daughter, but what else did you do?"
"I went to college," he told her, shifting in his seat. "I majored in performing arts and minored in physical education and business. I attended so many stunt seminars and training schools that I can't begin to count them, and I landed a job with one of the toughest stunt teams in the world, Alpha Stunts."
"Such a compact look on your life, surely there were other things?"
Adam nodded. "I was a behind the scenes guy when the Red Rangers from Mighty Morphin to Wild Force gathered in 2002 to take out Lord Zedd's Serpentara, which had been uncovered by the remnants of the Machine Empire. During Tommy's tenure as the Black Ranger for Dino Thunder I was also on standby incase they needed the Zeo Rangers for back up. Other than that, I've been able to be there for my friends, watch them accomplish their dreams, and I think one of my favorite things that I've done since retiring was watching Tommy and Kim find each other again."
Barbara looked confused. "Why would you say that?"
"Because, I've been there, I've seen the road they traveled, from being as close as two people humanly can be to their break up, to the long road to them being together again. I wasn't around when they fell in love the first time, but being around them this time..." he started, trailing off. "I know they both hate the term, but honestly, they seriously have a fairytale romance in some aspects. They were lucky enough to be given that elusive second chance, and they didn't waste it."
"You've started your own business now, haven't you?"
Adam nodded. "One of my dreams as a young martial artist was to open my own dojo. This spring, I'm making that a reality. The Green Frog Martial Arts and stunt school is opening its first branch in Angel Grove. I've already got more students signed up than I'm going to know what to do with."
"Will we be seeing future branches of the school?"
The happy grin was contagious to the audience as Adam's head bobbed. "I've already got plans drawn up for locations in Stone Canyon, Los Angeles, a mini school in Reefside that will be headed by Kim and Tommy, and possibly one in Mariner Bay, which will also include a flight school headed by Lightspeed's Green Ranger."
"Impressive. You honestly think that your business will do that well?"
"I've already got close to about three thousand students who've shown interest in the schools, and some of them include some of the best stunt teams in the country, not to mention a few from around the world," Adam confidently replied. "One of my favorite sayings is 'Go Big or Go Home', so I'm putting it to use."
Barbara shifted through some papers and then smiled. "We're going to take an audience question. Go ahead young lady," she gestured to the pretty blonde standing at the microphone.
"Hi Adam, I'm Kelly."
"Hi Kelly. What can I answer for you?"
"I was wondering, what do you like better, being a stuntman or having been a Ranger, and what are the difference and similarities between the two?"
Pursing his lips, Adam sat back and thought about it. "To be honest, I don't think I can choose one over the other. They've both had special places in my life. As far as the differences, obviously, being a stuntman means I'm putting my life on the line, trusting that what I've learned and that the skills my colleagues have will keep me from getting killed. As a Ranger, I had the power backing me, and while there was a chance that I could get killed, I knew that the power would absorb most of the impact and do it's best to shield me. Similarities, they're both an adrenaline rush, and I excelled at both."
"Thank you, Adam."
"Thanks for the question," he smiled at the young lady. Turning, Adam, like the rest of the audience noticed the seriousness of Barbara's expression and suddenly he felt that an important question was about to be brought up. "Uh oh, I don't think I like that face," Adam joked softly.
"Given a choice, knowing what you know now, would you still have become a Ranger or would you have said no?"
Adam didn't even blink as he answered that. "I would still, even today, have chosen exactly as I had then," he told her, his voice serious, drawing the audience to the edge of their seats.
"Because, there was no choice, there was no possibility of not accepting the task I'd been charged with," he explained. "Yes, it was a long, hard, arduous road to travel, and yes, as I've said before, there were things I wish I hadn't gone through that resulted from being a Ranger, but neither my friends nor I would be who we are today if we hadn't been Rangers, and the world wouldn't be as it is, intact, if we hadn't been Rangers."
"You don't think there were others out there at the time who could have done the job?" Barbara quietly asked.
"Zordon didn't choose them, he chose us, for a reason," Adam's voice had a slightly hard edge to it. "Each team has been called up when it was their time, for a reason – they've been called up when the Power recognized they were ready. They might not have thought so, and while I respect today's outlook on magic, religion and personal choice, I also know that there are things out there that no one has control over – call it fate, call it destiny, call it The Force or the Great Power; whatever it is, it knows and it sees and it determines when it's time for a new team of Rangers to come into existence. This only happens when evil threatens to destroy the delicate balance that is maintained. To answer your question, I would still make the same decision today, even as a father and husband, as I did the day I was asked to be a Ranger. There is, and was, no other choice for me."
Barbara nodded and turned to the camera. "When we come back, we're going to delve into some Ranger-centered questions for Adam. Stay tuned."
The lights in the studio dimmed a bit when the director motioned that they were back on the air. "Welcome back to Setting The Record Straight, I'm your host, Barbara Walters. Our guest tonight is Adam Park, former Black Morphin and Green Zeo and Turbo Ranger. Our final segment is going to delve a little deeper into Adam's time as a Ranger. Audience are you ready?"
"Adam," Barbara grinned. "Are YOU ready?"
"Then let's begin. Our next question is going to come from a caller. Go ahead."
"Hi Adam, my name is Megan."
"Hi Megan. What can I answer for you?" Adam asked, tilting his head to the side slightly so that he could hear her question clearly through the speaker above him.
"Well, I was wondering, in all your time as a Ranger, who was your worst enemy?"
Adam seemed to sit back in his chair and blow out a long breath at that. The audience could see him almost thinking back on the countless monsters and villains he faced as a Power Ranger. "Without a doubt, Lord Zedd."
With a sigh, Adam sat straighter in his chair and reached for the glass of water in front of him. After a long swallow, he cleared his throat. "I never had to face Rita on her own, not like the original six did," he explained first. "And the Machines and Divatox were literally laughable at times, but for all his dumb ideas, and the stupid monsters he sent down, Zedd was the one who, pardon my language, fucked with our heads the worst. He's the one who nearly killed us on more than one occasion, he's the one who made us doubt ourselves the most, he's the one who singled all of us out at one time or another and played mind games. He's the one who finally took Tommy's Green Ranger powers, he's the one who nearly drained Kimberly's life force from her, and he's the one who pitted us against each other at the worst of times. Call Zedd comical if you want, but he played mind games better than any of the other villains we faced, and of all of them, he did more damage to us by messing with our heads then sending down monsters to attack the city. We knew our limits, physically, in beating his monsters. He sought to destroy our spirits and our minds by attacking us where we were most vulnerable – mentally and emotionally."
"Thank you Adam."
"You're welcome," he looked directly into the camera and nodded before turning to look at Barbara.
"Jason mentioned in his interview something about you having animal spirits, or animal guides. Will you tell me about them?"
Adam smiled then, feeling much better now that the topic had shifted to something he loved talking about. "Six of us, well seven if you count Katherine, were given spirit animals by Ninjor, Keeper of the Temple of Power, and forger of the original power coins. It happened after Rito Revolto, Rita's brother, came and destroyed our Thunder Zords and basically our powers," he explained. "Rocky is the Ape, Aisha is the Bear, Billy's the Wolf, I'm the Frog, Kimberly and Katherine shared the Crane powers but they are, for all intense purposes, Kimberly's, and Tommy was the Falcon."
"A frog?" Barbara asked, amusement in her voice and on her face.
"Yeah, you know, a frog, like the ones you kiss to get a handsome prince?" Adam cracked, wiggling his eyebrows while not only Barbara but the audience laughed.
"What was it like for you to receive your spirit animal?"
The former Ninjetti seemed to contemplate that question a moment. "It opened a whole new world for all of us. Our Ninja Powers, and subsequently our spirit animals, really cemented the bond being Rangers had created, let alone the bonds some of us had created growing up together, or in Tommy and Kim's case, the bond created by the love for each other. Our spirit animals are an embodiment of us, the traits and characteristics that make up who we are."
"Losing Kimberly and then having Katherine take her place couldn't have been easy then."
Adam shook his head. "No, it wasn't easy. Kimberly's powers were stripped from her in a way not even Tommy had had to go through with the Green Ranger powers. Zordon had to physically sever Kim's ties to her powers, and by extension to us, because the spirit animals and the powers they provided us to become Ninjas and Rangers were tied directly into our life force, the very essence of our beings. It was a blow to not only Kim, but to us as well. We all felt it, especially Tommy. When the Pink Power Coin was retrieved, Katherine was chosen, by Kim, to wield the powers. While that's what happened, and Katherine had success being the Pink Ninja and Ranger, the spirit of the Crane is forever Kimberly's."
"It's rumored that you helped out The Space Rangers very briefly, would you describe that experience?" Barbara asked him.
"I really don't want to get into too much detail about that, but to sum it up, basically Carlos had an experience that each of us has had during our tenure as Rangers, and he needed someone not on his own team to help him work through it, so that's exactly what I did; I helped him work through it. No more, no less."
The veteran journalist let her eyebrow lift at Adam's succinct answer to her question but let it pass without another comment. It was obvious it wasn't a subject he wanted to talk about, and she wasn't going to push him. "We have time for two more questions, so we're going to take a final one from the audience. Go ahead young man," she gestured to the thirty-something at the microphone.
"My name is Alex."
"Adam, my question is this - being a Ranger is almost likened to being in a secret society, and you are one of the first. How do you deal with the adoration of the Rangers who came after you? Obviously, you've met some of the Rangers that came after you, but which teams have you met or have you not kept up with them?"
"Wow, that's a mouthful, and I've never looked at being a Ranger as being in a secret society, even though, now that I think about it, it sorta is," he quipped, shifting in his seat. "I'm not like Tommy, I haven't met the majority of the teams that came after us," he grinned, winking at the camera, knowing that the others were sure to razz their friend. "I've met some from most of the teams, with the exception being Space and Dino Thunder, who I've met all of. I'd say that while they admire those of us who came before them, it's more of a mutual respect thing. The newbies always seem to be the worst until they fight alongside of you, then they understand that you're normal, just like everyone else." Adam watched the audience laugh and Barbara smile, and knew that both Cole and Conner were going to get a razzing because of his comment. "Did that answer your question?"
Barbara cleared her throat, drawing everyone's attention back to her. "I have one final question before we wrap up. The four of your teammates who've sat on this stage before you spoke with a mixture of emotions when I asked them what I'm about to ask you," she started, catching Adam's attention. The former Ranger almost seemed to understand she'd chosen the hardest question of all for last. "How did you deal with the loss of Zordon, and the fact that a Ranger was forced to take his life?"
The audience watched in silence as the look on Adam's face spoke volumes. His throat seemed to move intensely as he tried to swallow the obvious emotional lump that had formed at her question. "How does anyone deal with the death of a loved one?" he rhetorically asked. "Everyone deals with that sort of thing differently, we weren't any different. I remember the day he died; I knew, just like the others did, the moment when he was gone. I felt him go, felt the safe and reassuring presence that had been with me since the day I became a Ranger simply fade away. Losing him was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through, because he was very much like a second father to me. He was everything we'd stood for, the embodiment of everything we were fighting for. He was our pillar of strength and our level-headed council in uncertain times. It was only fitting that when his time came, it was a Ranger who took his life. I know that sounds morbid," Adam told everyone calmly. "But it's true. I bore no ill will towards Andros for having to do what Zordon demanded of him, because I don't think that any of us who actually had served under him would have been able to do it. We were too attached to him, we'd have argued to find another way. While Andros was friends with him, he hadn't been one of Zordon's Rangers. I know it's given him some bad moments, just like it's given us all bad moments, but he did the one thing the rest of us couldn't – he honored Zordon's selfless request to reset the balance as only he could."
Barbara nodded and reached out to take Adam's hand, understanding he needed a moment. "Thank you, Adam, for joining us tonight."
"It was my pleasure," he murmured.
Turning to the camera, Barbara quietly read from the prompter. "Join us for our next interview with the Original Blue Ranger, Billy Cranston. Until then, I'm Barbara Walters and on behalf of the staff and the Rangers themselves, I'd like to thank you for joining us tonight. Good night."