July 25, 2005 12:00 PM

He’s battled Andre the Giant. He’s banged his head against The Rock. But Hulk Hogan is no match for Simba. “He cries at The Lion King,” says his daughter Brooke, 17. “Well, maybe not cries, but he sniffs and his bottom lip goes out.”

TV truism: If family members are dishing about a celeb dad, there’s probably a new reality show on the dial. This one, Hogan Knows Best—which premiered July 10 on VH1—follows Hogan; Linda, 45, his wife of 21 years; Brooke, an up-and-coming singer; and son Nick, 14, a car fanatic and fledgling actor. Eccentric dad? Teen kids looking for their own stardom? Sounds familiar, yes? “This show is about our family behind closed doors, with all the love and support of the Osbournes, but without the drugs and the rehab,” says Hogan, 51, who—in the interest of keeping it real—forgoes his stage name for what’s actually written on his driver’s license: Terry Bollea.

Still, the Hogan household actually outfreaks Chez Osbourne in some respects: The family’s 20,000-sq.-ft. French-country-style estate outside Clearwater, Fla., is home to more than 20 pets, including seven dogs, three tortoises and a rooster. And then there’s Hogan’s extreme approach to monitoring his daughter’s dating habits: He puts a GPS tracking device on her car. “I would say I am overprotective to perfection, not to a fault,” says Hogan. “With carjackings, and kids being taken in their sleep, to Sept. 11, what would you rather do?”

“Terry is a very involved dad,” understates wife Linda, who met Hogan in 1982, when she recognized him from his role in Rocky III (a film she had seen earlier that week because E.T. was sold out). “He trusts my decisions, but he wants to double-check everything too.”

As for the kids: Brooke’s romantic life might be a bit stifled, but her singing career has heat—her first single, “Everything to Me,” actually hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales chart last year, and now she’s working on a debut solo album. “He’s been in the limelight so much,” she says of her dad. “I was nervous about stealing some of the steam, but he was like, ‘No, take it away.'”

Nick, meanwhile, is doing a bit of steam-stealing too—he recently costarred in an indie horror film. “He’s the only good actor in this family,” Hogan says. “His posters will be in Spencer’s all over the country.”

So Dad’s on the wane? Not at all, says Hulk—er, Terry—speaking with the modesty that is the hallmark of professional wrestling. “I’m getting ready to sign a 20-year deal [with World Wrestling Entertainment],” says Hogan. “That’ll make me the Babe Ruth of wrestling.”

Chris Strauss. Kristin Harmel in Clearwater

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