Happy Sunday, dear readers!
Today’s edition is a rare evening edition of the blast-o-rama. newsletter.
My intent is, as always, to have these in your inbox on Sunday morning, but after an absolutely ridiculously busy week at the day job, I decided that I’d absolutely immerse myself in my hobbies this weekend, and it was a great weekend to do so.
Friday night, Sam and I brought up In the Heights, the new massive musical streaming on HBO Max. For those unfamiliar, this is the show which Lin Manuel Maranda created prior to Hamilton, and in short, the film version is an absolute joy. It’s a big time capital HOLLYWOOD production, with amazing cinematography, gorgeous choreography, and stunning performances. While I thought it ran a smidge long at 2hrs 22mins, I cannot say I didn’t adore it the whole time. My only regret? Not seeing it on the big screen. It’s in theaters now, alongside its streaming debut, and I can only imagine how stunning it would be projected properly.
Saturday afternoon, I took in an iTunes viewing of Nobody, a movie best described as “What if John Wick, but instead of Keanu Reeves, it was Bob Odenkirk?” As a long time fan of Odenkirk (Mr. Show forever!) I had to give this one a spin, and it did not disappoint. I don’t know that the movie would’ve been a tenth as successful if I didn’t adore Bob Odenkirk as much, so, your milage may vary.
Saturday night, Sam and I spun up the first episode of Disney+’s Loki, the latest television installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the first episode of a six episode series, it’s clear that the gears are just starting to turn, but I adored the show’s retro-futuristic aesthetic, and god DAMN did I miss seeing Owen Wilson in something I enjoyed.
Throughout the weekend, I also put my PlayStation 5 through its paces, as I picked up the latest blockbuster for the system, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. The game plays like all the others in the series, but the scope and scale of the graphics and environments of the game are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. If this is the type of game coming out for the PS5 less than a year into its existence, we’re in for a very fun gaming generation.
As for the week ahead, Sam will be heading to Florida on Wednesday to visit with one of her best friends, so I will be a bachelor for a few days. I’m sure I’ll get sick of it, oh, 2 days in. But hey, maybe I’ll have another media report for you kicking off next week’s installment.
What did YOU watch this weekend?
Now, onto the things…
On paper, the concept sounded so simple. Take the model of The Hard Rock Cafe, but instead of making a restaurant which was focused on the history of music, build one which focuses on movies…and make sure the stars flock to it to where they become fixtures as much as their memorabilia on the walls. This was the idea behind Planet Hollywood, as 90’s a concept as they come.
They even had one here in Baltimore. But, like many businesses, the story of Planet Hollywood is that of too much, too fast. Kate Storey at Esquire takes a look at their rise and fall.
This was opening night of the Planet Hollywood on Rodeo Drive. Every celebrity you could imagine was there. It was the hottest ticket in town. ABC aired a special event, Planet Hollywood Comes Home. The cops shut down the street. All this for a chain restaurant that served chicken coated in Cap’n Crunch. And not just a chain restaurant but a theme restaurant. A Rainforest Cafe with celebrities. It seems unfathomable now that stars would go along with this.
But they appeared to be having a ball. For a few years in the nineties, these stars dropped any pretense of hauteur, while everyone else succumbed to their love of celebrity by paying ten dollars to eat a burger under the Terminator’s leather jacket. Cheesy? Yes. A massive—but fleeting—success unlike anything before it? A resounding yes.
By the start of the next decade, the enterprise would collapse, falling into bankruptcy twice, and the bold-faced names who reveled there would begin to walk away. Today, there’s a tendency among the stars involved to be overcome with sudden amnesia. It seems they’d rather we all just forget about the whole thing.
This is the untold story of the ultimate collaboration between A-list celebs and overpriced appetizers. A creation only the nineties could give us.
If you’re of my age, which I assume many of you are, you heard that headline as much as you read it.
It was a beloved obstacle in Legend of the Hidden Temple, one of the most beloved gameshows which permeated the Nickelodeon schedule. On the eve of the series returning as a reboot on CW to be played by ADULTS, Jelisa Castrodale at Vice looks back at the show with the adults who played it as kids.
The filming of the show went slowly. “They were long and challenging days,” Fogg said. “The first season was particularly challenging, as we were a new show, and we were scrambling to get it up on its feet. We typically did four shows a day and shot it out of order, so all of the moat crossings were first, then the Steps of Knowledge, the Temple Games, and finally the Temple Run. By the end of the day, I was completely exhausted. I’d never hosted a show, and this being a very complicated production, I was completely overwhelmed.”
Sometimes the contestants got overwhelmed too, in the worst possible way. Fogg confirmed that the well-circulated internet rumor about a female contestant puking all over the Pit of Despair wasn’t just a rumor. “She had gotten to the Pit—which comes early in the run—and I believe she got caught on the bottom with all of the pit balls,” he said. “She wasn’t tall so she was just kind of swimming in them…I could see she was distraught, then she suddenly threw up. We were all kind of stunned, and the show was stopped. She broke down in tears, and we ran over to help. Give her credit though, she composed herself while the crew cleaned the pit.”
This week marked the 50th anniversary of The New York Times publishing the Pentagon Papers, an absolutely game changing report which changed the shift of the Vietnam War.
Steven Spielberg gave the perspective of the story from The Washington Post’s side, in 2017’s The Post, and now, the Gray Lady herself has decided to look back on their own landmark reporting with this comprehensive oral history. Certainly makes you wonder what stories will be spoken of in a similar tone in 2071, yeah?
On Oct. 1, 1969, Daniel Ellsberg walked out of the RAND Corporation offices, where he worked as a Defense Department consultant, into the temperate evening air of Santa Monica, Calif. In his briefcase was part of a classified government study that chronicled 22 years of failed United States involvement in Vietnam. By then, the war had killed about 45,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. He had been posted in Vietnam, and even worked on the study he now carried. Having become convinced that the war was not only unwinnable but also a crime, he was now determined to stop it. Over the course of the next eight months, he spent many nights photocopying the rest of the study in secret.
He quit RAND, moved east for a fellowship at M.I.T. and for the next year tried to persuade members of Congress to help him expose the study — later known as the Pentagon Papers — to the world. It was not working. On the night of March 2, 1971, he was in Washington, D.C., and looked up Neil Sheehan, a New York Times reporter he had first met in Vietnam. The two started discussing the vast dossier.
A tip of the hat to a private Slack I’m on for this one.
In 2016, The New York Times finally decided to dig in and answer a question which has plagued companies for ages: When I’m Mistakenly Put on an Email Chain, Should I Hit ‘Reply All’ Asking to Be Removed?
It’s a well-researched, well-analyzed, well-considered report of what to do in this situation, and frankly, I can’t find the perfect excerpt to share. It’s too good.
Read it in full for yourself, here.
Another week ahead for us all! Conserve your energy, you have no idea what will get thrown at you. But you’re gonna make it. I believe in you!
Have a great week, and I’ll see you here next week!