Thursday, June 18, 2020

Hi-Five - I Just Can't Handle It (1990)

The early 90s saw a slew of R&B groups dominating the Billboard charts.  Hailing from Waco, Texas, Hi-Five picked up the mantle from New Edition with their smooth harmonies.  If there was ever a group that deserved a VH1 Behind The Music episode, Hi-Five was it.  Tragedy struck the quintet time and time again.  

Just before their debut album was released, Toriano Easley shot and killed a friend during an altercation and was sentenced to ten years in prison and dropped from the group.  While promoting their second album in 1993, the group was involved in a car accident leaving Roderick Clark paralyzed.  In 2007, lead singer Tony Thompson, who had a history of drug abuse, died inhaling a toxic amount of freon from the air conditioning unit outside his apartment building.  In 2009, Treston Irby survived being shot five times at a club appearance. Russell Neal was charged with first degree murder of his girlfriend in 2014.  This leaves Marcus Sanders as the only member unscathed.

In the fall of 1990, Hi-Five released their debut single - I Just Can't Handle It.  The single did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100, but it did hit #3 on the R&B charts.  For the video, the group is seen all over their hometown dancing and hanging out. Hi-Five would top the Hot 100 with their next single - I Like The Way (The Kissing Game).  

I Just Can't Handle It was filmed in Waco, TX

Location: The Elite Cafe
Address: 2132 S Valley Mills Drive, Waco, TX  

Today it is the Magnolia Table, which apparently has the best burger in town...

Location: The Waco Suspension Bridge
Address: University Parks Drive b/w Washington Avenue & Franklin Avenue, Waco TX  

Location: The Train Tracks
Address: just east of Franklin Avenue, Waco, TX

Locations Visited: October 2019

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

Born and raised West Philadelphian Will Smith is sent to live with his wealthy auntie and uncle in Bel-Air, CA after getting into one little fight shootin' some b-ball outside of his school.  The streetwise Will often clashes with the rules of the upperclass Banks Household.  Throw in a sardonic British butler and you've got NBC's long-running comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  

Clashes were no stranger behind the scenes.  Tension between Will Smith and Janet Hubert contributed to her departure at the end of the third season.  Audiences were introduced to a now bland and boring Aunt Viv for what was originally going to be one more season.  NBC cancelled the show in 1994, but outraged fans engaged in the lost art of letter writing and told its star and NBC they wanted more.  The series skyrocketed Will Smith to fame.  Soon the big screen beckoned he finally abdicated his thrown two years later.  Just after the series finale, Smith would star in the blockbuster Independence Day (1996).  My favorite episode is from the first season when Will & Carlton blackmail Hillary after learning she dropped out of school.  And almost thirty years later, I think I've finally perfected The Carlton Dance.

Location: Opening Credits Basketball Court
Address: 1800 Wallace Street, Philadelphia, PA  Roberto Clemente Playground

Location Visited: January 2020

Monday, June 1, 2020

RoboCop (1987)

Detroit has seen better days.  High crime and financial corruption has made The Motor City undesirable.  After Officer Alex Murphy dies in the line of duty, the Omni Consumers Product (OCP) Corporation seizes his body and transform it into a cyborg known as RoboCop, who is programmed to serve the public trust, protect the innocent and uphold the law.  RoboCop slowly recalls memories of Murphy's life while battling Clarence Boddicker and his gang before taking out the shady Senior VP of OCP.

Eight years before bringing us the beloved comedy Showgirls, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven helmed the critically and commercially successful sci-fi flick RoboCop.  The social satire script spoke to many.  Who can't relate to being used by a giant corporation?  Back in 2002, I worked on the AMC documentary series Backstory, which did an episode on RoboCop.  The filming process had its share of drama including money problems and brutal Dallas temperatures.  All scenes that did not involve the RoboCop suit were shot first.  The day the suit was finished, it didn't fit Peter Weller, which mounted in friction between him and Verhoeven.  Weller was briefly fired from the film, which received an X rating 11 times by the MPAA before finally being released in theaters.

Robocop was filmed in Dallas, TX

Location: Detroit Police Department Exterior 
Address: 2218 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX

Location: Detroit Police Department Interior
Address: 3414 Elm Street, Dallas, TX   Sons of Hermann Hall

Location: The Coffee Shop
Address: N Lamar Street & San Jacinto Street, Dallas, TX

The coffee shop is no longer but the buildings in the background are easily recognizable...

Location: The Car Chase
Address: Hotel Street, Dallas, TX

Location: The Assault 
Address: Cesar Chavez Boulevard b/w Elm Street & Main Street, Dallas, TX

Location: City Hall
Address: 106 S. Harwood Street, Dallas, TX

Location: The Gas Station
Address: Arts Plaza & Ross Avenue, Dallas, TX

The gas station is no longer around but the brick building in the background still is...

Location: Murphy's Apartment Exterior
Address: 9233 Church Street, Dallas, TX

Interiors were filmed at 9028 Vista Creek Drive, Dallas, TX

Location: OCP
Address: 1500 Marilla Street, Dallas, TX   City Hall

Matte paintings made the OCP building seem much taller than it actually is...

Location: OCP Elevators
Address: 600 N Pearl Street, Dallas, TX  Plaza of the Americas

Location: Clarence & Gang Vandalize
Address: 2500 block of Elm Street, Dallas, TX

Location: The Nightclub
Address: 703 McKinney Avenue, Dallas, TX

Like a few other locations from the film, the nightclub has been torn down...

Locations Visited: October 2019