This week, snack brand Planters released a dramatic video showing the apparent death of its animated mascot, Mr. Peanut.
It turns out killing off the iconic 104-year-old nut had to do with the phenomenon of how people mourn the deaths of fictional characters, such as Iron Man, according to a creative leader behind the campaign.
Kraft Heinz’s Planters on Tuesday released a cryptic tweet with a link to a video showing Mr. Peanut sacrificing himself to save actors Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh by plunging to his death. On Wednesday, the brand shared the video, which as of Thursday morning had nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube.
The spot, done with VaynerMedia, will appear before Super Bowl kickoff during the pregame show. Then, during the third quarter of the game, the brand promises to “broadcast Mr. Peanut’s funeral, so the world can mourn the loss of the beloved legume together.”
VaynerMedia also handled Planters’ Super Bowl spot last year. Mike Pierantozzi, group creative director at Planters’ agency VaynerMedia, said that put the agency in the position of needing to come up with something that would top last year. He said the agency was looking to see how Planters could really line up with culture in a way that would explode.
“We started talking about how the internet treats when someone dies — specifically, we were thinking about fictional characters, [like when] Iron Man died,” Pierantozzi said, referring to the death of the Marvel character in last year’s “Avengers: Endgame.”
“When Iron Man died, we saw an incredible reaction on Twitter and on social media. It’s such a strange phenomenon,” Pierantozzi said.
Pierantozzi said with Mr. Peanut the shop wondered, “What would happen and how would the world react if he passed away?” He said the idea surfaced last summer.
“We did the unthinkable: we created a program and an idea where Mr. Peanut dies, and dies specifically sacrificing himself for his friends, which has always been a tenet of who he is and what he does — he always puts others first,” Pierantozzi said.
Super Bowl teasers are meant to generate some buzz for a brand’s in-game spot, often starting a story or introducing a theme or characters to get consumers excited before the full commercial airs. But this one seemed to be especially successful. By comparison, Hyundai’s teaser on YouTube had about 73,000 views and Olay’s had nearly 17,000 Thursday afternoon. Doritos, which released its teaser last week with a spoken-word rendition of “Old Town Road,” has racked up nearly 4 million views on YouTube, while a teaser for Cheetos’ spot with MC Hammer from last week has nearly 3 million.
“It’s with heavy hearts that we confirm Mr. Peanut has passed away at 104 years old,” Samantha Hess, Planters brand manager at Kraft Heinz, said in a statement. “He will be remembered as the legume who always brought people together for nutty adventures and a good time. We encourage fans to tune in to Mr. Peanut’s funeral during the third quarter of the Super Bowl to celebrate his life.”
Of course, some brands have gone the death route for the Super Bowl and failed, the Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today pointed out Thursday morning. Nationwide’s 2015 ad that showed a boy who had died and could never grow up weirded out viewers. (The company’s CMO left shortly after.) And a spot now known as the “robot suicide ad” from General Motors was later changed after sparking criticism, including from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Pierantozzi said with such a serious subject, creatives have to toe a certain line and approach it with empathy. He said it needs to hit the right note between humor and solemnity.
“You have to strike the perfect tone on this, or you really could end up with a problem,” he said. “So we definitely considered that. We’re very happy with the response we’re getting. We feel like we nailed the tone.”
He said there’s been positive feedback and an “outpouring of emotion” from onlookers.
Mr. Peanut’s social channels have been renamed with “The Estate of Mr. Peanut” with a graphic of a crying monocle, and his Twitter account asked users to “pay respects” with the hashtag, #RIPeanut. Other brands, including Skippy peanut butter, Budweiser, Syfy, Shake Shack and more, did just that. Pierantozzi said other Kraft Heinz brands did know about the effort, but to his knowledge some of the other brands weighing in did so organically.
In terms of the parsing out of information and the phony “leak” of the Super Bowl ad that transpired on Tuesday, Pierantozzi said, “We’re trying to keep this as close to reality as possible. I think we looked at Twitter and how things sometimes find their way onto Twitter, and we kind of tapped into those things.” The brand then sent out a press release confirming the death.
“I think it was written beautifully and struck the right tone,” Pierantozzi said.
Part of the buzz, Pierantozzi said, stems from the fact that Planters has built up Mr. Peanut so much, along with his “Nutmobile.”
“I think they made it really easy for people to get involved with the idea,” he said. “It was in the language of something people already understood in the world of Twitter and in the world of Facebook. It was very simple for people to get involved.”
The specifics of what will happen in Planters’ actual Super Bowl spot aren’t clear, and conspiracy theories on Twitter are abounding. But Pierantozzi says this much is true: “There will be a funeral, and an opportunity for hundreds of millions of people who love Mr. Peanut to pay their respects,” he said.
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Cardi B’s Heavily Pregnant Best Friend Star Brim Charged in NYC Bloods Gang Roundup – NBC4 Washington
What to Know
- The best friend of Bronx rapper Cardi B has been charged with racketeering and slashing a person, court documents released Tuesday say
- Star Brim is allegedly the highest-ranking female member of the Bloods subset 5-9 Brims in New York City, the “Godmother,” the documents revealed
- Cardi B posted about her friend’s legal troubles to her tens of millions of followers in 2018, saying how proud she is of her getting her life on track
The best friend of Bronx superstar Cardi B has been charged in a sweeping roundup of members of the 5-9 Brims, a violent Bloods street gang. But the heavily pregnant Star Brim won’t be arrested until she gives birth, officials say.
Brim — real name Yonette Respass — was one of 18 defendants named in an indictment of gang members in the Southern District of New York Tuesday. She is accused of being the highest ranking female member of the gang and is charged with slashing a person and participating in a racketeering conspiracy.
In addition to those defendants, Respass and 10 other members of the 5-9 Brims were also charged in an indictment by the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.
That indictment alleges these members had been feuding with a rival faction of the gang called the “Real Ryte,” with some of the defendants either participating in or conspiring in the murder of rival members. Others face racketeering, conspiracy, narcotics, fraud and firearms charges.
According to the EDNY indictment, members of the 5-9 Brims violently beat a bartender at the Angels night club in Flushing, Queens, after the woman apparently disrespected another member of the gang. Respass, from behind bars, ordered other members to “pop that bottle” on the bartender, saying “I want hands put on them. I don’t even want no talking.”
Later that same night, three of the defendants are accused of going to the bar where they lured the bartender away from the bar, held her hair while beating her in the face and throwing a bottle at her. One of the members allegedly recorded the attack on cellphone, and it was sent to the member on whose behalf Respass ordered the attack.
While many of the gang members named in the indictments have been arrested, Brim was not as she is expected to give birth in the coming days. Prosecutors say they are in discussions with her attorney regarding a time and date for self-surrender.
“The 5-9 Brims is a violent criminal organization that has terrorized residents of Brooklyn and Queens by committing brutal acts of violence in public places, trafficking narcotics on the streets and defrauding victims through financial schemes,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.
The summary of charges in the 5-9 Brims cases reveals startling details about the organizational structure of the gang — including real names and street names of the gang’s highest ranking members and their roles in the criminal operation. There are two rank structures — one for 5-9 Brims who are in prison and one for those who are free, prosecutors say. The heads of the “Prison Lineup” and the “Street Lineup” each have their own leader, who is named the “Godfather.”
Prosecutors from the SDNY say they arrested Street Lineup Godfather Willie Evans, or “Mills,” in the Bronx borough of New York at 6 a.m. Tuesday. He is facing two murder charges as well as racketeering, firearms and conspiracy charges. They also arrested a number of the 5-9 Brims borough leaders, or “High 020s,” Tuesday morning, including Queens High 020 Albert Shoulders, aka “Bundy,” and Bronx High 020 Jamarr Simmons, aka “Show Off.”
Prosecutors say Brim is the highest-ranking female member of the 5-9 Brims, also known as “Godmother.” Female members of the gang who do not report to other gang officials are required to report to her. Previous “Godmother” Jerlaine Little, aka “Noni,” was also arrested.
The 18 gang members named in the SDNY indictment also face two murder and five attempted murder charges , in addition to narcotics and firearms offenses.
Brim has become somewhat of a celebrity alongside her longtime friend Cardi B, with more than 920,000 followers on Instagram the day of her arrest. Cardi B has posted about Brim to her millions of followers previously, saying in 2018 she was “proud of her” and outlining some of her previous run-ins with the law.
Cardi B has previously opened up about her past with the Bloods gang. She told GQ magazine she started hanging out with Bloods when she was 16 and members urged her to join.
But she said feared for her future when it became understood that being in a gang was a “lifelong commitment.” She said becoming a stripper at 19 helped her move away from a life of crime.
Actress Zoe Caldwell, Tony Winner for ‘Medea,’ Dies at 86 – NBC4 Washington
Zoe Caldwell, a four-time Tony Award winner who brought humanity to larger-than-life characters, whether it be the dotty schoolteacher Miss Jean Brodie, an aging opera star Maria Callas or the betrayed, murderous Medea, has died. She was 86.
Her son Charlie Whitehead said Caldwell died peacefully Sunday at her home in Pound Ridge, New York. Whitehead said her death was due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.
The Australian-born actress played in regional theaters around the English-speaking world before becoming the toast of Broadway in 1968, and winning her second Tony, for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.”
Among her other characters were Cleopatra, Saint Joan, Mother Courage and authors Colette and Lillian Hellman. As she matured, she accepted only roles that offer a particular challenge. If she thought, “Oh, I can do that,” she didn’t want to do them, she said in 1986.
Three of her four Tonys came in collaborations with her husband, Robert Whitehead, who was one of Broadway’s most prolific producers of serious drama.
She cited his influence in her decision to do “Medea,” the ancient Greek drama of a woman who is betrayed by her lover and kills their children in revenge. It won her a third Tony in 1982.
“Medea wasn’t a character I believed in until my Robert started to talk to me about her in human terms,” she told The New York Times a few days after the Tony ceremony. “I suddenly understood how a creative force of nature can become destructive if it is mucked up, polluted, depurified — like the atom.”
Times critic Frank Rich cited the flashes of sensuality — which she said derived from the study of Greek painting and sculpture — and wit that she brought to the character.
“When, at last, the crime is at hand, the actress fully dramatizes the struggle between her hunger for revenge and her love of her sons,” Rich wrote. “Like the gods, we can understand, if not pardon, the primal impulse that drives her to the ultimate act of annihilation.”
Terrence McNally’s “Master Class,” which debuted on Broadway in 1995, was another joint effort with Whitehead. It won Caldwell her fourth Tony and brought Whitehead, as producer, the Tony for best play.
She played Callas as the opera superstar critiques, cajoles and inspires a trio of budding singers taking part in the uniquely intense musical education session called a master class.
“A performance is a struggle. You have to win,” she says as Callas.
Then-Associated Press drama critic Michael Kuchwara called Caldwell “incandescent” and said she gave “the performance of her career.”
Already well-known to those who followed regional theater, she had made her Broadway debut in “The Devils” in late 1965, temporarily replacing for Anne Bancroft, who injured her back.
Caldwell was quickly announced for a role as a society columnist in “Slapstick Tragedy,” Tennessee Williams’ pair of one-act plays. The production lasted less than a week on Broadway in February 1966 — but it brought Caldwell her first Tony, for best featured actress.
Broadway stardom arrived two years later for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” The story of an eccentric Scottish schoolteacher with pro-fascist tendencies originated as a novel by Muriel Spark. The role had already been successful for Vanessa Redgrave in London and would eventually win an Oscar for Maggie Smith.
The Washington Post, noting others had played the role, said that “so masterfully exact is Miss Caldwell that watching her you will probably feel that hers is the only way (to play it). … Almost at the instant we first see Miss Brodie, the actress has found a perfect mannerism.”
The New York Times said Caldwell “flounces onto the stage like a sparrow with illusions of grandeur.”
She and producer Whitehead married later that year. She told writer Rex Reed that far from pushing her into the Brodie role, Whitehead “wasn’t keen on me for the part” until the playwright, Jay Presson Allen, campaigned for her.
Caldwell added Broadway directing to her resume starting in 1977 with a comedy, “An Almost Perfect Person,” starring Colleen Dewhurst. In 1991, she directed Jason Robards and Judith Ivey in “Park Your Car in Harvard Yard.” She was last on Broadway in 2003 as the Mystery Guest Star in “The Play What I Wrote.” She also lent her voice to the “Lilo & Stitch” cartoons and appeared in the 2011 film “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”
She spent much of her early career on the road.
After touring in a wide variety of plays in Australia, she came to England and got to tackle a succession of Shakespearean roles.
“I was always afraid of growing comfortable, so I would jump from job to job, whatever I was offered,” she told The Associated Press in 1986. “I would go from Stratford-on-Avon to a small repertory company and back to London.”
She traveled to Canada for parts at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. In the United States, she did regional theater work at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Goodman Theater in Chicago.
At that time, she said she didn’t turn down any job.
“It was a heck of a long apprenticeship, but I would recommend it to any actress,” she told The New York Times in 1968.
Caldwell was born in 1933 in Melbourne, Australia, to a family struggling to make it through the Depression. In her memoir, “I Will Be Cleopatra,” she wrote that she knew at an early age that her job would be “keeping audiences awake and in their seats.”
“I knew this because it was the only thing I could do,” she wrote. Despite the family’s tight budget, the Caldwells were regular theater-goers, she wrote, and “I saw every singer, dancer, actor, or vaudevillian who came to Melbourne.”
She made her stage debut at age 9 in a Melbourne production of “Peter Pan.”
Her husband died in 2002 at age 86, shortly after he had received a special Tony Award for his nearly 60-year career. Among his other honors were a best play Tony for “A Man for All Seasons” in 1962 and a best revival Tony for “Death of a Salesman” in 1984.
She and Whitehead had two sons, Sam and Charlie. In addition to her two sons, she is survived by two grandchildren.
“I always knew I would be an actor. I am an actor,” she told the AP in 1986. “But being a wife and a mother still seems to me to be some kind of extraordinary stuff.”
Former Associated Press writer Polly Anderson contributed to this report.
Songwriter and ‘Good Times’ Actress Ja’Net DuBois Dies – NBC4 Washington
Ja’Net DuBois, who played the vivacious neighbor Willona Woods on “Good Times” and composed and sang the theme song for “The Jeffersons,” has died.
DuBois’ song “Movin’ on Up” provided a joyous intro to “The Jeffersons” during the show’s 10-season run.
BernNadette Stanis, who played Thelma Evans Anderson on “Good Times” and remained close to DuBois, said she learned of her death Tuesday from the actress’ daughter.
“She used to keep us laughing all the time,” Stanis said, warmly recalling her friend. “She was very, very talented. If she wasn’t singing … she was creating a character to make us laugh.”
Police in Glendale, California, said they received a report about DuBois’ death late Monday. She appeared to have died of natural causes and no investigation is ongoing, police Sgt. Dan Stubbs said. No additional details, including her age, were immediately available.
Stanis said DuBois appeared to be in good health when they appeared two weeks ago at a signing event. Her birth date was something she kept to herself, Stanis said.
“Nobody really knows,” said Stanis, who recalled telling DuBois, “’Oh, you’re so lucky. Nobody knows your age, girl!’
DuBois had a prolific career beyond the 1970s hit “Good Times,” winning two Emmy Awards for her voice work on the WB series “The PJs.”
DuBois’ Willona was the single, sexy neighbor and best friend to star Esther Rolle’s Florida Evans. Though the comedy had plenty of one-liners, DuBois’ appearances gave an extra dose of comedic relief. DuBois showed off more of her dramatic skills when a young Janet Jackson joined the show as the abused child Penny; DuBois’ character would go on to adopt Penny, and the story line also forged a long, close relationship with Jackson, who would go on to become a multiplatinum superstar; she cast DuBois as her mother in her 1986 “Control” video.
DuBois’ career started in theater, where she appeared in Broadway productions of “Golden Boy” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” according to a biography on her website. A performance in “The Hot l Baltimore” in Los Angeles caught the eye of Norman Lear, who developed “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons.”
DuBois’ Willona was a “true diva back then, fancy dressing, the wigs, doing the thing. … the real woman woman,” said Stanis. “She brought it, didn’t she?”
Her film credits included 1970’s “Diary of a Mad Housewife,” “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”
She was credited in numerous other films as varied as “Basic Instinct,” “Next Friday” and “Tropic Thunder,” which included “Movin’ on Up.”
DuBois was a co-founder of the Pan African Film Festival, which since 1992 has showcased films meant to promote a greater cultural understanding of people of African descent.
The festival, which is being held in Los Angeles and runs through Sunday, on Tuesday released an image mourning DuBois, calling her “Our Founder, Now Our Angel.”
This story has corrected the capitalization of DuBois’ last name throughout.
Selena’s Life and Legacy, 25 Years Later, to Be Celebrated by Latino Artists at Concert – NBC4 Washington
The music of the late Tejana singer Selena, who 25 years after her death still gets fans belting out the words to her enduring songs, is being celebrated this spring with a lineup of Latino artists, NBC News reports.
The family of Selena and its entertainment company Q Productions, announced plans Tuesday for a “Selena XXV – Veinticinco Años” tribute concert honoring her legacy, to be held May 9 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The concert and lineup are intended to show the influence Selena had and continues to have on Latino artists.
“Over the past 25 years, her influence and relevance has only grown through the generations,” Suzette Quintanilla, Selena’s sister and CEO and president of Q Productions, said in a news release.
Harry Styles Held at Knifepoint During Robbery in London – NBC4 Washington
Harry Styles was unharmed but understandably shaken after a scary incident over the weekend.
E! News has learned that the 26-year-old “Fine Line” singer was robbed while out in the Hampstead area of London on Friday night. According to the Mirror Online, Styles was approached by a man with a knife who “demanded cash.”
“He actually played it pretty cool, quickly giving the assailant cash, keeping himself and the guy calm and getting the situation over with,” a source told the outlet. “Understandably though it left him very shaken up afterwards.”
What is a girl to do when she decides to come out to her mom? Get Harry Styles to help. The One Direction crooner decided to give “Grace” a hand after seeing her handmade sign that said “I’m gonna come out to my parents because of you!!!”
The Metropolitan Police tell E! News they’re investigating reports of a knife point robbery in Spaniards Road, Hampstead.
“Officers were contacted on Saturday, 15 February regarding the incident which happened at 23.50hrs on Friday, 14 February,” the police state. “It was reported that a man in his 20s was approached by another man and threatened him with a knife. The victim was not injured however, cash was taken from him.”
According to the police, no arrests have been made and inquiries are ongoing.
Despite the incident, Styles appears to be in good spirits today, as he’s just walked the red carpet at the 2020 BRIT Awards. The One Direction star is up for British Male Solo Artist and British Album of the Year at the ceremony, which is being held at The 02 Arena in London.
Styles, who is also set to take the stage to perform at the award show on Tuesday night, has yet to publicly address the robbery.
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