It’s been 20 years since the film Space Jam was released in theatres, and changed our understanding of multi-platform brand synergies.
Starring Michael Jordan, Warner Brothers’ gang of Looney Tunes, and NBA stars past and present, the film earned a modest 36 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite its thin plot and apparent story holes, the film earned a place in the heart of kids who came of age in the 90s. Maybe its excellent and pioneering website, which survives 20 years later, helped. Maybe R. Kelly’s Grammy award-winning song for the film, “I Believe I Can Fly High,” helped it transcend the bad reviews. Maybe we should give more credit to Lola Bunny.
To honour Space Jam‘s twentieth anniversary, its weird place in popular culture, and to tie in to NBA All-Star Weekend, TIFF is putting on a live read of the film. The sold out event features Hannibal Buress as Michael Jordan, but it’s missing the animated zaniness of the film.
That’s where we come in. Torontoist illustrators Evan Munday and Dasha Zolota will live-sketch the event for those who can’t get tickets, and to help capture the true feeling of all things Space Jam.
Source: Toronto Star, March 25, 1959. Note mispelling of Fagan’s name—we’d like to think it was due to an irate copy editor.
To a few irate viewers of WGR’s Dance Party, two Toronto teenagers had travelled down the QEW to commit an offensive act live on Buffalo television. The sight of a black boy and white girl dancing together on an early Saturday afternoon in May 1959 was too much to handle. Rather than ignore the complainants, host Pat Fagan alleviated their concerns. The kids from up north should have known better—as he later suggested, they should have followed the old adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
It began with the best of intentions. Two members of Malvern Collegiate’s student council, Don Schrank and Margo Taylor, felt most of the school’s social events were geared toward the upper grades. With no help from the school’s administration, they organized a bus trip for 46 students, mostly juniors, to appear on Dance Party on May 23, 1959. Among the participants was 15-year-old Clayton Johnston, who played trumpet in the school band and had won several track trophies. According to the Globe and Mail, Clayton and his sister Carol were the only black students at Malvern at the time.