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This Month in YesterYear History - January

Well, folks, it's January already.  That means a new year and a new set of years to cover!  It's just crazy to me that when we look back 20, 25, and 30 years ago... we're talking about 2003, 1998, and 1993!  It's just surreal to me that those years feel, in many ways, only a few months ago and yet, somehow, also a lifetime ago.  

Well, let's get on with it, shall we?  Our first 2023 edition of "This Month in YesterYear History!"  
In this series, we take a brief look back at the "best" or "top" of popular culture from the past 20 (2003), 25 (1998), and 30 (1993) years ago!   

Below, you'll find a little time capsule of what was significant in our lives during those days.  Hopefully, as you read these brief synopses of the past, you'll begin to remember the who, when, and where of your memories from that time.  

That's why I post to this site, after all!  So, let's get into those time machines, my friends!  

We're headed back to Twenty, Twenty Five, and Thirty years ago!


2003:  On January 7, "In Da Club" by 50 Cent is released.  It will win Billboard Song of the Year and MTV/VMA for Best Rap Song and New Performer.  On the 10th, the NBA announced a new expansion team in Charlotte, named the Bobcats, for the 2004 season.  In 2015, the team changed names to the Hornets, harkening back to the original Charlotte team that moved to New Orleans in 2002.  On the 16th, Space Shuttle Columbia launches into outer space.  It would disintegrate on reentry 16 days later.  On the 19th, Jack Nicholson won the Oscar for Best Actor for "About Schmidt," while Nicole Kidman won Best Actress for "The Hours."  On January 24, the Department of Homeland Security officially began operation.  On January 26, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in the Superbowl.  On the 30th, Richard Reid (the shoe-bomber) was sentenced to life in prison for threatening to blow up an American Airlines plane.

1998: January 1 saw all California bars, clubs, and restaurants become "smoke-free."  The January 2nd autopsy of comic Chris Farley showed that he overdosed on opiates and cocaine.  On the 4th, a massive ice storm struck the North East and Canada that lasted through January 10, causing widespread disruption and destruction.  On the 7th, Monica Lewinsky signed a sworn affidavit that she did not have an affair with President Bill Clinton.  Mark Messier becomes the 6th player in NHL history to record 1,000 assists while playing for the Vancouver Canucks on January 10 in a 2-2 tie against the Florida Panthers.  CBS pays the NFL $4 Billion for the rights to air AFC games for the next 8 years on the 13th.  On the 15th, future Hall of Famer Dino Ciccarelli is traded to his 5th NHL team, moving from Tampa (Lightning) to Miami (Florida Panthers.)   The 17th sees Paula Jones bring sexual harassment charges against President Bill Clinton.  The next day, "Titanic" won the Oscar for Best Picture.  The hit show "Dawson's Creek" premiers on The WB, starring James Van Der Beek and Katie Holmes, on the 20th.  On the 25th, Pope John Paul II visited Cuba and condemned the U.S.'s attempt to isolate the country.  That same day, Denver defeated Green Bay in the Superbowl 31-24.  The next day, on the 26th, President Bill Clinton said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."  

1993:  Starting the New Year, New York bans the advertisement of cigarettes on mass transportation.  On the 3rd, President H.W. Bush signs an arms reduction treaty with Russia's Boris Yeltsin.  On the 8th, the Elvis Presley Commemorative Postage Stamp goes on sale, causing a frenzy.  NBC offered "The Tonight Show" to David Letterman in a last-ditch effort to prevent him from going to CBS.  On the 11th, Ross Perot announces his return to politics.  On the 12th, "Super Mario," Mario Lemieux announces that he has Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  On the 18th, MLK Jr. Day is celebrated in all 50 States for the first time.  On the 20th, Bill Clinton was inaugurated as President of the United States.  On the 23rd, "Scent of a Woman" won Best Picture, while Al Pacino won Best Actor for the same film.  Emma Thompson won Best Actress for "In the Name of the Father."  On the 25th, Sears shuts down its catalog sales business after 97 years.  On the 31st, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in the Super Bowl.  


2003: "Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers" -  This epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson was based on the 1954 book The Two Towers, the second of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.  The movie was a sequel to 2001's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.  It features an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, and many others.  

The Two Towers was financed and distributed by the American studio New Line Cinema but was filmed and edited entirely in Peter Jackson's native New Zealand.  It was filmed simultaneously with the other two parts of the trilogy.  The film was acclaimed by critics and audiences, who considered it a landmark in filmmaking and an achievement in the fantasy film genre.  It grossed over $936 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2002 and the third highest-grossing film of all time at its release, behind Titanic and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Like the other films in the trilogy, The Two Towers is widely recognized as one of the most influential films ever made.  At the 75th Academy Awards, it was nominated for six awards, including Best Picture, winning for Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects.

1998: "Titanic" -  This 1997 romance and disaster film was directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron.  Incorporating both historical and fictionalized aspects, it is based on accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  The two members of different social classes fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. 

 Production began on September 1, 1995, when Cameron shot footage of the actual Titanic wreck.  Scale models, computer-generated imagery, and a reconstruction of the Titanic built at Baja Studios were used to re-create the sinking.  The film was co-financed by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox; the former handled distribution in North America, while the latter released the film internationally.  It was the most expensive film ever made at the time, with a production budget of $200 million.

Upon its release on December 19, 1997, Titanic achieved significant critical and commercial success and received numerous accolades.  It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and tied All About Eve (1950) for the most Oscar nominations.  It won 11, including Best Picture and Best Director awards, tying Ben-Hur (1959) for the most Oscars won by a single film. 

With an initial worldwide gross of over $1.84 billion, Titanic was the first film to reach the billion-dollar mark.  It remained the highest-grossing film until another Cameron film, Avatar, surpassed it in 2010. 

1993: "Aladin" -  Aladdin is a 1992 American animated musical film produced by Walt Disney Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures.  The 31st animated feature film by Disney and the fourth made during the"Disney Renaissance" is based on the Arabic folktale of the same name.  Featuring the voices of Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, and Jonathan Freeman, the film follows Aladdin, an Arabian street urchin, who finds a magic lamp containing a genie.  With the genie's help, Aladdin disguises himself as a wealthy prince and tries to impress the Sultan to win the heart of his free-spirited daughter, Princess Jasmine, while the Sultan's evil adviser, Jafar, plots to steal the magic lamp for his own use.

Aladdin was released on November 11, 1992.  It received positive reviews from critics (particularly for Williams' performance).  It was a commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1992 with an earning of over $504 million in worldwide box office revenue.  Upon release, it became the first animated feature to reach the half-billion-dollar mark and was the highest-grossing animated film of all time until it was surpassed by The Lion King (1994).

Aladdin garnered two Academy Awards and other accolades for its soundtrack, which had the first and only number from a Disney feature to earn a Grammy Award for Song of the Year for the film's "A Whole New World," sung by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle.  The film's home video VHS release also set a sales record and grossed about $500 million in the United States.  

Aladdin's success led to various derived works and other material inspired by the film, including two direct-to-video sequels, The Return of Jafar (1994) and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), an animated television series, and a Broadway adaptation.  A live-action film adaptation directed by Guy Ritchie was released on May 24, 2019.


2003:  "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera

1998:  "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden

1993:  "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston


2003:  On January 4, the children's cable channel Nick, Jr. turned 15.  The popular WB Network show "Charmed" airs its 100th episode on January 19.  On the 26th, the final January Super Bowl is broadcast on ABC, with the decision made to move the game to February, chosen during the previous year.  The Buccaneers from Tampa won their first championship, defeating the Oakland Raiders.  Fez Whatley was forever happy.  

1998:  ABC cancels the "Wide World of Sports" after 37 years.  On January 15, the vast majority of Sinclair Broadcasting owned "UPN" affiliates flipped to "The WB" network, aimed at a younger audience.  Also mentioned previously, Dawson's Creek debuts on the WB Network on the 20th as an anchor show on the fledgling network.  Not much going on compared to 1993!

1993:  On the 3rd, ABC and CBS simultaneously broadcast their own made-for-TV movies based on "The Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher.  Fisher was played by Drew Barrymore on ABC and Alyssa Milano on CBS.  NBC had aired its own version of the story 6 days earlier, on December 28, starring Noelle Parker.  On the same day, Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine premiers in syndication as the fourth series in the Star Trek franchise. 

On the 11th, WWF's Monday Night Raw airs its first episode live from the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center in New York City on the USA Network.  In the main event, The Undertaker defeats Damien Demento.  On the 14th, David Letterman announced that he would move his late-night program from NBC to CBS in August.  Two days later, on Saturday Night Live, Madonna parodies Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" as "Happy Inauguration, Mr. President." for Bill Clinton's planned inauguration days later.

On the 19th, Fox expands its regular prime-time schedule to seven days a week and celebrates by premiering two dramas:  Class of '96 and Key West.  The following day, Warner Bros. launched the "Prime Time Entertainment Network," a television network that lasted until 1997 that aired mostly dramas aimed at the 18-55 crowd.  PTEN was most famous for airing Babylon 5, which finished its final season on TNT when the network folded.  

Lastly, Michael Jackson becomes the first solo act to ever perform during the Super Bowl halftime on the 31st, singing a medley of his hit songs.