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This Month In YesterYear History - August

It's time for the August 2023 edition of "This Month in YesterYear History!"  

In this series, we stop to look back at the big pop culture moments 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 back then.  Hopefully, as you read these brief synopses of the past, you'll begin to remember the who, when, and where of your memories from those years.  That's why I post to this site, after all!  

POINTS OF REFERENCE

2003: August 10 sees the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK, 101.3*F (38.5*C).  It's also the first time the temperature ever exceeded 100 in the United Kingdom.  The next day, on the 11th, the heat wave hits Paris, with temperatures exceeding 112*.  On the 13th, NATO takes over command of peacemaking in Afghanistan.  On August 14, a wide-scale power outage caused a blackout in the entire North Eastern United States.  I remember this day well.  Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended from the bench for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse.  Missy Elliott ("Work It") and Justin Timberlake ("Cry Me A River") won Best Male/Female Video of the Year at the 2003 MTV Awards on the 28th.  On the 29th, Ayatollah al-Hakim, the Shia leader in Iraq, was assassinated in another terrorist attack in Najaf.

1998:  On August 5, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" starring Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady debuts on ABC.  Yasser Arafat arrived in South Africa on the 13th at the invitation of Nelson Mandela, who everyone swears died in the early 90s (I'm joking... sort of.  Look up the Mandela Effect).  The Omagh bombings in Northern Ireland, the worst incident of "The Troubles," killed 29, injuring over 200 more.  On August 17, President Bill Clinton, after telling the American public, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," admitted on recorded testimony and to the American people that, indeed, he did have a relationship that was not appropriate.  On August 20, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec could not secede without the Canadian government's approval.  On August 24, the first human RFID chip implant was tested in the United Kingdom.  On August 31, North Korea claimed to have launched its first satellite.  

1993:  On August 1, 14-time MLB All-Star Reggie Jackson is inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Walter Koenig, who played Chekhov on Star Trek, suffers a heart attack on the 1st.  New York radio legend Don Imus' lung collapsed on August 2.  On August 10, Billy Joel's "River of Dreams" album was released by Columbia Records.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg was sworn into the United States Supreme Court on the same day.  New York Islander Brian Mullen suffers a stroke at the age of 31 on the 11th.  Pope John Paul visits Mexico on the 11th.  Also on the 11th, Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens records his 2,000th strike out against Danny Tartabull of the New York Yankees.  On the 12th, Pope John Paul began his visit to the United States.  On the 13th, Toronto Blue Jay Ricky Henderson pays Turner Ward $25,000 to be able to wear his jersey number 24.  On August 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the government must save all emails.  Nolan Ryan pitches his 324th (and final) victory as the Texas Rangers defeat the Cleveland Indians 4-1 on August 15.  Don Imus' lung collapses again on the 16th.  Televangelist Robert Tilton announces his divorce on the same day.  On August 19, Mattel and Fisher-Price, two of the largest toy makers, merged companies.  On the 20th, Mother Teresa is hospitalized with malaria.  On the 27, the Rainbow Bridge connecting Tokyo and the island of Odaiba is completed.  The Late Show with David Letterman debuts on August 30 on CBS, featuring Bill Murray and Billy Joel.  

TOP MOVIES


2003: "S.W.A.T." -  S.W.A.T. is an action crime thriller directed by Clark Johnson and produced by Neal H. Moritz.  It's based on the 1975 television series of the same name.  It stars Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Josh Charles, Jeremy Renner, Brian Van Holt, and Olivier Martinez.  The plot follows Hondo (Samuel Jackson) and his SWAT team as they escort an imprisoned drug kingpin/international fugitive to prison after the kingpin offers a $100 million reward to anyone who can break him out of police custody.

Plans for a film adaptation of the 1975 TV series began in the 1990s but never materialized until the early 2000s.  S.W.A.T. was released in the United States on August 8, 2003.  The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $207 million worldwide, making it the 22nd highest-grossing film of 2003.


1998: "Saving Private Ryan" -  Saving Private Ryan is an epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set in France in 1944 during World War II, the movie follows a group of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) to extricate Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) from the war after his three brothers are killed in battle.  The cast includes Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies.

Spielberg wanted to make Saving Private Ryan as authentic as possible and hired Frank Darabont and Scott Frank to perform uncredited rewrites based on research and interviews with veterans.  The main cast went through a week-long boot camp to understand the soldier's experience.  Filming took place from June to September 1997, on a $65–$70 million budget, almost entirely on location in England and Ireland.  The opening Omaha Beach battle was the most demanding scene, costing $12 million to film over four weeks with 1,500 extras.

Saving Private Ryan became one of the year's most successful films, earning critical acclaim for its graphic portrayal of combat.  WWII veterans described the combat scenes as the most realistic portrayal of their experiences; some could not watch it due to their traumatic memories.  The film earned $481.8 million, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1998, and went on to win many accolades, including Golden Globe, Academy, BAFTA, and Saturn awards.

Saving Private Ryan is often considered one of the greatest films ever made.  Its battle scene filming techniques impacted many subsequent war, action, and superhero films, and numerous directors have cited Saving Private Ryan as an influence.  It is credited with helping renew interest in WWII at the turn of the century, inspiring other films, television shows, and video games set during the war.  In 2014, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."



1993: "The Fugitive" -  The Fugitive is an action thriller film based on the 1960s television series of the same name.  The film was directed by Andrew Davis and stars Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward, and Joe Pantoliano.  

After being framed for the murder of his wife and sentenced to death, Dr. Richard Kimble escapes from custody following a bus crash.  He sets out to find the real killer and clear his name while being hunted by the police and a team of U.S. Marshals.

The Fugitive was released in the United States on August 6, 1993.  It was a critical and commercial success, spending six weeks as the #1 film in the United States.  It grossed nearly $370 million worldwide against its $44 million budget.  It became the third-highest-grossing film of 1993, and it is estimated that 44 million tickets were sold in the United States alone.  It was followed by a 1998 spin-off, U.S. Marhsals, in which Tommy Lee Jones reprised his role as Deputy Marshal Gerard. 


TOP SONGS

2003:  "Where Is The Love" by The Black Eyed Peas


1998:  "This Boy Is Mine" by Brandy and Monica


1993:  "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" by UB40



TOP TV NEWS

As is typical for summertime television, August is a pretty slow news month.

2003:  

There was no noteworthy television news in August 2003.

1998:  

August 3 - The feud between UPN and Sinclair Broadcasting ends, with Milwaukee, Birmingham, Raleigh, and Charleston (SC) stations returning to the UPN fold.  

August 5 - "Whose Line Is It Anyway," starring Wayne Brady, debuts on CBS. 

August 15 - A preseason football game in Vancouver, BC, between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks is CBS's first NFL broadcast since 1994.  

August 16 - KATH in Juneau, Alaska debuts, giving Juneau its first full-time NBC affiliate.

1993:  

August 3 - Gayle Gardner becomes the first woman to do a televised play-by-play of a baseball game when she calls the action between the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds.  

August 18 - At Clash of the Champions XXIV, "The Shockmaster" makes his infamous debut in World Championship Wrestling when he trips and falls face-first onto the ground during Ric Flair's "Flair for the Gold" talk show segment.  

August 28 - The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the franchise's first iteration, debuts on Fox Kids.

August 30 - "The Late Show with David Letterman" premiers on CBS.  Actor Bill Murray is the featured first guest, while Billy Joel is the musical guest.  

August 30 - PBS introduces new branding for children's programming, featuring the "P-Pals," animated characters shaped like the PBS logo. 

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