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This Month In YesterYear History- February

Here's your monthly look at pop culture history from 20 (2004), 25 (1999), and 30 (1994) years ago! 

By the way, since it's February, check out this old post about how you can celebrate Mardi Gras with 10 great films that feature the annual celebration!  

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 created this site, after all! 


2004:  On February 1st, the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers to win the Superbowl.  It was New England's second straight win (and third overall).  On that same day, the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" occurred where Janet Jackson's breast was exposed momentarily on live TV in what was the biggest case of The Streisand effect ever.  The ensuing media-driven uproar led to a more sanitized "safe" product for radio and television that we live with today.  On the 4th, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard.  I originally signed up in the fall of 2004 when a waitlist and college email address were required.  My, how times change.  "Clocks" by Coldplay cleaned up at the Grammy's on February 8th.  On the 10th, Kanye West released his debut album, "The College Dropout."  San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began issuing same-sex marriage licenses on the 12th.  On the 15th, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Daytona 500, six years to the day that his legendary father won his only Daytona 500.  The next day, the Pittsburgh Penguins set an NHL record with 12 straight losses at home.  The USA lifts a travel ban on Libya after 23 years on February 26th.  "Gigli" won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture on the 28th, while on the 29th, "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" won Best Picture at the Oscars.  

1999:  On the 7th, Crown Prince Abdullah becomes King of Jordan following the death of his father, King Hussein.  On the 11th, Pluto moves further from the sun than Neptune, regaining its title as the planet furthest from the sun.  On the 12th, scientists warn against the health implications of eating Genetically Modified foods.  Don't worry; Bill Gates says it's good for you... On the 12th, President Clinton was acquitted by the Senate during his impeachment trial.  On Valentine's Day, Jeff Gordon wins the Daytona 500.  He's the first pole sitter (starting the race in first place) to win since 1987.  On the 15th, Wayne Gretzky made his only NHL appearance in Nashville, where he recorded 5 assists in the New York Ranger's 7-4 win over the Predators.  Following the game, he has a 1,000-point lead on Gordie Howe's all-time scoring record.  O.J. Simpson sells his 1968 Heisman Trophy for $230,000 on the 16th to help pay his $33.5 million judgment in the civil case against Nicole Simpson's family.  The 23rd sees Eminem release his first major album, "The Slim Shady LP."  Gordon Ramsey rose to fame on February 25th when the made-for-TV documentary "Boiling Point" was released.    

1994:  Jeff Gilooly pleads guilty for his part in the assault on Nancy Kerrigan on the 1st.  His plea bargain includes a racketeering charge in exchange for pointing the finger at his ex-wife, Tonya Harding.  "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" debuts on FOX on February 5th.  Actor Jim Neighbors, famous for his role as Gomer Pyle, undergoes a liver transplant on the 7th.  Howard Stern stops a would-be bridge jumper on the same day.  Jack Nicholson destroys a car with a golf club out of anger on the 8th.  Tommy Lee, of Motley Crue and Pamela Anderson fame, is arrested for possession of a firearm on the same day.  On the 9th, Isreael's Shimon Peres signed peace agreements with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.  The 1893 painting "The Scream" is stolen in Oslo, Norway, on the 12th.  Also, on the 12th, Anna Nicole Smith is hospitalized for a drug overdose.  Also, on the 12th, the Winter Olympics begin in Lillehammer, Norway.  On the 15th, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tom Barrasso became the winningest American-born goaltender with his 253rd career win.  Sterling Marlin wins his first NASCAR race on February 20th, which happens to also be the Daytona 500... not a bad first win.  Yankee's legendary shortstop Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto is elected to the Hall of Fame on the 25th.  The Brady Law, imposing a waiting period when purchasing a handgun, goes into effect in the United States on the 28th.  


2004: "The Passion of the Christ" -  

This epic biblical drama was produced, directed, and co-written by Mel Gibson.  It stars Jim Caviezel as Jesus of Nazareth, Maia Morgenstern as Mary, and Monica Belluci as Mary Magdalene.  The film depicts the Passion of Jesus according to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  It also draws on other devotional writings and accounts.

The film primarily covers the final 12 hours before Jesus Christ's death, known as "The Passion."  Beginning with the Agony in the Garden of Olives, it continues to the betrayal of Judas, the brutal Scourging at the Pillar, the crucifixion, and the death of Jesus.  It ends with a brief depiction of his resurrection.  

The narrative is interspersed with moments in JEsus's life, such as The Last Supper, The Sermon on the Mount, and other moments from JEsus' early life.  

The film was regarded as polarizing and controversial by critics, while many moviegoers viewed the film as a religious and holy experience.  The film grossed over $612 million worldwide and became the fifth highest-grossing film of 2004.  It was also the highest-grossing independent film of all time.  

As of 2023, it is still the highest-grossing Rated-R film domestically, with $370.8 million.  It received three nominations at the Academy Awards in 2005 for Best Makeup, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score.  

1999: "Payback" -  

Payback was an action thriller film written and directed by Brian Helgeland.  The film stars Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, and David Paymer.  It is based on the novel "The Hunter" by Donald Westlake, who used the pseudonym Richard Stark.  The book was previously adapted into a 1967 film noir classic, Point Blank, starring Lee Marvin.  

Although credited as director, Helgeland notoriously clashed with Mel Gibson over his ideas for the film.  A script rewrite was ordered, and there was uncertainty regarding reshoots.  Paul Abascal was named the new director and reshot 30% of the film.  The intent of the remake was to make the Porter character more likable.  The film's tagline became:  "Get Ready to Root for the Bad Guy."  Gibson demanded a scene showing spousal abuse be removed.  After 10 days of reshoots, a new opening scene and voiceover tracks were added, along with new scenes featuring Kris Kristofferson as a new villain.  

In 2006, Brian Helgeland issued his own director's cut that differs substantially from the version put out by the studio.  Helgeland's version ends with an ambiguous ending and features a female character who is only heard on the phone in the original version.  

1994: "Ace Ventura:  Pet Detective" 

Ace Ventura:  Pet Detective is a 1994 comedy starring Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura, an animal detective tasked with finding the abducted dolphin that serves as the mascot for the Miami Dolphins football team.  The screenplay was written by Jim Carrey, Jack Bernstein, and Tom Shadyac, who also directed the film.  Courteney Cox, Tone Loc, Sean Young, and then-Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino also co-star.  

Morgan Creek Productions produced The film on a budget of $15 million.  Warner Bros. released the film in February of 1994, grossing $107.2 million worldwide.  It received mixed reviews from critics despite its rabid popularity, especially among male teenagers.  

In addition to launching Carrey's film career, it launched an entire franchise.  A sequel, "Ace Ventura:  When Nature Calls," followed in 1995.  An animated series, "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," ran for three seasons from 1995-2000.  A standalone made-for-television sequel, "Ace Ventura Jr." was also made in 2009.  

Ace Ventura was released on VHS on June 14th, 1994, and on DVD in August of 1997.  It was later released on BluRay in September 2013.

Later, in 1994, Jim Carrey would also find massive success with hit films "The Mask" and "Dumb and Dumber."  What a year!


2004:  "Yeah!" by Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris

1999:  "Angel of Mine" by Monica

1994:  "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion


February 2004:  

1st - Superbowl XXXVIII airs on CBS.  The halftime show features the controversial "Rock Your Body" performance with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.  The incident led to one of the first "viral videos" on the internet and the rise of the term "wardrobe malfunction."  In the wake of the incident, the Federal Communications Commission strengthened many of its indecency rules.  Jackson was blacklisted by Viacom (CBS' parent company) and had her invitation revoked for the then-upcoming Grammy Awards ceremony.  

11th - The True Hollywood Stories sketch featuring Rick James and Charlie Murphy first airs on Comedy Central's "Chapelle's Show."

14th - Jetix was launched on Toon Disney and ABC Family as an anime-based programming block to compete with Cartoon Network's "Toonami."  The majority of original content came from Saban Entertainment.  Lizzie McGuire also 

22nd - "Sex and the City" broadcast its last episode on HBO, titled "An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux."

February 1999:  

1st:  The Prevue Channel rebrands as The TV Guide Channel.  HBO launched HBO Family, its fourth channel.  The Disney Channel rebrands its preschool block of morning programming as "Playhouse Disney."

2nd:  A joint venture between Nickelodeon and The Children's Television Workshop launches as "Noggin," airing educational programming for preschoolers and school-aged children.  

13th:  Kid's WB acquired the rights to Pokemon, making Kids' WB a household name.

February 1994:  

1st:  Premium cable channel Encore launches seven new themed multiplex channels (Westerns, True Stories, Love Stories, WAM!:  America's Kidz Network, Action, and Mystery.)  This made Encore the first premium service to offer a full suite of thematic channels.  Starz, which features more recent movies than its parent Encore, also launches on this date.  

5th:  "Where on Earth is Carmen San Diego?" debuts on FOX Kids. 

8th:  Saved by the Bell:  College Years comes to an end.  It was followed by the series-ending made-for-television movie "Wedding in Las Vegas" that aired in October 1994.

19th:  SNL guest host Martin Lawrence makes sexually explicit jokes during his monologue, resulting in NBC banning him from appearing on NBC for a year and SNL for life.  

21st:  Sony Pictures merged Columbia Pictures Television and TriStar Television into Columbia TriStar Television.  The new company will then produce two of the Sony-owned legendary game shows, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.  

23rd:  CBS's coverage of the short women's figure skating program at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer becomes one of the highest-rated prime-time programs in history, fueled by the media frenzy from the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident.