can't stop the rock
Ken Hoffman wrestles with Hollywood's highest-paid actor and TV money scams
Some career moves turn out great, some regretful. I've done both. Here's one that we can safely say did okay.
Dwayne Johnson followed in his father's and grandfather's footsteps and became a professional wrestler in 1996. Not saying Johnson, now known as "The Rock," didn't do well as a WWE superstar. He main evented several WrestleManias, including the greatest Mania of all-time in 2001 at the Astrodome. He left the WWE as a full-time performer to pursue a career as a Hollywood actor in 2004. How's that working out for him?
Rock and rollin'
Forbes, the money magazine, just named Johnson the highest-paid actor for fiscal year June 2018 to June 2019. He earned $89.4 million for movies like Rampage, Skyscraper, Fighting with My Family, and Hobbs & Shaw, plus his HBO series Ballers. According to the Wrestling Observer, the weekly bible of pro wrestling, Johnson made more money last year than all the WWE performers combined. And next year he's getting his biggest paycheck yet, $23.5 million for Jumanji: the Next Level.
The second highest-paid actor last year was Chris Hemsworth ($76.4 million), third was Robert Downey ($66 million).
Fun facts: between 2011 and 2017, all the WWE performers made about $400 million combined. All the UFC fighters made $626 million. Floyd Mayweather, by his lonesome, made $638 million.
United Terminal C North at Bush-Intercontinental is getting spiffed up. The airline, in conjunction with the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs and Houston Arts Alliance, has selected 19 artists to showcase their work in the new terminal, a $1 million investment in Houston. The art will range from photos to murals to vinyl prints to sculptures.
When TV doesn't pay
Winner of "Worst Fine Print in TV" is a tie between America's Got Talent and Paul Esajian's Real Estate Strategies informercial.
America's Got Talent: "The prize, which totals $1,000,000, is payable in a financial annuity over 40 years, or the contestant may choose to receive the present cash value of such annuity."
Let's discuss: If the winner takes the annuity over 40 years, that's $25,000 a year. And that's pre-tax. The night manager at Dunkin' Donuts makes more than the winner of America's Got Talent, which makes gobs of money for the network and pays its judges millions each season. If the winner opts for the one-time lump sum, it could be as low as $300,000, less taxes. The winner could walk away from winning "$1,000,000" with between $150,000 and $200,000.
So when Simon Cowell keeps crowing about the "$1 million grand prize," it really doesn't add up.
Now, Paul Esajian: "Like any investment activity, real estate takes work and carries risk. The average attendee does not follow through or apply the strategies, techniques, and systems and therefore does not make money. Paul is not able to attend most live events. One of his trainers will introduce you to some of the strategies, systems and investment techniques that his team uses. Paul Esajian is a very experienced real estate expert, and his results are not typical."
Let's discuss: Paul Esajian probably won't be at his advertised seminars, and attendees will be pitched to buy expensive additional material in order to reap all the benefits of his strategies.
A slice of NYC in EaDo
Vinny's, the hot pizza joint in East Downtown, called to say it's added New York-style pizza to its menu. Well, it's about time. And while you're heating up my slice, tell me, what exactly is New York-style pizza, anyway? I've been eating that all my life and love it, but like a lot of things I eat, there's a chance I'm better off not knowing what it is.
"To me a New York-style pizza has a light thin dough, soft and pliant, it folds, it holds a nice tip, it's a fast easy slice that doesn't break the bank," says Vinny's boss pizza twirler Vincent Huynh. "Its ratios of toppings should be light and flavorful. There should be flavor and character to the crust and a nice toast. I think our normal Vinny's pizza is a much more proofed and generous crust base with more dough texture and topping ratios. New York-style should have simple red sauce and mozzarella as a rule. Our other pizzas are more adventurous with recipes and toppings."
Vinny's sells two kinds of New York-style: pepperoni and a plain cheese pie — both available by the slice (as God intended pizza to sold).
"The cheese pizza has tomato sauce, mozzarella, salt, and oregano on it. The pepperoni has tomato sauce, mozzarella, and our own recipe pepperoni that's smoked by the Fatback Pig Project using pasture-raised pork," Huynh says.
Personal note: my friends think I have an easy job. I don't — I just make it look easy. Last month the Dosey Doe on I-45 in The Woodlands announced that Felix Cavaliere, the heart and soul of the Rascals was coming September 13. I love Felix Cavaliere.
So, I interviewed him over the phone, wrote a whole column, and gave it my A-plus effort for a change. My interview was all set to run Friday, September 6. That morning, I was told that Felix Cavaliere's concert has been postponed until September 2020. I'm not complaining, just saying.