Arnold Schwarzenegger in Amsterdam

August 1996

Yes, folks, on Tuesday the 13th of August, 1996, Arnie was in Amsterdam for the opening of the Planet Hollywood gift shop. (I guess he's not superstitious.) Of course I traipsed along to see what was going on. It was a small media affair which, for those of you unfamiliar with Amsterdam events, means big.

Let me give you some background. Most people who have heard of stars, Hollywood, and films in general are familiar with the name "Planet Hollywood" by now. In Amsterdam, on the other hand, more often than not I wind up explaining the phenomenon to the general population. Everyone will discover exactly what it means on the restaurant's opening day (next October). The Cineac movie theatre is classified as a monument in Holland, having been the cinema which audiences of the 40's visited in order to view the weekly Polygoon-Filti newsreels. Those days having passed, it eventually evolved into a cinema that showed feature films. Lots of discussion has surrounded this building the past few years with regard to saving it (because of its monumental status) and now, finally, its destination settled, it is likely to become the closest thing to trendy "in" Amsterdam. It'll be nice to have a place to go.

Last November 11th, Sylvester Stallone visited the city for the "ground-breaking" ceremony of the new location. A detonation device was rigged inside the ancient cinema to blow apart the styrofoam wall bearing the Planet Hollywood insignia once Sly triggered it. (A kind of miniature set- up of the Pink Floyd wall in Berlin.) Whoops! Rigged wrong. Three pieces of styofoam managed to topple forward once a desperate arm pushed them out from behind. Luckily Stallone had the presence of mind and necessary showmanship to jump up on the stage and topple the blocks himself. Superstar saves day!

But back to Arnold. Let me tell you, he's immaculate. Clean cut, well-dressed, and impressive; everything an all-American boy from Austria should be. This time around it seems as if one of the organizers chose the wrong type of loudspeakers and sound equipment. For anyone on the street more than 10 feet away from the podium, it was all but impossible to decipher. The mayor of the city stood alongside the superstar. Schwarzenegger got cheers, the mayor got jeers. Unperturbed by the familiar reception from his citizens, the mayor continued to greet the star and present him with a fabulous pair of clogs and a marvelous Dutch cheese. Who would've guessed? The mayor had already been presented with a Planet Hollywood jacket. Which present would most of you preferred? No kidding. (Me too.)

Nevertheless, Schwarzenengger memorably promised he'd "be back" and that in itself, is something to look forward to. He thanked all his fans, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Dutch television has managed to turn the short visit into a two-part program (no kidding) which is basically info and interview revolving around the Austrian Oak (as he is nicknamed in Holland). One source tells that the gift shop was readied within a two week period once the intended visit was confirmed. I'm amazed, knowing the condition of the space only two weeks earlier, as well as the typical speed of municipal construction, that they managed to finish the shop in time. I'm even more curious about the entire structure with regard to the October deadline.

Be that as it may, Arnie, don't forget to send me my invite for "October Fest" opening in Amsterdam as soon as you get back to L.A.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett