West Philly’s Will Smith starts his five-city book tour in his hometown with Kevin Hart nearby.
With last year’s news that the Philadelphia born-and-bred duo of entertainment titans Will Smith and Kevin Hart would remake the late John Hughes’ classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles through Hart’s Hartbeat Productions and Smith’s Westbrook Studios, heads burst and minds were blown. Who better to recontextualize the roles made tart, famous and familial by Stevin Martin and the late John Candy in the 1987 comedy original than two men who share exquisite comic timing and elevated levels of celebrity such as Smith and Hart?
That’s why this past weekend through Monday was so crucial, hearing first that Hart was back in his hometown – a surprise stop on Friday at Sansom Street’s Helium Comedy club for a short stand-up set for the Dave Landau gig, a meal at the Bynum Bros’ South restaurant on Saturday (we mentioned the Bynums with our tribute to their father, Benjamin Bynum Sr.) – and knowing that Smith was preparing to open his book tour for his just-dropped autobiography, Will, in town on Monday night at The Met Philadelphia.
If anything could be comedy dynamite, or at least some mightily motivational positive talk (read Smith’s book, and you’ll get what I’m saying), it would come from an impromptu meeting of the Hart-Smith mind hive on stage?
OK, that didn’t happen on Monday night at The Met. What did occur during Smith’s five-city tour kick for “Will: An Evening of Stories with Friends,” was that his old Fresh Prince cohort, friend and DJ “Jazzy Jeff” Townes made an appearance on stage, as did Queen Latifah, who has been running around Philadelphia making the basketball comedy, Hustle, with Adam Sandler for the latter’s co-produced film deal with LeBron James and Philly-based director Jeremiah Zagar. Does this mean that Latifah is still in town filming? No word there.
Like Hart, Smith had his own surprise drop-ins to make in town while around. Before his message driven gig at the Met, Will – who has also been busy honing his homespun chops by filming early location-setting shoots in West and University City Philly for his production company’s upcoming dramatic remake of his NBC comedy, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air for the Peacock streamer in 2022 – stopped by Harriett’s Bookshop on E. Girard Avenue. Named for, and dedicated to Black activist Harriett Tubman, owner Jeannine Cook’s bookstore celebrates women authors, women artists, and women activists, past, present and future.
It was here, on Monday afternoon, Smith stopped by to greet fans and sign books that Harriett’s has put up for sale.
The Willanyium just restarted.