“Live from the Meyer Amphitheatre” turned into “Live from Jurassic Park” when some friends with a sense of humor and a few spare dinosaur costumes pulled off a photo bomb for the ages on national television.
With President Donald Trump in town, NBC White House correspondent Hallie Jackson has been doing live shots from the amphitheatre’s elevated stage, where rows of palm trees along the Intracoastal Waterway offer a picturesque background.
She was explaining the complexities of Trump’s new tax plan to MSNBC viewers Thursday morning when all of a sudden three T-rexes roamed into the background directly over her left shoulder. As Jackson talked taxes with CNBC’s Ylan Mui, she was oblivious to the dinos playfully shoving one another under the palms behind her.
Social media wasted little time taking notice.
“@halliejackson reporting live from Jurassic Park” came one tweet with an image of the T-rexes frolicking behind her. “Yep, this just happened,’’ went another tweet.
The moment of levity wasn’t lost on the reporter and her network, either.
“That moment when 3 t-rexes crash @hallieJackson’s live shot,’’ MSNBC tweeted. Jackson herself tweeted, “…at least it wasn’t gators.’’
Turns out it was four buddies – an artist, an electrical engineer, a money manager and a bicycle entrepreneur — following through on a plot hatched the night before over a few beers.
Sitting with his three pals Wednesday night at West Palm Beach Brewery, Aaron Wormus, the money manager and author of the A Guy on Clematis blog, mentioned he had noticed the NBC crews at the amphitheatre earlier in the week.
Another co-conspirator at the bar, Juan Orellana, general manager of SkyBike West Palm Beach, remarked how easy it would be to crash one of the network’s live shots simply by walking through the public park near the stage.
“We need to do something. We need to act. It’s live television,” said Beju Lejobart, an artist, recalling their conversation.
He reminded the group about the $50 dinosaur costumes they’d purchased a few months ago. The costumes were such a hit on Halloween that the four friends wore them again in the following weeks while riding bikes down Clematis Street.
“In the 30 minutes that we spent at the brewery, we hatched the idea for how we can add a bit of fun to the next day’s broadcast,’’ Wormus wrote in his blog.
On Thursday morning, the foursome showed up on the other side of the amphitheatre near Datura Street, on the opposite side of the oval-shaped park from NBC’s makeshift stage.
Three of the guys slipped into the costumes. Wormus stayed in his street clothes to offer technical support, which basically entailed watching the live MSNBC broadcast on his smart phone and directing his three costumed pals to their appropriate places in the background.
The rest was an improvised ballet, or brawl, depending on your view.
“I was just trying to make dinosaur moves,’’ said Joe Roskowski, the electrical engineer, who said he and the two other T-rexes laughed the whole time. “We played ‘rock paper scissors’ for a while. I don’t know if any of that made it into the (TV) cuts.’’
Ten minutes into it, they noticed some of the TV crew members using their personal smartphones to record them. One crew member walked over and politely asked them to move along.
After about 20 minutes, the four guys left and went back to work, having no idea whether anyone noticed them.
“Then things went nuts,’’ Wormus said.
Dozens of tweets followed. Websites, including Entertainment Weekly, posted short stories.
On NBC’s Today show Friday morning, Jackson was asked about the T-rexes crashing her live shot.
“A real-life Jurassic Park episode,’’ she replied, saying she learned about the dancing dinos during a commercial break on Thursday. “There’s probably a metaphor for 2017 in there.’’
About half a million people have probably seen the video, according to the four pranksters.
“What an adventure!’’ said Lejobart, who noted that he is 60. “The older I get, the more childish my behavior.”
He added, “We’re just a bunch of friends whose intention is to bring life and fun to the city of West Palm Beach, as long as it’s harmless and healthy, because we truly love our city.’’
Lejobart predicted more dinosaur cameos.
“Keep an eye out for us,’’ he said. “It’s going to happen again.’’
We’ll let Jackson have the last word:
I CANNOT stop laughing: deep-dive by the @pbpost into T-RexGate (I love local news.)— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) December 29, 2017
And shout-out to the guy watching @MSNBC on his phone while directing his dino buddies where *exactly* to roam.https://t.co/YUucwcDlUv pic.twitter.com/pVuYvTdVOg