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July 25, 2016

No political talk for actor at blind iced-tea taste test on DNC Monday

Michael Rapaport discusses Sixers, hip-hop, Brad Pitt and anything but political topics on Market Street

DNC2016 Actors
Iced Tea and the DNC Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

Actor/director Michael Rapaport asked passersby near 17th and Market streets to participate in a blind taste test of new Snapple flavors on Monday. Early returns said more people liked blue than red at the start of DNC week.

It’s the first day of the Democratic National Convention, and actor Michael Rapaport stands in the middle of a sidewalk near 17th and Market streets blindfolding passersby.

One of those passersby is Rebecca Goff. She just got into town from Reno, Nevada, to be a part of the DNC festivities, but right now, she can’t see a thing as she tastes two different Snapple iced teas. One is red (pomegranate/raspberry/cherry); the other, blue (blueberry/blackberry). Because Dems and Republicans, of course.

“I like this one more,” she tells Rapaport of the blue variety, who will be doing these taste tests until 4 p.m. Monday. “It’s sweeter, and I like sweet things.”

And with that, Rapaport and the camera crew surrounding them wrap up one of many blind taste tests that they’ll perform today as part of the Snapple “Break State Bus” where could-be consumers face a “Tea-cision.” They were in Cleveland for the RNC and will be in St. Louis, Missouri. For a Presidential debate in coming months.

“I’m a humongous fan of Snapple drinks,” he notes of how he came to be involved with this project.

Around 11 a.m., the actor took a break from the action to talk to PhillyVoice about “any topic except politics.” Considering the political inundation we’ll soon be under, it was a welcome start to DNC-coverage week.

Sitting on a bus festooned with all sorts of Snapple merch and furniture, Rapaport talked about why he’s not discussing politics, his role as Dick Ritchie in the Tarantino cult-hit “True Romance,” the Sixers (and how they compare with his beloved Knicks) and why he loves the city he’s in for this one-day event.

On politics: “This political season has been crazy, and I want to take a political break. You can’t avoid talking about it all the time, but when it comes to the ‘Tea-cision’ today, I’m taking a break, for real, because it’s been such a volatile, tension-filled political season. What better way to take a break from it than enjoying some brand-new flavors. It’s not just your regular, historic, iconic flavors. They’re new flavors. We’re making history today. We’re not just making Snapple history. We’re making history period. That’s it. What more can I say?”

"We’re making history today. We’re not just making Snapple history. We’re making history period. That’s it. What more can I say?” —Michael Rapaport

On Philadelphia: “I love this city. Even though I haven’t spent all that much time here, I’ve always felt connected to the city. I’m excited to be here. I’m having fun so far.”

On the Sixers and their rival New York Knicks, about which he directed an ESPN 30-for-30 documentary: “I don’t feel bad for the Sixers because No. 1, even though they didn’t win the championship, you did have the [Allen Iverson] days. No. 2: It seems like every year you get a [good and high] first-round pick. Now, what you do with the picks and what happens with these guys, I can’t figure that out. But it seems like the last five or six years, you have the first pick, the second pick, the third pick. You have a guy that gets hurt, a guy that’s great, now you get Ben Simmons, and he wants to sit out during summer league games [Writer’s note: He played summer league games], I never heard of that; he’s not injured; he’s taking selfies; he’s eating French Fries. I’m just telling you, keep your eyes out for him. You need a rest during summer league games? But, I love the Sixers. I’ve always had an affection for that team. Dr. J [is] one of my first idols in life and the Doc/Moses era and the Iverson years. I always have a soft spot for those teams. 

I think [the Knicks picking up Derrick Rose from the Bulls] is good. I don’t think we should be doing any ring-fitting ceremonies yet, but I think we’re improved.”

On playing hoops against former Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens in the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Game: “He’s a world-class athlete. He’s a better guy than I think people have a perception of. He made some bad decisions and the media, I don’t think he’s a ‘media guy’ but he sort of took on this media thing. I think that was his demise, because at the end of the day, he’s a football player. He’s not Muhammad Ali; he doesn’t have that kind of charisma.”

On his favorite memories of portraying Dick Ritchie in the movie “True Romance: Just meeting the cast and having the opportunity to work with [director] Tony Scott in a Quentin Tarantino-written script. It was a fun experience, something I’ll always cherish and that film lives on in infamy. I’m proud to be a part of it. [The scene where Brad Pitt’s character Floyd is high as a kite trying to interact with others] is all fake. It looked real. That was Brad Pitt before he became a mega-mega superstar. I think everybody knew he was on his way to becoming something really special. There was a lot of excitement on that set in general.”

On the legacy of A Tribe Called Quest, an act about which he directed a documentary, in hip-hop history: Tribe ranks all time. It’s one of the most important groups of the last 40 years of any genre. The influence, you see it today in people like Pharrell, Kanye West, Outkast, Arrested Development. It wasn’t just Tribe, it was the whole Native Tongues clique. They’re one of the few groups that surpass any genre in music. Tribe impacted me more [than Public Enemy] but obviously I love P.E. Tribe, musically, impacted me more.

On the new Snapple iced teas: “I’m waiting until the perfect time (to do a blind taste-test myself). I’m truly looking forward to it. So far, the blue tea is winning in the live taste tests. That’s all I can tell you. I can’t share these stats or details we’ve seen so far because it’s being run up the flagpole to the Snapple scientists. I’m just letting you know that’s the reality of it right now. I want Philadelphians to know that we’re here having fun. I love Snapple. I love this city. And I’m having a ball being on the streets of Philadelphia with the people. You’ve got some great actors walking around the streets of Philadelphia.”