Twin Powers activate! Olsen Twins do the mall!
Star Tribune, 10/17/97
By: Neal Justin
Parents beware. With your children out of school today for teachers' conferences,
do not -- I repeat -- do not take them anywhere near the Mall of America unless you're
prepared to spend the entire day spying on 11-year-old millionaires.
For the next four days, the Olsen twins, those gosh-darn-cute stars from TV's "Full
House," are turning the mall into a giant movie set for their latest video, "You're Invited
to Mary-Kate & Ashley's Mall Party," riding the roller coaster, running around the food
court and picking out dresses.
To most grownups, Mary-Kate and Ashley are a far cry from Shirley Temple.
They don't have incredible voices, dazzling footwork or great dramatic chops. They're a
miniature version of the Gabor sisters.
But to preteen girls, the Olsens are bigger than Mick Jagger, George Clooney, Cindy
Crawford -- heck, they're even larger than Barney.
Since 1993, the Olsen twins have sold more than 6 million units from their two
video series, "The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley" and "You're Invited to
Mary-Kate and Ashley's." The children's book series that is based on the 30-minute
videos sell just behind "Goosebumps" and "Anamorphids." In July, they begin work on a
When the twins came to the Mall of America about five years ago, thousands of
fans lined up at Sam Goody's. It still ranks as one the most popular events the mall has
So forgive producers for trying to keep this production somewhat secret. Yeah,
that's like thinking you'll be able to safely hide your kids' Christmas presents. There's no
official opportunity to meet the twins, but on Thursday, young fans found their way to the
third floor of Bloomingdale's, where the Olsens were shooting a scene in the girls'
Elizabeth Johnson, 7, of Forest Lake, sat on a shelf of sweaters for 45 minutes
staring in silence as the twins ran through a musical number, "Decisions, Decisions,"
making more costume changes in the two-hour shoot than Madonna has all year.
Elizabeth's aunt, Joan Henkemeyer, watched with Job-like patience until she decided it
was finally time to bolt. "Until today, she didn't think they were real," she said, brushing
the hair away from Elizabeth's star-filled eyes.
Dave Olsen, the twins' father, said Minnesota fans have been very courteous,
although youngsters in their hotel discovered the stars' room Wednesday night and were
knocking on the door until 10 p.m.
"Then when they get a chance to talk with them, they froze up," he said as one of
the girls -- only die-hard fans can tell them apart -- came up and hugged his left leg.
Harold Weitzberg, who is in charge of marketing the twins, said the videos have
succeeded, especially with ages 6 to 12, because they present an image of little girls who
are taking charge. "They empower kids," he said. "There's no adults in them. It's kids
With that philosophy in mind, it's shocking that the twins waited so long before
filming here. "Eleven-year-old girls, Mall of America, what could be better?" said mall
associate general manager Maureen Bosch, who sent a letter and a T-shirt to the twins'
attorney, Robert Thorne, after seeing him profiled on a TV show, suggesting they do a
show at the mall. Thorne called within a week.
The mall provided a list of about 100 possible kid-friendly sites. Scouts came last
week and whittled it down to about a dozen locations, including the Rainforest Cafe and
Camp Snoopy. As Bosch spoke near the shooting site, her beeper went off several times,
a signal that Tickle Me Elmo, performing in the rotunda, needed her assistance. "The
Olsens or Elmo?" she cracked. "It's so Hollywood."
Especially for Jessica Bell, 10, and Angelica Chitwood, 11, two local girls who
appear in the video as the Olsens' friends. What's the biggest surprise they've learned
about their famous co-stars? "They's so little!" Angelica said. "And I thought I was
Although they're working closely together, the Minnesotans haven't been able to
engage the celebrities in much girl talk.
"We haven't really had a chance to meet the Olsen twins," said Angelica, after the
four of them finished dancing across Bloomingdale's aisles.
Not all kids were star-struck. A trio of 10-year-old boys stopped by and watched
some of the taping. When asked if they were fans, they all quickly replied no. Well, do
you know who they are? Two of the kids admitted they had seen "Full House" and even a
couple of the Olsens' videos. At that point, the third boy, wearing a football jersey and a
permanent smirk, turned around.
"You guys are pitiful."