Close your eyes and throw yourself into the world of 1995. Clueless was developing a cult following, Michael Jordan made a triumphant return to the NBA, and Die Hard With a Vengeance was making Bruce Willis the most famous man in America again. Oh, speaking of Bruce Willis, he was developing quite the reputation of, well, not being such a nice guy. In fairness, he had no privacy, hence his move to Hailey, Idaho, which is where “Haileywood” dumps us in the first episode.
Hailey’s 5,000 residents weren’t strangers to blockbusting actors moving into the idyllic Sun Valley: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood both owned vacation homes in the area. But under the town’s collective radar, Willis was plotting something else.
For several years, he and his wife Demi Moore lived quietly in the town, out of the intrusive bubble of Los Angeles. But, the local newspaper started to smell something fishy when the town’s restaurant and miner’s bar, along with a number of empty plots, were bought up. Then, the town’s old movie theater, built in the 1930s, fell victim to this mysterious buyer. Obviously, this was the work of Willis.
He had begun developing property, establishing a real estate company and making the tiny haven that was Hailey into a boomtown that would go on to host Hollywood film premieres. He built a nightclub in the building where the rundown bar once stood and a 1950s-themed restaurant. It attracted tourists from all over to come see what all of the hubbub was about. Seemingly everyone in town became Willis’ employee.
And then, he pulled out. And we are still unsure why. iHeartRadio’s “Haileywood” goes deeper into this bizarre story than any reporters before because it seems that Willis wants to keep this whole ordeal a secret. Journalists and documentary filmmakers have been followed to the point that they were chased out of the town.
Boosted by a ’90s cinematic background music with a glittering orchestra and delicate melodies fit for not-a-Bruce-Willis movie, “Haileywood” is a nostalgic piece of storytelling. Dana Schwartz, also the podcast host of “Noble Blood” ventures into the world of Hollywood royalty, fitting the bill with this bizarre tale of spectacle, ego, small-town-values and even betrayal.
There’s Tom Hanks, Demi Moore, the fateful Hudson Hawk monkey, and the 5,000 people who live in Hailey, ID to account for in this story. Schwartz interviews the town’s journalists, politicians, and residents to tell the revealing story of just what went down in “Haileywood.”