By Max Godnick
Why did Dave Chappelle walk away from a $50 million contract and move to Africa? Why do music superstars keep dying at age 27? And did anyone ever get to the bottom of the Balloon Boy hoax?
Documentarian Andrew Jenks's podcast, "What Really Happened?" is returning for a second season to answer those questions and more of pop culture's most confounding mysteries. The show's first season focused on other bizarre events like Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal, Michael Jordan's early retirement, and Britney Spears's very-public breakdown and head-shaving incident in 2007.
"I'm trying to tell the best campfire story that I can," Jenks said Wednesday in an interview on Cheddar.
The filmmaker gained fame as host of MTV's "World of Jenks" and as the director of a handful of ESPN documentaries, including "The Zen of Bobby V" and the 30 for 30 short "Posterized."
He said the idea for his podcast came while he developed a documentary about Muhammad Ali reportedly talking a man out of suicide in 1981.
That film never came to fruition, but the strong idea caught the attention of Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson and his production company Seven Bucks.
"The Rock likes things big," Jenks said, noting that it was Johnson who suggested the idea might work best in a podcast format.
"You don't say no to what The Rock thinks."
The idea proved to be a hit, and eventually the show landed at #1 on the Apple Podcast charts.
In the second season premiere, Jenks explores the rationale behind Venus Williams forfeiting a 2001 match against her sister Serena just four minutes before it was scheduled to take place. The incident caused some to speculate that the pair's father Richard orchestrated the whole thing to manipulate the results of the tournament.
"It's B.S.," Jenks said of the conspiracy theory. "She was injured."
Another episode unpacks the sudden hearing issues that American diplomats stationed in Cuba began experiencing in 2016. Commonly described as "sonic attacks," the phenomenon led to the medical examination of 21 U.S. officials and prompted Jenks to interview neurologists, members of the CIA, the Cuban Ambassador, and acoustic weapons experts.
"A 'sonic attack' is a fabricated, made-up term that scientists have historically always dismissed," he said.
Jenks would not reveal what (or who) he believes to be the true culprit ー but he did offer a clue.
"When it smells and kind of acts and looks like Vladimir Putin, a lot of the time, it is Vladimir Putin."
For full interview click here.