The New York Times and Breakwater Studios present a fascinating new series about people who nearly made history — and found happiness anyway.

Dear friends,

I remember Eric Hollenbeck telling me when I filmed The Ox, that in every film I ever make, there would be two stories:

What’s the film about?

And then what’s the film really about.

The following films, which we released this week with the venerable New York Times Op-Docs team — Lindsay, Andrew, Regina & Yvonne — have tantalizing answers to the first question. Pop stars who never were. Household names who remain unknown. Astronauts who never entered space. Rock stars who never had their day.

But for me, the true value in all of these stories is their answer to the second question. And that question, well, you’ll have to answer that question yourself.

Have a wonderful holiday, and a happy new year!

Ben Proudfoot

Kim I Am

In 2000, Kim Hill was the fourth member of an up-and-coming hip hop group called The Black Eyed Peas. That is, until she quit.

The Other Fab Four

In the mid-1960s, four teenagers from Liverpool were changing the face of pop music. Their names were Mary, Sylvia, Pam and Val.

The Lost Astronaut

Prolific sculptor Ed Dwight Jr. has never built a memorial for the first black astronaut. But for a moment in the 1960s, it would have been a self-portrait.

The King of Fish & Chips

In the late 1960s, Haddon Salt built a fast-food empire. Then Kentucky Fried Chicken came knocking.