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Confessions of a TV-holic: 5 Cases of Unwanted Fame

Actors are a mercurial bunch, to say the least. They can land a career-making role, only to spend the rest of their lives complaining about it. A few cases in point:

1. The guy who didn't want to be Mike Brady

Robert ReedBrady Bunch dad Robert Reed had been was a thorn in producer Sherwood Schwartz's side since Day One. He always maintained that he'd only signed his Brady Bunch contract because the pilot was lame and it wouldn't get picked up as a series. The show had also been described to him as a serious look at blended families. Instead, the serious dramatic actor who'd trained at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts found himself "trapped on Gilligan's Island with kids."

2. A very reluctant Radar

Gary BurghoffGary Burghoff appeared as Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reilly in every episode of the first three seasons of M*A*S*H. By season four, he was disenchanted with the direction his character was taking. He'd started out as crafty and sneaky, and not averse to helping himself to Colonel Blake's brandy. But the writers eventually turned him into a naïve farm boy who never sipped anything stronger than a Grape Nehi. Burghoff only appeared in about half the episodes over the next three seasons, and the CBS brass convinced him to stay long enough to play the focus of a two-part send-off during sweeps week in season eight. M*A*S*H writer Ken Levine notes that Burghoff partially expressed his disenchantment during his last appearance by refusing to wear his "Radar hat" during those final episodes, making him look less like the twenty-something company clerk he was playing and more like the balding, middle-aged man he was.

Gilligan's Island, Good Times and more all after the jump...

3. A Prayer for Mrs. Kotter

Marcis StrassmanMarcia Strassman landed a plum role as Mrs. Kotter on the hit sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, but she wasn't happy about it. "Every day I pray for cancellation," she moaned in several interviews at the time. While some of us would shrug and think "a paycheck is a paycheck," Strassman made it clear that smiling indulgently while Gabe Kaplan droned on about his great-uncle Schlomo and saying "Then what happened?" didn't satisfy her artistic needs. Ironically, series star and co-creator Kaplan left after the third season, making Strassman the de facto star of the show. Such was her drawing power that Kotter was canceled promptly after season four.

4. Bad times on Good Times

John AmosWhen Good Times premiered in 1974 (as a spin-off of Maude), it was the first sitcom to attempt to portray a realistic nuclear African-American family. Despite struggling financially, James and Florida Evans remained wise, loving parents who brought their children up with strong family values. John Amos portrayed the patriarch, a proud man who refused handouts and worked hard to support his family. But shortly after the series premiered, the producers noticed that Jimmie "J.J." Walker received the biggest audience reaction and the most fan mail. The writers quickly took the focus off the elder Evans and made J.J. the star of the show, and the plots became more outrageous and unbelievable. Amos was unhappy with the new direction of the show, and described Walker's pop-eyed, grinning character in the press as a "minstrel show." Not surprisingly, Amos' contract was not renewed, and his character was killed in an off-camera automobile accident.

5. The castaway who wanted off the Island

Tina LouiseWhen Tina Louise signed on to play Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island, she was under the impression that the series was going to be about the trials and tribulations of an actress stranded on a desert island, and that the show would revolve around her character. (I suppose we could pick a nit and wonder if the show's title didn't somehow clue her in, but why split hairs?) Louise was known for being difficult on the set, and dismissive of her co-stars. After all, her name and scantily-clad bod had been a staple of society page gossip columns and magazine pictorials for the past 10 years. She was a star, dammit, not an ensemble player. Of all the castaways, Louise has remained the sole holdout in most reunion projects and promotional gigs related to the show.

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Move Over, Star Wars Land: A Star Trek World May Be Coming to Universal Studios
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As Disney gears up for the 2019 openings of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at both its Florida and California amusement parks, there may be some sci-fi-themed competition on the horizon. According to Disney and More, there’s a rumor out there that Universal is planning a fourth Orlando theme park, which will include a land dedicated to all things Star Trek.

The blog also states that there have been rumblings that a Star Trek stage show at Universal would take the place of the now-defunct Terminator 2 3D show, but that’s just one option, with a Bourne Identity attraction being the other. Instead, the potential Star Trek show could be expanded to a whole area of the rumored fourth park, with a focus on a recreation of a sci-fi city, according to the site.

This rumored park would be the most high-profile Trek attraction since Las Vegas's Star Trek: The Experience (as seen in the main image). Housed at the Las Vegas Hilton from 1998 to 2008, Star Trek: The Experience included a restaurant based on Quark's bar from Deep Space Nine and the popular Borg Invasion 4D, which was an attraction that combined motion platforms, live actors, and a short 3D film to simulate a Borg takeover.

Any potential Star Trek land would be much further off than Galaxy's Edge's fall 2019 debut in Orlando. But with two new Trek movies on the horizon, and Star Trek: Discovery returning to CBS All Access for a second season in 2018, the venerable sci-fi franchise might just be able to ride a wave of momentum to become real competition for Star Wars—if not at the box office, then at least as a theme park.

[h/t Screen Rant]

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Steve Martin
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NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. And he's about to put a number of these talents on display with Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a new comedy special that just arrived on Netflix. To commemorate the occasion, here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. HE WAS A CHEERLEADER.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. HIS FIRST JOB WAS AT DISNEYLAND.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just two miles away from his house. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. HE OWES HIS WRITING JOB WITH THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS TO AN EX-GIRLFRIEND.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with Bob Einstein—better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. HE WAS A CONTESTANT ON THE DATING GAME.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT HE WAS A SERIES REGULAR ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. 

6. HIS FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF HIS FIRST SNL APPEARANCE.

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. He also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. HE POPULARIZED THE AIR QUOTE.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. HE QUIT STAND-UP COMEDY IN THE EARLY 1980S.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. HE'S A MAJOR ART COLLECTOR.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. HE'S AN ACCOMPLISHED BLUEGRASS PERFORMER.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that he’s an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

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