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Even More Secrets from the Set of Roseanne

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When we left you last week we were in the midst of some Roseanne behind-the-scenes trivia. We now continue with all the facts that fit"¦or at least all those we couldn't fit in the first time.

Entering Season Three with Trepidation

Picture 224.pngThe San Diego Padres invited Roseanne to sing the National Anthem prior to a game against the Cincinnati Reds on July 25, 1990. Perhaps the first finger of blame should point at the Padres management "“ what were they thinking? Roseanne was a sitcom star, not a singer, and her speaking voice alone should have clued them in that she was no Barbra Streisand (or even no Ashlee Simpson). Nevertheless, Roseanne agreed to the gig and was flown via helicopter along with husband Tom Arnold to Jack Murphy Stadium. In one of his rare lucid moments, Tom peered out of the "˜copter at the crowd below and suggested to his wife (who had already made it clear that she intended to "have fun" with the anthem) that she may want to reconsider. "There are a lot of people out there," he warned her, "and they probably take the National Anthem very seriously." Roseanne shrugged off his warning and went ahead to screech "The Star Spangled Banner" off-key and capped off her performance by grabbing her crotch and spitting. She was unanimously trounced by the media the next day, with even then-president George Bush denouncing her performance as "disrespectful." Needless to say, the producers and sponsors of her show were nervous about the upcoming Season Three, due to start filming in a few days. Would the public remember the National Anthem debacle by the time the first show aired and boycott the series? In typical Roseanne fashion, she had her character poke fun at the situation, with Roseanne Conner announcing at the beginning of the season opener "It's such a beautiful morning today, it just makes me want to sing!" The spontaneous applause of the studio audience was an indication that all was forgiven.

Revolving Beckies

Picture 116.pngAlicia "Lecy" Goranson was the first and original Becky Conner. She left the series at the end of the end of Season Four in order to attend Vassar College full-time. Or so went the official explanation. However, several years later Roseanne was a guest on Howard Stern's radio show, and Robin Quivers asked her something along the lines of "Is it true Lecy Goranson left the show because she was being sexually harassed by one of the producers?" Roseanne was momentarily taken aback and asked, "Where did you hear that?" before quickly changing the subject. Goranson graduated from Vassar in 1996 with a degree in English (with a concentration in poetry). She re-appeared as Becky for what was supposed to be the final season of Roseanne, and then left the show again. Alicia (as she prefers to be called now) has appeared in a few films and on some TV shows, and was recently spotted reading tarot cards for money at the Gowanus Yacht Club in Brooklyn, New York.

Picture 126.pngSarah Chalke, who took over the role of Becky Conner after Lecy left (both times), expressed a desire in 2001 to take a break from acting in order to go to college. But later that same year she landed a co-starring role on the hit sitcom Scrubs.

The Chuck Cunningham Syndrome?

Picture 105.pngNatalie West was cast as Roseanne's best friend and co-worker, Crystal Anderson. Crystal was consistently unlucky in love (with several failed marriages in her past) and her character alternated between naïve and just plain goofy. The character of Crystal was conceived during the original "pitch" meetings before the Roseanne show was sold "“ after all, it's a golden rule of sitcoms that every main character needed a wacky friend or neighbor to "bounce" off. However, as the series progressed, it became evident that not only did Laurie Metcalf ("Jackie") and Roseanne Barr have better chemistry, it was also easier for the writers to concoct situations involving Roseanne and her sister than Roseanne and her best friend (especially since Crystal had a young son to care for). When Roseanne married Tom Arnold and he joined the cast as Arnie, Sandra Bernhard was brought aboard as Arnie's free-wheeling love interest (Nancy) in order to provide story lines for Roseanne's new hubby. With Jackie acting as Roseanne's best friend and Nancy providing the wackiness quotient, there wasn't much left for Crystal to do, so Natalie West was eliminated from the opening credits after Season Four and reduced to "recurring character" status.

She Looks the Same but She Isn't the Same

Picture 233.pngDuring the hiatus after Season Five, Roseanne treated herself to some major plastic surgery: face lift, nose job, cheek implants, eyes, chin, the works. Unfortunately her surgeon (according to Roseanne) sewed a scalpel inside her face and she had to undergo a second round of surgery to have it removed. As a result, she hadn't completely healed by the time filming for Season Six began. In the first few episodes, the heavy makeup she wore to cover the bruises gave her face an almost orangey glow

The 9th Ring of Sit-com: The Awful Season

Picture 135.pngSeason Nine was the final one for Roseanne, and it also marked the first time that the show failed to crack the top 25 in the Nielsen ratings. Not surprising, since the stories and characters had strayed far from their original Blue Collar premise. Sturdy, dependable Dan Conner suddenly left his family to head to California where he had an "almost" affair with a nurse. (This story arc was used to accommodate John Goodman's schedule; he had a burgeoning film career and hadn't wanted to return for the show's final season.) Then the Conners won $108 million in the Illinois lottery and went on a variety of bizarre spending spree-type adventures. Since the main source of comedy on the series was the family's never-ending struggle to pay their bills, this plot twist truly confounded the show's fans. However, there was some twisted Roseanne Barr reasoning behind the lottery episodes: she had purchased the U.S. rights to the hit British TV series Absolutely Fabulous, but had been unable to sell it to any of the major networks. So she simply turned her own show into Roseanne-Fab, and even had Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders guest star in one episode for those who didn't "get" the joke.

Shouldn't you "beep" when you backpedal that much?

Roseanne had been pummeled from all sides by critics, fans and Nielsen numbers during that disastrous ninth season, so in an effort to maintain some professional dignity and credibility, she used a classic TV escape valve: all those lousy episodes never really happened. During the season finale, it was revealed that all of the last season (and parts of earlier seasons) had come from the pen of Roseanne Conner, the writer. Roseanne's dream of becoming a writer had been mentioned often during the course of the series, so apparently it seemed logical to her to make much of her sitcom fodder for a book she'd been writing all along. Remember Dan's heart attack at Darlene's wedding? Turned out he'd actually died shortly afterward. His California affair was Roseanne's mind trying to reconcile the fact that he'd left her. After his death, she'd imagined what it would be like to have all the money in the world, hence the lottery episodes. By the way, Darlene actually married Mark and Becky married David, and Jackie was a lesbian"¦ Oh heck, it's easier if you just keep track on your own scorecard while you listen to Roseanne explain it all herself:
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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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