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The Quick 9: Nine Wicked Facts

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I'm, oh, five years behind the rest of the world, but I finally saw Wicked. It was, as promised, awesome. Even my husband liked it (although he still wonders why they have to sing everything). I was so taken with it I had to come home and do a little research on its background "“ here's what I found out.

WICKED1. Although Gregory Maguire's book by the same name of the musical had been out since 1995, the idea to turn it into a musical didn't happen until three years later. Lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz was on vacation with friends in 1998 when one of them mentioned that she had just read a really interesting book about the Wicked Witch of the West. Schwartz said the very idea hooked him immediately and as soon as he got home he had his lawyer find out who owned the rights to the book. It took another five years for the musical to be realized; it debuted on Broadway in October 2003.
2. The show was an amazing smash hit right from the get-go. Whereas it usually takes most successful productions two to three years to recover the original investment, Wicked made up the $14 million investment in just 14 months.

3. The Wicked Witch didn't actually have a name in L. Frank Baum's Oz books. When Gregory Maguire wrote Wicked, he named her using Baum's initials "“ L.F.B. = El-pha-ba.

judy4. Wicked opened its third company at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 2005. This theater was once known as the Oriental Theatre, and it's where Judy Garland made her vaudeville debut as Baby Frances Gumm of the Gumm Sisters.
5. Those of us who aren't super familiar with the world of Broadway might not know some of the big theater stars who have had roles in Wicked. But I bet you know these: the original cast included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Galinda and Joel Grey as the Wizard. In other tours and productions, Ana Gasteyer of SNL fame has played Elphaba, Taye Diggs and Joey McIntyre have played Fiyero, Ben Vereen has played the Wizard and everyone's favorite Golden Girl hussy, Rue McClanahan, has played Madame Morrible.

6. You'd probably never recognize it, but there's a tiny little tribute to "Over the Rainbow" in the song "Unlimited/I'm Limited" theme. It's only the first seven notes of the song because, Schwartz said, copyright law dictates that eight notes can be considered the theft of a song. "Of course it's obviously it's also disguised in that it's completely different rhythmically. And it's also harmonized completely differently.... It's over a different chord and so on, but still it's the first seven notes of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow,'" he said.

WICKED004_kw.JPG7. One of the big, showstopping songs of the musical is "Defying Gravity," the closing number of the first act. Idina Menzel has even recorded a dance version of the song and various artists have done cover versions. Despite the song's popularity, it's consistently outsold on iTunes by another song from the first act: "Popular" (appropriate, right?)
8. The original show contained a song that introduced the character of Fiyero called "Which Way's the Party," but test runs showed that it didn't mesh well with the rest of the story. Schwartz took the summer to develop something new, and when he came back, he had written "Dancing Though Life."

9. If you're like me, you watched the show and thought, "How does Elphaba's makeup not rub off on everything she touches?" The answer? MAC makeup, and yes, it already came in that color of green. They dilute it a little bit with water; Menzel likens the makeup application as watercoloring. You can see her getting the green treatment here:

Any Wicked aficionados out there who can give us the scoop on some more fun trivia? I hear there's a book called Wicked: The Grimmerie that has all kinds of secrets and tricks within. Anyone have it?

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10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes
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The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.

1. THEY’VE BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 17TH CENTURY.

While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.

2. A GERMAN IMMIGRANT BROUGHT THE TRADITION TO THE STATES.

It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.

3. THEY HAVEN’T ALWAYS BEEN STRIPED.

Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.

4. THEY’RE A (RELATIVELY) VIRTUOUS HOLIDAY TREAT.

Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.

5. THEY DON’T ALWAYS FIT ON A CHRISTMAS TREE.

The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.

6. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN WAY OF EATING THEM.

Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.

7. MORE THAN A BILLION ARE MADE EACH YEAR.

According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?

8. A PRIEST PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE CANDY’S MOVE TO MASS PRODUCTION.

Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.

9. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN (ODDLY-TIMED) HOLIDAY.

December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.

10. THE PROCESS FOR MAKING THEM BY HAND IS MESMERIZING.

Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

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10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films
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MoviePilot.com

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.

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