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8 Celebrities Arrested for Obscenity (and What It Was They Said or Did)

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Freedom of speech? Not if it's deemed "obscene." These celebrities found that out the hard way. Though they weren't all convicted, they did end up fighting costly battles in court and had their names dragged through the mud, though in some cases - looking at you, Hugh Hefner - it only helped their causes. Read on for lots of obscene material.

1. If you’re going strictly by his arrest record, comedian Lenny Bruce is the King of Obscenity. From 1961 to 1964, Bruce was arrested four times for using all kinds of salty language. Arrest #1 was made on October 4, 1961, at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, after he used the word “c***sucker” in a show and also did a bit called “To is a Preposition; Come is a Verb.” Though he was acquitted, law enforcement started keeping a close eye on him, which resulted in arrest #2 for his use of the word “schmuck,” the Yiddish word for penis. Arrests #3 and #4 both happened at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village in April 1964, where undercover agents said he used more than 100 obscene words. In 2003, New York Governor George Pataki posthumously pardoned Bruce for the last two charges.

2. You know who also got arrested at Lenny Bruce’s “Schmuck” performance? George Carlin. Cops IDed everyone in the audience, and when they got to a young Carlin, he told them he didn’t believe in government IDs. He was hauled down to the station in the same wagon as Bruce. No doubt Carlin was a bit proud when he was slapped with an obscenity charge of his very own for performing his famous “Seven Dirty Words” routine in Milwaukee in 1972.

3. Obscenity charges certainly didn’t start with the comedy scene of the ‘60s. Bawdy Mae West was sentenced to 10 days in jail for a play she wrote, produced, directed and starred in. It was called Sex, and it was deemed too steamy for 1927 audiences. West served eight days before she was released; she later bragged that the warden let her wear her own silk underwear instead of the scratchy prison issue ones.

4. When you see the Playboy Bunny logo on everything from casinos to reality shows, it’s almost hard to imagine that Hugh Hefner’s mag was once reviled. The magazine had been published for a decade (though not without complaint) before Hef was arrested on obscenity charges relating to a particularly racy photo shoot featuring Jayne Mansfield. Hef showed up at his trial with a Playmate on his arm and testified that only 5% of the magazine was dedicated to nude or semi-nude women, and that everyone basically just needed to chill out. A jury acquitted him 7-5.

5. The Doors’ Jim Morrison was charged with obscenity (“open profanity”) and indecent exposure in 1969 after he allegedly asked a Miami audience if they wanted to see what was in his pants. He then unzipped them and proceeded to simulate some rather rude things. Several of George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words were used. Morrison was arrested several days later and was sentenced to six months in jail after being found guilty at the ensuing trial. He appealed and was released on a $50,000 bond. Morrison was posthumously pardoned in 2010 by the Florida Board of Executive Clemency.

6. 2 Live Crew faced obscenity charges in 1990 when police officers brought tape recorders to one of their shows in Fort Lauderdale. The two-week trial was a bit ridiculous; the main evidence was a recording of such low quality that the lyrics were totally unintelligible. The jury ultimately found for the group.

7. Jim Morrison didn’t have a monopoly on lewd onstage activities. Wendy O. Williams of the punk band the Plasmatics was arrested on January 28, 1981, for getting a little too frisky with a sledgehammer in front of her audience. Shortly thereafter, Williams performed topless in Cleveland, wearing only electrical tape and shaving cream to cover the “obscene” bits. It didn’t stop Cleveland law enforcement from slapping her with another obscenity charge.

8. Less than a year after Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston got married in 1992, Brown was cited in Augusta, Georgia, for “simulated intercourse in a bed on stage during the fifth song of a recent concert.”

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Art
Get Crazy With the Official Bob Ross Coloring Book
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If you watched Bob Ross's classic series The Joy of Painting for hours on end but didn’t come away a terribly capable artist, you can still enjoy replicating the amazing public television personality’s work. You can now pretend you’re painting along with the late, great PBS star using a brand-new adult coloring book based on his art.

The Bob Ross Coloring Book (Universe) is the first authorized coloring book based on Ross’s artistic archive. Ross, who would have turned 75 later this year, was all about giving his fans the confidence to pursue art even without extensive training. “There’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us,” the gentle genius said. So what better way to honor his memory than to relax with his coloring book?

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the Ross landscapes you can recreate, all while flipping through some of his best quotes and timeless tidbits of wisdom.

An black-and-white outline of a Bob ross painting of a mountain valley

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a house nestled among trees.

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a farm scene.

And remember, even if you color outside the lines, it’s still a work of art. As Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

You can find The Bob Ross Coloring Book for about $14 on Amazon. Oh, and if you need even more Ross in your life, there’s now a Bob Ross wall calendar, too.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli.

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entertainment
8 Movies That Almost Starred Keanu Reeves
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

He may not have the natural ease of Al Pacino, the classical training of Anthony Hopkins, the timeless cool of Jack Nicholson, or the raw versatility of Gary Oldman, but Keanu Reeves has been around long enough to have worked alongside each of those actors. Yet instead of Oscar nods, the actor whose first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian has a handful of Razzie nominations.

While critical acclaim has mostly eluded Reeves during his 30-plus years in Hollywood, his movies have made nearly $2 billion at the box office. Whether because of his own choosiness or the decisions of studio powers-that-be, that tally could be much, much higher. To celebrate The Chosen One’s 53rd birthday, here are eight movies that almost starred Keanu Reeves.

1. X-MEN (2000)

In Hollywood’s version of the X-Men universe, Hugh Jackman is the definitive Wolverine. But Jackman himself was a last-minute replacement (for Dougray Scott) and other, bigger (in 2000) names were considered for the hirsute superhero—including Reeves. Ultimately, it was the studio that decided to go in a different direction, much to Reeves’ disappointment. “I always wanted to play Wolverine,” the actor told Moviefone in 2014. “But I didn't get that. And they have a great Wolverine now. I always wanted to play The Dark Knight. But I didn't get that one. They've had some great Batmans. So now I'm just enjoying them as an audience.”

2. PLATOON (1986)

For an action star, Reeves isn’t a huge fan of violence, which is why he passed on playing the lead in Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Vietnam classic. “Keanu turned it down because of the violence,” Stone told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. “He didn’t want to do violence.”

3. THE FLY II (1989)

Few people would likely mistake Reeves for the son of Jeff Goldblum, but producers were anxious to see him play the next generation of Goldblum’s insectile role in the sequel to The Fly. But Reeves wasn’t having any of it. Why? Simple: “I didn't like the script,” he told Movieline in 1990.

4. SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL (1997)

Speaking of sequels (and bad scripts): Reeves was ready to reprise his role as Jack Traven in Jan de Bont’s second go at the series … then he read it. “When I was offered Speed 2, Jan came to Chicago and so did Sandra, and they said, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Reeves recalled to The Telegraph. “And I said, 'I read the script and I can’t. It’s called Speed, and it’s on a cruise ship.” (He's got a point.)

Even when the studio dangled a $12 million paycheck in front of him, Reeves said no. “I told [William Mechanic, then-head of Fox], ‘If I do this film, I will not come back up. You guys will send me to the bottom of the ocean and I will not make it back up again.’ I really felt like I was fighting for my life.”

5. HEAT (1995)

Reeves’ refusal to cave on Speed 2 didn’t sit well in Hollywood circles. And it didn't help that he also passed on playing Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer’s role) in Michael Mann’s Heat in order to spend a month playing Hamlet at Canada’s Manitoba Theatre Centre. From that point on, Reeves told The Telegraph that it’s been a struggle for him to book any studio movies. “That’s a good old Hollywood story! That was a whole, 'Hey, kid, this is what happens in Hollywood: I said no to the number two and I never worked with the studio again!’”

6. BOWFINGER (1999)

By the time Frank Oz’s Bowfinger rolled around, Eddie Murphy was pretty much the go-to guy for any dual role part, but the movie wasn’t always intended to play that way. Steve Martin, who both starred in and wrote the movie, had actually penned the part of Kit Ramsey for Reeves (whom he had worked with a decade earlier in Parenthood).

“When Steve gave me the script for Bowfinger, it wasn't written for Eddie Murphy,” producer Brian Grazer explained. “It was written for a white action star. It was written for Keanu Reeves, literally. I said, 'Why does it have to be an action star?' He said, 'That's the joke.' I said: 'What if it were Eddie Murphy, and Eddie Murphy played two characters? That could be really funny.' He said: 'You know, that'd be great—that'd be brilliant. Let's do that.' He processed it in about a minute, and he made a creative sea change.”

7. WATCHMEN (2009)

A year before Zack Snyder’s Watchmen hit theaters, Reeves confirmed to MTV what many had speculated: that he had turned down the chance to play Dr. Manhattan in the highly anticipated adaptation. But it wasn’t because of lack of interest on Reeves’ part; it just “didn't work out.” Still, he made it as far as a set visit: “They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming so I went over to the set to say, 'hi.' They showed me some stuff and it looks amazing! I can’t wait. It’s going to be so killer, man!”

8. TROPIC THUNDER (2008)

By the time Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder made its way into theaters in the summer of 2008, the meta-comedy had been more than a decade in the making. So it’s understandable that the final product veered from Stiller’s original plan for the film, which included Reeves playing the role of Tugg Speedman (Stiller’s eventual part). Initially, Stiller had planned to cast himself as smarmy agent Rick Peck (Matthew McConaughey picked up the slack).

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