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9 Established Movie Directors Who Also Worked on TV

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Most directors start their careers working on television before taking the plunge into moviemaking. When a director shifts their focus to the small screen, it is often seen as a step back in their career—but sometimes the transition revitalizes their creativity before they return to the big screen again. Here are nine big-screen directors who made forays into television.

1. David Lynch

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After receiving an Academy Award nomination for The Elephant Man, David Lynch continued to push boundaries with the cult classic Dune and the neo-noir Blue Velvet. Then, in 1990, Lynch decided to turn his attention to TV with the strange crime series Twin Peaks. The series was a creative and commercial success for Lynch; the director returned to the big screen with the cinematic prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992.

2. Jane Campion

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Starting a successful career with the strange and eerie film Sweetie in 1989, Jane Campion went on to direct The Piano, In The Cut, and Bright Star. In 2011, Campion turned her attention to the seven-episode TV mini-series Top of the Lake—about a detective who returns to her small New Zealand hometown to investigate the disappearance of a local preteen girl—which had its debut at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and will air on the Sundance Channel beginning March 18. 

3. Martin Scorsese

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In 2007, Martin Scorsese won an Academy Award for directing. He later decided to bring the Prohibition-era crime drama Boardwalk Empire to the premium cable TV network HBO. Scorsese won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for the series’ pilot episode in 2011.

4. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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One of the founding directors of the New German Cinema movement in the late 1960s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder died in 1982 at age 37 from a drug overdose. His career was short but prolific: He directed 40 feature films, two TV series, and 24 stage plays from 1970 to 1982. After releasing his masterpiece The Marriage of Maria Braun, Fassbinder created the 14-episode TV mini-series Berlin Alexanderplatz, which followed the life of an ex-convict during the 1920s.

5. David Fincher

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Mostly known for highbrow, cerebral genre films like Seven, Fight Club, and Zodiac, David Fincher produced and directed episodes of the American adaptation of the British political drama House of Cards. The series explored the behind-closed-doors dealings of Capitol Hill; the episodes were released in bulk through the Internet streaming service Netflix, rather than traditional broadcast or cable networks.

6. Alfred Hitchcock

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After almost three decades as a movie director, Alfred Hitchcock created the mystery anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The original TV series run lasted from 1955 to 1965 as a way to tell thrilling and suspenseful stories that were too short to be full-length feature films. In the early 1960s, when Hitchcock couldn’t get funding to make movies, he turned to his TV crew to make low budget features—including the iconic horror film Psycho. Thanks to Hitchcock’s TV crew, Psycho cost a fraction of what a traditional movie would cost a studio.

7. Gus Van Sant

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In 2009, Gus Van Sant was nominated for Best Director for the movie Milk; he next focused his attention on the TV series Boss for the Starz Network. It followed a fictional Chicago mayor as he tried to run a city and keep his family together, while coping with being diagnosed with dementia in the series' pilot episode. Boss was canceled after two seasons, but was nominated for two Golden Globes, including Best Drama Series.

8. Robert Altman

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Director Robert Altman started his career in television, then made the leap to the movies with the surprise hit MASH in 1970. Consistently releasing commercially successful but challenging films throughout the 70s, Altman hit a creative wall in the 1980s. To recapture his artistic flair, the director returned to TV, helming the political mini-series Tanner '88, which was written by cartoonist Garry Trudeau and aired on HBO. The show's 11 episodes followed a fictional politician as he campaigned during the 1988 Democratic primaries. Shot as a documentary, Tanner ’88 revolutionized the TV mini-series and the mockumentary film genre.

9. Michael Mann

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One of the first directors to embrace the digital filmmaking revolution, Michael Mann realized he could find success with the new format on TV instead of at the movie theater. In 2011, Mann teamed up with NYPD Blue co-creator David Milch to create the horseracing crime drama Luck for HBO. The series received critical acclaim but low ratings, and was canceled after the deaths of racehorses used during filming angered animal rights groups.

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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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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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