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Hairspray: Where Are They Now?

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FlickFacts.com

Ah, 1988. Songs from Michael Jackson's Bad album were all over the radio, Bill Cosby was showing us a new sweater every week on The Cosby Show, and 19-year-old Ricki Lake made her feature film debut in John Waters' Hairspray. Talk about things that make you feel ancient. Here's what the cast has been up to in the last two and a half decades.

1. Ricki Lake

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I probably don’t need to tell you what Ricki Lake has been doing since her star turn as Tracy Turnblad. First there was the talk show that ran for 11 years. There were other John Waters films, including Cry-Baby and Serial Mom. She did a documentary called The Business of Being Born. She did Dancing with the Stars and came in third place. Lake most recently tried her hand at the talk show business again, but it was cancelled in February after just one season.

2. Leslie Ann Powers

Fanpop

Penny Pingleton has seemingly disappeared. Hairspray was her one and only movie role, and in the DVD commentary for the movie, John Waters said he didn’t know what had become of her either. If anyone knows Ms. Powers, tell her the world is looking for her. Coincidentally, no one knows what’s going on with the 2007 Penny Pingleton, either.

3. Colleen Fitzpatrick

Fanpop/Hollywood Reporter

That girl you know as the snotty, privileged socialite Amber Von Tussle? She grew up to be Vitamin C. Shall I pause for a moment to let that sink in? Wait, it gets better. The last we heard from Fitzpatrick, she was assaulting our ears with the syrupy song “Graduation (Friends Forever)”. But she’s been working quietly behind the scenes ever since, writing music for the likes of Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato and producing a girl group called The Stunners. And—get this—in 2012, she was named Nickelodeon’s Vice President of Music. She oversees all music for Nickelodeon and all of its sister stations, and is in charge of managing all Nickelodeon recording artists.

4. Divine

DivineOfficial

Sadly, Divine, AKA Glenn Milstead, passed away of an enlarged heart not even a month after Hairspray's premiere. In 2011, his estate released Postcards From Divine, a collection of postcards he sent his parents while traveling the world at the height of his fame.

5. Michael St. Gerard

Fanpop

Although he had several roles after Hairspray (including four as Elvis) dreamy Link Larkin quit showbiz to become a youth pastor. As of 2011, he was working at Harlem Square Church in NYC. 

6. Shawn Alex Thompson

ShawnAlexThompson.com

You know him as Corny Collins, but Thompson has been doing plenty of other things since his days as Hairspray's Ryan Seacrest. He wrote for The Outer Limits, has won three Gemini Awards (the Canadian Emmys) for his cult TV show Puppets Who Kill and has also developed several series for HBO.

7. Debbie Harry

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Debbie Harry, of course, has been busy being fabulous since she played Velma Von Tussle. Thirty-six films and seven albums, to be exact.

8. Jerry Stiller

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Jerry Stiller has also been busy being fabulous since he played Tracy Turnblad's dad back in 1988. It was five years after Hairspray that Stiller got the now-famous role as George Costanza's dad on Seinfeld, then he spent nearly 10 years playing Arthur Spooner on King of Queens. 

9. Sonny Bono

Cineplex

The same year he hit theaters as Amber's doting dad Franklin Von Tussle, Sonny Bono also became the mayor of Palm Springs. In 1995, Bono became the first (and thus far, only) pop star with a #1 hit on the Billboard charts to become a Congressman.

Sadly, as most people know, Bono died in a skiing accident in 1998.

10. Clayton Prince

Fanpop/Contact Music

Immediately after Hairspray, Prince played Reuben Lawrence on Another World. He had minor parts on JAG, Third Watch, and Spin City through out the 1990s and early 2000s. His most recent role was in a 2011 Jennifer Love Hewitt video called "Cafe." He was also involved in a 2011 lawsuit in which an undercover police officer totaled Prince's car, then used his undercover I.D. as identity. When Prince went to file insurance, he discovered that the man who supposedly hit his car didn't exist.

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The Princess Ride: Here's What a Princess Bride Theme Park Attraction Might Look Like
MGM
MGM

Do you fight the urge to say “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya” when introducing yourself? Have you spent the past 30 years mispronouncing the word “marriage”? If so, you may be a diehard fan of The Princess Bride. The cult film (and the book on which it’s based) has inspired board games, merchandise, and countless pop culture references. Now, two theme park designers from Universal have conceived the inconceivable. As Nerdist reports, Jon Plsek and Olivia West have designed the plans for a hypothetical attraction called “The Princess Ride.

Their idea follows the classic river boat ride structure and adds highlights from the movie around each corner. After watching Buttercup and Wesley’s love story unfold, riders are taken past the Cliffs of Insanity, through the Fire Swamp, and into the Pit of Despair. The climax unfolds at Prince Humperdinck’s castle and leads up to the two protagonists riding off into the sunset. The last thing the passengers see is Miracle Max and Valerie waving goodbye saying, “Hope ya had fun stormin’ the castle!”

The ride’s designers make a living turning stories into thrilling attractions. Plsek works as a concept artist for Universal Creative, the group behind Universal’s theme parks, and West works there as a concept writer. While The Princess Ride was just a fun side project for the pair, it isn’t hard to imagine their ride bringing Princess Bride fans to the parks in real life.

For more of Jon Plesk’s concept rides inspired by classics like Dr. Strangelove (1964) and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), check out his website.

[h/t Nerdist]

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13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter." She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: No team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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