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14 Things We Learned from Bill Murray's Reddit AMA

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Tonight, Bill Murray did something that is very, very Bill Murray: He did a surprise Reddit AMA to promote his upcoming movie, The Monuments Men. His answers to user questions are equal parts delightful and thoughtful. Here’s what we learned.

1. Even Bill Murray can’t believe how awesome he is.

When one user asked Murray what it was like to be so awesome, Murray replied, “Nothing prepared me for being this awesome. It's kind of a shock. It's kind of a shock to wake up every morning and be bathed in this purple light.”

2. After filming Broken Flowers, he didn't think he could do anything better.

Murray told Jim Jarmusch that he would only do Broken Flowers if the director could find places to film that were within an hour of the actor’s house. Jarmusch did, so Murray did the movie—and when it was finished, “I thought ‘this movie is so good, I thought I should stop,'" Murray wrote. “It's a film that is completely realized, and beautiful, and I thought I had done all I could do to it as an actor. And then 6-7 months later someone asked me to work again, so I worked again, but for a few months I thought I couldn't do any better than that.”

3. Murray thinks Einstein was a “pretty cool guy.”

But if he could go back in time and have a conversation with just one person, it would be scientist and friar Gregor Mendel, "because he was a monk who just sort of figured this stuff out on his own," Murray said. "That's a higher mind, that's a mind that's connected. They have a vision, and they just sort of see it because they are so connected intellectually and mechanically and spiritually, they can access a higher mind. Mendel was a guy so long ago that I don't necessarily know very much about him, but I know that Einstein did his work in the mountains in Switzerland. I think the altitude had an effect on the way they spoke and thought."

4. He really likes Wes Anderson.

It’s probably not a surprise that Murray likes director Wes Anderson—they’ve worked on seven films together. But during his AMA, Murray enumerated why he likes working with Anderson so much: “I really love the way Wes writes with his collaborators, I like the way he shoots, and I like HIM,” Murray said. “I've become so fond of him. I love the way that he has made his art his life. And you know, it's a lesson to all of us, to take what you love and make it the way you live your life, and that way you bring love into the world.”

5. He thinks that, at the time it came out, Groundhog Day was underrated.

“The script is one of the greatest conceptual scripts I've ever seen,” he wrote. “It's a script that was so unique, so original, and yet it got no acclaim. To me it was no question that it was the greatest script of the year. To this day people are talking about it, but they forget no one paid any attention to it at the time. The execution of the script, there were great people in it.”

6. The strangest experience he had in Japan while filming Lost in Translation involved an eel.

Once, while at a sushi restaurant, the chef asked Murray, “Would you like some fresh eel?" Murray replied that yes, he would. “So [the chef] came back with a fresh eel, a live eel, and then he walked back behind a screen and came back in 10 seconds with a no-longer-alive eel,” the actor said. “It was the freshest thing I had ever eaten in my life. It was such a funny moment to see something that was alive that no longer was alive, that was my food, in 30 seconds.”

7. He thinks the previous SNL cast was “the best group since the original group.”

The current SNL cast is good, in Murray's opinion, but “the last group with Kristen Wiig and those characters, they were a bunch of actors and their stuff was just different," he said.

It's all about the writing, the writing is such a challenge and you are trying to write backwards to fit 90 minutes between dress rehearsal and the airing. And sometimes the writers don't get the whole thing figured out, it's not like a play where you can rehearse it several times. So good actors—and those were really good actors, and there are some great actors in this current group as well I might add—they seem to be able to solve writing problems, improvisational actors, can solve them on their feet. They can solve it during the performance, and make a scene work. ... So this group, there are definitely some actors in this group, I see them working in the same way and making scenes go. They really roll very nicely, they have great momentum, and it seems like they are calm in the moment.

8. Doing the voice recording for The Fantastic Mr. Fox was basically one big party.

The process, Murray said, "dragged on and on and on," but it was "great fun" that started at a friend's farm:

[W]e all stayed at her place for a handful of days while we recorded during the day and then at night we would have these magnificent meals and we would all tell stories. We had a LOT of great food, a lot of great wine and great stories. It went on until people started literally falling from their chairs and being taken away. And then we had to go to another place and do it again, we went to George's place, but then something happen and the whole party broke up, and George said "you don't have to go, do ya" and I didn't, so we just kicked around Northern Italy for a while. It was a real fiesta.

9. He didn’t part on good terms with his assistant.

When the actor was working on Groundhog Day, director Harold Ramis asked Murray to hire an assistant to make communicating easier. So Murray hired a deaf woman who didn't speak—and Murray didn't know American Sign Language. Murray says he and the woman didn’t part well:

I was sort of ambitious thinking that I could hire someone that had the intelligence to do a job but didn't have necessarily speech or couldn't quite hear or spoke in sign language. ... I tried my best, but I was working all day. She was lovely and very smart, but there's a lot of frustration when you meet people who can't speak well. Being completely disabled in that area causes a great amount of frustration, and this was going back 30 years or so before there were the educational components that there are today. It didn't go particularly well for me, but for a few weeks she really was a light and had a real spirit to her. … We were both optimistic, but it was harder than either of us expected to make it work.

10. Here's where to get what is, in Murray’s opinion, the best sandwich.

“There's a place not far from Warner Brothers, I think it was called the Godfather? And they made all kinds of sandwiches with smashed avocado and sprouts and stuff like that," he said. "And when you were having a bad day ... you'd get sandwiches from this place. And they were very filling and very tasty, and then you'd forget about the morning.”

11. You can thank Murray’s brother Brian for Bill.

Murray called his brother his "first great influence. He made much of what I am possible. To this day, if I have a question about something ethical or about being an actor or entertainer or a person or something like that, he's a person who helped form me.”

12. Bill has some pretty interesting thoughts on marijuana.

When asked what he thought about the recreational use of marijuana, Murray didn't exactly answer the question—instead, he discussed the American penal system and the failure of the war on drugs. "Now that we have crack and crystal and whatnot, people don't even think about marijuana anymore, it's like someone watching too many videogames in comparison," he said. "The fact that states are passing laws allowing it means that its threat has been over-exaggerated. Psychologists recommend smoking marijuana rather than drinking if you are in a stressful situation. These are ancient remedies, alcohol and smoking, and they only started passing laws against them 100 years ago."

13. He likes pickles.

And peanut butter. But he’s never tried them together. "I'm big on pickles, but I've never had them with peanut butter," he says. "I really like peanut butter though. I'm kind of surprised because I like them both so much that I haven't combined them.”

14. He thinks stealing art is “worse than stealing gold and diamonds.”

Murray's next film, The Monuments Men, tells the story of a group of museum curators and art historians who venture into Germany to rescue art stolen by the Nazis and return the pieces to their rightful owners. And there are direct parallels between what happened in history (and in the film) and what's happening in some parts of the world today. "You hate to say that a film is an important film but I think it's a movie that people will say enlightened them about something that was forgotten, and it's a situation that exists around the world now," Murray said. "For example when we invaded Iraq, we weren't really taking care of business and a bunch of criminals went in and looted the museums. It's what's happening in Syria now. It's far worse than stealing gold or diamonds. It's stealing a culture, a mystery, and if those works of art are stolen, we are losing the ability to learn about culture and about ourselves."

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ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy
5 Fascinating Facts About Koko the Gorilla
ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy
ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy

After 46 years of learning, making new friends, and challenging ideas about language, Koko the gorilla died in her sleep at her home at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California on June 21, 2018. Koko first gained recognition in the late 1970s for her ability to use sign language, but it was her friendly personality that made her a beloved icon. Here are five facts you should know about the history-making ape.

1. SHE KNEW OVER 1000 SIGNS.

Francine "Penny" Patterson, then a graduate student at Stanford University, was looking for an animal subject for her inter-species animal communication experiment in the early 1970s when she found a baby gorilla at the San Francisco Zoo. Originally named Hanabiko (Japanese for "fireworks child," a reference to her Fourth of July birthdate), Koko took to signing quickly. Some of the first words Koko learned in "Gorilla Sign Language," Patterson's modified version of American Sign Language, were "food," "drink," and "more." She followed a similar trajectory as a human toddler, learning the bulk of her words between ages 2.5 and 4.5. Eventually Koko would come to know over 1000 signs and understand about 2000 words spoken to her in English. Though she never got a grasp on grammar or syntax, she was able to express complex ideas, like sadness when watching a sad movie and her desire to have a baby.

2. SHE CHANGED WHAT WE KNEW ABOUT LANGUAGE.

Not only did Koko use language to communicate—she also used it in a way that was once only thought possible in humans. Her caretakers have reported her signing about objects that weren't in the room, recalling memories, and even commenting on language itself. Her vocabulary was on par with that of a 3-year-old child.

3. SHE WASN'T THE ONLY APE WHO SIGNED.

Koko was the most famous great ape who knew sign language, but she wasn't alone. Michael, a male gorilla who lived with Koko at the Gorilla Foundation from 1976 until his death in 2000, learned over 500 signs with help from Koko and Patterson. He was even able to express the memory of his mother being killed by poachers when he was a baby. Other non-human primates have also shown they're capable of learning sign language, like Washoe the chimpanzee and Chantek the orangutan.

4. SHE HAD FAMOUS FRIENDS.

Koko received many visitors during her lifetime, including some celebrities. When Robin Williams came to her home in Woodside, California in 2001, the two bonded right away, with Williams tickling the gorilla and Koko trying on his glasses. But perhaps her most famous celebrity encounter came when Mr. Rogers paid her a visit in 1999. She immediately recognized him as the star of one of her favorite shows, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and greeted him by helping him take off his shoes like he did at the start of every episode.

5. SHE WAS A LOVING CAT MOM.

Koko was never able to have offspring of her own, but she did adopt several cats. After asking for a kitten, she was allowed to pick one from a litter for her birthday in 1985. She named the gray-and-white cat "All Ball" and handled it gently as if it were her real baby, even trying to nurse it. She had recently received two new kittens for her 44th birthday named Ms. Gray and Ms. Black.

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NBC Universal
12 Wild Facts About The Jerry Springer Show
NBC Universal
NBC Universal

Trash TV will never be the same: NBC Universal just announced that after more than a quarter-century on the air, The Jerry Springer Show has been canceled. Springer, the former mayor of Cincinnati, has taped more than 4000 episodes over the course of 27 seasons, and featured more than 35,000 guests. Because the format allowed for crass topics and guests who weren’t afraid to throw chairs at each other, in the late 1990s the show’s ratings topped Oprah Winfrey’s. Over the years, guests have accused the producers of staging and encouraging the fights for ratings. Still, it’s been popular enough to remain on the air since September 30, 1991. Here are 12 final thoughts about the controversial talk show.

1. THE FIRST SEASON TAPED IN CINCINNATI.

Before he stepped in front of the cameras, Springer’s main gig was in politics. He (unsuccessfully) ran for Congress in 1970, but was elected to Cincinnati’s city council a year later. In 1977, he served as the city’s mayor for one year and made a run for governor in 1982, but was derailed by a sex scandal.

In September 1991, Cincinnati NBC affiliate WLWT needed to replace The Phil Donahue Show, so they tapped Springer to host his own politically-focused daytime talk show, The Jerry Springer Show. At the same time, he was also appearing as a nighttime co-anchor on WLWT. In 1992, Springer moved The Jerry Springer Show to Chicago; he flew back and forth between Cincy and Chicago every day so that he could continue hosting his nightly broadcast. But in 1993 he resigned from Channel 5, after the ratings slid

2. TWO ANCHORS QUIT BECAUSE SPRINGER APPEARED ON THEIR NEWS SHOW.

In 1997, Springer began a temporary job on Chicago’s WMAQ as a news commentator. Anchor Carol Marin, who had worked at the station for 19 years, refused to share airtime with Springer and quit the show. “I am sorry she found it necessary this week to use me as the stepping stone to martyrdom,” Springer said at the time. In solidarity with Marin’s decision, co-anchor Ron Magers departed a few weeks later. Dozens of people from religious and women’s organizations protested the station’s nighttime addition as well.

The heat ended up being too much for the station; in May 1998, it dropped the Springer Show, though a Fox affiliate quickly snatched it up. To cover costs, they had to air the show not once, but twice a day.

3. SECURITY DIRECTOR STEVE WILKOS THOUGHT HIS JOB WAS A “ONE-TIME GIG.”

The show hired Steve Wilkos, a former Chicago cop and marine, for a 1994 KKK-themed episode. “The pay was good and I figured it was a one-time gig,” Wilkos told Mediaweek. “But I ended up doing another show, and another, and before I knew it, I was hired as the full-time director of security. So, I left my career as a cop to give this a shot.”

Eventually, Wilkos gave advice on a “Steve to the Rescue” segment, and started subbing for Springer when the host went off to appear on Dancing with the Stars. That led to Wilkos getting his own show, The Steve Wilkos Show, in 2007.

4. THE SHOW WAS TARGETED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

In 1998, at the peak of the show’s popularity, education secretary William Bennett and Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman spoke at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention and implored broadcasters to remove the program from their schedules. “Drop it, or if you won’t drop it, urge the producers to clean up the show,” Lieberman pleaded.

“We’re here for three reasons,” Bennett added. “The first is to remind broadcasters of the high standards they once had; the second is to remind people in the business how low much of it has sunk, and also to remind people of the enormous influence and responsibility they wield.”

“The kind of perversity and violence on that show every day has to have a bad effect on the people and children who watch it,” Lieberman said. “Springer is not a network show. You make the decision to carry it. It’s not worth it … If you can’t do that, at least put it on late at night so that fewer kids are watching.”

5. SPRINGER STARRED IN HIS OWN MOVIE.

At the apex of his popularity, Springer played a talk show host named Jerry Farrelly in the 1998 box office and critical bomb Ringmaster. The movie, like Springer's talk show, involved love triangles and cheating. It did win Springer an award, though: a Razzie for Worst New Star.

6. RELIGIOUS LEADERS FORCED THE SHOW TO TONE DOWN ITS VIOLENCE.

Under pressure from Chicago religious leaders, executives from The Jerry Springer Show promised to reduce the violence, though the fights are what helped it topple Oprah in the daytime talk show ratings. “We don’t want to take away from the show—we just think that Jerry will be able to do this show a different way,” Greg Meidel, the chief executive of then-distributor Studio USA, told the Los Angeles Times in 1998. “It will still be confrontational, it will still be unpredictable, you will still sense the conflict. You will still see yelling and screaming. But we’re not going to show anyone getting hit.”

A spokeswoman for the religious Community Renewal Society felt it was a “partial victory,” but she also called for the cursing and poor treatment of women to be toned down.

7. AUSTIN POWERS PARODIED SPRINGER.

In the opening of 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Scott Evil (Seth Green) appears on The Jerry Springer Show—Springer cameos as himself—and confronts his father, Dr. Evil, who plots to take over the world. In typical Springer Show fashion, a fight breaks out and a lot of cursing spews from the guests’ mouths.

8. ONE FEATURED LOVE TRIANGLE ENDED IN A MURDER.

In 2000, during an episode called “Secret Mistresses Confronted,” a husband, his new wife, and his ex-wife appeared on the show and got into a tiff. The newlyweds accused the ex, Nancy Campbell-Panitz, of stalking them. But hours after the episode aired, a friend of Campbell-Panitz discovered her dead, beaten body inside her home. Eventually, Campbell-Panitz's ex-husband and his new wife turned themselves in. In 2002 the case went to trial and the court found the ex-husband, Ralf Panitz, guilty of second-degree murder. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

9. SPRINGER ELIMINATED THE WORD “TRANNY.”

The Jerry Springer Show was one of the first talk shows to focus on transgender issues, but he regularly referred to his guests as “trannies,” like in a 2014 episode named “Trannies Twerk it Out.” The LGBT community felt it was time to phase out that word, and Springer immediately obliged. “I didn’t know it was offensive to them and I’m not interested in offending people, so obviously I’ll just change the term,” he told The Huffington Post. “There’s no argument there.”

10. THE SHOW PRODUCED A CONTROVERSIAL EPISODE ON BESTIALITY.

A 1998 episode entitled “I Married a Horse” featured a British man who married his horse. Cameras went overseas to film the man and his “wife.” A disclaimer opened the segment: “Sexual contact with animals is illegal in this country and most of the Western world. This is the first film to examine a subject which many find deeply disturbing.” Some stations found the episode so disturbing that they refused to air it, opting instead to broadcast a rerun of “Past Guests Do Battle.”

11. IT WAS TURNED INTO AN OPERA (WHICH ALSO CREATED CONTROVERSY).

A musical version of the show, Jerry Springer: The Opera, debuted in London in April of 2003 and toured the UK in 2006. The production drew ire from the Christian community, because it included actors playing God, Satan, and Jesus, and the actors uttered about 8000 obscenities. When the BBC decided to air a performance in 2005, 45,000 angry viewers contacted the station about the show’s content. But, that didn’t prevent the opera from expanding to the U.S. In 2007, Las Vegas became the first American city to welcome the show. In 2008, Harvey Keitel played Springer in a two-day New York City performance.

12. SPRINGER MOVED THE SHOW TO STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT—AND RESIDENTS WEREN'T HAPPY.

In 2009, after spending 17 years in Chicago, The Jerry Springer Show moved to the east coast and besieged the idyllic town of Stamford, because Connecticut offered tax breaks and built the Stamford Media Center to create a local entertainment industry. Springer’s arrival was met with protests from the community.

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