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22 Fun Facts About Clueless

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With loads of sass and style, Clueless won the hearts of a generation and became one of the most beloved coming-of-age comedies of all time. But even if you're a total Betty or Baldwin, you probably don't know all the juicy details behind Clueless, which hit theaters 20 years ago today.

1. CLUELESS IS MODERN-DAY JANE AUSTEN.

Writer-director Amy Heckerling found her inspiration for Cher's bumbling journey of love from Austen's classic 1815 novel Emma. "I remembered reading Emma in college and being struck at how much it reminded me of old TV shows like Gidget," Heckerling recounted to Entertainment Weekly. "There's something so basic about it."

2. THE DIRECTOR STUDIED REAL BEVERLY HILLS HIGH SCHOOLERS.

Heckerling wanted to spin her combination of Emma and Gidget in the setting of a Beverly Hills high school, which she envisioned as a "hyper-pastel fantasy place." To create the movie's totally quotable dialogue, Heckerling sat in on classes to get a feel for how teens in the '90s talked. But Cher's classic "As if!" actually came from the lesbian community. "Any outsider group is going to create their own language—whether it's homosexual, black, prisoners, or cab drivers," Heckerling explained. " You just have to be willing to open your ears and listen."

3. THE "HAITIANS" MISPRONUNCIATION WAS ALL SILVERSTONE.

You know how Cher rallies for America opening its borders to the Haiti-ans? The script read "Haitians" and Silverstone made an honest mistake. But before producers could rush in and correct her, Heckerling demanded they let her go. "I had to stop them," she remembers. "It was much funnier the way she said it. That was Cher."

4. REESE WITHERSPOON COULD HAVE BEEN CHER.

Witherspoon already had a few film roles to her credit with The Man in The Moon, A Far Off Place, and Jack The Bear. Silverstone only had the Lolita-like horror movie The Crush on her feature filmography. But with no pressure from the studio to cast stars, Heckerling had the freedom to pick the ingénue whom she felt had "that Marilyn Monroe thing" that captured "a vague notion in my head of Cher as a pretty, sweet blonde, who, in spite of being the American ideal, people still really like."

5. SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR WAS OFFERED THE ROLE OF CHER.

But the eventual Buffy The Vampire Slayer star had to turn it down because of scheduling conflicts with All My Children, on which she appeared from 1993 to 1995, playing Kendall Hart Lang.

6. ALICIA SILVERSTONE HAS AEROSMITH TO THANK FOR CLUELESS.

Heckerling's casting director first pitched Silverstone for Cher based on her performance in The Crush. But Heckerling wanted that fascinating blonde girl from the music video for Aerosmith's "Cryin." Lucky for Silverstone, she was one and the same. She went on to do two more Aerosmith videos, "Amazing" and "Crazy."

7. CLUELESS LAUNCHED ALICIA SILVERSTONE'S FILM CAREER.

Yes, she was on the rise with her role in The Crush and her growing fame from the Aerosmith videos. But it was Clueless and its evolving cult status that made Silverstone a household name.  

8. PAUL RUDD WANTED TO PLAY CHRISTIAN ... OR MURRAY.

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Though he was ultimately cast to play Cher's brainy stepbrother Josh, Rudd had initially wanted to portray Christian. He was intrigued by a Hollywood script having a "cool gay kid" character. When that didn't pan out, he asked to audition for Murray, a role that ultimately went to Donald Faison. Rudd told Entertainment Weekly, "I thought he was kind of a funny hip-hop wannabe. I didn't realize that the character was African-American."

9. JEREMY RENNER COULD HAVE BEEN THE OBJECT OF CHER'S AFFECTION.

Renner auditioned for the roles of both Christian and Josh, but lost out to Justin Walker and Paul Rudd, respectively. 

10. LOTS OF TODAY'S STARS AUDITIONED FOR CLUELESS.

With so many characters to cast and not much of a budget to brag about, the casting calls spread throughout young (and then unknown) Hollywood. Terrence Howard and Lauryn Hill read for Murray and Dionne, respectively. Owen Wilson tried out for Travis. Leah Remini auditioned for Tai, while Zooey Deschanel went out for both Amber and Cher. 

11. BRITTANY MURPHY WAS ACTUALLY THE VIRGIN WHO COULDN'T DRIVE.

Looking back on Clueless and its legacy, the late Murphy recalled, "It's hard for me to believe it's been 10 years since that movie. I really was a virgin who couldn't drive. I was living in an apartment in the Valley with my mom—and I remember starting to see these huge billboards of us all over town. It was amazing!”

12. THE SUCK AND BLOW SCENE REQUIRED SOME MOVIE MAGIC.

While "Suck and Blow" might have seemed like a fun and sexy party game, it was in fact a pain to shoot. Turns out the cast wasn't up to sucking or blowing well enough to make the game work with an actual credit card. So a prop card made of cardboard was brought in. When that failed, generous amounts of ChapStick were applied to the cast's lips to make the card stick. Less sexy now, huh?

13. THE GOLDEN GIRLS PAID TRIBUTE.

At the 1996 MTV Movie Awards, Clueless was spoofed by Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, and Betty White of The Golden Girls. It was a fitting tribute where these hilarious ladies metaphorically passed the torch to a new batch of sharp comedic performers.

14. CHER IS CLUELESS TO THE MANY HINTS AT CHRISTIAN'S SEXUAL IDENTITY.

Aside from his total lack of interest in making out with Cher, Christian's identity as a "friend of Dorothy" is tipped throughout with various clues. For instance, on movie night he suggests Some Like It Hot and Spartacus, the former being a movie about men cross-dressing, which arguably ends with the creation of a gay coupling. The latter includes a scene where Laurence Olivier's character attempts to seduce Tony Curtis's. Christian is also spotted reading Junkie by William S. Burroughs, an acclaimed and gay American writer. Lastly, Cher's chances of romance with Christian are spelled out in his intro, where a headline posted on a board next to him reads, "On The Road To Nowhere." Way harsh.

15. HECKERLING HAS A CLUELESS CAMEO.

Blink and you'll miss her, but Clueless's writer-director wedged herself into the final scene at the wedding of Mr. Hall and Miss Geist. She's one of the non-teen bridesmaids battling Cher for the bouquet.

16. CLUELESS IS PART OF AN UNOFFICIAL TRILOGY.

Heckerling is well known for her forays into coming-of-age stories: The first was her directorial debut, the beloved 1982 comedy Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Clueless came in 1995 was followed up with the Jason Biggs-fronted Loser in 2000, Each comedy not only centered on teens, but also aimed to capture the adolescent zeitgeist of their eras in a way that made them accessible and cool to all ages. Obviously, some worked better than others.

17. JEREMY SISTO TRIED TO KILL ALICIA SILVERSTONE (IN A MOVIE).

That's right. Just before production got going on Clueless, Sisto (who played Elton) and Silverstone co-starred in Hideaway, a thriller in which Sisto plays a devil-worshipping killer stalking Silverstone's character. Sisto would later go on to audition for Titanic. Of course, we all know he lost out to Leonardo DiCaprio, but his screen test has survived:

18. SUBURGATORY FEATURED A CLUELESS REUNION.

From 2011 to 2014, Sisto co-starred in the sitcom Suburgatory, where he had a chance to reconnect with a pair of Clueless cast members. Heckerling helmed an episode of the series, titled "Victor Ha." And in 2012, Silverstone had a four-episode arc as Eden, an ex-girlfriend of Sisto's character.

19. HECKERLING AND SILVERSTONE RE-TEAMED FOR A VAMPIRE COMEDY.

In 2012, Heckerling and Silverstone brought a reunion of their own to theaters with Vamps, a rom-com about two sexy vampire ladies with love troubles. Unfortunately, the film did not do well. It flopped at the box office, pulling in just $3,361, and its reviews were mixed.

20. MR. HALL WAS BASED ON TWO REAL TEACHERS.

To play the debate teacher Mr. Hall, Wallace Shawn pulled from his own experience, having been a professional teacher before he went into acting full-time. But Shawn's character got his name from Herb Hall, the actual debate teacher of a Beverly Hills high school at the time. The real Hall was a friend of Heckerling's, and got to appear in Clueless as the school principal.

21. CLUELESS WAS ORIGINALLY PITCHED AS A TV SERIES.

No, it wasn't the TV-spinoff of the popular movie. Back in the early '90s, 20th Century Fox was shopping for a sitcom about cool teenagers (no nerds). So Heckerling pitched them No Worries, which she had conceived with eventual Clueless producer/Miss Geist, Twink Caplan. But Fox feared no one would care about a show with so many girls, so Heckerling went back to the drawing board, reshaping her characters into a feature screenplay with early drafts called I Was A Teenage Teenager and Clueless in California.

22. CLUELESS EVENTUALLY RETURNED TO TV.

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One year after the film opened, the Clueless TV show was resurrected. Rachel Blanchard stepped in for Silverstone as Cher, while Elisa Donovan, Donald Faison, and Stacey Dash reprised their roles as Amber, Murray and Dionne, respectively. The series ran for three seasons, wrapping in 1999.

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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12 Admissible Facts About Judge Judy
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Judge Judith Sheindlin was 54 years old when her namesake TV show premiered on September 16, 1996. Two years later the diminutive (5’1”) adjudicator was trouncing the powerhouse Oprah Winfrey Show in the Nielsen ratings. Today, she is one of the highest paid TV celebrities, earning $47 million per year—which she will continue to do through 2020, thanks to a new extended contract.

Fervent fans are familiar with Judge Judy’s more outrageous cases, like The Tupperware Lady and the eBay Cell Phone Scammer, but they might not know some of these fun facts about both the show and the woman behind it, who turns 75 years old today.

1. THAT GRUFF, NO-NONSENSE STYLE OF JURISPRUDENCE IS NOT AN ACT.

Judge Judy spent a little over 20 years in New York City’s family court system, where she earned a reputation early in her career for being blunt, impatient, and tough-talking. “I can’t stand stupid, and I can’t stand slow,” was one of her oft-repeated “Judyisms” at that time. She also frequently warned attorneys appearing before her: "I want first-time offenders to think of their appearance in my courtroom as the second-worst experience of their lives ... circumcision being the first." 60 Minutes filmed her in action as part of a 1993 profile, and while her hair color and eyebrows have softened since then, her impatient rants and verbal smackdowns haven’t changed a bit.

2. SHE BEGAN WEARING HER TRADEMARK LACE COLLAR AS SOON AS SHE WAS APPOINTED AS A JUDGE.

New York City Mayor Ed Koch appointed Judith Sheindlin to the bench in 1982, and to celebrate she and her husband Jerry—both civil servants at the time—took a $399 package trip to Greece for two weeks. While passing by a row of street kiosks with various locally made crafts for sale, she impulsively purchased a white lace collar from a vendor. She explained to her husband that male judges wore stiff-collared white dress shirts and colorful neckties that peeped out of the top of their robes, so that they had a nice colorful “buffer” between the austere black gown and their face. Female judges, however, had nothing but neck peeping out of their robes and the unforgiving black color revealed every minute of sleep deprivation as well as any skin tone irregularities. The white lace collar, she decided, would not only perk up her face but would also be a bit disarming for litigants—she could picture them thinking “That nice little lady with the lace collar sitting behind the bench couldn’t hurt a fly!”

3. DESPITE THOSE NEW YORK CITY SCENES ON THE COMMERCIAL BUMPERS, JUDGE JUDY IS TAPED IN CALIFORNIA.

Sheindlin spends 52 days per year taping her show. She flies to California via private jet every other Monday and hears cases on Tuesday and Wednesday (occasionally Thursday if there are production delays). One full week’s worth of shows are filmed each day. Many viewers, however, are fooled into thinking Judy is holding court in her native New York, thanks to the scenic Manhattan footage in between station breaks and the New York state flag behind her chair. That is, until something oh-so-unique to the west coast—like an earthquake—occurs on-camera. (Note that in the clip below, Judge Judy quickly ducks beneath her bench once the room begins to tremble.)

4. SHE IS BRIEFED ON THE CASES BEFORE SHE ARRIVES ON THE SET.

Judge Sheindlin does not go to the studio unprepared; producers FedEx the sworn statements and relevant information on each upcoming case to her home (Naples, Florida in the winter; Greenwich, Connecticut in the spring and summer) and she familiarizes herself with enough details to have some background, but not enough so that the case doesn’t appear “fresh” when she questions the litigants during filming.

5. THE CASES REALLY ARE REAL.

The production company has a staff of 60-plus researchers across the country who spend their days poring over lawsuits filed in local small claims courts. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, they are able to photocopy cases that they think might make for interesting television and those copies are forwarded to the show’s producers. Any cases that make it to the next stage (about three percent) involve contacting the litigants involved and asking them if they’d like to forego their civil court hearing in exchange for a free trip to Los Angeles, an $850 appearance fee, and a per diem of $40 (as of 2012). An added incentive is that any judgments awarded are paid by the show, not by the plaintiff or defendant. The best cases, according to the executive producer, are those that involve litigants with a prior relationship—mother/daughter, father/son, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. Such cases engage the audience because it’s an emotional tie that’s been broken (the recurring plot on many soap operas).

6. THE AUDIENCE, HOWEVER, IS NOT SO REAL.

Regular viewers will note that the same faces seem to pop up in the audience regularly. Those folks in the spectator seats are paid extras (often aspiring actors) who earn $8 per hour to sit and look attentive. Prospective audience members apply for the limited amount of seats by emailing their contact information along with a clear headshot to one of Judge Judy’s production coordinators (sorry, we cannot provide that info). If chosen, the spectator must dress appropriately (business casual or better) and arrive promptly for the 8:30 a.m. call time. Audience members must pass through metal detectors on their way in and are not allowed to bring cell phones or any electronic devices with them, and food, drinks and chewing gum are also verboten. Spectators are rearranged after each case so it’s not as obvious that it’s the same group of people, and the most attractive folks are always seated in the front row (it’s Hollywood, after all). The audience is instructed to talk animatedly amongst themselves in between each case so that Officer Byrd’s “Order in the court!” admonition has more impact. Bad behavior is grounds for immediate expulsion (in front of 10 million viewers, as Judge Judy likes to remind us).

7. JUDGE JUDY DRESSES CASUALLY FOR THE JOB.

Sheindlin has been known to publicly chastise litigants who come to her courtroom in skimpy clothing or “beach attire,” but behind that bench and under that robe she is usually sporting jeans and a tank top or T-shirt.

8. OFFICER BYRD IS A REAL BAILIFF.

Brooklyn native Petri Hawkins Byrd earned his B.Sc. degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1989 and started working in the Brooklyn Family Court system. He first worked with Judge Sheindlin when he transferred to the Manhattan Family Court. “We [the court officers] used to call her the Joan Rivers of the judicial system,” he recalled in a 2004 interview. “She was just hilarious.” Byrd relocated to San Mateo, California in 1990 to work as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal and a few years later he read an item in Liz Smith’s gossip column about Sheindlin’s upcoming TV show. He sent his old colleague a congratulatory letter and added, “If you need a bailiff, I still look good in uniform.”

9. DESPITE HIS SOMETIMES IMPOSING COURTROOM DEMEANOR, OFFICER BYRD IS ALSO A VERY FUNNY GUY.

He is a talented impressionist, but his sense of humor almost cost him his job—or so he thought at the time. Once, back when he was working with the feisty Judge Sheindlin in New York, he donned her robe and reading glasses to entertain his co-workers with a barrage of Judyisms. Of course, as always seems to happen when one mocks the boss in the workplace, he was caught in the act.

10. THE OCCASIONAL CELEBRITY RELIES ON JUDGE JUDY’S BRAND OF JUSTICE.

Depending upon your own definition of “celebrity”, of course. Actress Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days) appeared on the show in 1996 as the plaintiff, suing her plastic surgeon for a leaky breast implant that was impeding her acting career. One year later, former Sex Pistol John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) appeared as a defendant when drummer Robert Williams, who was hired to support Lydon on a solo tour, sued the singer for lost wages and an assault. Despite Lydon’s occasional bad courtroom behavior, the decision was made in his favor.

11. THE STAR ORIGINALLY DIDN’T WANT THE SHOW NAMED AFTER HER.

Sheindlin first envisioned calling her show Hot Bench, a term used frequently in the appellate court, but the producers wisely advised her that the term was meaningless to TV viewers who didn’t work in the legal system. Her next thought was Judy Justice, since she’d overheard her court officers warning deadbeat parents who were delinquent in child support payments that they were in for a load of "Judy Justice" if they weren’t prepared to cough up some money. In retrospect, Sheindlin realized the wisdom in calling the show Judge Judy: She couldn’t be easily replaced, as the various judges had been on The People’s Court. However, after 19 years on the air, she still does not refer to herself by that sobriquet; whether introducing herself to someone or advertising her show in a promotional clip, she is always either “Judge Sheindlin” or “Judge Judy Sheindlin.”

12. JUDGE SHEINDLIN INHERITED HER SENSE OF HUMOR FROM HER FATHER.

Murray Blum, Judy’s beloved father, was a dentist whose office was in the family home. In those days—before sedation dentistry was an option—a dentist’s best tool to distract nervous patients was the gift of gab, and Murray became a master storyteller out of necessity. Years of listening to her father at the dinner table and at family gatherings taught Judy how to deliver a punchline. One evening outside of a hotel in Hollywood, Sheindlin was approached by a woman who introduced herself as Lorna Berle. She told the judge that her husband Milton was a huge fan and asked if she would mind talking to him for a moment. The elderly comic slowly emerged from a limo and Judy greeted him by singing the theme song to Texaco Star Theater, her favorite TV show as a child. Milton Berle complimented her in return, saying “Kid, you’ve got great comic timing.”

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