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13 Creepy, Kooky Facts About The Addams Family 

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Starting in 1938, Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wednesday, Pugsley, and Thing appeared in The New Yorker in a series of cartoons by Charles Addams. After two seasons in the mid-'60s as a sitcom, then two more as a Saturday morning cartoon in the '70s, the adventures of the strange, morbid Addams family seemed destined to solely exist in illustration form. Then, after Charles Addams' passing in 1988, even the cartoons stopped—but in 1991, The Addams Family movie brought the pale gang to the cinema. Here are a few things you might not have known about the film.

1. THE IDEA TO BRING BACK THE ADDAMS FAMILY CAME FROM A CAR RIDE.

Scott Rudin, head of production at 20th Century Fox, was riding in a van with other company executives one day after a movie screening. "Everyone was there—(studio chiefs) Barry Diller and Leonard Goldberg and (marketing chief) Tom Sherak—when Tom's kid started singing 'The Addams Family' theme," Rudin told the LA Times. "And suddenly everyone in the van was singing the theme, letter perfect, note for note." The next day, Rudin proposed to Diller and Goldberg that they make an Addams Family movie—and they went for it.

2. MC HAMMER WROTE AN AWARD-WINNING SONG FOR THE MOVIE.

The "Addams Groove" music video played before the film during its first few weeks in theaters. The final track on Too Legit to Quit would end up being MC Hammer's last visit to the top 10 of the Billboard singles charts in the U.S. It also won the 1991 Golden Raspberry for Worst Original Song, beating out fellow nominees "Why Was I Born (Freddy's Dead)" by Iggy Pop, and Vanilla Ice's "Cool as Ice."

3. ANTHONY HOPKINS TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF FESTER.

Hopkins instead opted to play Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (he got the role after Sean Connery was initially approached). Hopkins would win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance.

4. TIM BURTON WAS INITIALLY SET TO DIRECT.

Burton had worked with Addams Family screenwriters Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson on previous projects, but ended up not taking the job. Almost 20 years later, Burton was rumored to be developing a 3D stop-motion animated Addams Family movie, but it was announced last year that he was off the project.

5. IT WAS BARRY SONNENFELD'S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT.

The Addams Family was Barry Sonnenfeld's directorial debut, but he had experience as a cinematographer on films like Blood Simple, Big, Raising Arizona, Misery, When Harry Met Sally..., and Miller's Crossing. After his agent told him that he would lick a carpet if he couldn't find him a directing job within one year, he found Sonnenfeld a seemingly plum first time assignment helming a high profile movie (in less than a year). As a joke, Scott Rudin let it be known to Sonnenfeld that he wasn't his first choice by putting a different director's name on the back of the director's chair every morning on set. Some of the names that replaced Sonnenfeld's were Joe Dante, Terry Gilliam, David Lynch, and Rudin's first choice, Tim Burton.

6. SONNENFELD FAINTED DURING SHOOTING.

Three weeks into directing, Sonnenfeld was talking to a studio executive who was concerned about the budget for the film when he felt a "tremendous pressure" in his chest, "as if someone was blowing up a balloon inside me," then passed out. He also dealt with sciatica during filming, and had to shut down the Los Angeles production for several days when his wife needed major surgery in New York.

7. THERE WAS A "BLACK CLOUD" HANGING OVER THE MOVIE.

Owen Roizman, the film's cinematographer, quit to work on another movie shortly after Sonnenfeld's fainting incident. His replacement, Gayl Tattersoll, stopped production for a couple of days when he needed to be hospitalized for a sinus infection, and never returned. Sonnenfeld ended up doing the job himself. In front of the camera, a blood vessel burst in the eye of Raul Julia, the actor who played Gomez. These incidents led the future Get Shorty and Men In Black director to say that he felt like there was a "pervasive black cloud" hanging over the movie.

8. THERE WAS AN ACTOR REBELLION, LED BY 10-YEAR-OLD CHRISTINA RICCI.

The actors were concerned about the ambiguity of the big Fester storyline in the script. Initially, it was going to be unknown if Gordon, the man suffering from memory loss that looked just like Uncle Fester, was actually Fester. The actors nominated Wednesday Addams herself, Christina Ricci, to give an impassioned plea to Rudin and Sonnenfeld two weeks before shooting that Fester should not be an imposter. Sonnenfeld remembered that the only actor to not care was Christopher Lloyd, the man playing Fester.

9. ANJELICA HUSTON WATCHED "GREY GARDENS" TO PLAY MORTICIA.

Cher was interested in playing Morticia, but Huston was producer Rudin's first choice. Huston, who grew up in Ireland, was more familiar with the Charles Addams drawings than the old TV show, and decided it would be pointless to try and replicate actress Carolyn Jones' "ideal" portrayal of Morticia anyway. The future Academy Award winner turned to the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens—a movie about the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy who lived in a deteriorating mansion filled with garbage and animal waste—for inspiration instead.

10. HUSTON HAD TO GO THROUGH A LOT TO GET INTO CHARACTER.

''Morticia has a shape only a cartoonist can draw,'' Sonnenfeld told Entertainment Weekly, ''so we lashed Anjelica into a metal corset that created this hips-and-waist thing I've never seen any woman have in reality.'' The role also required Huston to get gauze eye lifts, neck tucks, and fake nails daily. ''Come afternoon, I could be prone to a really good headache from my various bondages,'' she told EW. ''And because I couldn't lie down (in the corset) or rest, it was fairly exhausting.''

11. THE COMPANY FINANCING THE MOVIE SOLD IT WHILE IT WAS BEING FILMED.

Because Orion Pictures had the rights to The Addams Family, they were the ones responsible for financing and potentially releasing the movie. Even though there were some budget concerns, selling the movie to another company was something Rudin and Sonnenfeld had not even considered. But three-quarters of the way through filming, Rudin was informed that Orion had sold the movie to Paramount by Hollywood Reporter writer Andrea King. Even though Rudin was also working on a movie at the time with Paramount, in addition with having phone conversations daily with Orion over The Addams Family, he had absolutely no idea.

12. "VALLEY BOYS" CUT THE BIG MUSICAL NUMBER.

Initially "The Mamushka" scene was much longer, and it featured Gomez and Fester singing about brotherly love. Even though Broadway veterans were hired to write the traditional Addams clan number, most of the scene was cut because a California test audience mostly composed of 16- to 32-year-old white males didn't care for it.

13. THE STUDIOS WERE SUED AS SOON AS THE MOVIE CAME OUT.

David Levy, the executive producer of the old Addams Family TV series, sued Paramount and Orion after the movie was released to surprising commercial success. Levy claimed that too many of his ideas, which were originally from his show and not from the Charles Addams cartoons, were used in the movie. Levy, who still owned the rights to the TV show, created specific character quirks and concepts that were used in the movie, such as Gomez' love of blowing up toy trains, and Thing being a disembodied hand, as opposed to being a normal background character in the cartoons. Paramount and Levy ultimately settled out of court.

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The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

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The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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