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15 Things You May Not Have Known About Beverly Hills Cop

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Den of Geek

Beverly Hills Cop confirmed Eddie Murphy's status as a superstar. The action/comedy was, financially speaking, the number one movie of 1984, and its screenplay was nominated for an Oscar. What ended up becoming one of AFI's Top 100 comedies of all time was very close to becoming a completely different movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, more gunplay, and far less humor. Thirty years after its premiere is as good a time as any to read about the crazy behind-the-scenes journey that got Axel Foley from Detroit to Beverly Hills.

1. THE ORIGINAL IDEA FOR THE MOVIE CAME FROM A SPEEDING TICKET

In 1975, long before he would become the CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner was driving a beat-up station wagon around Hollywood, despite his impressive title of president at Paramount Studios. After he got a speeding ticket from a cop with "an air of superiority and quiet condescension," he bought himself a Mercedes and came up with the germ of an idea to make a movie about a Hollywood police officer. For what it's worth, Paramount executive Don Simpson allegedly claims Eisner was wrong, and that he came up with the idea himself.

2. IT TOOK OVER FIVE YEARS FOR SOMEONE TO GET THE SCRIPT RIGHT

Danillo Bach was hired to write the script, and in 1981 he submitted a draft titled Beverly Drive. In Beverly Drive, a Pittsburgh cop named Elly Axel shows up in Beverly Hills to investigate his friend's death. That loose plot remained throughout the remainder of the creative process. Michael Eisner felt that the draft, and all the others before it from different screenwriters, didn't capture the fish-out-of-water aspect enough.

Daniel Petrie Jr.'s script was the one Eisner, Don Simpson, and his fellow Paramount producer Jerry Bruckheimer liked. Petrie injected comedy into his version after talking to cops and noticing that they told "tremendously funny stories, punctuated by the most gruesome violence." He also nailed the outsider aspect Eisner desired, drawing from his experience as a poor writer walking to his expensive-looking Beverly Hills office past stores full of high-priced clothes and art that he could never afford.

3. MICKEY ROURKE WAS INITIALLY PAID TO PLAY AXEL FOLEY

With the project fast-tracked in 1983, Mickey Rourke was a hot commodity, fresh off his Diner performance as Boogie. Rourke made $400,000 by signing a holding contract, going back and forth with the studio and the writers on ideas for the script, and then walking away when his contract expired to look for work elsewhere.

4. SYLVESTER STALLONE SIGNED ON TO PLAY AXEL AND REWROTE THE MOVIE AS A SYLVESTER STALLONE MOVIE

Stallone reflected that when he first received the action/comedy script in the mail, he thought it was sent to the wrong house. The actor, who by 1983 had already written the first three Rocky movies and First Blood, re-wrote Beverly Hills Cop to better suit his strengths, making it into a pure action flick as it had been before Petrie Jr. took over script duties. In Stallone's ending, Axel drives a stolen Lamborghini towards a freight train being driven by the Big Bad.

5. STALLONE LEFT WEEKS BEFORE SHOOTING BECAUSE OF ORANGE JUICE. MAYBE.

The Hollywood legend is that Sylvester Stallone abandoned the project thanks to failed negotiations over what type of orange juice was to be kept in his trailer. The official explanation was that Stallone's script made the budget skyrocket, and Paramount did not want to spend all the extra money. A majority of Stallone's script went into his 1986 movie Cobra, and as a nod to Stallone's involvement, Judge Reinhold's character Billy Rosewood has posters of both Cobra and Rambo in his room in Beverly Hills Cop II.

6. EDDIE MURPHY IMPROVISED A LOT OF THE MOVIE

Murphy, coming off roles in 48 Hours and Trading Places, was brought in to save the day. Petrie Jr. came back and finished a final version of his script, but both he and director Martin Brest weren't completely satisfied. Brest encouraged Murphy to make up funny stuff on the spot, and Murphy came through on multiple occasions. The former SNL cast member rarely drank caffeine, but after drinking a cup of coffee, he ad-libbed his spirited "supercops" monologue.

7. AN ACTOR HELD THE MOVIE'S SCRIPT IN HIS HANDS WHILE SHOOTING, AND IT WAS KEPT IN THE FILM

With the screenplay reworked constantly, sometimes actors were given their lines right before they were supposed to say them. This was an issue for actor Stephen Elliott, who was caught with his rolled-up script in his hand as he was playing police chief Hubbard. Fortunately for him, his director thought it made him more look the part, and in the film, Elliott is holding those script pages.

8. MARTIN SCORCESE WAS THE FIRST CHOICE TO DIRECT

When Stallone was still signed up to play the lead, Scorcese was offered the director's chair. Scorcese was "bewildered," and dismissed the concept as too similar to the movie Coogan's Bluff. In that film, Clint Eastwood was a deputy sheriff from Arizona who travels to New York City to hand over a fugitive.

9. MARTIN BREST REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO DIRECT THE MOVIE

Martin Brest was fired from his second directing job, WarGames, and the industry thought he was damaged goods. Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer disagreed, and the two Paramount executives continually called Brest and asked him to direct Beverly Hills Cop. He kept declining, before eventually taking his phone off the hook. Simpson took the hint, but Bruckheimer kept trying, and to end the harassment, Brest decided to flip a coin to make his decision. The coin told him to take the job.

10. BRONSON PINCHOT ALMOST DIDN'T DO THE MOVIE BECAUSE HE WANTED TO GO TO ITALY

Pinchot's performance as Serge the gallerist, which led Brest to call Pinchot the "American Peter Sellers," helped him obtain his iconic role of Mypos native Balki Bartokomous on Perfect Strangers for seven seasons. But because of the movie's repeated production delays and his scheduled trip to Florence, Italy, Pinchot grew restless and said that if they didn't start production, he would have to drop out. Pinchot made this ultimatum despite being a virtual unknown.

11. THE REAL DETROIT POLICE WOULDN'T GO PLACES THE DIRECTOR WOULD

Most of the scenes set in Detroit were actually shot there. An off-duty police officer accompanied Martin Brest and his crew during filming, but he refused to go with them when they entered a housing project. Detroit PD was more helpful when producers were researching police procedures, though, when a detective took them to a murder site. Since the incident occurred across the street from Mumford High School, Eddie Murphy wears a Mumford shirt throughout the movie.

12. THREE SYNTHESIZERS WERE NEEDED TO RECORD 'AXEL F'

The classic instrumental theme written and performed by Harold Faltermeyer was made using a Roland Jupiter 8, a Roland JX-3P, and a Yamaha DX-7. The song reached #3 on the Billboard U.S. charts. Faltermeyer also co-wrote the Glenn Frey song "The Heat is On" for the film's soundtrack.

13. THE BEVERLY HILLS POLICE DEPARTMENT SET WAS BASED ON 'WARGAMES'

The Beverly Hills PD did not provide access to their headquarters, so Martin Brest and staff simply built a set that would look like the exact opposite of the Detroit police department, "like private security for all rich people." The set was influenced by Brest's original conceptual designs for the NORAD scenes in WarGames. Like Stallone would do with Cobra, Brest recycled his unused work because he felt that he spent too much time on it to never use it.

14. THE BANANA IN THE TAIL PIPE WAS A LAST SECOND FOOD CHOICE

In the script, Axel stuffs potatoes he stole from the hotel kitchen into the tail pipe of Rosewood and Taggart's car. Due to time constraints, no scene from the kitchen could be shot. Because the hotel lobby was already a location for a few scenes, the script was re-written so Axel takes bananas, with Damon Wayans' approval, from a buffet in the lobby.

15. 'BEVERLY HILLS COP 4' IS SLATED TO PREMIERE IN 2016

Beverly Hills Cop II was released in 1987 to mixed reviews but still made over $135 million, and the third movie only made $42 million in the United States. An updated TV series was pitched to CBS in 2013, but despite Eddie Murphy's participation, the network passed after seeing the pilot. All is not lost, because a primarily Detroit-based Beverly Hills Cop IV is due to arrive in March 2016, with Murphy reprising his role as Axel.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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© Nintendo
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fun
Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.

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