21 Things You Might Not Know About NewsRadio

NewsRadio was a workplace comedy that showed how an office can be like a dysfunctional family, not unlike The Mary Tyler Moore Show did before it or The Office did after it. What made the show different, however, was that it would occasionally get unapologetically absurd—setting season finales in outer space and putting the WNYX-AM staff on the Titanic.

This meant that while the sitcom was just as smart as Frasier, possessed as funny an ensemble cast as Friends, and was at times as humorously sour as SeinfeldNewsRadio was the nineties NBC comedy destined to not be as popular or appreciated by its own network as it deserved. Here are 21 things you might not have known about NewsRadio.

1. IT WAS THE CREATOR’S FIRST TIME WORKING FOR A NETWORK SITCOM.

Paul Simms went from writing for The Harvard Lampoon and the satirical Spy magazine to working for Late Night with David Letterman and the HBO comedy The Larry Sanders Show (a comedy about a late night talk show host), to overseeing his own show at 29 years old.

2. TEN EPISODE TITLES ARE LED ZEPPELIN REFERENCES.

The final nine episodes of season two are titled after the names of Zeppelin albums, in a non-chronological, seemingly random order. One season three episode was christened “Led Zeppelin Boxed Set.” When Simms was interviewed for The New York Times to promote the launch of the series, it was noted that he was wearing jeans and a Led Zeppelin T-shirt.

3. BOTH JIMMY JAMES AND BETH WERE NAMED AFTER SONGS.

Stephen Root’s character is named after the Beastie Boys song from Check Your Head. Beth the secretary got her name from the Kiss ballad.

4. SARAH SILVERMAN AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE OF BETH.

As did her one-time roommate and Mr. Show castmate Mary Lynn Rajskub, who went on to play Chloe on 24. The part of Beth went to Vicki Lewis.

5. RAY ROMANO WAS ORIGINALLY THE STATION ELECTRICIAN.

The part played by Greg Lee in the pilot and by Joe Rogan for the rest of the series was Ray Romano’s for two days. Romano claimed he was “relieved” when his manager told him that he had been fired, and felt deep down that he “wasn’t pulling it off” anyway.

6. THE CASTING DIRECTOR ACCIDENTALLY ERASED MAURA TIERNEY’S INITIAL AUDITION.

Showing Lisa Miller-like determination, Tierney went back to New York, passed the network audition test, and started rehearsing the same day.

7. THE CAST OF FRIENDS WENT TO THE PILOT TAPING.

The six stars of Friends watched veteran TV comedy director James Burrows direct NewsRadio’s first episode, and reportedly felt “jealous.” Burrows directed Friends' pilot and nearly half of its first season. Former NBC executive Karey Burke remembers not being able to figure out whether Friends or NewsRadio would become the network's big “hit."

8. PHIL HARTMAN’S EARLY GRAPHIC ARTIST CAREER WAS A PART OF THE SHOW.

In “Bill’s Autobiography,” Bill discovers a recording of Dave singing “A Horse With No Name” by America, a song that Lisa claimed Dave is “obsessed” with. Phil Hartman designed three album covers for America, a band managed by his brother John. What was a job in the seventies was Hartman’s hobby in the nineties; Stephen Root recalled to Grantland that the actor drew a lot on set.

9. JUDD APATOW WAS THE UNCREDITED VOICE OF GOOFY BALL.

The 1995 "Goofy Ball" episode found Mr. James tasking Matthew, Beth, and Joe with testing an “annoying” toy being made by one of his companies. Apatow had only been credited in one TV show and one movie before this voice gig, but is labeled as a celebrity guest star on the official DVD.

10. RON JEREMY IS IN MR. JAMES’ BOOK READING AUDIENCE FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON.

He has no lines, and is uncredited for appearing in the scene from the classic episode "Super Karate Monkey Death Car.”

11. DAVE ACCIDENTALLY HEARING THE STAFF COMPLAIN ABOUT HIM WAS BASED ON AN INCIDENT IN THE SHOW’S WRITERS’ ROOM.

“Bitch Session” came about after Paul Simms accidentally heard his writers complaining about him.

12. EVEN SIMMS WAS SURPRISED THAT THEY GOT TO MAKE SO MANY STAR WARS REFERENCES.

After “Presence” made several visual and spoken references to Boba Fett, the closing credits read that Boba Fett was provided by “J.T. Hutt.” Simms was “shocked” that LucasFilm gave them permission to discuss and show an action figure of one of their characters at all.

13. NBC RE-AIRED AN EPISODE AS ONE LONG "POP-UP VIDEO."

“Our Fiftieth Episode” got the then-popular VH1 show treatment on April Fool's Day in 1998, 364 days after its initial airing. One “fact bubble” read that Charlton Heston had turned down a request to appear on NewsRadio because he had never heard of the show.

14. KHANDI ALEXANDER LEFT THE SHOW TO DO MORE DRAMA.

The opening credits of the show were re-edited in the season four episode “Catherine Moves On” to show Alexander’s character slapping the male cast members in the face.

15. A RADIO MAGAZINE PUT PHIL HARTMAN ON ITS COVER FOLLOWING HIS DEATH.

Months after Hartman was murdered, NewsRadio returned for its fifth and final season with its characters returning from the funeral of his character. The actual Radio Ink cover that featured a remembrance of Hartman was visible on Dave’s desk throughout that season.

16. JON LOVITZ PLAYED THREE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.

He was Fred in “Our Fiftieth Episode" and the suicidal Mike Johnson in “Jumper” before replacing the late Hartman. It took Lovitz weeks to decide whether or not to accept the role of Max Lewis, the character that would replace his close friend and former SNL co-star. Rob Schneider and Patrick Warburton were also considered to play Max.

17. NBC STANDARDS AND PRACTICES WOULD NOT ALLOW AN EPISODE TO AIR FOR OVER A YEAR.

“The Injury” was only finally allowed on television after the show’s staff cut down the number of times the word “penis” was spoken. The edited version is on the DVD, while the unedited version made its way to syndication.

18. A NETWORK EXECUTIVE THOUGHT THE SHOW WASN’T POPULAR BECAUSE THE CHARACTERS WERE MEAN.

Simms defended his show by pointing out that "Even in the most contemptuous relationship—like between Dave Foley's character and Phil Hartman'sDave's always helping Phil save face. And... what about Seinfeld?"

19. NBC WANTED DAVE AND LISA TO GET MARRIED.

In response to the request, an episode was written where Mr. James bugs Lisa to stage a stunt wedding for the radio station.

20. A WRITER WORE A SHIRT WITH THE SHOW’S BAD NIELSEN RANKING ON IT.

It was considered to be “gallows humor,” since NewsRadio was ranked a dismal 97th at the time.

21. PAUL SIMMS BELIEVED THAT NBC KILLED NEWSRADIO.

A very frustrated Paul Simms was fed up with NBC moving his show to different days and times. He infamously gave a profanity-laced interview to Rolling Stone in 1997, near the end of the show's fourth season. Among other things, Simms said that NBC “killed the show,” and described the network's Thursday night lineup as being “like a big double-decker shit sandwich with three good pieces of bread.” After Simms told the reporter to not print the quote, he quickly changed his mind, reasoning that if NewsRadio was the lowest-rated sitcom on NBC, “it can’t get any worse.” Despite its creator adopting a sunnier public attitude about his bosses for the next year or so, low ratings finally led to the show’s cancellation in 1999 after five seasons and 97 episodes.

arrow
Medicine
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Words
Beyond Wanderlust: 30 Words Every Traveler Should Know
iStock
iStock

For those who travel, wanderlust is a familiar feeling. It’s that nagging voice in your head that says, “Yes, you do need to book that flight,” even if your bank account says otherwise. Regardless of how many passport covers this word may adorn, it doesn’t begin to cover the spectrum of emotions and experiences that can be revealed through the act of travel. Here are 30 travel words from around the world to keep in your back pocket as you're exploring this summer.

1. VAGARY

From the Latin vagari, meaning “to wander,” this 16th-century word originally meant a wandering journey. Nowadays, "vagaries" refer to unpredictable or erratic situations, but that doesn’t mean the old sense of the word can’t be invoked from time to time.

2. SELCOUTH

An Old English word that refers to something that’s both strange and marvelous. It's a great way to sum up those seemingly indescribable moments spent in an unfamiliar land.

3. FERNWEH

Who hasn’t felt a strong desire to be somewhere—anywhere—other than where you currently are? That’s fernweh, or “farsickness," and this German word has been described as a cousin of wanderlust, another German loan word.

4. DÉPAYSEMENT

A busy street in Hong Kong
iStock

Anyone who has traveled abroad will recognize this feeling. The French word refers to the sense of disorientation that often sets in when you step outside your comfort zone, such as when you leave your home country.

5. DÉRIVE

Another gift from the French, this word literally translates to “drift,” but thanks to some mid-20th century French philosophers, it can also refer to a spontaneous trip, completely free of plans, in which you let your surroundings guide you.

6. PEREGRINATE

To peregrinate is to travel from place to place, especially on foot. Its Latin root, peregrinus (meaning “foreign”), is also where the peregrine falcon (literally “pilgrim falcon”) gets its name.

7. PERAMBULATE

Similar to peregrinate, this word essentially means to travel over or through an area by foot. So instead of saying that you’ll be walking around London, you can say you’ll be perambulating the city’s streets—much more sophisticated.

8. NUMINOUS

The Grand Canyon
iStock

This English word could appropriately be used to describe the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. Something numinous is awe-inspiring and mysterious. It's difficult to understand from a rational perspective, which gives it a spiritual or unearthly quality.

9. PERIPATETIC

The young and the restless will want to incorporate this word into their lexicon. The adjective refers to those who are constantly moving from place to place—in other words, a nomadic existence. It stems from the Greek word peripatein (“to walk up and down”), which was originally associated with Aristotle and the shaded walkways near his school (or, according to legend, his habit of pacing back and forth during lectures).

10. WALDEINSAMKEIT

You’re alone in a forest. It’s peaceful. The sun is filtering through the trees and there’s a light breeze. That’s waldeinsamkeit. (Literally "forest solitude." And yes, Germans have all the best travel words.)

11. SHINRIN-YOKU

In a similar vein, this Japanese word means “forest bathing,” and it's considered a form of natural medicine and stress reliever. There are now forest bathing clubs around the world, but you can try it out for yourself on your next camping trip. Take deep breaths, close your eyes, and take in the smells and sounds of the forest. Simple.

12. SOLIVAGANT

In those moments when you just want to run away from your responsibilities, you may consider becoming a solivagant: a solo wanderer.

13. YOKO MESHI

This Japanese phrase literally translates to “a meal eaten sideways,” which is an apt way to describe the awkwardness of speaking in a foreign language that you haven’t quite mastered, especially over dinner.

14. RESFEBER

A woman at the airport
iStock

You just booked your flight. Your heart starts racing. You’re a little nervous about your journey, but mostly you just can’t wait to get going. The anticipation, anxiety, and excitement you get before a big trip is all rolled into one word—resfeber—and you can thank the Swedes for it.

15. FLÂNEUR

Taken from the French flâner, meaning to stroll or saunter, this word describes someone who has no particular plans or place they need to be. They merely stroll around the city at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights and enjoying the day as it unfolds.

16. GADABOUT

This could be construed as the traditional English equivalent of flâneur. Likely stemming from the Middle English verb gadden, meaning “to wander without a specific aim or purpose,” a gadabout is one who frequently travels from place to place for the sheer fun of it. In other words: a modern-day backpacker.

17. HIRAETH

Sometimes, no matter how amazing your vacation may be, you just want to come home to your bed and cats. This Welsh word sums up the deep yearning for home that can strike without warning. As Gillian Thomas put it in an interview with the BBC, “Home sickness is too weak. You feel hiraeth, which is a longing of the soul to come home to be safe.”

18. YŪGEN

The karst peaks of Guilin, China
iStock

This Japanese word can be taken to mean “graceful elegance” or “subtle mystery,” but it’s much more than that. It's when the beauty of the universe is felt most profoundly, awakening an emotional response that goes beyond words.

19. SCHWELLENANGST

Translating to “threshold anxiety,” this German word sums up the fears that are present before you enter somewhere new—like a theater or an intimidating cafe—and by extension going anywhere unfamiliar. The fear of crossing a threshold is normal, even among the most adventurous of travelers—but it often leads to the most unforgettable experiences.

20. COMMUOVERE

Have you ever seen something so beautiful it made you cry? That’s commuovere in action. The Italian word describes the feeling of being moved, touched, or stirred by something you witness or experience.

21. HYGGE

This Danish word refers to a warm feeling of contentedness and coziness, as well as the acknowledgement of that feeling. Although not explicitly related to this term, author Kurt Vonnegut summed up the idea behind this concept quite nicely when he said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

22. HANYAUKU

Here's one for those who have a beach trip coming up. Taken from Kwangali, a language spoken in Namibia, hanyauku is the act of tiptoeing across hot sand.

23. SMULTRONSTÄLLE

A patch of wild strawberries
iStock

This Swedish word translates to something along the lines of “place of wild strawberries,” but its metaphorical meaning is something along the lines of a "happy place." Whether it’s a hidden overlook of the city or your favorite vacation spot that hasn’t been “discovered” yet, smultronställe refers to those semi-secret places you return to time and time again because they’re special and personal to you.

24. DUSTSCEAWUNG

This Old English word describes what might happen when you visit a place like Pompeii or a ghost town. While reflecting on past civilizations, you realize that everything will eventually turn to dust. A cheery thought.

25. VACILANDO

In some Spanish dialects, the word vacilando describes someone who travels with a vague destination in mind but has no real incentive to get there. In other words, the journey is more important than the destination. As John Steinbeck described it in his travelogue Travels With Charley: “It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction. My friend Jack Wagner has often, in Mexico, assumed this state of being. Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico city but not at random. We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it.”

26. LEHITKALEV

Backpackers and budget travelers, this one is for you: The Hebrew word lehitkalev translates to “dog it” and means to deal with uncomfortable living or travel arrangements.

27. KOMOREBI

Sun shining in the woods
iStock

This beautiful Japanese word is a good one to save for a sunny day spent in the woods. Komorebi translates to “sunshine filtering through the leaves.” Does it get any lovelier than that?

28. RAMÉ

This Balinese word refers to something that is simultaneously chaotic and joyful. It isn’t specifically a travel word, but it does seem to fit the feelings that are often awakened by travel.

29. TROUVAILLE

Translating to a “lucky find,” this French word can be applied to that cool cafe, flower-lined street, or quirky craft store that you stumbled upon by chance. Indeed, these are the moments that make travel worthwhile.

30. ULLASSA

Just in case you needed another reason to plan that trip to Yosemite, here's one last word for nature lovers. The Sanskrit word ullassa refers to the feelings of pleasantness that come from observing natural beauty in all its glory.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios