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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.

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Yes, You Can Put Your Christmas Decorations Up Now—and Should, According to Psychologists
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We all know at least one of those people who's already placing an angel on top of his or her Christmas tree while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor's roof isn't exactly a welcome one.

But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:

“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.

In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”

Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. As Morin remarked, “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

And that neighbor of yours who has already been decorated since Halloween? Well, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. Basically, a little wreath can go a long way.

So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.

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11 Black Friday Purchases That Aren't Always The Best Deal
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Black Friday can bring out some of the best deals of the year (along with the worst in-store behavior), but that doesn't mean every advertised price is worth splurging on. While many shoppers are eager to save a few dollars and kickstart the holiday shopping season, some purchases are better left waiting for at least a few weeks (or longer).

1. FURNITURE

Display of outdoor furniture.
Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Black Friday is often the best time to scope out deals on large purchases—except for furniture. That's because newer furniture models and styles often appear in showrooms in February. According to Kurt Knutsson, a consumer technology expert, the best furniture deals can be found in January, and later on in July and August. If you're aiming for outdoor patio sets, expect to find knockout prices when outdoor furniture is discounted and put on clearance closer to Labor Day.

2. TOOLS

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Unless you're shopping for a specific tool as a Christmas gift, it's often better to wait until warmer weather rolls around to catch great deals. While some big-name brands offer Black Friday discounts, the best tool deals roll around in late spring and early summer, just in time for Memorial Day and Father's Day.

3. BEDDING AND LINENS

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Sheet and bedding sets are often used as doorbuster items for Black Friday sales, but that doesn't mean you should splurge now. Instead, wait for annual linen sales—called white sales—to pop up after New Year's. Back in January of 1878, department store operator John Wanamaker held the first white sale as a way to push bedding inventory out of his stores. Since then, retailers have offered these top-of-the-year sales and January remains the best time to buy sheets, comforters, and other cozy bed linens.

4. HOLIDAY DÉCOR

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If you are planning to snag a new Christmas tree, lights, or other festive décor, it's likely worth making due with what you have and snapping up new items after December 25. After the holidays, retailers are looking to quickly move out holiday items to make way for spring inventory, so ornaments, trees, yard inflatables, and other items often drastically drop in price, offering better deals than before the holidays. If you truly can't wait, the better option is shopping as close to Christmas as possible, when stores try to reduce their Christmas stock before resorting to clearance prices.

5. TOYS

Child choosing a toy car.
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Unless you're shopping for a very specific gift that's likely to sell out before the holidays, Black Friday toy deals often aren't the best time to fill your cart at toy stores. Stores often begin dropping toy prices two weeks before Christmas, meaning there's nothing wrong with saving all your shopping (and gift wrapping) until the last minute.

6. ENGAGEMENT RINGS AND JEWELRY

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Holiday jewelry commercials can be pretty persuasive when it comes to giving diamonds and gold as gifts. But, savvy shoppers can often get the best deals on baubles come spring and summer—prices tend to be at their highest between Christmas and Valentine's Day thanks to engagements and holiday gift-giving. But come March, prices begin to drop through the end of summer as jewelers see fewer purchases, making it worth passing up Black Friday deals.

7. PLANE TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES

Searching for flights online.
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While it's worth looking at plane ticket deals on Black Friday, it's not always the best idea to whip out your credit card. Despite some sales, the best time to purchase a flight is still between three weeks and three and a half months out. Some hotel sites will offer big deals after Thanksgiving and on Cyber Monday, but it doesn't mean you should spring for next year's vacation just yet. The best travel and accommodation deals often pop up in January and February when travel numbers are down.

8. FOOD AND SNACK BASKETS

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Fancy fruit, meat and cheese, and snack baskets are easy gifts for friends and family (or yourself, let's be honest), but they shouldn't be snagged on Black Friday. And because baskets are jam-packed full of perishables, you likely won't want to buy them a month away from the big day anyway. But traditionally, you'll spend less cheddar if you wait to make those purchases in December.

9. WINTER CLOTHING

Rack of women's winter clothing.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash.

Buying clothing out of season is usually a big money saver, and winter clothes are no exception. Although some brands push big discounts online and in-store, the best savings on coats, gloves, and other winter accessories can still be found right before Black Friday—pre-Thanksgiving apparel markdowns can hit nearly 30 percent off—and after the holidays.

10. SMARTPHONES

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While blowout tech sales are often reserved for Cyber Monday, retailers will try to pull you in-store with big electronics discounts on Black Friday. But, not all of them are really the best deals. The price for new iPhones, for example, may not budge much (if at all) the day after Thanksgiving. If you're in the market for a new phone, the best option might be waiting at least a few more weeks as prices on older models drop. Or, you can wait for bundle deals that crop up during December, where you pay standard retail price but receive free accessories or gift cards along with your new phone.

11. KITCHEN GADGETS

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Black Friday is a great shopping day for cooking enthusiasts—at least for those who are picky about their kitchen appliances. Name-brand tools and appliances often see good sales, since stores drop prices upwards of 40 to 50 percent to move through more inventory. But that doesn't mean all slow cookers, coffee makers, and utensil prices are the best deals. Many stores advertise no-name kitchen items that are often cheaply made and cheaply priced. Purchasing these lower-grade items can be a waste of money, even on Black Friday, since chances are you may be stuck looking for a replacement next year. And while shoppers love to find deals, the whole point of America's unofficial shopping holiday is to save money on products you truly want (and love).

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