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8 Early Versions of Famous Fictional Characters

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Every popular movie and TV character has to start somewhere. Here are 8 early versions of famous fictional characters.

1. James Bond

Before Sean Connery played British Secret Service agent James Bond in Dr. No in 1962, a live black-and-white TV adaptation of Casino Royale appeared on CBS in 1954. CBS briefly obtained the film rights to Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel and placed Bond in an episode of the anthology TV series Climax! (or Climax Mystery Theater). The TV version of James Bond was very different from the 007 we know today, with Barry Nelson playing the role. Most notably, James Bond was an American working for "Combined Intelligence" and not an Englishman exclusively working for the British Secret Service. He also went by the name "Jimmy" and not James Bond.

Ian Fleming used the TV adaptation as a backdoor pilot to drum up interest in a new TV series featuring Bond. Fleming shopped around his work to CBS and NBC, but both broadcast networks passed on it because general audiences didn't react favorably to the live TV production.

Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman bought the film rights to the James Bond catalog and eventually formed Eon Productions in 1961. While Eon Productions obtained James Bond's film rights, the production company didn't own the rights to Casino Royale because of the CBS TV production. Columbia Pictures secured its film rights and released a comedy version of Casino Royale with English actor David Niven as James Bond in 1967. A new version of Casino Royale with Daniel Craig as James Bond then hit theaters in 2006.

2. Batman

While we're more familiar with Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, or Adam West as Batman and Bruce Wayne, the first iteration of the Dark Knight to hit the big screen was featured in a black-and-white 15-chapter film serial from Columbia Pictures in 1943. Lewis Wilson played Batman, who was a U.S. Government agent trying to stop Dr. Daka, a Japanese super-villain, with the help of his sidekick Robin, played by Douglas Croft. Since it was released during World War II, Batman was used as propaganda against the Japanese.

It was a very low-budget production, with a black Cadillac used as both Bruce Wayne's car and the Batmobile without any accessories or masking to disguise it. The film serial was re-released as one long feature film called An Evening with Batman and Robin in 1965. The re-release was a big hit across the country and its popularity helped spawn a new TV series with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin in 1966.

3. Boba Fett

Although Boba Fett appears in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, the bounty hunter actually made his debut in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978. He appeared in an animated short film as a mysterious ally that Luke Skywalker meets during a rescue mission of Han Solo and Chewbacca. While Luke thinks the Mandalorian is a friend, it is soon revealed that he's working with Darth Vader to capture members of the Rebel Alliance. Don Francks voiced Boba Fett in the animated short, while Jeremy Bulloch and Jason Wingreen played him in the movies. Boba Fett is actually more chatty in the TV special than he is in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

4. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

In 2004, Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, and Jordan Reid (McElhenney's then-girlfriend) used a few cameras, two apartments, and $200 to shoot two video shorts that ended up being It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. McElhenney then shopped around the video shorts, which were originally called It's Always Sunny on TV, to a number of networks with the hopes of selling it. FX expressed interest in a possible series and wanted to re-shoot the shorts as a professional TV pilot.

Unfortunately, Jordan Reid was pushed out of the gang after she broke up with McElhenney, and her role was re-cast with Kaitlin Olson as Sweet Dee instead. The comedy's setting shifted from Los Angeles to Philadelphia where McElhenney grew up, and the gang went from out-of-work actors to bar owners. McElhenney, Howerton, and Day were made executive producers and series regulars, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia became a cult hit on cable TV.

5. The Simpsons

While episodes of The Simpsons started to air on Fox in 1989, the animated family actually made their debut on television as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. The Simpsons were so popular that James L. Brooks worked with their creator Matt Groening and TV producer Sam Simon to create a new TV show that centered on the animated family. Animation for the Simpsons series was less crude and more polished with a bigger budget, and it quickly became the highest rated TV show on the new broadcast network—Fox was only three years old at the time. Currently, The Simpsons is the longest-running primetime TV show of all time with an impressive 26 seasons.

6. Jason Bourne

Before Matt Damon played Jason Bourne in three movies, Richard Chamberlain played the amnesia-stricken spy in a made-for-TV version of The Bourne Identity in 1988. While the feature film has a tightly packed two-hour running time, the made-for-TV counterpart was a slow three hours that aired over two nights on ABC. Richard Chamberlain earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Television Film for his performance as Jason Bourne.

7. Lieutenant Detective Frank Drebin

Although the Naked Gun film trilogy is one of the most successful comedy franchises in movie history, Police Squad!, its original source material, was canceled after airing only four episodes on ABC in March 1982. Tony Thomopoulos, then network entertainment president, believed that Police Squad! was too smart for viewers at the time. Much like The Naked Gun, each episode of Police Squad! was so packed full of subtle sight gags, clever wordplay, and deadpan humor that there was just no room for a laugh track. "Without a laugh track," an ABC executive believed, "the viewers won't know when to laugh."

Seven years later, the writers behind Police Squad!—David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and Pat Proft—reunited to bring The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! to the big screen in 1989. Leslie Nielsen would also return to reprise his role as Lieutenant Detective Frank Drebin. The Naked Gun went on to gross more than $78 million at the box office in 1989.

8. Kermit the Frog

Before Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, Jim and Jane Henson created a TV show called Sam and Friends for local television in Washington D.C. in 1955. The children's variety show ran for 10 years and featured a lizard-like Muppet named Kermit who would eventually become the beloved and famous Kermit the Frog. While Kermit featured the same eyes and face structure that we know today, he didn't feature his iconic collar. His feet were also rounded instead of webbed. Kermit didn't officially become a frog until he made his debut during the first season of Sesame Street in 1968.

15 Powerful Quotes From Margaret Atwood

It turns out the woman behind such eerily prescient novels as The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake is just as wise as her tales are haunting. Here are 15 of the most profound quips from author, activist, and Twitter enthusiast Margaret Atwood, who was born on this day in 1939.

1. On her personal philosophy

 “Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

2. On the reality of being female

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

3. On limiting how her politics influence her characters

“You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

4. On so-called “pretty” works of literature

“I don’t know whether there are any really pretty novels … All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that’s the novelists’ material. … We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.”

— From a 2010 interview with The Progressive

5. On the artist’s relationship with her fans

“The artist doesn’t necessarily communicate. The artist evokes … [It] actually doesn’t matter what I feel. What matters is how the art makes you feel.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

6. On the challenges of writing non-fiction

“When I was young I believed that ‘nonfiction’ meant ‘true.’ But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth—there may be several truths—but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

7. On poetry

“The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

8. On being labeled an icon

“All these things set a standard of behavior that you don’t necessarily wish to live up to. If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

9. On how we’re all born writers

“[Everyone] ‘writes’ in a way; that is, each person has a ‘story’—a personal narrative—which is constantly being replayed, revised, taken apart and put together again. The significant points in this narrative change as a person ages—what may have been tragedy at 20 is seen as comedy or nostalgia at 40.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

10. On the oppression at the center of The Handmaid's Tale

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here. Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.” 

— From a 2015 lecture to West Point cadets

11. On the discord between men and women

“‘Why do men feel threatened by women?’ I asked a male friend of mine. … ‘They’re afraid women will laugh at them,’ he said. ‘Undercut their world view.’ … Then I asked some women students in a poetry seminar I was giving, ‘Why do women feel threatened by men?’ ‘They’re afraid of being killed,’ they said.”

— From Atwood’s Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1960-1982

12. On the challenges of expressing oneself

“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

13. On selfies

“I say they should enjoy it while they can. You’ll be happy later to have taken pictures of yourself when you looked good. It’s human nature. And it does no good to puritanically say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be doing that,’ because people do.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

14. On the value of popular kids' series (à la Harry Potter and Percy Jackson)

"It put a lot of kids onto reading; it made reading cool. I’m sure a lot of later adult book clubs came out of that experience. Let people begin where they are rather than pretending that they’re something else, or feeling that they should be something else."

— From a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post

15. On why even the bleakest post-apocalyptic novels are, deep down, full of hope

“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”

— From a 2011 interview with The Atlantic 

China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books

A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

[h/t Newsweek]


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