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19 Binge-Worthy Facts About Orange Is the New Black

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Orange is the New Black's fourth season is here! Before you sit down to binge-watch, get to know Piper, Alex, and Crazy Eyes even better with these facts about what goes on behind the scenes of Litchfield Penitentiary.

1. COMPETITION FOR THE RIGHTS TO PIPER KERMAN'S MEMOIR WAS STIFF.

Jenji Kohan, who was already well-known for creating Weeds, read Piper Kerman's memoir and thought it would be perfect for a TV show adaptation. According to Kohan:

"I'm always looking for those places where you can slam really disparate people up against one another, and they have to deal with each other. There are very few crossroads anymore. We talk about this country as this big melting pot, but it's a mosaic. There's all these pieces, they're next to each other, they're not necessarily mixing. And I'm looking for those spaces where people actually do mix—and prison just happens to be a terrific one."

Kohan wasn’t the only one who wanted to adapt it. She had to call Kerman and “beg” her for the rights. Kerman was particularly impressed with Kohan’s devotion to telling the story properly as “she asked [her] question after question after question.”

2. KOHAN ALWAYS HAD BIG PLANS FOR THE SHOW'S OTHER CHARACTERS.

Kohan knew that Piper (played by Taylor Schilling) would appeal to network execs, but she wanted to go much deeper than that story. "In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan Horse,” said Kohan. “You're not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it's a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially.”

3. THE REAL-LIFE ALEX VAUSE HAS SPOKEN OUT ABOUT WHAT REALLY WENT DOWN.

Catherine Wolters, the inspiration for Alex, has claimed that the show gets a lot wrong when it comes to Alex and Piper's relationship. The two had already been involved in the trafficking business long before they met each other, according to Wolters. She also said that their relationship definitely didn’t carry over to prison, where they only spent around five weeks in the same facility. But, Wolters admitted that making the show about their real relationship would be “so wretched and stinky, it would quite possibly result in a collapsed universe. So I guess it’s a good thing Piper and Jenji stick with the fun little tidbits.”

4. LAURA PREPON ORIGINALLY AUDITIONED FOR PIPER.

Jennifer Euston, the show’s casting director, and Kohan agreed that Prepon was too composed and confident to play neurotic Piper. They didn’t believe that the audience would worry for her in the role. From then on, the two designed Alex around Prepon—including the character’s glasses and black hair.

5. UZO ADUBA WAS OFFERED THE ROLE OF "CRAZY EYES" ON THE SAME DAY SHE DECIDED TO QUIT ACTING.

Uzo Aduba also auditioned for a different role before she was offered the part of Crazy Eyes. The former Boston University sprinter (and marathonercame in and read for Janae Watson, the track star. Frustrated that she hadn't heard back, she decided to quit acting and go to law school instead. Little did she know that Kohan thought she’d be perfect for a different part: the very same day she "quit" acting, Aduba was offered the part of Crazy Eyes.

6. ADUBA TAPS INTO HER INNER CHILD TO PLAY CRAZY EYES.

In the first script, Aduba claimed that Crazy Eyes was described as “innocent like a child, except children aren’t scary.” She used that description to develop her character’s distinctive persona and mannerisms. As Aduba put it, “That felt like the key to the door that might open this character because someone who is innocent like a child, to me, meant somebody who operates out of impulse … who acts and then thinks. Children don’t have agendas. They’re not calculating.”

7. TARYN MANNING RESEARCHED DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS GROUPS TO PLAY PENNSATUCKY.

Taryn Manning watched a number of documentaries about religious groups, including Jesus Camp and The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. She also spent time studying YouTube videos of faith healing and other evangelist rituals.

8. KERMAN CONTINUES TO GIVE NOTES FOR THE SHOW.

Though they've deviated from the stories Kerman recounts in her memoir, Kohan still looks to her for advice. According to the showrunner, “She gives notes, mostly about accuracy. You know, ‘I don’t think that would happen.’ And she comes to set for visits, which must be strange for her. But she’s really kind of trusted us with her baby and we really, completely took off from where she started.”

9. THE WRITERS VISITED A REAL WOMEN'S PRISON.

Kohan and her writing staff paid a visit to California's Chino Prison. Kohan also spoke with the prison’s warden, who explained how social groups tend to form in both men's and women’s prisons. He told her that, generally speaking, women are more communal and seek out groups, rather than spend time alone.

10. REGINA SPEKTOR WROTE THE THEME SONG SPECIFICALLY FOR THE SHOW.

Regina Spektor and Kohan had already collaborated a couple of times. (Spektor did a cover of “Little Boxes” for the opening of an episode of Weeds.) Because of their solid working relationship, Kohan reached out to her and asked if she’d write the theme song for Orange Is the New Black. In order to write it, Spektor was sent a few unfinished episodes in the middle of filming season one. She has said that seeing the characters come to life helped her put together a finished version of the song.

11. THOSE ARE REAL FORMER PRISONERS IN THE OPENING CREDITS.

Kohan hired non-actresses to pose for the opening credit sequence—all of them formerly incarcerated women. In order to get the right facial expressions, the women were asked to visualize three things: “a peaceful place,” “a person who makes you laugh,” and finally, “something that you want to forget.”

12. THE COSTUME DESIGNER HAS TO GET CREATIVE.

Costume designer Jennifer Rogien has described the job of dressing the inmates as “a creative challenge.” She must use real prison uniforms—either orange or beige—without altering anything too dramatically, unless the alterations are things a prisoner could have done herself. Rogien has to rely on subtle touches that serve to set the characters apart, such as rolled sleeves or hems. Her time to really shine comes during the flashback scenes, set in various decades and places. Rogien sees those as an opportunity to not only define the characters, but to “highlight the contrast between the world inside and the world outside.”

13. THERE'S AN AMERICAN PIE REFERENCE IN THE PILOT.

Given that both Jason Biggs and Natasha Lyonne were in American Pie, the writers couldn’t resist sneaking in a reference or two. In the pilot, Biggs's Larry complains to Piper that he tells her everything: "The webcam horror, the penis shaving incident ...," which are both things that happened to his character, Jim, in the 1999 comedy. In a later episode, Lyonne’s Nicky tells Red, “I thought I was, like, your Spock.” This is a nod to Kate Mulgrew's stint playing Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager.

14. LAVERNE COX'S BROTHER PLAYS SOPHIA PRE-TRANSITION.

Cox's twin brother, musician M. Lamar, stepped in to play a pre-transition Sophia in one episode. The casting director auditioned a ton of actors before she discovered that Cox even had a twin. "She insisted that he should audition for the role," Cox said. "He auditioned, and he got the part."

15. JODIE FOSTER HAS DIRECTED TWO EPISODES.

It was Jodie Foster who pursued the gig. After reading the book, she asked her agent if she could somehow get involved. The Oscar winner ended up directing the third episode in season one and the season two pilot.

16. THE CAST AND CREW LIKE WORKING ON A SHOW THEY KNOW PEOPLE WILL EVENTUALLY BINGE-WATCH.

The people behind Orange Is the New Black are well aware that you’re going to binge-watch their show, and they've even adapted their production process accordingly. For instance, Kohan doesn't worry as much about writing each character into every single episode because she knows that the audience doesn’t have to wait a full week for the next installment featuring their favorites.

From a professional standpoint, Schilling enjoys knowing that the audience is binge-watching her. "As an actor doing regular TV, if there's a really special scene you did, in like episode five or eight, this way the people are more likely to see it, rather than drop out after a month and miss it," she said. "It's more like theater in terms of immediacy and rapid response, and gratification for the actors."

17. LITCHFIELD IS A REAL PLACE—BUT ITS WOMEN'S PRISON IS NOT.

The show is set in Litchfield Penitentiary in upstate New York—however, there's no women's prison in the real Litchfield. (In real life, Kerman served her time at FCI Danbury in Danbury, Connecticut.)

18. LORRAINE TOUSSAINT HAD NO IDEA VEE WAS GOING TO BE SO EVIL.

Lorraine Toussaint didn’t meet Kohan until her very first day on set, when she decided to pick the showrunner's brain about Vee, inmate she was about to play. “I had some basic questions I needed answered so I could at least finish out that first day,” Toussaint later recalled. “Somewhere in the conversation was an ‘Oh, by the way, she’s a sociopath.’ I said, ‘Huh? Really? Um …’ and she said, ‘Oh, yes, a bona-fide, complete and absolute sociopath.’ I thought, Oh! I wish I had known that! I might have thought twice about this.”

19. FILMING VEE'S ATTACK ON RED WAS CHALLENGING.

The actresses in that scene have cited it as one of the most difficult to film. In order for the scene to work, Kate Mulgrew had to be harnessed to a heavy camera so that Toussaint could also be in the shot and get very close to her face. As Mulgrew explained, “You can easily be hurt if you don’t know what you’re doing, and this was perilously close.”

All images courtesy of Netflix.

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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12 Admissible Facts About Judge Judy
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Judge Judith Sheindlin was 54 years old when her namesake TV show premiered on September 16, 1996. Two years later the diminutive (5’1”) adjudicator was trouncing the powerhouse Oprah Winfrey Show in the Nielsen ratings. Today, she is one of the highest paid TV celebrities, earning $47 million per year—which she will continue to do through 2020, thanks to a new extended contract.

Fervent fans are familiar with Judge Judy’s more outrageous cases, like The Tupperware Lady and the eBay Cell Phone Scammer, but they might not know some of these fun facts about both the show and the woman behind it, who turns 75 years old today.

1. THAT GRUFF, NO-NONSENSE STYLE OF JURISPRUDENCE IS NOT AN ACT.

Judge Judy spent a little over 20 years in New York City’s family court system, where she earned a reputation early in her career for being blunt, impatient, and tough-talking. “I can’t stand stupid, and I can’t stand slow,” was one of her oft-repeated “Judyisms” at that time. She also frequently warned attorneys appearing before her: "I want first-time offenders to think of their appearance in my courtroom as the second-worst experience of their lives ... circumcision being the first." 60 Minutes filmed her in action as part of a 1993 profile, and while her hair color and eyebrows have softened since then, her impatient rants and verbal smackdowns haven’t changed a bit.

2. SHE BEGAN WEARING HER TRADEMARK LACE COLLAR AS SOON AS SHE WAS APPOINTED AS A JUDGE.

New York City Mayor Ed Koch appointed Judith Sheindlin to the bench in 1982, and to celebrate she and her husband Jerry—both civil servants at the time—took a $399 package trip to Greece for two weeks. While passing by a row of street kiosks with various locally made crafts for sale, she impulsively purchased a white lace collar from a vendor. She explained to her husband that male judges wore stiff-collared white dress shirts and colorful neckties that peeped out of the top of their robes, so that they had a nice colorful “buffer” between the austere black gown and their face. Female judges, however, had nothing but neck peeping out of their robes and the unforgiving black color revealed every minute of sleep deprivation as well as any skin tone irregularities. The white lace collar, she decided, would not only perk up her face but would also be a bit disarming for litigants—she could picture them thinking “That nice little lady with the lace collar sitting behind the bench couldn’t hurt a fly!”

3. DESPITE THOSE NEW YORK CITY SCENES ON THE COMMERCIAL BUMPERS, JUDGE JUDY IS TAPED IN CALIFORNIA.

Sheindlin spends 52 days per year taping her show. She flies to California via private jet every other Monday and hears cases on Tuesday and Wednesday (occasionally Thursday if there are production delays). One full week’s worth of shows are filmed each day. Many viewers, however, are fooled into thinking Judy is holding court in her native New York, thanks to the scenic Manhattan footage in between station breaks and the New York state flag behind her chair. That is, until something oh-so-unique to the west coast—like an earthquake—occurs on-camera. (Note that in the clip below, Judge Judy quickly ducks beneath her bench once the room begins to tremble.)

4. SHE IS BRIEFED ON THE CASES BEFORE SHE ARRIVES ON THE SET.

Judge Sheindlin does not go to the studio unprepared; producers FedEx the sworn statements and relevant information on each upcoming case to her home (Naples, Florida in the winter; Greenwich, Connecticut in the spring and summer) and she familiarizes herself with enough details to have some background, but not enough so that the case doesn’t appear “fresh” when she questions the litigants during filming.

5. THE CASES REALLY ARE REAL.

The production company has a staff of 60-plus researchers across the country who spend their days poring over lawsuits filed in local small claims courts. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, they are able to photocopy cases that they think might make for interesting television and those copies are forwarded to the show’s producers. Any cases that make it to the next stage (about three percent) involve contacting the litigants involved and asking them if they’d like to forego their civil court hearing in exchange for a free trip to Los Angeles, an $850 appearance fee, and a per diem of $40 (as of 2012). An added incentive is that any judgments awarded are paid by the show, not by the plaintiff or defendant. The best cases, according to the executive producer, are those that involve litigants with a prior relationship—mother/daughter, father/son, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. Such cases engage the audience because it’s an emotional tie that’s been broken (the recurring plot on many soap operas).

6. THE AUDIENCE, HOWEVER, IS NOT SO REAL.

Regular viewers will note that the same faces seem to pop up in the audience regularly. Those folks in the spectator seats are paid extras (often aspiring actors) who earn $8 per hour to sit and look attentive. Prospective audience members apply for the limited amount of seats by emailing their contact information along with a clear headshot to one of Judge Judy’s production coordinators (sorry, we cannot provide that info). If chosen, the spectator must dress appropriately (business casual or better) and arrive promptly for the 8:30 a.m. call time. Audience members must pass through metal detectors on their way in and are not allowed to bring cell phones or any electronic devices with them, and food, drinks and chewing gum are also verboten. Spectators are rearranged after each case so it’s not as obvious that it’s the same group of people, and the most attractive folks are always seated in the front row (it’s Hollywood, after all). The audience is instructed to talk animatedly amongst themselves in between each case so that Officer Byrd’s “Order in the court!” admonition has more impact. Bad behavior is grounds for immediate expulsion (in front of 10 million viewers, as Judge Judy likes to remind us).

7. JUDGE JUDY DRESSES CASUALLY FOR THE JOB.

Sheindlin has been known to publicly chastise litigants who come to her courtroom in skimpy clothing or “beach attire,” but behind that bench and under that robe she is usually sporting jeans and a tank top or T-shirt.

8. OFFICER BYRD IS A REAL BAILIFF.

Brooklyn native Petri Hawkins Byrd earned his B.Sc. degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1989 and started working in the Brooklyn Family Court system. He first worked with Judge Sheindlin when he transferred to the Manhattan Family Court. “We [the court officers] used to call her the Joan Rivers of the judicial system,” he recalled in a 2004 interview. “She was just hilarious.” Byrd relocated to San Mateo, California in 1990 to work as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal and a few years later he read an item in Liz Smith’s gossip column about Sheindlin’s upcoming TV show. He sent his old colleague a congratulatory letter and added, “If you need a bailiff, I still look good in uniform.”

9. DESPITE HIS SOMETIMES IMPOSING COURTROOM DEMEANOR, OFFICER BYRD IS ALSO A VERY FUNNY GUY.

He is a talented impressionist, but his sense of humor almost cost him his job—or so he thought at the time. Once, back when he was working with the feisty Judge Sheindlin in New York, he donned her robe and reading glasses to entertain his co-workers with a barrage of Judyisms. Of course, as always seems to happen when one mocks the boss in the workplace, he was caught in the act.

10. THE OCCASIONAL CELEBRITY RELIES ON JUDGE JUDY’S BRAND OF JUSTICE.

Depending upon your own definition of “celebrity”, of course. Actress Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days) appeared on the show in 1996 as the plaintiff, suing her plastic surgeon for a leaky breast implant that was impeding her acting career. One year later, former Sex Pistol John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) appeared as a defendant when drummer Robert Williams, who was hired to support Lydon on a solo tour, sued the singer for lost wages and an assault. Despite Lydon’s occasional bad courtroom behavior, the decision was made in his favor.

11. THE STAR ORIGINALLY DIDN’T WANT THE SHOW NAMED AFTER HER.

Sheindlin first envisioned calling her show Hot Bench, a term used frequently in the appellate court, but the producers wisely advised her that the term was meaningless to TV viewers who didn’t work in the legal system. Her next thought was Judy Justice, since she’d overheard her court officers warning deadbeat parents who were delinquent in child support payments that they were in for a load of "Judy Justice" if they weren’t prepared to cough up some money. In retrospect, Sheindlin realized the wisdom in calling the show Judge Judy: She couldn’t be easily replaced, as the various judges had been on The People’s Court. However, after 19 years on the air, she still does not refer to herself by that sobriquet; whether introducing herself to someone or advertising her show in a promotional clip, she is always either “Judge Sheindlin” or “Judge Judy Sheindlin.”

12. JUDGE SHEINDLIN INHERITED HER SENSE OF HUMOR FROM HER FATHER.

Murray Blum, Judy’s beloved father, was a dentist whose office was in the family home. In those days—before sedation dentistry was an option—a dentist’s best tool to distract nervous patients was the gift of gab, and Murray became a master storyteller out of necessity. Years of listening to her father at the dinner table and at family gatherings taught Judy how to deliver a punchline. One evening outside of a hotel in Hollywood, Sheindlin was approached by a woman who introduced herself as Lorna Berle. She told the judge that her husband Milton was a huge fan and asked if she would mind talking to him for a moment. The elderly comic slowly emerged from a limo and Judy greeted him by singing the theme song to Texaco Star Theater, her favorite TV show as a child. Milton Berle complimented her in return, saying “Kid, you’ve got great comic timing.”

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