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13 Truly Outrageous Facts About Jem

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For better or worse, Jem and the Holograms will be back in your life again soon with a live-action movie hitting theaters in October. Though it only ran for three seasons, Jem had quite the cult following. Relive her glory days with these 13 facts about the fictional rocker.

1. The actress who provided Jem’s singing voice had never sung professionally.

Jem was actress Britta Phillips’ first professional gig. For her audition, she sang the show’s theme song—not only did she nail the audition, but producers liked this version so much they kept it as the one that was actually used in production.

2. But Jem’s speaking voice was provided by a professional singer.

As a trained singer who started her career at the ripe old age of 7, Samantha Newark has said, “It’s surreal sometimes to be known for Jem and not be known for the singing.”

3. Jem was a doll before she was a cartoon.

Hasbro had already created a couple of cartoon shows to market their toys—G.I. Joe and Transformers. Hoping to strike gold again with a female audience, the company created a doll they hoped would give Barbie a run for her money. They recruited Sunbow Productions, the studio behind the G.I. Joe show, who gave it to writer Christy Marx, because “they liked my work, plus I was about the only woman writer they had."

4. The Holograms’ last names were inspired by scientists.

According to Christy Marx, Hasbro had already chosen the characters’ first names. She had free reign over the surnames, however, and chose ones that corresponded with scientists who worked on holographic technology. Jerrica and Kimber Benton were named after Stephen Benton, the creator of the rainbow hologram. Aja Leith was named after Emmett Leith, the co-inventor of 3-D holography. (Jerrica and Kimber's dad was named Emmett.)

Pizzazz Gabor from the Misfits was named after Dennis Gabor, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing holography. Villain Eric Raymond was named after Marx’s brother, who, incidentally, had nothing to do with the development of holograms.

5. There are JemCons.

Fans' love for Jem hasn’t waned in the years since the show went off the air. Devoted viewers celebrate Jem and her outrageousness at the annual JemCon, which includes guest panels, vendors, entertainment, karaoke opportunities—and, of course, lots of cosplay.

6. There were some famous singers behind the other bands.

The Misfits’ Sheila “Jetta” Burns was voiced by Louise Dorsey, Engelbert Humperdinck’s daughter. Phoebe “Rapture” Ashe and Ingrid “Minx” Kruger of the Stingers got their singing voices courtesy of Vicki Sue Robinson, perhaps better known for her 1976 song “Turn the Beat Around.”

7. Jem originally had a different name.

Before she was Jem, she was simply “M,” which stood for music, metamorphosis, and magic. Instead of having an alter ego named Jerrica, M’s was named Misty. There are a number of reasons cited for why “M” didn’t stick, all involving copyright. Mattel might have complained because people would think an “M” doll was their creation; “M” might have run into copyright problems with “MTV;” and Hasbro was afraid Bette Midler would sue them since she was known as the Divine Miss M.

8. Barbie and the Rockers definitely weren't a response to Jem’s popularity … according to Mattel.

It’s long been said that Barbie and the Rockers were created because Mattel was threatened by Jem’s success and felt they needed to deliver a similar toy, right down to the ethnicities of the band members. Mattel denies this. “It would have been impossible to bring something out by the time we could confirm a rumor of that magnitude,” said Barbie’s marketing manager. “We introduced [Barbie and the Rockers] because rock ‘n’ roll is a big trend. Our Rocker dolls were in production long before we ever heard of Jem.”

9. Despite the success of the show, the Jem doll didn’t actually sell well.

Turns out Mattel didn’t have much to worry about. While the dolls were a huge success their first year, sales quickly dropped off. It’s speculated that one of the contributing factors was purely logistical: The box was poorly designed. The shelves in doll aisles in virtually all retail stores were designed to hold the 11-3/4” Barbie boxes—and Jem’s 14-1/2” packaging was way too large. To reconfigure shelving would have meant lost shelf space for retail stores, so instead, Jem and her buddies weren’t displayed as Hasbro intended.

10. So, Hasbro replaced Jem with “Maxie.”

Thinking they could still appeal to the Jem market, Hasbro later released a similar doll called “Maxie” who was nearly the same size as Barbie. They even tried creating a cartoon series for her called Maxie’s World, but it was canceled after just 32 episodes.

11. Hasbro wanted Jem to have a “social conscience.”

The cartoon touched on issues such as drug abuse and teenage runaways. After the latter episode, the phone number for a hotline for runaways was revealed. Christy Marx has said it resulted in at least two 10-year-olds returning home to their families. “We are forcing Mattel to create an identity for Barbie,” Stephen A. Schwartz, a senior vice president for marketing for Hasbro, told the Los Angeles Times. “Jem really has a social conscience. Her world is not about shopping and dating. She is a working girl, a woman of the ’80s. She’s an executive. She makes decisions. She has lots of pressure.”

12. Song lyrics were usually credited to “Kimber” and “Stormer,” but they were actually written by a veteran theater and TV songwriter.

But Barry Harman doesn’t have any hard feelings: “My job was to create songs that the audience would believe the characters had written. If people actually believed Kimber and Stormer wrote the songs, then we did a good job,” he has said. Harman has a lot of Jem lyrics under his belt—180 songs, to be exact, although several of them were never released.

13. Marx has just one Jem doll.

According to Marx, the only Jem doll she ever received was one her mother bought her.

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15 Inconceivable Facts About The Princess Bride
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It's no wonder The Princess Bride is such a beloved film: It's action-packed but still lighthearted, sweet but not saccharine, silly but still smart—and, of course, endlessly quotable. Fortunately, in 2012, the movie's leading man Cary Elwes was inspired to write a behind-the-scenes book about the making of the movie in honor of its 25th anniversary, for which he interviewed nearly all of the key cast and crew (sadly, André the Giant, who played Fezzik, passed away in 1993).

Pulling from the impressively detailed text of As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride and various interviews Elwes and others have given over the years, we rounded up a series of fun facts and anecdotes sure to delight any fan of the film, which was released 30 years ago today.

1. IT WAS WRITTEN FOR THE AUTHOR'S DAUGHTERS.

William Goldman, who wrote the novel The Princess Bride in 1973 and penned the screenplay, told Entertainment Weekly that, "I had two little daughters, I think they were 7 and 4 at the time, and I said, 'I’ll write you a story. What do you want it to be about?' One of them said 'a princess' and the other one said 'a bride.' I said, 'That’ll be the title.'"

2. BOTH THE DIRECTOR AND THE LEADING MAN ALREADY KNEW AND LOVED THE STORY BEFORE FILMING EVEN BEGAN.

Cary Elwes' stepfather had given him Goldman's book in 1975, when the future actor was just 13 years old. Rob Reiner, who directed the movie, first read the book in his 20s when Goldman gave it to his father. It quickly became Reiner's favorite book of all time, and he had long wanted to turn it into a movie—but he had no idea that many before him had tried and failed.

3. FOR A LONG TIME, NO ONE WAS ABLE TO MAKE THE MOVIE.

At one point or another, Robert Redford, Norman Jewison, John Boorman, and François Truffaut all tried to get the book made into a movie, but due to a series of unrelated incidents—"green-lighters" getting fired, production houses closing—it languished for years. (In one of these proto-Princess Brides, a then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to play Fezzik.) 

After several false starts, Goldman bought back the rights to the book. The movie only got made because Reiner had built up so much good will with movies like This is Spinal Tap and The Sure Thing that the studio, 20th Century Foxoffered to make any project of his choice.

4. MANDY PATINKIN FELT A PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE CHARACTER OF INIGO MONTOYA.

Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride (1987).
MGM

"The moment I read the script, I loved the part of Inigo Montoya," Patinkin told Entertainment Weekly. "That character just spoke to me profoundly. I had lost my own father—he died at 53 years old from pancreatic cancer in 1972. I didn’t think about it consciously, but I think that there was a part of me that thought, If I get that man in black, my father will come back. I talked to my dad all the time during filming, and it was very healing for me."

5. ANDRÉ THE GIANT COULD REALLY, REALLY DRINK.

Three bottles of cognac and 12 bottles of wine reportedly made him just a little tipsy. When the cast would go out for dinner, André—who, according to Robin Wright, ordered four appetizers and five entrees—would drink out of a 40-ounce beer pitcher filled with a mix of liquors, a concoction he called "The American."

6. ANDRÉ HAD AN UNCONVENTIONAL METHOD FOR LEARNING HIS LINES.

Reiner and Goldman met André, then a famous wrestler, at a bar in Paris. "I brought him up to the hotel room to audition him. He read this three-page scene, and I couldn’t understand one word he said," Reiner recalled. "I go, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do? He’s perfect physically for the part, but I can’t understand him!’ So I recorded his entire part on tape, exactly how I wanted him to do it, and he studied the tape. He got pretty good!"

7. WILLIAM GOLDMAN WAS INCREDIBLY NERVOUS ON THE SET.

Of all the projects he’d written and worked on—which included the Academy Award-winning Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—Goldman loved The Princess Bride best of all. This manifested itself as extreme nervousness about the project. Reiner invited Goldman to be on set for the duration of the filming—which Goldman did not want to do, saying, “I don’t like being on set. If you’re a screenwriter, it’s boring”—but on the first day, he proved to be a slight nuisance. The first couple takes were plagued by a barely-audible chanting, which turned out to be Goldman praying things would go well. And when Wright's character's dress caught on fire, he panicked, yelling, "Oh my god! Her dress is on fire!"—even though Goldman himself had written that into the script.

8. WALLACE SHAWN WAS BRILLIANT, BUT ALWAYS ON EDGE.

Wallace Shawn and Robin Wright in The Princess Bride (1987)
MGM

Shawn, who played Vizzini the Sicilian, really is, like his character, a man of "dizzying intellect." He has a history degree from Harvard and studied philosophy and economics at Oxford. In fact, on a day off from filming The Princess Bride, Shawn went to Oxford to give a guest lecture on British and American literature. But Shawn was inconsolably nervous for the entirety of filming.

After learning from his agent that Reiner had originally wanted Danny DeVito for the part, Shawn was wracked with insecurity, perpetually convinced that he was going to be fired after every bad take. "Danny is inimitable," Shawn said. "Each scene we did, I pictured how he would have done it and I knew I could never possibly have done it the way he could have done it," he said.

9. THE DUEL BETWEEN WESTLEY AND INIGO WAS EXCRUCIATINGLY RESEARCHED AND REHEARSED.

Goldman spent months researching 17th-century swordfighting manuals to craft Westley and Inigo's duel; all the references the characters make to specific moves and styles are completely accurate. Then Elwes and Patinkin, neither of whom had much (if any) fencing experience, spent more months training to perfect it—right- and left-handed.

"I knew that my job was to become the world’s greatest sword fighter," Patinkin recalled in Elwes's book. "I trained for about two months in New York and then we went to London and Cary and I trained every day that we weren’t shooting for four months. There were no stuntmen involved in any of the sword fights, except for one flip in the air.” Even after months of pre-shooting training, the fencing instructors came to set and, when there were a few free minutes, would pull Elwes and Patinkin aside to work on the choreography for the scene, which was intentionally one of the last to be shot.

10. IT WAS ELWES'S IDEA TO DIVE HEADFIRST INTO THE "QUICKSAND."

That particular Fire Swamp stunt was accomplished by having a trap door underneath a layer of sand, below which there was foam padding for the actors to fall onto. Originally, the direction called for Westley to jump in feet-first after Buttercup, but Elwes argued this wasn't particularly heroic. Switching up the direction was a risky move—if the trap door wasn't opened at exactly the right instant, Elwes risked banging his head—or even breaking his neck. After the stunt double successfully executed the dive, Elwes himself tried it, and nailed it perfectly on the first take.

11. MIRACLE MAX REALLY WAS THAT FUNNY—AND YOU'RE NOT EVEN SEEING HIS BEST STUFF.

Billy Crystal brought two photos for his makeup artist, Peter Montagna, to draw inspiration from when creating Miracle Max: Crystal’s grandmother and Casey Stengel. As for the acting, Elwes wrote in his book, "For three days straight and 10 hours a day, Billy improvised 13th-century period jokes, never saying the same thing or the same line twice." Unfortunately for viewers, many of the improvised jokes were not fit for a family-friendly film. Only the cast and crew knows how funny his more crude Miracle Max takes were, but judging from the fact that Patinkin bruised a rib trying to stifle his laughter, as he recounts in the book, they were probably pretty good.

12. BILLY CRYSTAL AND CAROL KANE, WHO PLAYED HIS WIFE, INVENTED AN ENTIRE BACKSTORY.

Carol Kane and Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride (1987)
MGM

"Billy came over to my apartment in Los Angeles and we took the book and underlined things and made up a little more backstory for ourselves," Kane said. "We added our own twists and turns and stuff that would amuse us, because there’s supposed to be a long history—who knows how many hundreds of years Max and Valerie have been together?" How has that pair not gotten a spin-off film yet? 

13. ELWES FILMED MANY OF HIS SCENES WITH A BROKEN TOE.

Six weeks into production, André convinced Elwes to go for a spin on the ATV that was used to transport the larger man to and from filming locations because he didn’t fit in the van. Almost immediately, the vehicle hit a rocky patch and Elwes got his foot stuck between two mechanisms in the vehicle, breaking his big toe. The young actor tried to hide the injury from his director, but, of course, Reiner quickly found out. He didn't find a new Westley, as Elwes feared he might, but they did have to work some movie magic to allow Elwes to limp around in many of the scenes undetected.

14. ONE PARTICULAR ON-SCREEN INJURY WASN'T FAKED.

As soon as Westley recognizes Count Rugen as the six-fingered man, the script calls for the Count to knock our hero unconscious with the butt of his sword. In filming, Christopher Guest, who played Rugen, was naturally reluctant to really hit Elwes for fear of hurting him. Unfortunately, this reticence was reading on screen and take after take failed to look convincing. Finally, Elwes suggested Guest just go for, at least tap him on the head to get the reaction timing right. The tap came a little too hard, however, and Elwes was knocked legitimately unconscious; he later awoke in the hospital emergency room. It's that take, with Elwes actually passing out, that appears in the film.

15. ONE OF THE FINAL SCENES NEVER MADE IT INTO THE FINAL FILM.

In an alternate ending that was eventually cut, Fred Savage—who plays the initially reluctant audience to Peter Falk's reading of The Princess Bride—goes to his window after his grandfather has left and sees Fezzik, Inigo, Westley, and Buttercup all on their white horses.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Just Answered the Game of Thrones Question That Everyone's Asking
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Serial debunker of movies and TV Neil deGrasse Tyson took on Game of Thrones on Sunday evening, analyzing everything from the chains the army of the dead used to pull up dead dragon Viserion (wrong angle) to the dragons themselves (good wing span, though experts we spoke with say they're still too heavy to fly). And then he dropped an intriguing tweet that just might explain Ice Viserion's blue fire, which easily cut through the Wall:

Inverse's Yasmin Tayag took a deep dive into the physics of dragon fire after the season finale and concluded that, according to science, blue flames are the hottest of them all. Typical Game of Thrones dragon fire—the red, yellow, and orange kind—is the result of incomplete combustion. The color is caused by the fuel in the dragon's gut (likely carbon) releasing chemicals as gas in a process known as pyrolysis. Blue flames, though, mean complete combustion, which, according to Tayag, "can only occur when there’s plenty of oxygen available to allow a flame to get super hot, and the fuel being burned doesn’t release too many additional chemicals during pyrolysis that might lead to a different colored flame."

In August, Game of Thrones sound designer Paula Fairfield—perhaps in an attempt to answer viewers’ nagging question about whether Viserion was blowing fire or ice—told Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson that, “He’s just going at it and slicing with this. It's kind of like liquid nitrogen. It’s so, so cold. So imagine if that’s what it was, but it’s so cold it’s hot. That kind of thing.”

This could have big consequences if Ice Viserion and Drogon face off. "If the HBO series decides to follow these particular laws of thermal physics (and why should it when Thrones so flagrantly disregarded chain physics?!?), then Viserion will surely be at an advantage if and when he ever goes talon-to-talon with his brother Drogon," wrote Robinson in response to deGrasse Tyson’s tweet.

Game of Thrones's final season won't debut until late 2018 or 2019, so we have a long time to wait before we see which dragon's fire comes out on top. 

[h/t: Vanity Fair]

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