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16 Classy Facts About Anchorman

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Dreamworks

One-time SNL writer Adam McKay’s directorial debut about a chauvinistic 1970s San Diego news anchor forced to deal with changing times is regarded as one of the greatest comedies ever made. In celebration of star Will Ferrell's 50th birthday (he was born in California on July 16, 1967), here are some facts about Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy to pair with a tall carton of milk on a hot summer day.

1. WILL FERRELL WAS INSPIRED BY A DOCUMENTARY ON JESSICA SAVITCH.

Savitch was one of the first women to ever anchor a newscast. Her former co-anchor, Mort Crim, admitted in the documentary to being cruel to her because he was a pig. Crim was invited to the movie premiere. Savitch passed away in 1983.

2. THE PHYSICAL INSPIRATION FOR RON BURGUNDY WAS HAROLD GREENE. (MAYBE.)

Greene worked at KCST-TV and KGTV in San Diego during the mid-1970s. When producers conducted research for Anchorman they looked at one of Greene’s colleagues' scrapbooks. Years later though, Ferrell ran into Greene, and Greene asked him if Burgundy was based on him. After Ferrell said no, Greene said he didn’t believe him and walked away.

3. PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON OFFERED TO PRODUCE.

After reading and enjoying Ferrell and McKay’s script for August Blowout (McKay once described the never-produced screenplay as Glengarry Glen Ross at a car dealership), Anderson told the two that if they wrote something else he would help get that movie made. His enthusiasm motivated the two to write Anchorman on spec.

4. DREAMWORKS DIDN’T BELIEVE THAT WILL FERRELL WAS A MOVIE STAR.

Specifically, those were Walter F. Parkes’s words, after turning down Ferrell’s initial pitch for Anchorman. After Old School became a hit, DreamWorks bought Anchorman for $4 million more than they would have paid if they had said yes to the pitch in the first place.

5. THE FIRST DRAFT INCLUDED SUGGESTED ACTORS.

McKay and Ferrell envisioned John C. Reilly as Champ (David Koechner), Chris Parnell as Brick (Steve Carell), Ben Stiller for Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Ed Harris as Ed Harken (Fred Willard won the part), Dan Aykroyd as Garth Holiday (Parnell ended up playing this role), Alec Baldwin as Frank Vitchard (Luke Wilson), and William H. Macy for a character that didn’t make the screen, Marshall Connors.

6. CHRISTINA APPLEGATE BEAT OUT AMY ADAMS, MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, AND LESLIE MANN TO PLAY VERONICA.

McKay said that Adams looked too young for the role, Mann didn’t have “that '50s wholesome thing,” and in regards to Gyllenhaal, “you don’t put Meryl Streep in a comedy.”

7. BOB ODENKIRK WAS ALMOST BRIAN FANTANA.

Paul Rudd was a fan of the script, even when it looked like the movie wasn’t going to get made, which ultimately gave him the edge over the future Saul Goodman. Ron Livingston also auditioned.

8. JAMES SPADER REALLY WANTED TO PLAY BRICK.

He was “obsessed” with the mentally challenged character, and told McKay he would do anything to get the part. Steve Carell got the part after it was determined that Spader was “too good” an actor to be in the movie.

9. AN ENTIRE STORYLINE FEATURING AMY POEHLER, MAYA RUDOLPH, AND JUSTIN LONG WAS CUT AND PUT INTO A STRAIGHT-TO-DVD MOVIE.

Instead of the panda birth story in the third act, a subplot about a group of bank robbers known as “The Alarm Clock” kidnapping Veronica and putting Ron in their live broadcast was written and shot. All of those scenes were deleted in the theatrical cut and put in Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie along with alternate takes. Poehler had a feeling back then that her role as a bank teller wouldn’t make the final cut because the movie was already running long.

10. THE NARRATOR REFUSED TO SAY "PENIS."

Veteran Chicago news anchor Bill Kurtis had never done voice narration for a movie before Adam McKay asked him to do the honors. Harold Ramis convinced a reluctant Kurtis to take the part. Kurtis refused producer Judd Apatow’s request to say "penis," later admitting that he didn’t want to say it in a movie that might be an “embarrassment.” Once it proved to be popular, he said he was open to saying it in the sequel.

11. THEY HAD TO MONITOR HOW LONG BAXTER’S PENIS WAS IN THE MOVIE.

McKay trimmed several shots of Ron’s dog’s member to keep their PG-13 rating.

12. THE NEWS TEAM FIGHT SCENE WAS FILMED ON A VERY HOT DAY.

"I swear it was like 103 degrees," McKay told Vulture.

13. ONE MEMBER OF THE SPANISH-LANGUAGE NEWS TEAM WIMPED OUT.

During the battle, the Spanish-language news team featured seven guys on the stairs, but only six entered the circle to have the sewers run red with Ron Burgundy’s blood.

14. YOU SHOULDN’T EAT AT THAT MEXICAN RESTAURANT.

When Veronica and her friend hatch their plan to mess with the teleprompter, they’re at a restaurant called "Escupimos en su alimento." That’s Spanish for “We spit in your food.”

15. JON HAMM AND ADAM SCOTT ARE LISTED AS WRITERS OF THE NEWSCAST.

Hamm and Scott weren’t famous actors at the time of filming, but they were already long-time friends of Paul Rudd.

16. YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD AND SEEN THE GHOST FLUTIST.

Katisse Buckingham was responsible for Ron Burgundy’s jazz flute solo. Buckingham played Todd, the young man who gave Alyssa Milano a hickey in the Who’s the Boss? episode “The Hickey.” He also played the flute and the saxophone in Dr. Dre’s The Chronic.

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The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now
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Disney/Marvel

If you’re in the mood for some speculative fiction and your pile of Arthur C. Clarke books has been exhausted, you could do worse than to tune in to Netflix. The streaming service is constantly acquiring new films in the sci-fi and fantasy genres that should satisfy most fans of alternative futures. Here are five of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now.

1. CUBE (1997)

This low-budget independent film may have helped inspire the current "escape room" attraction fad. Six strangers wake up in a strange room that leads only to other rooms—all of them equipped with increasingly sadistic ways of murdering occupants.

2. METROPOLIS (1927)

Inspiring everything from Star Wars to Lady Gaga, Fritz Lang’s silent epic about a revolt among the oppressed people who help power an upper-class city remains just as visually impressive today as it did nearly 100 years ago.

3. TROLL HUNTER (2010)

A Norwegian fairy tale with bite, Troll Hunter follows college-aged filmmakers who convince a bear trapper to take them along on his exploits. But the trapper fails to disclose one crucial detail: He hunts towering, aggressive trolls.

4. NEXT (2007)

Nic Cage stars a a magician who can see a few minutes into the future. He's looking to profit with the skill: the FBI and others are looking to exploit it.

5. THE HOST (2006)

A slow-burn monster movie from South Korea, The Host has plenty of tense scenes coupled with a message about environmental action: The river-dwelling beast who stalks a waterfront town is the product of chemical dumping.  

6. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 2 (2017)

Marvel's tale of a misfit band of space jockeys was a surprise hit in 2014. The sequel offers more Groot, more Rocket Raccoon, and the addition of Kurt Russell as a human manifestation of an entire sentient planet.

7. STARDUST (2007)

Director Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel features Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro as supporting players in the tale of a man (a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox) in search of a fallen star to gift to his love.

8. KING KONG (2005)

Director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) set his considerable sights on a remake of the 1933 classic, with the title gorilla pestered and exploited by opportunistic humans.

9. DONNIE DARKO (2001)

What will a teenage mope do when a giant rabbit tells him the world is about to end? The answer comes in this critical and cult hit, which drew attention for its moody cinematography and an arresting performance by a then-unknown Jake Gyllenhaal.  

10. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)

Soon we'll have a movie for every single major or minor incident ever depicted in the Star Wars universe. For now, we'll have to settle for this one-off that explains how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the plans for the Death Star.

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15 Surprising Facts About Hill Street Blues
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NBC

Until the impressive record was surpassed by The West Wing in 2000, Hill Street Blues held the title of most Emmy-awarded freshman series, with eight trophies for its debut season alone (despite its basement-level ratings). The drama that chronicled the lives of the men and women working the Hill Street police station beat has been credited with changing television ever since its debut in 1981.

Among Hill Street Blues's innovations are the use of handheld cameras, a large ensemble cast, multi-episode story arcs, and a mix of high drama and comedy—elements which still permeate the small screen today. Here are 15 facts about the groundbreaking series.

1. STEVEN BOCHCO AND MICHAEL KOZOLL CREATED IT, DESPITE NOT WANTING TO DO ANOTHER COP SHOW.

MTM Enterprises was specifically hired by NBC to create a cop show, so Steven Bochco (who later co-created L.A. Law and NYPD Blue) and Michael Kozoll (co-writer of First Blood) agreed to do it—as long as the network left them “completely alone to do whatever we want,” according to Bochco. NBC agreed, and the two wrote the pilot script in 10 days.

2. IT WAS INFLUENCED BY A 1977 DOCUMENTARY.

The show's creators looked to The Police Tapes, a 1977 documentary that chronicled a South Bronx police precinct during a particularly hostile time in New York City's history, for inspiration. NBC's then-president Fred Silverman was inspired to create a cop show in the first place after seeing Fort Apache, the Bronx (1981), which stars Paul Newman as a veteran cop in a South Bronx police district.

3. BRUCE WEITZ HAD AN AGGRESSIVE AUDITION.

Bruce Weitz landed the role of undercover officer Mick Belker by playing the part. "I went to the audition dressed as how I thought the character should dress—and loud and pushy," Weitz recalled. "When I got into the room, I jumped up on [MTM co-founder] Grant Tinker's desk and went after his nose. I heard he said afterwards, 'There's no way I can't offer him the job.'"

4. JOE SPANO THOUGHT HE WAS MISCAST.

Joe Spano in 'Hill Street Blues'
NBC

Joe Spano auditioned for the role of Officer Andrew Renko, but ended up playing Lieutenant Henry Goldblume. “I was always disappointed that I didn’t end up playing Renko,” Spano told Playboy in 1983. Spano also wasn't a fan of his character's penchant for bow ties, which he claimed was Michael Kozoll's idea. "I fought it all the way," he said. "I thought it was a stereotypical thing to do. But it actually turned out to be right. You don’t play into the bow tie—you fight against it."

5. BARBARA BOSSON WAS BOCHCO’S WIFE, BUT WASN’T PLANNING ON BEING A SERIES REGULAR.

Barbara Bosson played Fay, Captain Frank Furillo’s ex-wife, who was only supposed to appear in the first episode in order to “contextualize” the captain, according to Bochco. But when Silverman watched the episode, he asked, “She’s going to be a regular, right?”

6. IT TOOK MIKE POST TWO HOURS TO WRITE THE ICONIC THEME SONG.

The composer—who also wrote the themes for The Greatest American Hero, Magnum, P.I., The A-Team, NYPD Blue, and Law & Order—was instructed by Bochco to write something “antithetical” to the visuals. Post wanted to add more orchestration to the piano piece; Bochco disagreed.

Post also spent four to five hours writing five minutes of new music for each episode of Hill Street Blues.

7. THE PILOT TESTED POORLY.

According to a network memo, among the many problems test audiences noted were that "the main characters were perceived as being not capable and having flawed personalities ... Audiences found the ending unsatisfying. There are too many loose ends ... 'Hill Street' did not come off as a real police station ... There was too much chaos in the station house, again reflecting that the police were incapable of maintaining control even on their home ground." NBC picked it up anyway.

8. RENKO WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE IN THE FIRST EPISODE, AND COFFEY WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE AT THE END OF THE FIRST SEASON.

Charles Haid had other projects lined up, so he agreed to take the part of Renko, a man destined to die almost immediately. But another series Haid was relying on didn’t get picked up, and NBC claimed Renko tested too well for him to meet an early end. Ed Marinaro's Coffey was meant to be shot and killed in “Jungle Madness,” the final episode of the first season. The ending was changed to make it a cliffhanger, and Marinaro’s character survived.

9. THEY HAD HISTORICALLY BAD SEASON ONE RATINGS.

A 'Hill Street Blues' cast photo
NBC Television/Getty Images

In its first season, Hill Street Blues show finished 87th out of 96 shows, making it the lowest-rated drama in television history to get a second season. Bochco credited the show’s renewal to two things: NBC being a last place network at the time, and the NBC sales department noticing that high-end advertisers were buying commercial time during the show.

10. THEY NEVER SPECIFIED WHERE THE SHOW WAS LOCATED, BUT IT’S PROBABLY CHICAGO.

The exterior of the Maxwell Street police station in Chicago filled in for the fictitious Hill Street precinct for the opening credits and background footage. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1996 and is currently the University of Illinois at Chicago police department headquarters.

11. PLENTY OF FUTURE STARS MADE EARLY APPEARANCES.

Don Cheadle, James Cromwell, Laurence Fishburne, Tim Robbins, Andy Garcia, Cuba Gooding Jr., Danny Glover, Frances McDormand, and Michael Richards all found early work on the series.

12. SAMMY DAVIS JR. WANTED ON THE SHOW.

Sammy Davis Jr.
Michael Fresco, Evening Standard, Getty Images

Unfortunately, it never happened. Sometime after Bochco wrote in a reference to the singer, Davis and Bochco ran into each other. Davis said he loved it and started jumping up and down.

13. BOCHCO HAD A WAR WITH THE CENSORS.

Loving to use puns for titles, Bochco wanted to title an episode “Moon Over Uranus,” after Cape Canaveral was just in the news. Standards and Practices said no. Bochco eventually got his way, and proceeded to name the next two season three episodes “Moon Over Uranus: The Sequel” and “Moon Over Uranus: The Final Legacy.”

14. DAVID MILCH AND DICK WOLF’S CAREERS WERE LAUNCHED FROM IT.

David Milch (co-creator of NYPD Blue and creator of Deadwood) went from Yale writing teacher to a TV script writer through his former Yale roommate, Jeff Lewis. His first script for the show was season three's “Trial by Fury” episode, which won an Emmy, a WGA Award, and a Humanitas Prize. He later became an executive producer on the show. The first TV script credited to Dick Wolf (creator of the Law & Order franchise) was the season six episode, "Somewhere Over the Rambow." His first sole credit, for “What Are Friends For?,” earned Wolf an Emmy nomination in 1986.

It’s also worth noting that journalist and author Bob Woodward received a writing credit for season seven's “Der Roachenkavalier” and David Mamet penned the same season's “A Wasted Weekend” for his first television credit.

15. DENNIS FRANZ’S CHARACTER HAD A BRIEF, COMEDIC SPIN-OFF.

Dennis Franz (later Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue) first played corrupt cop Sal Benedetto in five episodes, before reappearing for the final two seasons as Lt. Norman Buntz. After Hill Street Blues ended its seven-season run, Franz reprised the latter character in Beverly Hills Buntz, which ran for one season beginning in 1987. In the 30-minute dramedy, Buntz was a private investigator after quitting the police force. Only nine episodes were broadcast by NBC.

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