16 Classy Facts About Anchorman

Dreamworks
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.

15 Uncensored Facts About Midnight Cowboy

Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy (1969)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

On May 25, 1969, United Artists released the film Midnight Cowboy, starring Jon Voight (Texas transplant Joe Buck) and Dustin Hoffman (the sleazy Ratso Rizzo) as street hustlers in New York City. It was the first studio film to receive an X-rating (the studio refused to edit anything out), and it became the first X-rated movie to be nominated and win a Best Picture Oscar (A Clockwork Orange and Last Tango in Paris followed suit with X-rated nominations). Hoffman and Voight were also nominated for Oscars, and screenwriter Waldo Salt and director John Schlesinger ended up winning gold statuettes for the movie. After the movie became a success, the MPAA demoted its rating to an R.

Based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy, the controversial film managed to gross $44 million—about $200 million by today’s standards. The movie saved the careers of its actors, producers, and Salt, who had been blacklisted and fallen on hard times. It also produced a hit song, Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’.” Here are 15 facts about the landmark film.

1. John Schlesinger was reluctant to hire Dustin Hoffman.

Like everybody else, the filmmakers associated Dustin Hoffman with Benjamin Braddock, the clean-cut twentysomething he played in The Graduate. “The truth was, I saw The Graduate as a setback, because I was determined not to be a star,” Hoffman told the Los Angeles Times. Hoffman was doing Off Broadway performances during the casting of Midnight Cowboy, so Schlesinger checked him out in a play. Hoffman frequented an automat with fellow thespians Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall; one night Hoffman showed up there with a scruffy beard, disheveled clothes, and a Bowery accent. Schlesinger said to Hoffman, “Why Dustin, you do fit right in,” and he got the part.

2. Mike Nichols tried to talk Dustin Hoffman out of doing the movie.

Dustin Hoffman appears on the set of the film 'Midnight Cowboy' in 1969 in the USA
Dustin Hoffman stars in Midnight Cowboy (1969).
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Hot off the heels of Mike Nichols’ The Graduate, Hoffman could’ve kept his romantic lead image up, but instead he opted to take a supporting part in Midnight Cowboy. “Mike Nichols, in fact, called me up,” Hoffman told Peter Travers. “And he says, ‘Are you crazy?’ He says, ‘I made you a star. This is an ugly character. It’s a supporting part to Jon Voight.’ He says, ‘What are you doing? Why are you sabotaging?’” But Hoffman stuck to his guns and took the role. “I love the fact I was trying to remain a character actor and that was my desire,” he said.

3. Jon Voight was cast only after the original actor was fired.

Jon Voight auditioned for the role of Joe Buck and really wanted the part, but the producers chose Michael Sarrazin, whose major claim to fame is the 1969 Jane Fonda film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? “Sometimes I would be offered a role and I would recommend somebody else—I was that kind of person,” Voight told Box Office Mojo. “Yet this one stopped me because the thing I was excited about for this piece wasn’t going to happen. I felt quite sick about it.”

Fortunately for Voight, the producers changed their minds when Sarrazin demanded more money. “It came back to looking at our screen tests back to back,” said Voight. “Apparently, Marion Dougherty, who was the casting director, was in the room and said, ‘Well, there’s no doubt who's the best actor.’ John Schlesinger said, ‘Who?’ And she said, ‘Jon Voight.’ Then, Dustin was called in to look at the tests and apparently he said, ‘When I look at my scene with Michael Sarrazin I look at myself—when I looked at my scene with Jon Voight, I look at Jon.’ That was a huge compliment. I think between these comments, that’s what tipped the balance and then John [Schlesinger] came forward, so I was very fortunate.”

4. Voight worked for scale.

Voight was so desperate to play Joe Buck that he worked for scale: “‘Tell them I'll do this part for nothing,’” Voight told The Telegraph. “They took me at my word, and they gave me minimum for Midnight Cowboy.” At the end of the shoot, they sent him a $14.73 bill for meals on the last day of filming.

5. Hoffman thought the movie would ruin his career.

The actor attended a preview of Midnight Cowboy and noticed “people walked out in droves.”

“Twenty minutes into that movie, Jon Voight has a gay sex scene in the balcony with a kid who was played by Bob Balaban, and people would get up at that point and just walk out of the theater,” Hoffman told Larry King. “We said, ‘We have big problems’ when we heard we got an X-rating and we thought this could end everybody’s career. As a matter of fact, I was talked into doing a movie I wished I hadn’t done, because they had me so frightened that I had buried myself and reversed whatever good The Graduate did.” Hoffman’s agent forced him to star with Mia Farrow in the romantic drama John and Mary to make him “look like a respectable person.”

6. Voight knew the film was destined to become a classic.

Voight and Schlesinger wrapped filming in Texas and Voight noticed how red the director’s face was. Voight thought Schlesinger was having a heart attack and asked him if he was okay. “He looked up at me and said, ‘What have we done? What will they think of us?’ After all, we had made a film about a dishwasher who lives in New York and f*cks a lot of women,” Voight told Esquire. “In the moment he’d finished it, he was shaking. All of a sudden, he saw it as banal and vulgar. He’s having an anxiety attack and I grabbed his shoulders to shake him out of it. I said, ‘John, we will live the rest of our artistic lives in the shadow of this great masterpiece.’ He said, ‘You think so?’ I said, ‘I’m absolutely sure of it.’ The only reason I said such an extravagant thing was because I wanted to get him out of it and nothing would take him out of it but that. But the statement turned out to be true.”

7. Voight and Hoffman were competitive with each other.

What made the chemistry between Hoffman and Voight work so well is they were constantly competing with one another. Hoffman became a movie star before Voight did, and that brought some jealousy to the set. “We were like Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard, two fighters going at it,” Hoffman told the Los Angeles Times. “We knew the movie depended on the bond between us. All through shooting, we’d say to each other, out of the side of our mouths, like a fighter in a clinch, ‘Buddy, is that the best you can do?’”

8. Hoffman placed pebbles in his shoe to acquire Ratso’s limp.

“Why pebbles? It’s not like you’re playing a role on Broadway for six months where you’re so used to it, limping becomes second nature,” Hoffman told Vanity Fair. “The stone makes you limp, and you don’t have to think about it.”

9. Schlesinger came out during the movie’s production.

In the late 1960s, one's sexuality wasn't often discussed in the open. But the British director fell in love with Michael Childers, who worked as his assistant on the movie. “We were one of Hollywood’s first out couples,” Childers told Vanity Fair. “He took me everywhere. I felt a little bit uncomfortable at times, but John never did. He said, ‘F*ck ‘em.’”

“John was totally torn up, because part of him wanted to just embrace this, and another part of him was in terror,” the film’s producer, Jerome Hellman, said. “He had these fantasies that if he were openly gay on a film set, that if he tried to give the crew an order, they would turn on him. I said to him, ‘John, look, you’re the director. It’s your movie. I’m the producer, but I’m your partner. There’s nobody who can challenge your authority. If someone speaks out of line to you, they’ll be fired the same minute.’”

10. The famous “I’m Walkin’ Here” line was improvised.

The scene in which Joe and Ratso attempt to walk across the street and almost get hit by a cab was filmed guerilla-style, with a camera in a van across the street. “It was a difficult scene, logistically, because those were real pedestrians and there was real traffic, and Schlesinger wanted to do it in one shot—he didn’t want to cut,” Hoffman explained. “He wanted us to walk, like, a half a block, and the first times we did it the signal turned red. Schlesinger was getting very upset. He came rushing out of the van, saying, ‘Oh, oh, you’ve got to keep walking.’ ‘We can’t, man. There’s f*cking traffic.’ ‘Well, you’ve got to time it.’”

They figured out how to properly time the walk but then almost got run over by a cab. “I guess the brain works so quickly, it said, in a split of a second, ‘Don’t go out of character,’” Hoffman said. “So I said, ‘I’m walking here,’ meaning, ‘We’re shooting a scene here, and this is the first time we ever got it right, and you have f*cked us up.’ Schlesinger started laughing. He clapped his hands and said, ‘We must have that, we must have that,’ and re-did it two or three times, because he loved it.”

11. Hoffman threw up on set while trying to cough.

Talk about Method: Ratso has a deadly cough (consumption), and in a particular scene Hoffman got sick in real life. “Because I was so nervous that I was going to come across fraudulent and not have the right cough, I tried to do the cough as realistically as I could,” Hoffman told Vanity Fair. “Each time, I tried to do it more realistically until, finally, I did it so realistically I threw up all over Jon. My lunch came up. All over his cowboy boots. Jon looked down. He said, ‘Man, why’d you do that?’ He thought I did it on purpose.”

12. Schlesinger didn’t think anybody would make the movie today.

In 1994, the director found himself at a dinner party with a studio executive. “I said, ‘If I brought you a story about this dishwasher from Texas who goes to New York dressed as a cowboy to fulfill his fantasy of living off rich women, doesn’t, is desperate, meets a crippled consumptive who later pisses his pants and dies on a bus, would you—’ and he said, ‘I’d show you the door,’” Vanity Fair reported in 2000.

13. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl pays tribute to Midnight Cowboy.

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's 2015 Sundance hit Me and Earl and the Dying Girl features two friends who turn The Criterion Collection movies into film school comedies. One of those films is Midnight Cowboy, renamed as 2:48 p.m. Cowboy. In the film, Greg (Thomas Mann) and Earl (RJ Cyler) portray Ratso and Buck, respectively.

Midnight Cowboy became my favorite movie,” Cyler said in a featurette on Greg and Earl’s films. “Now I can’t stop watching it. I’m addicted to it. I’ll be in my trailer. ‘RJ, whatcha doing?’ ‘Watching Midnight Cowboy with some ramen noodles right now.’ It’s just so quirky the way the parody was made, and not just because I got to wear a beautiful cowboy hat.”

14. There’s a speakeasy bar in Austin named after the film.

Midnight Cowboy the bar is located inside a former oriental massage parlor that was busted by the FBI, hence the seedy name. It has a red light—not a sign—outside to mark the place. In order to drink there, you need to make a reservation online, and when you get there, you buzz the box and give the password “Harry Craddock.” They have rules, though: no talking on your cell phone inside the bar, and no “excessive displays of public affection.”

15. A Chicago theater turned it into a stage production.

Chicago’s Lifeline Theatre puts on a lot of literary adaptations, and in 2016 they presented a stage version of Midnight Cowboy, based on the book.

Updated for 2019.

Game of Thrones Studio Tour Opening in Northern Ireland in 2020

Emilia Clarke stars in Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke stars in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

In a move that only a super-popular series could pull off, it was announced last year that HBO’s Game of Thrones would be getting its own 110,000-square-foot tourist attraction in Northern Ireland (where much of the show has been filmed) featuring scenes, sets, and props from Westeros. And of course, fans were instantly interested.

While the initial plan was to open the attraction this year, that date has been pushed back and an expansion on the original concept has been added.

Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Ireland has partnered with Game of Thrones's creators to convert the studios into an exhibition. The sets were used for filming scenes in Winterfell and Castle Black, but the display will include props, costumes, live-action cosplayers, and set pieces representing all of the show’s locations.

While other interactive fan events have already been held, such as the display at SXSW and the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, this will be the most extensive and in-depth experience for diehard fans of the series.

When asked about the possibility of bringing a similar attraction to the U.S., Jeff Peters, HBO’s vice president for licensing and retail, told The New York Times that there were no set plans yet, but, “it’s possible. We get pitched all the time, and we’re open to a lot of different opportunities.”

[h/t The A.V. Club]

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