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15 Snappy Facts About Legally Blonde

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Proving that she's no airhead, Elle Woods scored a near-perfect 179 on the LSAT, got into Harvard Law School, and changed the game in the process. Thanks to Reese Witherspoon and company, Legally Blonde—which was released 15 years ago today—was one of the first surprise critical and financial hits of the 21st century. Here are some facts about the movie that should interest you, even if you don’t know a Vanderbilt.

1. ELLE WAS NAMED AFTER THE MAGAZINE.

The film was based on the book of the same name by Amanda Brown, who spent her time at Stanford Law School reading copies of Elle and writing a bunch of letters back home, detailing the classmates to whom she didn’t relate. Brown later made a manuscript based on those letters and sent it to an agent, who was initially drawn to it because it was the only manuscript in the slush pile written on pink paper.

2. THE "OVESTER" LINE CAME FROM REAL LIFE.

Brown attended a meeting for The Women of Stanford Law, where she heard a woman say she spent three years at Stanford trying to change “semester” to “ovester.” Brown laughed ... but she was the only one.

3. THE TOILET PAPER VOTE WAS REAL, TOO.

Elle’s sorority group voting against the switch from Charmin to generic came from co-screenwriter Karen McCullah Lutz’s time as a sorority sister at James Madison University. Lutz offered her sisters activity points for stealing TP from the administration building.

4. CHLOË SEVIGNY TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF VIVIAN.

Selma Blair played Warner Huntington III’s law school girlfriend after Sevigny opted to take a part in a movie that filmed in Paris instead.

5. THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYED MARGOT HELPED THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYED SERENA GET THE PART.

Alanna Ubach stressed to Jessica Cauffiel—who was already cast as Margot—that she really needed the part, so Cauffiel told her to copy her movements during their screen test together and pretend that they hadn’t planned it together beforehand.

6. REESE WITHERSPOON STUDIED SORORITY BEHAVIOR TO PREPARE FOR HER ROLE.

Witherspoon went to dinner and took trips with sorority girls to Neiman Marcus and their USC and Stanford dorm rooms, paying attention to what they did and said.

7. STANFORD DIDN’T ALLOW FOR THEIR NAME TO BE USED IN THE MOVIE, BUT WAS THE STAND-IN FOR HARVARD LAW SCHOOL.

In Amanda Brown’s book, Elle attended USC before going to Stanford Law. Though neither USC nor Stanford would allow for their university to be associated with the movie, USC did allow shooting to take place on campus. UCLA declined the chance to replace USC as Elle's undergrad college, but also allowed filming on campus. (Elle went to the fictitious CULA in the movie.) Harvard has the opposite policies of Stanford, allowing usage of their name, but cited their long-standing rule of not permitting any commercial filming there to producers.

8. IT WAS ROBERT LUKETIC’S FIRST TIME DIRECTING A FEATURE FILM.

The Australian was “terrified” the night before day one of shooting, and couldn’t sleep. He got the job thanks to his short film Titsiana Booberini, which was about a mustached check-out girl who discovers hair remover.

9. MATTHEW DAVIS HAD A BIG CRUSH ON REESE WITHERSPOON.

The actor playing Warner had a thing for Witherspoon—whom he ruthlessly dumps in the movie—since he was 15 years old, and was such a “bumbling idiot” that producers had to make sure he was feeling okay on set. When he told the married Witherspoon his feelings for her, she professionally told him he was sweet for saying so and that they should get back to work.

10. DAVIS BASED WARNER HUNTINGTON III ON A FORMER PRESIDENT.

He read the autobiography of George W. Bush for research.

11. THE BACKGROUND ACTORS DURING THE OPENING CREDITS WERE REAL CALTECH FRAT BROTHERS CONDUCTING AN INITIATION RITE.

A mother explained to the Los Angeles Times that she spotted her son in a bathing suit covered with shortening and oil in the movie. Her son was involved in the game “Grease Frosh,” where two teams have a race to determine who can carry a freshman from one end of a field to another faster, while covered in grease. On that specific filmed contest, the team that wore absorbent pirate and clown costumes won.

12. THE ENDING WAS CHANGED BECAUSE OF TEST AUDIENCES.

Initially, the movie ended with Witherspoon and Luke Wilson kissing on the courthouse steps, then cutting to Elle Woods and Vivian forming a “Blonde Legal Defense Club.” Test audiences were too invested in what happened to Elle’s life to like that conclusion.

13. PARTS OF THE GRADUATION SCENE WERE SHOT IN LONDON, WITH WIGS.

To address test audience feedback on the ending, a graduation scene was added, set two years later. Because Witherspoon was in England working on her next project, parts of the scene were shot at Dulwich College in London, while some of the other actors were filmed back in California. Witherspoon was wearing a wig because she changed her hair for her role in The Importance of Being Earnest, as was Luke Wilson, who had shaved his head by then for The Royal Tenenbaums.

14. THERE WERE BROADWAY AND WEST END MUSICALS BASED ON THE MOVIE.

There was also a 2007 reality series on MTV to find the next actress to play Elle Woods for the Broadway show (MTV even aired an entire performance). Its London West End production lasted for three years after winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical.

15. A LEGALLY BLONDE PRODUCTION GOT AN OHIO DRAMA TEACHER FIRED IN 2012.

After the news got national attention, Loveland High School went ahead and allowed the musical to continue as planned.

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Shout! Factory
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The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon Is Back
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Shout! Factory

For many fans, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is as beloved a Thanksgiving tradition as mashed potatoes and gravy (except funnier). It seems appropriate, given that the show celebrates the turkeys of the movie world. And that it made its debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1988 (on KTMA, a local station in Minneapolis). In 1991, to celebrate its third anniversary, Comedy Central hosted a Thanksgiving Day marathon of the series—and in the more than 25 years since, that tradition has continued.

Beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, Shout! Factory will host yet another Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon, hosted by series creator Joel Hodgson and stars Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. Taking place online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, or via the Shout! Factory TV app on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and select smart TVs, the trio will share six classic MST3K episodes that have never been screened as part of a Shout! Factory Turkey Day Marathon. Here’s hoping your favorite episode makes it (cough, Hobgoblins, cough.)

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Troma Entertainment
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11 Bite-Sized Facts About Cannibal! The Musical
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Troma Entertainment

Back in their film school days, the creators of South Park made a twisted tribute to Rogers and Hammerstein. Cannibal! The Musical is (very) loosely based on the life of Alfred "Alferd" Packer, an American prospector who resorted to eating his travel companions in the harsh winter of 1874. Below, you’ll find a buffet of bite-sized facts about this weirdly upbeat black comedy. Bon appétit!

1. IT ALL STARTED WITH A GAG TRAILER.

In 1992, Trey Parker was studying film at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where pretty much everyone knows all about the legend of Alfred "Alferd" Packer. Indeed, when a new restaurant opened up on campus in 1968, the student body chose to name it after this famous man-eater. The restaurant’s slogan? “Have a friend for lunch.” As a joke, Parker rounded up some of his fellow film majors and spent three days shooting a phony trailer for a nonexistent movie called Alferd Packer: The Musical. Included in the ensemble was Matt Stone, with whom Parker would go on to create South Park.

Once the Alferd Packer promo was finished, those who worked on it weren’t sure if they could turn this concept into a feature-length picture. Fortunately, the trailer was a huge hit. “People thought it was really funny,” Parker told The Denver Post, “so we went around … and said, ‘So do you want to invest?’” Thanks (for the most part) to donations from a few CU grads with wealthy parents, Parker and his co-stars amassed a $100,000 budget.

2. LIANE THE HORSE WAS NAMED AFTER TREY PARKER’S EX-FIANCÉE.

At age 21, Parker was all set to marry his high school sweetheart. “We had plane tickets, the dress was bought, the church was paid for,” Parker shared on the DVD commentary. Then, about a month before the wedding, he caught his bride-to-be with another man. Devastated, Parker broke off the engagement and came up with an unusual way to get even. “I really wrote this movie for her,” he said.

A major character in Cannibal is Liane, Packer’s beloved horse, who leaves him for another rider. The two-timing equine was named after Parker’s former fiancée. Some artistic license was taken here, as there’s no proof that the real Packer ever owned a horse named Liane—or that he ever wistfully sang about being on top of her.

3. AN AVANT-GARDE LEGEND WAS CAST IN A MINOR ROLE.

World-renowned for his experimental filmmaking, the late Stan Brakhage taught off and on at the University of Colorado, where he met Parker and Stone. The two convinced him to appear in Cannibal! as George Noon’s father, who gets about two minutes’ worth of screen time.

4. PARKER’S DAD WAS IN IT, TOO.

Just like Stan Marsh’s dad in South Park, Trey Parker’s father, Randy, is a geologist. In Cannibal! The Musical, he portrays the Breckenridge judge who sentences Packer (played by Trey) to death.

5. “SHPADOINKLE” WAS MEANT AS A FILLER WORD.

In addition to penning the Cannibal! script, Parker also wrote the film’s musical numbers. The first of these is “Shpadoinkle Day,” an offbeat tribute to “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Parker knew that the first verse had to include a positive, three-syllable word, but couldn’t think of any that fit. So he used the made-up term “Shpadoinkle” to plug the gap until he could come up with an alternative. However, the creative team liked “shpadoinkle” so much that it stayed put and became one of Cannibal’s running jokes.

6. THEY SHOT IN THE COURTROOM IN WHICH PACKER WAS ACTUALLY TRIED.

On April 6, 1883, Packer was put on trial at the Hinsdale County Courthouse in Lake City, Colorado. Over the next few days, he admitted to dining on two of his dead travel companions—one of whom he supposedly killed in self-defense (the other died of natural causes). Packer was found guilty of murder, but avoided the hangman’s noose by fighting for a second trial, which took place 30 miles away in Gunnison. This time, he was charged with five counts of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 40 years in prison. However, while Packer languished behind bars, public opinion slowly turned in the cannibal’s favor. Under near-constant pressure from The Denver Post, Governor Charles S. Thomas pardoned Packer in 1901.

More than 90 years later, Parker filmed the trial scenes of Cannibal! The Musical at the still-standing Hinsdale County Courthouse. About halfway through the movie, the judge delivers a big speech in which he sentences Packer to death. His on-screen monologue was copied word-for-word from the court transcript of that 1883 Lake City trial.

7. AS THE MINERS SING “THAT’S ALL I’M ASKING FOR,” YOU CAN SEE PARKER MOUTH THE WORD “CUT.”

It goes by fast, but you can see Parker call "cut" to end the shot at the 3:06 mark in the clip above.

8. PARKER USED A PSEUDONYM FOR THE OPENING CREDITS.

Parker billed himself as "Juan Schwartz" in the cast of Cannibal because, according to the movie's website, "Trey doesn't like seeing one person's name plastered all over a movie's credits." Since he is properly credited as writer and director, he likely felt the additional acting credit was a bit too much. Incidentally, Packer called himself “John Shwartze” while evading the law before his arrest.

9. A FEW SONGS WERE DELETED.

The original cut of Cannibal! The Musical ran for two and a half hours, but thanks to some major-league editing, the runtime was reduced to a breezy 93 minutes. “There were fights about that from the get-go, but I give credit to Trey for being the toughest critic,” producer Jason McHugh told MovieMaker Magazine. “He had the maturity to know that a musical comedy about cannibals can’t be two and a half hours long.”

In the streamlining process, two musical numbers got the axe. The first was a quick little dirge called “Don’t Be Stupid,” wherein some nameless miners tell Packer’s group to postpone their journey until springtime. The other was “I’m Shatterproof,” a rap/funk song that Packer, hardened by his recent ordeals, delivers during a bar fight. Also deleted was a reprise of “When I Was On Top of You.”

10. COMEDY CENTRAL WOULDN’T BROADCAST IT.

Cannibal! was distributed by Troma Entertainment, an independent production company best known for creating The Toxic Avenger series. When South Park began to emerge as a major player on cable TV, Troma’s co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, assumed that Comedy Central would jump at the chance to air some of Parker and Stone’s earlier work. Instead, the channel flatly refused to air Cannibal.

Kaufman was sent a rejection letter from Comedy Central, which read: “Thank you for submitting and re-submitting Cannibal! The Musical, but it is simply not up to our standards for broadcasting.” Troma forwarded a copy of this dispatch to Parker. Today, it’s prominently displayed in his office—at Comedy Central!

11. IT HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A STAGE MUSICAL ON MANY OCCASIONS.

Can’t get tickets to The Book of Mormon? Perhaps you can catch a live reenactment of Cannibal! The Musical instead. Since 1998, the movie has been seen more than 60 stage adaptations. There’s no “official” version of the theatrical show. As such, acting troupes that might be interested in performing Cannibal! have to write their own scripts based on the original movie. 

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