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15 Fun Facts About Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Since its debut in the spring of 2015, Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has become a bona fide pop culture obsession. The brainchild of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, who worked together on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, the comedy series has also scored major accolades from critics, as evidenced by the 11 Emmy nominations it has (so far) received, including nods for Outstanding Comedy Series in both 2015 and 2016. Here are 15 things you might not know about the streaming series.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED TOOKEN.

Inspired by her two daughters—ages four and 10—Tina Fey originally intended for the series to be called Tooken. NBC, the original network behind the show, however, rejected the title.

2. HAD THE TITLE STUCK, THE THEME SONG WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT.

While fans of the series will undoubtedly recognize “Unbreakable! They alive, damnit! It’s a miracle!” as the catchy chorus behind Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s theme song, Tooken would have had a slightly different tune. As gathered from an October 22, 2013 draft of the Tooken pilot script, Mr. Bankston would have sung something to the auto-tuned likes of:

Them girls got tooken / I was cutting up bike tires with my grandson when outta nowhere/ forty hundred police vehicles came bookin’ / they went busting in that weird old white dude’s house / we call him “Spiral Eyes” / my wife says he’s just a nerd / I say cult! / I knew somethin’ was up ‘cuz I seen him in town at Publix buying feminine napkins. Who that for?!

3. WHEN THE TITLE CHANGED, SO DID THE SHOW’S DIRECTION.

Veering away from the darker side of Kimmy’s past, Fey and Carlock decided to focus on Kimmy moving forward with her life. “Once we agreed upon this [title], it ended up informing the episodes. They did end up leaning more towards the positive and the future as opposed to what had happened in the past,” Fey told BuzzFeed. Because of this, the darker humor was toned down, as demonstrated by the removal of a scene in the early draft in which Kimmy, after discovering a rat in the bunker, is locked inside a metal box by the Reverend.

4. THERE WAS A FIFTH MOLE WOMAN.

Another element removed from Tooken was the story of a fifth mole woman. In the early draft, an FBI agent named Clarisse finds herself as the fifth member of the bunker. She explains her capture to Matt Lauer in the beginning of the episode: While following a tip, she finds the Reverend at his farmhouse in Indiana. He, however, quickly disarms her and throws her in an old refrigerator, keeping her there until she is willing to join the others in the bunker.

5. KIMMY WAS WRITTEN WITH ELLIE KEMPER IN MIND.

"I still am not sure what in my face screams 'bunker-cult victim' to [show creators Robert Carlock and Tina Fey], but something did, so they went with that," star Ellie Kemper told NPR about the title role being written specifically for her.

6. AUDIENCES ALMOST MISSED OUT ON MEETING KIMMY ALTOGETHER.

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Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

Even with its new title and more positive spin, NBC feared that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt wouldn’t be a good fit with their drama-heavy TV lineup. If it failed to generate positive ratings, the network would have no choice but to cancel the show in which they had already invested 13 episodes. Because of this, in November of 2014, NBC happily agreed to sell the series to Netflix, who made a two-season commitment.

7. THE MOVE TO NETFLIX GAVE THE CREATORS MORE FREEDOM.

While the first six episodes of the series were originally edited with the thinking that they would air on NBC, the creators were allowed to reedit the episodes once Netflix purchased the series. Jokes that were deemed unfit for broadcast were allowed to be edited back in, breaks in the story for commercials were removed, and the episodes were no longer constrained to fit the network’s 22-minute time slot.

8. EVEN THOUGH TITUS ANDROMEDON WAS NAMED AFTER TITUSS BURGESS, THE ACTOR STILL HAD TO AUDITION FOR THE PART.

Impressed with his appearances on 30 Rock, Carlock and Fey found themselves developing the character of Titus for Burgess. But they weren’t sure whether Burgess had the singing prowess the character needed. “We thought, okay, he can hit one-liners, and he has presence and style, but we started to mold the character without really knowing how deep the chest was,” Carlock told Entertainment Weekly. “I mean, he had to audition for a part named after him!"

9. “PEENO NOIR” WAS A LAST-MINUTE ADDITION.

Jeff Richmond, Fey’s husband and composer/executive producer for both Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock, admitted that Titus’s tune, “Peeno Noir,” was thought up on the spot. Behind schedule on that particular day of shooting, Richmond played the ringtone beat while the writers shouted out rhymes for Burgess to perform. It wasn’t until after the footage was shot that Richmond began layering in the different elements of the song, turning it into the viral hit we know today.

And as for the beat? Richmond confessed that the beat behind “Peeno Noir” comes from the 30 Rock segment “La Piscine,” in which Denise Richards sings about her love for the pool. “We needed something,” Richmond told The Hollywood Reporter. “We were shooting in 10 minutes, so Giancarlo [Vulcano, Richmond's music associate] said, ‘What about 'La Piscine’?” and we said, ‘OK, perfect.’”

10. BURGESS NOW HAS HIS OWN BRAND OF PINOT NOIR.

Thanks to the immense popularity of “Peeno Noir,” Burgess decided to create his own brand of Pinot Noir. Pinot By Tituss was first announced via Burgess’s Instagram and became available to consumers on March 14, 2016. A 2014 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, Pinot by Tituss is described as possessing "aromas of dried fruits, slate, subtle rosemary, coriander and roses lead to flavors of plum and black cherry cola.”

11. FEY AND CARLOCK HAD ALWAYS INTENDED FOR JANE KRAKOWSKI TO PLAY JACQUELINE VOORHEES.

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Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

However, when it came time to film the pilot, Krakowski was unavailable as she was committed to Fox’s comedy Dead Boss. So actress Megan Dodds was cast in the role. After it was announced that Krakowski’s Dead Boss had been canceled, she was quickly brought in to replace Dodds as Jacqueline Voorhees. Trusting Fey and Carlock from their 30 Rock days together, Krakowski agreed to the part without having read the scripts.

With Dodds out, Krakowski reshot the few scenes in which Jacqueline appears in the pilot. “There were no actors there, but I read the scene with a stand-in and script supervisor,” Krakowski told The Hollywood Reporter. “They just pasted me in, and I started filming a few weeks later. I really didn't even know who I was playing. It was that quick. We filmed it properly again once I knew where everything was going.”

12. THE CREATORS FOUND EVEN GREATER FREEDOM WITH SEASON TWO.

Unlike the first season, season two’s writing began with the knowledge that all 13 episodes would stream directly on Netflix. Because of this, a whole new world opened up for the show, one full of jokes, themes, and storylines that would otherwise be unimaginable for network television. But Fey and Carlock had to fight the many temptations of this newfound freedom, and instead they focused on what had brought them success in season one. “We definitely have the freedom to kind of explore these ideas, but we also became aware just anecdotally after season one premiered that we have, in a lot of ways, a very young audience," Fey said.

13. THERE WAS A SLIGHT DELAY WITH SEASON THREE.

While a third season of Kimmy Schmidt was confirmed in early 2016, it took a little while to reach audiences. In order to debut its second season in the spring of 2016, season two filmed throughout the summer of 2015. But filming of season three had to be delayed due to a couple of timing issues—both of them happy ones: Tina Fey working on adapting Mean Girls into a musical and Ellie Kemper being pregnant with her first child; Kemper's son, James Miller Koman, was born in the summer of 2016.

14. THERE'S A CONNECTION BETWEEN KIMMY SCHMIDT AND THE AMERICANS.

In 2015, one eagle-eyed viewer noticed a strange connection between Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Americans: the opening credits for both series contain the same footage of a little girl hula-hooping. While The Gregory Brothers, who created the trailer for Kimmy Schmidt, denied any connection, the Internet concocted some entertaining common universe fan theories:

15. EVEN MORE KIMMY SCHMIDT IS ON THE WAY.

On June 13, 2017, just a few weeks after season three's debut, Netflix demonstrated its faith in the newest episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt by renewing the show for a fourth season.

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10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers
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Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.

In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”

3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.

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Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.

4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.

Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”

5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.

Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.

6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.

World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually break away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.

7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.

Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write the “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.

8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.

With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”

9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.

10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.

Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”

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‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ Could Have Been a Meat Loaf Song
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Imagine a world in which Bonnie Tyler was not the star performer on the Royal Caribbean Total Eclipse Cruise. Imagine if, instead, as the moon crossed in front of the sun in the path of totality on August 21, 2017, the performer belting out the 1983 hit for cruise ship stargazers was Meat Loaf?

It could have been. Because yes, as Atlas Obscura informs us, the song was originally written for the bestselling rocker (and actor) of Bat Out of Hell fame, not the husky-voiced Welsh singer. Meat Loaf had worked on his 1977 record Bat Out of Hell with Jim Steinman, the composer and producer who would go on to work with the likes of Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand (oddly enough, he also composed Hulk Hogan’s theme song on an album released by the WWE). “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was meant for Meat Loaf’s follow-up album to Bat Out of Hell.

But Meat Loaf’s fruitful collaboration with Steinman was about to end. In the wake of his bestselling record, the artist was going through a rough patch, mentally, financially, and in terms of his singing ability. And the composer wasn’t about to stick around. As Steinman would tell CD Review magazine in 1989 (an article he has since posted on his personal website), "Basically I only stopped working with him because he lost his voice as far as I was concerned. It was his voice I was friends with really.” Harsh, Jim, harsh.

Steinman began working with Bonnie Tyler in 1982, and in 1983, she released her fifth album, Faster Than the Speed of Night, including “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It sold 6 million copies.

Tyler and Steinman both dispute that the song was written specifically for Meat Loaf. “Meat Loaf was apparently very annoyed that Jim gave that to me,” she told The Irish Times in 2014. “But Jim said he didn’t write it for Meat Loaf, that he only finished it after meeting me.”

There isn’t a whole lot of bad blood between the two singers, though. In 1989, they released a joint compilation album: Heaven and Hell.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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