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7 People Injured by Pizza

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No food is more universally worshipped than pizza, which makes any slice-related accident or mishap all the more tragic. Unfortunately, its rock-like frozen crusts, acidic, eye-searing sauce, and molten cheese mean even a simple pie can be weaponized if it falls into the wrong hands. Check out seven people who were injured as a direct result of eating, pursuing, or being bludgeoned by this object of doughy desire.

1. THE PIZZA-HURLING PUPPET

The Sooty Show via Facebook

A children’s puppet show is the last place you’d expect to be harmed by a pizza. But for magician Paul Daniels, what promised to be an innocuous appearance on the popular U.K. kiddie series The Sooty Show turned into a traumatic event. Daniels was taping a segment with the felt-covered star and insisted that a pizza be thrown at him harder for greater comedic effect. The puppet complied, and the second take resulted in a hand-tossed pie that dazed the 73-year-old Daniels, stung his eye with sauce, and prompted a trip to the hospital. Sooty’s operator, Richard Cadell, issued an apology on the puppet’s behalf. “Sooty’s very sorry for what happened,” he said.  “He didn’t know his own strength.”

2. THE DANGERS OF CHICKEN-TOPPED PIES

Carnivores are always taking a small risk whenever they bite into their animal of choice: bone fragments can linger even after a proper dressing and cleaning. A restaurant patron was reminded of the danger when she bit into a chicken-topped barbeque pizza at the Round Table in San Francisco in February 2010. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Calla Felicity was splitting a pie with her mother when she inadvertently swallowed a one-inch long chicken bone. The edged contaminant pierced her esophagus, causing a rupture that became infected. She subsequently endured 11 surgeries. A jury awarded Felicity $2.5 million in damages, with negligence split 60/40 between the chicken farm (Foster) and the Pizza Bytes franchise, which owns the Round Table.  

3. THE END OF THE DOMINO’S 30 MINUTE GUARANTEE

Elliott Brown, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Eager to cement their status at the country’s premiere pizza franchise, Domino’s Pizza began promising customers in 1983 that their delivered pie would arrive in 30 minutes or less. The resulting pressure on drivers not to give away the doughy inventory for free or at a discount resulted in a number of accidents and lawsuits. But it wasn’t until a St. Louis woman named Jean Kinder was hit by a Domino’s driver who ran a red light that the company ended the promotion. Kinder suffered neck and spinal injuries as a result; in 1993, a jury penalized the company to the tune of $79 million.

In 2007, the franchise brought back the marketing gimmick with a “You Got 30 Minutes” ad campaign that didn’t make any explicit promise of expedited delivery. Changing their tune in 2013, they touted new pan pizzas that take slightly longer to cook by announcing they were no longer “all about speed.”    

4. TAKEOUT PIZZA PUTS A FOOTBALL PRO IN THE HOSPITAL

Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson had some rotten luck in 2012 and 2013. First, he broke his leg during a game. A year later, he was back in the operating room with the same surgeon—this time because of pizza. Burleson was driving home with two piping hot pies on the passenger seat of his GMC Yukon when the box on top began sliding off. Burleson leaned over to prevent it from falling, lost control of the wheel, and crashed off the interstate. His broken arm took two months to heal. While infirm, he was gifted with free pizzas for a year from frozen pie company DiGiorno, who wrote that they understand “the challenges that come with pizza carry out.”

5. A TASTE OF THE MOB

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For decades, it’s been alleged the Mob has had a hand in using pizza joints as fronts for shadier dealings, or even strong-arming honest owners into using their inferior mozzarella. In 2011, pizzeria owner Eugene Lombardo came up against Columbo family associate Francis Guerra, who was charged with smacking the restaurateur over his pie. Guerra's issue: he claimed Lombardo's 'za tasted too similar to the slices sold by his in-laws at L&B in Brooklyn. According to the New York Daily News, Guerra demanded Lombardo stop hawking his knock-off recipe, which he advertised as being close to L&B’s flavor. The information came out during an investigation into murder charges, which Guerra beat—per the News, however, he was eventually sent to prison on a drug-related offense.   

6. A (HOT) PIE IN THE FACE

While standing in line at a Truro, Nova Scotia, pizza parlor in April 2015, 22-year-old Paige Beaudry chastised a man for cutting in line. According to the Toronto Sun, the patron’s female associate allegedly stuffed a steaming slice in her face. The attack burned Beaudry’s cheeks, eyes, and nose; the woman was charged with assault with a weapon and, as of July, was still awaiting a court decision.

7. THE FROZEN PIZZA AS BLUNT OBJECT

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Thoroughly cooked, pizza can be a delicious, largely harmless saucer of cheer. Frozen, it can be used as a bludgeon. According to the Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin, a man was robbed by two passersby while walking home from a convenience store. After rejecting their request for money and turning away, he was struck in the head with a rock-solid pie; on the ground, the men punched him and stole his wallet. The perpetrators were never located.

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Warner Bros.
19 Shadowy Facts About Tim Burton's Batman
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Superhero movies are bigger than they’ve ever been before, but we arguably wouldn’t be here at all without 1989’s Batman. Produced at a time before comic book movies were considered big business, Tim Burton’s dark look at a superhero then best known for a goofy TV show is a pop culture landmark, and the story of how it was made is almost as interesting as the film itself. So, to celebrate Batman—which was released on this day in 1989—here are 19 facts about how it came to the screen.

1. AN EARLY MOVIE IDEA RELIED ON THE CAMPINESS OF THE CHARACTER.

As development of a Batman movie began, studio executives were still very tied to the campiness embodied by the Batman television series of the 1960s. According to executive producer Michael Uslan, when he first began attempting to get the rights to make a film, he was told that the only studio who’d expressed interest was CBS, and only if they could do a Batman In Outer Space film.

2. IT TOOK 10 YEARS TO MAKE.

Uslan lobbied hard for the rights to Batman, and finally landed them in 1979. At that point, the fight to convince a studio to make the film ensued, and everyone from Columbia Pictures to Universal Pictures turned it down. When Warner Bros. finally agreed to back the film, the issue of developing the right script had to be settled, and that took even more time. In 1989, after years of battling, Batman was finally released, and Uslan has been involved in some form in every Batman film since.

3. AN EARLY SCRIPT FEATURED BOTH THE PENGUIN AND ROBIN.

When Uslan finally got the chance to develop the film, he drafted legendary screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, who had been a consultant on Superman, to write the script. The Mankiewicz script included The Joker, corrupt politician Rupert Thorne, a much greater focus on Bruce Wayne’s origin story, The Penguin, and the arrival of Robin late in the film. The script was ultimately scrapped, but you can see certain elements of it in Batman Returns.

4. TIM BURTON WASN’T THE FIRST POTENTIAL DIRECTOR.

Though Warner Bros. ultimately chose Tim Burton to helm Batman, over the course of the film’s development a number of other choices emerged. At various points on the road to Batman, everyone from Gremlins director Joe Dante to Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman was in line for the gig.

5. MANY STARS OF THE TIME WERE CONSIDERED FOR BATMAN.

The casting process for Batman was a long one, and involved a number of major stars of the day. Among the contenders for the title role were Mel Gibson, Bill Murray (yes, really), Kevin Costner, Willem Dafoe, Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford, Charlie Sheen, Ray Liotta, and Pierce Brosnan, who later regretted turning down the role.

6. TIM BURTON HAD TO FIGHT TO CAST MICHAEL KEATON.

At the time, Michael Keaton was best known for his comedic roles in films like Mr. Mom and Night Shift, so the thought of casting him as a vigilante of the night seemed odd to many. Michael Uslan remembers thinking a prank was being played on him when he heard Keaton’s name pop up. Burton, who’d already worked with Keaton on Beetlejuice, was convinced that Keaton was right for the role, not just because he could portray the obsessive nature of the character, but because he also felt that Keaton was the kind of actor who would need to dress up as a bat in order to scare criminals, while a typical action star would just garner “unintentional laughs” in the suit. Burton ultimately won the argument, and Keaton got an iconic role for two films.

7. JACK NICHOLSON WAS THE FIRST CHOICE FOR THE JOKER, BUT HE WASN’T THE ONLY CHOICE.

From the beginning, Uslan concluded that Jack Nicholson was the perfect choice to play The Joker, and was “walking on air” when the production finally cast him. He certainly wasn’t the only actor considered, though. Among Burton’s considerations were Willem Dafoe, James Woods, Brad Dourif, David Bowie, and Robin Williams (who really wanted the part).

8. TIM BURTON WON JACK NICHOLSON OVER WITH HORSEBACK RIDING.

When Nicholson was asked to discuss playing The Joker, he invited Burton and producer Peter Guber to visit him in Aspen for some horseback riding. When Burton learned that was what they’d be doing, he told Guber “I don’t ride,” to which Guber replied “You do today!” So, a “terrified” Burton got on a horse and rode alongside Nicholson, and the star ultimately agreed to play the Clown Prince of Crime.

9. EDDIE MURPHY WAS ONCE CONSIDERED TO PLAY ROBIN.

Though the character of Robin was ultimately scrapped because it simply didn’t feel like there was room for him in the film, he did appear in early drafts of the script, and at one point producers considered casting Eddie Murphy—who, you must remember, was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1980s—for the role. 

10. SEAN YOUNG WAS THE ORIGINAL VICKI VALE.

Burton initially cast Blade Runner star Sean Young as acclaimed photographer Vicki Vale, who would become Bruce Wayne’s love interest. Young was part of the pre-production process on Batman for several weeks until, while practicing horseback riding for a scene that was ultimately cut, she fell from her horse and was seriously injured. With just a week to go until shooting, producers had to act fast to find a replacement, and decided on Kim Basinger, who essentially joined the production overnight.

11. TIM BURTON WASN’T OFFICIALLY HIRED UNTIL BEETLEJUICE BECAME A HIT.

Though he was basically already a part of the production, Burton wasn’t officially the director of Batman right away. Warner Bros. showed interest in him working on the film after the success of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, but according to Burton they only officially hired him after the first weekend grosses for Beetlejuice came in.

“They were just waiting to see how Beetlejuice did,” Burton said. “They didn’t want to give me that movie unless Beetlejuice was going to be okay. They wouldn’t say that, but that was really the way it was.”

12. DANNY ELFMAN THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO BE FIRED UNTIL HE PLAYED THE MAIN THEME.

Danny Elfman is now considered one of our great movie composers, but at the time Batman was released he didn’t have any blockbuster credits to his name. He recalls meeting with Burton (with whom he had worked on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) and producer Jon Peters to go over some of the music he’d already written for the film, and feeling “a lot of skepticism” over whether he should be the composer for Batman. It wasn’t until Burton said “Play the march,” and Elfman went into what would become the opening credits theme for the film, that he won Peters over.

“Jon jumped out of his chair, really just almost started dancing around the room,” Elfman said.

13. THE JOKER WASN’T ALWAYS GOING TO KILL BATMAN’S PARENTS.

In the final film, The Joker (then named Jack Napier) is revealed to be the gangster who guns down Bruce Wayne’s parents in the streets of Gotham City. It’s a twist that some comic book fans still dislike, and according to screenwriter Sam Hamm, it definitely wasn’t his fault.

“That was something that Tim had wanted from early on, and I had a bunch of arguments with him and wound up talking him out of it for as long as I was on the script. But, once the script went into production, there was a writer’s strike underway, and so I wasn’t able to be with the production as it was shooting over in London, and they brought in other people.”

Hamm also emphasizes that it was also not his idea to show Alfred letting Vicki Vale into the Batcave.

14. THE CLIMACTIC SCENE WAS WRITTEN MIDWAY THROUGH SHOOTING.

Though much of the film is still derived from Hamm’s script, rewrites continued to happen during shooting, and one of them involved the final confrontation between Batman and The Joker in a Gotham City clock tower. According to co-star Robert Wuhl, the climax was inspired by Jack Nicholson and Jon Peters, who went to see a production of The Phantom of the Opera midway through filming and watched as the Phantom made his final stand in a tower. Together, they somehow determined that a final fight in the tower was what Batman needed.

“The next day, they started writing that scene … the whole ending in the tower,” Wuhl said.

15. MICHAEL KEATON’S BATMAN MOVEMENTS WERE INSPIRED BY THE RESTRICTIONS OF THE COSTUME.

Batman fans still love to make jokes about the original costume, and Michael Keaton’s inability to turn his head (there’s even a dig at that in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight), but the restrictions of the costume actually inspired how Keaton performed as the Dark Knight. In 2014, Keaton revealed that his performance as Batman was heavily influenced by a moment when, while trying to actually turn his head in the suit, he ended up ripping it.

“It really came out of the first time I had to react to something, and this thing was stuck to my face and somebody says something to Batman and I go like this [turning his head] and the whole thing goes, [rriipp]! There was a big f***ing hole over here,” he said. “So I go, well, I've got to get around that, because we've got to shoot this son of a bitch, so I go, 'You know what, Tim [Burton]? He moves like this [like a statue]!’”

“I'm feeling really scared, and then it hit me—I thought, 'Oh, this is perfect! This is perfect.' I mean, this is, like, designed for this kind of really unusual dude, the Bruce Wayne guy, the guy who has this other personality that's really dark and really alone, and really kind of depressed. This is it.”

16. GOTHAM CITY WAS REAL, AND IT WAS EXPENSIVE.

Production designer Anton Furst put a lot of work into the incredibly influential designs for the film’s version of Gotham City, and the production was committed to making them pay off. The production ultimately spent more than $5 million to transform the backlot of London’s Pinewood Studios into Gotham City, and you can see the dedication to practical effects work in the final film.

17. PRINCE WAS PART OF THE PRODUCTION EVEN BEFORE HE JOINED IT.

Batman famously features original songs by Prince, who wrote so much new material for the production that he basically produced a full album. Even before the Purple One was drafted to write for the film, though, he was influencing it. Burton played Prince songs on set during the parade sequence and the Joker’s rampage through the museum.

18. THE FILM’S MARKETING WAS SO EFFECTIVE THAT IT INSPIRED CRIMES.

By the time Batman was actually on its way to release, it was becoming a phenomenon, and the marketing for the film was inspiring a frenzy among fans. People were buying tickets to other films just to see the first trailer, and selling bootleg copies of the early footage. The poster, featuring the iconic logo, was so popular that, according to Uslan, people were breaking into bus stations just to steal it.

19. IT WAS A BOX OFFICE LANDMARK.

Though studio executives resisted the idea of a “dark” Batman movie for years, the film ultimately set a new standard for box office success. It was the first film to ever hit $100 million in 10 days, the biggest film in Warner Bros.’ history at the time, and the box office’s biggest earner of 1989—and that’s not even counting the massive toy and merchandising sales it generated.

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