15 Infamous Facts About ¡Three Amigos!

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Directed by John Landis with a script by Steve Martin, Randy Newman, and Lorne Michaels, the film follows a goofy group of silent movie cowboys who are mistaken for real heroes by a small Mexican village. To this day, ¡Three Amigos! is one of the most infamous (which we all know means "more than famous") films of the 1980s. It was named one of the Top 100 comedies by both Time Out and Bravo, and is celebrated as a unique collaboration between some of the greatest comedians of all time. There's a lot to learn about "those darn amigos," so here's a plethora of facts about the comedy classic.

1. STEVE MARTIN LEARNED THE ROPE TRICKS HE DID IN THE MOVIE WHILE WORKING AT DISNEYLAND AS A TEENAGER.

Martin worked there part-time from age 10 to 18, first selling guidebooks then hawking spinning lassos in Frontierland, according to D3. "The ropes were hard to sell," Martin explained. "I had to wear a Western costume, cowboy shirt, hat. I did a little bit of that in ¡Three Amigos!"

2. ALL BUT ONE OF THE MOVIES, ACTORS, AND INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS MENTIONED IN THE FILM ARE FAKE.

The film is full of fake movie references, from Harry Flugleman (played by Joe Mantegna), the amigos’ fictional producer, to fake films like Amigos! Amigos! Amigos! and Little Neddy Grab Your Gun. There’s only one scene where a real star of the silent film era is mentioned: When he’s bragging to some of the Santo Poco villagers about his film career, Ned Nederlander (Martin Short) name drops actress Dorothy Gish, telling the confused villagers about the time Gish visited him on set. Today, that name would probably go over about as well with audiences as it did for the fictional villagers. Though she’s largely forgotten today, Dorothy Gish was an actress and director from the silent movie era, as well as the less famous sister of Oscar-nominated actress Lillian Gish.

3. RANDY NEWMAN PLAYED THE SINGING BUSH.

Well, technically, the Singing Bush was played by a bush, but Newman provided its voice. His voice was digitally altered for the role. In an interview with Movies.com, director John Landis explained that he’d considered several different ways of portraying the singing bush—including animating it, or somehow showing its lips moving—but ultimately decided to make the bush more naturalistic, and just let Newman’s singing take over the scene.

4. IT WAS MARTIN SHORT'S FIRST MOVIE ROLE.

Short had been doing sketch comedy—including on Saturday Night Live and SCTV—for years before he landed the part, but ¡Three Amigos! was his breakout film role. He went on to work with Steve Martin in two more films: Father of the Bride (1991) and Father of the Bride Part II (1995).

5. THE ACTOR WHO PLAYED EL GUAPO WAS IN A 1970 MOVIE CALLED TRES AMIGOS.

The Spanish language adventure comedy is largely forgotten today, but Alfonso Arau not only went on to play “El Guapo” in ¡Three Amigos!, he also appeared as the villain, Herrera, in Sam Peckinpah’s classic Western The Wild Bunch (1969).

6. JOHN LANDIS'S FAVORITE MOMENT WHILE SHOOTING WAS AN ARGUMENT WITH CHEVY CHASE.

Landis told Movies.com, “Probably the funniest moment for me when shooting was when I had the Three Amigos on horseback in the desert and I was shooting while they were wearing those ridiculous outfits and after having been shooting for three weeks, Chevy objected to a line of dialogue and he said, 'I don't think I should say this.' And, remember, Chevy plays a character named Dusty Bottoms. So I said, 'Well, why not?' He said, 'Because my character would have to be a moron to say this.' All I could think was, What movie has Chevy been making? So I said, 'OK, I'll give it to Marty because it's a laugh.' Then Chevy said, 'I'll say it!' It's one of my favorite moments with an actor.”

7. SEVERAL FILMS THAT CAME OUT AFTER ¡THREE AMIGOS! SHARED ITS PREMISE.

Like ¡Three Amigos!, films like Galaxy Quest (1999) and Tropic Thunder (2008) have featured movie stars accidentally ending up in real danger. Vulture outlined the many similarities between Tropic Thunder and ¡Three Amigos!, which include everything from similar catchphrases and movie star cameos (Tom Cruise plays Jewish film producer Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder while Joe Mantegna plays Jewish film producer Harry Flugleman in ¡Three Amigos!) to characters eating bats when they’re short on food. Galaxy Quest meanwhile featured a group of washed up sci-fi stars who end up cavorting with real aliens.

Referring to the spate of movies that borrow from the ¡Three Amigos! premise, John Landis said, “They completely ripped it off! The first Pixar movie about the ants, A Bug's Life, took the same plot. It's amazing how often the plot has been used. If Galaxy Quest weren't so funny, it would probably bother me more.”

8. WHILE PROMOTING THE FILM ON DAVID LETTERMAN, STEVE MARTIN INTRODUCED A SERIES OF THREE AMIGOS SOUVENIRS OF INCREASING RIDICULOUSNESS.

These included: Three Amigos rubber cement, holy water (“blessed by the Three Amigos”), turkey basters (in sizes ranging from “Martin Short” to “Steve Martin”), the “Egg McMigo” breakfast sandwich, and Three Amigos contraceptive foam.

9. STEVE MARTIN DEVELOPED TINNITUS WHILE SHOOTING THE FILM.

While shooting a pistol fight in the film, Steve Martin developed tinnitus—a constant ringing in the ears which sometimes fades over time. In Martin’s case, the condition turned out to be permanent: regarding his experience with tinnitus, he explains, “You just get used to it. Or you go insane.”

10. ROGER EBERT GAVE IT ONE STAR.

He called it "too confident, too relaxed, too clever to be really funny," and complained that the performers were underutilized—particularly Chevy Chase who “hardly seems in the movie at all." He also argued that the film lacked the energy of Landis’s earlier comedy, Animal House.

11. IT TOOK SIX YEARS TO GET THE FILM INTO PRODUCTION.

It was originally going to be called The Three Caballeros. Steve Martin, who came up with the original idea, was talking about it in interviews as early as 1980, but it took a long time to find a director willing to make it.

12. FRAN DRESCHER WAS IN THE ORIGINAL FILM, BUT WAS CUT BECAUSE OF TIME ISSUES.

Before she was The Nanny, Drescher had a small part in ¡Three Amigos! as a shallow movie star in the Hollywood segment of the film. Though the film was eventually re-released with deleted scenes, Drescher’s footage didn’t appear—it seems to have been lost entirely over the years.

13. STEVEN SPIELBERG ALMOST DIRECTED THE FILM.

Spielberg considered making the film in the early 1980s with Martin, Robin Williams, and Bill Murray as the leads. Ultimately, he decided to make E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) instead.

14. JOHN BELUSHI, DAN AYKROYD, AND RICK MORANIS WERE ALL CONSIDERED FOR AMIGOS PARTS, TOO.

Martin had initially imagined co-starring in the film alongside Belushi and Aykroyd. It’s unclear what happened—perhaps the film just took too long to make it into production. Next, Spielberg had expressed interest in casting Murray and Williams alongside Martin, but when he dropped out of the project, the idea went with him. Finally, Landis considered casting Rick Moranis as the third amigo—but only if his first choice, Martin Short, was unavailable. Splitsider notes that many of these actors were collaborating with each other around this time: Moranis, Murray, and Aykroyd all appeared in 1984’s Ghostbusters together, while Belushi and Aykroyd famously co-starred in 1980's The Blues Brothers and 1981's Neighbors.

15. A NOVELIZATION OF THE FILM WAS PUBLISHED, WRITTEN BY LEONORE FLEISCHER.

It was an official adaptation of the original screenplay, and was even promoted in the film’s credits. Fleischer has written a number of film novelizations, mostly for classroom use, including the novelization of the Academy Award-winning 1988 film Rain Man.

Pod Search, a Search Engine for Podcasts, Can Help You Find Your Next Binge-Listen

Milkos/iStock via Getty Images
Milkos/iStock via Getty Images

Having too many options definitely seems like the best problem to have when it comes to picking your next top podcast obsession, but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. To streamline the hunt, try Pod Search—a website and mobile app that has all the information you need in order to choose a winner.

As Lifehacker reports, the user-friendly site is organized in several different ways, depending on how you’d like to operate your search. You can browse its list of about 30 categories, which range from “Storytelling” to “Crime & Law,” and each has a set of subcategories so you can get even more specific. If you trust the opinions of the general public, you can choose an already-popular podcast from the “Top Podcasts” tab. Or, if you like to be the first to recommend the next big thing to your friends, you can pick a program from the list of new podcasts.

Pod Search also has a handy tool called MyPodSearch which will pretty much do all the work of choosing the perfect podcast for you. All you have to do is check whichever categories interest you and add any additional keywords you’d like (which is optional), and MyPodSearch will deliver a list of podcasts personalized for your tastes. This is great for people who have wide-ranging interests, a proclivity for indecision, or both.

Each podcast has its own landing page with a description, audio samples, places you can listen, website and social media links for the podcast, and a list of other podcasts from the same producers. You can also create an account and bookmark podcasts for the future—so, hypothetically, you could have MyPodSearch create a personalized list for you, bookmark them all, and then have a binge-listening itinerary that’ll last you until next year.

[h/t Lifehacker]

8 Fun Facts About Muppet Babies

The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company

Before prequels were a thing, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies imagined a world in which the felt-covered characters of Henson’s Muppets franchise—Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Fozzie Bear among them—met up as children in a nursery. Left to their own devices, the animated cast led a rich fantasy life while in diapers. For more on this 1984-1991 show, including why it’s so hard to find anywhere except YouTube, keep reading.

1. Frank Oz didn’t really want Muppet Babies.

The idea to infantilize the Muppets came from Michael Frith, a longtime collaborator of Jim Henson’s, in the early 1980s. Frith believed that regressing the characters could allow them to impart moral or educational messages to children already familiar with them. But Frank Oz, a Muppets performer (Miss Piggy) and film director, argued that the Muppets needed to maintain their subversive edge. It was Henson who found a compromise, suggesting that younger versions of the characters appear in a dream sequence for 1984’s feature film The Muppets Take Manhattan. The response to the scene was overwhelmingly positive, and Henson soon teamed with Marvel Productions and CBS for an animated series that began airing in September 1984.

2. Skeeter was the result of a gender imbalance on Muppet Babies.

Most of the principal Muppet Babies cast was made up of recognizable characters, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf, Gonzo, Animal, Bunsen, and Scooter. But Frith, Henson, and producers Bob Richardson and Hank Saroyan decided that the babies were skewing a little too male. Aside from Piggy and their caretaker, Nanny, there were no female characters. To balance the scales, they introduced Skeeter, Scooter’s twin sister, a brainy problem-solver.

Skeeter has made only fleeting and sporadic appearances in the Muppet franchise since, leading to speculation she might be caught up in rights issues between CBS and the Jim Henson Company, which was purchased by Disney in 2004. Fortunately, the somewhat murky situation appears to be at least partially resolved: It was recently reported Skeeter will resurface in the new computer-animated iteration of Muppet Babies, which is currently airing its second season on Disney Junior and has been renewed for a third season.

3. One of the major creative forces behind Muppet Babies was Moe Howard’s grandson.

In 1985, Muppet Babies writer Jeffrey Scott received a Humanitas Prize from the Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute for an episode of the series which the Institute declared did the best job of any kid’s show that year to “enrich the viewing public.” The episode centered on the group fearing one of them might be sent away. The prolific Scott actually wrote all 13 episodes of the first season. His father, Norman Maurer, worked at Hanna-Barbera Productions and got Scott’s foot in the door. His grandfather was Moe Howard, founder and head Stooge of The Three Stooges fame.

4. The Muppet Babies live-action segments were a result of budgetary constraints.

A hallmark of Muppet Babies is when the cast finds themselves thrust into scenes from famous films, a Walter Mitty-esque bit of fantasy fulfillment that blends live-action sequences with animation. According to Frith, devoting a portion of each episode to clips wasn’t entirely a creative choice. By inserting clips, producers could save money on animation. It was also easy for Henson to secure the rights to popular films like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark because he was friends with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. While some believe those clips are the reason the show isn’t available to stream—sifting through the legal entanglement of reairing the segments might prove costly—that’s never been confirmed.

5. Muppet Babies never explained what the Muppets were doing in that nursery.

Given time to reflect, it seems odd that the Muppet cast would find themselves in a nursery without being supervised by their own parents. Speaking with the Detroit Free Press in 1987, Michael Frith said that the situation was purposely left vague. “I really appreciate the fact that they don’t [ask],” Frith said of his kid viewers. “Is this a day care center? Is this a foster child home? The more we talked about it, the more we felt it should just exist. The kids accept it.”

6. The voice recording sessions of Muppet Babies included copious farting.

Speaking with CNN in 2011, actor Dave Coulier (Full House) recalled that recording sessions for Muppet Babies sometimes involved flatulence. Coulier, who portrayed Animal and Bunsen, among others, said that “lots of fart humor” punctuated the recording studio. “In one scene, Fozzie [played by Greg Berg] and Animal had to climb a ladder,” he said. “As Animal was pushing Fozzie up the ladder, they were making [grunting] sounds. In mid-scene, Greg Berg farted. I looked at [actor] Frank Welker and we couldn’t contain ourselves. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. I was literally on the floor of the studio laughing.”

7. There was an offshoot of Muppet Babies called Muppet Monsters—and it never aired in full.

Following the success of Muppet Babies, CBS and Jim Henson decided to expand on the Muppets' potential as Saturday morning stars by creating a 90-minute block in 1985 titled Muppets, Babies, and Monsters. (Muppet Babies often aired consecutive half-hour installments for an hour total.) In addition to regular Muppet Babies episodes, the program featured another half-hour of Little Muppet Monsters, which featured puppets of new Muppet monster characters named Tug, Molly, and Boo. The three appeared in a framing device that introduced animated segments of adult Muppets. Only three episodes aired out of 15 produced, reportedly due to both Henson and CBS being unhappy with the finished product and Muppet Babies standing strongly on its own. The remaining episodes have yet to see the light of day.

8. Muppet Babies was turned into a live stage show.

To further incite their juvenile audience and monetize their popularity, the Muppet Babies franchise eventually wound up live and on stage. Muppet Babies Live! debuted in 1986 and featured performers in oversized costumes dancing and acting to a prerecorded track. In one skit, the cast appeared in a Snow White homage. In another, Rowlf became Rowlfgang Amagodus Mozart and played the piano. The arena show toured the country. Hank Saroyan, one of the animated show’s producers, wrote the stage show. The performer for Baby Piggy, Elizabeth Figols, also appeared in a live production of Dirty Dancing. The show ran through 1990.

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