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15 Critical Facts About ER

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A 20-year-old script from the author of Jurassic Park led to the creation of one of the most highly regarded and longest-running dramas in television history, and launched the careers of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies in the process. Here are some facts about ER that have been properly sanitized.

1. IT BEGAN AS A MICHAEL CRICHTON MOVIE SCRIPT.

It was about 180 pages long and featured more than 100 characters. Crichton was a medical student at Harvard Medical School in the 1960s, and John Carter was the stand-in for Crichton. Steven Spielberg was an executive producer on the project. That, coupled with the fact that Crichton had recently become a hot property following the success of Jurassic Park, helped the pair successfully negotiate a series order with NBC, after the network initially only agreed to a two-hour movie.

2. GEORGE CLOONEY "BEGGED" FOR AN AUDITION.

"George Clooney begged me for a part," said executive producer John Wells. The 33-year-old was by that time a TV veteran who hadn’t yet found his breakout role (one of his earlier roles had been on a short-lived 1984 CBS sitcom titled E/R). "George was the first person to audition. He came after me for it," recalled Wells. "Our second day in the office, George showed up and wouldn't leave until I'd let him audition ... George got his hands on the material and was like a dog with a bone."

3. ERIQ LA SALLE WAS GLAD THAT HE HAD KEPT HIS COSTUME FROM A PREVIOUS ROLE.

La Salle came into his ER audition in scrubs, which he had gotten on The Human Factor, a medical show he worked on with John Mahoney two years earlier.

4. CAROL HATHAWAY WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE.

Julianna Margulies’s character was not supposed to survive her suicide attempt in the pilot. But audiences liked Margulies—and her chemistry with Clooney—so the producers opted to keep her alive, and employed.

5. AN ABANDONED, POSSIBLY HAUNTED HOSPITAL WAS USED FOR THE FIRST EPISODE.

“24 Hours” was shot at the former Linda Vista Hospital in Los Angeles's Boyle Heights neighborhood. It was built in the early 1900s as a hospital for Santa Fe Railroad employees. The movies End of Days and Outbreak also shot scenes there. The people behind the paranormal documentary/reality TV show From Beyond claim they heard voices and were “grabbed and scratched” when they spent time there. The other 330 episodes of ER were shot at a replica of Los Angeles County General Hospital’s emergency room at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank.

6. CAST AND CREW TOOK FOUR TRIPS A YEAR TO CHICAGO TO SHOOT THE EXTERIORS.

Since ER was set in Chicago, it was important that the production did some shooting in the Windy City. Sometimes scenes would be shot without the script being finished, so the actors only had a vague sense of what their characters were experiencing. The last scene of the classic “Love’s Labor Lost,” when Dr. Greene breaks down on the L, was filmed two months before the rest of the episode, so the script wasn’t written yet. All Anthony Edwards was told was that he’s going to feel like he killed a mother.

7. NOAH WYLE ONCE ACTED WITH MONO AND A 104-DEGREE FEVER.

Wyle was hallucinating before shooting “Love's Labor Lost.” The medical tech on the set gave him an IV; Wyle performed his scenes with a bag of saline in his pocket.

8. WYLE TREATED AN ACTUAL MEDIC WHO WAS DEHYDRATED.

While on location in Africa years later, the on-set medic passed out from the heat. Wyle took a functioning IV, stuck a needle in him, and revived him with a bag of saline. He credited learning how to do that “through osmosis.” Wyle played a doctor on ER more than any other actor: 254 episodes

9. THE CAST LIKED TO PULL PRANKS WITH FAKE BABIES.

Anthony Edwards would always try to figure out how to involve an alien baby in the proceedings to bring some levity to the sometimes tense set. Clooney was known to play football with a very expensive silicone baby prop.

10. THERE WAS ONLY ONE NOTICEABLE MISTAKE DURING THE LIVE EPISODE.

Performing the season four opener, “Ambush,” live was Edwards and Clooney’s idea. It was performed live twice, once for the east coast and once for the west coast. During the second performance, the actor who played the HIV-positive patient accidentally dropped his syringe before he threatened the staff with it.

11. LA SALLE ASKED PRODUCERS TO END HIS CHARACTER’S RELATIONSHIP WITH ALEX KINGSTON’S.

La Salle made producers end Dr. Benton’s romance with Dr. Corday because he was uncomfortable with what the interracial relationship was saying to African Americans. La Salle claimed he was uncomfortable that his relationships with black women on the show were dysfunctional, whereas his one relationship with a white character was not.

12. SOME ACTORS ASKED TO BE KILLED OFF.

Maura Tierney, who played Dr. Abby Lockhart from 1999 to 2009, asked to be killed off. Instead, she was given a juicy enough storyline that she was okay with sticking around until the end of the series. When Edwards told John Wells that he was leaving the show after eight seasons, Wells said that Dr. Greene was too important a character to just walk away from the show, so he asked Edwards: "'Do you mind if we kill him?' And I was like, 'Nope!' You’ve gotta do what’s best for the show, so that’s okay.” When Kellie Martin decided her character, Lucy Knight, wasn’t working for her, she requested that her departure be made “big.”

13. DAVID KRUMHOLTZ WAS FEARED AFTER HIS GUEST SPOT.

The day after “Be Still My Heart” aired on February 10, 2000, Krumholtz—whose character, Paul, fatally stabbed Lucy—"went out in Burbank, and went shopping in a mall or something," the actor recalled to the Los Angeles Times. "I got recognized at least five or six times from that episode, and people were actually frightened! I couldn't have been more unassuming to those people that probably were surprised to see that I was short and sweet and smiley." Nearly a decade later, when he was starring on Numb3rs, he was still regularly asked about that episode of ER.

14. A LOT OF HOSPITAL SCRUBS WERE USED IN THE 15 SEASONS.

The producers estimated that, over the course of the series, they had procured approximately 130,000 sets of hospital scrubs.

15. THE SHOW SAVED LIVES.

A 28-year-old woman in Texas discovered she had a brain tumor because her tongue went out to the side, just like Dr. Greene’s tongue did when his brain tumor returned. The woman’s tumor was caught early and she survived. A USC study found that subjects were 65 percent more likely to change their eating habits if they watched the episode about obesity. And a 2002 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation discovered viewers “increased their knowledge” of HPV and contraception after viewing episodes of the show.

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16 Geeky Coasters to Keep Your Coffee Table Safe
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Avoid unsightly ring stains on your coffee table with this delightful selection of coasters:

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This ceramic set celebrates all the best ships from Star Trek.

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This set comes with 10 coasters, each with a slice of brain specimen. When you’re not using them, you can stack them together to create a full brain.

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15 Educational Facts About Old School
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Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.

The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.

1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.

Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.

2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.

While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”

3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.

Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”

4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn told Variety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”

5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.

The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).

6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.

In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).

7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.

Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.

Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell told the BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.

9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.

Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”

10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.

Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."

11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks

Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.

12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.

Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"

13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.

Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”

14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.

Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.

15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.

Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.

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