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15 Surprising Facts About Will & Grace

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In 1998, one year after Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet on television, Will & Grace made its debut. The ensemble comedy series featured two gay characters—lawyer Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and aspiring actor Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes)—and their best friends, interior designer Grace Adler (Debra Messing) and eccentric socialite Karen Walker (Megan Mullally), whose fun-filled antics were enjoyed by millions of viewers for eight seasons on NBC. Here are some surprising facts about the groundbreaking series.

1. WILL AND GRACE WERE BASED ON THE SERIES' CO-CREATOR AND HIS CHILDHOOD FRIEND.

Max Mutchnick and David Kohan were inspired by Mutchnick’s friendship with voiceover casting agency owner Janet Eisenberg. Mutchnick and Eisenberg dated before Mutchnick came out of the closet in college. Kohan was a mutual friend who watched their relationship change and mature over the years.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY PITCHED AS AN ENSEMBLE SHOW WITH STRAIGHT COUPLES.

The only relationship NBC executive Warren Littlefield was interested in, however, was the one with the gay man living with the straight woman. It was originally set in San Francisco, and Will had both Will and Jack’s personalities. When Mutchnick and Kohan wrote the pilot, they just focused on the Will and Grace characters.

3. THE SHOW TITLE CAME FROM A BOOK.

The two creators named the show Will & Grace based on a concept in the Jewish philosophy book I and Thou by Martin Buber, in which he says that one needs the "will" to go after the presence of the Eternal and the "grace" to receive it.

4. KOHAN AND MUTCHNICK DID THEIR RESEARCH.

While waiting to hear about the fate of their show after submitting their pilot script, the two men sent Warren Littlefield faxes listing the box office numbers of The Birdcage and My Best Friend’s Wedding, two hit movies featuring gay characters.

5. SEAN HAYES THREW THE PILOT SCRIPT AWAY.

Sean Hayes was at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah when a network casting executive faxed him the pilot script for Will & Grace after seeing him in Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. After reading the script, the actor promptly threw it away. "I laughed out loud—which is rare during pilot season,” Hayes told Entertainment Weekly. ”But I’d only been at Sundance two days, and I would have had to buy my own plane ticket [to L.A.] just to audition. So I tossed it, thinking there’d be 10,000 more sitcoms."

6. VODKA MAY HAVE FACTORED INTO DEBRA MESSING’S DECISION TO PLAY GRACE.

Mutchnick and Kohan wanted Messing so badly that they went to her house with a bottle of vodka, and spent hours pouring her shots and pitching her the show. "I'm a lightweight," said Messing. "I didn't need much to be a little giddy. By the end of the evening, they said, 'Will you do it?' I said, 'Let's talk tomorrow.'" The next day, she agreed to take the part.

7. JOHN BARROWMAN LOST OUT ON PLAYING WILL BECAUSE HE WAS "TOO STRAIGHT."

John Barrowman, who is gay, said he was told by Will & Grace producers that he was ‘too straight’ to play Will. Eric McCormack, who is straight, got the part instead.

8. MEGAN MULLALLY CHOSE PLAYING KAREN OVER PLAYING CARRIE ON THE KING OF QUEENS.

Instead of being the queen of an entire borough (or at least Kevin James' TV wife), Mullally went with playing Karen, after she auditioned to play Grace.

9. NICK OFFERMAN WOULD HAVE BEEN CAST AS GRACE’S BOYFRIEND NATHAN IF WOODY HARRELSON HAD TURNED DOWN THE PART.

Instead, Offerman—who was Mullally's then-boyfriend—played a plumber in the 2001 episode “Moveable Feast.” The couple married two years later.

10. HISPANIC RIGHTS GROUPS SUCCESSFULLY GOT A WORD TAKEN OUT OF AN EPISODE TWO HOURS BEFORE IT WAS SCHEDULED TO AIR.

NBC had the word “tamale” replaced with “honey” in the episode “Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner” after Hispanic rights groups and the NAACP believed the word was an ethnic slur coming from Karen to her Salvadoran maid, Rosario. Shelley Morrison, the actress who played Rosario, once said there were only two times throughout the series where she felt that Rosario was doing something demeaning. Both times, the producers changed the line or situation.

11. NBC REWARDED THE CAST WITH FREE CARS.

As a thank you for their work during the series' first season, McCormack, Messing, Hayes, and Mullally all received matching Porsche Boxster convertibles.

12. CHER'S CAMEO WAS FILMED VERY, VERY QUICKLY.

Mullally told Entertainment Weekly of the experience: “They flew her in. Like, she was sort of dropped in on a crescent moon, she did the scene, and was, like, airlifted back out. And when I met her she was in her full Cher Land drag, so I didn’t get to experience her as a person.”

13. JAMES BURROWS DIRECTED EVERY EPISODE OF THE SERIES.

The veteran director, who was behind the camera for shows like Cheers and Frasier, was the consummate pro. He even made sure that every piece of mail on Will and Grace’s coffee table was either addressed to Truman or Adler at 30 Rockefeller Place, New York, NY, to give the characters authenticity.

14. A SPINOFF STARRING KAREN WAS CONSIDERED.

NBC changed their minds when the Friends spinoff Joey didn’t last more than one full season. Instead, the network gave Mullally a talk show.

15. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN CREDITED THE SHOW WITH EDUCATING THE AMERICAN PUBLIC ABOUT LGBT ISSUES.

While appearing on Meet the Press in 2012, years after the show ended, Biden said, “I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done so far.” In 2014, The Smithsonian Institute added items from Will & Grace as part of their collection documenting the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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20 Random Facts About Shopping
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Shopping on Black Friday—or, really, any time during the holiday season—is a good news/bad news kind of endeavor. The good news? The deals are killer! The bad news? So are the lines. If you find yourself standing behind 200 other people who braved the crowds and sacrificed sleep in order to hit the stores early today, here's one way to pass the time: check out these fascinating facts about shopping through the ages.

1. The oldest customer service complaint was written on a clay cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago. (In it, a customer named Nanni complains that he was sold inferior copper ingots.)

2. Before battles, some Roman gladiators read product endorsements. The makers of the film Gladiator planned to show this, but they nixed the idea out of fear that audiences wouldn’t believe it.

3. Like casinos, shopping malls are intentionally designed to make people lose track of time, removing clocks and windows to prevent views of the outside world. This kind of “scripted disorientation” has a name: It’s called the Gruen Transfer.

4. According to a study in Social Influence, people who shopped at or stood near luxury stores were less likely to help people in need.

5. A shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

6. On the Pacific island of Vanuatu, some villages still use pigs and seashells as currency. In fact, the indigenous bank there uses a unit of currency called the Livatu. Its value is equivalent to a boar’s tusk. 

7. Sears used to sell build-your-own homes in its mail order catalogs.

8. The first shopping catalog appeared way back in the 1400s, when an Italian publisher named Aldus Manutius compiled a handprinted catalog of the books that he produced for sale and passed it out at town fairs.

9. The first product ever sold by mail order? Welsh flannel.

10. The first shopping cart was a folding chair with a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs.

11. In the late 1800s in Corinne, Utah, you could buy legal divorce papers from a vending machine for $2.50.

12. Some of the oldest known writing in the world includes a 5000-year-old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. (It was for clothing that was sent by boat from Ancient Mesopotamia to Dilmun, or current day Bahrain.)

13. Beginning in 112 CE, Emperor Trajan began construction on the largest of Rome's imperial forums, which housed a variety of shops and services and two libraries. Today, Trajan’s Market is regarded as the oldest shopping mall in the world.

14. The Chinese invented paper money. For a time, there was a warning written right on the currency that all counterfeiters would be decapitated.

15. Halle Berry was named after Cleveland, Ohio's Halle Building, which was home to the Halle Brothers department store.

16. At Boston University, students can sign up for a class on the history of shopping. (Technically, it’s called “The Modern American Consumer”)

17. Barbra Streisand had a mini-mall installed in her basement. “Instead of just storing my things in the basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she told Harper's Bazaar. (There are photos of it here.)

18. Shopping online is not necessarily greener. A 2016 study at the University of Delaware concluded that “home shopping has a greater impact on the transportation sector than the public might suspect.”

19. Don’t want to waste too much money shopping? Go to the mall in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study discovered that shoppers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions while balancing in pumps.

20. Cyber Monday is not the biggest day for online shopping. The title belongs to November 11, or Singles Day, a holiday in China that encourages singles to send themselves gifts. According to Fortune, this year's event smashed all previous records with more than $38 million in sales.

A heaping handful of these facts came from John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin's delightful book, 1,234 Quite Interesting Facts to Leave You Speechless.

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