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16 Fun Facts About Veronica Mars

The CW
The CW

Veronica Mars was a smart, funny, sometimes very real, teen noir drama that surprised critics and viewers with its unflinching look at how classes—both the high school kind and the kind that separate us all financially—can make or break who we are. Broadcast on UPN and The CW from 2004 to 2007, a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign brought the series back as a crowdfunded movie in 2014. Here are some things you might not know about the series that launched Kristen Bell's career, and aired its series finale 10 years ago, on May 22, 2007.

1. VERONICA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A GUY.

Series creator Rob Thomas (no, not the Matchbox Twenty guy) had written young adult books before turning to television. The idea for the series originated as the idea for a book, which would have featured a male protagonist.

2. APPROXIMATELY 100 ACTRESSES READ FOR THE ROLE OF VERONICA.

Kristen Bell was the first of the estimated 100 actors to audition for the lead. "Kristen was the very first actress I saw and my mind was blown," Thomas recalled at PaleyFest2014. As he auditioned the next 99 people for the part, "I kept thinking, 'Was that first girl as brilliant as I thought she was?'"

3. JASON DOHRING AUDITIONED FOR DUNCAN, AND TEDDY DUNN AUDITIONED FOR LOGAN.

Dohring of course ended up playing Logan, and Dunn played Duncan Kane. Logan was initially only supposed to be a guest star in the first episode.

4. THE SERIES WAS MOSTLY SHOT IN SAN DIEGO.

The fictitious Neptune High was in fact Oceanside High School. San Diego State University, and University of California-San Diego teamed up to portray Hearst College. The Tijuana border was actually in the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot, and the Balboa Park courtyard was reimagined as Cuba.

5. THE ACTOR PLAYING WALLACE WAS TIRED OF WALLACE DOING FAVORS FOR VERONICA.

Percy Daggs III asked Thomas early on in season one if Wallace could be made to be more funny and lighthearted, instead of just someone who gets files for Veronica. Eventually, his frustration came out of Wallace’s mouth on the show. Daggs also wanted to broach Wallace’s attraction to Veronica, but UPN didn’t want to get into that.

6. HARRY HAMLIN COULD HAVE RUINED THOMAS’S PLAN FOR THE BIG SEASON ONE MYSTERY.

Thomas always knew he wanted Logan’s father, Aaron (played by Hamlin), to be Lily’s killer. Hamlin had been scheduled to shoot a movie in Australia when the season one finale, “Leave it to Beaver,” was going to be filmed. Had he taken the movie role, Thomas would have had to change the ending. Instead, Hamlin decided to stick around. If it was leaked before air that Aaron was the killer, Tommy Dunn said they would have changed it to Duncan.

7. JAMES JORDAN PLAYED TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.

In season two, James Jordan had a three-episode arc playing Thomas “Lucky” Dohanic. In season three he was brought back as Tim Foyle, an entirely different character.

8. JOSS WHEDON MADE A CAMEO.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer showrunner wrote on his blog that he had never been prouder for Buffy to be compared to any other show than he was when it was compared to Veronica Mars. The glowing review led Thomas to invite Whedon to play Car Rental Guy during the series' second season. Thomas also invited fan Stephen King to cameo as a “crazy sociology professor,” but the bestselling author had to decline. "We had a very kind note from him," said Thomas. "He said, 'I'm actually booked at that time, but I love your show. Keep me in mind for other things.'"

9. LOGAN AND DUNCAN WERE COLOR COORDINATED TO AVOID CONFUSION.

Duncan was purposely dressed in blues, and Logan in earth tones, as mandated by the network (whose executives were concerned that the actors looked too much alike).

10. THOMAS HAD NO INTENTION OF LOGAN AND VERONICA GETTING TOGETHER.

When Thomas and the writers watched dailies, they couldn’t ignore Bell and Dohring’s on-screen chemistry. Thomas informed the two after six episodes that they were eventually going to get together.

11. BEAVER WAS PLANNED AS SEASON TWO'S KILLER DURING SEASON ONE.

Poor Dick Casablancas’s brother’s motivation was plotted since he was first introduced during the show's first season.

12. "PIZ" WAS A NOD TO ONE OF THE SHOW'S DIRECTORS.

Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell) was named after Mark Piznarski, who directed the show's pilot episode. Thomas described Stosh as being "very much in the Lloyd Dobler mold.” Lowell was surprised when he was asked to appear in the movie years later, as he didn't think his character was very well liked.

13. PAUL RUDD WAS ALMOST A RECURRING CHARACTER.

Paul Rudd was originally considered for the unscrupulous P.I. Vinnie Van Lowe, though that role eventually (and memorably) went to Ken Marino. Instead, Rudd appeared in a single episode (season three's “Debasement Tapes”) as a washed-up rock star named Desmond Fellows.

14. THOMAS ALMOST QUIT TO WRITE FOR ANOTHER SHOW.

After season two, Thomas was offered a writing job on Friday Night Lights. He opted to stick around and see his creation through for one more year.

15. A FOURTH SEASON WOULD HAVE SEEN VERONICA AS AN FBI AGENT.

Thomas made a 12-minute video showing both The CW and other networks what they would be getting if they brought Veronica Mars back for a fourth season in 2007. After skipping a few years past the events of the series finale, “The Bitch is Back,” Mars would have been a rookie agent with the FBI. Walton Goggins played her boss. No network bought it.

16. THOMAS RAISED $2 MILLION FOR THE MOVIE IN LESS THAN 11 HOURS.

When Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a Veronica Mars movie in 2013, his goal was to raise $2 million in 30 days. Within hours, he had surpassed that amount. By the end of the month, the campaign had raised a total of $5,702,153 from 91,585 backers, making it one of the most successful campaigns in the crowdfunding site's history. The movie was released in 2014.

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40 Years Later: Watch The Johnny Cash Christmas Show
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Over the course of his career, Johnny Cash made a series of Christmas TV specials and recorded a string of Christmas records. In this 1977 TV performance, Cash is in great form. He brings special guests Roy Clark, June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison ("Pretty Woman" starts around 23:50), Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers. Tune in for Christmas as we celebrated it 40 years ago—with gigantic shirt collars, wavy hair, and bow ties. So many bow ties.

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Pop Culture
An AI Program Wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction—and the Results Are Hilarious
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

“The castle ground snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”

So begins the 13th chapter of the latest Harry Potter installment, a text called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. OK, so it’s not a J.K. Rowling original—it was written by artificial intelligence. As The Verge explains, the computer-science whizzes at Botnik Studios created this three-page work of fan fiction after training an algorithm on the text of all seven Harry Potter books.

The short chapter was made with the help of a predictive text algorithm designed to churn out phrases similar in style and content to what you’d find in one of the Harry Potter novels it "read." The story isn’t totally nonsensical, though. Twenty human editors chose which AI-generated suggestions to put into the chapter, wrangling the predictive text into a linear(ish) tale.

While magnified wind doesn’t seem so crazy for the Harry Potter universe, the text immediately takes a turn for the absurd after that first sentence. Ron starts doing a “frenzied tap dance,” and then he eats Hermione’s family. And that’s just on the first page. Harry and his friends spy on Death Eaters and tussle with Voldemort—all very spot-on Rowling plot points—but then Harry dips Hermione in hot sauce, and “several long pumpkins” fall out of Professor McGonagall.

Some parts are far more simplistic than Rowling would write them, but aren’t exactly wrong with regards to the Harry Potter universe. Like: “Magic: it was something Harry Potter thought was very good.” Indeed he does!

It ends with another bit of prose that’s not exactly Rowling’s style, but it’s certainly an accurate analysis of the main current that runs throughout all the Harry Potter books. It reads: “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. ‘The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!’”

Harry Potter isn’t the only work of fiction that Jamie Brew—a former head writer for ClickHole and the creator of Botnik’s predictive keyboard—and other Botnik writers have turned their attention to. Botnik has previously created AI-generated scripts for TV shows like The X-Files and Scrubs, among other ridiculous machine-written parodies.

To delve into all the magical fiction that Botnik users have dreamed up, follow the studio on Twitter.

[h/t The Verge]

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