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10 Good, Great, Wonderful Facts About What About Bob?

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In 1991, Bill Murray introduced us to the phobia-prone Bob Wiley, diagnosed with “multi-phobic personality characterized by acute separation anxiety and extreme need for family connections.” Bob follows his therapist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), on vacation to Marvin’s lakefront home in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire (actually filmed at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia). Bob gets along splendidly with Marvin’s wife and kids but clashes with Marvin, and hijinks ensue. The movie grossed more than $63 million at the box office and became one of Murray’s most popular movies. Here are 10 fun-loving facts about the beloved comedy.

1. YOU CAN VISIT THE INSANE ASYLUM FROM THE MOVIE.

Located in Bedford, Virginia, the Elks National Home was used for the scene where Bob gets dropped off at the asylum and charms the staff. “You have been duped by a textbook narcissist, a brilliant sociopath,” Dr. Marvin tells the doctor. “It’s perfectly natural for a patient to bond with his analyst,” she replies, making it clear that she believes it's Dr. Marvin who could benefit from checking in for a few days. In real life the institution is a retirement home, which was sold in 2014. Every Christmas, the place strings up thousands of lights, making it a popular tourist attraction.

2. A PSYCHIATRIST THINKS BOB’S CHARACTER IS “RIDICULOUS” AND FUNNY.

Dr. Glen Gabbard wrote a book called Psychiatry and the Cinema, about Hollywood’s regularly inaccurate portrayals of mental illness in the movies. “Psychotherapy ain’t showbiz,” Gabbard told the Writers Guild of America. “You could do a documentary about a psychotherapist treating a patient and be completely accurate and the audience would be bored to death, so you have to jazz it up a bit.” Still, he can't help but admire What About Bob?

“It’s ridiculous from a psychiatric standpoint, but I sit there laughing out loud at Bill Murray," admits Gabbard. "Even though I’m passionate about psychiatry portrayals in film, I still enjoy myself at the movies … but if I’m going to write something about the movie, I’d see it again with a critical eye, not the eye that watched it for entertainment value.”

3. BILL MURRAY AND RICHARD DREYFUSS DIDN’T GET ALONG.

In an interview with The A.V. Club, Dreyfuss had this to say about working on the movie: “Funny movie. Terribly unpleasant experience. We didn’t get along, me and Bill Murray. But I’ve got to give it to him: I don’t like him, but he makes me laugh even now. I’m also jealous that he’s a better golfer than I am.”

Director Frank Oz said the on-set tension was the result of everybody having their own viewpoint on how to improve the script. “It was just that everybody felt strongly about how to make the movie better,” Oz told IGN. “That caused friction and a lot of tension, and that's what I remember, but it also caused the movie to be better.” For his part, Murray thought the tension heightened the performances. “Richard Dreyfuss and I didn’t get along on the movie particularly, but it worked for the movie,” Murray told Entertainment Weekly. “I mean, I drove him nuts, and he encouraged me to drive him nuts.”

4. YOU CAN OWN A “DON’T HASSLE ME” T-SHIRT.

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Throughout the film, Bob wears a blue T-shirt with the words “Don’t Hassle Me I’m Local” inscribed in bright yellow letters on it. The shirt was recreated and can be purchased on Amazon and Etsy. Also on Amazon, you can purchase a “Baby Steps” shirt.

5. DIRECTOR FRANK OZ WORRIED THAT THEY WERE MAKING A BAD MOVIE. 

Oz told Ain’t It Cool News that Murray was frightened about shooting the movie in New York, and that he himself didn’t know how the movie would turn out. “I was really scared to death that we had a piece of sh*t, because it was so impossible to judge it,” Oz said. “I felt I knew what I was doing, but there was this huge sigh of relief when the movie worked.”

6. WOODY ALLEN ALMOST STARRED IN THE FILM. AND COULD HAVE WRITTEN AND DIRECTED IT, TOO.

A 1989 Los Angeles Times article stated that Murray and Allen would team up as “the comedy team of the ’90s,” with Allen playing the role of Dr. Marvin. The article went on to state that Garry Marshall had been attached as director, but there was a possibility that Allen might star, direct, and co-write the movie. Of course Murray stayed attached, but Frank Oz helmed the movie, and Tom Schulman wrote the screenplay, with some story contributions from producer Laura Ziskin and Oscar-winning screenwriter Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People, The Amazing Spider-Man).

7. RICHARD DREYFUSS SUED DISNEY OVER THE FILM.

In 2015, Dreyfuss filed a lawsuit against Disney, the film’s distributor, because the studio won’t allow Dreyfuss to hire an auditor of his choice to look into the company’s bookkeeping to see if he’s owed more money. “Motion picture and television companies detest having to pay net and gross profit participants and have consistently and historically withheld significant amounts of profits from participants,” Deadline explained. “This is why profit participation auditors in the motion picture and television industries exist; these auditors oftentimes find monies due to profit participants.” The article further states, “there is a three-year waiting list to do an audit on Disney properties.” Translation: Baby steps, Dr. Marvin.

8. BOB’S HYPOCHONDRIAC CONDITIONS ARE BASED ON REAL DISORDERS.

The website Behave.net analyzed Bob’s supposed medical symptoms and diagnosed them. When Bob covers his hand with a handkerchief, the site says he probably has bacillophobia, a fear of germs. Because he has myriad symptoms, including dizzy spells, nausea, cold sweats, and blurred vision, he may also have somatization disorder. Bob’s declaration that, “If I fake it, then I don’t have it” could be evidence of factitious disorder. “I worry about diseases,” Bob says, leading the site to also believe that he has pathophobia, the fear of diseases.

9. CHARLIE KORSMO IS NOW A LAWYER.

Charlie Korsmo played Marvin’s son, Siggy (short for Sigmund), in the movie and had quite a career as a child actor (Dick Tracy, Can’t Hardly Wait) before receiving a B.S. in physics from MIT and then obtaining a J.D. from Yale Law School. He’s now an associate professor of law at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law, where he teaches courses in corporate law, corporate finance, and torts. According to his staff bio, he worked for the EPA and was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation by President Obama. But the bio fails to mention his prior career as a precocious actor who starred in movies with Murray and Warren Beatty.

“I feel I need to overcome some preconceptions when people find out I was a child actor,” Korsmo told Cleveland.com. “If I had just gotten a poetry degree from Swarthmore or something, they would have thought I got in because I was in the movies. You can’t fake a physics degree … The movie I hear the most about these days is What About Bob? That seems to be one that people still voluntarily watch.” Maybe Dreyfuss should hit up Korsmo for some legal advice?

10. IT’S NOT POSSIBLE FOR YOUR BLADDER TO EXPLODE. UNLESS YOU JUMP INTO A LAKE. MAYBE.

One of Bob’s ailments is, “What if I'm looking for a bathroom, I can't find one, and my bladder explodes?” But is this possible? According to a Tumblr page for biomedical ephemera, “Your urethral sphincters make it physically impossible to build up urine in your bladder to the point of rupture. The kidneys and ureters cannot produce enough pressure to burst the bladder. When there is an obstruction, the kidneys fail first. In the case of trying to hold it, the body would protect the kidneys by reacting violently, forcing urethral sphincters to fail and causing the person to wet themselves.”

Yet according to an article from 2013, a man’s bladder exploded “during a drinking challenge between friends.” A group of people decided to conduct a “pee holding challenge” while drinking, and a man held his bladder for so long that it exploded, causing urine to leak into his abdominal cavity. The man, apparently, lived.

Then there’s the 2015 story about a man who got drunk and jumped into a lake, which caused his bladder to burst. “When he jumped into the lake, a hole was torn through his bladder wall and led to urine leaking into his abdomen,” reads the article. So the lesson here is when drinking, don’t hold it in—or jump into a lake.

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23 Things David Letterman Invented for Our Amusement
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This week, nearly three years after bidding farewell to Late Night, David Letterman is making his triumphant return to the small screen via Netflix with My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (where he'll interview two people who need no introduction: Barack Obama and George Clooney). If the series is anything like Letterman's career thus far, you can expect plenty of innovation.

Here are 23 recurring bits, features, and moments that the former Indiana weatherman (and his writers) invented for our amusement.

1. THE SHORT, NON-TOPICAL MONOLOGUE

Carson Productions, as in Johnny Carson’s production company, co-produced Late Night with David Letterman, and as the upcoming lead-out programming for The Tonight Show, it was important to Carson’s people that Letterman not copy Carson. Letterman’s people were told that among other things, they couldn’t have a sidekick sitting next to the host like Ed McMahon, a band with horns like Doc Severinsen’s, or a monologue. So instead, Letterman opened his show by standing in front of the audience and viewers at home with “opening remarks,” a monologue consisting of just one or two jokes with weird imagery, like tattoos melting in warm weather.

2. POST-INTERVIEW INTERVIEWS

On February 3, 1982—his third-ever broadcast—Late Night conducted two interviews with baseball hall-of-famer Hank Aaron: One was a standard talk show back-and-forth between host and guest. The other occurred after that conversation ended, where NBC Sports reporter Al Albert (son of Marv Albert) asked Aaron how he felt his last few minutes with Letterman went, with the idea that it was the equivalent of a post-game interview.

3. STUPID PET TRICKS

“Stupid Pet Tricks” began on Letterman’s short-lived but Emmy-winning morning show, and was a consistently popular segment on both Late Night and The Late Show. The idea came from original head writer Merrill Markoe, who "remembered how in college my friends and I would be hanging around in the evenings, talking, and drinking. One form of constant entertainment was to put socks on this one dog. Everyone I knew did some version of a silly thing like that with their pets, so we ran an ad to see if we could pull a segment together like that."

4. WORLD’S LARGEST VASE CONTESTS

After questioning people who claimed to have the “world’s largest vase” over the phone in what New York Magazine described as a “longish” segment, the vase was brought into the studio and displayed on Late Night from May 30 through June 2, 1983. On its third night, a 35-inch radio transmitting tower was added to the case when it was discovered that it was shorter than one in Canada. On its final night of national exhibition, Letterman read alleged letters from children addressed to the Vase, and the vase “spoke” to wish for peace for mankind.

5. CATCHPHRASE CONTESTS

Two on-air catchphrase contests, which aired a little over a month apart in the summer of 1984, gave lucky studio audiences the power to make “They pelted us with rocks and garbage” the first rallying cry, before it was displaced by "I do and do and do for you kids, and this is the thanks I get!"

6. A CAMERA FROM THE HOST'S P.O.V.

The February 15, 1982 installment of Late Night began with one continuous five minute and 17 second take through Letterman’s P.O.V. called “Dave Cam.” Cameos included that night’s guest Andy Rooney, Merrill Markoe, and Calvert DeForest, who played Larry “Bud” Melman on Late Night, as “Bert the Human Caboose.”

7. A CAMERA FROM THE GUEST’S P.O.V.

Letterman favorite Tom Hanks was the first wearer of the “Late Night Guest-Cam.” Hanks was on the show the night of December 12, 1985 to promote The Money Pit, which was initially supposed to debut the next day, but would be delayed until the following March. “The Late Night Sky-Cam” makes a cameo.

8. A CAMERA FROM A MONKEY’S P.O.V.

After a false start with a 30-year-old chimp named Bo, who was too small to handle the camera, “Monkey Cam” got its start on March 19, 1986. Zippy, who was on the cover of The Ramones' Animal Boy album, would return on roller skates with the “Late Night Monkey Cam Mobile Unit.”

9. PURPOSELY FUNNY TOP 10 LISTS

The very first Top Ten—“The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas"—aired on September 18, 1985, as a satire of the random lists publications like Good Housekeeping were starting to produce at the time. Credit for who thought up the idea for Late Night is disputed; over the years, head writer Steve O’Donnell, former head writer and longtime SNL scribe Jim Downey, Late Night writer Randy Cohen, and producer Robert Morton have all gotten some or all of the credit. Top Ten made it to the end of Late Show’s run, even though the writers were already tiring of it by the February 6, 1986 show, which had the Top Ten list “Top Ten Reasons to Continue the Top Ten Lists Just a Little Longer.”

10. WEARING SUITS OF VELCRO, ALKA-SELTZER, MAGNETS, SPONGES, SUET, AND FOODS

On February 28, 1984, Letterman slipped into a “Suit of Velcro” and ushered in an era of strange outfits including a magnet get-up, which Letterman wore to attach himself to a huge GE fridge. Lowering himself into a 1000-gallon tank of water, Letterman’s suit of Alka-Seltzer fizzed and vaporized. There were also suits of suet, marshmallows, chips, and Rice Krispies, the latter of which made David “snap, crackle, and pop” in a large tub of milk. An influence was Steve Allen, the original host of The Tonight Show, who threw himself into Jell-O vats on television. Allen’s “Man on the Street” interviews were also something Letterman took to new levels of absurdity.

11. HOSTING A SHOW ABOARD AN AIRPLANE

Late Night’s fourth anniversary was celebrated onboard a flight from New York City to Miami.

12. AN EPISODE THAT ROTATES 360 DEGREES

Writers Randy Cohen and Kevin Curran came up with the unique way to celebrate the 800th episode of Late Night. NBC received “several hundred” phone calls about the December 9, 1986 show from viewers complaining that it was giving them headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Carson Productions executives were apparently not informed of the stunt beforehand and were reportedly “furious.”

13. FEUDING WITH BRYANT GUMBEL

After Letterman interrupted an August 19, 1985 broadcast of Today co-hosted by Bryant Gumbel, Gumbel called out the Late Night host for being “unprofessional” and didn’t publicly forgive him for four years. (Letterman claimed it was a Today producer who invited him to pull the stunt.)

14. FEUDING WITH OPRAH WINFREY

In the 16 years between Oprah's 1989 appearance on Late Night and her December 1, 2005 Late Show interview, rumors swirled about a feud between Winfrey and Letterman. The reasons why—and even if—there was a “feud” at all remain unclear.

15. CO-HOSTING AN EPISODE WITH A CORNY MORNING SHOW THEME

On February 27, 1985, Letterman shared hosting duties with “Tawny Harper Reynolds,” with guests Michael Palin, a Pet Psychic, and an exercise segment with Carol Channing.

16. AN HOUR-LONG PARODY OF 1970s PRIMETIME VARIETY SHOWS

“Dave Letterman's Summertime Sunshine Happy Hour” graced the NBC airwaves on the night of August 29, 1985. Early in his TV career, Letterman wrote and was a part of the cast of The Starland Vocal Band Show.

17. AN HOUR-LONG PARODY OF CHRISTMAS SPECIALS

December 19, 1984’s "Christmas With the Lettermans," featuring Pat Boone, won Late Night a 1985 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music or Comedy Program.

18. "CUSTOM-MADE" SHOWS

On November 15, 1983, Late Night relinquished control of the show to the audience, giving them a choice on everything from the furniture to the theme song. On March 27, 1984’s version, the show opened with the theme to Bonanza, the announcer was the New York Lieutenant Governor, and Jane Pauley was interviewed in a dentist's chair.

19. DUBBING A RERUN FROM ENGLISH TO ENGLISH

When the February 17, 1986 episode re-aired on September 25th of that year, 250 confused viewers called the network. After 60 hours and four professional dubbers, everyone on the episode (Raquel Welch was the main guest) magically had different voices. Even Letterman's voice was dubbed (by Speed Racer's Peter Fernandez).

20. 4 A.M. SHOWS

May 14, 2004’s Late Show was taped at four in the morning, on purpose. Amy Sedaris, rat expert Robert Sullivan, and Modest Mouse were the guests. Letterman rode a horse, Sedaris gave an unsafe late night tour of her neighborhood, and Modest Mouse played in their pajamas.

21. DEDICATING MOST OF AN EPISODE TO A DECEASED COMEDIAN AND HIS FAMILY

Letterman invited Bill Hicks’s mother, Mary, to appear on the January 30, 2009 episode to apologize face-to-face for not airing Hicks’s controversial October 1, 1993, stand-up performance. In February of 1994, Hicks passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 32. After talking to Mary, Letterman finally presented Bill’s set.

22. DEDICATING AN ENTIRE EPISODE TO A COMEDY HERO

On the first new Late Show after Johnny Carson's passing, Letterman's monologue was filled with jokes that the retired Carson had anonymously submitted to David over the years. Long-time The Tonight Show executive producer Peter Lassally and bandleader Doc Severinsen were that night's only guests.

23. THE ‘WILL IT FLOAT?’ GAME

The first installment of “Will It Float?” was on February 6, 2002. A brick of Velveeta cheese sank. Dave got it right, whereas Paul got it wrong.

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15 Fun Facts About When Harry Met Sally
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Nora Ephron's most beloved romantic comedy opened in theaters more than 25 years ago. We'll (still) have what she's having.

1. HARRY AND SALLY WERE MODELED AFTER DIRECTOR ROB REINER AND SCREENWRITER NORA EPHRON—EXCEPT FOR THE FALLING IN LOVE PART.

Rob Reiner divorced fellow director Penny Marshall in 1981 after 10 years of marriage. When he met with Nora Ephron in the mid-1980s, he pitched a number of ideas for movies, including a comedy based on his dating experiences. Ephron agreed to write it after extensively interviewing Reiner. The two had many discussions about how men and women view sex, love, and relationships differently.

2. THOSE SWEET "HOW WE MET" INTERLUDES THROUGHOUT THE MOVIE ARE REAL LOVE STORIES.

Reiner interviewed elderly couples about how they fell in love in preparation for the movie. He hired actors to re-tell their stories on the big screen.

3. NORA EPHRON HATED THE TITLE.


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It was extremely difficult for Ephron to settle on a title for her screenplay. She tried several, including Boy Meets Girl, How They Met, and Harry, This Is Sally. Reiner eventually turned the naming process into a contest among the crew members. Whoever picked the title would win a case of champagne. We don't know who came up with When Harry Met Sally, but let's hope he or she shared all that bubbly.

4. IN THE SCRIPT'S FIRST DRAFT, HARRY AND SALLY DIDN'T END UP TOGETHER.

Ephron felt that was the most realistic ending, but hey, this is the movies!

5. REINER ALSO FELL IN LOVE BY THE END OF THE MOVIE.


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During filming, Reiner was introduced to photographer Michelle Singer by the film's director of photography. The two married in 1989, the same year When Harry Met Sally came out. Reiner has said that finding his own happy ending helped make one for Harry and Sally more believable.

6. BILLY CRYSTAL AND MEG RYAN WEREN'T THE FIRST CHOICES FOR HARRY AND SALLY.


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Albert Brooks turned down the role of Harry, because he thought the movie was too reminiscent of Woody Allen. (Brooks also turned down the lead role in Big and Pretty Woman. D'oh!) Rob Reiner initially wanted Susan Dey of the TV show L.A. Law to play Sally. He also considered Elizabeth Perkins from Big and Elizabeth McGovern from Ordinary People. John Hughes movie queen Molly Ringwald was nearly cast, but declined due to a scheduling conflict.

7. MOLLY RINGWALD DID EVENTUALLY PLAY SALLY ALBRIGHT, THOUGH.

In 2004, the popular film was adapted into an unpopular stage play on London's West End. Luke Perry (yes, really) and Alyson Hannigan from How I Met Your Mother played Harry and Sally in its first run and were later replaced by Michael Landes from Final Destination 2 and Molly Ringwald.

8. MEG RYAN SORT OF PAVED THE WAY FOR JULIA ROBERTS.


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Ryan's first leading role would've been as Shelby in Steel Magnolias, but she turned down the part to play Sally instead. Another up-and-coming actress named Julia Roberts took her place and later starred in Pretty Woman—another part Meg Ryan turned down.

9. BILLY CRYSTAL AND ROB REINER HAVE BEEN GOOD FRIENDS SINCE 1975.


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Reiner and Crystal met when they played best friends on All in the Family. Many conversations between Harry and his best male friend Jess, played by Bruno Kirby, were inspired by the friendship between Crystal and Reiner. So were the scenes in which Harry and Sally watch the same movie from different apartments. Bromance, anyone?

Meanwhile, Carrie Fisher, who plays Sally's best female friend Marie, was BFFs with Reiner's ex-wife Penny Marshall. Hmmm, wonder if that ever got awkward...

10. THE SPLIT-SCREEN SCENES ARE AN IRONIC HOMAGE TO 1959'S PILLOW TALK.

At the time Pillow Talk was made, the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, set moral guidelines for all the films released by major studios. Movies weren't allowed to show a couple in bed (or bath or beyond) together, or any sort of sexual relationship between unmarried partners. (The code was abandoned in 1968.) Harry and Sally were kept apart to show how close they were as "just friends.

11. REINER'S MOTHER, ESTELLE, HAD ONE LINE—AND IT WAS PROBABLY THE MOVIE'S MOST MEMORABLE.

She's the older woman who says, "I'll have what she's having" at Katz's Delicatessen. The American Film Institute ranked it #33 in its list of the top 100 movie quotations. The famous line wasn't in the original script. Crystal suggested it after he and Ryan improvised the entire scene. The two were originally supposed to discuss "faking it" without an actual demonstration.

12. KATZ'S IS PROUD OF ITS FAMOUS SCENE.

This sign appears above the table where it was shot:

13. CRYSTAL IMPROVISED THROUGHOUT THE MOVIE.

Watch closely at 0:29; Ryan laughs out of character and looks at Reiner off-camera. The director decided to keep the scene.

Crystal also improvised much of the scene when he admits he loves Sally, including the line, "When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." Swoon.

14. THE REAL-LIFE BOOKSTORE WHERE HARRY AND SALLY MEET FOR THE THIRD TIME INSPIRED ANOTHER EPHRON MOVIE.

Harry and Sally finally become friends when they spot each other at Shakespeare and Co. on Broadway and 79th. When the store closed after a Barnes & Noble opened on the Upper West Side, Ephron was inspired to write a romantic comedy around the David and Goliath struggle between local stores and large national chains. You've Got Mail came out in 1998, nearly a decade after when Harry Met Sally.

15. NO ONE EXPECTED WHEN HARRY MET SALLY TO BE A HIT.

The film was up against the summer blockbusters Batman, Ghostbusters II, Licence to Kill, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When Harry Met Sally opened in just 41 theaters on July 12, grossing $1 million. It opened nationwide July 21. And the rest is romantic comedy history.

Additional Source: DVD Commentary by Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner

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