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12 Over-the-Top Facts About Mommie Dearest

It has been over 35 years since Frank Perry’s cult classic Mommie Dearest came out and rocked Hollywood and audiences alike. The film—an adaptation of Christina Crawford’s book about her abusive upbringing with her adoptive mother, iconic actress Joan Crawford—was annihilated by critics, but fully embraced by fans. It also became a point of contention among everyone involved in its making, from the source novel’s author to the film’s reportedly difficult star, Faye Dunaway.

1. ANNE BANCROFT WAS ORIGINALLY ATTACHED TO STAR.

According to TCM, The Graduate’s Mrs. Robinson was set to play Joan Crawford, until she read Frank Perry and his co-writers’ script, which prompted her to drop out.

2. FAYE DUNAWAY CALLED FRANK SINATRA FOR HELP WHEN SHE LOST HER VOICE SCREAMING, “NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!”

A 1981 clip in The Southeast Missourian reported that Faye Dunaway received vocal coaching from Ol’ Blue Eyes himself when she lost her voice during the film’s most infamous scene. According to the New York Post, Sinatra rushed to her Hollywood trailer and spent 15 minutes with Dunaway, rehabilitating her voice.

3. “MOMMIE DEAREST” WAS A TERM OF ENSLAVEMENT FOR CHRISTINA CRAWFORD.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Christina Crawford opened up about the film’s famous title, saying that, “‘Mommie dearest’ was a term of enslavement. If we just called her ‘Mother’ or ‘Mommy,’ she corrected us over and over and over again.”

4. THE CREW STRUGGLED TO WORK WITH FAYE DUNAWAY.

One of the most frequently reported rumors from the set of Mommie Dearest was that Faye Dunaway was a bit of a nightmare. “People despised Faye,” Rutanya Alda, who played Joan’s assistant Carol Ann, told the Bay Area Reporter. “Joan got her way in a ladylike way. Faye was despised because she was so rude to people. Everyone was on pins and needles when she worked, and everyone relaxed when she didn’t. I wish Faye had learned from Joan.”

5. CRAWFORD WAS A FAN OF DUNAWAY.

Regardless of what the film’s cast and crew thought of Dunaway, the woman she embodied loved her. According to Inside the Actors Studio, Crawford once said, “Only Faye Dunaway has the talent, class, and courage to be a real star.”

6. DUNAWAY GOT PHYSICAL WITH RUTANYA ALDA ON SET.

In an interview with Gay City News, Rutanya Alda recounted her uncomfortable experience with Dunaway. “When [Jocelyn Brando, who played the journalist] saw me go down after Faye hit me, she said, ‘I can’t afford to be injured, [I] just spent six months in the hospital,’” Alda recalled. “Initially, Frank wanted both me and Jocelyn to pull her off Diana [Scarwid, who played Christina], but she saw Faye was out of control and said, ‘No way.’ We did maybe 10 takes and Frank had to deal with it because Faye wasn’t gonna change what she was doing. I got knocked down maybe twice—she hit me hard in the chest.”

7. DUNAWAY HATED HOW MOMMIE DEAREST TURNED OUT.

As reported by The Guardian, Dunaway couldn’t stand by the movie: “It was meant to be a window into a tortured soul,” she said. “But it was made into camp.” She later said on Inside the Actors Studio that, “I feel uncomfortable with the persona that’s out there as a result of the Crawford picture. It was kind of a Kabuki performance.”

8. CHRISTINA CRAWFORD WANTED TO WRITE THE FILM, BUT HER SCRIPT WAS REJECTED.

Robert Getchell, Tracy Hotchner, Frank Perry, and Frank Yablans were the film’s credited writers. According to Vanity Fair, Christina Crawford’s memoir, on which the film was based, outraged those closest to Joan. Even Cathy Crawford, Christina’s sister, noted: “It makes me very sad. Every time Mommie’s name is mentioned, that book is mentioned. I don’t want to give it any more publicity than it’s already had. Even when people say or write good things about my mother, that book gets linked to her name. It’s so unfair.”

9. THE IDEA OF FREAKING OUT OVER WIRE HANGERS STEMMED FROM JOAN’S CHILDHOOD.

In the documentary Mommie Dearest: Joan Lives On, interviewees recalled the story about where that infamous line came from. Apparently, Crawford’s mother worked at a dry cleaner during a very difficult time in Crawford’s life growing up, thus triggering bad memories. Crawford’s thought process: Why have them in her home if she could afford better?

10. COSTUMER IRENE SHARAFF WALKED OFF THE SET.

In 2015, Rutanya Alda wrote The Mommie Dearest Diary: Carol Ann Tells All, a memoir about the making of the film, which recalled how costume designer Irene Sharaff was reduced to tears—and walked off the set—because she was so “horrified by some of Faye’s outfit decisions.” When Sharaff left, an assistant mocked Faye’s constant screaming of, “Clear the set!”

11. A CHAIR IN CRAWFORD’S ON-SCREEN HOME CAME FROM THE SET OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

In a 1981 interview with Roger Ebert, producer/writer Frank Yablans took the famed critic on a tour of the film’s set, which he said cost $480,000. During the visit, he made sure to single out one particular piece of furniture. “This chair was originally built as a throne chair for Cecil B. DeMille for The Ten Commandments,” he told Ebert. “What did we do? We painted it white. It looks perfect in this situation.”

12. TO LAND THE ROLE, DUNAWAY SHOWED UP AT PRODUCER FRANK YABLANS’ HOME DRESSED AS CRAWFORD.

According to The Village Voice, the star decked herself out head to toe to look like the actress in order to impress Yablans. “When Yablans saw what looked like back-from-the-dead Joan standing before his eyes, he almost had a heart attack and plotzed,” Michael Musto reported.

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Jim Henson's Labyrinth Is Being Adapted Into a Stage Musical
Henson Company
Henson Company

More than 30 years after its cinematic debut, Labyrinth could be hitting the stage. In an interview with Forbes, Jim Henson's son and Henson Company CEO Brian Henson shared plans to transform the cult classic into a live musical.

While the new musical would be missing David Bowie in his starring role as Jareth the Goblin King, it would hopefully feature the soundtrack Bowie helped write. Brian Henson says there isn't a set timeline for the project yet, but the stage adaptation of the original film is already in the works.

As for a location, Henson told Forbes he envisions it running, "Not necessarily [on] Broadway, it could be for London's West End, but it will be a stage show, a big theatrical version. It’s very exciting."

Labyrinth premiered in 1986 to measly box office earnings and tepid reviews, but Jim Henson's fairytale has since grown into a phenomenon beloved by nostalgic '80s kids and younger generations alike. In the same Forbes interview, Brian Henson also confirmed the 2017 news that a long-anticipated Labyrinth sequel is apparently in development. Though he couldn't give any specifics, Henson confirmed that, "we are still excited about it but the process moves very slowly and very carefully. We're still excited about the idea of a sequel, we are working on something, but nothing that's close enough to say it's about to be in pre-production or anything like that."

While fans eagerly await those projects to come out, they can get their fix when the film returns to theaters across the U.S. on April 29, May 1, and May 2. Don't forget to wear your best Labyrinth swag to the event.

[h/t Forbes]

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John P. Johnson, HBO
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entertainment
10 Wild Facts About Westworld
John P. Johnson, HBO
John P. Johnson, HBO

The hit HBO show about an android farm girl finding sentience in a fake version of the old West set in a sci-fi future is back for a second season. So grab your magnifying glass, study up on Lewis Carroll and Shakespeare, and get ready for your brain to turn to scrambled eggs. 

The first season saw Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and her robotic compatriots strive to escape bondage as the puppet playthings of a bored society that kills and brutalizes them every day, then repairs them each night to repeat the process for paying customers. The Maze. The Man in Black. The mysteries lurking in cold storage and cantinas. Wood described the first season as a prequel, which means the show can really get on the dusty trail now. 

Before you board the train and head back into the park, here are 10 wild facts about the cerebral, sci-fi hit. (Just beware of season one spoilers!)

1. IT’S NOT THE FIRST TV ADAPTATION OF THE MOVIE.

Though Westworld, the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton, was a hit, its 1976 sequel Futureworld was a flop. Still, the name and concept had enough cachet for CBS to move forward with a television concept in 1980. Beyond Westworld featured Delos head of security John Moore (Jim McMullan) battling against the villainous mad scientist Simon Quaid (James Wainwright), who wants to use the park’s robots to, what else, take over the whole world. It would be a little like if the HBO show focused largely on Luke Hemsworth’s Ashley Stubbs, which just might be the spinoff the world is waiting for.

2. THE ORIGINAL GUNSLINGER HAS A CAMEO.

Ed Harris and Eddie Rouse in 'Westworld'
JOHN P. JOHNSON, HBO

The HBO series pays homage to the original film in a variety of ways, including echoing elements from the score to create that dread-inducing soundscape. It also tipped its ten-gallon hat to Yul Brynner’s relentless gunslinger from the original film by including him in the storage basement with the rest of the creaky old models.

3. QUENTIN TARANTINO, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, AND MANY OTHERS COULD HAVE REBOOTED IT.

Speaking of Brynner’s steely, murderous resolve: His performance as the robo-cowboy was one of the foundations for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s turn as the Terminator. Nearly 20 years later, in 2002, Schwarzenegger signed on to produce and star in a reboot of the sci-fi film from which he took his early acting cues. Schwarzenegger never took over the role from Brynner because he served as Governor of California instead, and the reboot languished in development hell.

Warner Bros. tried to get Quentin Tarantino on board, but he passed. They also signed The Cell director Tarsem Singh (whose old West would have been unbelievably lush and colorful, no doubt), but it fell through. A few years later, J.J. Abrams—who had met with Crichton about a reboot back in 1996—pitched eventual co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy on doing it as a television series. HBO bought it, and the violent delights finally made it to our screens.

4. IT COSTS $40,000 A DAY TO VISIT THE PARK. (AND THAT’S THE CHEAP PACKAGE.)

Thandie Newton and Angela Sarafyan in 'Westworld'
HBO

In season one, Logan (Ben Barnes) revealed that he’s spending $40,000 a day to experience Westworld. That’s in line with the 1973 movie, where park visitors spent $1000 a day, which lands near $38,000 once adjusted for inflation. Then again, we’re talking about 2052 dollars, so it might still be pricey, but not exorbitant in 2018 terms. But a clever Redditor spotted that $40,000 is the minimum you’d pay; according to the show’s website, the Gold Package will set you back $200,000 a day.

5. BEN BARNES BROKE HIS FOOT AND DIDN’T TELL ANYONE.

Once Upon a Time’s Eion Bailey was originally cast as Logan but had to quit due to a scheduling conflict, so Ben Barnes stepped in … then he broke his foot. The actor hid the injury for fear he’d lose the job, which is why he added a limp as a character detail. “I’m sort of hobbling along with this kind of cowboy-ish limp, which I then tried to maintain for the next year just so I could pretend it was a character choice,” Barnes said. “But really I had a very purple foot … So walking was the hardest part of shooting this for me.”

6. THE CO-CREATORS RICKROLLED FANS OBSESSED WITH UNCOVERING SPOILERS.

Eagle-eyed fans (particularly on Reddit) uncovered just about every major spoiler from the first season early on, which is why Nolan and Joy promised a spoiler video for anyone who wanted to know the entire plot of season two ahead of its premiere. They delivered, but instead of show secrets, the 25-minute video only offered a classy rendition of Rick Astley’s internet-infamous “Never Gonna Give You Up,” sung by Evan Rachel Wood with Angela Sarafyan on piano, followed by 20 minutes of a dog. It was a pitch-perfect response to a fanbase desperate for answers.

7. IT FEATURES AN ANCIENT GREEK EASTER EGG.

Amid the alternative rock tunes hammered out on the player piano and hat tips to classic western films, Westworld also referenced something from 5th century BCE Greece. Westworld, which is run by Delos Incorporated, is designed so that guests cannot die. Delos is also the name of the island where ancient Greeks made it illegal for anyone to die (or be born for that matter) on religious grounds. That’s not the only bit of wordplay with Greek either: Sweetwater’s main ruffian, Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro), gets his last name from the Greek eschaton, meaning the final event in the divine design of the world. Fitting for a potentially sentient robot helping to bring about humanity’s destruction.

8. JIMMI SIMPSON FIGURED OUT HIS CHARACTER’S TWIST BECAUSE OF HIS EYEBROWS.

Evan Rachel Wood and Jimmi Simpson in 'Westworld'
HBO

In season one, the show’s many secrets were kept even from the main cast until the time they absolutely needed to know. Jimmi Simpson, who plays timid theme park neophyte William, had a hunch something was funny with his role because of a cosmetic change.

“I was with an amazing makeup artist, Christian, and he was looking at my face too much,” Simpson told Vanity Fair. “He had me in his chair, and he was just looking at my face, and then he said something about my eyebrows. ‘Would you be cool if we just took a couple hairs out of your eyebrows, made them not quite as arched?’” Guessing that they were making him look more like The Man in Black, Simpson said something to Joy, and she confirmed his hunch. “She looked kind of surprised I’d worked it out,” he said.

9. THE PLAYER PIANO MAY BE AN ALLUSION TO KURT VONNEGUT.

One of the show’s most iconic elements is its soundtrack of alternative rock songs from the likes of Radiohead, The Cure, and Soundgarden redone in a jaunty, old West style. In addition to adding a creepy sonic flavor to the sadistic vacation, they also may wink toward Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel, Player Piano, which deals with a dystopia of automation where machines do everything for humans, leading to an entrenched class struggle. The show’s resonant elements are clear, but Westworld also mentions that the world outside the theme park is one where there’s no unemployment and humans have little purpose. Like The Man In Black (Ed Harris), the protagonist of Player Piano also longs for real stakes in the struggle of life.

10. THERE ARE TWO JESSE JAMES CONNECTIONS.

Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright in 'Westworld'
HBO

Anthony Hopkins’s character Dr. Robert Ford is an invention for the new series, and he shares a name with the man who assassinated infamous outlaw Jesse James (a fact you may remember from the aptly named movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). The final episode of the first season flips the allusion when Ford is shot in the back of the head, which is exactly how the real-life Ford killed James.

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