CLOSE
Original image
YouTube

15 Fast-Talking Facts About Moonlighting

Original image
YouTube

In the pilot for the ABC series Moonlighting, recently bankrupt former model Madelyn “Maddie” Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) opts to join one of her tax write-offs, the quickly retitled Blue Moon Detective Agency, partnering up professionally with David Addison Jr. (Bruce Willis). The next 65 episodes were crafted as one-hour movies that mixed comedy with drama, airing parodies of and homages to everything from William Shakespeare to classic cinema.

Today the experimental, regularly fourth wall-breaking Moonlighting is most often evoked to talk about “The Moonlighting Curse,” the term for whenever a hit show seems to lose creative steam—and viewership—after its two leads consummate their relationship. Officially, the show only ran for five abbreviated seasons because of the ascendant career of Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd’s pregnancy, the friction between one of its stars and the show’s creator, and the network tiring of Moonlighting’s expense and production delays. Still, some believe that Maddie and David finally getting together after years of sexual tension was the final nail in the coffin for the series.

1. THE CREATOR WAS TOLD TO MAKE A DETECTIVE SHOW, EVEN THOUGH HE DIDN’T WANT TO.

After the first two pilots in a three-pilot commitment to ABC didn’t make it to series, the network president told Glenn Gordon Caron to make a detective show. Caron remembers that his "eyes rolled to the top of my head. I think I said something to the effect of, 'That's what America needs, another detective show.'" When he met with the network again, Caron insisted on adding some romance to his version of a detective series.

2. THE SHOW’S BIG INFLUENCE WAS THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.

Caron said the William Shakespeare play was “the emotional inspiration” of Moonlighting; he had seen his wife perform in a production of it in college eight times. “Moonlighting was sort of a rip-off of Taming of the Shrew, and always was," Caron said. "I've been trying to keep that a secret, you know." The play was specifically parodied in the third season episode, “Atomic Shakespeare.”

3. CARON REALIZED HE WAS WRITING MADDIE WITH CYBILL SHEPHERD IN MIND 50 PAGES INTO THE PILOT.

''I had to have somebody the public was fundamentally rooting against, because the show was about the thawing out of this beautiful ice queen,” Caron told The New York Times in 1986. "And I knew the public saw her as spoiled and bratty.'' Shepherd met Caron and producer/director Jay Daniel at a Los Angeles restaurant to talk about the part dressed all in white. According to Daniel, Caron was “very tongue tied.”

4. THOUSANDS OF ACTORS WERE CONSIDERED BEFORE BRUCE WILLIS.

Bruce Willis (whose lone TV credit before 1985 was as "Tony Amato" in an episode of Miami Vice) arrived to his audition with a “punk hairdo and earrings.” Shepherd remembered that Willis was wearing army fatigues, and unlike the other men who auditioned with her that day, he didn’t go out of his way to flatter her. He avoided eye contact with her and mostly talked with Caron. After he left the room, Shepherd says she told Caron that Willis was the one they needed to play David. Caron later said ABC executives “vigorously” didn’t want Willis, and were willing to pay him and Shepherd off to “go away” because they felt the David role was un-castable.

5. BILLY JOEL WROTE "BIG MAN ON MULBERRY STREET" WITH THE SHOW IN MIND.

After Caron heard it, he thought up a way to work it into an episode (which would be titled after the Joel tune). Always wanting to work storytelling into dance, Caron called film director Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain, On the Town) to get him behind the camera for the dream sequence, where Maddie imagines David’s relationship with his ex-wife. The song officially appeared on Joel’s album The Bridge (1986).

6. ORSON WELLES' LAST APPEARANCE WAS ON MOONLIGHTING.

Because ABC was concerned about confusing viewers if they aired an episode in black and white, Caron called Welles to ask him to introduce “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice." Finding Caron’s written intro funny, Welles agreed. The introduction was shot on October 3, 1985; Welles passed away one week later. Take one was “perfect” according to Jay Daniel, but the legendary actor/writer/director insisted on a few more takes anyway.

7. IT WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE PRIMETIME SERIES ON TELEVISION.

The estimated cost per Moonlighting installment was about $1.6 million. “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice” episode cost a reported $2 million.

8. WILLIS AND SHEPHERD ARGUED ON SET.

“There was discord on the set,” Caron recalled in 2008. “The show was really difficult to do, and they were in every frame. Bruce was at the beginning of his career, as was I—we were excited and enticed by the prospect [of doing the show]. Cybill was a movie star and didn't anticipate how difficult the show would be to do. When she became pregnant, it made it even harder. A lot of discord centered around that—working 14 to 15 hours a day, and the way I worked, pages came very late," which created more tension with the show's stars. According to Daniel, sometimes Willis and Shepherd would receive 10 pages of dialogue they had never seen before one hour before they had to perform it.

9. CARON DIDN’T WANT BRUCE WILLIS TO DO DIE HARD.

”I pleaded with Bruce Willis not to do Die Hard," admitted Caron in 1999. "Sometimes [actors] don’t listen to you, and it’s a good thing.” Die Hard (1988) turned Willis into a movie star.

10. WILLIS BROKE HIS COLLARBONE WHILE SHEPHERD WAS PREGNANT, WHICH MADE FILMING DIFFICULT.

In “I Am Curious ... Maddie”—the episode where Maddie and David finally get together—a lengthy underground garage scene featuring Willis, Shepherd, and Mark Harmon was shot despite the fact that, according to Daniel, "Never once were all three of those actors there together, never once. It was all doubles, trick shots, and somehow we had to go there three times to shoot one scene."

11. THE EPISODES STARRING AGNES DIPESTO GOT LOWER RATINGS.

Agnes DiPesto (Allyce Beasley) started out as the detective agency’s receptionist, but eventually began taking on cases of her own in an effort to lessen Willis and Shepherd’s workloads. The cast and crew noticed that in the episodes that featured DiPesto and Herbert Viola (Curtis Armstrong), the ratings dropped in the second half hour, when people realized the episodes weren’t going to feature their beloved David and Maddie.

12. SHEPHERD WAS AGAINST MADDIE’S SUDDEN MARRIAGE.

Maddie was written to impulsively marry Walter Bishop (Dennis Dugan), a man she had met on a train. “When I strongly voiced my objection that the character we had created in Maddie would never do such a thing, Glenn [Gordon Caron] said words to the effect of ‘Just shut up and do your job, you’re not producing this show,’” Shepherd wrote in her book, Cybill Disobedience.

13. THERE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A 3D EPISODE, SPONSORED BY COCA-COLA.

The soda company produced 40 million pairs of glasses, but a writers strike canceled the promotion. The company ended up handing out 20 million pairs of those glasses for the 1989 Super Bowl halftime show.

14. CARON AND WILLIS WANTED TO DO A WESTERN-THEMED EPISODE.

“I think we always promised each other we'd do a Western, which we never really got around to doing,” Caron said.

15. SHEPHERD IS OPEN TO A MOONLIGHTING MOVIE.

She said as much in 2013; Willis was open to a movie back in 2009, as long as Caron was involved. Caron had been fired before the show's fifth and final season—allegedly at Shepherd’s insistence.

Original image
IFC Films
arrow
entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
Original image
IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

Original image
Getty Images
arrow
History
15 Fascinating Facts About Amelia Earhart
Original image
Getty Images

Amelia Earhart was a pioneer, a legend, and a mystery. To celebrate what would be her 120th birthday, we've uncovered 15 things you might not know about the groundbreaking aviator.

1. THE FIRST TIME SHE SAW AN AIRPLANE, SHE WASN'T IMPRESSED.

In Last Flight, a collection of diary entries published posthumously, Earhart recalled feeling unmoved by "a thing of rusty wire and wood" at the Iowa State Fair in 1908. It wasn't until years later that she discovered her passion for aviation, when she worked as a nurse's aide at Toronto's Spadina Military Hospital. She and some friends would spend time at hangars and flying fields, talking to pilots and watching aerial shows. Earhart didn't actually get on a plane herself until 1920, and even then she was just a passenger.

2. SHE WAS A GOOD STUDENT WITH NO PATIENCE FOR SCHOOL.

After working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment in Toronto, Earhart took pre-med classes at Columbia University in 1919. She made good grades, but dropped out after just a year. Earhart re-enrolled at Columbia in 1925 and left school again. She took summer classes at Harvard, but gave up on higher education for good after she didn't get a scholarship to MIT.

3. ANOTHER PIONEERING FEMALE AVIATOR TAUGHT EARHART HOW TO FLY.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Neta Snook was the first woman to run her own aviation business and commercial airfield. She gave Earhart flying lessons at Kinner Field near Long Beach, California in 1921, reportedly charging $1 in Liberty Bonds for every minute they spent in the air.

4. EARHART BOUGHT HER FIRST PLANE WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF HER FIRST FLYING LESSON.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

She named it The Canary. The used yellow Kinner Airster biplane was the second one ever built. Earhart paid $2000 for it, despite Snook's opinion that it was underpowered, overpriced, and too difficult for a beginner to land.

5. AMY EARHART ENCOURAGED HER DAUGHTER'S PASSION. HER FATHER, ON THE OTHER HAND, WAS AFRAID OF FLYING.

Earhart's mom used some of her inheritance to pay for The Canary. She was a bit of an adventurer herself: the first woman to ever climb Pikes Peak in Colorado.

6. EARHART HAD A LOT OF ODD JOBS.

In addition to volunteering as a nurse's aide, Earhart also worked early jobs as a telephone operator and tutor. Earhart was a social worker at Denison House in Boston when she was invited to fly across the Atlantic for the first time (as a passenger) in 1928. At the height of her career, Earhart spent time making speeches, writing articles, and providing career counseling at Purdue University's Department of Aeronautics. Oh, and flying around the world.

7. SHE WASN'T SURE ABOUT MARRIAGE, BUT SHE DEFINITELY BELIEVED IN PRE-NUPS.

When promoter George Putnam contacted Earhart about flying across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, it was her first big break ... and the beginning of their love story. The two began a working relationship, which soon turned into attraction. When Putnam's marriage to Dorothy Binney fell apart, he eventually proposed to Earhart. She said yes, albeit reluctantly.

Earhart wasn't worried about safeguarding financial assets so much as she wanted the two of them to maintain separate identities. Earhart asked Putnam to agree to a trial marriage. If they weren't happy after a year, they'd be free to go their separate ways, no hard feelings. He agreed. They lived happily until her disappearance.

8. SHE WROTE ABOUT FLYING FOR COSMOPOLITAN.

In 1928, Earhart was appointed Cosmopolitan's Aviation Editor. Her 16 published articles—among them "Shall You Let Your Daughter Fly?" and "Why Are Women Afraid to Fly?"—recounted her adventures and encouraged other women to fly, even if they just did so commercially. (Commercial flights date back to 1914, but they wouldn't really take off until after World War II.)

9. FIRST LADY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT WAS SO INSPIRED BY EARHART THAT SHE SIGNED UP FOR FLYING LESSONS.

The two became friends in 1932. Roosevelt got a student permit and a physical examination, but never followed through with her plan.

10. EARHART WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO GET A PILOT'S LICENSE FROM THE NATIONAL AERONAUTIC ASSOCIATION (NAA).

That was in 1923, when pilots and aircrafts weren't legally required to be licensed. Earhart was the sixteenth woman to get licensed by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which was required to set flight records. Still, the FAI didn't maintain women's records until 1928.

11. SHE ACCOMPLISHED A LOT OF "FIRSTS."

Earhart eventually became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger (1928) and then solo (1932) and nonstop from coast to coast (1932) as a pilot. She also set records, period: Earhart was the first person to ever fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, Los Angeles to Mexico City, and Mexico City to Newark, all in 1935.

What do John Glenn, George H.W. Bush, and Amelia Earhart have in common? They all earned an Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross. But only Earhart was the first woman—and one of few civilians—to do so.

12. SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST CELEBRITIES TO LAUNCH A CLOTHING LINE.

Amelia Earhart Fashions were affordable separates sold exclusively at Macy's and Marshall Field's. The line's dresses, blouses, pants, suits, and hats were made of cotton and parachute silk and featured aviation-inspired details, like propeller-shaped buttons. Earhart studied sewing as a girl and actually made her own samples.

13. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SPENT $4 MILLION SEARCH FOR EARHART.

At the time, it was the most expensive air and sea search in history. Earhart's plane disappeared July 2, 1937. The official search ended a little over two weeks later on July 19. Putnam then financed a private search, chartering boats to the Phoenix Islands, Christmas Island, Fanning Island, the Gilbert Islands, and the Marshall Islands.

14. THE SEARCH ISN'T OVER.

There are several theories about what happened to Earhart's plane during her last flight. Most people believe she ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Others believe she landed on an island and died of thirst, starvation, injury, or at the hands of Japanese soldiers in Saipan. In 1970, one man even claimed that Earhart was alive and well and living a secret life in New Jersey.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has explored the theory that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan lived as castaways before dying on Gardner Island, now called Nikumaroro, in the western Pacific. Over the years, they've found a few potential artifacts, including evidence of campfire sites, pieces of Plexiglas, and an empty jar of the brand of freckle cream that Earhart used.

In early July 2017, a photo surfaced that seemed to confirm the theory that Earhart and Noonan crashed and were captured by Japanese soldiers, but that photo was quickly debunked.

15. TODAY, ANOTHER AMELIA EARHART IS MAKING HISTORY.

In 2014, another pilot named Amelia Earhart took to the skies to set a world record. The then-31-year-old California native became the youngest woman to fly 24,300 miles around the world in a single-engine plane. Her namesake never completed the journey, but the younger Earhart landed safely in Oakland on July 11, 2014. We think "Lady Lindy" would be proud.

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios