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12 Soulful Facts About Eddie and the Cruisers

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A classic example of a movie finding its audience despite a weak theatrical run, 1983’s Eddie and the Cruisers gained a cult following for its original soundtrack and the convincing lip-syncing talents of star Michael Paré. Read on to find out why the story of a fictional '60s musician struck a chord with viewers, how Rick Springfield nearly starred, and whether we’ll ever see Eddie Wilson one more time.

1. IT WAS BASED ON A MURDER MYSTERY.

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Eddie and the Cruisers was not originally conceived as a nostalgia trip for Jersey rock. Author P. F. Kluge wrote the 1980 novel it was based on as more of a thriller, with Eddie’s former bandmates reflecting on their heyday with the presumed-dead Wilson as a killer tries to find some “missing” recordings the singer made before his apparent death. While the movie stuck to the same basic structure, the killer angle was dropped.

2. RICK SPRINGFIELD WANTED TO PLAY EDDIE.

Itching to grow out of his scrubs on General Hospital, soap opera actor-slash-singer Rick Springfield lobbied for the title role in Eddie and the Cruisers. Unfortunately, director Martin Davidson—who bought the novel rights—didn’t think he could be convincing as anyone other than Rick Springfield. While he “might have been great” in the part, Davidson said, “he wouldn’t have spanned the history” of the missing musician.

3. THE BAND GOT ADVICE FROM THE BOSS.

When producers went looking for a group to supply original music that would be lip-synched by the cast, they found John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band (named after a paint color) toiling in and around New Jersey. Their Bruce Springsteen-esque sound actually had some endorsement from Springsteen himself: Cafferty told People that the Boss was around for their early gigs and helped guide him through some songwriting challenges. “It was like getting batting tips from Mickey Mantle,” Cafferty said.  

4. ELLEN BARKIN HATED MAKING IT.

Ellen Barkin, who played the latter-day investigative reporter looking into Eddie Wilson’s death, was not enthused about making the film. “That’s what we liked to call a 'pay the rent' job,” she told The A.V. Club in 2010. “It wasn’t a script I liked.” Barkin said her agent more or less talked her into it on the premise she’d only have to work on it for a couple of weeks.

5. THE DIRECTOR WAS PRETTY MEAN TO MICHAEL PARÉ.  

Paré’s most notable acting gig up to that point was as a supporting cast member of NBC’s The Greatest American Hero. Davidson didn't have much confidence the young actor could pull off some of the more emotionally demanding scenes required: He essentially put him on acting probation. “If you f*ck up tomorrow, you’re fired,” he allegedly told Paré. The animosity was strong enough that Paré’s co-stars held a meeting and told Davidson that if he fired the actor, they’d walk off the shoot. 

6. SYLVESTER STALLONE MADE AN IMPORTANT INTRODUCTION.

When Davidson had Cafferty’s master recording set, he needed a record label to distribute it. Having directed Sylvester Stallone in 1974’s The Lords of Flatbush, he approached the actor to put him in touch with Scotti Bros. Records, the label that had helped facilitate a meeting between Stallone and the group Survivor that eventually paved the way for “Eye of the Tiger.” Scotti Bros. agreed to distribute the soundtrack, giving Cafferty’s band its first real break after toiling in local clubs for over a decade.

7. HBO AND MTV GAVE THE MOVIE A SECOND WIND.

Dumped unceremoniously by its distributor in September 1983 after a chunk of its potential audience was back in school, Eddie and the Cruisers was a theatrical flop. But in 1984, when the film hit HBO in heavy rotation and one of Cafferty’s songs was featured in a music video, audiences who had missed it the first time around caught on. Buoyed by the television exposure, the soundtrack cracked Billboard’s top 10 before topping one million in sales to go platinum. (Through 1989, it sold an astounding three million copies.)

8. THE PALACE OF DEPRESSION REALLY EXISTED.

Eddie’s existential crisis—to stay true to his music or placate record industry executives—comes during a scene shot at the “Palace of Depression,” a massive junkyard with parts and assorted junk artistically arranged. It wasn’t just set dressing: the Palace opened in 1932 in Vineland, New Jersey, after a man named George Daynor lost his savings in the stock market crash. Arriving in the state, he took to using trash to build out on a small patch of land. A restoration society is hoping to re-open the site in 2017.

9. THE SEQUEL WENT THROUGH 14 DRAFTS.

After the success of the album, Scotti Brothers purchased the sequel rights in 1985. That film wouldn’t see the light of day until 1989: It took 14 drafts for producers to be satisfied with a script for a follow-up that sees Eddie (Paré) living in anonymity in Canada as blue-collar worker “Joe West” before he gets the urge to start recording music again. Unfortunately, not everyone was interested in hearing it: Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! was an even bigger box office disappointment than the original, grossing just $536,508 in its opening weekend in roughly 400 theaters.

10. THE SEQUEL WAS SHOT AT A BON JOVI CONCERT.

To capture the atmosphere of a live arena crowd for Eddie’s climatic return to performing, the crew of Eddie II set up cameras at a Bon Jovi concert in April 1989 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. According to one concertgoer, the “fake” band lead by Paré was more well-received than the real warm-up band—Skid Row.

11. PARÉ RECORDED AN ALBUM OF HIS OWN.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1989, Paré revealed he had recently finished an album featuring his own vocals and planned on touring overseas to avoid any Michael/Eddie overlap. While there’s no evidence the album was ever released, you can still hear Paré sing (a little) on a track from the film Road to Hell.

12. PARÉ HAS WRITTEN A SECOND SEQUEL.

In 2015, Paré told The Washington Post that he’s been pecking away at a script for a third movie with a friend. “I’ve got up to page 78,” he said. Director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer), who is a fan of the original, said he would consider directing. In a time where Netflix and other venues are catering to some highly specific tastes, there might be more to Eddie Wilson’s story yet.

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20 Things You Might Not Know About Mr. Show
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You never need an excuse to look back at Mr. Show with Bob and David, but given that today is co-creator Bob Odenkirk's 55th birthday, now seems to be as good a time as any.

1. BOB ODENKIRK AND DAVID CROSS’S FIRST MEETING DID NOT GO VERY WELL.

Following four years of writing on Saturday Night Live, Odenkirk was in Los Angeles in 1992 as a writer for the Chris Elliott Fox cult classic Get a Life. David Cross was a comedian in L.A. after performing for years in Boston. One boring afternoon, Cross asked friend and fellow stand-up Janeane Garofalo if she knew anybody that played basketball. The two went to Odenkirk’s house, and Garofalo introduced David to Bob and then asked if he wanted to play basketball. He said no.

2. ODENKIRK AND CROSS FIRST WORKED TOGETHER ON THE BEN STILLER SHOW.

Despite their inauspicious beginning, the two ended up having numerous fruitful collaborations, starting with their work on The Ben Stiller Show. Odenkirk was a writer/performer on the short-lived but Emmy award-winning sketch show with Garofalo, Stiller, and Andy Dick. Cross was brought in in the middle of the show’s 13-episode run as a writer.

3. THE CO-STARS FIRST PERFORMED ON STAGE TOGETHER AS "THE THREE GOOFBALLZ."

Odenkirk and Cross performed sketch comedy together at the Diamond Club in Los Angeles, with a third improviser that, the joke went, would either be deceased or out elsewhere getting high.

4. "THE THREE GOOFBALLZ' WAS ALMOST THE TITLE OF MR. SHOW

Odenkirk also pitched the title Grand National Championships, but David Cross was never a fan of it.

5. JACK BLACK, SARAH SILVERMAN, AND OTHER FUTURE STARS APPEARED ON THE SHOW BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS.

Black was in four episodes of Mr. Show, starring in the classic Jesus Christ Superstar parody “Jeepers Creepers.” Silverman was a performer in 10 episodes. Mary Lynn Rajskub, best known as Chloe on 24, was a featured actress in the first two years. Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, was a series regular for a majority of the run. Scott Adsit, a.k.a. 30 Rock’s Pete Hornberger, was in six episodes.

6. PATTON OSWALT WARMED UP THE MR. SHOW CROWD.

In addition to performing stand-up before tapings and keeping the studio audience interested in between scenes, Oswalt played Famous Mortimer in the episode “Operation: Hell on Earth” (but was credited as “Patton Oswald.”)

7. HOMELESS PEOPLE WERE NOT KIND TO THE ORIGINAL SETS.

Because the pilot episode was shot at a “down and dirty,” small Central Hollywood club, the sets had to be placed outside, where homeless people defecated on them.

8. YOU MIGHT ALSO RECOGNIZE SOME OF THE WRITING STAFF.

Dino Stamatopoulos was already on the original writing staff of Late Night with Conan O’Brien and had written for David Letterman before writing for Cross and Odenkirk. He would later create three shows and play Starburns on Community. Writer/performer Scott Aukerman co-created and executive produces Between Two Ferns, and created and stars on Comedy Bang! Bang!. Writer/performer Paul F. Tompkins hosted VH-1’s Best Week Ever! and currently hosts the satirical debate show No, You Shut Up!, where he moderates discussions by a panel full of puppets. Bob Odenkirk’s brother Bill has written ten episodes of The Simpsons.

9. THE DIRECTORS OF LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE LEARNED HOW TO DIRECT COMEDY FROM MR. SHOW.

Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton were known for directing music videos like The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” and Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing,” and decided to direct two Mr. Show episodes to expand their filming vocabulary. The husband and wife team were behind the camera for the classic sketch “Monk Academy.”

10. ONE SKETCH WAS INFLUENCED BY LOUIS C.K.

One of the first sketches in the show’s history involved Odenkirk playing a priest forced to do rather unpleasant and un-priestly things. The idea sprang from a conversation David Cross had with fellow young Boston comic Louis C.K., where Louis talked about annoying people that try to claim a prize on a bet that their friends never agreed to in the first place.

11. HBO ONLY CENSORED THE SHOW ONCE.

Throughout four years and 30 episodes, the lone note Odenkirk and Cross got from HBO was to get rid of a line where one character tells another to have sex with a baby. Odenkirk admitted that being told to edit it out “wasn’t too much to ask.”

12. THEY ONLY RECEIVED ONE VIEWER COMPLAINT.

The only angry letter that Odenkirk and Cross were ever made aware of was from a military veteran who was offended by the sketch in “Who Let You In?” where Cross’s performance artist character attempts to defecate on the American flag. The two stars actually called the viewer and discovered that he didn’t watch the entire sketch, and therefore never realized that Cross’ character was never able to actually go through with it.

13. ONE SKETCH WAS CUT FROM THE SHOW SIX TIMES AND NEVER MADE IT TO AIR.

A sketch called “Party Car,” a joke on old, low-quality shows filled with '70s celebrities was cut from half a dozen scripts and never filmed. It would have featured Nipsey Russell, Zsa Zsa Gabor, (or reasonable facsimiles), and a baby in a balloon-filled car.

14. BOB ODENKIRK GOT IN TROUBLE FOR USING A PICTURE OF HIS DEAD GRANDFATHER.

Because the sketch “Old Man In House” needed a photo of an old man, and the elderly gentleman was not the butt of the joke, Odenkirk thought it would be fine. Instead, some Odenkirks were “very upset.”

15. CROSS WAS PAYING OFF HIS STUDENT LOAN DEBTS THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE SERIES.

David Cross and Amber Tamblyn
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Despite executive producing and co-creating a series on television, Cross had trouble paying off his student loan debts from his time at Emerson College. Figuring that the person calling from the bill collection agency wouldn’t believe that he couldn’t pay if he knew his job status, Cross pretended that he worked at Mr. Show as a messenger.

16. ONE PERSON WAS GIVEN A "SPECIAL THANKS" IN THE CLOSING CREDITS OF EVERY EPISODE AS A JOKE.

As Cross once explained, Rick Dees was thanked in the credits of the pilot episode, even though he was “certainly nobody we would ever thank, or be in a position to thank.” Some personalities that were thanked for no discernable reason were Greg Maddux, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, Gabe Kaplan, and Howard Zinn.

17. HBO CHANGED THE TIME SLOT FOR ITS FINAL SEASON, AND IT WAS "DEMORALIZING."

After airing Fridays at midnight for the first three seasons, HBO moved the show to Mondays at the same time, confusing some loyal viewers, and the ratings decreased as a result. Bob Odenkirk told a reporter that, after 30 episodes, HBO was still treating the cast and crew as “second-class citizens,” and that they were “demoralized” by the slot shift.

18. BOB AND DAVID TOLD A STUDIO AUDIENCE THAT THEY HAD JUST WITNESSED THE FINAL EPISODE, AND THEY WEREN'T JOKING.

“Patriotism, Pepper, and Professionalism,” the 40th and final episode of Mr. Show, was taped on November 21, 1998. After the final sketch was filmed, Odenkirk and Cross made their announcement, although the show’s cancellation wasn’t made official for another few months.

19. THERE WAS A MR. SHOW MOVIE THAT WENT STRAIGHT TO VIDEO.

Run Ronnie Run focused on David Cross’s redneck criminal character Ronnie Dobbs. It was filmed in 2001, but never made it to theaters. Bob Odenkirk admitted that the movie wasn’t perfect, but he blamed the poor quality on director Troy Miller, for not allowing himself and Cross to edit the movie.

20. THE TWO HAVE REUNITED A FEW OTHER TIMES.

David Cross and Bob Odenkirk star in 'W/ Bob and David'
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

In 2002, Bob, David, and Mr. Show writer/performers Brian Posehn, John Ennis, and Stephanie Courtney (Flo in the Progressive commercials) toured the country to perform some of the show’s sketches and material from their unproduced screenplay Mr. Show: Hooray For America! The next year, Odenkirk guest starred as Dr. Phil Gunty on a season one episode of Arrested Development, alongside Cross’ character Tobias Fünke.

In 2012, Odenkirk, Cross, and Posehn went on a six-city tour to promote their book filled with more unproduced material. Bob and David appeared briefly together the next year on an episode of Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang! In 2015, 20 years after Mr. Show's debut, Netflix premiered W/ Bob and David, a five-episode sketch comedy show created by and starring the duo.

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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