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11 Surprising Facts About The Room

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At this point, it’s a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Thirteen years after a lackluster opening weekend, The Room—lovingly known as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”—now draws huge crowds in theaters all over America. Be advised that, if you attend a screening, there’s a good chance you’ll get hit with a barrage of fan-thrown plastic spoons. More on those after the jump. 

1. IT WAS CONCEIVED AS A STAGE PLAY.

The Room sprung from the mind of Tommy Wiseau, its mysterious co-producer, screenwriter, director, and star. At first, he wanted it to be a play but decided that a feature film would be more profitable. Before tackling the script though, Wiseau turned his tale into a 500-page novel. “It’s the same story but it’s much more detail-oriented,” he told The Portland Mercury. What became of this tome? Wiseau says, “Eventually we will publish. I’m pretty sure, 100 percent.” Apparently, one publishing company has expressed an interest in putting it out—if he can reduce the length to 300 pages. 

2. TOMMY WISEAU WANTED TO INCLUDE A FLYING CAR.

The main character in The Room is Johnny (Wiseau), a banker who loves tossing footballs, imitating chickens, and hanging out with his best buddy, Mark (played by Greg Sestero). But is there more to Johnny than meets the eye? In 2013, Sestero released The Disaster Artist, a tell-all book about The Room and its bizarre production. Inside, we learn that Wiseau often ambushed the crew mid-shoot with ideas for brand-new scenes. One of these—which was never filmed—would’ve involved Johnny’s car levitating up off his roof and into the sky. “It’s just possible side plot,” Wiseau elucidated. “Maybe Johnny is vampire.”

3. TO PREPARE FOR THE ROLE OF LISA, JULIETTE DANIELLE WATCHED EYES WIDE SHUT.

Throughout the film, Mark is having an affair with Johnny’s fiancée, Lisa. Originally, the part was given to an unidentified actress whom Wiseau later fired. Once she left, Danielle took over—even though she had already been cast as Michelle (Lisa’s best friend) when she was handed this very different character. To help her get inside Lisa’s head, Wiseau had the actress watch Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut—but he never explained why. “I still don’t know what he was trying to do there,” Danielle admitted.

4. THE ROOM’S INFAMOUS SPOON PICTURES WERE STOCK PHOTOS.

Johnny and Lisa really seem to like cutlery. For reasons the movie never makes clear, their apartment is decked out with pictures of spoons. These actually came with the frames that Wiseau’s team had bought to decorate the set. Instead of replacing the throwaway photos, he kept them in. Why? Sestero says that Wiseau just wanted to “get on with the filming” and didn’t think there’d be time to find new pictures. On the other hand, the director himself swears that these spoons have a deep symbolic purpose—namely, they represent America’s unhealthy dependence on disposable products.

In any event, whenever The Room is presented in theaters nowadays, those stock photos steal the show. Every time they appear, fans yell “Spoon!” and throw plastic ones at the screen.  

5. GREG SESTERO INSISTED ON REMAINING HALF-CLOTHED DURING MARK AND LISA’S SEX SCENE.

“Tommy … definitely wanted to show some flesh,” Sestero told Rolling Stone. “I was like, ‘Uh, that’s not going to happen with me.’ So, luckily, he made the exception so I could have my jeans on.” When the movie later premiered, Sestero got up and left before the scene began. Even today, the actor claims that he can’t stomach this sequence—which oddly takes place on a spiral staircase. “It’s a part of the movie at which I always fast-forward or run for the exit because it’s just painful to watch.”

6. AN ALL-NEW CHARACTER WAS CREATED FOR THE CLIMAX BECAUSE ONE ACTOR LEFT EARLY.

The Room has a 97-minute runtime. “Steven”—a character who’s never referred to by name—doesn’t show up until the 76-minute mark. When he finally appears at Johnny’s climactic house party, the man repeatedly confronts Lisa about her affair. Because we’re never told who Steven is or how he knows any of the other guests, his sudden arrival baffles viewers.

Originally, he wasn’t in the script. Instead, his lines were supposed to be delivered by an established character named Peter. A psychologist played by Kyle Vogt, Peter makes several appearances in the movie’s second act—and even gets into a shoving match with Mark over Lisa’s two-timing ways. Unfortunately, prior engagements forced Vogt to leave The Room before it finished filming. Wiseau’s solution? Cut out Peter and give his lines to a never-before-seen character. After a casting call, Wiseau hired Greg Ellery, telling him, “Peter left. Now you are like Peter, but you are Steven.”

7. TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE, WISEAU PERSONALLY SPENT $5000 PER MONTH—FOR FIVE YEARS—ON AN ENIGMATIC BILLBOARD.

There’s no shortage of odd sights in Hollywood, but this one really stood out. Perched on the west side of Highland, a cryptic billboard spent half a decade advertising The Room. Being a man of means, Wiseau paid for it himself. Design-wise, this thing was rather straightforward. The sign mainly consisted of a scowling Johnny close-up with a plug for the movie’s official website. Far more intriguing to most passersby was its location: Just a few blocks away stands the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards ceremonies. As The Room’s cult following grew, the sign became a minor landmark of sorts. Then, long after Wiseau had the image removed in 2008, Sestero advertised The Disaster Artist on this exact same billboard.

8. THE ROOM’S ORIGINAL RUN ONLY MADE $1900.

On June 27, 2003, Wiseau’s masterpiece arrived in theaters—two of them, to be precise. The Room’s initial run was confined to the Laemmle Fallbrook and Fairfax cinemas in Los Angeles. By the time it was pulled from both just 14 days later, the film had grossed a meager $1900. Yet, all was not lost. B-movie history was about to intervene.

9. ONE CINEPHILE ALMOST SINGLE-HANDEDLY KICKED OFF THE ROOM’S CULT FOLLOWING.

One of the few people who saw the film during that two-week original run was screenwriter Michael Rousselet. At an “absolutely empty” theater, he found himself enthralled by The Room and its mesmerizing, laugh-out-loud ineptitude. Toward the end of the film, Rousselet started ringing his friends and telling them “You have to come see this movie.” Three days later, he’d amassed a crowd of more than 100 people. Many emailed Wiseau to personally thank him for his work. Encouraged, the director set up an encore, midnight showing at Laemmle. The turnout exceeded even his wildest expectations and—without hesitation—Wiseau arranged to have it screened monthly.

10. WISEAU HAS RETROACTIVELY CALLED THE ROOM A DARK COMEDY.

To hear Wiseau tell it, the film was supposed to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek farce all along—which means that The Room’s narrative blunders, according to Wiseau, were deliberate. Yet an anonymous cast member disputed this claim in a 2008 conversation with Entertainment Weekly. “He was trying to put together a drama,” claimed the source. “It was basically his stage to show off his acting ability.”

11. JAMES FRANCO JUST MADE A MOVIE ABOUT THE ROOM—AND WISEAU MIGHT HAVE A CAMEO.

Scheduled for release sometime this fall, The Masterpiece is a big-budget film adaptation of The Disaster Artist. James Franco is directing and will also be playing Wiseau—and, evidently, he got to share a scene with the man himself. “Tommy was involved contractually,” Franco said. “We had to give him a cameo opposite me which was very weird because I was playing him. I don’t know if that’ll end up in the movie or not, but it was a surreal experience.”

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How to Make Miles Davis’s Famous Chili Recipe
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STF/AFP/Getty Images

Miles Davis, who was born on May 26, 1926, was one of the most important and influential musicians of the 20th century, and changed the course of jazz music more times in his life than some people change their sheets. He was also pretty handy in the kitchen.

In his autobiography, Miles, Davis wrote that in the early 1960s, “I had gotten into cooking. I just loved food and hated going out to restaurants all the time, so I taught myself how to cook by reading books and practicing, just like you do on an instrument. I could cook most of the great French dishes—because I really liked French cooking—and all the black American dishes. But my favorite was a chili dish I called Miles's South Side Chicago Chili Mack. I served it with spaghetti, grated cheese, and oyster crackers."

Davis didn’t divulge what was in the dish or how to make it, but in 2007, Best Life magazine got the recipe from his first wife, Frances, who Davis said made it better than he did.

MILES'S SOUTH SIDE CHICAGO CHILIK MACK (SERVES 6)

1/4 lb. suet (beef fat)
1 large onion
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt and pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can beef consommé
1 drop red wine vinegar
3 lb. spaghetti
parmesan cheese
oyster crackers
Heineken beer

1. Melt suet in large heavy pot until liquid fat is about an inch high. Remove solid pieces of suet from pot and discard.
2. In same pot, sauté onion.
3. Combine meats in bowl; season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.
4. In another bowl, season kidney beans with salt and pepper.
5. Add meat to onions; sauté until brown.
6. Add kidney beans, consommé, and vinegar; simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
7. Add more seasonings to taste, if desired.
8. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, and then divide among six plates.
9. Spoon meat mixture over each plate of spaghetti.
10. Top with Parmesan and serve oyster crackers on the side.
11. Open a Heineken.

John Szwed’s biography of Davis, So What, mentions another chili that the trumpeter’s father taught him how to make. The book includes the ingredients, but no instructions, save for serving it over pasta. Like a jazz musician, you’ll have to improvise. 

bacon grease
3 large cloves of garlic
1 green, 1 red pepper
2 pounds ground lean chuck
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 jar of mustard
1/2 shot glass of vinegar
2 teaspoons of chili powder
dashes of salt and pepper
pinto or kidney beans
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of beef broth

serve over linguine

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4 Fascinating Facts About John Wayne
Fox Photos, Getty Images
Fox Photos, Getty Images

Most people know John Wayne, who would have been 111 years old today, for his cowboy persona. But there was much more to the Duke than that famous swagger. Here are a few facts about Duke that might surprise you.

1. A BODY SURFING ACCIDENT CHANGED HIS CAREER. 

John Wayne, surfer? Yep—and if he hadn’t spent a lot of time doing it, he may never have become the legend he did. Like many USC students, Wayne (then known as Marion Morrison) spent a good deal of his extracurricular time in the ocean. After he sustained a serious shoulder injury while bodysurfing, Morrison lost his place on the football team. He also lost the football scholarship that had landed him a spot at USC in the first place. Unable to pay his fraternity for room and board, Morrison quit school and, with the help of his former football coach, found a job as the prop guy at Fox Studios in 1927. It didn’t take long for someone to realize that Morrison belonged in front of a camera; he had his first leading role in The Big Trail in 1930.

2. HE TOOK HIS NICKNAME FROM HIS BELOVED FAMILY POOCH. 

Marion Morrison had never been fond of his feminine-sounding name. He was often given a hard time about it growing up, so to combat that, he gave himself a nickname: Duke. It was his dog’s name. Morrison was so fond of his family’s Airedale Terrier when he was younger that the family took to calling the dog “Big Duke” and Marion “Little Duke,” which he quite liked. But when he was starting his Hollywood career, movie execs decided that “Duke Morrison” sounded like a stuntman, not a leading man. The head of Fox Studios was a fan of Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, so Morrison’s new surname was quickly settled. After testing out various first names for compatibility, the group decided that “John” had a nice symmetry to it, and so John Wayne was born. Still, the man himself always preferred his original nickname. “The guy you see on the screen isn’t really me,” he once said. “I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne.”

3. HE WAS A CHESS FANATIC. 

Anyone who knew John Wayne personally knew what an avid chess player he was. He often brought a miniature board with him so he could play between scenes on set.

When Wayne accompanied his third wife, Pilar Pallete, while she played in amateur tennis tournaments, officials would stock a trailer with booze and a chess set for him. The star would hang a sign outside of the trailer that said, “Do you want to play chess with John Wayne?” and then happily spend the day drinking and trouncing his fans—for Wayne wasn’t just a fan of chess, he was good at chess. It’s said that Jimmy Grant, Wayne’s favorite screenwriter, played chess with the Duke for more than 20 years without ever winning a single match.

Other famous chess partners included Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson, and Robert Mitchum. During their match, Mitchum reportedly caught him cheating. Wayne's reply: "I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set 'em up, we'll play again."

4. HE COINED THE TERM "THE BIG C."

If you say you know someone battling “The Big C” these days, everyone immediately knows what you’re referring to. But no one called it that before Wayne came up with the term, evidently trying to make it less scary. Worried that Hollywood would stop hiring him if they knew how sick he was with lung cancer in the early 1960s, Wayne called a press conference in his living room shortly after an operation that removed a rib and half of one lung. “They told me to withhold my cancer operation from the public because it would hurt my image,” he told reporters. “Isn’t there a good image in John Wayne beating cancer? Sure, I licked the Big C.”

Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne, later said that the 1964 press conference was the one and only time she heard her father call it “cancer,” even when he developed cancer again, this time in his stomach, 15 years later. Sadly, Wayne lost his second battle with the Big C and died on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72.

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