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12 Outrageous Facts About The Producers

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Those who were offended by The Producers (and there were many) didn’t shy away from saying so. A few months after the film’s release, writer/director Mel Brooks was on an elevator in New York City when a woman noticed him and said, “I have to tell you, Mr. Brooks, that your movie is vulgar.” “Lady,” he replied, “it rose below vulgarity.” Indeed it did. Utterly fearless, this classic comedy joked about every taboo subject the late 1960s had to offer—including LSD, transvestitism, and of course, Adolf Hitler.

1. IT WAS INSPIRED BY SOME ACTUAL BROADWAY PRODUCERS.

The truth is just as strange as fiction. When Mel Brooks was 16 years old, he worked for a cash-strapped theatrical producer who’d raise funds by sleeping with his investors—most of whom were elderly women. “He pounced on little old ladies and would make love to them,” Brooks told The Guardian. “They gave him money for his plays, and they were so grateful for his attention.” In Manhattan, Brooks also knew a pair of showmen who had more or less failed their way into prosperity. “[They] were doing flop after flop and living like kings,” Brooks said. “A press agent told me, ‘God forbid they should ever get a hit, because they’d never be able to pay off the backers!’ I coupled the producer with these two crooks and—BANG!—there was my story.”

2. ONE STUDIO WANTED TO REPLACE HITLER WITH MUSSOLINI.

Brooks originally titled the screenplay Springtime for Hitler, after the fictitious musical that drives the plot. Given the premise, it’s hardly surprising that a horde of studios passed on the script. Universal expressed some interest, but there was a catch: While meeting with Brooks, legendary studio head Lew Wasserman told him, “Instead of Hitler, make it Mussolini. Springtime for Mussolini. Mussolini’s nicer.” “Lew, I’m afraid you just don’t get it,” Brooks replied. In the end, the project was picked up by Joseph E. Levine of Embassy Pictures. “You want Hitler, you got Hitler,” he told Brooks. “Just don’t call it Springtime for Hitler.” So the film was rechristened The Producers.

3. ZERO MOSTEL’S WIFE CONVINCED HIM TO JOIN THE CAST.

The character of Max Bialystock was written with Zero Mostel in mind. Theatergoers adored the bombastic Mostel, who’d won Tony Awards for his leading roles in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Fiddler on the Roof. At first, he wanted nothing to do with The Producers. Intent on casting him, Brooks asked Mostel’s wife, Kate, if she’d read the script. She did—and told Brooks, “It’s marvelous, it’s sensational. I’m gonna work on Zero until he does it.”

A week later, Brooks finally got the phone call he’d been waiting for. “You son of a bitch, I’m gonna do it,” Mostel told Brooks. “My wife talked me into it.”

4. MOSTEL EASED GENE WILDER’S NERVOUSNESS WITH A GIANT KISS.

Bialystock’s partner in crime is Leo Bloom, an accountant with some major self-esteem issues. Brooks wanted Wilder—whom he’d once described as a “perfect victim”—for the part. However, he didn’t dare hire him without first getting Mostel’s approval. And before that could happen, the two actors had to meet in person.

Back then, Wilder was still a relative unknown, so the thought of reading lines with a Broadway superstar made him extremely nervous. On the day of reckoning, Wilder arrived at producer Sidney Glazier’s office to find Brooks and Mostel waiting for him. And then Zero stood up. “This huge, round fantasy of a man came waltzing towards me,” Wilder wrote in his 2005 autobiography. “My heart was pounding so loud I thought he’d hear it. I stuck out my hand, politely, to shake his, but instead … Zero pulled me into his body and gave me a giant kiss on the lips. All nervousness floated away.”

5. THERE’S A FRANZ KAFKA REFERENCE.

It comes when we find Max and Leo busily looking for the worst play ever written. As they comb through a mountain of scripts, Max picks one up and reads the first sentence aloud. “Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to discover that he had been transformed into a giant cockroach,” he recites. After a split-second pause, he adds “It’s too good.” It actually is—that’s more or less the opening line of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. The original quote was “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” Close enough.

6. KENNETH MARS SLEPT IN HIS COSTUME.

To help the other actors feel genuinely uncomfortable around his character, Kenneth Mars—who played Franz Liebkind, Springtime for Hitler’s bumbling, former Nazi playwright—he’d take his costume home and sleep in it every night—without laundering a single garment. “I did not smell like a rose,” Mars admitted.

7. WILDER’S DOG HELPED ENHANCE HIS PERFORMANCE.

Early in the movie, Max snatches Leo’s trusty blue blanket—and the accountant proceeds to throw a red-faced temper tantrum. In a 2002 “making of” DVD documentary, Wilder shed some new light on his frame of mind during this famous scene. “At the time, I had a little dog and I felt close to her,” he says. Hoping to give a more genuine performance, Wilder pretended that—instead of the blanket—Mostel had just snatched his beloved pooch. “I started to get a little crazy,” he admits. “I was getting upset because [in my head] Zero was grabbing that little dog and who knew what he was going to do to it?”

8. IT’S BEEN CREDITED WITH COINING THE TERM “CREATIVE ACCOUNTING.”

If you’ve ever taken a business ethics class, you know all about this concept. Essentially, creative accounting is the (legal) practice of interpreting financial laws in an atypical way. Oftentimes, this entails taking advantage of loopholes. Film critic David Ehrenstein argued that the phrase itself was born from an oft-quoted line in The Producers: Before Leo explains his grand scheme to Max, he says “It’s simply a matter of creative accounting.”

9. YOU CAN HEAR BROOKS’S VOICE IN THE “SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER” NUMBER.

Brooks has appeared in many of his movies, but he stayed out of The Producers—at least physically. Fast forward to 1:20 in the clip above and you’ll hear a member of the Springtime ensemble shout, “Don’t be stupid, be a smarty! Come and join the Nazi party!” Brooks didn’t like how the actor delivered that line, so he dubbed over it himself. (Hence the slight New York accent.)

10. PETER SELLERS HELPED PROMOTE IT.

Before Wilder was cast, Brooks offered Peter Sellers the role of Leo Bloom. For reasons unknown, he didn’t take the job (some say that he was too busy shopping at Bloomingdale’s to really listen to the pitch), but he was clearly a fan of the film. While filming I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! in Los Angeles, Sellers gathered some friends and set up a weekly film club. One week, when their plans to watch Federico Fellini’s I Vitelloni fell through, they put on The Producers.

Sellers loved every frame of it. Once the picture ended, he called Levine to congratulate him—at 2 a.m. Much to the actor’s dismay, he was informed that The Producers was in dire straits. After a disastrous test screening in Philadelphia, Embassy Pictures planned on shelving it. Luckily, Sellers convinced the studio to give it a broad release. Then he helped promote the movie further via full-page ads that he personally took out in Variety and The New York Times.

11. IT BEAT OUT SOME ELITE COMPETITION AT THE OSCARS.

Thanks in no small part to Sellers’s endorsement, The Producers became a respectable hit. Strong word of mouth about the film spread like wildfire and, in 1969, it was nominated for two Oscars: Best Supporting Actor for Wilder, and Best Original Screenplay for Brooks. Brooks’ competition in the latter category was fierce, and included Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time. Yet, groundbreaking as Kubrick’s picture was, The Producers took home the gold.

12. BROOKS PERSONALLY REPLIED TO EVERY JEWISH LEADER WHO CONTACTED HIM WITH A COMPLAINT ABOUT THE FILM.

Brooks has said that one of his “lifelong jobs” is “to make the world laugh at Adolf Hitler.” For Brooks, The Producers was a way to enact vengeance through comedy. “The only real way I could get even with Hitler and company was to bring them down with laughter,” Brooks said. But some viewers felt that the film actually promoted Hitler.

When The New York Times critic Renata Adler saw The Producers during its original run, she accused the movie of setting up an awful precedent. “I suppose we will have cancer, Hiroshima, and malformity musicals next,” Adler wrote in her review.

Furthermore, as the director himself recalled, “Jewish organizations at the beginning were outraged. They didn’t get the joke.” Within months of the movie’s release, Brooks received angry letters from, in his estimation, “every Rabbi in New York.” To the man’s credit, he took these very seriously. “I wrote [a reply to] every single letter I got, explaining ‘You can’t get on a soap box with Hitler. You’ve got to ridicule him.’”

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Tina Fey
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Tina Fey has transformed modern comedy more than just about anyone else. From the main stage of Second City to the writer’s room of SNL to extremely fetch comedy blockbusters, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey has built a national stage with a dry, eye-popping sarcasm and political satire where no one is safe. She has a slew of Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, PGA, and WGA awards to prove it—plus a recent Tony nomination (her first). But, more importantly, she’s the closest thing we have to a national comic laureate.

Here are 10 facts about a fantastically blorft American icon.

1. SHE DID A BOOK REPORT ON COMEDY WHEN SHE WAS 11.

Fey got a very early start in comedy, watching a lot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, and Norman Lear shows as a kid. Her father and mother sneaked her in to see Young Frankenstein and would let her stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. So it’s no surprise that she chose comedy as the subject of a middle school project. The only book she could get her hands on was Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, but at least she made a friend. "I remember me and one other girl in my 8th grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism, and I chose to do mine on comedy," Fey told The A.V. Club. "We kept bumping into each other at the card catalog."

2. THE SCAR ON HER FACE CAME FROM A BIZARRE ATTACK THAT OCCURRED WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD.

Fey’s facial scar had been recognizable but unexplained for years until a profile in Vanity Fair revealed that the mark on her left cheek came from being slashed by a strange man when she was five years old. “She just thought somebody marked her with a pen,” her husband Jeff Richmond said. Fey wrote in Bossypants that it happened in an alleyway behind her Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, home when she was in kindergarten.

3. HER FIRST TV APPEARANCE WAS IN A BANK COMMERCIAL.

Saturday Night Live hired Fey as a writer in 1997. In 1995 she had the slightly more glamorous job of pitching Mutual Savings Bank with a radical floral applique vest and a handful of puns on the word “Hi.” In a bit of life imitating art, just as Liz Lemon’s 1-900-OKFACE commercial was unearthed and mocked on 30 Rock, the internet discovered Fey’s stint awkwardly cheering on high interest rates a few years ago and had a lot to say about her '90s hair.

4. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE NAMED HEAD WRITER OF SNL.

Four years after that commercial and two after she joined Saturday Night Live’s writing staff, Fey earned a promotion to head writer. Up until that point, the head writers were named Michael, Herb, Bob, Jim, Steve. You get the picture. She acted as head writer for six seasons until moving on to write and executive produce 30 Rock. Since her departure, two more women (Paula Pell and Sara Schneider) have been head writers for the iconic show.

5. SHE’S THE YOUNGEST MARK TWAIN PRIZE WINNER.

Established in 1998, the Kennedy Center’s hilarious honor has mostly been awarded to funny people in the twilight of their careers. Richard Pryor was the first recipient, and comedians who made their marks decades prior like Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, and George Carlin followed. Fey earned the award in 2010 when she was 40 years old, and the age of her successors (Carol Burnett, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman ...) signals that she may hold the title of youngest recipient for some time.

6. SHE WROTE SATIRE FOR HER HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER.

Fey was an outstanding student who was involved in choir, drama, and tennis, and co-edited the school’s newspaper, The Acorn. She also wrote a satirical column addressing “school policy and teachers” under the pun-tastic pseudonym “The Colonel.” Fey also recalled getting in trouble because she tried to make a pun on the phrase “annals of history.” Cheeky.

7. SHE MADE HER RAP DEBUT WITH CHILDISH GAMBINO ON "REAL ESTATE."

Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) first gained notice as a member of Derrick Comedy in college, and Fey hired him at the age of 23 to write for 30 Rock. Before jumping from that show to Community, Glover put out his first mixtape under his stage name. After releasing his debut album, Camp, in 2011, Gambino dropped a sixth mixtape called Royalty that featured Fey rapping on a song called “Real Estate.” “My president is black, and my Prius is blue!"

8. SHE VOICED PRINCESSES IN A BELOVED PINBALL GAME.

Between the bank commercial and Saturday Night Live, Fey has an intriguing credit on her resume: the arcade pinball machine “Medieval Madness.” Most of the game’s Arthurian dialogue was written by Second City members Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock) and Kevin Dorff, who pulled in fellow Second City castmate Fey to voice for an “Opera Singer” princess, Cockney-speaking princesses, and a character with a southern drawl. (You can hear some of the outtakes here.)

9. SHE USED MEAN GIRLS TO PUSH BACK AGAINST STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN IN MATH.

Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan in 'Mean Girls' (2004)
Paramount Home Entertainment

There’s a ton of interesting trivia about Mean Girls, Fey’s first foray into feature film screenwriting. She bid on the rights to Rosalind Wiseman’s book that inspired the movie without realizing it didn’t have a plot. She initially wrote a large part for herself but kept whittling it down to focus on the teenagers, and her first draft was “for sure R-rated.” Fey also chose to play a math teacher to fight prejudice. “It was an attempt on my part to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math. Even though I did not understand a word I was saying.” Fey used a friend’s calculus teacher boyfriend’s lesson plans in the script.

10. SHE SET UP A SCHOLARSHIP IN HER FATHER’S NAME TO HELP VETERANS.

Fey’s father Donald was a Korean War veteran who also studied journalism at Temple University. When he died in 2015, Fey and her brother Peter founded a memorial scholarship in his name that seeks to aid veterans who want to study journalism at Temple.

"He was really inspiring," Fey said. "A lot of kids grow up with dreams of doing those things and their parents are fearful and want them to get a law degree and have things to fall back on, but he and our mom always encouraged us to pursue whatever truly interested us." Fey also supports Autism Speaks, Mercy Corps, Love Our Children USA, and other charities.

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30 Things You Might Not Know About Cheers
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On May 20, 1993—25 years ago today—television audiences said farewell to Sam Malone, the fictional Red Sox pitcher-turned-proprietor of Cheers. Though it's the Boston bar where everybody knows your name, there’s plenty you probably don’t know about the classic sitcom, which spent 11 seasons on the air.

1. CHEERS ALMOST DIDN’T MAKE IT THROUGH SEASON ONE.

Like many of television’s greatest success stories (e.g. Seinfeld), Cheers was not an immediate hit. It premiered on September 30, 1982 to dismal ratings—77th place out of 100 shows that week, according to Nielsen. It was NBC’s entertainment president at the time, Brandon Tartikoff, who saved the show from cancellation during its first season.

2. THE BULL & FINCH PUB, ON WHICH CHEERS IS MODELED, IS NOW CALLED CHEERS

Talk about life imitating art. After it was decided that the series would be set in a bar instead of a hotel, co-creators Glen and Les Charles decided the locale should be moved to New England. “Boston was chosen partially because only five short-lived television shows claimed the city and the East Coast pubs were real neighborhood hangouts,” wrote Dennis A. Bjorklund in his book, Toasting Cheers.

As the show’s popularity rose, it didn’t take long for word to spread that the Beacon Hill tavern was the “real” Cheers (though only the exterior shots were filmed there), turning the neighborhood hangout into a tourist attraction. To satisfy the masses, a second location—this one was actually called "Cheers" and featuring a replica of the bar viewers were used to—was opened in nearby Faneuil Hall in 2001. One year later, the Bull & Finch officially changed its name to Cheers.

3. SAM MALONE WAS ORIGINALLY A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER.

In the script’s earliest incarnations, Sam Malone was an ex-football player, which made sense considering that Fred Dryer—the former NFL defensive end who would go on to star in Hunter—was a top choice to play the role of Sam (opposite Julia Duffy as Diane; William Devane was also a strong contender). Ultimately, it was the chemistry between Ted Danson and Shelley Long that led to them getting the gigs. Once the casting was finalized, the creators swapped out football for baseball, based on Danson’s body type.

4. TED DANSON ATTENDED BARTENDING SCHOOL.

Danson spent two weeks at a bartending school in Burbank, California as part of his training to play Sam.

5. NORM AND CLIFF WEREN’T INTENDED TO BE REGULAR CHARACTERS.

Both George Wendt and John Ratzenberger auditioned for the same role in the pilot, a minor character named George who had a single line: “Beer!” The character’s name was changed to Norm Peterson when Wendt was cast. But Ratzenberger wasn’t about to give up so easily. “As I was leaving the office after the audition, I turned around and asked them, ‘Do you have a bar know-it-all?,’” the Bridgeport, Connecticut-born Ratzenberger recalled to Ability Magazine. “None of the creators was from New England. They were all Hollywood-centered. And I said, ‘Well, every local bar in New England has got a know-it-all—someone who pretends to have the knowledge of all mankind between his ears and is not shy about sharing it.’” Thus, Cliff Clavin was born.

6. NORM PETERSON IS BASED ON A REAL GUY.

In 2012, co-creator Les Charles told GQ that Norm was based on a real person. “I worked at a bar after college, and we had a guy who came in every night. He wasn't named Norm, [but he] was always going to have just one beer, and then he'd say, ‘Maybe I'll just have one more.’ We had to help him out of the bar every night. His wife would call, and he'd always say, ‘Tell her I'm not here.’”

7. NORM’S NEVER-SEEN WIFE VERA IS VOICED BY GEORGE WENDT’S REAL WIFE.

Though she’s only credited in one episode, George Wendt’s wife, Bernadette Birkett, provided the voice for Norm’s wife, Vera. Birkett did make one appearance on the show—as a love interest of Cliff’s—in season three.

8. JOHN RATZENBERGER IMPROVISED MANY OF CLIFF’S FUN FACTS.

Many of the random (and untrue) facts that Cliff Clavin offers up were ad libbed by Ratzenberger. “After a couple of years on the show they realized they could trust me not to mess it up,” Ratzenberger told Deseret News in 1993. “So little by little they've let me just sort of run off. Because I know when to stop … It's easy to improvise comedy. It really is. But the art is knowing when to shut up and let other people talk. That's a hard thing to learn.”

9. SOME OF THE DIALOGUE CAME FROM REAL BAR CONVERSATIONS.

In order to nail the bar talk aspect of the series, the creators regularly visited bars in the Los Angeles area to eavesdrop on patrons’ conversations. In the series premiere, there’s an argument about the sweatiest movie ever made, which was lifted from one of these overheard conversations.

10. CHEERS WASN’T AFRAID TO TACKLE SOCIAL ISSUES.

Cheers’ writers never shied away from taboo topics such as alcoholism or homosexuality, through they always had a sense of humor about them. The season one episode “The Boys in the Bar,” in which one of Sam’s former teammates announces that he is gay, earned writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs a GLAAD Media Award.

11. PLANS FOR AN HIV SCARE FOR SAM HAD TO BE ABANDONED.

In 1988, the Writers Guild of America went on strike, which meant that several planned episodes of the series were never filmed. Among them was a season six cliffhanger in which Sam learns that a former girlfriend is HIV positive.

12. RHEA WASN’T THE ONLY PERLMAN ON THE SET.

Rhea Perlman wasn’t the only member of her family to grace the set of Cheers. Her younger sister, Heide, produced more than two dozen episodes between 1985 and 1986 and wrote several episodes throughout the show’s run. Perlman’s father, Phil, played one of the bar regulars (named Phil).

13. JAY THOMAS MURDERED EDDIE LEBEC.


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When character actor Jay Thomas wasn’t portraying Carla’s Bruin-turned-ice-show-performer husband Eddie LeBec, he was the host of a popular morning radio show in Los Angeles. Which is exactly what led to his character being killed off rather prematurely by way of Zamboni. “A few episodes of recurring bliss and then one day on Jay’s radio show, a caller asked him what it was like to be on Cheers,” recounted writer Ken Levine. “He said something to the effect of, ‘It’s brutal. I have to kiss Rhea Perlman.’ Well, guess who happened to be listening ... Jay Thomas was never seen on Cheers again.”

14. A CHEERS MINI-EPISODE WAS PRODUCED FOR THE U.S. TREASURY.

Early in Cheers’ run, its creators were contracted by the U.S. Treasury to create a special mini-episode to promote the purchase of U.S. savings bonds. Titled “Uncle Sam Malone,” the episode never aired on television nor is it included on any of the DVDs; it was intended to be screened for promotional purposes at savings bond drives only.

15. A “LOST” SCENE ALSO AIRED AS PART OF THE 1983 SUPER BOWL XVII PREGAME SHOW.

Back in early 1983, writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs wrote a special one-off scene to air before Super Bowl XVII in which Sam, Diane, Carla, Norm, Cliff, and NBC announcer Pete Axthelm bet on who will win the big game. “They ran it just before game time and it was seen by 80,000,000 people,” Levine recalled of the spot on his blog. “Nothing we've ever written before or since has been seen by that many eyeballs at one time. But the scene was never repeated. It never appeared on any DVDs. It just disappeared.” (Until now: You can watch it at the link above.)

16. TED DANSON WORE A HAIRPIECE TO PLAY HAIR-OBSESSED SAM


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A fact that became apparent when he accepted the Emmy—sans hairpiece—in 1990. In the 1993 episode “It’s Lonely on the Top,” Sam shares his follicular challenge with Carla.

17. VIEWERS FREQUENTLY COMPLAINED ABOUT THE VOLUME OF THE LAUGH TRACK, EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS NO LAUGH TRACK.

In 1983, a quick disclaimer—spoken by one of the regular cast members—was added to the beginning of each episode: “Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience.” This was a direct response to viewer complaints that the “laugh track” was too loud.

18. THE PART OF FRASIER WAS WRITTEN FOR JOHN LITHGOW.


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After recent roles in All That Jazz, Blow Out, and The World According to Garp (for which he received his first of two consecutive Oscar nominations), Lithgow was not interested in working on the small screen. “I just said, 'No,’” Lithgow recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. “I barely even remembered that … It was like swatting away a fly … I just wasn’t going to do a series.”

19. KELSEY GRAMMER PLAYED FRASIER CRANE FOR 20 YEARS.

Grammer made his Cheers debut in the third season premiere in 1984. Though he was intended to be a short-lived character, Crane’s popularity with audiences led to him becoming a series regular. Four months after Cheers ended in May of 1993, Frasier made its debut (on the redesigned Cheers stage, no less) and ran for its own 11 seasons. Grammer’s two-decade run as the pretentious psychiatrist is a record-breaking one for an American comedy actor.

20. TONY SOPRANO'S MOM PLAYED FRASIER'S MOM, TOO.


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Nancy Marchand's character threatened to kill Diane. The role of Frasier's mom was played by Tom Hanks' wife Rita Wilson in a 2001 Frasier flashback.

21. KIRSTIE ALLEY IS THE ONLY MAIN CHARACTER WHO DIDN’T MAKE A GUEST APPEARANCE ON FRASIER.

Throughout Frasier’s 11-season run, Kirstie Alley was the only one of Cheers’ main actors to not make an appearance on the popular spinoff, possibly because the psychiatric profession conflicts with her beliefs as a Scientologist. “Kirstie once said ... she'd never do a show about a psychiatrist,” Kelsey Grammer told Entertainment Weekly in 2002.

22. FRASIER’S DAD WAS MAGICALLY RESURRECTED FOR THE SPINOFF.

When Frasier talked about his family on Cheers, he noted that his father—also a well-respected psychiatrist—had passed away. Yet his ex-cop dad, played by John Mahoney, is a main character in Frasier. Incidentally, Mahoney made a one-off appearance in Cheers’ eleventh season, as a fast-talking jingle writer named Sy Flembeck:

23. NORM’S FIRST NAME IS HILLARY.

His full name is Hillary Norman Peterson.

24. THAT WOODY PLAYED WOODY WAS A TOTAL COINCIDENCE.

Though many of the non-regular bar patrons’ real names were used in filming, that Woody Harrelson ended up playing Woody Boyd is by sheer coincidence. The character’s name was written into the script long before any actors had auditioned for the role.

25. NORM DRANK “NEAR BEER.”

The bar on the set may have been fully functional, but that doesn’t mean the cast got to spend the day throwing back cold ones. Norm may have had it the worst. As the bar’s resident lush, he’s rarely seen without a sudsy glass of beer in his hand. But what’s really in that glass is “near beer,” a weakened strain of ale mixed with a bit of salt to keep a perfect head on the glass at all times. Which Wendt unfortunately had to consume on more than one occasion.

26. THE SHOW HELPED PROMOTE THE IDEA OF A DESIGNATED DRIVER.

It was important to the producers of Cheers that no tipsy bar patron ever drove him or herself home, so there are frequent references to calling cabs and designated drivers. The Harvard Alcohol Project had a hand in spreading this message.

27. SAM AND DIANE DID GET MARRIED AT THE END OF SEASON FIVE.

Because Cheers was filmed in front of a live studio audience, the producers had to occasionally trick the audience so that show developments weren’t leaked. In order to keep Shelley Long’s departure from the series a secret, the live audience saw Sam and Diane get married at the end of season five. The real ending—which sees Diane leaving for six months to finish her book, only to return for a guest appearance in the final season—was filmed on a closed set.

28. CHEERS HABLA ESPAÑOL.

In September 2011, a Spanish version of the series—also called Cheers—made its debut. It starred Alberto San Juan as a former soccer player turned Irish pub owner and ran for just one season.

29. THE END OF THE SHOW IS ALL TED DANSON’S FAULT.

Though understandably so. When Danson announced that he’d be leaving the series at the end of the 1992-1993 season, producers decided that Woody could take over the bar. But Woody Harrelson wasn’t interested in continuing the show without Danson, and so its series finale was set.

30. THE CAST AND CREW GOT REALLY, REALLY DRUNK FOR THEIR SENDOFF.

NBC made a major event of the series finale, with cast and crew celebrating at Boston’s Bull & Finch Pub, where thousands of fans gathered outside to watch the show on two Jumbotrons. Then the drinks started flowing … and flowing … and flowing. “The show ended at eleven,” Ken Levine wrote in a 2013 remembrance of the evening for Vulture. “The next half-hour was an emotional tsunami. Everyone was hugging and crying and doing a lot of drinking. We were all completely wrecked.”

Then it was time for the cast to make an appearance on The Tonight Show. “The cast, in no condition to face anybody, much less 40 million people, dutifully trooped downstairs to do the live show,” Levine continued. “Us non-celeb types stayed back and watched on TV … in horror. They were so drunk they needed designated walkers. They giggled like schoolgirls over nothing, fired spitballs into each other’s mouths, squirted water guns, Woody Harrelson implied he gave oral sex to both Ted Danson and Oliver Stone, and Kirstie Alley sang a song where the only lyric was ‘dick, dick, dick.’”

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