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15 Happy Facts About Mad About You

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Mad About You was an understated and underrated NBC sitcom mainstay in the 1990s. It followed the lives of Paul and Jamie Buchman (Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt), newlyweds living in New York City. Reiser and executive producer Danny Jacobson, who got married within weeks of one another and had similar discoveries about married life, developed the show together.

1. THE ORIGINAL PITCH TO NBC WAS ABOUT CARS AND THIRTYSOMETHING.

Paul Reiser and Danny Jacobson pitched NBC executives Warren Littlefield and Jamie Tarses a show about the life of a couple in private—not the version you'd see at a party, but the more honest version that comes after that. "When you leave the party or the dinner, it's you and your wife in the car," Tarses recalled of the pitch. The two also compared their show to thirtysomething (1987-1991), but promised that it would be "shorter and funnier."

2. PAUL REISER MET HELEN HUNT WHILE HE WAS WRITING THE PILOT.

Reiser met Helen Hunt—who at the time was sharing a house with a good friend of Reiser's wife—at a dinner party. Though Hunt wanted to focus on her burgeoning movie career, the pilot script changed her mind. "Paul had said he wanted to do a show about the moment when a couple has left a party and just gotten behind closed doors and then the truth comes out," Hunt told The New York Times in 1994. "To do a whole series about moments like that—that was the only kind of show I could see that would warrant five years of work."

3. TERI HATCHER WAS ALMOST JAMIE.

The role of Jamie Buchman ultimately came down to two people: Hunt and Teri Hatcher. Hunt won out when she "brilliantly" imitated Reiser trying to decide what to eat, one of the scenes in the pilot. Hatcher ended up playing Lois on Lois and Clark soon after instead.

4. IT DIDN'T TEST WELL AT FIRST.

"The testing on Mad About You was not great," Preston Beckman, NBC's then-executive vice president of programming and planning, told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. But the research indicated that everybody loved the couple. Larry Charles, who would serve as executive producer of the series in its fourth and fifth seasons, admitted that it was Reiser and Hunt who made the show work; he said that with scenes that didn't feature the couple, "you just felt like no one cared."

5. IT TOOK THEM A WHILE TO COME UP WITH THE NAME OF THE SHOW.

Richard Kind, who played Dr. Mark Devanow, recalled that the show was not allowed to call itself Reiser, so was known as The Paul Reiser Project deep into the summer before its fall debut. Kind found out about the final title in the studio lot. "One day I pull into a parking space, and I see a thing that says Mad About You. And I go, 'Oh, my God! That’s a great name!' And I run in and I go 'Guys! Guys! I’ve got it! I’ve got the name: Mad About You!' And they go [Calmly.] 'Yes. That is the name of the show.'"

Warren Littlefield shed some light on the pushback from calling it Reiser. "Paul's manager pushed hard for it to be called The Paul Reiser Show," he said in Top of the Rock. "I told him no, the show is about this couple. Don't ask me again."

6. A BABY MEANT THE SERIES WAS OVER, ACCORDING TO THE CREATORS IN THE BEGINNING.

Jacobson and Reiser agreed in the early days of their series that the sound of a baby crying meant the show was over. But the fifth season ended with the birth of the couple's daughter, Mabel. NBC had pushed for the couple to have a baby all along.

7. REISER REALLY HATED THE "AWW"S FROM THE STUDIO AUDIENCE.

For the first six episodes, the show was shot both with an audience and without one. While they decided Mad About You was best with a live crowd, Reiser said the "awww"s that the series sometimes elicited "shriveled" his spine. After getting talked out of telling the audience to cut it out, Reiser had the "awww"s edited out of the audience track of episodes.

8. STEVE BUSCEMI'S STORYLINE ABOUT HOLDING A GRUDGE AGAINST REISER MIRRORED REAL LIFE.

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In 1978, Steve Buscemi was an aspiring stand-up who would hang out at The Improv, waiting patiently to get a chance to take the stage. He was never called, until one night when the manager looked at him and said it was finally time. But before he could get up on the stage, Paul Reiser entered the club, and was put on stage instead. Buscemi told NPR in 2015 that the incident was what led him to give up on comedy and focus on acting instead—and he still held a grudge about it.

In "Token Friend," the seventh episode of Mad About You's first season, Buscemi got to vent his frustrations at Reiser when he portrayed "Howie," a former film school student of Paul's who blamed Paul for his dropping out of school (after Reiser's character used the last available editing machine, leading him to not get his assignment in on time and into a life working in a New York subway toll booth). It was on the last day of shooting that Buscemi told Reiser, "This is kinda what happened with you and me." Reiser had no idea.

9. LISA KUDROW WENT AGAINST HER AGENT'S WISHES TO DO THE SHOW.

Lisa Kudrow portrayed "Karen," a woman who had two lines on a blind date with Paul in the first season flashback episode "Met Someone." The future Friends actress said she was about to be forced to get a day job when her agent called to tell her Jacobson was offering her the part that would become Ursula Buffay. The agent suggested she pass. Because Kudrow needed the money and thought it was "the best show on television," she ignored the suggestion. (Ursula is the twin sister of Phoebe Buffay, Kudrow's character on Friends.)

10. HANK AZARIA BASED NAT ON A GUY HE GREW UP WITH WHO REALLY TALKED THAT WAY.

Hank Azaria claimed that the man he was mimicking told him he really loved the character Nat Ostertag, without realizing Azaria was using his voice. Azaria got the part by hanging out on set all the time (he and Hunt were a couple from 1994 to 2000) and eventually pitched the powers-that-be the character of Nat, which he had been working on during his downtime.

11. MURRAY'S REAL NAME WAS MAUI.

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The Buchmans' dog, Murray, was actually Maui, a collie mix. He was originally found in a Castaic, California animal shelter by a Hollywood animal trainer. Maui got his start in TV commercials and as the understudy for the titular circus dog in Bingo (1991).

12. THE FOURTH SEASON FEATURED A "BLUE PERIOD."

Jacobson left the show after season three, and Larry Charles took over as showrunner. "I was not interested in further perpetuating the romantic myth of marriage," Charles said. "They had supposedly been married four and five years by then. Well, you've become bored with each other by then, you're onto each other's shtick already ... My goal was to strip away the artifice of the couple and show them for what they really were. And I had two great actors to work with." Reiser and Hunt agreed with Charles. "We wanted to see the couple in trouble," Hunt said. "We wanted to see them struggle with infertility, the dark side of motherhood—all of those things that we or our friends [experienced] we wanted to express through this show." NBC wasn't a fan of the series's less optimistic turn.

13. REISER THINKS BEING MOVED TO SUNDAY NIGHTS HURT THE SHOW.

The show was at some point or another on every night of the week except Friday throughout its seven-season run. When it was moved to Sundays for season four, Reiser said Mad About You "lost its moment of heat." He was so upset about the move from Thursday to Sunday that he didn't show up for NBC's official presentation of the fall schedule. An anonymous network executive claimed production was delayed one week for season four because the show's producers were "sulking" over the day change; Reiser insisted the delay was from waiting for Hunt to return to the studio after shooting Twister (1996).

14. THERE WAS A SEVENTH SEASON, IN PART BECAUSE THEY STILL DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO END THE SHOW.

Reiser felt that the final episode of season six, titled "The Finale" (just like season four's three-part ender), could have served as a "very perfunctory ending." Hunt told the Los Angeles Times that not being able to come up with a grand ending was "part of the impetus to come back" for a seventh and last season.

15. REISER AND HUNT MADE $1 MILLION PER EPISODE IN THE FINAL SEASON.

Another benefit for Reiser and Hunt to come back for a seventh season was the per-episode salary increase from $250,000 to $1 million, given in part by the network because of its loss of Seinfeld. Ultimately, the series finale—"The Final Frontier"—was set 22 years into the future, with an adult Mabel making a documentary about her parents.

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Twentieth Century Fox
Big Is Coming Back to Theaters for Its 30th Anniversary
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Break out your giant piano: Big is coming back to theaters! As Entertainment Weekly reports, the hit Tom Hanks-starring comedy will be making its triumphant return to the big screen to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary, courtesy of Turner Classic Movies and 20th Century Fox.

Though the movie itself was released on June 3, 1988, these special anniversary screenings will take place next month. More than 700 theaters across the country will welcome Big back into cinemas on July 15 and July 18, with 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. screenings on both days.

Though the role of Josh Baskin—a teenager who magically gets his wish to be a grown-up, with both hilarious and dramatic complications—seemed tailor-made for Hanks and his talents, the production wasn’t all smooth sailing. Originally, Steven Spielberg (whose sister co-wrote the script with Gary Ross) was attached to direct, with Harrison Ford in the lead. When Penny Marshall came on board, Hanks was her first choice, but he passed on the part (as did Kevin Costner, Warren Beatty, Albert Brooks, and a string of other in-demand actors). Robert De Niro was attached for a time, but that eventually fell apart, too.

Fortunately, the project came full circle and Hanks was eventually convinced to come aboard. He earned his first of five (and counting) Best Actor Oscar nominations for the role.

Visit the Fathom Events website to find out if Big is coming (back) to a theater near you

[h/t: Entertainment Weekly]

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Columbia Pictures
10 Fun Facts About Can’t Hardly Wait
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

When the teen film Can’t Hardly Wait—which was named after the Replacements song of the same name—arrived in theaters on June 12, 1998, it grossed $25,605,015 on a $10 million budget. In the 20 years since, the movie has found an even larger audience through DVD and cable. The premise follows Preston Meyers (Empire Records’s Ethan Embry) trying to connect with his dream girl, Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt), all the while seeking advice from his best friend, Denise Fleming (a pre-Six Feet Under Lauren Ambrose).

Originally called The Party, most of the movie takes place during a rambunctious graduation party, featuring a before-they-were-famous cast, and Jenna Elfman as a stripper dressed as an angel. The movie culminates with Preston and Amanda sealing their romance and living happily ever after. Written and directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, the two would later team up for Josie and the Pussycats. Here are 10 fun-filled facts about the ’90s teen comedy.

1. THE PLOT WAS BASED ON LOGISTICS.

Can't Hardly Wait was Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan’s directorial debut, so they liked the idea of having a self-contained and low-budget story to direct. “It was all practical,” Elfont told TIME. “The idea of doing a movie set at a party came first, because it seemed like it would be really cheap to shoot a movie in one location. Then we thought, what hasn’t been done? Nobody’s really done a high-school movie in a while. So we kind of fell into it that way. It was kind of an accident.”

2. SEVERAL SCENES IN THE FILM WERE CHANGED TO AVOID AN R RATING.

A year before the raunchy American Pie was released and jumpstarted R-rated teen films, Can’t Hardly Wait got watered down to get a PG-13 rating. Sony had issues with the underage drinking, and the fact there was no parental supervision at the party. “Well, who would have a high school party and have your parents there?!” Hewitt asked the Los Angeles Times. Seth Green, who played the virginal Kenny Fisher in the movie, gave a rundown of deleted or altered scenes, to Vulture.

“When [Jennifer] Love [Hewitt] first walks into the party, there’s a kid behind her holding a balloon and covering his mouth,” he said. “That used to be a beer bong, but the most expensive CG in the movie was [used] to make it [look] like that kid was smiling and holding a balloon. And then, there’s a scene where Charlie [Korsmo] and Peter [Facinelli] are at the piano. They toast, and then they cut to a wide shot where neither of them are drinking and then cut back to a close-up of them putting their glasses down because you can’t show the kids drinking.”

3. ETHAN EMBRY FORCED HIS WAY INTO PLAYING THE LEAD.

“It had been a while that I had the opportunity to play the ‘guy that gets the girl,’” Embry told VH1. “I had done those roles when I was a lot younger and this was the first time that someone would see me as a lead.” After Embry auditioned for the movie, he got offered the William Lichter part, which eventually went to Charlie Korsmo. But Embry turned the supporting part down. “I wanted to play the guy who gets the girl. That was sort of the driving thing.”

4. MELISSA JOAN HART AND JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT GOT “HIGH” ON B12 VITAMINS.

Hart purposefully chose the small role of the manic Yearbook Girl, as she was working full-time on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and couldn’t fit in a bigger part. While filming a night scene with Hewitt, Hart took B12 vitamins to stay energized, and offered them to a skeptical Hewitt, who thought the vitamins were drugs. “I finally convinced her it’s a vitamin, you can do it,” Hart told TV Guide. “So we took B12 vitamins, and then there was an owl in the tree. [Hewitt] was like, ‘See I’m high now, because there’s not really an owl in the tree.’ We were having these silly night giggles and just attributing it to B12 vitamins.”

5. JASON SEGEL HAD A CAMEO.

The actor was a year away from starring on Freaks and Geeks and seven from How I Met Your Mother when he signed on to play Watermelon Guy. Kaplan and Elfont recognized his talent immediately. “We knew how funny Jason was but there wasn’t a bigger part for him, so we were, like, let’s cast him as this watermelon guy,” Elfont told TIME.

Many other actors either got their start in the movie or became more famous as a result, including Lauren Ambrose and Freddy Rodriguez (both from Six Feet Under), Clea DuVall, Selma Blair, and Sean Patrick Thomas. “Everyone in that age range came in to read because there were no other jobs,” Kaplan told TIME. “That whole crop of people who turned out to be so talented and do so well for themselves afterward were in our movie literally, I think, because there was nothing else for them to do.”

6. EMBRY DOESN’T REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT THE SHOOT.

Embry admitted to VH1 to being “the world’s biggest stoner” while making the film. “Nothing sticks out because I was so stoned the entire time,” he said. He also confessed, “I haven’t seen the movie all the way through ... I never read the script.”

One thing he did remember, though, was the only scene he filmed with Hewitt, at the end of the movie. Before their characters kissed at the train station, Hewitt—knowing he smoked—had a basket of breath mints sent to Embry’s trailer. “And there was a basket of breath mints, you know? Like real pretty,” he said. “Like almost you give somebody flowers or a fruit basket but she gave me 50 breath mints. And it’s all different types. It was all very sweet. And that always makes me laugh thinking of that. Aww, Jennifer wanted me to smell good.” Embry took advantage of the gift and popped some breath mints into his mouth before filming. “They were rather nice cottonmouth alleviators,” he said during a Reddit AMA.

7. EMBRY DOESN’T KNOW—OR CARE—WHAT HIS CHARACTER'S LETTER SAID.

Early on at the party, Amanda finds and reads Preston’s letter and spends the rest of the film trying to find him. It must’ve been a powerful letter, because it finally brings them together at the end. “It was a prop! It was an envelope,” he told VH1. “I think I remember the directors asking me if I knew what was in there. It was a prop. It doesn’t matter. Like I know what’s in there? It’s called acting.”

8. THE CAST WOULD LOVE TO DO A SEQUEL.

In 2015, some of the cast reunited at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a screening of the film. Hewitt tweeted: “Can’t Hardly Wait reunion movie anyone? Let’s get them to make it!” In a 2013 interview with VH1, Embry was tepid about a sequel. “Maybe if they paid me more than last time,” he said about a second one. “[He and Amanda] would have to not be together anymore. Amanda and him had a horrible breakup and there were kids involved. He drinks himself silly over a typewriter. I’d make that sequel.” But in a 2015 interview with The Huffington Post, Embry changed his tune. “Of course I would be thrilled to work with any of the players involved again,” he said. “If all the stars aligned, I would be happy to entertain that possibility.”

Peter Facinelli, who played Amanda’s ex-boyfriend Mike Dexter, told IFC his thoughts on a sequel. “You know how the whole movie takes place at the high school party? We could have the whole movie take place at the reunion. I thought it’d be a fun movie.”

9. PETER FACINELLI THINKS MIKE DEXTER TURNED INTO A LOSER.

If a sequel did occur, Facinelli has an idea about what happened to Mike. “Now he’s basically the loser,” he told IFC. “The nerd was the loser in the first movie. Now he’s like the loser and then he kind of climbs back and gets back on his horse. And the nerdy kid is now the Bill Gates who is kind of like the Mike Dexter, bossing everyone around. I think [Dexter’s] just literally a loser. He’s filled with self-doubt and he would basically rise to self-confidence again and come back on top.”

10. EMBRY THINKS PRESTON AND AMANDA ENDED UP WITH WEIRD JOBS.

VH1 asked Embry where he thinks the characters would be today, and he said: “She’s j*rking off dudes in Vancouver, and he’s making horror movies in upstate New York.”

Elfont took a more serious approach to the question, for TIME. “[The on-screen text at the end of the movie] says they’re still together,” Elfont said. “Who am I to argue?”

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