10 Fun Facts About Kenan & Kel

Inspired by their comedic chemistry on the ensemble sketch show All That (1994-2005), Nickelodeon gave Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell their own situation comedy: Kenan & Kel. While Kenan was a scheming high school student looking for fame and fortune to improve his station as a Chicago grocery store clerk, Kel was his clumsy best friend who was vocal about his love affair with orange soda. The show was created by Kim Bass, who had previously co-created Sister, Sister, and admitted that he somewhat modeled Kenan and Kel's antics on "the exploits of mine and my best friend when growing up." To celebrate the show's 20th anniversary, here are some fun facts you might not have known about Kenan & Kel.

1. THE SHOW MADE NICKELODEON HISTORY.

Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were the first black stars of a Nickelodeon primetime sitcom. The network had been on the air for nearly 20 years when Kenan & Kel made its debut on July 15, 1996.

2. IT WAS ESSENTIALLY A HEAD OF THE CLASS REUNION.

Kenan & Kel showrunner Dan Schneider portrayed Dennis Blunden on the ABC series Head of the Class (1986-1990) after he played Ricky in Better Off Dead (1985). Brian Robbins played Eric Mardian on Head of the Class before co-creating All That and executive producing Kenan & Kel, where he directed five episodes. Dan Frischman portrayed Arvid Engen in Head of the Class, then got the role of Chris Potter, Kenan's boss, on Kenan & Kel after his former co-stars asked Frischman if he knew a "Chris Elliott" type for the role. He couldn't think of anyone. A month or two later, they asked him if he wanted the part for himself.

3. IT WAS ALSO A FIELDS FAMILY GET-TOGETHER.

Kim Fields—who was best known as Tootie on The Facts of Lifedirected 23 episodes of Kenan & Kel, in addition to playing teacher-turned-principal Miss Horn. Her sister, Alexis Fields, portrayed Sharla Morrison.

4. COOLIO WROTE AND DIRECTED THE THEME SONG.

Coolio wrote and sang "Aw Here It Goes" and made his directorial debut with the opening sequence.

Once, when the rapper was asked if he had a preference between Kenan and Kel, he couldn't choose. "Kel, excuse my French, wouldn't have been sh*t without Kenan, and Kenan wouldn't have been sh*t without Kel. They go hand-in-hand."

5. KENAN'S ON-SCREEN DAD WAS A HORROR LEGEND.

Before he played Kenan's father, Roger Rockmore, Ken Foree played Peter in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978). Not only were the writers aware of Foree's role in the film, "The writers were fans," Foree said. "They were fans! 'Sign this Ken!' They were Dawn of the Dead fans!" Foree's hiring wasn't a guarantee though, as he had to audition in front of 25 people to get the part. In 2004, Foree had a cameo in Zack Snyder's 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, playing The Televangelist.

6. DAN SCHNEIDER AND KEL MITCHELL COLLABORATED ON KEL'S ORANGE SODA LOVE.

"Dan [Schneider] wrote that scene," Mitchell explained of the first time Kel declared his love for the orange-flavored beverage. It was written in the script as "I do I do-oo-oo," and Kel "sung it a little bit, put a little twang on it" to create the magic.

Mitchell has since thrown "orange parties," where participants wore orange and drank orange soda with him, inspired in part by P. Diddy's "white parties," where everyone would wear white clothing. While Mitchell genuinely did love orange soda, he says that nowadays he consumes more low-calorie drinks.

7. YOU MAY HAVE SEEN PRINCIPAL DIMLY BEFORE.

Hersha Parady was best known as Alice Garvey in Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983). Her character was killed off on Little House so that Parady could focus on raising her own family. Playing Dimly in the 1998 Kenan & Kel episode "I.Q. Can Do Better" is currently her most recent TV appearance.

8. THEY MOVED FROM ORLANDO TO LOS ANGELES HALFWAY THROUGH THE SHOW'S RUN.

The first two seasons of Kenan & Kel were shot at Universal Studios Florida. When All That, still featuring Kenan and Kel, moved production from Orlando to Los Angeles in order to feature more celebrities, Kenan & Kel followed.

Dan Frischman wasn't necessarily torn up about the location change. "There was a TV monitor outside the dressing area [in Orlando] that had a goofy Nickelodeon cartoon character singing a very annoying jingle," Frischman recalled. "It ran on a loop and they wouldn't turn it off!"

9. MILTON BERLE'S FINAL ON-SCREEN APPEARANCE WAS IN THE KENAN & KEL MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE/SERIES FINALE.

Milton Berle portrayed Uncle Leo in Two Heads Are Better Than None (2000). The legendary comedian passed away on March 27, 2002.

10. THE TWO STARS HAVE RECENTLY REUNITED.

In 2015, Kenan and Kel appeared on a Tonight Show sketch and as two friends in a Fandango ad. "Filming these new ads with Kel brought back warm memories of going to the movies together and riffing on memorable scenes from our favorite flicks," Thompson said. Neither have ruled out a Kenan & Kel reboot or movie.

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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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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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