13 Focused Facts About Election

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Filmed at Nebraska's Papillion-La Vista High School, 1999's Election featured budding star Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick, a compulsive overachiever running for class president at George Washington Carver High School. She wages a campaign against Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) and his sister, Tammy (Jessica Campbell), but her real enemy is teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), who tries to sabotage the election in favor of the doltish Paul.

Alexander Payne co-wrote and directed the R-rated high-school comedy, based on Tom Perrotta’s titular novel. Paramount/MTV Films released the film in the spring of 1999, but the film grossed just $14,902,041, despite overwhelmingly positive reviews. The filmmakers surmised that Paramount didn’t know how to market the movie, which catered more to adults than teens. But the film garnered Witherspoon her first Golden Globe nomination (she'd go on to win one in 2006, the same year she won the Oscar) plus a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination for writers Payne and Jim Taylor. Here are some facts about the satire, which President Obama has (twice) called his favorite political film.

1. THE 1992 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION INFLUENCED THE BOOK.

Tom Perrotta told The Huffington Post that the inspiration for the novel, which was published in 1998, came during from 1992 election, when Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush vied to become the most powerful person in the world. “I was unemployed and got caught up in that race,” Perrotta said. “When it was over, I just felt a little bit bereft. I thought I wanted to write a political novel, but I don’t know anything about politics that anybody else doesn’t know.”

2. ALEXANDER PAYNE DIDN’T WANT TO WRITE OR DIRECT A HIGH SCHOOL MOVIE—UNTIL HE READ ELECTION.

Though Election wasn't published until 1998, producers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger gave Payne a copy of the manuscript in 1996. “I didn’t read it for a long time, because there were a lot of high school movies at the time,” Payne told The Huffington Post. “I couldn’t be less interested in making a high school movie. And then finally I read it and I liked it. It was set in a high school, but it wasn’t a high school story, per se. Also what attracted me was the formal exercise of doing a movie with multiple points of view and multiple voice-overs.”

3. REESE WITHERSPOON WAS TORN BETWEEN TRACY AND TAMMY.

At one point in the film, Tammy, Tracy, and Paul each deliver speeches to the school laying out their presidential platform. Tammy's contribution is, “Who cares about this stupid election?” “That speech alone made me want to play Tammy!” Witherspoon told the Los Angeles Times. “So I was terribly conflicted—I didn’t know if I wanted to play Tammy or Tracy!”

4. TOM HANKS AND TOM CRUISE WERE CONSIDERED FOR MR. MCALLISTER.

Payne told The Huffington Post that Paramount wanted him to cast one of the Toms for the teacher role: Hanks or Cruise. “The one actor we all could agree upon ultimately was Matthew Broderick,” Payne said. “I met with him and he was only too happy to do the part, and I’m so glad he did. I never thought Tom Cruise would have been right for the part. Tom Hanks is a wonderful actor, but I knew at the time there was no way in hell he would take the part. It just felt right that we eventually got to Matthew Broderick.”

5. CHRIS KLEIN HAD NEVER ACTED IN A MOVIE.

Chris Klein—who went on to star in American Pie—was a senior in high school in Omaha, Nebraska, when Payne discovered him. “Alexander Payne was scouting our high school as a location for Election,” Klein told The Huffington Post. “[Principal] Dr. Rick Kolowski made sure that he introduced this Hollywood director to the resident theater guy, and I had made quite a name for myself from all the high school plays and then in the community theater. So he made that introduction, and a couple weeks later Alexander Payne called me up at my folks’ house and brought me in to audition for the movie.”

Klein read the script but turned it down because of a certain scene that he thought would upset his grandmother. “‘I can’t have my grandma see me getting a blow job,’” Klein told Payne. “And Alexander Payne laughed and said, ‘Okay, kid, listen. We’ll take care of it. Just come and do the movie. Just trust me.’”

6. THE OMAHA PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT WAS HORRIFIED BY THE SCRIPT.

In the movie, Papillion La-Vista High School stands in for George Washington Carver, but Payne had a difficult time finding a school that would allow him to film. “I toured almost every high school in Omaha and selected one high school and was forbidden to shoot there because the superintendent of Omaha public schools asked to read the script and was horrified by it,” Payne told The Huffington Post. “So he forbade my using any high school in the Omaha public school system because he said we would never have a student and a teacher having an affair and some of the immoral behavior he didn’t want associated.” Payne went outside the school district to Papillion, Nebraska.

7. PAYNE SIGNED ON TO DIRECT ELECTION BECAUSE OF ONE SCENE.

When asked about what attracted him to the project, Payne admitted that there was a single shot that won him over. “It has this one shot, and that shot so cracked me up that I wanted to have a whole film just for it,” Payne said of the scene in which Mr. McAllister is supposed to meet Linda in a cheap motel. “He puts some champagne in the sink with ice from the ice machine and he puts out Russell Stover chocolates. And then there’s the shot where he gets into the bathtub and he washes his ass and his balls and his d*ck. He’s squatted over in the bathtub washing himself. The whole film was pretty much just for that shot.”

8. TOM PERROTTA THINKS PAYNE’S PORTRAYAL OF TRACY WAS BETTER THAN HIS.

In The Huffington Post’s oral history of the movie, the novelist explained that in the book versus the movie, “My Tracy is a little bit more of a sexual manipulator, and Reese’s Tracy is more of a go-getter who’s a little bit over her head when it comes to sexual matters. It ultimately was a good change for the movie.”

9. PARAMOUNT WAS SKEPTICAL ABOUT AN R-RATED HIGH SCHOOL MOVIE.

“It was not an easy movie to get made in a major studio system,” Van Toffler, a former MTV executive and executive producer of the film, said. “Let me just say that I remember being called and lectured at home on a weekend about what I was thinking trying to make what [Paramount Pictures] viewed as a hard R movie based in a high school, where pages were read to me like I’m a crazy man. Why would I think of making a R-rated movie in a high school? It wasn’t a typical Freddie Prinze-like high school movie, as you can tell. At that point, if you were going to make a high school movie, it should be PG-13, not R.”

Also in 1999, another R-rated high school movie came out: American Pie.

10. ELECTION INSPIRED GLEE.

“To me the inspiration and Brad [Falchuk's] inspiration and Ian [Brennan's] inspiration was always Election, which had a really strong student and teacher story, which was a satire about ambition,” Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy told Deadline.com. “Our version was a little bit more heartfelt about teachers and the arts. But that’s how it started off.” 

11. TRACY FLICK BECAME THE QUINTESSENTIAL MODEL FOR FEMALE POLITICIANS.

“A lot of the women I’ve met in politics say, ‘Everyone always compares me to Tracy Flick,’" Witherspoon told The Huffington Post. "And I think, well, isn’t that wonderful in some regards? And then in other regards, why is there only one female political archetype? It was 15 years ago and we have no other really notable women. I guess now we have Veep, which is exciting and which I love.”

When Witherspoon met Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate told her, “Everybody talks to me about Tracy Flick in Election.”

Because of Witherspoon’s convincing portrayal of the ambitious Flick, the actress told The Washington Post that she “couldn’t get jobs for a year after that because people thought I was that crazy and angry and controlling and strange. But yeah, um, I’m not.”

12. BRODERICK ALMOST GOT IN TROUBLE WITH THE WHITE HOUSE.

In the film's final scene, Broderick slams a drink into Tracy’s limo, then runs away. “One time we did it and I ran into this park that was across the street from the White House,” Broderick told The Huffington Post. “And Alexander says, ‘Just keep running! I’ll film it, and maybe that would be a funny ending, just to have this guy running into a park scared. But just run as far as you can.’” Broderick kept running but found himself near the White House. “I start to notice homeless guys and dog walkers starting to take notice of me and come toward me because there’s lots of Secret Service in this park who did not like this man running full throttle toward the White House. I think they thought I was going to throw myself at the building.”

13. THERE WAS AN ALTERNATE ENDING.

The original ending filmed saw Tracy and Mr. McAllister reunite at his car dealership job. He says to her, “Seems like I’m the last person in the world you’d want to see before going off to college. Are you trying to humiliate me?” She drives him to her place, he apologizes, and he signs her yearbook. This was a much softer ending than the one where Mr. McAllister, in a fit of jealous rage, throws a drink at Tracy’s limo in Washington D.C. Test audiences didn’t connect with the drama-free ending.

“The movie mined [the novel] for more outrageous and subversive humor,” Payne told The Huffington Post. “I think the audience felt—and we the filmmakers, too—that the rather melancholy ending did not seem totally in keeping with the very funny, subversive movie which preceded it.” Payne and Taylor rewrote the ending and filmed it in December of 1998, a few months before the film was released.

Reviews.org Wants to Pay You $1000 to Watch 30 Disney Movies

Razvan/iStock via Getty Images
Razvan/iStock via Getty Images

Fairy tales do come true. CBR reports that Reviews.org is currently hiring five people to watch 30 Disney movies (or 30 TV show episodes) for 30 days on the new Disney+ platform. In addition to $1000 apiece, each of the chosen Disney fanatics will receive a free year-long subscription to Disney+ and some Disney-themed movie-watching swag that includes a blanket, cups, and a popcorn popper.

The films include oldies but goodies, like Fantasia, Bambi, and A Goofy Movie, as well as Star Wars Episodes 1-7 and even the highly-anticipated series The Mandalorian. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for 30 days of feel-good entertainment.

In terms of qualifications: applicants must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident, have the ability to make a video reviewing the films, as well as a semi-strong social media presence. On the more fantastical side, they are looking for applicants who “really, really lov[e] Disney” and joke that the perfect candidate, “Must be as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.” You can check out the details in the video below.

Want to put yourself in the running? Be sure to submit your application by Thursday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the link here. And keep an eye out for Disney+, which will be available November 12.

16 Biting Facts About Fright Night

William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Charley Brewster is your typical teen: he’s got a doting mom, a girlfriend whom he loves, a wacky best friend … and an enigmatic vampire living next door.

For more than 30 years, Tom Holland’s critically acclaimed directorial debut has been a staple of Halloween movie marathons everywhere. To celebrate the season, we dug through the coffins of the horror classic in order to discover some things you might not have known about Fright Night.

1. Fright Night was based on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Or, in this case, "The Boy Who Cried Vampire." “I started to kick around the idea about how hilarious it would be if a horror movie fan thought that a vampire was living next door to him,” Holland told TVStoreOnline of the film’s genesis. “I thought that would be an interesting take on the whole Boy Who Cried Wolf thing. It really tickled my funny bone. I thought it was a charming idea, but I really didn't have a story for it.”

2. Peter Vincent made Fright Night click.

It wasn’t until Holland conceived of the character of Peter Vincent, the late-night horror movie host played by Roddy McDowall, that he really found the story. While discussing the idea with a department head at Columbia Pictures, Holland realized what The Boy Who Cried Vampire would do: “Of course, he's gonna go to Vincent Price!” Which is when the screenplay clicked. “The minute I had Peter Vincent, I had the story,” Holland told Dread Central. “Charley Brewster was the engine, but Peter Vincent was the heart.”

3. Peter Vincent is named after two horror icons.

Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.

4. The Peter Vincent role was intended for Vincent Price.

Roddy McDowall in Fright Night (1985)
Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

“Now the truth is that when I first went out with it, I was thinking of Vincent Price, but Vincent Price was not physically well at the time,” Holland said.

5. Roddy McDowall did not want to play the part like Vincent Price.

Once he was cast, Roddy McDowall made the decision that Peter Vincent was nothing like Vincent Price—specifically: he was a terrible actor. “My part is that of an old ham actor,” McDowall told Monster Land magazine in 1985. “I mean a dreadful actor. He had a moderate success in an isolated film here and there, but all very bad product. Basically, he played one character for eight or 10 films, for which he probably got paid next to nothing. Unlike stars of horror films who are very good actors and played lots of different roles, such as Peter Lorre and Vincent Price or Boris Karloff, this poor sonofabitch just played the same character all the time, which was awful.”

6. It took Holland just three weeks to write the Fright Night script.

And he had a helluva good time doing it, too. “I couldn’t stop writing,” Holland said in 2008, during a Fright Night reunion at Fright Fest. “I wrote it in about three weeks. And I was laughing the entire time, literally on the floor, kicking my feet in the air in hysterics. Because there’s something so intrinsically humorous in the basic concept. So it was always, along with the thrills and chills, something there that tickled your funny bone. It wasn’t broad comedy, but it’s a grin all the way through.”

7. Tom Holland directed Fright Night out of "self-defense."

By the time Fright Night came around, Holland was already a Hollywood veteran—just not as a director. He had spent the past two decades as an actor and writer and he told the crowd at Fright Fest that “this was the first film where I had sufficient credibility in Hollywood to be able to direct ... I had a film after Psycho 2 and before Fright Night called Scream For Help, which … I thought was so badly directed that [directing Fright Night] was self-defense. In self-defense, I wanted to protect the material, and that’s why I started directing with Fright Night."

8. Chris Sarandon had a number of reasons for not wanting to make Fright Night.

Chris Sarandon stars in 'Fright Night' (1985)
Chris Sarandon stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

At the Fright Night reunion, Chris Sarandon recalled his initial reaction to being approached about playing vampire Jerry Dandrige. "I was living in New York and I got the script,” he explained. “My agent said that someone was interested in the possibility of my doing the movie, and I said to myself, ‘There’s no way I can do a horror movie. I can’t do a vampire movie. I can’t do a movie with a first-time director.’ Not a first-time screenwriter, but first-time director. And I sat down and read the script, and I remember very vividly sitting at my desk, looked over at my then wife and said, ‘This is amazing. I don’t know. I have to meet this guy.’ And so, I came out to L.A. And I met with Tom [Holland] and our producer. And we just hit it off, and that was it.”

9. Jerry Dandridge is part fruit bat.

After doing some research into the history of vampires and the legends surrounding them, Sarandon decided that Jerry had some fruit bat in him, which is why he’s often seen snacking on fruit in the film. When asked about the 2011 remake with Colin Farrell, Sarandon commented on how much he appreciated that that specific tradition continued. “In this one, it's an apple, but in the original, Jerry ate all kinds of fruit because it was just sort of something I discovered by searching it—that most bats are not blood-sucking, but they're fruit bats,” Sarandon told io9. “And I thought well maybe somewhere in Jerry's genealogy, there's fruit bat in him, so that's why I did it.”

10. William Ragsdale learned he had booked the part of Charley Brewster on Halloween.

William Ragsdale had only ever appeared in one film before Fright Night (in a bit part). He had recently been considered for the role of Rocky Dennis in Mask, which “didn’t work out,” Ragsdale recalled. “But a few months later, [casting director] Jackie Burch tells me, ‘There’s this movie I’m casting. You might be really right for it.’ So, I had this 1976 Toyota Celica and I drove that through the San Joaquin valley desert for four or five trips down for auditioning. And in the last one, Stephen [Geoffreys] was there, Amanda [Bearse] was there and that’s when it happened. I had read the script and at the time I had been doing Shakespeare and Greek drama, so I read this thing and thought, ‘Well, God, this looks like a lot of fun. There’s no … iambic pentameter, there’s no rhymes. You know? Where’s the catharsis? Where’s the tragedy?’ … I ended up getting a call on Halloween that they had decided to use me, and I was delighted.”

11. Not being Anthony Michael Hall worked in Stephen Geoffreys's favor.

In a weird way, it was by not being Anthony Michael Hall that Stephen Geoffreys was cast as Evil Ed. “I actually met Jackie Burch, the casting director, by mistake in New York months before this movie was cast and she remembered me,” Geoffreys shared at Fright Fest. “My agent sent me for an audition for Weird Science. And Anthony Michael Hall was with the same agent that I was with, and she sent me by mistake. And Jackie looked at me when I walked into the office and said, ‘You’re not Anthony Michael Hall!’ and I’m like ‘No!’ But anyway, I sat down and I talked to Jackie for a half hour and she remembered me from that interview and called my agent, and my agent sent me the script while I was with Amanda [Bearse] in Palm Springs doing Fraternity Vacation, and I read it. It was awesome. The writing was incredible.”

12. Evil Ed wanted to be Charley Brewster.

Stephen Geoffreys stars in 'Fright Night' (1985).
Stephen Geoffreys stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Geoffreys loved the script for Fright Night. “I just got this really awesome feeling about it,” he said. “I read it and thought I’ve got to do this. I called my agent and said ‘I would love to audition for the part of Charley Brewster!’ [And he said] ‘No, Steve, you’re wanted for the part of Evil Ed.’ And I went, ‘Are you kidding me? Why? I couldn’t… What do they see in me that they think I should be this?' Well anyway, it worked out. It was awesome and I had a great time.”

13. Fright Night's original ending was much different.

The film’s original ending saw Peter Vincent transform into a vampire—while hosting “Fright Night” in front of a live television audience.

14. A ghost from Ghostbusters made a cameo in Fright Night.

Visual effects producer Richard Edlund had recently finished up work on Ghostbusters when he and his team began work on Fright Night. And the movie gave them a great reason to recycle one of the library ghosts they had created for Ghostbusters—which was deemed too scary for Ivan Reitman's PG-rated classic—and use it as a vampire bat for Fright Night.

15. Fright Night's cast and crew took it upon themselves to record some DVD commentaries.

Because the earliest DVD versions of Fright Night contained no commentary tracks, in 2008 the cast and crew partnered with Icons of Fright to record a handful of downloadable “pirate” commentary tracks about the making of the film. The tracks ended up on a limited-edition 30th anniversary Blu-ray of the film, which sold out in hours.

16. Vincent Price loved Fright Night.


Columbia Pictures

Holland had the chance to meet Vincent Price one night at a dinner party at McDowall’s. And the actor was well aware that McDowall’s character was based on him. “I was a little bit embarrassed by it,” Holland admitted. “He said it was wonderful and he thought Roddy did a wonderful job. Thank God he didn’t ask why he wasn’t cast in it.”

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