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.

5 Game of Thrones Characters Who Need to Survive the Final Season

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

"When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die."

These words have haunted Game of Thrones ever since Ned Stark, the assumed protagonist of the show, was killed off in the first season of HBO's fantasy epic. You either win or you die. Even if you're a main character, even if you're a likable character, even if you're a sympathetic character. Nobody is safe. With the eighth and final season on its way, the question everyone is asking is: Who will survive to see the end of the series?

While leaks, intentional and otherwise, have confirmed that Jorah Mormont will likely live, it can be safely assumed that someone as evil as Cersei Lannister will probably (hopefully) be killed off. Here are the people who will most likely tell the Many Faced God "Not today."

1. TYRION LANNISTER

Peter Dinklage in 'Game of Thrones'
HBO

Fans have literally threatened to riot if ​Tyrion Lannister dies. Undoubtedly the most popular character the show has presented, Tyrion's transformation wouldn't be complete if he were killed off. And at this point, watching him triumph against all odds and conquer his family's legacy is half the reason to watch the show. If anyone can win the Game of Thrones, he can—even if he has teased otherwise.

2. LORD VARYS

Conleth Hill as Lord Varys in 'Game of Thrones'
Helen Sloan, HBO

While even purely political players in the Game of Thrones can be killed off, Lord Varys has always kept a healthy distance between himself and anything even resembling action. He always plays on his own terms and makes sure he has an exit strategy at all times. If anything manages to kill him, it better be some huge, shocking event, because he's not going to die from just anything.

3. SAMWELL TARLY

John Bradley as Samwell Tarly in 'Game of Thrones'
Helen Sloan, HBO

​Many people have noticed how the loyal Samwell Tarly is more or less a self-insert character ​meant to represent author George R.R. Martin. While it's entirely possible Samwell might get a hero's death by sacrificing himself to save Gilly and Baby Sam, Martin still has huge sway over the show, and it's unlikely he'd let them kill "him" off.

4. JON SNOW

Kit Harington in 'Game of Thrones'
HBO

Not only has Jon Snow already died and come back from the dead, but he's been the de facto protagonist of the series since his not-daddy Ned Stark was killed off all the way back in season one. And while the series clearly has no qualms about killing off main characters, the huge reveal of his actual parentage is too big for the show to just kill him off right afterwards.

5. SANSA STARK

Sophie Turner in 'Game of Thrones'
HBO

Of the three remaining Stark siblings, Sansa seems to be the most likely to get out of the show alive. Apart from actress Sophie Turner inadvertently giving away her character's fate with a tattoo, her survival is all but guaranteed because her special skill, a political instinct she learned from Littlefinger, is perfectly suited to allow her to maneuver herself into a secure position.

Ezra Miller Reportedly Returning for Fantastic Beasts 3

Jaap Buitendijk, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Jaap Buitendijk, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.

While fans of Ezra Miller might been upset to hear the news his standalone Flash film for the DC Extended Universe is having production pushed back to late 2019, it's reportedly in part to make time for another major role.

As Variety reported the Flash film was getting pushed back, they seemingly also confirmed Miller's involvement in the third installment of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The second film in the series, ​The Crimes of Grindelwald, hits theaters on November 16, and details of the third movie are unknown at this time.

"The third film in the [Fantastic Beasts] franchise begins shooting in July, which would cause scheduling headaches," Variety reported. "The standalone Flash film is now expected to commence production in late 2019. That likely means the superhero adventure won’t debut in theaters until some time in 2021."

Although Miller's character, Credence Barebone, is still a bit of a mystery, it seems he will make it through the second film and will be featured in the third. Johnny Depp, who plays Gellert Grindelwald, confirmed his involvement in the third movie to ​Collider, and it would be safe to assume the series' protagonist Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, will be involved.

We hope to learn more about Credence and the rest of the gang (​Nagini included!) when Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters next month.

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