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14 Running Facts About Chasing Amy

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Chasing Amy, the third installment of writer/director Kevin Smith's legendary New Jersey series, starred future Batman Ben Affleck in his first notable lead role (with all due respect to Glory Daze) as Bluntman and Chronic comic book artist Holden McNeil. McNeil falls for another comic book artist, Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), to the annoyance of his writing partner, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee). Complicating matters further is the fact that Alyssa is a lesbian. Here are 14 fascinating facts about Chasing Amy, to commemorate its 20th anniversary.

1. ONE OF KEVIN SMITH'S KEY INSPIRATIONS FOR THE MOVIE WAS HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH JOEY LAUREN ADAMS.

The inspiration for Chasing Amy came out of Kevin Smith's two-year romantic relationship with its star, Joey Lauren Adams. "The character of Holden is the closest to me I’ve ever written (casting Ben was aesthetically wishful thinking perhaps), and Alyssa is actually my voice of reason that I’d never listen to (I knew what I was doing/feeling was immature, but you just can’t fight City Hall, sometimes)," Smith wrote about the biographical nature of Chasing Amy. He said that Chasing Amy "is me on a slab, laid out for the world to see."

Adams was aware of this. "He didn't really leave New Jersey and ... I had traveled," she said in 2016. "He saw me as more worldly. It just created these insecurities and fights and problems. A lot of the scenes, he would write and give to me, and I knew they were apologies."

2. ACTRESS GUINEVERE TURNER WAS ANOTHER INSPIRATION.

Guinevere Turner starred and co-wrote 1994's Go Fish, which The Advocate called a "sassy, sexy, irreverent lesbian movie." Turner, a lesbian, and Smith became friends, and Smith was admittedly "obsessed" with Turner's former romantic relationship with her Go Fish director Rose Troche. Turner also befriended Clerks producer and co-editor Scott Mosier. Smith wondered what would happen if the two fell in love. He urged Mosier to write a movie about that idea, and when he didn't, Smith did. When he finished his script, he gave it to Turner to proofread.

3. TURNER'S MANAGER DIDN'T WANT HER TO MAKE HER CAMEO.

Turner made a small cameo in the film, despite the advice of her manager, who was worried that his client would ruin her career if she kept playing lesbians. When Turner's manager finally saw the movie at Sundance, he said, “I’m so glad we decided you should do that movie—that’s a great movie!”

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A PG-13 MOVIE SET IN HIGH SCHOOL.

The studio initially suggested to Smith that he make Chasing Amy as a PG-13 high school movie. Smith thought about it for a time and wrote some scenes. Ethan Suplee was going to play one of the main characters, but then Smith changed his mind. "A week later, I was like, 'No,'" Smith told The A.V. Club. "Then the movie [Mallrats] tanked, and that sealed the deal. It was just like, that's the last movie I make that doesn't have anything on its mind."

5. MIRAMAX WANTED JON STEWART, DAVID SCHWIMMER, AND DREW BARRYMORE TO STAR.

Smith wrote Holden, Banky, and Alyssa with Affleck, Lee, and Adams in mind, but the studio wanted bigger names—so they came to a compromise. Instead of Miramax footing a $2 million budgetwith the actors they wanted, Smith suggested they only pay $250,000, with his actors, and if Bob and Harvey Weinstein liked what they saw, they could buy it for distribution.

6. BEN AFFLECK WAS INVOLVED IN EVERY STEP OF THE WRITING PROCESS.

Smith referred to Mallrats as something that "turned into a $6 million casting call for Chasing Amy." It was on the set of that movie where Smith got to know Affleck, who played Shannon Hamilton. "It was really in hanging out with Ben off camera that I discovered what a charming, insightful, and funny guy he actually is," Smith said. "I saw in him leading man potential."

"He called me up and said, 'Hey, I'm writing this movie about a guy who falls in love with this woman who's gay and I want you to play the guy,'" Affleck recalled. "I said, 'Well, I'd love to.' He sent it to me as he was writing it. It was really nice to be involved from the beginning, for somebody to put that much faith in me."

7. MIRAMAX WANTED SMITH TO "OPEN UP A BIT."

In the original draft of the script, Holden confronts Alyssa about her threesome heterosexual past over dinner in an apartment. Miramax sent a note suggesting to Smith to "open it up a bit." So instead, the confrontation took place at a hockey rink.

8. IT WAS SHOT IN 20 DAYS.

According to Jason Lee, there were four five-day weeks of rehearsal, followed by four five-day weeks of shooting. Lee said it was "one of the smoothest" productions he had ever been a part of.

9. ONE MEMORABLE SCENE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR MALLRATS.

To Smith, Chasing Amy's "Jaws scene," in which Alyssa and Banky compare sex scars, represented "everything that is great about independent film: edgy and smart content that a studio would ax early on in the development stage (and I know whereof I speak—there was a version of this scene in [Mallrats], and the studio made me take it out)."

Another scene—in which Holden and Alyssa talk about true love while playing darts—had originally been written as a conversation between Dante and Randal in Clerks, but Smith lost the notebook he wrote it in and had forgotten about it until finding the notebook again.

10. ALYSSA HAS TWO SISTERS WHO APPEARED IN THE OTHER NEW JERSEY MOVIES.

One of Alyssa Jones' sisters, according to Smith's View Askew Productions' official synopsis of Chasing Amy, is Heather Jones (Kimberly Loughran), the woman in Clerks who asks Rick Derris (Ernest O'Donnell) for a ride to the beach from the Quick Stop. Alyssa's youngest sister is Tricia Jones (Renee Humphrey), the 15-year-old sex book author in Mallrats. Tricia had sex with Affleck's character Shannon Hamilton in the movie. Alyssa, in Chasing Amy, says she had sex with Shannon Hamilton when she was in college.

11. JASON LEE NEEDED SOME TIME TO CHANNEL BANKY.

"There's a moment in Chasing Amy where I do the thing where I bring my fingers together to Ben Affleck, and we shot it kind of early on," Lee told IGN in 2000. "I was basically asking him with my gesture, 'Are you and her going to hook up? What's the deal?' But I don't say anything. I wasn't finding it for some reason, and Kevin pulled me aside and said, 'This movie is more than Mallrats. It's going to require more thinking, and I want you to feel what's going on a little bit more than you had to do with Brodie in Mallrats. This is that kind of acting as well as dialogue acting.' And I thought, 'Wow. OK.' So then I went back in and found that moment through that, by relating to it and doing whatever you do as an actor to find those moments."

12. JASON MEWES WAS REALLY EATING SUGAR WHILE SILENT BOB MADE HIS SPEECH.

"There was a scene cut out of Clerks," Jason Mewes (Jay) explained. "Remember Kevin [Smith] bought a box of sugar? Well, he bought a box of sugar then I was eating sugar in Clerks. But they cut that out. So, I was like, 'I'm just sitting there doing nothing. What should I do?' He was like, 'I don't know.' I was like, 'How about the sugar?' And he was like, 'Yeah, do the sugar. It'll make up for when we did it in Clerks.' So then I did that." That scene needed "11 or 12" takes, in Mewes' estimation. "Yeah, I ate lots of sugar."

Affleck shrugged it off when a reporter said the sugar eating distracted him from the important scene. "Gave him something to do in the scene, I guess. It is kind of nasty. I said, 'Wow, that's a lot of refined sugar.'"

13. AFFLECK WASN'T READY TO SHOW IT TO ALL OF HIS FAMILY.

"It may alienate some people," Affleck believed. "My mother's best friend said she felt generationally challenged. This is not a movie I would particularly want my grandparents to see. The irony is that nobody has sex on camera and nobody gets killed. You have a movie with people talking the entire time. Yet, there's definitely a segment of the population that will find it just ... bothersome."

14. SMITH WAS MOST SURPRISED BY JOEY LAUREN ADAMS' PERFORMANCE.

"I mean, God, I know the girl personally very, very well, and in the two years we've been dating I've never, ever heard her be emotionally vocal," Smith told The A.V. Club. "The girl doesn't yell. If we fight, she doesn't yell. So when I watch that scene outside the hockey rink, and she's launching into her tirade, that is such a performance, because that's not her."

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Steve Martin
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. And he's about to put a number of these talents on display with Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a new comedy special that just arrived on Netflix. To commemorate the occasion, here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. HE WAS A CHEERLEADER.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. HIS FIRST JOB WAS AT DISNEYLAND.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just two miles away from his house. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. HE OWES HIS WRITING JOB WITH THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS TO AN EX-GIRLFRIEND.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with Bob Einstein—better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. HE WAS A CONTESTANT ON THE DATING GAME.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT HE WAS A SERIES REGULAR ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. 

6. HIS FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF HIS FIRST SNL APPEARANCE.

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. He also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. HE POPULARIZED THE AIR QUOTE.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. HE QUIT STAND-UP COMEDY IN THE EARLY 1980S.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. HE'S A MAJOR ART COLLECTOR.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. HE'S AN ACCOMPLISHED BLUEGRASS PERFORMER.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that he’s an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
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by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

A trio of wines
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Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

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