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15 Facts About Your Favorite Adult Swim Shows

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Adult Swim, Cartoon Network's primetime programming block, is celebrating a 15-year anniversary. But the original concept for it truly goes back 1993, when the channel's first programmer—Mike Lazzo—was told by his boss, Ted Turner, to use the limited resources he had at his disposal to whip up some original programming.

Lazzo noticed the new Hanna-Barbera library his boss had acquired and, with the then-current Letterman/Leno late night wars in mind, decided to recycle some animation from the 20-episode series Space Ghost and Dino Boy into a new series, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which paved the way for the absurdist sensibilities that have informed Adult Swim's brand of television ever since. To celebrate its 15th anniversary, here are some facts about some of your all-time favorite Adult Swim shows.

1. SPACE GHOST COAST TO COAST'S ANIMATION DIRECTOR LANDED THE ROLE OF ZORAK WITH A SPOT-ON IMPERSONATION.

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Space Ghost Coast to Coast animation director C. Martin Croker was a fan of the original series, and ended up landing the role of Zorak via an impromptu audition, when he did a spot-on voice impersonation of the character. He would eventually get the voice gig for Moltar, too. Croker also came up with the idea of setting the show in space and suggested that Zorak and Moltar should be performing their bandleader and producing duties as unwilling prisoners.

2. THE BEE GEES WERE SPACE GHOST'S MOST MISBEHAVED GUESTS.

The singers cursed and laughed so much that only about 19 seconds of their interview was useable.

3. DANA SNYDER BECAME MASTER SHAKE THANKS TO TWO DRUNKEN VOICEMAILS.

After a night out enjoying some adult beverages with a friend, Dana Snyder followed Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000-2015) co-creator Dave Willis’ directions and left his audition on his voicemail. Willis loved what he heard, but accidentally erased it and needed to play it for his boss. When Snyder tried it again sober, it didn’t have the same effect for Willis. So Snyder repeated his drunken night out, recorded it again at 3 a.m. the next morning, and won the part.

4. AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE HAD A THREE-SECOND BLOOD RULE. THEY RIDICULED IT.

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One network directive Willis and co-creator Matt Maiellaro remembered and would address in the episode “Gee Whiz” was to “limit the blood to a three-second spray.”

5. THE ORIGINAL SEALAB 2021 PILOT WAS 24 MINUTES LONG AND NOT LIKED BY ANYBODY.

Future Archer creator Adam Reed and co-creator Matt Thompson took the old Sealab 2020 (1972) series footage and turned it into a 24-minute show with new audio. Cartoon Network said no "on the spot," according to Reed. But then, yet again, alcohol came into play. "It was a little while later and Matt and I were absolutely broke and we just got drunk as hell and watched one episode of the old show over and over," Reed told TIME in 2010. "Probably watched it 10 times with the sound turned down to match the lip flap with whatever spewed out. And we re-cut it into this random seven-minute show, and it turned out they were trying to find shorter things for this new Adult Swim concept, and they bought it."

6. THERE'S A LITTLE MIKE BRADY IN HARVEY BIRDMAN.

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Gary Cole auditioned for Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law (2000-2007) over the phone. "There was an element of Mike Brady in [the voice], in that I thought Harvey was just as vacant in his head as Mike Brady," said Cole (who, coincidentally, played Mike Brady in 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel). "I pictured a little more of a superhero/game-show-host voice, and that's how I read for it."

7. THE VENTURE BROS. IS ABOUT FAILURE.

“It’s about that failure happens to all of us," executive producer Doc Hammer theorized about The Venture Bros., which was created by Jackson Publick. "Every character is not only flawed, but sucks at what they do, and is beautiful at it and Jackson and I suck at what we do, and we try to be beautiful at it, and failure is how you get by ... It shows that failure’s funny, and it’s beautiful and it’s life, and it’s OK, and it’s all we can write because we are big failures.”

That was in season one. By the time Hammer and Publick went back to look at season five, the quote had made the rounds. "I don’t think our failure was ever, 'These people are incompetent,'" Hammer added. "I think our failure was they’re so terribly human in a world of comic book inhumanness, and that’s kind of our long joke. These people are stuck in a world that could only exist in an inhuman Saturday morning show, and they’re real. It’s a big mess."

8. TIM HEIDECKER AND ERIC WAREHEIM GOT ON ADULT SWIM BY SENDING AN INVOICE TO BOB ODENKIRK.

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“They sent me an envelope with a DVD, and usually I throw those things away, but this envelope also had an itemized bill in it,” Mr. Show co-creator and Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk told Variety. “There was a charge for postage, a charge for packaging, for shipping—everything. And it made me laugh." Odenkirk liked what he saw and got the two into a room with Adult Swim executives, leading to Tom Goes to the Mayor and then Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and other shows they've produced. Wareheim got to quit his job at Urban Outfitters.

9. TWO EPISODES OF THE BOONDOCKS WERE BANNED BY ADULT SWIM.

Both "The Hunger Strike" and "The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show" painted BET in an unfavorable light, and drew the alleged ire of BET executives. They urged Adult Swim not to air them. Cartoon Network agreed after legal action was threatened.

10. ROBOT CHICKEN WAS NAMED AFTER A MENU ITEM.

Robot Chicken is on the menu at the Chinese restaurant Kung-Pao Bistro in West Hollywood, California. Writer/star Breckin Meyer said that neither he nor the creators of the series, Matt Senreich and Seth Green, "know what the hell it is.”

11. CHILDRENS HOSPITAL TOOK THEIR BRAZIL JOKE AS FAR AS ACTUALLY GOING TO BRAZIL.

Co-creator Rob Corddry recalled how the Brazil running gag came about:

"In the first season I have a scene with Megan Mullally and she’s feeling a little insecure and I’m saying, ‘Listen, you’re the best damn administrator in this hospital.’ And just as an afterthought, David Wain [the Childrens executive producer who ran the show with Corddry and Jonathan Stern] suggested we add, ‘You’re the best damn administrator in all of Brazil.’ And then we just decided to expound on that: ‘Which is where we are right now. We are in Brazil.’ And that became a running joke … It was one of those things that everybody on the crew laughed at. And then all of a sudden the next day, in the nurses’ station, little pictures of Pele would start popping up. And we’d be like, ‘Okay guys, let us choose where the Brazil jokes are.’"

For season three, they put $15,000 aside in the budget to travel to Rio for four days and shoot one scene for the episode "Nip/Tug." "It was not necessary, we did not need it, it was not pushing the story along whatsoever, and we didn’t care," Corddry said.

12. JON GLASER DEVELOPED HIS DELOCATED CHARACTER ON LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN.

On Conan, Glaser played a guy who tried to continue his work as an impressionist even though he was now in the Witness Protection Program (all of his voices now sounded the same.) "It was dumb," Glaser admitted, "but it was always fun to do and the thing I liked about it was that he was super arrogant and smug and confident, even though his humor was sh*tty and hacky, and just that archetype of a character, the smug a**hole, was really fun to do and I always wanted to do something with it after I left Conan, so that's where the idea came from for this show."

13. JOHN C. REILLY WON'T TALK ABOUT PLAYING DR. STEVE BRULE.

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"I just showed up with my costume and started channeling that guy. I don't know where he came from. I find the less I say about Steve Brule the better. I think of him as real, and anytime I start to analyze him, it just gets really boring," Reilly told Esquire about playing the title character in Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, before saying he wasn't interested in talking about him anymore.

Tim Heidecker revealed that Reilly cannot see through the glasses Brule wears. "So he does kind of zone out, and there’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of thing where he really gets into that character. It’s amazing. He does think of that guy as another person."

14. THE RICK AND MORTY PILOT SCRIPT WAS WRITTEN IN SIX HOURS.

The original concept from Justin Roiland was from an animation he made for Community creator Dan Harmon and writer/director Rob Schrab's nonprofit short film festival, Channel 101. He made admittedly bad impressions of Doc and Marty from Back to the Future for a short called The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti. Immediately after Harmon and Roiland successfully pitched the idea to Adult Swim, Roiland suggested to Harmon they just stay in Harmon's office and write the pilot script right then and there instead of doing it over three months.

15. THE ERIC ANDRE SHOW PILOT WAS TAPED IN A "SEMI-ILLEGAL" BODEGA IN BROOKLYN. 

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"It had crap and piles of broken glass everywhere and it was super nasty and we just cleaned it up a little bit, threw up curtains," Eric Andre explained. "While we were shooting, like six to seven different dudes claimed that they owned the place." Andre ran out of money and taught himself Final Cut Pro to edit it. A bunch of networks said no to him, except for Adult Swim.

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The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now
Disney/Marvel
Disney/Marvel

If you’re in the mood for some speculative fiction and your pile of Arthur C. Clarke books has been exhausted, you could do worse than to tune in to Netflix. The streaming service is constantly acquiring new films in the sci-fi and fantasy genres that should satisfy most fans of alternative futures. Here are five of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now.

1. CUBE (1997)

This low-budget independent film may have helped inspire the current "escape room" attraction fad. Six strangers wake up in a strange room that leads only to other rooms—all of them equipped with increasingly sadistic ways of murdering occupants.

2. METROPOLIS (1927)

Inspiring everything from Star Wars to Lady Gaga, Fritz Lang’s silent epic about a revolt among the oppressed people who help power an upper-class city remains just as visually impressive today as it did nearly 100 years ago.

3. TROLL HUNTER (2010)

A Norwegian fairy tale with bite, Troll Hunter follows college-aged filmmakers who convince a bear trapper to take them along on his exploits. But the trapper fails to disclose one crucial detail: He hunts towering, aggressive trolls.

4. NEXT (2007)

Nic Cage stars a a magician who can see a few minutes into the future. He's looking to profit with the skill: the FBI and others are looking to exploit it.

5. THE HOST (2006)

A slow-burn monster movie from South Korea, The Host has plenty of tense scenes coupled with a message about environmental action: The river-dwelling beast who stalks a waterfront town is the product of chemical dumping.  

6. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 2 (2017)

Marvel's tale of a misfit band of space jockeys was a surprise hit in 2014. The sequel offers more Groot, more Rocket Raccoon, and the addition of Kurt Russell as a human manifestation of an entire sentient planet.

7. STARDUST (2007)

Director Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel features Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro as supporting players in the tale of a man (a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox) in search of a fallen star to gift to his love.

8. KING KONG (2005)

Director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) set his considerable sights on a remake of the 1933 classic, with the title gorilla pestered and exploited by opportunistic humans.

9. DONNIE DARKO (2001)

What will a teenage mope do when a giant rabbit tells him the world is about to end? The answer comes in this critical and cult hit, which drew attention for its moody cinematography and an arresting performance by a then-unknown Jake Gyllenhaal.  

10. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)

Soon we'll have a movie for every single major or minor incident ever depicted in the Star Wars universe. For now, we'll have to settle for this one-off that explains how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the plans for the Death Star.

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9 False Rumors With Real-Life Consequences
King Louis XV of France
King Louis XV of France
Library and Archives Canada, Wikimedia // Public Domain

Don’t believe everything you read—or everything you hear. Unverified but plausible-sounding rumors have been the basis for violent death and destruction throughout history, whether or not the stories had anything to do with the truth.

In their book A Colorful History of Popular Delusions, Robert Bartholomew and Peter Hassall describe rumors as “stories of perceived importance that lack substantiating evidence.” They also note that the sociologist Tamotsu Shibutani describes rumors as “improvised news,” which tends to spread when the demand for information exceeds supply. Such an information deficit most often occurs during wars and other crises, which might explain why some rumors have had such dramatic results. Here’s a selection of some of the most interesting rumors with real-life results collected in Bartholomew and Hassall’s book.

1. KING LOUIS XV WAS KIDNAPPING CHILDREN.

In 1750, children began disappearing from the streets of Paris. No one seemed to know why, and worried parents began rioting in the streets. In the midst of the panic, a rumor broke out that King Louis XV had become a leper and was kidnapping children so that he could bathe in their blood (at the time, bathing in the blood of children was thought by some to be an effective leprosy cure).

The rumor did have a tiny kernel of truth: Authorities were taking children away, but not to the king’s palace. A recently enacted series of ordinances designed to clear the streets of “undesirables” had led some policemen—who were paid per arrest—to overstep their authority and take any children they found on the streets to houses of detention. Fortunately, most were eventually reunited with their parents, and rumors of the king’s gruesome bathing rituals were put to rest.

2. LONDON WAS GOING TO BE DESTROYED BY AN EARTHQUAKE.

Two small earthquakes struck London at the beginning of 1761, leading to rumors that the city was due for “the big one” on April 5, 1761. Supposedly, a psychic had predicted the catastrophe. Much of the populace grew so panicked that they fled town for the day, with those who couldn’t afford fancier lodgings camping out in the fields. One soldier was so convinced of the impending doom that he ran through the streets shouting news of London’s imminent destruction; sadly, he ended up in an insane asylum a few months later.

3. JEWS WERE POISONING WELLS.

A deep well
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Reports that Jews ritually sacrificed Christian children were not uncommon during the Middle Ages, but things took a particularly terrible turn during the spread of the Black Plague. In the 14th century, thousands of Jews were killed in response to rumors that Satan was protecting them from the plague in exchange for poisoning the wells of Christians. In 1321 in Guienne, France alone, an estimated 5000 Jews were burned alive for supposedly poisoning wells. Other communities expelled the Jews, or burned entire settlements to the ground. Brandenburg, Germany, even passed a law denouncing Jews for poisoning wells—which of course they weren't.

4. BRIGANDS WERE TERRORIZING THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE.

In July 1789, amid the widespread fear and instability on the eve of the French revolution, rumors spread that the anti-revolutionary nobility had planted brigands (robbers) to terrorize the peasants and steal their stores of food. Lights from furnaces, bonfires, and even the reflection of the setting sun were sometimes taken to be signs of brigands, with panic as the predictable result. Provincial towns and villages formed militias in response to the rumors, even though, as historian Georges Lefebvre put it, “the populace scared themselves.” In one typical incident, near Troyes on July 24, 1789, a group of brigands were supposedly spotted heading into some woods; an alarm was sounded and 3000 men gave chase. The “brigands” turned out to be a herd of cattle.

5. GERMAN-AMERICANS WERE PLOTTING SNEAK ATTACKS ON CANADA.

Officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police marching in a Canada Day parade
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Canada entered World War I in 1914, three years before the United States did. During the gap period, rumors circulated that German-Americans sympathetic to their country of origin were planning surprise attacks on Canada. One of the worst offenders of such rumor-mongering, according to authors Bartholomew and Hassall, was British consul-general Sir Courtenay Bennett, then stationed in New York. In the early months of 1915, Bennett made “several sensational claims about a plan in which as many as 80,000 well-armed, highly trained Germans who had been drilling in Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York, were planning to invade Canada from northwestern New York state.” Bizarre as it may sound, there was so much anxiety and suspicion during the period that Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden requested a report on the story, which the Canadian police commissioner determined to be without any foundation whatsoever.

6. THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT WAS HUNTING HEADS FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.

In certain parts of Indonesia, locals reportedly believe—or once did—that large-scale construction projects require human heads to keep the structures from crumbling. In 1937, one island was home to a spate of rumors saying that a tjoelik (government-sanctioned headhunter) was looking for a head to place near a local jetty construction project. Locals reported strange noises and sights, houses pelted with stones, and attacks from tjoelik wielding nooses or cowboy lassos. Similar rumors surfaced in 1979 in Indonesian Borneo, when government agents were supposedly seeking a head for a new bridge project, and in 1981 in Southern Borneo, when the government headhunters supposedly needed heads to stabilize malfunctioning equipment in nearby oil fields. Terrified townspeople began curtailing their activities so as not to be in public any longer than necessary, although the rumors eventually died down.

7. POWERFUL APHRODISIAC GUM WENT ON SALE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

An assortment of sticks of pink bubble gum
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In the mid-1990s, the Middle East was home to some alarming rumors about aphrodisiacal gum. In 1996 in Mansoura, Egypt, stories began spreading that students at the town’s university had purchased gum deliberately spiked with an aphrodisiac and were having orgies as a result. One local member of parliament said the gum had been distributed by the Israeli government as part of a plot to corrupt Egyptian youth. Mosque loudspeakers began warning people to avoid the gum, which was supposedly sold under the names “Aroma” or “Splay.” Authorities closed down some shops and made arrests, but never did find any tainted gum. Similar rumors cropped up the following year in the Gaza Strip, this time featuring a strawberry gum that turned women into prostitutes—supposedly, the better to convince them to become Shin Bet informants for the Israeli military.

8. SORCERERS WERE PLAGUING INDONESIA.

In the fall of 1998, a sorcerer scare in East Java, Indonesia, resulted in the deaths of several villagers. The country was in crisis, and while protests raged in major cities, some in the rural area of Banyuwangi began agitating for restitution for past wrongs allegedly committed by sorcerers. The head of the local district ordered authorities to move the suspected sorcerers to a safe location, a process that included a check-in at the local police station. Unfortunately, villagers took the suspects’ visits to police stations as proof of their sorcery and began killing them. Anthropologists who studied the incident said the stories of supposed sorcery—making neighbors fall sick, etc.—were based entirely on rumor and gossip.

9. OBAMA WAS INJURED BY A WHITE HOUSE EXPLOSION.

These days, rumors have advanced technology to help them travel. On April 23, 2013, a fake tweet from a hacked Associated Press account claimed that explosions at the White House had injured Barack Obama. That lone tweet caused instability on world financial markets, and the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index lost $130 billion in a short period. Fortunately, it quickly recovered. (Eagle-eyed journalists were suspicious of the tweet from the beginning, since it didn’t follow AP style of referring to the president with his title and capitalizing the word breaking.)

An earlier version of this story ran in 2015.

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