Posts filed under ‘Entertainment’

Where the Phrase “Jumped the Shark” Comes From

By Chad Upton | Editor

Someone who has always been a good friend to me is my buddy Rick. He is always good for new ideas and he happens to be a TV fanatic.

Two seasons after LOST started, Rick knew I’d love the show. He ran down the plot summary from the first two seasons over lunch and I was hooked before I even saw the show. Another time, he was telling me about a show he liked but was unhappy because it had “jumped the shark.” I wasn’t familiar with the phrase so he explained it to me.

In 1977, during the the fifth season of the TV series Happy Days, the character Fonzie was water skiing and literally jumped over a shark. You can see it in this clip:

The show had been extremely popular, but this stunt was a pivotal point which marked a steady downturn in the quality of the show. It was a grave departure from the stories in previous seasons and seemed to indicate that the writers had run out of ideas.

These days, the phrase is generally used to indicate that something is past its prime or has reached a point that is the beginning of an end.

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Photo: Bill Ward (cc)

Sources: Rick … and wikipedia (Jumping the Shark)

January 17, 2012 at 2:00 am 6 comments

The HOLLYWOOD Sign Originally Said HOLLYWOODLAND

By Chad Upton | Editor

The HOLLYWOOD sign in Los Angeles, California needs little introduction.

Although it is often associated with movies and television it was originally erected in 1923 as an advertisement for a new housing development named Hollywoodland. It originally cost $21,000 to build the 50-foot high letters on Mount Lee, including the four thousand 20 watt bulbs that illuminated them.

The letters quickly became a symbol of the movie industry. Ironically, actress Peg Entwistle became famous when she climbed a workman’s ladder to the top of the “H” and allegedly jumped to her death in 1932. She was apparently unhappy about her failure as an actress. It’s true, she was not well known — it took two days for police to identify who she was, and only then because her uncle contacted them to see if it could be her.

In 1944, the housing developers transferred ownership of some land, including the Hollywoodland sign, to the City of Los Angeles. By 1949, the sign was in grave disrepair. As the city was demolishing it, public outcry turned the demolition into a refurbishing project, during which time it was shortened to HOLLYWOOD. The letters were shortened too, now standing 45 feet tall, instead of the original 50. More residents could identify with HOLLYWOOD since that was the name of the city from 1903 to 1910 and remains the name of the district today.

The 1949 sign was built from sheet metal and wood, which fared well considering its materials, but was falling apart by 1978. At this time, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began a campaign to replace the sign with a more permanent version. Nine generous donors including, Hugh Hefner; Warner Brothers Records and Alice Cooper, each paid $27,700 to reconstruct a letter. In 2009, Hugh Hefner saved the sign again when he donated $1 million to The Trust for Public Land, an organization formed to protect the area from further real estate development.

Decades of temporary alterations to the sign began in 1976, some authorized and some not. A few of the more famous modifications include: HOLLYWEED, HOLYWOOD, GO NAVY, CALTECH, OLLYWOOD, OIL WAR, PEROTWOOD, GO UCLA, SAVE THE PEAK, JOLLYGOOD. To prevent further unauthorized modifications, the LAPD installed a motion detector alarm system in 2000.

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Photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia (Hollywood Sign, Peg Entwistle), Film Bug, Beachwood Canyon

December 20, 2011 at 2:00 am 6 comments

Disney Castle Based on Real Castle in Germany

By Chad Upton | Editor

Often inspired by the Disney fairytales of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, many young girls dress as princesses for Halloween.

While they are popular fairytales, these theme-park castles are largely based on a real castle in Germany — Neuschwanstein Castle. Look at the resemblance:

Disney has also noted the inspiration from structures in France too: Notre Dame de Paris and Hospices de Beaune.

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Sources: wikipedia (Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Cinderella CastleNeuschwanstein Castle)

Photos: Katie Rommel-Esham (cc) Jack Versloot (cc)

October 31, 2011 at 4:00 am 7 comments

Story and Plot are Not the Same Thing

By Chad Upton | Editor

Movies are extremely captivating because of their complex combination of: music, characters, dialogue, lighting, story, plot and everything else. Yes, story and plot.

These two words are often used interchangeably. I don’t have a problem with that, but I do find this little known fact interesting and heck, that’s what this site is all about.

Whether you’re talking about books, films or campfire tales, the differentiation between story and plot applies. I’ll start by oversimplifying the difference:

Story is what happens; plot is how those events are presented.

To be more specific: the story is a chronological arrangement of the events, including everything you’re presented with and also the implied or assumed events that you are not explicitly given. On the other hand, the plot includes everything that contributes to how you experience the story, including everything you see and hear, but not including the story events that are implied or assumed.

These two words are confusing because the elements they describe have some overlap — the parts of the story that you see are also part of the plot. While they do have this overlap, it is important to note that both plot and story include elements that do not overlap. Lets look at a popular film for example.

By now, I think most people have seen The Hangover (2009). If you haven’t, that’s ok, there are no spoilers beyond this point, but there is a basic description of the story and plot.

At a high level, it’s a comedy about four guys who go to Las Vegas and lose their friend, then retrace their steps to find him.

At the start of the film, the main characters are already friends; the film doesn’t show you how the core group of people met or became friends. Because we don’t see when they originally met, the formation of their friendship is part of the story, but not the plot.

The second act begins with the characters waking up from a blackout. Their hotelroom is a mess, but they can’t remember what happened the night before. The plot jumps from the night before to the morning after and skips everything in between. Because we did not see what happened, the events the plot skipped are just part of the story at this point.

The story ends by revealing something that happened the night before. Because the events in the story are rearranged (the plot), the viewer is part of the adventure, they know just as much as the characters. The plot makes the story more captivating because we want to know what happened, just as bad as the characters.

In movies, the plot also includes the music and credits because these are not generally part of the story — they’re not things the characters experience, but they do affect how viewers experience the story. This is where The Hangover does something really interesting; during the credits they show some still “pictures” from parts of the story that were skipped in the plot, bringing those elements that were once only part of the story into the plot too.

Bonus fact: music can be part of the story if, for example, there is a person/band/radio in the scene that is playing music.

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Sources: Film Art (ISBN 0073386162)

August 7, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Disney Movie Secrets

By Kaye Nemec

Disney movies like The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Aladdin are popular among kids and adults around the world. Their characters continue to come to life as Halloween costumes and at birthday parties and their hit songs are easily recognized (perhaps unwilling to admit it, most of us could probably sing at least one completely from memory).

Disney_Robin_Hood

But perhaps something that most Disney movie fans don’t know is that several of the movies have hidden secrets scattered throughout. If you do not own a copy of these movies, clips of the secrets can be found on You Tube. Several of the hidden secrets are not G rated and are not appropriate for Disney films and, therefore, not listed here.

The Little Mermaid

  • When King Triton enters the stadium to watch Aerial sing, the camera views him from behind. If you look in the bottom left corner of the screen, in the audience, you will find Goofy, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse.

The Lion King

  • Some people claim that when Simba lays down on the rock ledge at the end of the movie and dust flies out from underneath him the particles form the word “SEX” in the sky. Others claim this is a shout out to the special effects team that worked on the movie and it actually spells SFX.

Beauty and the Beast

  • As Gaston is being thrown from the ledge at the end of the movie skulls replace his pupils.

Hunchback of Notre Dame

  • Belle, Pumbaa and Alladin’s carpet make cameo appearances.

Snow White

  • In the movie, Snow White has brown eyes but in most of the merchandise she has blue eyes.

Monster’s Inc.

  • Jessie from Toy Story 2 appears at the end of the movie when Sulley returns Boo to her room – she picks her up and gives her to Sulley. The “Pizza Planet” truck from Toy Story makes subtle appearances in many Pixar films such as: Cars, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Monster’s Inc and WALL-E.

Lilo and Stitch

  • When Lilo wakes up Nani in her bedroom there is a Mulan movie poster on the wall.

Leave a comment with additional Disney secrets you know.

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Sources: Various YouTube clips (see clips above), Visions Fantastic, Hiddenmickeys.org

April 1, 2011 at 2:00 am 68 comments

Secrets of the Red Carpet

By Chad Upton | Editor

The most famous red carpet was rolled out last night for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. I find the red carpet fascinating, but it has nothing to do with what people are wearing.

While it looks like a random flow of people entering an award ceremony, it’s actually a well choreographed vehicle for publicity — publicity for the event itself and for the people and projects they are involved in.

I walked the red carpet at last year’s Webby Awards, where all of you helped me win a Webby for Broken Secrets. One thing that surprised me was the timing of the red carpet. While it looks like a casual flow of people entering the gala, it’s actually a regulated flow of people selected to pass by the cameras.

Not everyone who attends the event walks the red carpet. Usually, just the guest representing a project will walk the red carpet. Each guest walks at a scheduled time. These times are staggered to maintain an even flow of attendees moving along the press line.

In some cases, the event’s press liaison may provide the press with a list of red carpet attendees so they can decide who they want to interview and produce stories about. If you see someone with an attendee on the red carpet, it is likely their spouse or publicist. A publicist usually walks ahead of their client and decides which media outlets will do the next interviews with the person they represent.

Guests who do not walk the red carpet, escape the press circus by entering through another entrance.

The earliest known reference to “walking a red carpet” is from a play called Agamemnon (458 BC) by Aeschylus. When the hero returns from Troy, his chariot stops at a crimson path for him to walk on. So, like a god, his feet will never touch the earth again.

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Photo: Ian Muttoo (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia, eHow

February 28, 2011 at 2:00 am 3 comments

Why It Is Called a Swan Song

By Kaye Nemec

If you’ve been watching NBC’s The Sing Off, you’re probably familiar with the term “swan song.” At the end of each episode, the group that gets voted off leaves the stage as they perform what host Nick Lachey refers to as their swan song.

A swan song is used in reference to any final theatrical or dramatic performance. It can also be said that a political candidate is singing his/her swan song during their final political campaign or final term of office.

The term “swan song” comes from the belief that Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) were completely silent until the last few moments of their life, when they would sing a beautiful song. Although this is an ancient myth and was proven to be false, as far back as 77A.D., the legend has lived on and the term swan song has become mainstream.

Although Mute Swans do have a straight trachea that prevents them from making loud noises and, although they are usually pretty quiet, they are not mute. They make hissing, whistling, snorting and soft bark-like noises.

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Photo: Christian Roberts (cc)

Sources: University of Michigan, Wikipedia

January 5, 2011 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

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