Was David Mamet’s First Screenwriting Work For Garage Girls, Who Stole My Wheels?…And It Was REJECTED?!

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: David Mamet’s first work writing for films was in Garage Girls, Who Stole My Wheels?…and it was rejected!

David Mamet is one of the most acclaimed American playwrights of the last fifty years…

His work on the stage during the 1970s expanded into the world of movies by the beginning of the next decade, and he has had great success in the film industry, being nominated for two Academy Awards for screenwriting (and many of his plays have been adapted to the screen, most notably Glengarry Glen Ross).

He has had a longtime working relationship with a number of actors from his days in Chicago, with William H. Macy and Joe Mantegna being two of the most notable actors associated with Mamet.

Here’s Mamet with Mantegna and a third friend of theirs, Jack Wallace…

It was on a Mantegna movie that Mamet got his first film experience, although it wasn’t much of an experience.
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Did the Rolling Stones Almost Not Release “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” Because Keith Richards Thought It Sounded Like Another Song?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: The Rolling Stones almost did not release “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” because Keith Richards felt that the famous riff sounded too similar to another song.

Let’s say that you wake up in the middle of the night and you have a great beat in your head. Would you think that you just came up with a really cool riff, or would you think that you must be remembering a song you heard somewhere?

I think most of us would tend toward the latter, but as it turns out, even famous musicians sometimes think that are in the latter category, as seen with the interesting case of Keith Richards and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

In one of the most famous stories about rock ‘n’ roll (and one of the coolest), Keith Richards woke up one night with the famous guitar riff to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in his head, along with the words “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

He got his tape recorder and recorded the riff and the words and then went back to bed.

He then brought the song to his writing partner, Mick Jagger, who wrote the rest of the lyrics and worked out the melody (remember, all they had was “da da…da da da da”) and they completed the song that would soon become the signature hit of the Rolling Stones, and one of the most famous songs in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Only the Stones almost never released the song!
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Was AC/DC Named After a Slang Term for Bisexuality?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: AC/DC was named after a slang term for bisexuality or a sly satanic reference.

As I mentioned last time out, the Australian rock band AC/DC has had a good deal of rumors told about them.

Last time I addressed the fact that Angus Young (co-founder of the band along with his brother, Malcolm Young) fudged his age so that he could pretend to be a teenager (due to his schoolboy costume that he would wear on stage – a costume he wore due to a suggestion from his sister, Margaret).

This time around, let’s discuss two of the many, many different theories as to why AC/DC was called AC/DC.
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Comic Book Legends Revealed #456

Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, did Marvel take the idea for Wolverine from a “create a character” fan contest? How did a Marvel editor cleaning out his office lead to the discovery of Art Adams? Finally, did an unpublished Logan’s Run issue end up in Bizarre Adventures?

Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and fifty-five.

Click here to read this week’s legends.

Did a TV Series Once Not Even Stop Production When One of Its Two Leads Killed Himself?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: A TV series continued production even after one of the two leads on the show killed himself.

I would never dream of begrudging shows continuing when one of their leads die. I mean, obviously, The Royal Family was not going to last long past Redd Foxx’s death or Chico and the Man after Freddy Prinze’s suicide, but when you’re in charge of a television program that employs dozens of people, I don’t think it is unfair at all to consider those people’s jobs and continue the show even if the chances are that the show won’t recover from the death of one of the leads.

However, few shows reacted as oddly to a lead’s death as Alias Smith and Jones, which never even halted production!!


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Did Star Trek: The Next Generation Use Sherlock Holmes Characters in an Episode Not Knowing That the Characters Were Not Yet in the Public Domain?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Star Trek: The Next Generation used Sherlock Holmes characters in an episode not knowing that the characters were not yet in the public domain.

Late last month, there was a notable court ruling determining that Sherlock Holmes and the other characters introduced in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories before 1923 were now officially public domain (although Doyle’s post-1923 stories still have copyright protection). It is a complicated quagmire of intellectual property rights (just today, there seems to be more confusion developing regarding the rights) and the complicated nature of the rights seemed to be an issue way back in the late 1980s when Star Trek: The Next Generation pitted the crew of the Enterprise against Sherlock Holmes’ main nemesis, Professor Moriarty.

Did the creators of Star Trek: The Next Generation seriously not know that Sherlock Holmes was not yet in the public domain when they wrote the characters into the 1988 second season episode “Elementary, Dear Data”?
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Was Tennessee Williams’ First Published Work in the Pages of Weird Tales?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about theater and whether they are true or false.

THEATER URBAN LEGEND: Tennessee Williams’ first published standalone work was a story in the pulp magazine, Weird Tales!

Tennessee Williams is one of the most celebrated playwrights of the 20th Century (and one of the most celebrated American playwrights without qualification).

Between 1944 and 1960, he wrote some of the most famous plays in the history of American Theater…

And his first professional standalone work?

It appeared in the pages of Weird Tales magazine!
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Was the Word Robot First Coined in a Early 20th Century Czech Play?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about theater and whether they are true or false.

THEATER URBAN LEGEND: Karel Čapek coined the word “robot” in a play.

Karel Čapek was one of the notable writers in Czechoslovakia during the 20th Century, and he was especially noteworthy when it comes to science fiction, as while he likely would not be technically termed a “science fiction writer,” he surely had a science fiction-tinge to his work, which is especially notable for a guy whose most notable plays all came during the 1920s.

Čapek was a harsh critic of Nazi Germany, and devoted much of his work in the 1930s to criticizing the Nazis. He refused to leave the country when it became pretty clear that the Nazis were coming, and he died of double pneumonia in December 1938, just as the Nazis were annexing part of his homeland.

Perhaps his most famous play was called R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which is about, well, robots.

And it is from this play that the term “robot” (an artificial, manufactured human-like being) is derived.

So over the years, you would see stuff like (from this site):

He coined the frequently used international word robot, which first appeared in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1920.

and

Etymological note: Robota is a Czech cognate of the German word arbeit (“work”), from the Indo-European root *orbh-. It is usually translated as “serf” or “forced labor” and was the name used for the so-called “labor rent” which existed in Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1848. From this word K. Čapek created the word robot = a working or serving machine.

The etymological roots pointed above are spot on, but what’s INcorrect is that it was not Karel Čapek who coined the term Read the rest of this entry »

Comic Book Legends Revealed #455

Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, does DC seriously own a trademark on the LETTERING in Superman’s logo? What strange way did Denny O’Neil react to the Batman credit card scene in Batman and Robin? And why did Marvel cancel Logan’s Run?

Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and fifty-four.

Click here to read this week’s legends.

Did Bob Cummings Pretend to be British to Get a Broadway Role?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about theater and whether they are true or false.

THEATER URBAN LEGEND: Bob Cummings pretended to be from England to get a role on Broadway.

Bob Cummings was a popular actor with a career that stretched a number of decades, from the stage to the screen to television.

He’s probably best known for his critically acclaimed (and popular) sitcom, The Bob Cummings Show, that ran from 1955-1959, where he plays a womanizing photographer.

The show launched the career of Ann B. Davis, as she won two Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actress for her work on the program (years before she was Alice on The Brady Bunch).

Cummings had a successful film career during the 1940s, with King’s Row….

and Saboteur probably being his two most notable roles…

(he was most popular as a comedic actor, but his dramatic films have seemed to stand the test of time a bit better – he also had a co-starring role in the classic drama Dial M for Murder).

An experienced and talented pilot, Cummings tried to fit that background into many of the roles he took (including his character on The Bob Cummings Show)…

But what’s at issue here is how Cummings got his start in show business period.

You see, when Cummings was a young man in the early 1930s, he was not having a very good go at getting a job as an actor in New York on the theater circuit. Then, as it remains true now, I suppose, British actors were the “hot” ticket on Broadway, so Cummings devised a rather devious plan.
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