Former TV director ("Marcus Welby, M. D.," "Starsky & Hutch") Randal Kleiser struck lucky at the box-office with his first feature, "Grease" (1978),and then directed another teen-friendly yet main...
Grease is the best. It's a classic in the world of movie musicals. Everyone has seen it, or at least a scene or two, at some point in their life. But there's a lot more to this 1978 film based on a musical set in the 1950's than you thought. We all know that Jeff Conaway (RIP) played Danny Zuko on Broadway and John Tavolta was Doody, but did you know Elvis was offered a role?
1. Elvis was initially offered a role in the film.
It is believed he would play the Guardian Angel role, but he did not accept.
2. Grease is the highest-grossing film of 1978.
Grease is the word.
3. In "Look at Me I'm Sandra Dee" they changed the reference and it has a freaky coincidence.
In the stage play, the song had a reference to Sal Mineo, who was murdered in 1976. For the movie, they changed the lyric to "Elvis, Elvis, let me be! Keep that pelvis far from me!" In reference to Elvis Presley, who died the same day the scene was filmed. The day was August 16, 1977.
4. There is a little tribute to the Three Stooges in the film.
The boys who played Doody (Barry Pearl), Sonny (Michael Tucci), and Putzie (Kelly Ward) all went to director Randal Kleiser with their idea and got it approved for the film during the bonfire scene.
5. All of the cast members were too old for high school.
John Travolta was 23, Jeff Conaway was 26, and Stockard Channing was 33 (older than Dennis C. Stewart A.K.A. Crater face or Leo, Leader of the Scorpions, who was 30). The two closest to high school age were Lorenzo Lamas (Tom) and Dinah Manoff (Marty), they were both 19.
6. A "Hickey From Kenickie" was 100% real.
Stockard Channing said in an interview that Jeff Conaway insisted on applying the hickeys himself.
7. "Hopelessly Devoted to You" was written after filming wrapped.
The producers felt that Olivia Newton-John needed a huge ballad for the film. This song actually ended up receiving an Academy Award nomination.
8. In the stage production, "Greased Lighting" is not sung by Danny.
It's sung by Kenickie, but John Travolta convinced the producers to let him sing it.
9. Danny's blue wind-breaker was a nod to James Dean.
Like his red wind-breaker from Rebel Without A Cause (1955).
10. Lucille Ball is the reason her daughter was not cast as Rizzo and the part went to Stockard Channing.
Lucie Arnaz was dropped from consideration after Lucille Ball called and said "I used to own that studio; my daughter's not doing a screen test!" But actually, she owned the studio Desilu which was bought by Paramount.
11. Cast members got sick from filming the drag race scene.
When filming near the bridge, the water there was stagnant and dangerous, causing some of the cast to become ill from it's filth.
12. That fight scene between Rizzo and Kenickie would have made sense but...
...the scene explaining it got cut. They filmed a scene, where the couple got into a heated argument, before the diner scene but it was pulled due to it's grittiness. It was compared to something Martin Scorsese might have directed.
13. The first time John Travolta met Olivia Newton-John was at her house.
He was a huge fan of hers (he basically was the #1 supporter of her being Sandy) and was very star struck when he met her, having not reached a huge level of success yet.
14. During the filming of "Greased Lightning" Jeff Conaway injured his back.
And the injury led to his abuse of prescription medication and downward path. He was dropped by fellow cast members during filming. This information was not publicly known until Conaway's appearance on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
15. Olivia Newton-John's pants were so tight when filming "You're The One That I Want," that the zipper was broken.
She had to be sewn into her pants every morning.
16. John Travolta had to talk Olivia into filming that song.
She admit on the Merv Griffin Show that she was terrified of it.
17. Jeff Conaway came up with the idea of how to blow off Danny and Kenickie's hug.
Conaway said that in 50's, two guys hugging, "forget about it!" So he suggested that after, they comb their hair and pretend it never happened.
18. The film takes place in 1958.
20 years before the actual release date on June 1, 1978 (in the U.S.).
19. In the stage production of the show, Sandy's last name is Dumbrowski.
But because Olivia Newton-John was cast, they changed her background to match her Australian one.
20. One song cut from the film is actually played in the background.
The "Alma Mater/Parody" instrumental from the stage version of Grease can be heard in the office on the last day of school and during the carnival scenes.
21. It took a week to shoot the dance contest.
They were on location in a real school at the time in downtown L.A. Originally Sandy was not intended to dance in this scene, it was meant to be just Danny and Cha Cha. It was reputedly 116 degrees during filming. Several extras suffered heat-related illness.
22. But it took only one day to film "You're The One That I Want"/the end scene.
It was filmed with a traveling carnival that was there only for the day. The next day, director Randal Kleiser wanted to film some extra close-ups, but the carnival had left, so they had to recreate pieces of that set to accomplish it.
23. Olivia Newton-John attended the premiere in a prom dress.
And then for the after party, she changed into her "Sandy 2" look, which was hot pink spandex.
24. That plastic wrap moment in "Greased Lighting" is actually a reference to condoms.
25. There was a planned sequel, by the title Summer School, completely different from Grease 2.
Paramount later nixed the idea and we sadly got Grease 2 in 1982. This orignal sequel plan grew out of Coach Calhoun's line "See you in summer school" to a student before he is hit with a pie in the carnival scene near the end.
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English novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard has died at the age of 90. The Cazalet Chronicle author passed away at her home in Bungay, Suffolk on Thursday (02Jan14) after a short illness, according to the BBC.
Howard began her career as a theatre actress and broadcaster before winning the the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1951 for her first novel, The Beautiful Visit.
She then published five installments of The Cazalet Chronicle, her most famous works.
The first two, The Light Years and Marking Time, were turned into a TV series titled The Cazalets.
Her novel, Getting It Right, was adapted into a 1989 movie, which was directed by Grease filmmaker Randal Kleiser.
Howard was also made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
She was married to British conservationist Peter Scott, Jim Douglas-Henry, and fellow novelist Sir Kingsley Amis.
The Blue Lagoon director Randal Kleiser posted a photo of his teenage leading lady Brooke Shields above her co-star's bed to make sure the young couple had instant chemistry on the set. In a new interview with Oprah Winfrey, which will air on her Where Are They Now special this weekend (01Dec13), Christopher Atkins, who was 18 when he romanced the 14-year-old actress in the 1980 film, reveals he fell for Shields in a big way after staring at a shot of her every night.
Atkins says, "The director wanted us to be attracted to each other. He stuck a picture of her over my bunk on the boat when I first got there just so I could start becoming attracted to her.
"He said, 'It will come out in your eyes. It will come out in real time on film'."
The director's plan worked - a little too well: "Brooke and I had a little bit of a romantic-innocence sort of romance in the very beginning of the film. It was very nice. We were very, very close friends, put it that way!"
Atkins reveals the teenagers had plenty of time to get to know one another: "The conditions during filming were very rustic. When we got there, there was no water on the island and there was really no place to live. The first two weeks we lived on a boat and we were shuttled back and forth to the set from the boat. Then after that we moved into the tents and lived in those tents for four and a half months."
Fresh off his Emmy win for the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, Tom Hanks is already thinking ahead. Hanks will first play a train conductor in the Robert Zemeckis-directed pic Polar Express in what Variety describes as "the most CGI-ambitious holiday film since Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The Castle Rock project centers on a boy whose belief in Santa Claus results in a fantasy trip to the North Pole aboard a magical train. The film is slated for release for the 2004 holiday season. Afterwards, Hanks will star in the Coen brothers-helmed Ladykillers, a remake of the 1955 comedy that starred Alec Guiness and Peter Sellers. The film is about an old landlady who unknowingly rents rooms to a group of thieves looking for a hideout.
After one of his fans was killed by a drunk driver outside a radio station in Los Angeles, singer Justin Timberlake has decided to tackle the issue. According to Reuters, Timberlake will write and produce a public service radio and TV spot on behalf of Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes Against Drunk Driving (RADD) to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving among young people.
This is not about space. Lance Bass' production company, A Happy Place, has optioned Gordon Korman's kids book Nose Pickers From Outer Space--OK, so it is about space--for Grease director Randal Kleiser, Variety reports. The book is part of a series about an alien who attempts to save the earth from destruction by impersonating a fourth-grade exchange student. The alien race carries computers in their noses. Bass would likely play one of the nose pickers.
Owen Wilson will play Hutch to Ben Stiller's Starsky in the action comedy Starsky & Hutch, set for a February start, Variety reports. The movie is based on the popular television show Starsky & Hutch, which ran from 1975-1979, and originally starred Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. Snoop Dogg also stars in the role of Huggy Bear.
Def Jam Records is teaming up with Paramount Pictures and MTV Films to produce a military comedy for Redman and Method Man. According to Variety, the film is a fish-out-of-water story that follows the duo's misadventures after they join the military and embark on a covert overseas campaign. Redman and Method Man have been on a roll following last year's How High. The two will star in New Line's upcoming urban comedy Ghetto, Inc. and will play drug cops in an untitled comedy for Universal.
Two men who allegedly paid street people to fight each other as part of the Internet video sensation Bumfights were arrested in San Diego, Reuters reports. Zachary Bubeck and Ryan Edward McPherson were charged with conspiracy, solicitation of a felony crime and illegally paying people to fight. The arrests followed a three-month probe into the tapes, which Bumfights producers claim to have sold more than 300,000 of over the Internet for $19.99 apiece. "Bumfights, Vol 1" is touted by its producers as "the fastest-selling independent video" featuring "drunks" and "crackheads." The tape shows bedraggled men engaging in fistfights and acts of self-abuse in exchange for cash, food, liquor and hotel rooms. They were warned not to tell authorities about their compensation.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that AOL Time Warner and the Walt Disney Co. are in talks to merge CNN with ABC News to create "a stand-alone news powerhouse." But CNN News Group Chairman and Chief Executive Walter Isaacson told staff in an internal memo obtained by Reuters Tuesday that while talks have periodically occurred between CNN and other news groups, no deal was in the works. "The idea is intriguing and we expect that these talks will pick up again from time to time," Isaacson said, but added, "at this time, CNN is not close to making a deal."
The sisters of Mexican singer/actress Thalia were reportedly ambushed and possibly kidnapped after leaving a Mexico City theater, The Associated Press reports. Family members have refused to file a police report, a common occurrence in Mexico because relatives often fear officials may be involved. Thalia married Tommy Mottola--head of Sony Music and the former husband of singer Mariah Carey--in December 2000.
Government intelligence specialists have been secretly appealing to Hollywood filmmakers and writers for terrorist scenarios, Variety reports.
The U.S. Army ordered a special committee to gather at the University of Southern California last week to brainstorm possible terrorist targets and schemes in the U.S. and to offer possible solutions to those threats.
The ad hoc committee was formed in August 1999 after the Army awarded a five-year contract to USC to create the Institute for Creative Technologies. The ISC was to enlist the entertainment industry, video game makers and computer scientists to improve virtual reality and simulation training for soldiers.
Screenwriters Steven E. de Souza (Die Hard), Paul De Meo and Danny Bilson (The Rocketeer) are involved in the committee, as are directors David Fincher (Fight Club), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), Randal Kleiser (Grease) and Mary Lambert (The In Crowd).
One USC insider told Variety the group was focused on short-term threats against the country and had already met twice via telephone conference with the Pentagon.
James Korris, ITC creative director, confirmed that meetings with the Army were taking place but did not elaborate on any specific committee recommendations.
Served as director of a pilot for an Internet series "Royal Standards" for Digital Entertainment Network
Helmed second feature, "The Blue Lagoon"
Made short film "Peege"
First produced script, "Street People"
TV-movie directorial debut, "All Together Now"
Directed the acclaimed TV-movie, "The Gathering"
Feature film directorial debut "Grease"
Minor acting role in the comedy drama "Crazy in Alabama"
Directed "Red Riding Hood," starring Henry Cavill, Morgan Thompson, and Debi Mazar
Directed Amanda Bynes and Chris Carmack in the romantic comedy "Love Wrecked"
Directed autobiographical feature "It's My Party"
Former TV director ("Marcus Welby, M. D.," "Starsky & Hutch") Randal Kleiser struck lucky at the box-office with his first feature, "Grease" (1978),and then directed another teen-friendly yet mainstream film, "The Blue Lagoon" (1980).<p>The Pennsylvania native moved to Southern California to attend USC. To finance his education, he began to work as a model and actor, appearing in commercials and as an extra in big-budgeted movie musicals like "Camelot" (1967) and "Hello, Dolly!" (1969). After receiving a master's degree in film, he made short films ("Peege" 1973, "Foot Fetish" 1974) before segueing to series TV. Kleiser began directing TV-movies with "All Together Now" (ABC, 1975), a docudrama about orphans, and went on to helm "Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway" (NBC, 1976), with Eve Plumb (of "The Brady Bunch") as a young girl sucked into teen prostitution. Kleiser also directed John Travolta in his first TV-movie, the touching "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" (ABC, 1976) and garnered an Emmy nomination for the award-winning holiday-themed "The Gathering" (ABC, 1977), which featured Edward Asner as a dying man trying to make amends with his estranged family.<p>"Grease" (1978), a film adaptation of a long-running Broadway musical, was a fantasy version of the 1950s teen musicals. Kleiser seamlessly interwove the film's musical numbers with the plot machinations and elicited a strong performance from leading man John Travolta. The exuberant, if somewhat derivative, film proved to be a box office hit. Kleiser followed with "The Blue Lagoon" (1980), starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. Despite its rather trite story, it, too, proved to be a success at the box office. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Nestor Almendros, "The Blue Lagoon" was a cool film, in part due to Kleiser's direction of the slightly improbable material. Audiences went to the film to see its stars cavorting in the sun and sand. <p>After his big screen successes, Kleiser hit a lull with such forgettable efforts as "Grandview USA" (1984) and "Flight of the Navigator" (1986). The quirky sequel, "Big Top Pee-wee" (1988), had some comic moments, but, overall, was not as popular as the other Paul Reubens' big-screen effort. By the 1990s, Kleiser's feature film work perked up. "White Fang" (1991) was well-received by critics and the sequel "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" (1992) won a modest box office. But "Return to the Blue Lagoon" (1991) failed to duplicate the spirit or success of its original.<p>The openly gay Kleiser chose to film a far more personal project, based upon his relationship with his lover who, suffering from complications from AIDS, chose to end his life. The result was "It's My Party" (1996), starring Eric Roberts, Gregory Harrison, Bronson Pinchot, Margaret Cho, and Olivia Newton-John, was well-received at several film festivals, including Sundance.
John Raymond Kleiser
Harriet Kelly Kleiser
born September 9, 1954
met on the set of "Summer Lovers" in 1982; together until 1990; committed suicide in 1993 because he was suffering from complications from AIDS; born c. 1954
School of Cinema-Television, University of Southern California
University of Southern California
On "It's My Party": "Even if it were only on Super 8 with a bunch of actors at the house, I just had to do it." Kleiser to THE ADVOCATE, February 6, 1996
"I've never hidden being gay. And I've never pretended to be straight."
"Randal makes everyone feel calm and comfortable like no other director I've ever worked with. He has a quiet control of the set, and because of that things are tension-free." --Olivia Newton-John