20 Out-of-This-World Facts About Galaxy Quest

Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tim Allen, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell in Galaxy Quest (1999).
Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tim Allen, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell in Galaxy Quest (1999).
Paramount Home Entertainment

Twenty years ago, Galaxy Quest arrived in theaters to adorably and amusingly skewer the sci-fi movie genre in ways that remain funny and fresh to this day (a recent documentary, Never Surrender, even traced its legacy). To celebrate the movie's 20th anniversary, here are 20 things you might not have known about the movie that proved you don’t have to set out for space on the U.S.S. Enterprise to explore brave new worlds.

1. Galaxy Quest had to cut out some salty language in order to get a PG rating.

But some of the original dialogue is easy enough to spot. For instance, during a memorable scene, Sigourney Weaver yells, “Screw that!” but her lips are quite clearly saying, “F**k that!”

2. Galaxy Quest took aim at film critics—at least one specific film critic—before it even hit the big screen.

You know the movie's big baddie, Sarris? He was reportedly named after film critic Andrew Sarris, who was outspoken about his dislike of producer Mark Johnson’s previous effort, The Natural.

3. Alan Rickman’s Galaxy Quest character was originally a knight.

Well, kind of. His Alexander Dane was supposed to have been the recipient of an honorary knighting by Queen Elizabeth, but Rickman himself thought that such an event didn’t work with his character. Still, Dane is billed as “Sir Alexander Dane” in the film’s credits.

4. A fake documentary about Galaxy Quest aired on E! in 1999.

Galaxy Quest: 20th Anniversary, The Journey Continues was a mockumentary that (quite effectively) tapped into the movie's universe and attempted to chronicle the making of the fake Galaxy Quest television show that inspired the satirical film.

5. There might still be a Galaxy Quest sequel, or TV series.

Fans of the film have been begging for a follow-up for years, and started gaining more serious traction in 2014, when Tim Allen hinted that something might actually be in the works. However, the unexpected death of Alan Rickman in 2016 quieted a lot of those rumors, with Sam Rockwell saying that it could never happen without Rickman. But one year later, it was announced that a series was happening and that actor/comedian Paul Scheer would be writing it.

In 2018, however, the executive who had greenlit the project departed Paramount, putting the project on hold. While its status is unconfirmed at the moment, we do know that there are plenty of ideas for the script and other cast members have expressed interest in revisiting the material.

6. Galaxy Quest is the seventh greatest Star Trek movie ever made.

At least, according to Trekkers who voted on the matter during the Star Trek 2013 convention in Las Vegas.

7. Galaxy Quest's aspect ratio changed in theaters to help hammer home the story.

Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tim Allen, and Tony Shalhoub in Galaxy Quest (1999)
Paramount Home Entertainment

In theaters, the first 20 minutes of the film were presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, before blowing out into 2.35:1 when the spaceship lands on Thermia. Eye-popping!

8. Galaxy Quest was one of the first movies to have its own website.

Although you can’t see GalaxyQuest.com anymore, the site was once live, and it amusingly took the whole “fake television show” gag to the next level. Instead of being a standard issue movie website, the page kept up the ruse that Galaxy Quest was a real show with real stars. It even included a giant trove of fake episode guides.

9. The Galaxy Quest website even invented a fake, superfan webmaster.

His name was “Travis Latke,” and no one else loved Galaxy Quest quite as much as he did. The site included references and nods to "Travis," who took the time to thank his mom for paying the website’s server bills.

10. Galaxy Quest's spaceship includes a nod to Star Trek.

Tim Allen and Enrico Colantoni in Galaxy Quest (1999)
Paramount Home Entertainment

The NSEA Protector's serial number is listed as NTE 3120. “NTE” is believed to be short for “Not The Enterprise.”

11. Galaxy Quest was Rainn Wilson’s first movie.

The Office star appears as one of the aliens in the film, and though his part is mainly confined to background work, he pops up in a number of deleted scenes. This was Wilson’s first feature film work; he had only been credited for a role on the soap opera One Life to Live before landing the part.

12. Galaxy Quest also marked Justin Long’s feature film debut.

Hard to believe, especially considering the young co-star had a major role in the final product. Long had previously goofed around with a comedy troupe, but Galaxy Quest was his first actual gig. Not a bad start.

13. Justin Long almost lost his role in Galaxy Quest to some other well-known actors.

Given his newbie status in the business, it’s no surprise Long almost didn’t snag the part. Other actors auditioned and came close, including Kieran Culkin, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Tom Everett Scott.

14. Galaxy Quest was originally going to be directed by Harold Ramis.

Originally, Galaxy Quest was known as Captain Starshine and it was set to be directed by Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis. However, Ramis reportedly left the project when they insisted on casting Tim Allen in the lead role.

15. Harold Ramis’s first choice for the lead in Galaxy Quest was Kevin Kline.

Another option the original director wanted to explore was Alec Baldwin. Disney didn’t dig either choice and Ramis left the film, unhappy with his inability to cast it as he saw fit.

16. Galaxy Quest's Thermians might be related to another cinematic alien race.

Patrick Breen, Enrico Colantoni, Missi Pyle, and Jed Rees in Galaxy Quest (1999)
Paramount Home Entertainment

The Thermians claim to be from the planet Klaatu Nebula. Klaatu is the name of the alien from the 1951 alien invasion thriller The Day The Earth Stood Still.

17. Galaxy Quest promised a return that also echoes Star Trek.

At the end of Galaxy Quest, a trailer touts the return of the fake television series, slated to come back a full 18 years after the show originally aired. Star Trek also saw an 18-year gap between two of its television series (1969 to 1987). Like Galaxy Quest, its film outings were not included in that gap.

18. Tim Allen almost starred in Bicentennial Man instead.

Tim Allen in Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2019)
Fathom Events

The sci-fi film ended up starring Robin Williams instead—and notoriously bombed at the box office.

19. You can thank Steven Spielberg for Galaxy Quest's romantic subplot.

When the director visited the set, he suggested that Missi Pyle’s alien role be expanded, which is why a subplot involving a romance between her and Tony Shalhoub was added in.

20. Sigourney Weaver kept her wig when shooting was over.

Sigourney Weaver in Galaxy Quest (1999)
Paramount Home Entertainment

And who can blame her? That thing looked amazing on her.

When Mississippi Once Banned Sesame Street

Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images
Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images

Since it began airing in the fall of 1969, Sesame Street has become an indelible part of millions of children's formative years. Using a cast of colorful characters like Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch, along with a curriculum vetted by Sesame Workshop's child psychologists and other experts, the series is able to impart life lessons and illustrate educational tools that a viewer can use throughout their adolescence. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone—even Oscar—who would take issue with the show’s approach or its mission statement.

Yet that’s exactly what happened in early 1970, when a board of educational consultants in Mississippi gathered, polled one another, and decided that Sesame Street was too controversial for television.

The series had only been on the air for a few months when the newly formed Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (also known as the State Commission for Educational Television) held a regularly scheduled meeting in January 1970. The board had been created by the state legislature with appointees named by Governor John Bell Williams to evaluate shows that were set to air on the state’s Educational Television, or ETV, station. The five-member panel consisted of educators and private citizens, including a teacher and a principal, and was headed up by James McKay, a banker in Jackson, Mississippi.

McKay’s presence was notable for the fact that his father-in-law, Allen Thompson, had just retired after spending 20 years as mayor of Jackson. Highly resistant to integration in the city during his tenure in office, Thompson was also the founder of Freedom of Choice in the United States, or FOCUS, an activist group that promoted what they dubbed “freedom of choice” in public schools—a thinly veiled reference to segregation. Mississippi, long the most incendiary state in the nation when it came to civil rights, was still struggling with the racial tension of the 1960s. Systemic racism was an issue.

Entering this climate was Sesame Street, the show pioneered by Joan Ganz Cooney, a former journalist and television producer who became the executive director of the Children’s Television Workshop. On the series, the human cast was integrated, with black performers Matt Robinson and Loretta Long as Gordon and Susan, respectively, appearing alongside white actors Jada Rowland and Bob McGrath. The children of Sesame Street were also ethnically diverse.

Zoe (L) and Cookie Monster (R) are pictured in New York City in November 2009
Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

This appeared to be too much for the Authority, which discussed how lawmakers with control over ETV’s budget—which had just been set at $5,367,441—might find the mixed-race assembly offensive. The panel's participants were all white.

The board pushed the discussion aside until April 17, 1970, when they took an informal poll and decided, by a margin of three votes against two, to prohibit ETV from airing Sesame Street—a show that came free of charge to all public television stations. (The decision affected mainly viewers in and around Jackson, as the station had not yet expanded across the state and was not expected to do so until the fall of 1970.)

The members who were outvoted were plainly unhappy with the outcome and leaked the decision to The New York Times, which published a notice of the prohibition days later along with a quote from one of the board members.

“Some of the members of the commission were very much opposed to showing the series because it uses a highly integrated cast of children,” the person, who did not wish to be named, said. “Mainly the commission members felt that Mississippi was not yet ready for it.”

The reaction to such a transparent concession to racism was swift and predictably negative, both in and out of Mississippi. Board members who spoke with press, usually anonymously, claimed the decision was a simple “postponing” of the show, not an outright ban. The fear, they said, was that legislators who viewed ETV as having progressive values might shut down the project before it had a chance to get off the ground. It was still possible for opponents to suffocate it before it became part of the fabric of the state’s television offerings.

The concern was not entirely without merit. State representative Tullius Brady of Brookhaven said that ETV exerted “a subtle influence” on the minds of children and that the Ford Foundation, which funded educational programming, could use its influence for “evil purposes.” Other lawmakers had previously argued against shows that promoted integration.

Grover is pictured at AOL Studios in New York City in May 2015
Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images

Regardless of how the decision was justified, many took issue with it. In an anonymous editorial for the Delta Democrat-Times, a critic wrote:

“But Mississippi’s ETV commission won’t be showing it for the time being because of one fatal defect, as measured by Mississippi’s political leadership. Sesame Street is integrated. Some of its leading cast members are black, including the man who does much of the overt ‘teaching.’ The neighborhood of the ‘street’ is a mixed one. And all that, of course, goes against the Mississippi grain.”

Joan Ganz Cooney called the decision a “tragedy” for young people.

Fortunately, it was a tragedy with a short shelf life. The following month, the board reconvened and reversed its own informal poll result, approving of Sesame Street and agreeing that ETV could air it as soon as they received tapes of the program. Thanks to feeds from Memphis, New Orleans, and Alabama, Sesame Street could already be seen in parts of Mississippi. And thanks to the deluge of negative responses, it seemed pointless to try to placate politicians who still favored segregation.

In the fall of 1970, the Sesame Street cast appeared in person in Jackson and was met by representatives from the board, which helped to sponsor the live performance, though it’s not clear any apology was forthcoming.

Sesame Street would go on to win numerous awards and accolades over the proceeding 50 years, though it would not be the only children’s show to experience censorship on public television. In May 2019, ETV networks in Alabama and Arkansas refused to air an episode of the PBS animated series Arthur in which a rat and aardvark are depicted as a same-sex couple getting married.

Attention Movie Geeks: Cinephile Is the Card Game You Need Right Now

Cinephile/Amazon
Cinephile/Amazon

If you’ve got decades worth of movie trivia up in your head but nowhere to show it off, Cinephile: A Card Game just may be your perfect outlet. Created by writer, art director, and movie expert Cory Everett, with illustrations by Steve Isaacs, this game aims to test the mettle of any film aficionado with five different play types that are designed for different skill and difficulty levels.

For players looking for a more casual experience, Cinephile offers a game variety called Filmography, where you simply have to name more movies that a given actor has appeared in than your opponent. For those who really want to test their knowledge of the silver screen, there’s the most challenging game type, Six Degrees, which plays like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with the player who finds the fewest number of degrees between two actors getting the win.

When you choose actors for Six Degrees, you’ll do so using the beautifully illustrated cards that come with the game, featuring Hollywood A-listers past and present in some of their most memorable roles. You’ve got no-brainers like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (2003) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990) alongside cult favorites like Bill Murray from 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Jeff Goldblum in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). Of course, being a game designed for the true film buff, you’ll also get some deeper cuts like Helen Mirren from 1990’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Sean Connery in 1974's Zardoz. There are 150 cards in all, with expansion packs on the way.

Cinephile is a labor of love for Everett and Isaacs, who originally got this project off the ground via Kickstarter, where they raised more than $20,000. Now it’s being published on a wider scale by Clarkson Potter, a Penguin Random House group. You can get your copy from Amazon now for $20.

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