15 Truths About The Truman Show

Released on June 5, 1998, Peter Weir's The Truman Show is often credited with predicting the reality television phenomenon that would begin in earnest two years later with Survivor. It's also notable in that it gave already-famous movie star Jim Carrey credibility as a dramatic actor, and even earned him a Golden Globe. Here are 15 things you might not know about the Oscar-nominated film.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED THE MALCOLM SHOW AND WAS MUCH DARKER IN TONE.

In May of 1991, screenwriter Andrew Niccol presented a drama titled The Malcolm Show to his then-manager, which he envisioned as a paranoid drama set in Manhattan, with Gary Oldman in the title role.

2. THE PLOT IS SIMILAR TO A MOVIE AND TWO EPISODES OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Critics compared The Truman Show to Paul Bartel’s 1968 short film The Secret Cinema, which starred Amy Vane as a secretary who doesn’t know that her life is being filmed and shown to her duplicitous friends and family in private screenings. The Secret Cinema was played before showings of Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run in 1969 and remade into a 1986 episode of Amazing Stories. Niccol said he had never heard of the film or the episode in question when he wrote The Truman Show. Niccol’s screenplay was also compared to two episodes of The Twilight Zone: “A World of Difference” and “Special Service.”

3. JIM CARREY TOOK A PAY CUT TO PLAY TRUMAN BURBANK.

Instead of his then-standard $20 million paycheck, Carrey accepted $12 million for his dramatic acting services.

4. NORMAN ROCKWELL AND THE 1940s WERE BIG INSPIRATIONS.

Laura Linney looked at 1940s Sears & Roebuck catalogs as preparation for her role as Meryl, Truman’s wife. Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers were studied by director Peter Weir before shooting to get the right look. In the shooting script, seven-year-old Truman’s school mistress is described as a “kindly Norman Rockwell-style” teacher.

5. LINNEY HAD ANOTHER INSPIRATION FOR HER PART.

Linney took some inspiration from her own mother for the film, not to play actress Hannah Hart, but to play actress Hannah Hart playing Meryl Burbank, Truman’s wife and a nurse at the Seahaven hospital. Linney’s mother was a cancer nurse at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

6. MOST OF THE FILM WAS SHOT IN THE PLANNED COMMUNITY OF SEASIDE, FLORIDA.

It fit the vintage, Rockwellian aesthetic the filmmakers were seeking. All of those building in Seaside are asked to include a front porch and white picket fence.

7. PRODUCTION WAITED ONE YEAR FOR CARREY TO FINISH WORKING ON LIAR LIAR.

During that time, Weir and Niccol worked on 14 drafts of the script. Weir also wrote a 10-page backstory that went into the history of the television show The Truman Show within the movie. According to the backstory , Christof was 29 years old when he convinced the Omnicam Corporation to give him the go-ahead to produce a show called Bringing Up Baby, starring an infant whose first year in the world would be fully documented.

8. A DOCUMENTARY WAS PRODUCED WITH THE SEAHAVEN ACTORS ABOUT THE TV SHOW.

Weir found that he had so much good material asking the actors to come up with answers to his questions as their onscreen personas that he put together a documentary unit to capture everything. Some parts made it to the movie, and the rest were turned into a half-hour documentary about the show that ran on Nick at Nite, presented as an episode of Tru Talk, hosted by Harry Shearer’s Mike Michaelson character.

9. ED HARRIS WAS A LAST-MINUTE REPLACEMENT FOR DENNIS HOPPER.

Hopper was supposed to play Christof, but he was either fired or left due to “creative differences” two months into filming (different versions of the story abound). Harris met Weir on set on a Thursday, worked on another project in New York for four days, then started work as Christof on a Tuesday. He would end up winning the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and scoring one of the film's three Oscar nods.

10. HARRIS AND CARREY NEVER MET DURING FILMING.

Carrey finished filming before Harris was brought in.

11. PHILIP GLASS MAKES A CAMEO.

Seven of Glass’ compositions are part of the movie’s soundtrack. Glass himself plays the piano in a scene where Truman is asleep on screen.

12. THEATER AUDIENCES WERE ALMOST PART OF THE MOVIE.

Weir had planned for projectionists to stop the film at one point during all screenings, cut to video shot by cameras installed in every theater, then cut back to the movie. To make things even more meta, the Oscar-nominated director flirted with the idea of playing Truman’s director, Christof, himself.

13. RON AND DON WERE HIRED TO DIRECT TRAFFIC ON SET.

Police Lieutenants Ron and Don Taylor were Seaside, Florida cops who Weir noticed had great relationships with the crew, so he hired them as actors.

14. THERE IS A PSYCHIATRIC CONDITION CALLED "THE TRUMAN SHOW DELUSION."

In 2008, a psychiatrist shared that he had met five schizophrenic patients and heard of another dozen who believed their lives were reality television shows. One patient climbed the Statue of Liberty believing that his high school girlfriend would be at the top, which was the key to him being able to leave the show.

15. AN ACTUAL TV SHOW MAY BE ON ITS WAY.

On April 10, 2014, it was reported that a television series based on The Truman Show was being developed at Paramount. No further updates have been announced.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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Good Gnews: Remembering The Great Space Coaster

Tubby Baxter and Gary Gnu in The Great Space Coaster.
Tubby Baxter and Gary Gnu in The Great Space Coaster.
YouTube

Tubby Baxter. Gary Gnu. Goriddle Gorilla. Speed Reader. For people of a certain age, these names probably tug on distant memories of a television series that blended live-action, puppetry, and animation. It was The Great Space Coaster, and it aired daily in syndication from 1981 to 1986. Earning both a Daytime Emmy and a Peabody Award for excellence in children’s programming, The Great Space Coaster fell somewhere in between Sesame Street and The Muppet Show—a series for kids who wanted a little more edge to their puppet performances.

Unlike most classic kid’s shows, fans have had a hard time locating footage of The Great Space Coaster. Even after five seasons and 250 episodes, no collections are available on home video. So what happened?

Get On Board

The Great Space Coaster was created by Kermit Love, who worked closely with Jim Henson on Sesame Street and created Big Bird, and Jim Martin, a master puppeteer who also collaborated with Henson. Produced by Sunbow Productions and sponsored by the Kellogg Company and toy manufacturer Hasbro, The Great Space Coaster took the same approach as Sesame Street of being educational entertainment. In fact, many of the puppeteers and writers were veterans of Sesame Street or The Muppet Show. Producers met with educators to determine subjects and content that could result in a positive cognitive or personal development goal for the audience, which was intended to be children from ages 6 to 11. There would be music, comedy, and cartoons, but all of it would be working toward a lesson on everything from claustrophobia to the hazards of being a litterbug.

The premise involved three teens—Danny (Chris Gifford), Roy (Ray Stephens), and Francine (Emily Bindiger)—who hitch a ride on a space vehicle piloted by a clown named Tubby Baxter. The crew would head for an asteroid populated by a variety of characters like Goriddle Gorilla (Kevin Clash). Roy carried a monitor that played La Linea, an animated segment from Italian creator Osvaldo Cavandoli that featured a figure at odds with his animator. The kids—all of whom looked a fair bit older than their purported teens—also sang in segments with original or cover songs.

The most memorable segment might have been the newscast with Gary Gnu, a stuffy puppet broadcaster who delivered the day’s top stories with his catchphrase: “No gnews is good gnews!” Aside from Gnu, there was Speed Reader (Ken Myles), a super-fast sprinter and reader who reviewed the books he breezed through. Often, the show would also have guest stars, including Mark Hamill, boxer “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and Henry Winkler.

All of it had a slightly irreverent tone, with humor that was more biting than most other kid’s programming of the era. The circus that Tubby Baxter ran away from was run by a character named M.T. Promises. Gnu had subversive takes on his news stories. Other characters weren’t always as well-intentioned as the residents of Sesame Street.

Off We Go

The Great Space Coaster was popular among viewers and critics. In 1982, it won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children’s Programming—Graphic Design and a Peabody Award in 1983. But after the show ceased production in 1986, it failed to have a second life in reruns or on video. Only one VHS tape, The Great Space Coaster Supershow, was ever released in the 1980s. And while fan sites like TheGreatSpaceCoaster.TV surfaced, it was difficult to compile a complete library of the series.

In 2012, Tanslin Media, which had acquired the rights to the show, explained why. Owing to the musical interludes, re-licensing songs would be prohibitively expensive—potentially far more than the company would make selling the program. Worse, the original episodes, which were recorded on 1-inch or 2-inch reel tapes, were in the process of degrading.

That same year, Jim Martin mounted an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to try and raise funds to begin salvaging episodes and digitizing them for preservation. That work has continued over the years, with Tanslin releasing episodes and clips online that don’t require expensive licensing agreements and fans uploading episodes from their original VHS recordings to YouTube.

There’s been no further word on digitizing efforts for the complete series, though Tanslin has reported that a future home video release isn’t out of the question. If that materializes, it’s likely Gary Gnu will be first to deliver the news.