How Sylvester Stallone Almost Made The Godfather: Part III

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Getty

To hear Sylvester Stallone tell it, failing to get a job as an extra in 1972’s The Godfather may have been the best thing to ever happen to him.

When casting directors passed him up for even a bit part—“Not even in the wedding scene,” he told the Herald-Journal in 1997—his “world came crashing down” and the onetime zoo employee turned to writing. After several screenplays, Stallone churned out a story about a palooka that would become 1976's Best Picture winner Rocky. Six sequels and 40 years later, Stallone remains one of the most recognizable faces in the world.

But there was a time when the Godfather series came back around, and for much more than a fleeting appearance. In 1983, Paramount wanted the bankable actor to write, direct, and star in The Godfather: Part III.

Buena Vista

The Godfather films had been a saving grace for the studio—two sprawling gangster epics engineered by novelist Mario Puzo and director Francis Ford Coppola to be both crowd-pleasers and critical successes. Both won Best Picture Oscars; the second, 1974’s The Godfather: Part II, inserted Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone and became one of the few sequels to garner favorable comparisons to the original.

Continuing the story was, to the studio’s thinking, inevitable: They had approached director Richard Brooks (In Cold Blood) with a 53-page treatment for a second sequel in 1977.  

Brooks turned them down, just as Coppola had. The director felt the Corleone family saga had been well-covered in both films—he had, in fact, even resisted doing the second. He was on to other projects, and no script the studio commissioned proved interesting enough for him to reconsider.

Around this time, Stallone had been hired—for a fee of $1 million—to direct Staying Alive, the 1983 sequel to 1977’s Saturday Night Fever. Though the actor hadn’t directed the original Rocky, he took on those duties for its first two sequels, which helped his perception as a hyphenated talent. It was possible his name on a poster could help overcome any audience apprehension that Coppola’s absence might produce.

“I think so,” Stallone said when asked by press about the project near the release of Staying Alive. “As brilliant as the other two Godfather films were, this one must be different. It must deal with a different era.” Stallone envisioned a contemporary crime story, one set “20 years” away from the original films that explored "the crime syndicate as it exists today." (At various points, Paramount had considered narratives involving the Kennedys, Cuban relations, and political assassinations involving both the mafia and the CIA—it’s unknown whether any of it would have worked their way into Stallone’s project.)

Stallone wasn’t sure he’d be the lead, but Paramount seemed interested in having him appear alongside Staying Alive star John Travolta, who was being courted for the role of Anthony, Michael Corleone’s son.

The idea may have gained more momentum when Staying Alive became a commercial success, earning enough to become one of the 10 highest-grossing movies of 1983. According to a 1985 Los Angeles Times article on the sequel’s development history, a deal for Stallone was “almost signed” before falling through. He joined Warren Beatty, Martin Scorsese, and Michael Mann as castaways in the studio’s revolving door of directors who could make a sequel that would stand up to the original.

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Paramount eventually weaned Coppola back on the project. The 1990 release of The Godfather: Part III ended more than 15 years of development efforts. Though Al Pacino returned as Michael Corleone, the film’s legacy proved insurmountable: it’s almost unanimously considered the weakest of the three films.

While doing promotion for 2010’s The Expendables, Stallone reflected on his flirtation with the project, downplaying his interest and relating his embarrassment when a studio executive presented him with a mock-up Godfather movie poster with his face on it.

“If I weren't wearing a hat, my skull would’ve split in two,” he recalled. “Red-faced, I said to the headman, ‘This is the worst idea since my conception.’”

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Larry David Shared His Favorite Episode of Seinfeld

Larry David at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.
Larry David at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.
David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Last week, Seth Meyers hosted a virtual Seinfeld reunion with Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jason Alexander to benefit Texas Democrats. Amid all the other reminiscing, the sitcom veterans got to talking about their favorite episodes of the show.

Louis-Dreyfus answered with “The Soup Nazi,” in which her character Elaine inadvertently causes the greatest (and most high-strung) soup chef in town to shut down his shop. For Alexander, it was “The Marine Biologist,” where his character George masquerades as a marine biologist on a date and ends up rescuing a beached whale.

Larry David’s response, “The Contest,” generated almost as much conversation as the episode itself did when it aired during season 4. In it, the show’s four main characters compete to see who can abstain from self-pleasure the longest, proving themselves to be the “master of their domain.” Though the actors managed to skirt around the word masturbation for the entire episode, the concept was still pretty provocative for network television.

“This one, I didn’t even put on the board because I didn’t want them asking. I just wanted them to come and see the read-through,” David said, as InsideHook reports. “[When they did] I had worked myself up into a lather because the read-through really went great. I was watching [the network executives] and I couldn’t tell how much they liked it. But I was ready to pack the whole thing in if they didn’t let us do this show: ‘I’m quitting. I’m quitting. I’m gonna quit.’ Fortunately, they didn’t say a word. I was shocked.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Louis-Dreyfus’s trepidation about the episode lasted through the shoot. “When we were making this episode, I was convinced we were going to be shut down. I was convinced that the network was going to come in and say, ‘This is not going to work out,’” she said. Needless to say, they never did, and Louis-Dreyfus now looks back on Elaine’s participation in the contest as “a very important cultural moment for women.”

David went on to explain that “The Contest” not only helped popularize Seinfeld among viewers, but it also helped its creators carry more clout in the industry. “That show changed something about how we were perceived in television land,” he said. “It really catapulted us to another place. It moved us to another level, I think.”

[h/t InsideHook]