18 Fun Facts About The Naked Gun

YouTube
YouTube

After his career-changing performance in Airplane!, Leslie Nielsen teamed up with Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker again for the ABC parody show Police Squad! in 1982. After six episodes, it was canceled (though some people were clearly watching it, as it was nominated for two Emmy Awards). Six years later, the show found new life and pronounced success as a comedy movie franchise, beginning with 1988’s The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!.

Nielsen returned as detective Frank Drebin, an inept police officer who uncovers an assassination plot against Queen Elizabeth II, and falls for the villain Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán)’s assistant, Jane Spencer, in Priscilla Presley’s first major film role. O.J. Simpson also took a repeated beating as Detective Nordberg. Here are some facts about the film that will make you notice birds singing, dew glistening on a newly formed leaf, and stoplights for the first time.

1. THE ORIGINAL TITLE FOR THE FILM SOUNDED TOO SIMILAR TO ANOTHER POLICE MOVIE FRANCHISE.

The Zuckers and Abrahams (known in shorthand as ZAZ) were informed by Paramount Pictures that Police Squad wasn’t a suitable title because it was too similar to Police Academy (Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach came out in March of 1988). The filmmakers were given a list of 20 other titles, and chose Naked Gun because “it promised so much more than it could ever possibly deliver.”

2. PRISCILLA PRESLEY HAD NEVER DONE COMEDY BEFORE.

She was cast by ZAZ for the same reason that other actors mostly known for serious roles were put in their movies: it makes the dry parody even funnier. Presley had worked on the show Dallas. Zucker often quipped that the only problem with her was when her ex, Elvis, visited the set.

3. GEORGE KENNEDY HAD WANTED TO WORK WITH THE ZUCKERS AND ABRAHAMS FOR YEARS.

George Kennedy (Ed Hocken) recalled in his memoir: “The first time I met ZAZ, the three of them were in their office at Paramount, and I read a headline from a newspaper in their waiting room: ‘Legless Boy Cartwheels Down Hill to Save Dad.’ A beat. Eruptions of laughter from all, and we were friends.” Kennedy was first offered Lloyd Bridges’ part in Airplane!, but was busy working and making good money acting in the ongoing Airport movie series.

4. KENNEDY WASN’T A FAN OF THE FILMING PROCESS.

Kennedy claimed that the Zucker brothers (David was the credited director for the first Naked Gun film) didn’t believe in doing any scene without 40 or more takes, and that telling a joke 40-plus times in front of a camera was “painful.”

5. THE ZUCKERS DIDN’T LOOK FAR FOR THEIR CASTING OF DOMINIQUE, LUDWIG’S SECRETARY.

She was played by Charlotte Zucker, Jerry and David’s mother.

6. THEY DREW FROM SEVERAL OLDER MOVIES.

The Charlotte Rampling and Robert Mitchum movie Farewell, My Lovely (1975) was where the scene of Priscilla Presley gliding down the stairs came from (the falling part was the comedic twist). The assassination attempt on Charles de Gaulle in The Day of the Jackal (1973) gave ZAZ the idea for the assassination plot against Queen Elizabeth II. Mad magazine, the Dirty Harry movies, and the cop series M Squad were other cited sources of satirization.

7. THE PAINTING DREBIN DESTROYED IS THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH'S THE BLUE BOY.

A copy of it anyway. The original is in The Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

8. IT WAS JOHN HOUSEMAN’S FINAL FILM ROLE.

Houseman played the middle finger-raising driving instructor. Houseman collaborated with Orson Welles on the infamous The War of the Worlds radio broadcast and on Citizen Kane. In 1974, he won a Best Supporting Acting Oscar for the his role in The Paper Chase. A week before The Naked Gun was released, Houseman also made a cameo in Scrooged.

9. WEIRD AL YANKOVIC’S CAMEO WAS A DREAM COME TRUE.

Police Squad! was his favorite TV show. He would have been satisfied with just being an extra in the movie. When the Zuckers heard that he was a fan, they wrote the scene of him on the plane.

10. WEIRD AL TOOK FIRST DATES TO SEE THE MOVIE, WITHOUT TELLING THEM HE WAS IN IT.

His dates “flipped out,” according to Yankovic. He always wore the same Hawaiian shirt as his big-screen self.

11. THE QUEEN’S RECEPTION WAS SHOT AT THE AMBASSADOR HOTEL.

The hotel permanently closed to guests one month later, and was demolished in 2005. You’ve seen the hotel in a number of films, including The Graduate, Pretty Woman, Forrest Gump, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

12. THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II ACTRESS MADE A LIVING AS A QUEEN ELIZABETH II IMPERSONATOR.

Jeannette Charles got her start in 1971, after she had a portrait of herself painted as a gift to her husband. The artist later remarked on her resemblance to Her Majesty in a newspaper interview. She appeared as the Queen in numerous TV shows and movies, including European Vacation and Austin Powers in Goldmember. Charles turned down a role in Ali G Indahouse because she thought the scene was disrespectful. Charles retired in 2004.

13. TIM MCCARVER WAS PAID A TINY AMOUNT FOR PLAYING ONE OF THE (MANY) BASEBALL ANNOUNCERS.

McCarver said he would have given back his “puny” salary to have actually been on set with Nielsen, who he was a huge fan of since he saw Airplane!.

14. REGGIE JACKSON WAS RETIRED BY THE TIME THE MOVIE CAME OUT.

He was an Oakland Athletic, not an Angel, for his final season in 1987.

15. YOU’VE PROBABLY SEEN THE GUY WHO SHOUTED "IT’S ENRICO PALLAZZO!" BEFORE.

Mark Holton was also bike thief Francis Buxton in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and Chubby in Teen Wolf.

16. NIELSEN PERFORMED FOR QUEEN ELIZABETH II IN 2005.

The two were both on hand for the Saskatchewan Centennial Gala to celebrate Nielsen’s birth province in Canada. The actor performed for a crowd of 13,000, which included the Queen.

17. THE NAKED GUN THEME SONG PLAYED AT NIELSEN’S FUNERAL.

Nielsen passed away on November 28, 2010 at the age of 84 and was laid to rest in Fort Lauderdale. Dominik Hauser’s theme played as the Canadian Mounted Police carried his coffin.

18. ED HELMS IS SET TO STAR IN A NEW NAKED GUN MOVIE.

David Zucker said he has no involvement in it, despite being asked.

Save Up to 80 Percent on Furniture, Home Decor, and Appliances During Wayfair's Way Day 2020 Sale

Wayfair
Wayfair

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14 Burning Facts About Lucifer

Tom Ellis stars as Lucifer Morningstar in Lucifer.
Tom Ellis stars as Lucifer Morningstar in Lucifer.
JOHN P. FLEENOR/NETFLIX © 2020

He's in the details, he makes deals, and he lost an epic fiddle contest in Georgia. Lucifer Morningstar (not a stage name) has played a lot of roles in popular culture, but he had never been a nightclub-owning amateur detective in Los Angeles until he got his own TV show on Fox in 2016.

In Lucifer, Tom Ellis plays the titular demon, who has left hell and the punishment business in order to get a little Earthside R&R in the City of Angels. Just as Dracula went from rotten-skinned monster to debonair seducer in literature, Lucifer’s version of the devil (who comes to us courtesy of Californication creator Tom Kapinos) is all tailored suits, wry smiles, and addictive flirtation. He’s also very, very persuasive and people just have a tendency to tell him their deepest, darkest secrets—which is the next best thing to having a superpower when you're trying to solve mysteries alongside a cynical cop (played by Lauren German) … even if she is immune to those charms.

As you catch up with the hit series on Netflix (season 5 dropped in late August) and prepare for its upcoming sixth and final season, here are some facts to know about Lucifer.

1. Supernatural predicted Lucifer’s arrival.

The long-running, beloved genre show Supernatural welcomed Lucifer into the world with a joke. In "The Devil in the Details," episode 10 of Supernatural's 11th season, their show's Lucifer (played by Mark Pellegrino) joked that if he ever got out of his cage in hell, he'd move to Los Angeles to solve crimes. Fans of Eric Kripke’s series might have been surprised five days later when Lucifer's first episode landed on Fox and showed the titular demon (played here by Tom Ellis) doing exactly that.

2. Though Lucifer isn’t a Supernatural spinoff, both shows exist in a similar universe.

Though Supernatural and Lucifer aren’t officially related, both shows occupy somewhat of a shared universe and feature some of the same mythical characters. They also clearly have a shared affinity, as both shows have made sly nods to each other over the years.

3. Lucifer is a loose adaptation of a Neil Gaiman comic book character.

Tom Ellis and Aimee Garcia in Lucifer.John P. Fleenor/Netflix © 2020

The main character of Lucifer is less an adaptation of the embodiment of evil from religious texts and more an official riff on the Lucifer that Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg created for The Sandman comic book series for DC Comics. Lucifer eventually got his own spin-off comic book series.

4. Lucifer star Tom Ellis had no idea the show was a loose adaptation of a Neil Gaiman comic book character.

When asked if he used the Gaiman comics as research for his character in Lucifer, Ellis admitted that he wasn’t even aware the show was adapted from a comic book series. "It is a loose adaptation," he told Digital Spy in 2016. “I hadn't used anything from the comic to start with. But since then Neil Gaiman, who was behind the original incarnation, has got in touch with me. He told me he really enjoyed the pilot, so that was nice—it was almost like one of the parents giving us their blessing.”

5. Watch Lucifer carefully and you’ll spot some Neil Gaiman Easter eggs.

To honor its original creator, Lucifer has featured nods to some of Gaiman’s other work. Most notably, Chloe (Lauren German) reads Gaiman's Coraline to her daughter Trixie (Scarlett Estevez), and references Trixie conning her father into reading her "the book about the sneezing panda," which is a reference to Gaiman's book Chu's Day.

6. There was a petition to stop Lucifer from airing before it ever even premiered.

Tom Ellis stars in Lucifer.John P. Fleenor/Netflix

Before a single episode of Lucifer had ever even aired, the conservative group One Million Moms rallied to get the show canceled. They garnered 11,000 signatures on a petition that objected to the series because they felt it would glamorize the devil. The incident was a bit of déjà vu for Gaiman, since Sandman faced similar calls for cancellation when it was published.

7. There was also a petition to save Lucifer from cancellation.

When Lucifer was canceled after three seasons (due to low ratings), fans fought back and kept the series alive with the social media hashtag #SaveLucifer. Fox sold the series to Netflix, which produced a fourth season with a penultimate episode titled "Save Lucifer." Netflix then renewed the series for a fifth season, which premiered on August 21, 2020 and was initially scheduled to be its last. However, in June—just two months ahead of the season 5 premiere—Netflix surprised and delighted the show’s massive fan base by announcing that they had greenlit a sixth and (this time definitely) final season.

8. Lucifer's Tom Ellis comes from a family of pastors.

Irony works in mysterious ways. While appearing on The Rich Eisen Show, Ellis explained that while he's playing the Lord of Hell, his father, sister, and uncle are all pastors. They're all also big fans of his acting work.

9. There are no Christmas episodes of Lucifer.

That may not be surprising given the main character's predilections, but it's surprising considering that Christmas-themed shows are a staple of the TV industry in search of extra nudges to entice their viewership. Refusing to make Christmas-themed episodes is a big diversion from the norm. It's a bold choice, but it falls in line with the show never mentioning Jesus Christ (not even when someone stubs a toe).

10. Lucifer never smokes on the show.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer Morningstar, D.B. Woodside as Amenadiel, and Lauren German as Chloe Decker in Lucifer.John P. Fleenor/Netflix © 2020

Beginning with the very first episode, there are several times where Lucifer can be seen just as he's about to light a cigarette, stubbing one out, or tapping ash into an ashtray, but you'll never see him actually take a drag and inhale. Still, even the fact that he's got them raises the important question: Why does the devil need to smoke?

11. Lauren German describes Chloe and Lucifer's relationship as "sad fireworks."

There's no better way to say it. Since the beginning, their reluctant partnership and blooming intimacy has been an exploration of conflicting emotions. That includes the looming revelation of something Lucifer has been telling Chloe since the beginning: That he's the devil. While describing their relationship as "sad fireworks," German also told TV Guide, “There's a lot of love and respect there, and her vulnerability is more present than ever before—but that can often be the most intoxicating element in a relationship. Someone that keeps you on your toes can be thrilling.”

12. Lucifer's nightclub has a fitting name.

Lucifer means "light bringer" in Latin so it's perfect that his club, Lux, is also the SI standard unit for measuring luminescence. Plus, Club Hell was already taken.

13. Lucifer star Tom Ellis has got some serious air piano chops.

D.B. Woodside and Tom Ellis in Lucifer.John P. Fleenor/Netflix © 2020

One of the perks of owning your own nightclub is that you can play piano whenever you want. And if you're immortal, you've got all the time in the universe to take lessons. (Just ask Groundhog Day’s Phil Connors.) Lucifer plays and sings a lot on the show, and while it's Ellis doing the singing, it's not him at the keys. “I’m very good at air piano, let me put it that way!" Ellis told TV Insider about his talent for faking it.

14. Lucifer drives a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette C1.

If you're wondering the make and model of Lucifer's automotive object of desire, now you know. The classic is sleek, a little dangerous, and has a mix of sharp angles and softer edges, matching the main character nicely. Plus, it's the last of its kind: 1962 was the final year the C1 chassis was available on the Corvette.