12 Soulful Facts About Eddie and the Cruisers

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Amazon

A classic example of a movie finding its audience despite a weak theatrical run, 1983’s Eddie and the Cruisers gained a cult following for its original soundtrack and the convincing lip-syncing talents of star Michael Paré. Read on to find out why the story of a fictional '60s musician struck a chord with viewers, how Rick Springfield nearly starred, and whether we’ll ever see Eddie Wilson one more time.

1. IT WAS BASED ON A MURDER MYSTERY.

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Eddie and the Cruisers was not originally conceived as a nostalgia trip for Jersey rock. Author P. F. Kluge wrote the 1980 novel it was based on as more of a thriller, with Eddie’s former bandmates reflecting on their heyday with the presumed-dead Wilson as a killer tries to find some “missing” recordings the singer made before his apparent death. While the movie stuck to the same basic structure, the killer angle was dropped.

2. RICK SPRINGFIELD WANTED TO PLAY EDDIE.

Itching to grow out of his scrubs on General Hospital, soap opera actor-slash-singer Rick Springfield lobbied for the title role in Eddie and the Cruisers. Unfortunately, director Martin Davidson—who bought the novel rights—didn’t think he could be convincing as anyone other than Rick Springfield. While he “might have been great” in the part, Davidson said, “he wouldn’t have spanned the history” of the missing musician.

3. THE BAND GOT ADVICE FROM THE BOSS.

When producers went looking for a group to supply original music that would be lip-synched by the cast, they found John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band (named after a paint color) toiling in and around New Jersey. Their Bruce Springsteen-esque sound actually had some endorsement from Springsteen himself: Cafferty told People that the Boss was around for their early gigs and helped guide him through some songwriting challenges. “It was like getting batting tips from Mickey Mantle,” Cafferty said.  

4. ELLEN BARKIN HATED MAKING IT.

Ellen Barkin, who played the latter-day investigative reporter looking into Eddie Wilson’s death, was not enthused about making the film. “That’s what we liked to call a 'pay the rent' job,” she told The A.V. Club in 2010. “It wasn’t a script I liked.” Barkin said her agent more or less talked her into it on the premise she’d only have to work on it for a couple of weeks.

5. THE DIRECTOR WAS PRETTY MEAN TO MICHAEL PARÉ.  

Paré’s most notable acting gig up to that point was as a supporting cast member of NBC’s The Greatest American Hero. Davidson didn't have much confidence the young actor could pull off some of the more emotionally demanding scenes required: He essentially put him on acting probation. “If you f*ck up tomorrow, you’re fired,” he allegedly told Paré. The animosity was strong enough that Paré’s co-stars held a meeting and told Davidson that if he fired the actor, they’d walk off the shoot. 

6. SYLVESTER STALLONE MADE AN IMPORTANT INTRODUCTION.

When Davidson had Cafferty’s master recording set, he needed a record label to distribute it. Having directed Sylvester Stallone in 1974’s The Lords of Flatbush, he approached the actor to put him in touch with Scotti Bros. Records, the label that had helped facilitate a meeting between Stallone and the group Survivor that eventually paved the way for “Eye of the Tiger.” Scotti Bros. agreed to distribute the soundtrack, giving Cafferty’s band its first real break after toiling in local clubs for over a decade.

7. HBO AND MTV GAVE THE MOVIE A SECOND WIND.

Dumped unceremoniously by its distributor in September 1983 after a chunk of its potential audience was back in school, Eddie and the Cruisers was a theatrical flop. But in 1984, when the film hit HBO in heavy rotation and one of Cafferty’s songs was featured in a music video, audiences who had missed it the first time around caught on. Buoyed by the television exposure, the soundtrack cracked Billboard’s top 10 before topping one million in sales to go platinum. (Through 1989, it sold an astounding three million copies.)

8. THE PALACE OF DEPRESSION REALLY EXISTED.

Eddie’s existential crisis—to stay true to his music or placate record industry executives—comes during a scene shot at the “Palace of Depression,” a massive junkyard with parts and assorted junk artistically arranged. It wasn’t just set dressing: the Palace opened in 1932 in Vineland, New Jersey, after a man named George Daynor lost his savings in the stock market crash. Arriving in the state, he took to using trash to build out on a small patch of land. A restoration society is hoping to re-open the site in 2017.

9. THE SEQUEL WENT THROUGH 14 DRAFTS.

After the success of the album, Scotti Brothers purchased the sequel rights in 1985. That film wouldn’t see the light of day until 1989: It took 14 drafts for producers to be satisfied with a script for a follow-up that sees Eddie (Paré) living in anonymity in Canada as blue-collar worker “Joe West” before he gets the urge to start recording music again. Unfortunately, not everyone was interested in hearing it: Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! was an even bigger box office disappointment than the original, grossing just $536,508 in its opening weekend in roughly 400 theaters.

10. THE SEQUEL WAS SHOT AT A BON JOVI CONCERT.

To capture the atmosphere of a live arena crowd for Eddie’s climatic return to performing, the crew of Eddie II set up cameras at a Bon Jovi concert in April 1989 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. According to one concertgoer, the “fake” band lead by Paré was more well-received than the real warm-up band—Skid Row.

11. PARÉ RECORDED AN ALBUM OF HIS OWN.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1989, Paré revealed he had recently finished an album featuring his own vocals and planned on touring overseas to avoid any Michael/Eddie overlap. While there’s no evidence the album was ever released, you can still hear Paré sing (a little) on a track from the film Road to Hell.

12. PARÉ HAS WRITTEN A SECOND SEQUEL.

In 2015, Paré told The Washington Post that he’s been pecking away at a script for a third movie with a friend. “I’ve got up to page 78,” he said. Director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer), who is a fan of the original, said he would consider directing. In a time where Netflix and other venues are catering to some highly specific tastes, there might be more to Eddie Wilson’s story yet.

This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.
TidyBoard

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

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8 Things You Might Not Know About Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis.
Bruce Willis.
Daiki Tomidokoro, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

From his turns as unlikely action hero John McClane in the Die Hard series to smaller supporting roles in 1994’s Pulp Fiction and 1995’s Nobody’s Fool, Bruce Willis has consistently surprised audiences with his eclectic career choices. For more on Willis, including his recording career and how he made movie history with 1988’s original Die Hard, keep reading.

1. Bruce Willis was born in West Germany.

Walter Bruce Willis, the son of a military man, was born on March 19, 1955, while his father was stationed in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany. Just two years later, parents David and Marlene Willis moved to Carneys Point, New Jersey, where he spent part of his time in both high school and at Montclair State University trying his hand at acting. After his sophomore year, Willis decided to leave college and head to New York City to pursue a performing career.

2. Bruce Willis may have been one of the best bartenders in New York City.

While auditioning for acting roles and scoring the occasional break—he appeared in an off-Broadway play, Heaven and Earth, in 1977—Willis tended bar at Chelsea Central on New York City's Upper West Side. According to actor John Goodman, who knew Willis before either of them became famous, Willis was notable even then. “Bruce was the best bartender in New York,” Goodman told The New York Post in 2017. “He kept an entire joint entertained all night. He just kept the show going. He was amazing.”

3. Bruce Willis was cast in Moonlighting even though ABC thought the role was “uncastable.”

Bruce Springsteen and Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting (1985)
Bruce Springsteen and Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting.
ABC

Willis had done only some stage work and bit parts in movies like 1980’s The First Deadly Sin with Frank Sinatra and 1982’s The Verdict with Paul Newman before he went in to audition for ABC’s Moonlighting, a send-up of detective dramas. At the time, the role of David Addison was proving so difficult to cast that the network was looking to pay creator Glenn Gordon Caron, director Bob Butler, and co-star Cybill Shepherd to abandon the project. Then Willis auditioned, beating out 3000 other hopefuls and securing the part. The series ran from 1985 to 1989.

4. Thanks to Die Hard, Bruce Willis changed Hollywood salaries forever.

While doing Moonlighting, Willis spent his hiatus shooting feature films like 1987’s Blind Date with Kim Basinger. But it was 1988’s Die Hard that cemented him as a big-screen attraction. The action film about a New York City cop trapped in a Los Angeles skyscraper with his estranged wife and a group of terrorists was a hot commodity, and 20th Century Fox agreed to pay Willis the then-astronomical sum of $5 million for the role. (Richard Gere and Clint Eastwood were also considered.) At the time, major stars like Tom Cruise and Michael J. Fox were getting roughly $3 million a picture. The payday for Willis had other performers taking notice, and salaries reportedly went up as a result.

“It was an enormous amount of money at the time,” Willis told Entertainment Weekly in 2007. “And I was a TV actor! The day after I signed the deal, every actor in Hollywood’s salary went up to $5 million.”

5. The Bruce Willis movie Hudson Hawk was based on a song.


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Following Die Hard, Willis was a proven box office commodity that could help projects get made. In 1991, he starred in Hudson Hawk, a critical and commercial disappointment about a jewel thief with a love of music who is hired to steal from the Vatican. The film was based in part on a song written by musician Robert Kraft in 1981. Kraft knew Willis, then a bartender and actor, and shared it with him. Over the years, the two continued to shape the song, adding characters and stories. Eventually, it wound up in the hands of screenwriters Stephen De Souza and Daniel Waters.

6. Bruce Willis all but disappeared in Nobody’s Fool.

In contrast to conventional wisdom of the era, Willis parlayed his success as an action hero into opportunities to work with actors and directors he found interesting—even if it meant taking a small supporting role. (Willis spent just 22 minutes onscreen in 1994’s Pulp Fiction as boxer Butch Coolidge.) For 1995’s Nobody’s Fool, he passed on his normal $15 million fee to take $1400 a week since it meant working with Paul Newman. (Newman had forgotten the then-unknown Willis was a bit player in Newman’s 1982 film, The Verdict.) Because Willis felt so strongly Nobody’s Fool was Newman’s film, he opted out of having his photo included in the press kit and his name wasn’t in the production notes.

7. Bruce Willis had his own cartoon series.

In 1996, Willis lent his voice to Bruno the Kid, a syndicated animated series about an 11-year-old spy named Bruno who convinces his handlers he’s really an adult. “Bruno” was Willis’s nickname growing up as well as the name of his musical alter ego. In 1987, Willis released an album, The Return of Bruno, along with a cable special. The cartoon lasted one season.

8. Bruce Willis never finished shooting one of his movies.

In 1997, Willis started shooting Broadway Brawler, a romantic comedy about a washed-up hockey player falling in love. Just 20 days into shooting, Willis used his powers as producer to fire director Lee Grant, Grant’s husband and producer Joe Feury, cinematographer William Fraker, and wardrobe designer Carol Oditz—all reportedly over creative differences. The problems continued even after replacement director Dennis Dugan was brought on board. Rather than continue to waste money on the $28 million movie, studio Cinergi opted to shut it down. Cinergi’s parent company, Disney, absorbed the production costs in exchange for Willis agreeing to star in three Disney movies: Armageddon (1998); The Sixth Sense (1999), Willis’s biggest hit to date; and The Kid (2000).