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The great thing about pop culture is that you usually know what to expect from it. As surely as the sun rises each day, Quentin Tarantino will direct a bloody, profanity-ridden foot fetish film, Alan Moore will write disturbing magical monster erotica, and Bruce Willis will play a relatable dude you should not under any circumstances fuck with. All is right with the world. But now and again, somebody doesn't play by the rules, and everything we understand about the universe is thrown into question. Like the time ...

6
Arnold Schwarzenegger Directed a Made-for-TV Christmas Special

Getty Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Famous Person:

Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for his uber-masculine roles in The Terminator, Commando, Predator, and basically anything else where a gun makes passionate love to an explosion. He is the exact opposite of the guy you'd want to direct your silly, feel-good holiday movie. Dude wouldn't teach the Grinch to love; he'd shove a grenade in his mouth and walk away while it blew.

The Out-of-Character Credit:

In 1992, Arnold Schwarzenegger directed a made-for-TV romantic comedy titled Christmas in Connecticut for reasons that cannot be scientifically explained.


Dead Hooker Blackmail is the 3-1 favorite over Cocaine at 5-1.

Christmas in Connecticut was the TNT-funded remake of the 1945 version, with Dyan Cannon as a cooking show host who befriends forest ranger Kris Kristofferson after he heroically rescues a boy from a blizzard. Cannon's manager then decides to capitalize on the publicity by having her host a live TV special where she will prepare a Christmas dinner for Kristofferson.

Unfortunately, in spite of hosting a cooking show, Cannon cannot actually cook, and since she is apparently a cold and unforgiving monster, she also has to hire people to pretend to be her family. You know where this is going: blah blah wacky misunderstanding, emotional confession, Christmas spirit, and Cannon and Kristofferson fall in love. The holidays, everybody!

TNT
The porn parody uses the exact same cover.

Everybody takes some odd jobs at the start of their career, but this wasn't early '80s Schwarzenegger -- this immediately followed Terminator 2. That movie made all of the dollars. We had to go back and print more just to give them directly to Schwarzenegger every time he flashed a tragic thumbs-up. Hollywood would have let Arnold direct and star in every role in Schindler's List if he had asked nicely. There is no reason he would agree to do this project, aside from an intense passion for WASP-y Christmas films, or perhaps to force himself to learn to say the word "Connecticut."

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5
Neil Gaiman's First Book Was a Biography of Duran Duran

Darryl James/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The Famous Person:

Neil Gaiman is a geek demigod. He's the creator of The Sandman comics, as well as an entire asylum full of dark fantasy novels that combine fairy tales, mythology, and the twisted imagination of a man who looks like Professor Snape's illegitimate son. The only reason he's not Tim Burton is because Tim Burton called dibs on "Tim Burton" first.

Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"That son of a bitch did the same thing to me the first time we saw Helena Bonham Carter."

The Out-of-Character Credit:

Early in his career, when Gaiman was just trying to get published to put ramen in the cupboard, he was given the opportunity to write a book about rock music. How cool is that? Of course Gaiman said he'd love to write about some hip, sexy rock band -- maybe the Velvet Underground? The publishers laughed and laughed. Apparently the sarcastic air quotes around "rock music" didn't come across over the phone. He was given a choice between writing his "rock book" about Barry Manilow, Def Leppard, or Duran Duran. He opted for the last one, because he had to live with himself afterward.

Proteus Publishing Co.
Hungry like the guy who's a week late with his rent.

In 1984, Neil Gaiman, the impending god-emperor of sexy, literate semi-goths, documented the rise of a synth-pop band in a biography titled Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five. For the sake of his future dignity, we hope he never had to repeat that title aloud. As his success in the literary field skyrocketed, Gaiman initially tried to conceal what his debut published book was, for incredibly obvious reasons. Eventually he admitted to it in a 2010 interview, since by then he had collected enough frilly black panties to build his own floating island.

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4
John Grisham Wrote the Plot of Christmas With the Kranks

Columbia Pictures

The Famous Person:

John Grisham's fast-paced legal thrillers like The Firm, The Client, and The Pelican Brief still make up roughly 60 percent of all airport bookstore sales around the world. What you are less likely to find there is Grisham's 2001 novel Skipping Christmas, which became the basis for the 2004 "comedy" film Christmas With the Kranks. Funny, we must have been in the bathroom when Tim Allen's corrupt law firm framed him for murdering a prostitute.

Doubleday
"Dead hookers worked on Schwarzenegger. It'll work on you."

The Out-of-Character Credit:

Christmas With the Kranks stars Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis as Luther and Nora Krank, a couple who feel depressed that their daughter is not going to be home for Christmas, so they decide they're going to spend the holidays on a cruise instead. This draws the wrath of their psychotic neighbors (led by Dan Aykroyd), who are aghast at the Kranks' decision not to decorate their house and stay home like everybody else. By the end of the film, the Kranks decide to celebrate Christmas after all, because blah blah wacky misunderstanding, emotional confession, and Christmas spirit again.

Columbia Pictures
Luther gets really into stocking stuffers.

Christmas With the Kranks' questionable Yuletide message did not go over well with critics, as the film currently holds a 5 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. When you watch a Grisham adaptation, you expect to see Tom Cruise strangling a corporate hit man in a parking garage, not Tim Allen strangling the abstract concept of comedy on a dining room table.

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3
M. Night Shyamalan Ghost-Wrote She's All That

Miramax Films

The Famous Person:

So much has already been said about the downward spiral of horror/thriller director M. Night Shyamalan's career and his overused "twist ending" gimmick that it's easy to forget that he also tried to make the phrase "jelly side down" sound ominous and scary. Never forget. Never. Forget.

Universal Studios
Twist: It was jam all along.

The Out-of-Character Credit:

Hey, do you remember the 1999 teen comedy She's All That? Of course you do: You have Freddie Prinze Jr.'s entire IMDb page tattooed on your neck, like all sane people. But just to refresh your memory: The movie told the story of a high school jock trying to win a bet by transforming a random "plain" girl into a prom queen because blah blah wacky misunderstanding, emotional confession, and school spirit. The formula is eternal.

Miramax Films
Thankfully they cut the part where he awkwardly asks for a handie in the restroom, which is the formula for real proms.

Shyamalan had a serious hand in writing it. Although the film's officially credited writer, R. Lee Fleming, disputed this claim, the former head of development at Miramax confirmed that Shyamalan substantially rewrote the original script -- the one that finally got the movie greenlit. Shyamalan's contribution to the script was also mentioned by the director during his DVD audio commentary.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. You do recall that Shyamalan wrote Stuart Little, right? Turns out that's the secret twist M. Night's career has been setting us up for all this time: He doesn't write very good movies. Oh, you saw that twist coming? Cool. We totally called The Village back in the day.

Walt Disney
"Our enthusiasm for this project was already dead."

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2
Charlie Kaufman Did Rewrites for Kung Fu Panda 2

DreamWorks Animation/Paramount Pictures

The Famous Person:

Charlie Kaufman is the auteur screenwriter behind such films as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, all of which use fantastical and metaphysical elements to explore the depths of human nature. He's a smart, incisive, and serious artist ...

The Out-of-Character Credit:

... who polished up the script for Kung Fu Panda 2.

DreamWorks Animation/Paramount Pictures
"Now it says we're the recurring fever dream that Nicolas Cage has while living above a dim sum restaurant."

In the movie, Jack Black plays Po, a tubby panda warrior who battles a peacock voiced by Gary Oldman in order to prevent him from taking over the world with fireworks. Having a strange, neurotic genius like Kaufman work on that kind of kiddie bullshit is like having David Lynch spruce up the script for Frozen.

It's of course tempting to look at this as nothing more than a cynical attempt by DreamWorks to force some artistic name recognition into their stable of wacky animated comedies, but shockingly, Kung Fu Panda 2 actually does feature some very Kaufmanesque elements: It deals with self-doubt, achieving inner peace, and even some surprisingly profound abandonment issues. And really, does it even matter that those themes are explored in scenes where Po dreams that his parents have replaced him with a radish? We're tempted to believe that Kaufman didn't do this one solely for the money, but had some serious emotional problems he could work out only via the medium of panda jump-kicks.

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1
Martin Scorsese Directed the Music Video for Michael Jackson's "Bad"

Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The Famous Person:

Martin Scorsese is a versatile director known for his brutal, beautiful, profanity-laden, ultra-violent films. If you're watching Robert De Niro kill somebody, you can bet Scorsese is the one who told him to do it.

The Out-of-Character Credit:

Michael Jackson originally wanted Steven Spielberg or George Lucas to direct the epic, gritty documentary about dance-fighting that was "Bad." But he couldn't get them, so he had to settle for a virtual unknown, a plucky young kid named Martin Scorsese. Oh wait, no -- this was the '80s, well after Scorsese had already made Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull. So why the hell did Scorsese, an established artist seeing huge critical success for his uncompromising vision, agree to direct a goofy extended vanity project for a pop star?


Oh, right. Because money is a thing.

Well, at least "Bad" tried to have a story: In the video, Jacko plays a private school kid who returns home to the streets during break, and his old crew, led by Wesley Snipes, realizes he's gone soft. He assures them, however, that he's still bad. Then he promptly proves himself as wrong as humanly possible by breaking into song and dance about what a dangerous criminal he is.

Surely the goofiness of the video wasn't Scorsese's fault, right? Maybe it was all due to the terrible script? Nope, because that would set the blame solely on Richard Price, aka the man who wrote some of the best episodes of The Wire. That's right: Two of this century's greatest minds in the crime-drama genre have actually collaborated on a project, and this was the result:

Epic Records


Epic Records


Epic Records



Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and was recently involved in the making of a sci-fi short film called Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow. Follow Joe Oliveto on Twitter and good things will happen. Probably to someone other than you, but whatever.

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Related Reading: Speaking of assholish celebrity behavior, did you hear about the time Brad Pitt convinced his friends Y2K was real? Or that Jimmy Page once kidnapped a 14-year-old girl? While you're at it, learn about John Lennon the abusive alcoholic.

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