Hollywood history is full of fun coincidences and interesting side details, like certain actors repeatedly appearing in the same movies or the fact that every celebrity credits their success to a pact with the same ancient snake god. But sometimes it gets even weirder than that. Just look at how ...
When O.J. Simpson, the famous soccer player and star of Capricorn One, fled from police on June 17, 1994, it was huge news. It interrupted the NBA finals, putting annoyed basketball fans among the 95 million Americans who watched the pursuit live. And two helicopter pilots, Dana Vahle and Zoey Tur, were transmitting every moment for rival news stations. Two years earlier, both had covered the uprising in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, presumably while throwing things at each other from their helicopters while trying to get the better angle. Their on-the-job rivalry was serious, with Tur thinking Vahle a jerk. But then later they learned that they had an unlikely kinship.
At the time, Tur was known as Bob, and Vahle was known as Dick. Both were married with children, but neither felt happy, and both eventually realized why. The '80s and '90s were not a welcoming time for transgender people (not that it's a cakewalk now). Vahle's initial steps toward transitioning cost her a job and her marriage, and Tur struggled with depression and suicidal ideation.
But Vahle committed to transitioning in 2011, and Tur followed suit in 2013. Today they're friends and are both much happier, even though they've lost other friends, struggled in their careers, and have written off their own generation as being incapable of understanding them. But they have hope for the future. Indeed, most media coverage of their stories has been positive and respectful. Most of it.
We can't recall most of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but there's a scene wherein Jason Segel and Russell Brand make fun of Kristen Bell's character (Sally? Susan?), an actress, for appearing in a movie about killer cellphones. They take 30 seconds out of the plot to dunk on the premise, including pointing out that the whole conceit could be defeated by removing a phone's battery (this was in 2008, when that was easy, as opposed to today, when your phone is impregnable and you'd simply have to wait for its shitty battery to run out on its own).
Two years earlier, before Bell's career had taken off, she'd starred in Pulse, whose 11 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating tells you everything you need to know about its story of a ghost virus that infects computers, televisions, and phones. The will to live is sucked out of tech users, and eventually, everyone turns into piles of black ash. Because maybe technology takes away our humanity. Do you get it? Do you get the metaphor?
Anyway, Bell assumed that the Sarah Marshall scene was a shot at her potboiler, and she was worried that it would cause problems if she were to be seen as mocking her last movie. But Segel, Sarah Marshall's writer, insisted that he'd never seen Pulse, because why on Earth would he have, and that he didn't even know Bell was in it. He had just tried to think of the dumbest movie premise he could, and killer cellphones fit the bill.
We're gonna go ahead and agree with him on that.
Less amusingly, Bell also had to act out a scene in which she learns that the TV show she stars in has been canceled... a day after Bell learned that the real TV show she really starred in, Veronica Mars, had been axed. She said she "poured a lot of emotional truth" into that scene, which we assume is actor code for hangover rage.
Credit for this observation belongs to film critic Scott Weinberg, possibly because he is the only person to remember Camp Nowhere. The 1994 family comedy about an inconveniently located summer camp featured Andrew Keegan and Allison Mack as two of the kid campers, but history is not going to remember them as actors.
We'll start with Keegan, Hollywood's equivalent of a generic white guy you vaguely remember from high school who pops up at your ten-year reunion with a mass of dreadlocks and tales of backpacking across India. Not spiritually satisfied with bit roles on Sabrina The Teenage Witch, House, and CSI, in 2014, Keegan founded a "community spiritual center" called Full Circle. Their vague theology was roughly "Hinduism crossed with people who say they're spiritual but not religious over their post-yoga chai latte." His followers, which photos suggest were not too numerous, chanted, "We love you, Andrew," practiced crystal healing, held hands a lot, and talked about "soul medicine."
If you can't watch, the phrase "World peace drum circle" appears within ten seconds, and the tone stays consistent from there.
In 2015, Full Circle was raided by the FBI for, drum roll, selling kombucha without a license. For those of you who aren't spiritually in touch with health trends, kombucha is fermented tea, although no one is drinking it for its piddling alcohol content, because you'd need a bathtub's worth to feel a buzz. By 2017, Keegan's temple of goofy but mostly harmless hippies had shuttered its doors.
It's a shame Allison Mack wasn't one of Keegan's acolytes, because she instead got involved with the upper echelons of NXIVM, a multilevel marketing company that offered "Executive Success Programs." In Mack's words from when she tried to convince Emma Watson to join over Twitter, NXIVM was a "unique human development & women's movement." In the government's words, it was a cruel sex cult run by self-help guru Keith Raniere. And we're going to trust the lawyers over the woman who contributed her vocal talents to The Ant Bully.
We don't even want to think about why she was specifically targeting Watson.
Mack is facing 15 years to life for sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. According to prosecutors, some of her vulnerable young recruits/slaves received ritual pelvic brands that contained Raniere's initials. Mack reportedly also forced them to do menial tasks, and kept them "sleep-deprived and emaciated to the point where they stopped menstruating." NXIVM's website, which features a generic inspirational nature background and the slogan "Working to Build a Better World," sure looks ominous in retrospect!
Mack got involved in NXIVM back when it was just a regular financial scam. Women would attend seminars that helped them set goals and improve their self-esteem, but they would also be pushed to get "promoted" to increasingly expensive and exclusive sessions that offered more access to Raniere. The seminars seemed to legitimately help Mack's career, but at some point along the line, NXIVM started acquiring blackmail and figuring out how to expertly exploit every participants' vulnerabilities, and Mack was apparently eager to participate on the management side. And from there it was just a terrifying hop, skip, and jump to being second in command of horrific human rights abuses. So, uh, good luck ever enjoying Smallville again!
When 1987 moviegoers watched Arnold Schwarzenegger lead an elite black ops squad deep into a jungle, they probably anticipated that most of them would end up slaughtered by a space alien. What they did not anticipate was that three of the eight men would take their yelling talents to political careers.
First Jesse Ventura, aka gunner Blain Cooper, served as governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003 on a controversial but successful "I don't really have any concrete policies, but hell, you'd sure like to see how this shit turns out, wouldn't you?" platform, which in retrospect should have served as a dire warning to America. Schwarzenegger, aka Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, toyed with politics for years before serving as governor of California from 2003 to 2011, during which time a watchdog group named him one of America's worst governors for his numerous ethics violations. And in 2008, Sonny Landham, aka tracker Billy Sole, attempted to unseat Mitch McConnell from the Senate as a Libertarian Party candidate.
20th Century Fox
Landham was less successful than his co-stars, because while we'll tolerate ethical failures and general ineptitude from celebrity politicians as long as they occasionally spout their old catchphrases, Americans don't approve of them calling Arabs "camel dung shovelers" and casually calling for genocide with comments like "We should bomb every man, woman and child in the Muslim countries. They're hiding weapons and breeding terrorists. We need to commence genocide in the region." Because 2008 was a more civilized time, when we insisted that candidates at least hide their calls for war crimes behind euphemisms and dog whistles.
The Libertarian Party was forced to drop Landham when he made comments like those during interviews, and also when people pointed out that he had been talking like that for years and had long been an honorary board member of a group that considered African-Americans "a retrograde species of humanity." So that's Predator ruined for us now too. At least Carl Weathers' political career was limited to a wacky SNL skit.
In 1995, a 21-year-old Edgar Wright made a movie called A Fistful Of Fingers with a budget of whatever he still had saved from summer jobs and childhood allowances. His school friend Amy Bowles was cast as Native American character Yanks With A Fist. This is an important reminder that talent is a process, not something the people you consider geniuses are born with.
Blue Dolphin Films
Bowles would later move to Toronto, and in 2001 she became the vocalist and keyboard player for the now-defunct indie band Pony Da Look, whose musical stylings can still be enjoyed on the hit worldwide web destination Myspace.
And when Canadian artist Bryan Lee O'Malley was making his graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim, Bowles' look and stage energy formed one of two inspirations for the title character's ex-girlfriend, rock star Envy Adams (the other was Emily Haines from Metric, named after Canada's objectively superior system of measurement).
Cut to 2009's pre-production on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (featuring production design by Amy's brother Simon). Director Edgar Wright was chatting with O'Malley in Toronto when Amy Bowles rode by on a bicycle, because Canada's most populous city still only has like 200 people. Amy stopped because she recognized her old friend Edgar, and O'Malley was blown away because he had just pulled the "She's too hip for you to know her" card when talking about Envy's influences. And that's the greatest proof we can offer that the Universe exists only to fuck with us.
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For as much as people love them, the 'Star Wars' movies have gotten rather awkward from time to time.
Bawitdaba, pass the green beans.
Going for that 16th minute.