5 People You Didn't Know Made All Of Your Favorite Stuff
Just between us, we're starting to suspect that some people go into the movie business solely for the money. We're not saying that every wildly successful Hollywood type is undeserving, but for every George Lucas, there's someone toiling in obscurity who deserves as much credit for inventing our pop culture landscape. People like ...
The "Stacy's Mom" Guy Wrote Every Song You Know From Movies And TV
You probably don't know the name Adam Schlesinger, but if you recall the Fountains of Wayne song "Stacy's Mom," you might have inadvertently cursed it at some point. But you have no idea how much influence he's had on the sounds of your life. The mindlessly catchy hooks of Fountains of Wayne belie the serious chops of their bassist/songwriter, which have been shaping movie and TV soundtracks for two decades.
Which is about how long we're guessing Stacy dealt with confidence issues after this song came out.
His credits stretch from the original music of The Wonders in That Thing You Do, which earned him an Oscar nomination, right through this year, when he was co-writing many of the songs on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend with friend of Cracked Rachel Bloom. In between, he's done songs for everyone from pop stars in high-budget children's movies to award ceremonies. He's also written theme songs or scores for TV shows ranging from Sesame Street to Saturday Night Live. Any time you hear an original song on Netflix, assume it was the "Stacy's Mom" guy.
The Modern Concept Of The Superhero Was Created By Emmuska Orczy
Secret identities are important if you're a superhero. You don't need someone harassing you about stopping the evil Doctor Roboctor when you're just trying to get your laundry done. But while stories of superheroes may be as old as demigods fighting immortal lions, the idea that they would want to hide themselves is relatively recent, only dating back to a 1903 play by a Hungarian-born English woman with the most comic book name we've ever heard: the Baroness Emmuska Orczy.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is about a man named Sir Percy Blakeney, who is described by his wife as "the sleepiest, dullest, most British Britisher that had ever set a pretty woman yawning." And that's one of the nicer summations. The words "fop" and "dim-witted" come up a lot. By night, however, Blakeney is "The Scarlet Pimpernel," a master swordsman, escape artist, and all-around panty-dropper who sails to France to save people from the Reign of Terror.
Orczy's creation of two polar opposite identities for her hero would be seen again and again in characters like Batman, Zorro, Superman, and the versions of Spider-Man not played by Andrew Garfield. But her plays were performed before largely empty houses. The Scarlet Pimpernel only became popular after he showed up in her novels -- so nothing has changed except the audience's reading level. She went on to write several more books about the Scarlet Pimpernel, the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and ancestors of the Scarlet Pimpernel, inadvertently also inventing superhero fatigue.
Dee Bradley Baker Was The Voice Of Your Childhood
Even though you've definitely been hearing it for your entire life, you could be forgiven for not recognizing Dee Bradley Baker's voice. It's not because he brings unique life to each character (although he does). It's more that most of his characters aren't human. Over the course of a 35-year career and a staggering 581 roles, he's been Perry the Platypus, Waddles in Gravity Falls, many of the animal sounds in Dora The Explorer, Appa in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the aliens in Ben 10, and the clones of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, to name a few. Watching him transition from everyone's favorite platypus to everyone's favorite bison is somehow both awesome and disheartening -- like learning Santa Claus isn't real, but only because he's an elaborate decoy set out by ninjas.
Oh, but there's definitely one English-speaking character you know.
He also seems to be a really swell guy. When he gets a break from being half a thousand different people and other creatures, he runs a website to educate aspiring voice actors, personally monitoring the comments to respond to questions. Now, we're trusting you with that information. Do not go over there and make trouble, because we will not be responsible for harassing Waddles.
The Animators Of All Your Favorite Cartoons Started In The Same Place
In the early '90s, Craig "Spike" Decker and his buddy, Mike Gribble, started The Spike & Mike Twisted Animation Festival. The minds behind basically every animated show you've enjoyed since all got their start there.
At the 1992 festival, Mike Judge premiered Frog Baseball, his first Beavis And Butthead cartoon. Their championing of Judge's work is a big reason the show got picked up by MTV, and thus why Mike Judge has a career that gave us King of the Hill, Office Space, and countless other properties that make us laugh uncomfortably.
But it doesn't stop there. The creators of Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Hey Arnold!, Powerpuff Girls, and South Park were all either featured, inspired, or funded by Spike and Mike. Depending on how you feel about libertarian fourth-graders and chickens with Mel Gibson's voice, you may assign credit or blame accordingly.
Karl Freund Is Responsible For How All Sitcoms Look
Most sitcoms all look the same -- the lighting, the camera angles, the eerily shining teeth gnashing in every shadow. (You guys see those too, right?) And that's actually by design, because no one has found a better way to film a sitcom since the 1950s. That's how well Karl Freund, the cinematographer of I Love Lucy, nailed it.
What made Lucy unique, and what so many sitcoms have imitated since, was the three-point camera technique. Filming a sitcom with one camera, though not without its advantages, is a pain in the ass. For every angle you need to capture, you have to set up the shot all over again; otherwise, you're going to have some very pissed-off actors demanding to know why they look bad in half the shots. Freund found that by washing out the whole set in bright overhead lights, everyone gets the "good light," so you can use three different cameras to film three different angles at the same time.
The result was an efficient, fast-paced set where the actors are free to move around and the laughter and jokes don't stop. That's what gave the show a look that has endured, even 70 years later. Love it or hate it, Freund deserves your respect. Although if you'd asked him how he felt about being partially responsible for The Big Bang Theory, he might have taken a swing at you.
Michael Guzniczak is an actor, writer and improviser living in Los Angeles. If you'd like to confuse him as much as the rest of Twitter does, feel free to follow @MJGuzniczak. Steven Assarian is a librarian; he writes stuff here. Michael Hock is an MFA student at George Mason University. Sometimes, he reviews movies with his cat on his blog, Bad Shakespeare. Christian Markle is a pretty cool dude. Hit him up on Facebook.
For more, check out 5 Bizarrely Specific Ways Every Movie Trailer Looks The Same - Spit Take Theater:
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