1. Ever heard of Mostar? Me neither. It’s a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina and sits on the Neretva River and was named after the bridge keepers (mostari) who guarded the famous bridge above and below. That bridge was built in the 16th century by the Ottomans.
I’m always pretty well amazed by places that I’ve never heard of and at some point I keep thinking that I’m going to run out of opening places to ask if you’ve ever heard of a place, but when you find places like Mostar then the answer is probably “no, I’ll never run out of places”.
2. This isn’t going to hit with everyone, but my favorite radio station is 91.7, KXT, which is a non-profit radio station in Dallas. You can listen online if you don’t live in the DFW area. The reason why this station is so great is because you’ll hear something new, something terrible, something great, something depressing, something that makes you want to change the station. They’ll play Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Lorde, The Killers, Charley Crockett, Dua Lipe, Prince, The Beatles, Jon Batiste, and hundreds of different things inbetween. It’s difficult to give a general idea as to what they play because there’s no algorithm telling them what to play. There are actual humans picking records, so some DJ’s you like and others you don’t. In a world where you get to pick whatever you want whenever you want, it’s sometimes nice not to do that and also nice to just sit through something you may not like knowing there’s something on the other end that you may like.
3. Via Business Insider, the oral history of Trading Places, the greatest Christmas movie ever made.
The script was developed for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. And when I was sent the script, Richard Pryor, unfortunately, had his accident where he burnt himself rather badly, and they sent it to me and said, ‘What do you think?’
‘48 Hours’ hadn’t come out yet, but they’d previewed it, and Eddie Murphy had previewed very well, and they thought, ‘Ah this kid’s going to be a star,’ So they said, ‘What do you think about Eddie Murphy playing the Billy Ray Valentine part?’ And I of course said, ‘Who’s Eddie Murphy?’
Because I didn’t watch Saturday Night Live since John [Belushi] had died.
So I read the script, and I saw Eddie’s tapes, and went to New York and met with Eddie. And they wanted — I won’t tell you who they wanted me to cast — but the studio was very unhappy with almost everybody they wanted me to cast.
John Belushi had died, and [Dan Aykroyd’s] movie without John was called ‘Dr. Detroit,’ which was a failure, so conventional wisdom was that Aykroyd without Belushi was like Abbott without Costello, and that his career was over.
Now I knew Danny well, having worked with him, and I knew Danny was a fine actor, and he could easily play this guy. Danny, he’s an actor: You tell him what you want, and he delivers. And I thought he’d be wonderful. So he reduced his price quite a bit, and I got him, so I had Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, and they were upset because Danny hadn’t — his last couple of pictures hadn’t done well, and Eddie was still an unknown really. ‘48 Hours’ came out while we were shooting…
4. While we’re doing Christmas movies, via Rolling Stone, the untold story of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Chechik: Both Chevy and Johnny have the gift of comic timing without the gloss of it. There was an odd flatness to it that was super funny.
Galecki: One day John Hughes, Jeremiah, Chevy and I were sitting around waiting for a scene to be set up, and Chevy said, “There’s always been kind of a man-to-man scene between Clark and Russ in the previous films — a coming-of-age scene. But there isn’t in this one.” John mentioned that he had something like that in an initial draft, and Chevy said, “We should consider putting that back in.” So they asked what I thought and I said, “I don’t think there’s any point. Somebody thought it was worth taking out at some point, so even if we shoot it, it’ll probably get taken out again.” I literally talked myself out of what could have been a classic scene with Chevy Chase. Now that I’m a jaded Hollywood fuck, I realize the error of my ways. I still kick myself in the ass for this everyday.
Chase: Now Galecki’s making 100 million a year and I’m sitting here.
Galecki: Chevy worked like a puppet master for me in some scenes since I was was young and had never done comedy before. He’d almost cue me for my timing. He would nod, point, or wave a finger. He was so supportive, teaching me comic timing. That took a patience and consideration because the movie would have been funny enough without Rusty having that specific timing. He was terribly generous with me.
Latzen: At one point between takes, Chevy turns and looks at me and says in a very dry way, “Hey Ellen, why do dogs lick their balls?” And I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “Because they can.” As a kid I didn’t get it, but as an adult I can totally appreciate the humor of it. With us kids, he was great. That was his way. He was very dry.