Pop Culture Time Machine

photoboat
photoboat

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions: stephenthescoop@hotmail.com.


A couple of weeks ago, I watched Back to the Future for what seems like the 1000th time, followed by Hot Tub Time Machine the next day.  Time travel movies have been around for decades and are an absolute staple of science fiction.  The problem with them is that the plots are all the same.  Something horrific happens in the future, so the protagonist has to go back in time to stop said horrific occurrence from ever happening.  All the while, he must avoid being seen in a way that will alter history beyond repair, kill John Connor while dropping a catch phrase, or narrowly avoid having sex with Mom.  It’s a very basic format when you break it down, but somehow the formula seems new and exciting with each new movie, and you always want to watch them.

Don’t believe me that it’s a basic format? Fine, I’ll come up with an example.


The movie: Play it Again Ham

The plot:  A down-on-his-luck arcade owner, Samuel “Ham” Hamowitz, finds himself out of money, getting a divorce, and losing the respect of his kids.  If only there was a way to go back in time and get on board with the new games faster…  Tragically, his undying love for classic games kept him from staying up to date. ”Ms. Pacman was good enough for me, it should be good enough for kids today, too”.  Dig DugThe day his arcade closes for the last time, he decides to play one last game of Dig Dug and has the game of his life, reaching a level that nobody else had ever reached.  After setting a crazy high score, he types in his initials, triggering a reaction in the game that takes him back to 1983.  Confused at first, Ham slowly realizes that he must reach his younger self and convince him to adjust to whatever new games come out when they are older.

He has a hard time convincing his younger self of the needed change because young Ham lacks focus and only wants to play video games.  The only way to convince him is to win a Dig Dug tournament at the local arcade.  He loses the tournament, can’t recreate the high score to get himself back to his family, and thinks that he is stuck forever.  Just when all seems lost and he is all alone, his younger self comes in to show him that true happiness was there all along, he just didn’t see it.  It turns out, the older Ham is the one who lost his focus along the way.  The two Hams learn a valuable lesson, with the young Ham tossing the old Ham their lucky quarter and telling him to “play it again, Ham.

Old Ham once again plays the game of his life, leaves younger Ham with a valuable life lesson, returns to find himself as the owner of a billion dollar chain of Hamcades, and also has the respect of his wife and kids.  He hugs them, they share a laugh (“Dad, what is wrong with you today? Did you play too many video games before bed again?”), and he vows to never take life for granted again.  Fade to black, roll credits, and play a song that makes you feel emotionally satisfied.

Movie Tagline: Sometimes you have to take two steps back to take one step in the right direction.

Who isn’t watching that movie?  I hit every single beat and left you walking away happy and satisfied.


Time travel movies always work because Hollywood follows this formula, in some form or fashion, hitting every beat along the way. The problem is that there is rarely any enjoyment when the main character goes back in time.  I want to see a movie about someone who discovers time travel and uses it to go back in time to experience a different environment than their own, strictly out of curiosity.  When is someone going to release a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine 2: Recreational Use Only?

That’s not necessarily the movie that I want to see, but it’s what I spend the most time thinking about.  What would I do?  Where would I go?  Who would I see?

I have given this so much thought that I even had to break it down into categories:

  • Category 1: Where would I go if I only had the Delorean for one day?
  • Category 2: Where would I go if I had the Delorean for 3 months (or essentially a summer?)

MLKCategory 1 is pretty simple to answer for me: It has to be something historically significant like the Gettysburg Address or the I Have A Dream speech.  If you only get one day, you can’t try to get the most out of all 24 hours; you have to pack as much importance into just one part of the day.  If you held a gun to my head then I am still not sure I could pick between those two speeches.  On one hand, I’ve heard the MLK speech several times, but to be in that crowd would be life-altering.  On the other hand, there is no audio of the Lincoln speech, but by all accounts he was engaging and had the ability to move a crowd.  I can’t decide and you can’t make me.

Category 2 is where it really gets interesting with all of the endless possibilities: Obviously, I could go back to November 1863 and watch the Gettysburg Address, but I’m not sure I want to chill for the next three months in Civil War times.  That is where I change my criteria for what I want to do for three months.

Where could I go that would give me the biggest bang for my Delorean buck when it comes to pop culture?

I have it narrowed down to a top two, with the top spot being unbeatable.  Here is my list, let me know what I missed that you think could top it.

metalsludge
metalsludge

Honorable mention: Early 1980s Los Angeles, specifically the Sunset Strip. Seeing bands such as Van Halen in a smaller venue like Whiskey a Go Go or Starwood would be powerful.  The only reason it doesn’t make it higher than an honorable mention is because I’m not packing my twig and berries into fluorescent spandex just to see a young Eddie Van Halen play guitar.

prince.org
prince.org

Runner Up: London, England, August – October 1966 This is a powerhouse lineup of pop culture, guitar gods, and completely ridiculous historical icons!  Starting with the Muhammad Ali vs. Brian London fight on August 6th and ending with an unknown Jimi Hendrix playing on stage with Eric Clapton, this spot is very, very hard to beat.  Think about everything that came out of London during this time. The Animals, The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix (by way of the US of A), Eric Clapton, getting punched in the face by Ginger Baker, and the list goes on and on.

The city itself would have been ecstatic that August coming off of beating Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final the month before, and it was the heart of everything cool in the world at the moment.  I’m a huge Elvis fan myself, but even he couldn’t keep me away from this kind of lineup.  As an added bonus, you would get to see The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Batman: The Movie, El Dorado, and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken in the actual theaters.  When you add it all up, it’s impossible to beat this list……or is it…..SUSPENSE!

The DoorsThe choice for my top spot in history is obviously subjective and it’s what speaks to you as an individual.  For instance, Jamie Kelly picked San Francisco in 1965, which had The Doors’ origin story, a terrific environment with the hippie/make love not war movement, and the most important music of that era came through there.  To her, that is tops on the list, and for me it is definitely a very strong case, but it isn’t something I connect with as strongly.  Does that make her wrong and me right?  It most certainly does not; it’s simply a matter of taste.  So without further ado….the top spot goes to…

SF gate
SF gate

United States of America; May 20, 1977 – August 20, 1977 This is right in my sweet spot of nostalgia and curiosity.  The point of taking the Delorean for a spin back in time is to experience new things, and this accomplishes that more than anything else for me.  If you notice, I picked exact dates, and that is strictly to hit two specific things.  May 25, 1977 is the day that OG Star Wars hit theaters in the U.S.  I like Star Wars, but don’t have the affinity to it that so many others do because it wasn’t a huge part of my childhood.

I was born in 1979, and by the time I was old enough to care about it, Star Wars wasn’t as popular.  My parents weren’t big science fiction fans (even though my mom loved some Star Trek: TNG in a big way) and as non-fans it wasn’t in our house much.  I actually didn’t see Star Wars for the first time until I was out of high school and living on my own.  I was aware of it through a couple of books and toys that I had, but never sat down to watch the entire movie.  It has grown on me over the years, but I still wish I had the same affection for it as those who grew up with it.  Seeing it on its release date in a theater would be something I would have to do.

The second part of this adventure would entail following Led Zeppelin on their 1977 North American tour.  When I think about pop culture from this era, I romanticize the way that people followed the things they loved.  It’s something that is never going to be the same, and there is no way to get it back.  If a kid reading this today wanted to know something about a band they just heard, she could look them up on the Internet and find out every last thing about them.  Where they are from, what music influenced them, what are they like on stage, or who they are dating?  Anything they want at all at the tip of their fingers.

It was dramatically different in 1977 when following a band meant driving 4 hours to a concert or hanging on every word of a Rolling Stone interview or reading every last word of liner notes in the new record.  To love something in a way that involved effort and time just feels different to me.  When you speak with someone who lived through that, there is a way they speak about these bands that is different.  You can feel their attachment to Aerosmith because they built an emotional connection to them in a way that doesn’t turn off when your computer does.  As quickly as you may find out about a new band you like, is as quickly as that interest fades when you have seen a years’ worth of information about them instantly.

pyzeppelin
pyzeppelin

I had that to an extent growing up, but not in this way, not like the generation ahead of me did.  I’m not even a huge Led Zeppelin fan, but following this tour Almost Famous-style for 3 months would give me a glimpse into a world that I can only imagine or hear secondhand now.  You hear stories about Jimmy Page playing guitar, but unless you drove to see it, you would never fully understand.  I would like to experience that for myself.  The outlets that people used to obtain this information even made celebrities out of the people providing it.  Can you imagine a scenario today where a writer became as popular and relevant as the content the way that Hunter S. Thompson was?

dallas morning news
dallas morning news

The final leg of my 1977 Delorean tour would include August 16, 1977 in Memphis, Tennessee, the day that Elvis Presley died in his Graceland home.  That night, thousands of people lined the streets in candlelight to pay tribute to the King of Rock and Roll.  I’ve been to Graceland 7 times in my life, and as a fan this seems like something that I would have to do.  Even to a non-fan, this is something that would be culturally relevant for anyone.  There wasn’t a bigger star in the world in the 60s and most of the 70s, and his death deeply affected people.  I would like to see first-hand the emotion that it caused.  I feel like it would be something that I would never forget.

Those three things can’t be topped by any other point in pop culture history for me.  Right or wrong, it’s what I connect to the most and what I spend the most time thinking about.  What is on your list?  If you don’t have a list, attempt to make one for yourself and you might be surprised with where your interests lie.   You’ll find yourself changing your mind several times and researching more about it.  Let me know what you come up with.


Stephen Balding is an Entertainment badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

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The Top 10 Mustaches of all Time

teddyroosevelt.com
teddyroosevelt.com

Do you see that smile on Teddy’s face?  That is the smile of a man who knows he is doing it better than you.  You will never smile like this in your life; I don’t care if you win the lottery, marry Marion Cotillard, and win the Superbowl in the same day – you will never smile like this.  A true fact that I made up for this column: When Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” he was talking about his mustache.  You can’t prove that he wasn’t.

Teddy ranks number 1 in ‘stache history, and is closely followed by Albert Einstein at number 2.  Think about that for a second…A president, maybe the most popular president in history (anyone else have a beloved stuffed animal named after them?), and the man who is considered the smartest of all time both had a mustache. Coincidence?  Probably, but who cares.

So, who is currently rocking a ‘stache with confidence and elegance today?  I’m glad you asked.  Let’s count down the top ten mustaches. (Spoiler alert: Derek Holland is last.  Come on Derek, you’re better than that).

First off, we need to establish a few ground rules to make sure we are getting the cream of the crop.

  1. If you have ever entered into any sort of mustache or facial hair competition then you are off of the list. Real men with real mustaches don’t show off or look for attention for it.
  2. You can’t be a part-time mustache-wearer and qualify for the list. It needs to be something that is as much a part of your life as your favorite shirt.
  3. Finally, we are going into any realm with this list. Hollywood actor, sports star, TV personality…all are in the running.

Here we go!

10. Nick Offerman

hipster
hipster

Look, I know what you are going to say.  Offerman is the manliest guy in Hollywood right now.  He’s also got an amazing mustache.  He’s on the best sitcom on television, too.  He builds stuff with his bare hands.  All of those things are somewhat true, but calm down, hipster, he’s still new to the mustache game and made the top ten.  He has the most upside of anyone else on this list, but pump the brakes on calling him the “manliest,” ok?

9. Ned Flanders

The Simpsons
The Simpsons

You are damn straight I put Ned Flanders on this list and he absolutely deserves it.  He’s been bringing that sweet mustache into your home since 1989, and have you ever thanked him for it?  No, no you haven’t.  Hang your head in shame.

8. Lionel Richie

taste of country
taste of country

There’s that smile again.  Do you think Lionel Richie could have survived in the music industry without that ‘stache? Probably, but it never hurts to run up the score when the opportunity presents itself.  Have you ever watched the “Hello” video?  I mean really watched it?  It’s creepy as shit!!  Does anyone care that he is practically stalking a blind girl and is a borderline pedophile?  No, because when you have that beautiful ‘stache you can do what you want in life.

7. Mike Ditka

espn
espn

Robert Smigel, one of the best comedy writers of all time, took a very solid sketch on SNL and parlayed that into an outlet for Ditka love.  “Who would win in Indianapolis 500, the race cars or The Bears team bus?  Is Ditka driving the bus?  Well then I like Da’ Bears.”  Mike Ditka is a man, son!

6. Geraldo Rivera

sodahead
sodahead

I know that this is unexpected, but just hear me out.  I was staying at the Hard Rock in Vegas for New Year’s a few years back.  It was a crazy few days where I found myself doing shots with Scott Ian and his wife, Mrs. Meatloaf’s Daughter, and even saw Bob Saget walking around at what appeared to be 8 feet tall.  The most unexpected thing that I saw was Geraldo walking by me with a model on his arm and rocking a mustache that had its own aura.  I’m here to tell you that his mustache stood out more than the model did and it wasn’t close.  It was like it had a glowing light behind it.  If you ever find yourself in its presence, just let the glory wash over you.

5. Brad Pitt

screenrant
screenrant

Be honest, you didn’t think Brad Pitt would be on this list did you?  I’m not surprised he is on the list, as Pitt as always enjoyed wearing a good mustache, but I am a little surprised that he is this high on the list.  There was a time that Brad dated the sweet girl, didn’t want to get married, and wasn’t the coolest guy in every room.  What happened?  He grew a mustache.  You try bedding Angelina Jolie without a mustache and you will fail.

4. Burt Reynolds

bbc
bbc

Soak it in ladies.  No bare-faced man would dare take this picture.  Not Burt though, that’s pure unfiltered confidence.  I’m sorry that you have to see this and go back to your normal husband or boyfriend, but just know that pure excellence is out there.

3. Tom Selleck

cbs
cbs

When you look into Tom Selleck’s eyes, everything feels like it is going to be ok.  There is something there that is almost fatherly, right?  The fact that he has had this mustache for going on 4 decades just makes him more trustworthy than other men.  I want him to give me a hug and tell me that he’s proud of me.  I want to ask him for advice just to see him stroke his mustache as he ponders his answer.  I want Tom Selleck to be my dad.  So do you, admit it.

2. Alex Trebek

usatoday
usatoday

The highest ranked Canadian on the list, and also the biggest upset.  He’s been giving us the answers since 1984 and we still take him for granted.  That Stephen Hawking guy is pretty smart, but each and every other man, woman, and child in the world combined is only half as smart as Alex.  If the zombie apocalypse ever happened, Alex Trebek will save us and single-handedly repopulate the world in his image.  Ladies, if he isn’t on your list of celebrities that you can cheat with, you don’t deserve to have a list.

1. Sam Elliott

working title
working title

This list could have been Sam Elliott taking all ten spots for himself, and I would have been fine with that.  He is the not just a man, he is the fucking man. I cannot get enough of Sam Elliott doing Sam Elliott things with Sam Elliott mustache.  He is the coolest guy in the world in my opinion and it’s not close.  Have you heard his voice in the new Dodge commercials?  You can hear his mustache through the screen without even seeing it.  You don’t have the voice that he has without years of drinking, smoking, and mustaching.  Bow to the excellence that is Sam Elliott!  Bow to it!!


Stephen Balding is an Entertainment Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

 

The Voice of Reason: Are Big Vehicles Back?

Have you noticed anything different lately as you drive in your city or on the highway? Big vehicles are back. We’re seeing more pickup trucks and SUVs on the road these days, and Hummers have even made a reappearance. The main reason?  Gas prices. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they are at their lowest point since 2010.

gas-prices2According to GasBuddy.com, as of Monday, November 17th, 2014, the price of gas ranged from $3.94 in Hawaii to around $2.67 in Texas, and $2.61 in South Carolina. Keep in mind that those numbers don’t even account for the locally-owned gas stations that compete for business and often are 15-20 cents lower than the state average. Locally for me in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it ranges anywhere from $2.43 to $2.60.

What do falling gas prices mean for car dealerships? The big boys are back in town!

Over the last month, auto analysts say that consumers have shown a fresh interest in the kind of SUVs — Hummers, Lincoln Navigators, Ford Explorers — that typified America’s bigger-is-better mindset of twenty years ago. The new mindset among some car buyers is one of the most unexpected consequences of a domestic oil boom that has helped global crude prices plummet in recent months, with the cost of a gallon of gas now below $3.

As oil prices hit a three-year low, Americans are starting to see price changes that could ultimately influence everything from their grocery shopping to their heating bills to their travel. The lower prices have the potential to nudge the U.S. further away from its dreary post-recession mindset, leaving instead a nation with more affordable air and road transportation options, higher consumer confidence, and yes, a few more gas-guzzlers driving around.

CLICK HERE to check real-time gas prices across the United States.

I checked with local auto dealerships in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and the results were almost identical among them. To a man, each place I contacted told me that truck sales, SUV sales, and “bigger” vehicle sales were up about 15%.

Most pickup trucks will get 18-23mpg on the road and 13-18mpg in the city, while Hummers will usually get 10 gallons to the mile. (Did ‘ya catch that one? I kid. They run about 10mpg.) 

imagesThat is the definition of a gas guzzler. When gas prices soared several years ago, it darn near killed off the Hummer. Luckily for GM, the interest is back! Toyota, Ford, and GM are all reporting a surge in customer interest in their larger vehicles.

So, as you drive around the next few days, look around to see how many “bigger” vehicles are on the road. It may surprise you, and leave you … humming along. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) 

Let me hear from you: Have you recently made a purchase that was at least in part influenced by the drop in gas prices? Hit me up on Twitter with your experience!


Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. You can follow him on twitter @CapnDD.

How Do You Define “Important?”

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions: stephenthescoop@hotmail.com.


deviantart
deviantart

This past weekend I found myself camping with a group of people that I had never met before. If there is a better way to get to know a group of people than sitting around a fire and drinking, then I haven’t found it. The conversation eventually turned to movies, I’m not sure how, but I’m sure I had something to do with it; I usually do.

People who love movies speak in shorthand, so getting to know someone by the movies they quote and love is one of my favorite things. For instance, we spent a solid 15 minutes talking about The Big Lebowski, quoting our favorite lines and laughing.

Nobody fucks with the Jesus.”

“I’m calmer than you are, Dude.”

“Fucking fascist man.”

It’s a way of connecting with people and also a way to earn street cred when you can bust out a “The Dude abides” in perfect context. Something else from that night also got me thinking the next day, and I spent the majority of the ride home trying to figure out the answer.

What if you had no frame of reference for what everyone else was talking about? What if pop culture was something that had eluded you for years and you were thrust into the middle of a conversation like this?

This exact instance is what happened Saturday night, when, in the middle of drinking and laughing about The Dude, the person who brought me on the camping excursion confessed that she had never seen the movie. No big deal; I knew that she wasn’t a movie buff, and the Coen brothers aren’t exactly the most mainstream. So, we kept talking about movies, and I found out that she had never seen anything by Tarantino other than Kill Bill: Volume 1. How could this happen? How is it possible that a person hasn’t seen any of the most relevant movies of the last 20 years??? Then something hapened that I wasn’t prepared for….she asked the group, “What is it about The Big Lebowski that makes you guys love it so much?”

The next 10 minutes consisted of me and the other 4 people trying to convey something that I’m not sure can be done out of context. Trying to explain that The Dude abides to someone who has never seen Lebowski is along the same lines as trying to explain a rainbow to Stevie Wonder. It’s going to lose something in translation.

I like to think of myself as someone who is well thought-out and well-spoken for most things, but especially movies. I found myself vastly unprepared to answer a question about a movie that I’ve probably seen 30 times. That led me to the question that I wanted to pose here.

If someone had just woken up from a 20 year coma, what is the most important movie that you would give them to watch?

This question is intentionally worded in a way that leaves it open to interpretation. I have my own very specific definition, but I wanted outside opinions from people, so I sent this question to 8 different people and got 8 very different responses.

The people vary with their knowledge of movie history, with some being very lacking and one being a complete ringer. To make the playing field as even as possible, the 8 were also equally split into groups of 4 men and 4 women, including The Scoop’s own Jamie Kelly.

Here is the breakdown of the answers that I received back. Remember, this is the last 20 years, so anything from 1994 to the present is fair game.

The men:

The Big Lebowski

The Matrix

Lord of the Rings

Natural Born Killers

Pulp Fiction

The women:

The Big Lebowski

Pulp Fiction

The Hangover

Shrek

Silence of the Lambs (so important that it made the list even though it came out in 1991)

Titanic

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace

The list is good, for the most part and even has some that I considered, so let’s run through a few of them.

Working Title
working title

The Big Lebowski being on both lists isn’t surprising; it is a great movie. The problem with putting it as the most important is that the Coen Brothers had a 14-year history by the time it was released that is needed to fully appreciate the complexity of the movie. By not including that context, the movie comes across as more weird than great.

imdb
warner bros.

The Matrix is higher on the list than you might think, and I gave it strong consideration for the top spot. When The Matrix came out, it blew the collective minds of everyone because special effects of that nature had never been seen before. The story is good, but the camera work and CGI in that movie were so new that it melted your brain. There is some revisionist history surrounding this movie now due to Matrix 2 and Matrix 3, but don’t kid yourself about when Neo burst onto the scene. It changed the game.

pixar
pixar

Shrek clearly isn’t the right answer, but don’t scoff at animated movies being in the discussion. Toy Story absolutely changed the way animated movies were viewed by the public. All of them hold up, and Toy Story 3 still makes me cry like a bitch every time I watch it. I’m telling you now that if I see Lotso in the streets, I’m going after him for sending Woody and his pals down that incinerator. You hear me Lotso? I’m coming for you!!

The other responses range from “they could be in a discussion” to “Jamie Kelly’s trifecta of really needing to get out of the house more,” but only one can be considered the most important.

Let me preface the correct answer by saying that while I understand movies like Schindler’s List are important, nobody is quoting “GOODBYE JEWS!!” when you are sitting around a campfire swapping movie lines. If you find yourself in a group of people who are quoting that for a laugh, then immediately find yourself a new group of friends. I’m not saying it isn’t a great movie, but the importance of topics like that are better covered in history books, not here. We are here to have fun, and nobody ruins fun faster than little blond German girls.

My definition of important, when it comes to movies, breaks down in two separate ways:

  1. How did it change the way we viewed movies after it came out?
  2. How is it used in relation to pop culture amongst the general public and when you are talking to your friends?

Which movie covers both of those aspects better than the rest? Pulp Fiction

miramax
miramax

Of course it’s Pulp Fiction, what else did you think it would be? This movie hits every last check mark on whatever list you have for defining “important.” First off, do not fall back into The Matrix trap of viewing Travolta in his modern……ummm……context. When this movie came out in 1994, Travolta was so far removed from mainstream that he had just taken a fun movie in Look Who’s Talking and destroyed it by immediately making two terrible sequels. His career was made by Tarantino writing the role of Vincent Vega for him, and Travolta KILLS it. Regardless of what you think of him now, this role is what revived a dead career and he was perfect in it.

Fun movie trivia fact: Look Who’s Talking and Pulp Fiction both starred Bruce Willis and John Travolta, with LWT having 100% less sodomy.

miramax
miramax

As for the movie itself, Pulp Fiction changed the game, and changed it forever in the best possible way. Violent and vulgar movies were never taken seriously, but Quentin made you see past those things; the more you watched, the smaller the violence seemed. But it was never about violence and drugs; it was about consequences and rebirth surrounding characters who are endlessly fascinating to watch because of a visionary director with a style all his own. Don’t forget that you are watching Vincent and Jules have conversations that you can’t take your eyes off of, while never thinking about what terrible people they are. That is a fine line that Quentin has proved he can ride seamlessly.

It also takes the top spot because nearly every scene in this movie is groundbreaking for not only counter culture, but mainstream culture, in a way that no other movie has done before or since. It was and is cool to quote lines from it because you understood Tarantino when other people didn’t. Only the fact is, they did, too. It was nominated for Best Picture in a year that, in my opinion, is the strongest movie year in the history of movies.

So if you lost the last 20 years, you would have to start with Pulp Fiction and ride Tarantino for the next two decades. By doing that, you see how great scripting pairs with perfect casting. You see how going against the grain doesn’t mean you can’t have a respected career. Most importantly, you see how Tarantino uses the history of movies to infect his mind and twist it into genius….and also that he likes feet.

My advice to you is not to try to find your favorite movie, but your favorite directors and follow them. Whether it be Tarantino, Scorsese, Nolan, or the Coen’s, get on board with them and follow them all the way back.


Stephen Balding is an Entertainment Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

Tom Selleck: The Career That Might Have Been

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions: stephenthescoop@hotmail.com.


There are a few topics, that once I start down the wormhole, I lose hours and hours of my life before coming out the other end. One of them is reading the “did you know” section on IMDB for movies. It leads to several “what ifs” which are endlessly intriguing to me.

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

For example, I really like the movie Boogie Nights. I think it’s very well done and the casting is near perfect (I’m a huge sucker for good casting), but what if someone better played the Dirk Diggler part?

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

At the time, Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the role of Dirk Diggler so he could play Jack Dawson in Titanic. I’m not saying he made the wrong choice, that can’t be second guessed when it turned into the highest grossing movie of all time…BUT…what if Leo would have made Boogie Nights instead? Marky Mark is a decent actor and I enjoy some of his action movies (except for Transformers, you’re not an inventor/scientist Mark, I don’t care how many pairs of glasses you put on), but Leo is on a short list of actors who could be nominated for the Best Actor Award every time out.

Does Boogie Nights go from a good movie to a great one? Slightly better? Best Picture nominee? I think for sure it’s a better movie, much more intense and believable towards the end with the pain and drug sequences, but it’s hard to know for sure. I’ve read that “did you know” section of IMDB probably 20 times and it is one of my favorite movie “what ifs” of all time.

My absolute favorite “what if” of all time spins from the fact that Tom Selleck was cast for Indiana Jones, but couldn’t take the part due to contract restraints with Magnum PI.

film.org
film.org

What if he had never been Magnum, took the role of the beloved Dr. Jones, and set his career on an entirely different path? His bizzaro career path would undoubtedly look very different from the one of a television star known for short shorts and an epic mustache with the occasional movie role. That’s what I want to replay this week, in a very special episode of… (cue dramatic music):

Tom Selleck: The Movie Star That Might Have Been.

I am in no way saying that taking the role of Indy means that we just take the roles that Harrison Ford played and substitute Selleck. That wouldn’t be fair or even remotely accurate for this case study. Remember that by the time Raiders was released, Ford was already a bankable movie star thanks to American Graffiti and two Star Wars movies. Selleck wasn’t going to take roles from him, but would it be fair to say that he would have had a similar career to Ford’s? It is undeniably true that Ford gets an exceeding amount of fanboy points for playing Han and Indy, but George Lucas didn’t want him playing Jones at the time because of his Han Solo work. So taking Indiana away from him gives Selleck a fighting chance.

I went back in time (yes, I can do that), starting in 1981, and went through every movie that was released and picked roles that Selleck might have considered and that he could have been offered. Also, keeping in mind that actors like to avoid being typecast in the same role and are always looking for a role to show off their acting chops. So let’s go through the 80s and decide what kind of roles he would have taken, and if each movie would be better or worse with him in it. The 80s were weird enough, so why not take it to an all new level?

1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

The tricky part in revising the rest of Selleck’s career revolves around him being able to pull off this movie. We have already established that Ford was a movie star at this point, and capable of opening a movie on his own, but what about Selleck? A couple of things in Selleck’s favor are that Magnum was a first season hit for the ratings juggernaut of CBS (they aired 10 of the top 14 rated shows on television in 1980), and Spielberg was well established by 1981 coming off of Jaws and Close Encounters. Even if the movie makes $60 million less at the box office, it’s still the highest grossing film of the year. I think the movie holds up with Tom in the role of Indy and starts his career with a bang.

1982: 48 Hrs.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

This is, by far, the hardest choice to make on this list for me because it is either this movie or Night Shift, and that’s the entire list (sorry, but Tommy was playing Gandhi). I can’t picture anyone other than Nick Nolte in the role of Jack Cates, but I’m trying to be realistic on if Tom Selleck could have, and would have, been offered this role.

Coming off of the highest grossing film of 1981, any and every studio would have put him in this role opposite the hottest up-and-coming star of the time in Eddie Murphy. Especially since Nick Nolte wasn’t a household name yet. I honestly think Selleck gets the role, it still has close to the same success at the box office, but it is not as good as a movie. People were flocking to the theater to see Murphy, so adding in Indiana Jones would have still given it the profit, just not the grit that makes the movie.

1983: Octopussy

United Artists
United Artists

Now we are getting somewhere. Nobody was clamoring for another Roger Moore joint in 1983 when this was released, and NOBODY was taking the Jack Nicholson role from him in Terms of Endearment, so this is where we land. Selleck, Tom Selleck. I actually think this is a perfect fit all around. Pumping new life into the Bond franchise with a bankable star and doing away with the last two Roger Moore performances that nobody really cared about. I think this is a win-win. Three years in, Tom Selleck is Indiana Jones and James Bond and is creeping up the fanboy charts as we speak.

1984-1985: Temple of DoomA View to Kill

MGM
MGM

Bond, Indy, Bond back-to-back-to-back is an unprecedented three-year run for anyone, and would firmly plant Tommy Sells as the biggest actor in the business. He’s getting cast in any movie he wants off of this run, and I mean anything. He is so hot right now he could have taken the role of Apollonia in Purple Rain opposite of Prince. Tom Selleck purifying himself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka is something I would pay double to see.

1986–1988: Top GunThree Men and a Baby, Cocktail

Not only another phenomenal three-year stretch, but by far my favorite three-year stretch. I know that you are looking at that list and your 80s love is ready to jump through your computer screen and rip my face off. Just hear me out, because you are going to like where I’m going with this. Remember when I told you that every actor wants to take parts to show off his acting chops? This is exactly what I was talking about, and I would line up right now to see this happen.

Paramount
Paramount

These are all great movies, but how do they get better? Putting better people around Cruise to cover up his flaws is how. When Goose died, you felt bad, but Cruise wasn’t at a place in his acting life to pull of such emotion, and the father figure that was there to help him convey that was Viper himself, Tom Skerritt. If you replace Skerritt with Selleck, that role is much more believable since Selleck has always been at his best when he is conveying empathy and emotion.

How much better would he be than Skerritt? Can it even be measured by mortal equipment? Go back and change it now Hollywood, you barely even need to change the name for crying out loud!

So Selleck goes from making Top Gun 100 times better, to his same role with Danson and “The Gutte” (coming this fall to the CW), and ends it by teaming up with Cruise again for Cocktail. Another movie that instantly becomes better with Selleck taking over the Coughlin role from Bryan Brown. He also teaches Cruise a few things along the way, and Cruise takes home an Oscar two years later for Born on the Fourth of July. So in the span of a few minutes, I’ve made Tom Selleck a movie star, made two movies much better, and won Tom Cruise an Oscar. You are welcome America.

1989: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

clubos
clubos

We have made it, and I think we have done the world a great service. Rounding out the decade with an Indiana Jones movie that now has two James Bonds playing father and son is the perfect end to a new history.

I’m not certain if Tommy Selleck would have sustained all of this success, I mean what if he bought his way into the Ice Cube role in Boyz n the Hood and was never heard from again? What if he dropped the mic after Crusade and disappeared forever? What if drunkenly agreed to bankroll all of the Police Academy movies from here on out with his buddy Gutte and filed for bankruptcy? The possibilities are endless, but you can never take this fake run away from him. He earned it, and I know that I’m going to sleep a little better tonight knowing all is right with the fake world.


 

Stephen Balding is an Entertainment Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.