Friday, December 7, 2018

Biggest Movie Star Missteps: Bill Murray could have starred as The Santa Clause and Arnie in Die Hard

Hey movie fans, here is a series of infographics about actors who have turned down iconic roles in some of the most popular films.. They provide you with some background on why the various actors turned down the role and how it affected their careers and the price they paid financially.  I hope you find them entertaining and enjoyable.

- Joanne

This series of infographics for Betway Casino  reveal the costliest decisions ever made by some of Hollywood's most famous film stars when it came to turning down iconic roles.

Looking back on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s hard to imagine anyone else but Ian
McKellen donning the h
at and robes of Gandalf. However, early in production, the role was
offered to the original James Bond, Sean Connery. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t get his
head around the script and passed up one of the most beloved franchises in film history.
led to him taking a role in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was pegged
to be the start of its own franchise. We all know how that went
while it made a decent
amount of money worldwide, it was critically panned and is widely credited as the r
Connery decided to quit acting altogether.


Movie Star Missteps include:

  • Bill Murray didn’t see himself as Santa – Tim Allen is now synonymous with the role of cynical dad-turned-Santa, Scott Calvin, but it was originally written for Murray, everyone’s favourite curmudgeon. After clashing with the filmmakers when shooting another Christmas classic, Scrooged, Murray was in no rush to take on another holiday-themed project, plus he didn’t rate the humour. After a brief appearance in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood the same year as The Santa Clause was released, Murray’s next large role was in Wes Anderson’s critically-acclaimed sophomore movie, Rushmore. Anderson has gone on record to say Murray’s salary for the movie was ‘around $9,000’ showing that, while the beloved actor has a knack for choosing quirky movies that interest him, he’s not as financially savvy as he is picky. Misstep Cost: $29,991,000  

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger missed out on McClane – Schwarzenegger was the favourite to be cast in the role of John McClane when Die Hard was originally being offered around. However, with the script still not completed when he was approached, Arnie wasn’t willing to take a risk. By the time everything was ironed out, Bruce Willis had stepped up to fill the iconic white vest. One thing’s for sure, it would have been a different movie entirely with the Austrian Oak taking on the role. Nakatomi Plaza would need much bigger air vents, for a start. Schwarzenegger starred in Red Heat, an altogether different brand of action film, alongside James Belushi in the same year. Despite being relatively well-received, it never made as lasting an impact as the McClane character would achieve, and also made Arnie around 10 times less money than if he’d agreed to trust in the potential of what is now considered the greatest action movie of all time. Misstep Cost: $72,000,000
In a classic case of backing the wrong horse (or spy in this case) Brad Pitt turned down the
opportunity to become Jason Bourne for the chance to star opposite Robert Redford in
2001’s Spy Game. While
the latter was well received, it
s barely even on the radar when
compared to the value of the Bourne franchise.
The physicality and intensity that Pitt brings to roles made him a no
brainer to play the ex
CIA assassin. However, despite early misgivings fr
om action fans, Matt Damon stepped up
to deliver the visceral action that the series is now famous for. While Pitt isn’t exactly
struggling for work
the payout from the Bourne series would certainly have made him a lot
more comfortable.


In a classic case of backing the wrong horse, (or spy in this case), Brad Pitt turned down the opportunity to become Jason Bourne for the chance to star opposite Robert Redford in 2001's Spy Game.  While the latter was well-received, it's barely even on the radar when compared to the Bourne franchise.

The physicality and intensity that Pitt brings to roles made him a no-brainer to play the ex-CIA assassin.  However, despite early misgivings from action fans, Matt Damon stepped up to deliver the visceral action that the series is now famous for - the payout from the Bourne series wold certainly have made him a lot more comfortable.


Legally Blonde was a career-maker for Reese Witherspoon, but it also represents a terrible misstep for Applegate, who was the original casting choice.  Afraid of being typecast as a ditsy blonde stereotype, she turned the movie down in favour of time-travelling comedy Just Visiting.  The fact that you're unlikely to have heard of the latter, which ended up being a financial disaster to the tune of $19m in losses, should give you an idea of the magnitude of the error.  Applegate herself has admitted that it was a "stupid decision" and looking at the amount of money she passed by, we'd be inclined to agree.


Emily Blunt's decision not to appear in Marvel's Cinematic Universe as one of the central characters must keep her up at night.  Certainly, the role of Natasha "Black Widow" Romanoff had led to Scarlett Johansson frequently appearing on lists of top-paid actors instead.  The fact that Blunt's decision was due to scheduling conflicts with Jack Black's updated version of Gulliver's Travels makes the whole thing even more galling.  While her voyage to Lilliput performed reasonably well at the box office, it was critically savaged and isn't a drop in the ocean compared to the payday Johansson continues to enjoy to this day.


Twilight author Stephanie Meyer had Browning in mind when casting for the movie trilogy began. However, the young Australian actor had just finished a project and wasn't ready to jump into a franchise that she thought would jeopardise her studies, leaving the door open for Kristen Stewart to swoop in and land her big break alongside a sparkly Robert Pattinson.  The next role Browining took on was in the 2009 movie The Uninvited, a remake of a Korean horror movie that didn't receive the best reception and also didn't bring in a fraction of the amount as the Twilight saga.  While she has been working regularly ever since, she must wonder, 'What if . . . ?'


Not many people would say no to Steven Spielberg, but Bardem did just that when he was offered a large role in the 2002 sci-fi epic, Minority Report.  He claims this was due to him being uncomfortable with an English-speaking role, which would have been a linguistic challenge for him at the time.  But that would make more sense if the film he chose instead, Johm Malkovich's The Dancer Upstairs, was in his native Spanish, but it wasn't.  Maybe it's more a case of him being picky with parts than wary with words.  This led to Colin Farrell being fast-tracked to Hollywood stardom while Bardem, who had already been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar at the time, spent the next few years in smaller features before his stunning performance in No Country For Old Men made him a household name.  While it could be argued that Bardem took the more principled route, the truth is that the movie he went for instead didn't make much more at the worldwide box office than Farrell was paid to chase Tom Cruise around for a couple of hours.


When people think of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series the first thing that comes to mind is, inevitably, Johnny Depp's rum-swilling, Keith Richards impersonation Captain Jack Sparrow.  However, we might have seen a more outrageous portrayal if the first choice had said"Alrighty-then".

Jim Carry turned down the opportunity to step aboard the sea-faring franchise to focus on his upcoming project, Bruce Almighty.  While it is considered one of his better mid-career comedies, his time playing God cost him the opportunity to rake in hundreds of millions from the House of Mouse.


Looking back on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it's hard to imagine anyone else but Ian McKellen donning the hat and robes of Gandalf.  However, early in production, the role was offered to the original James Bond, Sean Connery.  Unfortunately for him, he couldn't get his head around the script and passed up one of the most beloved franchises in film history.

This lead to him taking a role in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was pegged to be the start of its own franchise.  We all know where that went - while it made a decent amount of money worldwide, it was critically panned and is widely credited as the reason Connery decided to quit acting altogether.


Most people would jump at the chance to appear in a ground-breaking trilogy of movies that pushed the boundaries of storytelling, special effects and action sequences.  Particularly if the other option was light-hearted steampunk western.  But not Smith.  Despite being the favourite to lead the cast of The Matrix, he took a gamble and said no, riding into s sunset of shame with Wild Wild West.  He has since claimed that Keanu Reeves did a better job in the role of Neo than he could have at the time, but it's still hard to image he doesn't regret turning down the opportunity to kick ass and take names in a leather trench coat.  Especially when he made less than a quarter of the money for his choice to portray a cringeworthy cowboy.

W. Tw.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The trouble with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"

Let me be honest.  I don't like the words to the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."  I have absolutely no problem with the delightful melody.  The music is lively and fun to sing.  However, it's the lyrics that I find troublesome.  First, a little background to the song.  It was composed by two Americans, Broadway songwriter John Frederick Coots (1897-1985) and Haven Gillespie (1888-1975), a Tin Pan Alley composer and lyricist.  Gillespie, a native of Kentucky, wrote the lyrics during the depths of The Great Depression.  Although it garnered more royalties for him than anything else he had ever written, he avoided listening to it.  The popularity of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" was bittersweet for him because it brought back memories of his deceased brother, who had died around the time the tune was published.

Haven Gillespie

The familiar words to the song read as follows:

You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry
Better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is comin' to town
He's making a list and checking it twice
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is comin' to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows's when you're awake
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

Here's why I object to the lyrics.  The words present Santa as some kind of an Orwellian Big Brother, a stalker watching a child's every move - "He  sees you when you're are sleeping.  He knows when you're awake.  He knows if you've been good or bad . . . "  Furthermore, the words teach children that they should behave because they are being watched and that if they are naughty, they will not receive any presents.  Their motive for good behaviour is to be rewarded by material gifts from Santa.  It appears that there is no motive for good conduct when there are no presents.

Yes, I know the song is a Christmas favourite and that it's extremely popular.  It has been recorded by a myriad of artists including Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters, The Crystals, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, the Jackson 5, The Carpenters and Michael Buble.

Photo attribution 

"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" was first sung in November of 1934, on Eddie Cantor's radio show.  It became an instant hit.  According to author Ace Collins in his book Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas, "Within twenty-four hours of its radio debut, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" had sold more than thirty thousand records and sold more than a hundred copies of sheet music."

The earliest known recording of Santa Claus is Coming to Town was that of banjoist Harry Reser and his band.  The recording was made on on October 24, 1934.  It was also recorded by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra for Victor Records.

In his book. Ace Collins states that "when the song was released, few noted the subtle message created by "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."  They viewed it as "little more than a morality play set to music.,"  "Some even latched onto it as a new take on The Golden Rule," writes Collins, "and as a wonderful way to keep their kids in line."  After all, George Orwell's 1984, was not published until June of 1949.

I may be accused of nitpicking or of being too politically correct.  "What's wrong with a holiday ditty that makes people smile?" I will probably be asked?  It's harmless, I will be told by some.  Well, I'm no killjoy.  I love the spirit of Christmas, but I also believe that words matter.  The lyrics to Santa Claus is Coming to Town make an impression on children.  I am certainly not suggesting that the song should be censored or banned.  I just think that it's important for parents to sit down and discuss it with their children at Christmastime.

- Joanne

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Who should be captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been without a captain for almost three years now - since February 9, 2016, when Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Ottawa Senators in a blockbuster 9-player deal.   Phaneuf was named the 18th captain of the Maple Leafs on June 14, 2010, at a press conference held by former Leaf general manager Brian Burke  Phaneuf succeed Mats Sundin, who left the team after the 2007-08 season.

Since the departure of Phaneuf, who now toils for the Los Angeles Kings, the Leafs have been rebuilt into a real contender for the Stanley Cup.  The time is approaching for the storied franchise to choose a new captain., a leader whom fans can picture hoisting Lord Stanley's Jug.

So, who should be the captain of the Blue and White.  My vote goes to John Tavares, although he is not my favourite Leaf player.  Mitch Marner, who wears No. 16, is my favourite because he is skilled and fun to watch.  However, Tavares has displayed the leadership qualities necessary to be a captain.  He also has the experience required for the job, having been captain of the New York Islanders for five seasons.  Here's how his teammate, defenceman Morgan Rielly, described Tavares. as quoted by Rosie DiManno in the Toronto Star.

He not quiet, he talks.  When it comes to his leadership, he leads by example on the ice and just the way he leads his life.  He appears to be very comfortable in a new environment an that's a good thing.

John Tavares

There are other players who deserve consideration for the captaincy - Auston Matthews, Patrick Marleau and Morgan Rielly come to mind.  They don't stand out the Tavares does.  Matthews is a franchise player, but he is still only 21 years old.  His chance will come.  John Tavares is ready now.

In his short time with the Leafs, Tavares has shown that he knows how to handle all the media glare  that goes with being a Maple Leaf.  He seems comfortable in the spotlight.  He has also stepped up during Auston's Matthews absence due to injury.

I understand why the Leafs didn't want to appoint Tavares captain right away.  It is understandable why they would want to wait until he played a number of games with the Leafs.   Tavares is already one of three alternate captains, along with Patrick Marleau and Morgan Rielly.  I hope that in 2019, his "A" will be replaced by a "C."

- Joanne

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Happy Birthday, Gord!

His name is synonymous with timeless songs about trains and shipwreck, rivers and highways, lovers and lonliness.  His music defind the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and '70s.

- From Lightfoot, a biography by Nicholas Jennings

A Canadian music legend turned 80 years old today.  He was born Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. on November 17, 1938 in Orillia, Ontario.  He is well-known internationally as a great folk-rock and country singer and he is arguably Canada's most outstanding songwriter.  His music career has covered more than five decades.  His songs have been recorded by such acclaimed artists as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley. Glen Campbell, Eric Clapton, Peter, Paul and Mary, Anne Murray, Herb Alpert, Barbra Streisand and John Mellencamp.

In the March 14, 1974 edition of Rolling Stone, Lightfoot's singing was described by Stephen Holden as "almost crooning - a style which understates and redeems the rhetorical and sentimental conventions intrinsic to formal songwriting."

The lyrics to Lightfoot's "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," send shivers down my spine.  The song is a chronicle of the construction of the railway across Canada in the 1880s.  It was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for a television special entitled 100 Years Young,  The show was broadcast on January 1, 1967 to mark Canada's centennial year.  Over fifty years later, on July 1, 2017, Lightfoot performed the same song at Canada's 150th birthday celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

On September 8, 2002, Gordon Lightfoot suffered a serious abdominal hemorrhage.  Thankfully, after a long stay in a hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, he recovered.  Gord is a survivor and he's very resilient.  On September 14, 2006, he suffered a minor stroke during a performance and lost the use of two fingers on his right hand.  For a short time, he used a substitute guitarist for the more complicated guitar work.  Bu 2017, however, he had regained full use of his right hand.

As you can tell, I am a big fan of the man.  Aside from his music, another reason I like Gordon Lightfoot is that is a staunch Toronto Maple Leafs fan.  He was selected celebrity captain of the Leafs for the National Hockey League's 75 anniversary season in 1991-1992.

Yesterday evening, Lightfoot performed a birthday concert in his hometown, at the Orillia Opera House.  According to the Orillia Sun, the "full-house audience broke into Happy Birthday" before he could even say hello.  "Welcome to my birthday party," Gord proclaimed.

Today, on his 80th birthday, Lightfoot performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.  It was his 80th show of 2018.  He informed Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun that he has no plans to retire and that he plans to go out on tour again in the spring.  "I started doing this in 1965," he told Warmington with a laugh.  "I feel blessed to be still doing it (but) it is true I almost didn't make to 80 it a few times."


* In 1970, Gordon Lightfoot was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.  He became a Companion of the Order in 2003.

* In 2010, Lightfoot was the victim of a hoax when a journalist reported on social media that he had died.

* In November of 2012, Lightfoot performed at the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto.

* On December 19, 2014, Lightfoot married for a third time to Kim Hasse.

* On October 23, 2015, a bronze sculpture of Gordon Lightfoot was unveiled in Orillia.  The name of the statute is "Golden Leaves: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot."

SOURCES: The Canadian Encylopedia, Wikipedia, Orillia Sun online, Toronto Sun

- Joanne