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A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John shares some little known facts about his favorite romantic comedies!

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Hi, I'm John Green.  Welcome to my salon.  This is mental_floss video, and did you know that the dance scene in the wedding in Coming to America was choreographed by a young Paula Abdul?  According to Abdul, her motto as a choreographer was, "Tell everyone yes, I know exactly what I'm doing, and then I'll figure it out later."  So that's what she did when they asked if she knew anything about African dancing.  She ended up putting together something the director loved, so it all worked out.  Of course, Africa is a gigantic continent full of vastly different kinds of dancing, but this is America!  Anyway, that's the first of many facts I'm going to share with you today about some of my favorite romantic comedies and also some of my least favorites.


There's a Shakespeare and Company bookstore in When Harry Met Sally that inspired Nora Ephron to write You've Got Mail.  The store closed due to competition from a Barnes and Noble, so she came up with the plot line of two competing bookstore employees in You've Got Mail.  Oh, for the days when bookstores competed with each other.  And for the days when your computer said 'You've got mail!'  Speaking of books, you know what makes a great present for the holidays?  Physical books bought at physical bookstores, mine especially, but also buy other peoples'.  

Speaking of When Harry Met Sally, when Meg Ryan turned down the role of Shelby in Steel Magnolias so she could play Sally, Julia Roberts ended up taking the Shelby part, and it turns out the two probably most famous romantic comedy actresses have had a lot of role swaps.  Like, Julia Roberts turned down the lead role in Sleepless in Seattle, that eventually went to Meg and Meg Ryan turned down the lead role in Pretty Woman.

Speaking of Pretty Woman, the classic scene where Edward snaps the jewelry box as Vivian is reaching for it was actually a prank.  The scene was filmed on the day after Julia Roberts' 21st birthday, so Richard Gere and director Garry Marshall planned the trick to, you know, wake her up a little, because she was hungover.  Honestly, she probably should have been allowed to keep the diamond necklace for managing to show up to work on the day after her 21st birthday.  God knows Meredith didn't.

Melissa McCarthy based Megan, her character in Bridesmaids, on celebrity chef Guy Fieri.  According to McCarthy, "I tried for a long time to convince them to let me wear short white spiky hair and they were like, you can't actually be Guy Fieri."

There was a contest on the set of Crazy, Stupid, Love for the crew to name the movie, which didn't have a title yet.  The prize was an iPad, but nobody won it and the director stuck with their terrible working title.  The funny thing about Crazy, Stupid, Love is that it's not a bad movie.  It just has such a bad title that you assume that it will be.

M. Night Shyamalan has claimed he ghostwrote the 90s rom-com She's All That.  The credited screenwriter, R. Lee Fleming Jr Tweeted that wasn't true at all, but some have suspicions that Fleming is actually a pen name of Shyamalan or maybe the trees did it or possibly an evil grandma.

Anna Kendrick added the cup song to Pitch Perfect.  Originally, she was gonna sing another song, like I'm a Little Teapot, but she'd learned the cup song after seeing a viral video of it on reddit, and so they put it in the movie.

Speaking of little teapots, look how little this one is!  It's one of the smallest items on our wall.

Katherine Hepburn wanted her future significant other, Spencer Tracey, to co-star in the Philadelphia Story with her, and this was before the two had ever worked together, possibly before she'd even met him, but he was unavailable and so James Stewart got the part.

I notice that here in the script, Meredith wrote, "Insert flawless James Stewart impression" to which I say, no.

Before Clueless became a movie, Amy Heckerling and her producing partner Twink Caplain pitched it to 20th Century Fox as a TV show, but it got rejected because it had "too many girls", so Heckerling and Kaplain reworked it into a film, a perfect film, the greatest film of the 20th century.  Well, other than Hitch.

Speaking of Hitch, it was almost called The First Last Kiss.  

The Switch was originally called The Baster, because artificial insemination.

And While You Were Sleeping was originally known as Coma Guy.  I honestly don't know which of those is worse.

Speaking of While You Were Sleeping, in the film, there's a newspaper boy who tries to throw a newspaper and then fails.  That was actually an unplanned moment.  That kid broke his wrist.

Paul Simon signed a deal to write three new songs for the movie The Graduate, but he was touring a lot and he only turned in one song before the film was done being edited and then he met with director Mike Nichols and played a little of his song titled Mrs. Roosevelt, which he hadn't written for the movie.  Instead, he said it was a song about the past.  Nichols convinced him to change the title to Mrs. Robinson.

The classic 1984 romantic comedy It Happened One Night was the first film to win all five major academy awards for picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay.  The only other two films to do this?  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Silence of the Lambs.

For his role as Miracle Max in The Princess Bride, Billy Crystal brought two pictures to the makeup artist for inspiration.  One of his grandmother and one of former baseball player and manager, (?~4:39).

Marilyn Monroe probably wasn't as well paid as you think she was.  For instance, she was initially paid $100,000 for her work on the unfinished film Something's Gotta Give.  At that time, it wasn't unusual for Elizabeth Taylor, for instance, to receive a one million dollar salary.  

As of now, Jerry Maguire is the lowest grossing number one movie at the box office in US history.  During its fourth week in theaters, it earned just $5.5 million but still managed to be the number one film that week.  As I always say when the staff begs for a pork chop party--show me the money.  There isn't enough in there yet.

As David O'Russell was writing Silver Linings Playbook, he imagined Zooey Deschanel and Vince Vaughn in the lead roles.  

In the original screenplay for Groundhog Day, Phil was stuck in that day for a full 10,000 years.  Director Harold Ramis eventually said he was probably stuck there for about 30 or 40 years.

Speaking of early scripts, the original ending of Fever Pitch had the Red Sox losing in the playoffs, of course, but then, in 2004, when they were filming the movie, there were three games that indicated, you know, that the Red Sox had a pretty good chance to win the World Series so the (?~5:44) brothers decided to have Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore attend the next game and the Red Sox won, so Fallon and Barrymore rushed the field in character to kiss, which ended up in the movie.

Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson are partially responsible for the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Wilson brought Hanks to one of Nia Vardalos' stand-up performances and convinced him that they should produce a movie about it.

The film Coyote Ugly was based on an article published in a 1997 issue of GQ that was written by Elizabeth Gilbert who went on to write Eat, Pray, Love.

And finally, I return to my salon to tell you that before Bridget Jones' Diary went into production, Renee Zellweger spent three weeks undercover working at a publishing firm in the United Kingdom.  She spent her days doing pretty ordinary tasks, answering phones, calling literary editors, making photocopies, and of course, perfecting her British accent.  According to her boss, only a few people noted that she looked "just like the girl from Jerry Maguire" but all in all, she went pretty unnoticed.

Thanks for watching mental_floss video, which is made with the help of all of these wonderful people.  Leave your favorite romantic comedy in the comments.  It better be Hitch, and as we say in my hometown, don't forget to be awesome.