A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

September 14

In 1982, Princess Grace of Monaco was released from the hospital after treatment for minor injuries sustained in a car accident the previous day.


January 16

In 1942, a TWA DC-3 passenger plane en route to Los Angeles from Indiana crashed, killing all aboard.

Actress Carole Lombard, wife of Clark Gable, had considered taking a plane rather than returning home aboard the train which had conveyed her to an appearance at a war-bonds rally in her native state, and had actually purchased a ticket for the ill-fated flight.

 - Carole Lombard
Carole Lombard

At the last minute, however, the actress, a believer in numerology who had been spooked by the recurrence of the number 3 in the planned trip (she was 33, there were three in her party and the aircraft was designated Flight No. 3), agreed to let her press agent settle the matter by flipping a coin. As a result of the coin toss, Lombard returned home by train.

She would go on to star in 21 more films, last appearing as the mother of 'President Douglas' (played by James Garner) in the 1996 political comedy My Fellow Americans. She would die on March 3, 2003, at the age of 94.

August 29

In 2006, speaking at a press conference in Hollywood on this day, writer/director Quentin Tarantino announced the cancellation of the long-awaited movie Inglorious Basterds, placing the blame on acute casting problems. The over-ambitious vision for the film was a spaghetti-western set in Nazi-occupied France, a complex fusion of ideas from The Dirty Dozen, Cross of Iron and Pulp Fiction. A fiendishly complex subtextual plot had emerged from the decade-long development project. And for the characters, it was simply impossible to find actors whose play could satisfy Tarantino's high standards. Nobody was good enough. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Tarantino acknowledged his creative failure, admitting he had been "too precious about the page".
Watch the Youtube Clip

A Band ApartThe characterisation problem really narrowed down to two key protagonists, SS Colonel Hans Landa (pictured) and his nemesis in the OSS, "Aldo the Apache" (Lieutenant Aldo Raine of the US First Special Air Service)."I knew whatever actor I cast to play this has to be as much of a linguistic genius as Landa is or he would never come off the page" Tarantino said. Landa seduces his prey with his words and speaks fluent German, English, French and Italian. Other actors "could do the poetry in this language, but they couldn't do the poetry in that language. And they had to be able to say the poetry in every language," Tarantino said.

Tarantino never found a suitable actor for Landa, but he did come agonisingly close with Aldo Raine. A night-long meeting with Brad Pitt involved "five bottles of wine and some smoking apparatus". And yet by the end of the discussion, Pitt had determined that the role was little more than a reprise of Lee Marvin' Redneck OSS Major John Reisman from the Dirty Dozen. Pitt subsequently rejected the role as "too lightweight".
Watch the Interview

"Inglourious Basterds, a war movie that may eventually resemble The Dirty Dozen merged with Cross of Iron, has been predicted more often than the second coming of the Lord". ~ The Irish TimesDesperately disappointed, and seeking to clear his head by moving onto to fresh new projects, Tarantino instructed his agents to offer the film rights to The Weinstein Company and Universal Pictures. The studios asset-stripped the project to its very core, releasing A Band Apart on the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Dieppe Raid, the central event for the new movie.

November 23

In 1804, on this day Franklin Pierce (pictured) was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire.

Birth of Franklin PierceHe was a Democrat and a "doughface" (a Northerner with Southern sympathies)who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Pierce took part in the Mexican-American War and became a brigadier general in the Army. His private law practice in his home state, New Hampshire, was so successful that he was offered several important positions, which he turned down. Later, he was nominated as the party's candidate for president on the 49th ballot at the 1852 Democratic National Convention.

But tragedy struck on the 6th January, 1853 when the President-elect and his family were crushed to death when the train car that they had boarded in Boston was derailed and then rolled down an embankment near Andover, Massachusetts.

In his place, William Rufus King was sworn in as President on March 4th. Problem was, King was dying of tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease just six weeks later, so that the presidency fell to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, David Rice Atchison.

Just four years before, he had served as President for a single day. Because on Saturday, March 3, 1849, outgoing President James Polk's term had expired, but incoming President Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath and put the ceremony off until Monday, March 5 -- which meant nobody was President on Sunday, at least officially.

He did not undertake any presidential duties, but claimed to have taken a nap whilst serving as 12th president of the United States. But unlike that temporary ceremonial fill-in function, the succession after the deaths of Pierce and King was fundamentally different. Because Atchison was a pro-slavery expansionist who was brought to power at a pivotal moment in the nation's history.

December 23

In 1777, on this day future Tsar Alexander I of Russia was born in the capital city of Saint Petersburg. He succeeded to the throne on 24 March 1801,and was crowned in the Kremlin on 15 September of that year. Unfortunately for Alexander I, his ill-fated reign occurred at the same time as the rise to power of his nemesis, the magnificent Emperor of the French, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Birth of the ill-fated Tsar Alexander I of RussiaAutocrat and "Jacobin", man of the world and mystic, Alexander appeared to his contemporaries as a riddle which each read according to his own temperament. Napoleon Bonaparte thought him a "shifty Byzantine", and called him the Talma of the North, as ready to play any conspicuous part. To Metternich he was a madman to be humoured. Castlereagh, writing of him to Lord Liverpool, gives him credit for "grand qualities", but adds that he is "suspicious and undecided"; and to Jefferson he was a man of estimable character, disposed to do good, and expected to diffuse through the mass of the Russian people "a sense of their natural rights".

Six years into his reign he was comprehensively defeated by the French in Poland, deciding to sign the Treaty of Tilsit. This agreement included a binding commitment to not trade with England, such that the French and Russians were thus allied at the time. But in 1811, Tsar Alexander started to break the agreement.

Napoleon and his advisers considered attacking Russia to reinforce the treaty. Napoleon saw that his army far outnumbered the Russian army, but fearing the harsh Russian lands he had the good sense to realize that if Russia attacked him, he would face no real threat. Nevertheless he dispatched one of his advisers to gather information about the Russian lands from people who had travelled there. Until then, Napoleon decided not to leave his Grande Armee idle, so he captured the rest of Europe, the relatively weak Ottoman empire to the south-east with the spotted remains of the Byzantine. After completing this campaign, Napoleon decided to move his capital to a new city he founded in Switzerland called Nepola, to control Europe from its center. When Napoleon was finally ready to punish Russia for breaking the treaty of Tilsit in the early spring of 1813, he had conquered all of Europe barring Russia.

Although Napoleon barely won the battle south of Moscow by coordinating his troops, he was well placed to return to Moscow with Tsar Alexander to sign a peace treaty, agreeing that Napoleon may claim the western area of Russia around Finland, including Saint Petersburg, and that Russia become an ally of the French again. Before Napoleon returned, he ensured that the newspapers herald his victory in Russia well.

October 27

In 2011, relaunching his movie career for the fourth time, actor John Travolta turned his back on the violent character roles that he had played for the previous seventeen years.

Change of DirectionHe played the disturbed manic super agent Charlie Wax (pictured) in his final violent movie, "From Paris With Love" filmed just days before the tragic death of his sixteen year old son.

Following a period of grieving he became refocused in the relief activities in Haiti. Using his expertise as a pilot, he flew a jetliner carrying earthquake relief supplies, doctors and ministers into Port-au-Prince. And it was during this period out of the movie business that he reflected upon his unintentional impact as an role model for gun culture. He decided that he had accidentially become a bone-headed anti-hero, like Charlie Wax. Because in a sense, the characterization was an accident caused by Quentin Taratino selecting him for the part of Vincent Vega in the 1994 movie "Pulp Fiction". He mused he might even "go grey", a reference to the post-Fonz characters played by Henry Winkler.

Rumours soon followed of a further revelation involving a possible split with the Church of Scientology.

May 25

In 1977, the cult film "A New Hope" opens in US theaters to general critical disappointment.

Cult film "New Hope" premieres Twentieth Century Fox, the studio that finally gave filmmaker Luke Walton the green light to make his space opera is pleased to find out that the public doesn't share the critics' opinions, and the movie makes a reasonable $50 million in its theatrical release.

A few years later, though, it enjoys a second life as it becomes a hugely popular rental at video stores across the English-speaking world. It earns enough, in fact, for Walton to film 2 sequels to the campy original, fleshing out his story of a young man's fight against an evil that turns out to be closer to him than he originally thought. These direct-to-video sequels brought Walton enough money to retire on, although there are persistent rumors that he still plans to do something more with the Darth Vader character someday.

November 5

In 2008, on this day the German Board of Film Censors prohibited the distribution of Quentin Tarantino's Jewish revenge movie "Inglorious Basterds", classifying both of the two "Bear Jew Execution Scenes" as gratuitously violent.
Watch Bear Jew Scene on Youtube

Dead LetterThe final reel of the movie depicts "Operation Kino", a successful mission by a team of Jewish American OSS soldiers which barbeques the entire Nazi High Command in a Parisian cinema whilst they are watching the propaganda movie "Nation's Pride".

Recognising an unmissable opportunity to save his own skin, the anti-hero SS Colonel Hans Landa allows the plot to proceed, permitting the "Bear Jew" Sergeant Donny Donovitz (pictured, played by Eli Roth) to escape in exchange for his own amnesty from the Holocaust war-crimes he has committed throughout the movie. However, Donovitz double crosses Landa, and executes him in the forest just before reaching Allied Lines, realising that the deal is a dead letter now that the war is over.

December 25

In 1977, legendary silent-film star Charlie Chaplin died at his home in Hollywood. He was 88.

Death of ChaplinIn 1952, following a visit to his native country, the British-born actor had been barred from re-entering the U.S. due to his left-wing political associations. Popular outcry forced the U.S. government to relent, and Chaplin returned to Hollywood on December 6 of that year. Like other actors whose politics resulted in their blacklisting, he would eventually return to films; he would make a brief appearance as a mute servant in the movie version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To the Forum alongside the former blacklistee Zero Mostel. In his last years, however, he would become increasingly reclusive, avoiding contact even with family members.

September 12

In 2010, on this day Neill Blomkamp's animatrix quality science fiction movie "District 10" premiered in movie theatres across North America.
Watch the Trailer
District 10Set three years later, the sequel concludes the struggle with the cynical multinational organisation charged with operating the alien refugee camp in Johannesburg. Because the real agenda of Multi National United (MNU) is to reverse engineer the alien's advanced biotechnology weapons.

The "poleepkwa" Christopher Johnson returns onboard the mothership, intent on freeing his fellow "prawns" (pictured, bottom right). Also to honour a promise to MNU Officer Wikus van der Merwe (pictured, top left) - himself a victim of those same experiments - who transmogrified into a "prawn" after meddling with Johnson's fuel pod in the first movie. "Get your fookin' tentacle out of my face!" ~ Wikus Van De MerweJohnson promised to return with help to reverse the process, requiring medical technology from the poleepkwa home world.

In the final sequence to the movie, we discover the shocking truth when Johnson's new form is revealed. Because all of the poleepkwa on Earth are really humanoids infected by the same transmogrifying disease as van der Merwe.

September 7

In 2005, on this day Danny Cannon's action movie "Judge Dredd II: The Doomsday Scenario" premiered in movie theatres across North America.
Watch the Youtube Clip
Doomsday Scenario by Ed. and Eric OppenLoosely derived from the AD 2000 Comic, progs 1141-1164 and 1167, and Megazine 3.52-3.59 Christian Bale played a more faithful adaptation of the character than Sylvester Stallone, keeping his face covered throughout the movie (as the real Judge Dredd does in the comic). His deadly archenemy Orlok is a former judge of East-Meg One, the city which was destroyed in the Apocalypse War two decades before. In the sequel, a vengeful Orlok attempts to overcome Justice Department by spreading the Block Mania virus across Mega-City One.
The truer depicton of Dredd was heralded as a masterpiece by fans of the comic, although American's lack of familiarity with the milieu limited the movie's commercial success.

December 20

In 1999, on this day the Macau Peninsula, Taipa, Coloane along with the islands Lapa, Dom João and Montanha were handed over (strictly speaking, back) to China. The territory had been administered by Portugal from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it was the last remaining European colony in Asia.

End of an EraFollowing the Japanese invasion of China in 1938, the Portuguese had officially occupied these three lightly populated islands in order to create a larger more economically viable Macau (the colony had previously consisted of Macau Peninsula itself and the islands of Taipa and Coloane). Per some historical registers, the Portuguese presence dated back to the end of the 17th century when a group of missionaries established themselves on these Chinese islands. And because of their alliance status as an Axis Power [1], Japan had to respect their sovereignty. However as the Greater Asian Prosperity Sphere began to flourish, Japan had grown to see the wisdom of working with them to diminish the influence of Hong Kong and Singapore as regional entrepots.

If this development was a disaster for Great Britain and her Far Eastern Empire it was only a temporary setback for China, a civilization that had endured for millennia and was certain to out-live the few centuries of European belligerence. Yet against the odds the dictatorship in Lisbon was to survive well into the 1980s [2] many years after the collapse of their erstwhile Fascist allies. Under the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, Macau was classified as a "a Chinese territory under (temporary) Portuguese administration" taking a slow transition into full sovereignty. But this was in reality merely a "smoke and mirrors" deal simply to avoid capital flight. On the eve of the twenty-first century, China quietly closed the door on the wreckage of the previous four hundred years. But for Western Capitalists, it was the end of an era.

March 15

In 1983, on this day filming of The Terminator resumed in Toronto with the Dutch actor Rutger Hauer recast in the title role.

Filming of "The Terminator" Resumes in TorontoThe future of the movie had been thrown into jeopardy when producer Dino De Laurentiis applied an option in Arnold Schwarzenegger's contract that would make him unattainable for nine months while he was filming Conan the Destroyer. Director Cameron was then contracted to write the script for Rambo: First Blood Part II and had also initiated a series of intense meetings with producers David Giler and Walter Hill to discuss a sequel to Alien. The Terminator Project was unravelling .. fast.

A tour de force performance in Blade Runner as the replicant Roy Batty made Hauer the natural choice for the role. But a junior executive at Orion Pictures actually made the connection. Because in the "Time to Die" he utters the famous line "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. [pause] Time to die".

September 2

In 1969, fan pressure forces NBC to renew Star Trek for a fourth season, in spite of its low ratings. They move it from the Friday night "death slot" they had placed it in to a more congenial Thursday at 7PM, and, to their great surprise, the series shots up in the ratings.

Fourth Season of Star Trek by Robbie TaylorThe fourth season is greeted by fans as the show's best yet, and it climbs from the cellar of the Nielson's to the #4 spot. Advertising picks up on the show, and NBC gives it a 5th season.

The show hits its stride as critics come aboard, hailing the writing and acting on the series, and Star Trek spends most of season five as the number 1 show on television. Although its creator, Gene Roddenberry, had planned to end the series after 5 years, and even had the show's intro state that the Enterprise was on a "5-year mission," he was easily convinced to extend that to six, seven and then eight. William Shatner's opening lines were changed from a 5-year mission to "continuing mission".

NBC was more than willing to renew the series for ninth season, but stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan and others were ready to move on to other projects. They did reunite for several feature films later on, and George Takei's character Sulu was given his own spinoff series, "Excelsior", in 1976.

October 7

In 2009, on this day the super-violent American zombie horror movie For Whom the Bell Tolls premiered in cinemas across the United Kingdom. Starring Woody Harrelson in his most gory role since "Natural Born Killers" the movie shares its name with the signature soundtrack from Metallica.
Click to listen to Metallica on Youtube

From Whom the Bell TollsIn a key scene, the zombie killers stay in lead singer (pictured) James Hetfield's Californian mansion and they club the living dead to death with one of his electric guitars.

To say that the actors got into character would be an understatement, big time. Because on his return from the film-shoot, Woody Harrelson assaulted a photographer at La Guardia Airport in New York, claiming that he mistook the cameraman for a zombie. "I wrapped a movie called "From Whom the Bell Tolled," in which I was constantly under assault by zombies, then flew to New York, still very much in character," Harrelson said in a statement issued by his publicist. "With my daughter at the airport I was startled by a paparazzo, who I quite understandably mistook for a zombie," he said.

September 30

In 1955, actor James Dean was badly injured in an automobile accident, one day after finishing work on the film Giant. After months of convalescence, he returned to work as an actor.

Giant by Eric LippsThroughout the late 1950s and the 1960s, Dean, who had earned fame portraying moody, rebellious young men in such films as Rebel Without a Cause, gradually broadened his range. One of his more notable roles would be as the lovestruck cowboy in Marilyn Monroe's final film, Bus Stop, in 1962.

In the 1970s he would move into directing, specializing in social-commentary films, with an occasional foray into other genres. He would continue to act occasionally, however, last appearing opposite Harrison Ford as the corrupt archaeologist Belloq in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In 1984 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died January 11, 1986.

January 22

In 2008, actor Heath Ledger (pictured) barely manages to survive a dangerous drug overdose at his SoHo-based apartment in Manhattan. Gotham Dawn by Gerry Shannon

That afternoon, Ledger had been found by his housekeeper in bed in a semi-conscious state and with a burning fever, and she then hurriedly dialled 911. The emergency room team who treated the actor found his condition was a result of an abuse of his precription medications that were for treating his headaches and his insomnia. (The actor often talked to his friends of his difficulties with sleeping).

During his recovery, Ledger released a statement warning his fans of not being properly informed as to the dangers of drugs - both legal and otherwise. It was this experience that would have the usually reclusive Ledger become a prominent anti-drugs activist in the intervening decades, often lobbying the US Senate for tougher measures and togrant greater powers to law enforcement agencies.

Nearly a year later to the day, he would be nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the super-villain, the Joker, in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight. Ledger's subsequent win was unique for a starring role in a big-budget genre production. He would reprise his role in the 2011 sequel, Gotham Dawn, which would briefly reunite him with his Brokeback Mountain co-star, Jake Gyllenhaal as the Riddler during the film's climax that sees a mass breakout from Arkham Asylum.

June 11

In 1993, on this day Universal Pictures' block-buster science fiction adventure film Jurassic Park premiered in cinemas across North America.

Jurassic Park
The Kickass Version
A star studded case featured Sean Connery in the critical role of John Hammond, the eccentric billionaire CEO of InGen and creator of Jurassic Park. Hammond's over exuberance was beautifully counterpoised by the calmness of Harrison Ford playing the leading paleontologist and main protagonist, Dr. Alan Grant, and the maverick nature of Erik Bogosian who was cast in the role of mathematician and chaos theorist, Ian Malcolm.

This triangular set of pressure points had given Connery the compelling reason he had needed to take the role despite his initial reluctance. However, Spielberg was very fortunate to secure his services on the project, because Harrison Ford had originally sought the roles of either Fugitive Dr Richard Kimble or Jack Ryan in Patriot Role (which was taken by Alec Baldwin who eventually reached a compromise on his fee structure). On set Ford met his future wife Calista Flockhart who played Dr. Ellie Sattler, a paleobotanist and graduate student of Grant's.

October 6

In 2009, the movie Legend premiered in theatres across North America. Directed by Allen Gray, the film was a video diary of the extraordinary life and career of James Dean.
Click to watch the Youtube

LegendThe critical scene in the movie is the 1955 car accident that almost ended Dean's life aged just twenty-four. Because on September 30, 1955, Dean and his mechanic Rolf Wutherich set off from Competition Motors, where they had prepared his Porsche 550 Spyder that morning for a sports car race at Salinas, California. Dean originally intended to trailer the Porsche to the meeting point at Salinas, behind his new Ford Country Squire station wagon, crewed by Hickman and photographer Sanford Roth, who was planning a photo story of Dean at the races. At the last minute, Dean drove the Spyder, having decided he needed more time to familiarize himself with the car. At 3:30 p.m., Dean was ticketed in Mettler Station, Kern County, for driving 65 mph (105 km/h) in a 55 mph (89 km/h) zone. The driver of the Ford was ticketed for driving 20 mph (32 km/h) over the limit, as the speed limit for all vehicles towing a trailer was 45 mph (72 km/h). Later, having left the Ford far behind, they stopped at Blackwells Corner in Lost Hills for fuel and met up with fellow racer Lance Reventlow.

Dean was driving west on U.S. Route 466 (later State Route 46) near Cholame, California when a black-and-white 1950 Ford Custom Tudor coupe, driven from the opposite direction by 23-year-old Cal Poly student Donald Turnupseed, attempted to take the fork onto State Route 41 and crossed into Dean's lane without seeing him. Right before impact, Wutherich recalled Dean saying "That guy's gotta stop... He'll see us". The two cars hit almost head on. According to a story in the October 1, 2005 edition of the Los Angeles Times,[14] California Highway Patrol officer Ron Nelson and his partner had been finishing a coffee break in Paso Robles when they were called to the scene of the accident, where they saw a heavily breathing Dean being placed into an ambulance. Wutherich had been thrown from the car, but survived with a broken jaw and other injuries. Dean was taken to Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, where he made a slow recovery from his critical condition.

August 10

In 1982, unit filming of the thirteenth entry in the James Bond series began at the Berlin Wall crossing point called Checkpoint Charlie.

New Face of James BondThe film's title Octopussy was taken from a short story in Ian Fleming's 1966 short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights, although the film's plot was original. It also included a portion inspired by the Fleming short story "The Property of a Lady" (included in 1967 and later editions of Octopussy and The Living Daylights), while the events of the short story "Octopussy" formed a part of the title character's background and were recounted by her.

Of more significance was the change of lead character which involved the seventh actor in the series. Following For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore had expressed a desire to stop playing the leading role. His replacement was Lewis Collins, an altogether more muscular figure that had initially been rejected as "too aggressive" by the producer Cubby Broccoli. However a second audition was held and following a few minor adjustments he was finally included in the cast.

Needless to say, the result was a transformative and Collins ushered James Bond into the new decade. Instead of the quietly spoken spy, Bond became much more like the strong-arm characters of The Professionals and The Sweeney. This talent for modern characterisation had been spotted by Brian Clemens who had been tasked with the writing of a toughened-up version of The Avengers. It was Clemens that cast Collins in The Avengers, then The Professionals and then fatefully, he persuaded Broccoli to change him mind. Ironically, Collins subsequently applied to join the Territorial SAS, a unit open to part-time reservists but was rejected because of his fame, despite passing the entrance tests.

September 10

In 2009, on this day the German board of censors banned the screening of Quentin Tarantino's Jewish revenge movie "Once upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied Europe".
Watch the Youtube Clip

Once upon a TimeThe censor's decision was just one of a series of obstructive measures taken by German authorities who sought to prevent the making of the movie. In fact, they nearly succeeded.

During casting, Tarantino had been prevented from hiring German actors.

"What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none... And that Monsieur is what a Jew shares with a rat".As a result, the film featured Daniel Cesar Martin Bruhl Gonzalez Domingo, Christoph Waltz and Michael Fassbender, respectively a Spanish-born German, an Austrian and an Anglo-Irish born in Heidleberg.

Because a decade after the Fall of the Third Reich, the true extent of the Jewish Holocaust is still a matter of bitter controversy in Germany.

December 9

In 1968, starring Kirk Douglas oddly cast as a Sicillian don, The Brotherhood bombs so badly at the box office that Paramount Pictures decide not to do another gangster film until it made The Godfather four years later.

Paramount Pictures get a wake-up callAlthough The Brotherhood was a non-descript fake movie made by Hollywood Italians, surprisingly the fine novel crafted by Mario Puzo was itself only the result of research rather than direct experience. Published just four months after the premiere of The Brotherhood, sales of The Godfather climbed inexporably into a peak of blockbuster success where it remained number one best seller novel for an incredible sixty-seven weeks. But when Paramount executives sat down with Puzo in November 1969, the extent of that success was not yet fully apparent, and both parties could only imagine a low budget movie adaptation. And with Puzo set to play a key role as screen-writer, also feeling that the story of the Corleone Family was complete, there seemed little reason to concern themselves with the copyright issues that might emerge during the making of a sequel.

But fate played a hand. Due to the commercial failure of The Brotherhood the views of writer Lewis John Carlino and director Martin Ritt were sought, there were after all associated with the studio and held strong opinions. Fortunately, they both grasped the potential of an authentic gangster movie and the result was a more robust definition of copyright with respect to subsequent movie sequels. This was indeed fortuitous, because Puzo did eventually publish a sequel called the Sicilian some fifteen years later. Based on the real life exploits of Salvatore Giuliano, the Corleone Family played a significant and integral, although secondary part in the plot [1]. After winning a legal dispute with the publisher Random House, Paramount Pictures were able to make a third instalment of the Godfather Series that starred Al Pacino, Talia Shire et al. alongside Christopher Lambert cast in the lead role. The movie was directed by Michael Cimino because Francis Ford Coppola had stuck to Puzo's premise that the complete story of the Corleone Family had already been told. It was a stroke of good luck for Cimino who fully recovered his reputation from writing and directing 1980's financial failure, Heaven's Gate.

May 4

In 2012, on this day the blockbuster movie Marvel's The Avengers premiered worldwide with Johnny Depp the surprise casting choice for the role of Tony Stark, genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with a mechanical suit of armor.

Premiere of Marvel's The Avengers
by Ed & Andrew Beane
Insurance issues had forced Robert Downey, Jr. to forced to withdraw and an opportunity was created for Depp to reportray Stark in a more eccentric caricature.

But the negative consequence of this choice was that he was unavailable for the shooting of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Film makers Rob Marshall and Jerry Bruckheimer turned to British actor Russell Brand who redefined the role of Captain Jack Sparrow.

May 6

In 2011, the fourth movie in the popular Spider-Man series was released, with actor Toby McGuire repeating his dual role as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst returning as Mary Jane Watson. Dylan Baker costarred as Dr. Curtis Connors (whose CGI-aided transformation into the monstrous Lizard and then back to human form would win an Oscar in the special effects category), John Malkovich as the Vulture and Anne Hathaway as Mary Jane's romantic rival Gwen Stacy.

Release of fourth Spider-Man movieCreative differences between producer Sam Raimi and Sony Pictures nearly threatened to derail the film, as producer Sam Raimi feared he could not meet the release deadline without compromising the film. Ultimately, however, the disputes were resolved, with Raimi scaling back the script by eliminating, among other things, a planned appearance of the villain Venom. That character, along with another longtime Spider-Man foe, the Sandman, was instead slated to appear in a fifth, as yet unproduced film, although actors McGuire and Dunst have hinted that they are not interested in appearing in another Spider-Man movie, suggesting that their roles may need to be recast.

January 25

In 1990, in a shocking admission of his near bankruptcy American film director Francis Ford Coppola listed liabilities amounting to the astonishing figure of $28.9m. As a result of his dire financial situation he was compelled to take up Paramount's long-standing offer to make a third instalment of the Godfather.

Robert Duvall reprises Tom Hagen in Godfather Part IIIHis former reluctance stemmed from a logical deduction that because the first two films spanned the entirety of Mario Puzo's 1969 novel the complete Corleone saga had been told: a three-part works was simply irrational and would be seen as a shameless cashing in on the success of the Godfather. In addition to this absence of a compelling reason to make what was in reality a late sequel, a further problem immediately surfaced when Robert Duvall refused to reprise the role of adopted brother Tom Hagen because he objected to Al Pacino being paid four times more than him. This was a huge setback because the mild-mannered Hagen was a counterweight to Vito's children, serving as the voice of reason within the Corleone household and bringing an usual equilibrium to the discussions of family business.

Fortunately Coppola convinced Duvall that the movie would be incomplete without him, and perhaps this emotional appeal combined with the bizarre financial backdrop was just enough to get him on board. Most importantly, Coppola promised Duvall that Tom Hagen was going to be the compelling reason for making the third instalment. This was something of a breaktaking plot development; while Hagen loved all the Corleones, he always idolized Sonny, and Hagen blamed himself when Sonny was murdered. When Vito moved into semi-retirement in 1954, and his youngest son Michael became the operating head of the family - on his father's advice-Michael removed Hagen as consigliere in favor of having his father take the role on an informal basis, thus restricting Hagen to handling the family's legal business in Nevada, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Michael declared that if he needed advice, he would turn to his father - "the best possible consigliere" (however he is re-appointed after the death of Vito).

This breakthrough was vital for the success of the whole tableau because Coppola's overarching goal was to re characterize Michael Corleone as a tragic hero rather than a villain. To do this, he needed the Hagen character heavily involved in running the Corleone charities. A Plan B to substitute in a new character B. J. Harrison, played by George Hamilton would have achieved this also, but it would have destroyed the recognizable continuity from Parts 1 and II. But more than that, the first two movies had carefully built up a resentment stemming from the growing distance between the two characters. Michael almost always rejected Tom's advice in order to establish his hierarchical authority over lack of seniority (a problem Fredo also had with Michael) and this rejection was taken as a diminished status as an adopted, rather than blood, brother. Ultimately Tom the older brother was needed as the provider of the information advice that would lead Michael towards the path of forgiveness. The use of interwoven flashbacks to Parts I and II (a device used at the end of Part II with the birthday party scene) was a piece of genius that delivered a commercially successful, blockbuster special that set the stage for a fourth instalment in the Godfather Series.

December 13

In 2013, Saving Mr. Banks the back story to the development of the probing psychological movie Mary Poppins premiéred in cinemas across the US and Canada.

Saving Mr BanksFor almost twenty years Walt Disney had dreamt of making a glorious family fantasy based upon the 1934 novel by P.L. (Pamela) Travers. Entranced by the concept of a charming musical about a magical nanny who taught two children how to behave and a father [called Mr Banks] how to love, he really couldn't see beyond the umbrellas and chimney sweeps.

However when negotiations started in 1961, he soon came to realize the reason for the author's disinterest - he had completely failed to grasp the underlying Christian sub-context of redemption. This misunderstanding was exposed after he jeeringly called the author "the woman who sent a nanny with a flying umbrella to save the children", and she snapped back, "You think Mary Poppins came to save the children? Oh dear". Eventually, Disney saw through the vanity of his project coming to the realization that Poppins was sent by Travers "to save the father, your father". This religious direction was hinted at by the nanny's first name but of course Disney was in quite a different country when it came to artistic conceptualization. Ultimately, the movie-maker tried to see a hyper-reality through the idealistic prism of a happy child, whereas the author had reflected upon her unhappy childhood with the regrets of a mature adult. There were at cross purposes, and so their collaboration could never succeed, despite his gentlemanly attempts to persuade, manipulate and perhaps deceive.

After this moment of truth Travers broke off the negotiations and sought out a more suitable director, speaking to individuals such as Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick. But most significantly, Travers had decided that the most effective way of influencing the screenplay was for her to play the role of Mary Poppins herself. When Disney attempt to resume the dialogue, she snapped "Walt, that ship has sailed" [1].

January 5

In 2011, on this day sixty-five year old Herman Cain was cast in the lead role for the retro cowboy blaxploitation sequel movie "The Doc II".

The Doc IIThe first blockbuster movie had starred Barry Obama and his dumb sidekick Joe Biden. Unfortunately the spinoff (a four-year HBO series) had met with high initial praise, but then suddenly ended without resolving any of the plot threads. Despite their pleading requests to get a second chance to restart or reset the concept (socialized quack medicine for the "have-nots"), the under-performing pair were firmly told that it was time for a change that the audience could believe in - before the network itself run out of funds.

With the tired old cast of supporting actors stuck in a rut, Dodge City desperately needed to freshen up with some star quality. To re-energize the second movie installment, a "rough diamond" actor was sought who could cut to the chase (under his 9-9-9 plan he promised to clean-up the Town). And encouraging first reactions to his sensational, gritty acting style followed, a positive indication that the casting decision would be broadly welcomed by fans. But sadly, his ratings would drop sharply after a series of tawdry allegations emerged about his even more racey personal life.

October 12

In 2010, the agent of James Gandolfini confirmed the widespread rumours that the Soprano's star had indeed been offered the lead role of Don Vito Corleone in the upcoming remake of The Godfather. Joe Pesci, the supporting actor from Goodfellas, was expected to star as his youngest son Michael.

The Godfather, ReduxThe filming schedule was set for premiére on the fortieth anniversary of the original movie which was released on March 15, 1972.

In agreeing to re-make the groundbreaking movie, Director Francis Ford Coppola was confronted with the daunting challenge of introducing innovation into a mature genre. Rather than re-interpreting Mario Puzo's book, he decided to celebrate the fabric of Italian-American cinema. And the startling result was for Gandolfini, Pesci et al to revisit forty years of film-making by positioning the Godfather in a rich, modern setting - Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's post 9/11 New York.

Coppola had in fact been offered the opportunity to shoot Godfather, Part IV [1] but the project had been scrapped over a decade before because of the untimely death of author Mario Puzo.

January 31

In 2012, on this day James Cameron's long anticipated, blockbuster movie Avatar 2 premiered in cinemas across North America.

The premiere of Avatar 2Set in 2175, twenty five years have passed, and whilst many things have changed, some have not. Because stocks of the rare mineral unobtanium (valued at $20m per kilo) are running low back on Earth, an ultra republican US President (played by Will Ferrell) orders a re-establishment of the RDA Mining Operation on Pandora. The surprising application of unobtanium is also revealed at this time. However, on the return voyage, unobtanium is also discovered on the moons of Polyphemus and the Alpha Centauri A solar system. This peaceful outcome is of course a huge disappointment to Colonel Miles Quarich (reprised by Stephen Lang) who is out for revenge having been reanimated from DNA ("Its not over whilst I'm breathing!") after his untimely death from two poisoned Na'vi arrows to the chest.

Ironically, the Na'vi are now desirous of a such re-engagement because lacking advanced medical technology they are unable to defeat a slow-acting virus introduced during mankind's first visit. In desperation, Jake Sculley (pictured) travels to the interior of the planet to seek a cure. To add depth to the drama, flashbacks are shown - including the related events that led to Sculley's disabling injury, and the death of his brother Tommy (and by exploring the President's complicity we discover that Jake's arrival on Pandora was no accident at all).

In a dramatic final scene, Jake appeals to the mother goddess Eywa to re-animate his human body and find a cure for the Na'vi. The stage is thus set for the third movie expected before 2015.

October 2

In 2009, on this day the American zombie comedy horror, Zombieland premiered in cinemas across North America. The film was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and directed by Ruben Fleischer.
Click to watch the Movie Trailer on Youtube

Time to Nut Up or Shut UpThe film takes place within a post-apocalyptic context, featuring characters that have adopted names from their home towns to reduce emotional involvement. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is a college student from Austin, Texas, who is on his way to Columbus to see if his parents are alright, who explains a few of his "rules" for surviving the zombie apocalypse.

After surviving a few zombie attacks, he encounters Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), whose life goal is to find the last Twinkie on Earth. As they are searching a grocery store for Twinkies, they meet two girls, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) who, seeking escapism, are headed for the Pacific Playpark.

In the final scene, this oddball movie takes a decidely morbid turn when it becomes clear that none of the characters will survive the zombie attack at the Pacific Playpark. This fatalistic ending was to some extent foreshadowed by the accidental death of the actor Bill Murray who cameos in the movie, playing himself, disguised as Zombie; when Murray tries to scare Columbus and Little Rock, Columbus kills him and Murray explains he wasn't much good at practical jokes.

March 22

In 1976, on this day the filming of the planet Tatooine scenes for the cult movie "A New Hope" began in the Tunisian desert. Seeking to replicate the plot and characters of the jidai-geki film "the Hidden Fortress", Director George Lucas had cast an Asian actor, Toshiro Mifune for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Click to view Sources of Star Wars on Youtube

Toshiro Mifune plays Obi-Wan KenobiFinancial backers had strongly urged Lucas to cast a caucasian actor for the principal roles. But greatly impressed by his masterful portrayal of the "roving warrior" archetype General Rokurota, Lucas had disregarded that advice, choosing instead to focus on the artistic depiction of a Jedi Knight. In any case, he had already offered the role of Han Solo to the African American actor Billy Dee Williams who was also considered for the secondary role of Lando Calrissian.

Fortunately, Lucas sustained the financial support of the backers by persuading Christopher Lee to play the part of Grand Moff Tarkin. Having examine the script, Lee had been initially dismissive, instead recommending that Lucas approach another English actor, his friend Peter Cushing. However the inclusion of Mifune changed his mind, having seen a fresh and compelling opportunity to participate in a neo-classic movie rather than the American space opera film that the plotline had initially suggested to him.

January 6

In 1853, on this day the President-elect of the United States Franklin Pierce (pictured) and his family were crushed to death when the train car that they had boarded in Boston was derailed and then rolled down an embankment near Andover, Massachusetts.

Tragic Death of Franklin PierceIn his place, William Rufus King was sworn in as President on March 4th. Problem was, King was dying of tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease just six weeks later, so that the presidency fell to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, David Rice Atchison.

Just four years before, he had served as President for a single day. Because on Saturday, March 3, 1849, outgoing President James Polk's term had expired, but incoming President Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath and put the ceremony off until Monday, March 5 -- which meant nobody was President on Sunday, at least officially.

He did not undertake any presidential duties, but claimed to have taken a nap whilst serving as 12th president of the United States. But unlike that temporary ceremonial fill-in function, the succession after the deaths of Pierce and King was fundamentally differently. Because Atchison was a pro-slavery expansionist who was brought to power at a pivotal moment in the nation's history.

December 3

In 2009, Hollywood Director Ruben Fleischer announced a $1m dollar award for the first movie-goer who correctly guessed the identity of "Patient Zero" in the comedy thriller "Zombieland" which was released on this day in Australia.
Click to watch the Movie Trailer on Youtube

Who was Patient Zero in the Zombie Apocalypse?An early connection is the odd reappearance of "Victim in Bathroom" (played by Mike White) who later in the movie is scammed by Wichita and Little Rock at the "Gas and Gulp". These events are mirrored by Columbus who narrates the origin of the Zombie Apocalypse by explaining that some months before, patient zero took a bite of an infected burger at a Gas Gulp, also the location of the opening scene in Garland, TX.

When Columbus checks the washroom door, and the zombie (picture) chases him across the car lot, it becomes apparent that the Gas and Gulp at Garland is the epicentre of the Zombie Apocalypse and the mystery is solved.

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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.