6 headline worthy facts about 'Early Edition'

By: H&I Staff    Posted: June 12, 2018, 10:45AM

What would you do if you received tomorrow's newspaper today? Would you play the winning lottery numbers? Place bets on baseball games since you already know the outcome? Read the crime blotter and try to prevent tragedy? 

This is the dilemma of Gary Hobson (Kyle Chandler) in the cult classic drama Early Edition. who received a copy of The Chicago Sun-Times from the very near future on his doorstep every morning. The papers mysteriously appear, accompanied by a cute ginger tabby cat. Gary uses this supernatural knowledge to do good. Over the course of four seasons, Gary comes to learn more about the origin of the paper, and its ties to a mystical pocket knife and a man named Lucius Snow. 

When CBS canceled Early Edition in 2000, a host of rabid fans petitioned the network to reconsider. The series had built a devoted following. Alas, there was no comeback. Kyle Chandler went on to star in the equally beloved Friday Night Lights, while Early Edition devotees gathered at fan conventions in Chicago.

With Early Edition now part of the H&I roster, let's take a look at six fascinating facts about the show.

1

It was filmed entirely in Chicago.

Those scenic shots of the Loop, the "L," the river… those are not B-roll. Early Edition was one of the rare shows to set up camp entirely in its location outside of Hollywood. Interior sets were built at the Early Edition Sound Stage in Cicero, Illinois. The Windy City itself is a major character in the show.

Image: The Everett Collection

2

A digitally inserted Rod Serling appeared at the end of one episode.

In the season two episode "Hot Time in the Old Town," Gary suddenly wakes up in the year 1871, on the eve of the Great Chicago Fire. Naturally, he attempts to prevent the conflagration. At the end of the episode, when it originally aired, Rod Serling appeared to tell the audience they had just witnessed an episode in The Twilight Zone. Serling had died in the year 1975, and therefore was digitally inserted into the episode. CBS pulled the stunt to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the network. The Twilight Zone ending aired only once. In reruns and syndication, an alternate ending is shown.

Image: The Everett Collection

3

A fake O.J. confession helped sell the show.

When series creators Ian Abrams, Patrick Q. Page and Vik Rubenfeld pitched the show to CBS on August 24, 1995, they entered the meeting carrying a newspaper. The headline splashed across the front page read: Let's Just Let It End. O.J. Simpson Confesses He Is Guilty of Homicide. Network execs noticed the story and, naturally, a conversation broke out. Then CBS realized the paper was dated August 25, 1995. Abrams had a phony newspaper mocked up to prove the power of the concept. The show was soon green-lit.

Image: The Everett Collection

4

The concept was not entirely unique.

Yes, it's a clever concept, but not entirely unique. The 1944 film It Happened Tomorrow centers around a dissatisfied obituary writer who receives a copy of tomorrow's newspaper, which he uses to scoop other reporters and place bets on horses. A few decades later, sci-fi master, Robert Silverberg, penned a short story called "What We Learned From This Morning's Newspaper," about a group of neighbors who receive a newspaper from a week in the future. Even H.G. Wells had a tale in 1932 titled "The Queer Story of Brownlow's Newspaper" which revolved around a newspaper from the future.

Image: United Artists

5

Real Chicago Sun-Times columnists appeared on the show.

Thanks to its location filming, Early Edition was able to feature real writers from the Sun-Times. None, of course, were bigger than Roger Ebert, the paper's legendary film critic. He appears at the beginning of the episode "The Cat."

6

Rappers, Olympic figure skaters, country singers and rising stars all appear on the show.

If you're looking for more famous faces, Early Edition features some unique guest stars. An episode about gangsta rap titled "Number One with a Bullet" (this was the 1990s, remember) guest-starred both Coolio and Tone Loc. A young Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water, Man of Steel), who came up in the Chicago theater scene, can be seen playing small roles in two episodes, "Return of Crumb" and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Trekkies should keep an eye out for both Robert Picardo and George Takei. Country singer Martina McBride, football hall-of-famer Dick Butkus, figure skater Tara Lipinski and more also appear.

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