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Q: I saw a screenshot of Whoopi Goldberg with an animatronic dinosaur. Was she in a kids show or something?

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Author: 
Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Fortunately for her, it wasn't a whole show, just a single movie -- a disastrous one she didn't want to do in the first place.

The story -- as told by the very reputable Los Angeles Times, among other sources -- goes that Goldberg made a verbal contract to appear in "Theodore Rex," but later tried to back out of it (perhaps after realizing she'd agreed to star opposite an animatronic dinosaur in a buddy-cop movie). The producers took her to court, and a subsequent out-of-court settlement meant she basically had to make the movie against her will.

There's a reason you don't remember this particular chapter in her career. New Line Cinema, which produced the film, said that after a "disappointing" test run in a few cities, it decided to release the film straight to video instead. It was released in 1995.

"No one likes to be told that their child isn't beautiful enough for theatrical release, but that's a fact of life," said New Line marketing boss Mitch Goldman at the time. "In the end, the prints and advertising investment for a theatrical run seemed greater than the box office promise."

Though forgettable as a Whoopi Goldberg picture, it did make it into the history books, albeit for unflattering reasons. It was the most expensive film ever to go straight to video, and the first one to be nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award. The Razzies are given to the worst movies and actors of the year (Goldberg received the nod for worst actress, but lost to Demi Moore).

It's hard to figure out who to blame when a movie goes bad like this, but it's worth noting that it was both written and directed by Jonathan R. Betuel, who'd done some film and TV work in the '80s but never worked again after "Theodore Rex."

 

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