Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 by Peter Sciretta
Last week we did a post about the recurring prop newspaper which can be seen in many television shows and movies from the last few decades. If you didn’t check out the post the first time around, click here now. The post took off virally, and spread around the web and the world. But why is this one prop newspaper in so many movies and television shows? We have some more information, but do we have an answer?
The Slate doesn’t have the complete answer, but they did find out more about the paper:
the prop comes from a small newspaper prop company called the Earl Hays Press in Sun Valley, Calif. Started in 1915, Earl Hays is one of the oldest newspaper prop companies, and the paper in question was first printed in the 1960s (note the top-hat ad on the lower left), then offered as a “period paper,” better suited for Mad Men (where it has not appeared) than Scrubs (where it has). … In case you’re curious about the headlines, here are a couple. Above the photo of the young woman with long, thick, dark hair: “She’s 3rd Brightest But Hard ‘Gal’ To See.” On the opposite page above what turns out to be a warehouse burning: “Compromised Housing Bill Sent to President for OK.”
The article goes on to explain that production companies use prop newspapers instead of real newspapers to avoid getting clearance from an actual publication. Of course, we already knew that. Slate claims that “prop masters buy a stack of Earl Hays fake papers, which cost just $15 each. Sometimes if they have some left over they’ll recycle them for another job.”
I tend to think there must be more to this story. Why is a prop newspaper which is sold as a “period paper” being used in contemporary television shows like Modern Family, Everybody Hates Chris, and Desperate Housewives? I’m not sure we’ll ever know the answer, but I’m sure it must be a running inside joke for someone on the crew, be it the propmaster or whomever.