When the man whose name is also the name of your company indicated publicly that the company’s mission included constant growth, change, and progress you tend to be held to that standard. The fact that you’re charging an arm and a leg to visitors at your “Vacation Kingdom” also motivates mixing things up a bit. The Disney parks don’t always live up to this ideal and have certainly come under valid criticism because of it. But when you’ve got a large number of customers who are willing to visit over and over (like me) it indicates one of two things, or maybe a bit of both. A: They have actually provided a huge amount of experiences that stand up to lots of repeat business and have expanded over my lifetime from a single park with a few adjoining resorts to a mega complex with four theme parks, two water parks, close to twenty resort hotels, a huge entertainment and shopping complex, and a wide variety of other vacation options. B. With crowds continuing to be strong and earnings even stronger…maybe it doesn’t matter as much as it should.
Either way, they haven’t made me want to stop going yet. Not yet. We’ll see how that develops in the coming years though. In the meantime, I’m still finding myself capable of enjoying new things every time I visit. The above-pictured Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar is something I haven’t sampled since I was a kid and there was just one theme park on property. Maybe I’ll make a point to remedy that on my newest trip to Walt Disney World which is coming in just two weeks. Let’s take a look at what is new for me and what is tried and true.
Read the rest of this entry
While we have some worthy names from the world of film and television with birthdays today, we have a pair of music legends who were essentially self-selecting choices as headliners.
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, celebrates her 75th birthday today. She began her singing career as a gospel singer, first at her father’s church (he was a Baptist minister), then touring. When she turned 18, she decided she wanted to move into more secular music. She initially signed with Columbia and her first album came out in 1961, but it was when she moved to Atlantic Records in 1967 that she became a big success.
Franklin has, like any performer, had ups and downs career-wise but she has never become irrelevant. She has won 18 Grammys and in 1987 became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When someone has had 88 singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100—and Franklin has—picking a single song to represent their entire career would be impossible. However, there is one song that, above all others, she is identified with; you probably know what it is already, but it’s below the fold:
Drugs in Hollywood are nothing new. But in the early ’90s, the town seemed to be in a state of denial. Young celebrities who were struggling with addiction publicly claimed to be clean. In the March 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, writer Charles Oakley went undercover to discover the dark truth of Hollywood’s drug problem.
Two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain celebrates her 40th birthday today. Although she was interested in the performing arts as a young girl, her acting career got off to a relatively late start, compared with most actresses of similar stature. After attending a community college for two years, she auditioned for and was accepted to Juilliard, graduating in 2003. She made a variety of TV guest appearances before her 2008 feature film debut as the title character in Jolene.
Chastain began to emerge as a star in 2011, appearing in several films including Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Tate Taylor’s The Help, for which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. A year later she starred in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, receiving a Best Actress nomination and winning a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama.
Did you watch TV in the 80’s? If so, you’re old like me. And odds are, you probably tuned in to the action shows that serve as the basis for the Fun Packs covered in today’s article. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at Lego Dimensions expansions aimed at the Cartoon Network crowd. But today’s offerings were made with these kids’ dads in mind because every kid I knew growing up watched The A-Team and Knight Rider. Get ready to kick it old school.
For today, I had a choice among a number of well-known but not superstar faces from the present, and a pair of big names from the past, so I decided to go with one of each.
Keri Russell is celebrating her 41st birthday today. She made her performing debut on the All-New Mickey Mouse Club in 1991. A role in the film Honey, I Blew Up the Kid followed, along with a number of TV movies and guest roles. In 1998, she was cast in the lead role of the WB network’s new drama Felicity. Russell won a Golden Globe as Felicity Porter for the first of the show’s four seasons.
In the mid-2000s, there were times when it seemed that Russell might emerge as a major film star. A fairly important supporting role in Mission: Impossible III offered her a chance to be a part of a big hit; however, the film would up with the weakest box office numbers in the series. She received very good critical notice for starring in Waitress, but was not able to follow it up with further successes. However, she is once again finding success on the small screen. She stars on The Americans as Elizabeth Jennings, one half of a Cold War era couple who are Soviet moles. Currently in its fifth season, the show has brought Russell nominations for an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
The March 2002 issue of Movieline was their 10th annual “Sex”-themed issue. Tying into that theme, Michael Atkinson declared that Hollywood had given up on sexy movies. But European filmmakers were more than making up for it.
Our two headliners today are probably the two most influential figures in musical theater in the post-Rodgers and Hammerstein era.
Andrew Lloyd Webber (or Baron Lloyd-Webber, as he is known today) is turning 69 today. He is from a musical family—his parents were both musicians, and his younger brother Julian Lloyd Webber is a prominent cellist. He began writing music at a very young age, and was in his teens when he first began setting T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats to music. A couple of years later, he worked for the first time with lyricist Tim Rice; their first musical was not produced until 2005, but their second became the first hit of a successful partnership that lasted over a decade.
Lloyd Webber’s career is fairly well known and contains a lot of high points. You have not one but two super-sized monster hit musicals (Cats and The Phantom of the Opera). You have a good old fashioned big hit (Evita). You have the huge success in London/modest hit in the US (Starlight Express). You have the earlier hits with Rice (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar). You have the long-runner that never quite covered its big budget (Sunset Boulevard), and still other less renowned musicals. And you have a major parade of songs that are known all over the world.
At one point, Julianne Moore was one of the most prolific actresses in Hollywood. Every time you turned around, she was in a new movie. Moore could pop up in anything from a goofy comedy to a thriller to a piece of Oscar bait. In the March 2002 issue of Movieline, Moore announced that she was taking a break from work to give birth to her second child. Michael Fleming asked Moore about her eclectic career and what it was like to be a New Yorker in the days following 9/11.
Back in October, I wrote a couple of articles about how the Frozen phenomenon kind of left the other modern animated Disney movies in the dust. For the first article, I focused on the merchandising aspect of Disney and didn’t really talk about what I thought was really interesting, which was not only that the other movies lacked merchandise but it felt like Frozen was the only one that really had any staying power while the other movies were pretty much forgotten after a while. In the second article, I talked more about my feelings towards this (as well as the lack of merch for the other films) but I feel like I might have underestimated the popularity of some of the movies I mentioned in that article as I later realized that some of the movies that “used to be popular but have been forgotten” I mentioned in the article (like Up or Inside Out) aren’t really forgotten and are still pretty popular. However, today were going to talk about a Disney movie whose merchandise sold pretty well yet Disney still found to be a disappointment because hardly anyone went to see the movie itself.
Matthew Broderick, who is a WTHH subject, turns 55 today. He began acting in the theater, appearing in an off-Broadway production of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, and then won a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Play in his Broadway debut in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs (he is the youngest actor ever to win in that category). He has continued to put together an impressive stage resume, including a second Tony, for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for a 1995 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
But it’s his film career that Broderick is best known for. He made his film debut in Max Dugan Returns in 1983, and later that year starred in WarGames. In 1985 he appeared in Ladyhawke, and a year later he was a Golden Globe nominee for playing a certain teenager from the Chicago suburbs.
They don’t make ’em like they used to. In the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Dream Factory took in hopeful actresses and turned them into big screen bombshells. In the March 2002 issue of Movieline, the magazine deconstructed the building of five cinematic sirens.
As my Walt Disney World vacation approaches I continue hitting guideposts along the way. Today was a major one as my MagicBand arrived in the mail! Join me as I open it up and give it a look over!