Thanks to my brother’s family who are Disney Vacation Club members, i got the chance to spend a couple of nights at the Polynesian resort at Walt Disney World this past Labor Day weekend. This video is mostly what it says it is: a tour of the very nice DVC room we stayed in in the Pago Pago building. But if you take a look you’ll also catch a few glimpses of other parts of the resort, including our dinner at ‘Ohana on Saturday night. This really is a true vacation spot all on its own.
Ben Platt is celebrating his 24th birthday. He dropped out of Columbia University after only a few weeks of attendance to pursue his acting career. He made his film debut in 2012, playing the supporting role of Benji Applebaum, the illusionist turned a cappella singer, in Pitch Perfect. Three years later, he returned to the role of Benji in Pitch Perfect 2, where his character got to romance Hailee Steinfeld as Emily. He has also made film appearances in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Ricki and the Flash, and will be in the upcoming Drunk Parents.
However, Platt’s true vocation seems to be in musical theater. He made his performing debut shortly before his ninth birthday, as Winthrop Paroo in a Hollywood Bowl concert performance of The Music Man. He later appeared in the national tour of Caroline, or Change, and in a 2015 concert performance of The Secret Garden. He made his Broadway debut in 2014 as a replacement in the cast of The Book of Mormon, in the role of Elder Arnold Cunningham. His most famous role to date has been as the title character in Dear Evan Hansen, which he played in the 2015 world premiere in Washington, DC, in the 2016 Off-Broadway production, and starting in November 2016, in the original Broadway production. Platt won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical and a long list of other accolades as Evan Hansen.
Follow my brother, my sister-in-law and me as we enjoy our morning and early afternoon in the Magic Kingdom. There’s not much in the way of touring tips or opinions here, but lots of footage of rides and shows from Liberty Square to Adventureland to Frontierland to Tomorrowland. Just sit back and imagine you’re there!
Anthony Mackie is turning 39 today. He graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts and then from Juilliard. He made his film debut in Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile in 2002, and had his first starring role in Brother to Brother two years later. He had a breakthrough performance in the 2009 Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, and since then has had prominent supporting roles in films such as Notorious, The Adjustment Bureau, Man on a Ledge, and Triple 9. But the film role he is best known for is undoubtedly that of Sam Wilson/Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has appeared in four installments so far, with at least two more in the offing, and has been a popular character since his first appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Kevthewriter wonders whatever happened to Amanda Bynes.
Anna Karina turns 77 today. The Danish-born actress (given name Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer), who became one of the biggest stars of French film, appeared in a Danish short film at the age of 14, and moved to Paris at 17, where according to some accounts she lived on the streets for a while before finding work as a model. Director Jean-Luc Godard saw some of her modeling work, and ended up giving her a starring role in his film The Little Soldier. This was the first of eight films that Godard and Karina made from 1960 to 1966 (during part of which time they were married). Others included My Life to Live, Band of Outsiders, and Pierrot le fou.
Post-Swingers, Vince Vaughn was a hot commodity in Hollywood. But for a while, it seemed like no one knew what to do with the fast-talking actor. This interview from the September 1997 issue of Movieline magazine comes after Vaughn broke out with Swingers. He had a supporting role in Lost World under his belt an lots of indies on the horizon. But at the time, Vaughn was just happy to be there.
A big part of planning any trip to Walt Disney World is choosing how and where you want to eat. After all, even if you’re in your absolute favorite place with all of your favorite things, eventually you’ll have to put something into your stomach. There are plenty of people who intentionally sidestep making set in stone dining plans on their Walt Disney World trip. These people either only go to whatever counter service spots are nearby or they just take the pressure off and try finding walk-ins at appealing table service locations. They sit at the bar without any qualms and they shrug and move on if there aren’t any seats to be had. But those people are decidedly in the minority, and there are certainly likely to be few of them reading an article like this. Most of us enjoy the planning and the anticipation that goes into our vacation and one thing we’re looking forward to is that well-chosen table service reservation.
After my long Labor Day weekend trip to Walt Disney World I’m still pretty far from having tried all of Walt Disney World’s table service restaurants. There are something like sixty different table service restaurants in the Walt Disney World theme parks and resort hotels. These are places where you either are being served by a member of the wait staff who will bring your food to you at your table or where you get to carry your plate up to a buffet and select your own meal from everything there. These are the restaurants I’ll be covering here. The places where you order at a window and carry your food on a tray while you look for an available table are called counter service restaurants and won’t be included in this list. I’m also leaving out Disney Springs places because there is so much new there that I haven’t had a chance to sample (and it makes my list seem a little less feeble that way). I’ll have more to say at the end of the rankings, but for now here are my personal rankings of the 23 Walt Disney World table service restaurants where I have dined.
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Country pop star Faith Hill turns 50 today. She grew up singing at churches in the Jackson, Mississippi area, and moved to Nashville to try to start a singing career when she turned 19. She worked for a while as a secretary at a music publisher, and also sang backup vocals for a singer named Gary Burr. A Warner’s executive heard her performing with Burr one night and signed Hill to a recording contract. Her first album, Take Me as I Am, came out in 1993.
Hill’s first two albums both reached the top 10 on the Country charts, but it was her third album, Faith, released in 1998, that she entered her period of greatest success. It was a top 10 performer on both the Country charts and the Billboard 200, and her next three albums reached #1 on both charts. She has won five Grammys, including one for this 2005 hit.
One of my favorite things about Oscar season here at Le Blog is the annual write-up on the Best Costume Design category by therealadri. It’s a component of movie making that I think most of us take for granted. The September 2002 issue of Movieline magazine included a profile piece on costume designer Colleen Atwood. Her designs for her next movie, Chicago, would win her the first of her four (to date) Oscar statues.
With today’s headliners, I had one who was extremely photogenic, for whom I had a wide choice of images, and one for whom the choice was very limited, so I decided to represent him by his most famous creations.
Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung is celebrating her 53rd birthday. She was born in Hong Kong, but spent part of her childhood in England and lived in Paris for about a decade; she is fluent in English and French as well as Cantonese. One of her earliest roles came when Jackie Chan cast her in Police Story as May, the long-suffering girlfriend of Chan’s character; she reprised the role in two sequels. During her first decade of work she often made 8-10 features a year, often comedies, sometimes action comedies like Paper Marriage and The Heroic Trio.
In 1988, Cheung made her first of several films with director Wong Kar-Wai, As Tears Go By, which begins what could be called the “prestige film” stage of her career. Beginning in 1989, Cheung won the Best Actress honor at the Hong Kong Film Awards five times, and at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards four times. In 2004 she became the first Asian actress to win Best Actress at Cannes. Along with several collaborations with Wong, In the Mood for Love being the best known, she has made several films with French director Oliver Assayas (the two were married from 1998-2001), and also starred in Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box and Zhang Yimou’s Hero.
From the very beginning, Lego Dimensions has been aimed as much at parents as it has been at their kids. The product line has included several beloved properties from the 80’s including Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Gremlins. Today’s Level Pack will be similarly nostalgic for some, but I was a couple years too old to form an attachment to The Goonies.
The movie’s lasting appeal, as best as I can tell, stems from repeated viewings of VHS copies at a young age. Because the hard truth is, The Goonies isn’t a very good movie, but that hasn’t prevented it from developing a pretty big fanbase who will most likely enjoy the Lego Dimensions adaptation. But how does this Level Pack hold up to someone like me who hasn’t memorized the movie? I’ll tell you all about it after the jump.
Jimmy Fallon celebrates his 43rd birthday today. He dropped out of college in 1995 to pursue a career in comedy. He got his start, as have a number of our past headliners, with The Groundlings, the LA area improv comedy troupe. After three years with them, he achieved a longtime dream when he was added to the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1998. He was known for celebrity impersonations, for being one of the Boston Teens with Rachel Dratch, and for “anchoring” Weekend Update with Tina Fey.
Fallon began working in film in the early 2000s. He had a small role in Almost Famous, and about the time he left SNL, he appeared in his first starring role, in the action comedy Taxi. He followed that up a year later by starring with Drew Barrymore in a remake of the English rom-com Fever Pitch, which relocated the story to the US and substituted baseball for soccer.