July 25: Happy Birthday Darren Star and Walter Brennan


Television writer and producer Darren Star is turning 56 today.  He studied at UCLA (where he and actress Daphne Zuniga were roommates for a while) and began his screen career writing the screenplay for the late eighties comedy Doin’ Time on Planet Earth.  Just two years later he emerged from obscurity as the creator of a series about a Minnesota family that relocated to Beverly Hills, CA.

Star followed up Beverly Hills, 90210 with another quintessential 1990s series, Melrose PlaceCentral Park West was a misfire, but Star came back in 1998 with the most critically successful of his creations so far, an adaptation of Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City.  Star won an Emmy as a producer on the series, and it brought acting Emmys to stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon, and Golden Globes to Parker and Kim Cattrall.  Star then seemed to have a dry spell, but his most recent series, Younger, starring Sutton Foster, has been doing well and was renewed for a fifth season even before the premiere of its fourth.

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The Drilling Fields

Try to name a movie in which a dentist is portrayed in a positive light.  You can’t, can you?  It’s okay.  Neither could I.  When I think of dentists in movies, the first two that come to mind are Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man and Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors.  I’m willing to bet about 90% of you thought of the same two movies because Hollywood does not have the same fascination with dentists that it has with doctors, lawyers, architects, strippers, cops and prostitutes.  In the July 1997 issue of Movieline magazine, Joe Queenan examined the history of cinematic dentists.

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Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 11

A lot of things have changed in the two and a half decades since the end of the original Twin Peaks.  But a lot of things remain the same as well.  Agent Cooper may not be himself, but he still enjoys a slice of damn good cherry pie.  After a forkful of fruity goodness, you could see his taste-buds igniting resulting in yet another minor reawakening within dormant part’s of Cooper’s brain.  One piece at a time, Agent Cooper is being reassembled, but who will he be when he finally returns?  Surely twenty-five years in the Black Lodge and living another man’s life will change Agent Cooper despite his persistent love of baked goods and coffee.

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July 24: Happy Birthday Kristin Chenoweth and Rose Byrne


I found a picture of our headliners together taken when Rose Bryne and Bobby Cannavale, who have been dating for several years, visited Kristin Chenoweth backstage when she was performing in a revival of On the Twentieth Century.

So, today is Kristin Chenoweth’s birthday.  The tiny soprano with the really big voice is turning 49.  She earned degrees in musical theater and opera performance at Oklahoma City University, and at one point was going to pursue an opera career, but she chose to go into musical theater instead.  She made her Broadway debut in the Kander & Ebb musical Steel Pier, and then won a Tony as Sally Brown in a 1999 revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

In 2003 Chenoweth was cast in what is probably her signature role, as Galinda/Glinda in Wicked.  She was nominated for the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, losing to costar Idina Menzel.  She has subsequently starred in Broadway revivals of The Apple Tree, Promises, Promises, and as mentioned above, On the Twentieth Century (for which she received her third Tony nomination).  She has been in several City Center Encores! productions, and has made a number of concert tours.

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Janine Turner’s Life Story

After Northern Exposure made her a star and Cliffhanger opened the door to a movie career, Janine Turner retreated to Texas to get her life together and ended up staying there for two years.  When Turner returned to work in 1997, her comeback role was as June Cleaver in the big screen adaptation of the classic sitcom, Leave It To Beaver.  In the early 90’s when Northern Exposure was a hit show, Turner graced numerous magazine covers.  But her return to the big screen only merited a profile in the July 1997 issue of Movieline.

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Weekly Recap: We’re Getting Too Old for This Skeet and Daffy Hassels the Hoff

This week’s “What the Hell Happened” subject was best known for playing bad-boys in high school horror movies like Scream and The Craft.  But guess what?  That was more than twenty years ago!  Yeah, we’re all getting older.  Our man Skeet has transitioned in television.  He still plays a bad boy on Riverdale, the CW’s edgy take on Archie comics.  But now he’s playing Jughead’s bad dad.  Although to be fair, none of the parents on that show are very good.  Even in his role as a murder suspect, Ulrich was still more likable than a lot of other adult characters on the show.

Yep, time goes by fast.  To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, if you don’t stop by Le Blog and look around you might miss something.  If you did, don’t worry.  The weekly recap has got you covered.

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July 23: Happy Birthday Alison Krauss and Ronny Cox


No singer and no female artist has ever won more Grammys than Alison Krauss, who is turning 46 today; among living artists, only Quincy Jones equals her total Grammy count of 27.  She began studying violin at five and was 13 when she won her first fiddling competition.  She was featured on an album made by her brother Viktor a year later, and her first official solo album, Too Late to Cry, came out in 1987, when she was sixteen.  That was followed by her first album with her longtime band, Union Station, Two Highways.  Her first Grammy came in 1991 for her album I’ve Got That Old Feeling.

Krauss normally alternates between albums where she is billed with Union Station and “solo” albums.  She has also done a wide variety of other collaborations.  She has performed for a long list of film soundtracks; most notably, she, and Dan Tyminski of Union Station, are all over the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou?  She has had a seemingly improbable, but very productive (and Grammy-winning) collaboration with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.  Her latest studio album, Windy City, came out earlier this year.

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Jeremy Northam: No More Mr. Knightly

You may not know Jeremy Northam by name, but you’d probably recognize him if you saw him.  The English actor came to Hollywood in the mid-90’s.  He made his US debut in the cyber thriller, The Net and starred opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma the following year.  In 1997, Northam appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad and had a leading role in Guillermo del Toro’s American debut, The Mimic.  He was promoting the latter when he sat with Martha Frankel for a profile in the July 1997 issue of Movieline magazine.  The conversation starts out a little dry, but before you know it they are discussing foreskin and the time Northam had to step in for a freaked out Daniel-Day Lewis.

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Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: Tarzan the Fearless

In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

I guess when you decide to put together a product like this puzzle of old movie posters, there end up being some disappointing limitations to your ability to execute it as well as you’d like. Getting the rights to all of the most appropriate artwork is most likely difficult at times. In my last entry in this series I complained about the version of the poster the makers of the puzzle chose for Rear Window, but that’s nothing in comparison to the choice they made (or perhaps were forced to make) this time around.
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July 22: Happy Birthday Albert Brooks and Danny Glover


Albert Brooks, who is turning 70 today, is a man of many talents and achievements.  He has been a successful comedian, who received a Grammy nomination for his 1975 album A Star is Bought.  He has written, directed, and starred in several critically successful films, such as Lost in America, Defending Your Life, and Mother.  He has also given critically praised acting performances in films like Broadcast News (for which he was Oscar-nominated) and Drive.

What many people will recognize Brooks for, though, is his work as a voice actor.  He has appeared (or rather, been heard) in several episodes of The Simpsons, and was the voice of Jacob the Tiger in Dr. Dolittle and The Businessman in The Little Prince.  These roles, however, take a back seat to his work in a pair of Pixar features, where he was the voice of Marlin, a clownfish in search of his son.

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July 21: Happy Birthday Jon Lovitz and Robin Williams


Well look at this—I found a picture of today’s headliners together (with Janice Dickinson of America’s Next Top Model fame in between them).

Jon Lovitz is celebrating his 60th today.  He became a member of the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1985, remaining a regular through 1990 and returning on occasion thereafter.  He has starred on the TV comedies Foley Square and Mr. Box Office and was the voice of the lead character, Jay Sherman, on the ABC/Fox animated series The Critic.  He has also had a long list of TV guest roles.  He made his Broadway debut in the cast of Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party in 2001.  And, he has appeared in a variety of feature films, now and then in a lead role, as in High School High, but more commonly in a supporting part, as in A League of Their Own or 3000 Miles to Graceland.

But no matter what, many people will think of him as a pathological liar…

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Role Call

It’s Movieline list time!  In the July 1997 issue, Cindy Pearlman polled thirty famous actors and asked them which role was their favorite.  Some answers are more surprising than others but it’s fun to see who picked which part.  A few participants fudge their answers a bit by naming more than one movie.  And one actor, notorious for not playing along with reporters, refused to answer at all.  No points for guessing who that might have been.

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July 20: Happy Birthday Judy Greer and Natalie Wood


It’s Judy Greer’s 42nd birthday today.  Greer studied theater at DePaul University and began working in film and television soon after her graduation.  In 1999 she had her first two noticeable roles, a memorable cameo in Three Kings (a sex scene with George Clooney) and a major supporting role in the high school black comedy Jawbreaker.  In 2003 she began appearing in one of her best known roles, as Kitty Sanchez on Arrested Development.

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