September 20: Happy Birthday Maggie Cheung and Jay Ward



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.

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Lego Dimensions: The Goonies Level Pack

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.

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September 19: Happy Birthday Jimmy Fallon and Danielle Panabaker


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.

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Jennifer Love Hewitt: Love Lessons

The crop of young stars that came up in the late 90’s was in the process of being cut down in the early aughts.  While many of her former costars were being squeezed out of the business, Jennifer Love Hewitt remained on the rise.  Coming off the hit comedy, Heartbreakers, Hewitt was looking to build on that success and to branch out into a singing career when she on the cover of the September 2002 issue of Movieline magazine.

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Fear the Walking Dead: La Serpiente

Fear the Walking Dead is getting the band back together.  “La Serpiente” continues the reunion that started with the midseason premiere.  Come hell or high water, Madison is going to cross paths with Victor and Daniel because apparently the plot demands it.  Last week, Madison discovered that the range was critically low on water.  She and Walker went to bargain for H20, but ended up buying Strand’s freedom after bumping into him by coincidence.  Better still, Strand knew where they could find plenty of water because he had been to the dam Daniel took over in the first half of the season.

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September 18: Happy Birthday Jason Sudeikis and Greta Garbo


Jason Sudeikis turns 42 today.  He began his career working in improv comedy, first with ComedySportz in Kansas City, then with a variety of other comedy troupes across the country.  In 2003 he was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live, and was added to the show’s regular performing cast two years later, remaining through 2013.  His regular sketches and characters included DJ Supersoak, Pete Twinkie, the ESPN host, and performing with Kristen Wiig in the “Two A-holes” sketches.

During his SNL year, Sudeikis also had recurring roles on 30 Rock and Eastbound & Down, and was a regular, as a voice actor, on The Cleveland Show.  He began to get prominent film roles around 2010, with major supporting roles in The Bounty Hunter, the Horrible Bosses films, and The Campaign.  His first leading role came in We’re the Millers in 2013.

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A Very Disney Morning! – Daffy Does Disney

Come join my brother, sister-in-law and I for breakfast at Chef Mickey’s and the new Magic Kingdom entry. This past December I was at Disney Springs when I found out that Walt Disney World was discontinuing the Magic Kingdom’s welcome show and letting guests onto Main Street for the hour prior to the ‘official’ opening of the park that comes with its many attractions beginning operations for the day. I didn’t really get to experience this new routine during my April trip because every day I went to the Magic Kingdom was an extra magic hour day, which meant a couple of the park’s lands would be opening at the same time as the first guests entered (If you remember, I was a little confused about how this all would be handled). Meanwhile, the underwhelming new castle welcome show has made the rounds on the internet and has generally been met with shrugs. So what would a standard Magic Kingdom morning actually be like? You’ll have to watch to get that answer.

Weekly Recap: It’s a Long Story

You know that look.  Sam’s in trouble.  He probably just said or did something really stupid.  Or maybe he told Diane what was going to happen to her movie career immediately following her departure from the bar.  Either way, Shelley doesn’t look happy.  Hopefully readers were in a better mood when they realized this week included the latest installment in the “What the Hell Happened” series.  This week, we examined the career of Emmy-winning actress, Shelley Long, who became one of the top cautionary tales for actors thinking about leaving a hit show.  I personally think Long gets a bit of a bad rap.  Had she stayed on Cheers, I guarantee the show wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long as it did.  Instead of killing Cheers has some fans feared she would, Long’s departure saved it.

It’s time for this week’s blog recap.  Pull up a barstool and read it somewhere where everybody knows your name.

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September 17: Happy Birthday Sam Esmail and Paul Feig


Sam Esmail is celebrating his 40th birthday.  He grew up in New Jersey and became one of the long list of film or television creators who attended NYU’s Tisch School, and then earned an MFA from the AFI Conservatory.  He began working in film and television in the late 2000s, when he wrote his first screenplay, and worked as a post-production supervisor for HBO First Look.  However, Esmail did not begin to actually work as a filmmaker until several years later; his first feature, Comet, which he wrote and directed, came out in 2014.  That same year he wrote the screenplay for Mockingbird.

Esmail is best known as the creator of the USA Network series Mr. Robot, which will return for its third season next month.  Esmail has written over half of the show’s 22 episodes so far and directed about two-thirds of them.  Esmail is also involved in a new Amazon series title Homecoming, which reportedly will star Julia Roberts.  He has won a Golden Globe for Mr. Robot, and while he has not yet received any honors from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, he does have an Emmy. 🙂

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September 16: Happy Birthday Alexis Bledel and Paul Henning


It’s Alexis Bledel’s 36th birthday today.  She grew up in the Houston area and was encouraged by her mother to get involved in community theater; she also made an uncredited cameo in Rushmore, which was filmed in the Houston area.  Her first prominent film role came in a 2002 adaptation of Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting.  In the mid-2000s she made a few high-profile films, appearing as Becky in Sin City and Lena Kaligaris in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films.  More recently, she has appeared in indie films such as The Kate Logan Affair and Violet & Daisy.

Bledel has begun working in theater again; she is one of a long list of actresses who have appeared in the off-Broadway production of Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore.  She has made a few TV guest appearances, and recently won her first Emmy, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, for her appearance on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  However, most of America got to know her when she starred for seven seasons as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls (and, recently, on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life).

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A Friday in Epcot! – Daffy Does Disney

Well, I’m mostly moved into my new place and now you’ll get a chance to see a little of my recent Labor Day weekend trip to Walt Disney World with my brother and sister-in-law. We pretty much skip the travel part of the first day this time around and get right into the fun! Join me as I take a dash through most of the top attractions from the second Florida Disney park.

Netflix and Chill: The Ridiculous Six

Kevthewriter kicks off his look at movies you can watch on Netflix with a review of The Ridiculous Six.

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September 15: Happy Birthday Oliver Stone and Agatha Christie


Today is Oliver Stone’s 71st birthday.  He attended Yale for two short periods, then enlisted in the US Army and served in Vietnam.  He eventually graduated from NYU and worked at various jobs while trying to get a start in the film industry.  He directed his first film, Seizure, in 1974, but didn’t really start to become known until winning his first Oscar, for Best Adapted Screenplay for the 1979 film Midnight Express.

Stone then wrote a number of screenplays in the early 1980s, ranging from Scarface to Conan the Barbarian, before having a breakthrough year in 1986.  Salvador, the first of his two films that year, was a critical success, but a box office failure.  It was eclipsed by the partly autobiographical Platoon, which won Best Picture and brought Stone a Best Director Oscar.

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