December 16: Happy Birthday Krysten Ritter and James Mangold


Krysten Ritter is turning 36 today.  She began working part-time as a model in high school and did so full time after she graduated.  She got her first film role in 2001, and over the years her film career developed to the point where she has had major roles in films like Confessions of a Shopaholic, She’s Out of My League, and this year’s The Hero.  During the 2000s, she appeared in recurring roles on Veronica Mars (as Gia Goodman, a role she returned to in the feature film), Gilmore Girls, and Breaking Bad.  She has had regular roles on the short-lived series Gravity and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.  Her breakthrough role came when she was cast in the title role of Jessica Jones in 2015.  After the show’s successful first season, Ritter continued as Jessica on The Defenders; the second season of Jessica Jones will be released next March.

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Worst to First: My Star Wars toys


The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters.  What better way to prepare than to reminisce about the glory days of Star Wars action figures?

via Worst to First: My Star Wars toys

December 14 & 15: Happy Birthday Vanessa Hudgens and Tim Conway


Vanessa Hudgens turned 29 yesterday.  The Filipina-American actress began working in regional musical theater as a child and made her first TV guest appearances at the age of thirteen.  A year later, she made her feature film debut in a supporting role in Thirteen.  A year later she appeared as Tintin in the feature film adaptation of Thunderbirds, which was a flop.  She bounced back from that setback in the role that is probably her most famous, Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical trilogy—the first two were Disney Channel TV movies while the third was released theatrically.

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Who is J. J. Abrams?

You don’t need me to tell you who J.J. Abrams is.  After rebooting both the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, Abrams is one of the most sought after directors in Hollywood.  Before that, he was a successful TV producer and earlier still he wrote some pretty crappy movies.  This profile comes from the “crappy movie” portion of his career.  When Martha Frankel interviewed Abrams for the December 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, no one outside of Los Angeles had heard of the 26-year-old writer.

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Ray Liotta: Ray of Lightning

Just about everybody likes Ray Liotta.  He’s always good in whatever he’s in.  Unfortunately, a lot of what he’s in isn’t very good.  Which is probably why Liotta was never able to capitalize on the success of his first big lead role in Goodfellas.  After years of ups and downs, Liotta had high hopes that his self-produced crime drama, Narc, could put him back in the limelight.  Despite mostly good reviews, the movie didn’t click with audiences and was overlooked by the big awards.  In this interview from the December 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, Liotta talked about the trials and tribulations of producing a would-be comeback vehicle.

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December 13: Happy Birthday Christopher Plummer and Dick Van Dyke


Our two headliners today have in common that each starred with Julie Andrews in a box office hit.  Plummer played Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music, the biggest hit of 1965 and the third biggest, adjusted for inflation, of all time.  Van Dyke was Bert, as well as the elder Mr. Dawes, in Mary Poppins, which was “only” the third biggest film at the box office in 1964.

Christopher Plummer turns 88 today.  The Canadian actor began his career on stage, making his Broadway debut in 1954, in a play that closed after its opening night.  His subsequent Broadway ventures have gone better—he has won Tonys for Best Actor in a Musical, in Cyrano, and Best Actor in a Play, for Barrymore.  His Broadway career has also included several Shakespeare roles—Iago in Othello and the title roles of Macbeth and King Lear.

Plummer also began his television career in the early fifties, but didn’t make his feature debut until 1958, and when he was cast in The Sound of Music, it was only his fourth feature role.  However his subsequent film resume is so full that it’s only possible to hit a few highlights.  Plummer has played a number of historical figures, such as Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King, the Duke of Wellington in Waterloo, Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, and in an acclaimed performance, as journalist Mike Wallace in The Insider.

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Jeff Daniels: Still in Buisness

Jeff Daniels has been in lots of Hollywood movies, but he’s never “gone Hollywood.”  For most of his career, Daniels has lived in Michigan where he owns and operates a non-profit theater where he produces his own plays.  Despite the distance, Daniels has enjoyed a long career as a movie actor.  In this profile from the December 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, Daniels talks about how he has managed to stay in the business so long.

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December 12: Happy Birthday Connie Francis and Edward G. Robinson


Concetta Franconero, better known as Connie Francis, turns 79 today.  As a child, she performed as a singer and on the accordion in talent contests and neighborhood gatherings in the Newark, New Jersey area where she grew up.  In the early 1950s, she appeared on NBC’s Startime Kids, and later in the decade she provided Tuesday Weld’s singing voice in Rock, Rock, Rock.  She was signed to a recording contract by MGM Records, and after a couple of false starts, her career took off when her recording of “Who’s Sorry Now” became a big surprise hit in early 1958.

Francis had a great run of success from 1958-1962, with fourteen Top Ten singles.  Two of them were #1 hits, “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own,” and “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You.”  However, her signature tune was a single that, while it “only” reached #4, also became the theme song for the first film she starred in.

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Kevin Bacon: Bacon Bounces Back

Was Kevin Bacon ever a movie star?  Without hesitation, he described himself that way in this profile from the December 1992 issue of Movieline magazine.  After having spent a few years in independent movies, Bacon made the decision to return to mainstream Hollywood fare in order to have his work seen by a larger audience.  Writer Stephen Saban walks Bacon through his filmography to date collecting anecdotes along the way.

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James Cameron: Fantastic Voyage

Twenty-five years later, it’s easy to forget that Titanic was expected to sink at the box office.  Following a wave of negative press over the movie’s ballooning budget and the need to push Titanic off the summer schedule, many expected James Cameron’s period drama to fail.  Of course, we all know that the movie exceeded any and all expectations.  Cameron was still finishing post-production on Titanic when he was interviewed for this article from the December 1997 issue of Movieline magazine and success was anything but guaranteed.

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December 10 & 11: Happy Birthday Teri Garr and Victor McLaglen


Teri Garr is turning 73 today.  She got into movies through a friend, choreographer David Winters, who got her several parts as a dancer in 1960s films, including several Elvis Presley musicals.  She also began making TV guest appearances in the mid-sixties.  Over the years she made memorable guest appearances on Star Trek, MASH, and Friends (as Phoebe’s mother).  She was a regular on the short-lived CBS series Women of the House, a Designing Women spinoff.

Garr had her first speaking feature film role in 1968, but her breakthrough came in 1974, when she played Gene Hackman’s girlfriend in The Conversation, and Gene Wilder’s assistant in Young Frankenstein.  Over the next decade or so she had major roles in a number of films, including Oh, God!, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Black Stallion, and Mr. Mom.  Her biggest fame came from her Oscar-nominated role as Sandy Lester in Tootsie.

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Gillian Anderson: The Malibu File

At its peak, it seemed like The X-Files would go on forever.  The show has certainly endured.  Stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have reunited more than once with an eleventh season starting in a few weeks.  In the intervening years, the show’s popularity has waxed and waned.  The downturns have been more steep than anyone would have imagined when the TV show was still a pop culture phenomenon.  When Anderson graced the cover of the December 1997 issue of Movieline magazine, she had just won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of FBI agent Dana Scully.  She was also filming the first X-Files movie and was looking forward to life after the show.

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Weekly Recap: More Nonsense Than Usual

The Last Jedi has the potential to be the darkest Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back (not counting the one last Christmas where everybody died…)  And yet, Lucasfilm still found a way to squeeze in the adorable and highly merchandisable (not a word?  don’t care) Porgs.  What’s a porg?  No one knows.  But They are already flying off the shelves of toy stores everywhere.  Secretly, I hope they turn out to be like the cute bunny rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  After an especially bloody encounter with a big-eyed monster, all the Jedi flea screaming “run away!”  If that sounds like something you’d like to see, this is definitely the site for you!  Let’s take a look at the other nonsesnical topics we discussed last week.

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