As much as it saddens me to say it, we’re reaching the final hours of Twin Peaks: The Return. This episode begins the difficult process of wrapping up a story that began more than twenty-five years ago. Part 15 moved a few pieces in place for the final act, but it also offered some very satisfying conclusions. The hour started off with a rare, unabashed happy ending for two characters who have waited a very long time for their happily ever after.
One of our headliners today stars as a country singer on Nashville. The other is a rising star of country music who has guest starred on Nashville. I actually found a photo of Hayden and Kacey taken when the latter made that guest appearance, but it was not very good.
It’s Hayden Panettiere’s 28th birthday today. The daughter of a soap opera actress, she had regular roles on One Life to Live and Guiding Light during the 1990s, and at the end of the decade had small parts in the feature films Message in a Bottle and Remember the Titans. She became well known in the late 2000s for playing the virtually indestructible cheerleader, Claire Bennet, on NBC’s Heroes. She was the title character in the film adaptation of Larry Doyle’s I Love You, Beth Cooper and also has had prominent roles in Scream 4 and The Forger.
In 2012 Panettiere began starring on Nashville as the aspiring country superstar Juliette Barnes. Nashville aired for four seasons on ABC and now is carried on CMT; it was renewed for a sixth season. Panettiere has been nominated twice for Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actress during the show’s run, and the series has also given her something of a music career, as several of the songs she has recorded for the soundtrack albums have become successful singles.
A pair of singers from different eras headline today’s article.
Robert Plant is turning 69 today. He grew up in the Midlands of England and became very involved in the blues music scene in that area in his teens. In 1968, when Jimmy Page was trying to assemble a new band in the wake of the Yardbirds’ dissolution, he heard Plant sing at a concert and recruited him as the lead singer of what became known as Led Zeppelin. Plant in turn brought drummer John Bonham on board, and they were then joined by bass and keyboard player John Paul Jones.
Over the next dozen years, Plant became one of the main creative forces within the band. He emerged as their primary lyricist, sharing songwriting credits with Page and sometimes Jones. Led Zeppelin had some successful singles, but their great success was from albums and touring. The band’s signature song was one that they never released as an official single until it came out in digital form.
Today is proclaimed to be Star Trek Day here in the birthday series. We have, in fact, three Star Trek birthdays today. I was able to track down a handful of photos of our headliners together, of which this one, taken when Roddenberry visited the set of the TNG episode “Future Imperfect,” appears to be the best, even with Number One not facing the camera.
Jonathan Frakes is celebrating his 65th birthday. He graduated from Penn State, and one of his first performing experiences was as a Captain—he worked for Marvel and appeared in costume as Captain America at fan conventions of the 1970s. Beginning in the late 1970s he started getting regular guest roles on television series like Charlie’s Angels, The Waltons, Hart to Hart, and Quincy, M.E. More recently he has worked primarily as a director. He has directed the feature films Clockstoppers and Thunderbirds, but has done most of his work on television. He was an executive producer of Roswell and directed several episodes of the sci-fi teen drama. He has done a lot of work on Leverage, Burn Notice, and NCIS: Los Angeles, and was a producer for The Librarians as well as directing several epsiodes.
However, he is best known for his work with Star Trek. Frakes has appeared in four of the five Star Trek series (all but the original) as either Commander William Riker, or as his transporter-malfunction-created clone, Thomas Riker—most significantly, of course, as one of the stars of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He began directing on TNG, and also directed episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and is scheduled to direct at least one first-season episode of Star Trek: Discovery. And he directed Star Trek: First Contact, generally considered the best of the TNG-related films, and Star Trek: Insurrection, which is—not the worst.
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 want to start off this installment in the series by admitting up front that our host Lebeau probably has a stronger and more personally informed take on this particular piece of pop culture. I fully expect he will share some of that in the comments section. Although I did grow up with reruns of the Adam West Batman television show running repeatedly on a variety of stations, I ended up both a Marvel guy and someone who took superhero stories just a little more seriously than this version of the “Caped Crusader” ever did. At the same time, if you ever want to participate in a fully tiresome example of “old man yells at cloud,” you might consider engaging me in a discussion on the merits of the “edgy” tone comic books have taken on in the intervening years. The long term reaction of the art form to what it perceived as its undeserved goofy and childish reputation appears to have resulted in a swing way too far in the other direction. The 1960s television Batman is often cited by those who resent the dismissive attitudes many people held toward sequential art.
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Last year on this date, we had the first case during the birthday series of three WTHH subjects with birthdays. I went with two of them as the headliners then, so today we’ll pick up the other fellow, along with another film actor who people may just have a tiny awareness of.
Christian Slater is turning 48 today. There is a very detailed review of most of his career in his WTHH article, so I will just hit a few high points. He made his acting debut as a child, on television on One Life to Live and on Broadway as Winthrop Paroo in The Music Man. Highlights of his film career have included starring roles in Heathers, True Romance, and Broken Arrow, along with major supporting roles in The Name of the Rose, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Interview with the Vampire. As that WTHH article outlines, his star faded after the mid-nineties, but of late he’s been making a comeback as the title character (but not the lead) on Mr. Robot, which has brought him his first major acting award, a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television.
Two red-haired ladies of Hollywood, born about a generation apart and known for their work on opposite sides of the camera, are our headliners today.
Director Martha Coolidge celebrates her 71st birthday today. She was the first film major at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1960s, and then earned an MFA from NYU. She made a number of documentaries in the 1970s, along with a partly autobiographical first feature, Not a Pretty Picture. In the 1980s she began to make a name for herself with two youth-oriented comedies, the high school rom-com Valley Girl, and a sci-fi oriented comedy set at a thinly disguised Cal Tech, Real Genius.
Is getting beat up a good career move? According to Joe Queenan, every handsome Hollywood actor needs to get his face jacked up in at least one movie if he ever wants to be accepted by male audiences. In this article from the August 1997 issue of Movieline, Queenan examined the benefits of movie stars getting their teeth kicked in.
Our two headliners both played major roles in the 1995 thriller Strange Days—he was a producer and writer, she was one of the stars.
James Cameron turns 63 today. He was born in Canada but moved to California as a teenager; he attended Fullerton College for about a year, dropped out to work as a truck drive for a while, and was inspired to go into filmmaking as a career by seeing Star Wars. He worked for a time for Roger Corman Studios, notably as the art director on Battle Beyond the Stars, and did special effects work on John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. He directed at least part of the horror film Pirhana II: The Spawning, and around that time came up with an idea for a script about a cyborg assassin who traveled through time to kill a woman.
Kevthewriter wonders why the live-action movie based on Dr. Seuss’ most popular character bombed at the box office.
Writer and producer Rob Thomas (not to be confused with the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty) is turning 52 today. After graduating from college, he taught high school for several years and worked for Channel One News in the early 1990s, before starting to make his name as a writer. He wrote several young adult novels in the late 1990s; the first published was Rats Saw God in 1996. He also began writing for television at this time, working for a while as a staff writer for Dawson’s Creek.
In 1998, Thomas’s series Cupid aired on ABC, but was canceled after only one season. He wrote the screenplay for Drive Me Crazy, and then created a second TV series, which began airing on UPN in 2004. It centered on a high school junior with a talent for solving mysteries.
Remember when Beyoncé still used her surname? Fifteen years ago, Beyoncé Knowles was the lead-singer for a chart-topping girl group. She was successful by any reasonable measure, but she had not yet conquered the world. In this cover story from the July/August 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, Beyoncé was still telling people how to pronounce her name. At the time, there were rumors that Destiny’s Child was breaking up and that Beyoncé’s acting career was off to a rough start with her supporting role in Austin Powers.
With only five hours left to go (four remaining after this installment), Twin Peaks: The Return has entered its endgame. The pace is picking up as Lynch begins paying off plot lines that were set up in the early episodes. This hour was filled with more head-scratching “did I just see what I think I saw” moments than most. As Lynch got down to the business of ending his story, this was an episode about story-telling.