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September 8: Happy Birthday Martin Freeman and Pink

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Martin Freeman celebrates his 45th birthday today.  He began acting in British television, where his first major role was in the BBC’s mockumentary sitcom The Office.  He appeared in films like Love, Actually and as Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  He got another plum British TV role in 2010 when he was cast in a series that updated some famous detective fiction to the 21st century:

In the wake of his portrayal of Dr. John Watson in Sherlock (which earned him an Emmy), it has seemed that doors have opened all over the place for Freeman.  He was Bilbo Baggins in the three films that were somehow squeezed out of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and was one of the leads in the first season of the FX series Fargo, adapted from the Coen Brothers’ film.  This year, he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Everett Ross in Captain America: Civil War.

Pink (given name Alecia Beth Moore) turns 37 today.  Her debut album, Can’t Take Me Home, came out when she was only 20, and led to her winning an American Music Award for Best New Artist in the R&B/Soul category.  Every studio album of hers since then has reached the Top Ten in the US.  She has won a shelf-full of awards, including three Grammys—two for collaborations, the third for this:

David Arquette, one of the five acting Arquette siblings, turns 45 today.  He is remembered as Deputy, later Sheriff Dewey Riley in the Scream films and also had a rather comical pro wrestling career.  Director Kimberly Peirce, who is 49 today, received a lot of critical acclaim for her debut feature, Boys Don’t Cry, but has made only two additional features, Stop-Loss and the remake of CarrieLarenz Tate, who celebrates his 41st, was in Paul Haggis’s Crash and the FX series Rescue MeJonathan Taylor Thomas, who played the middle Taylor son, Randy, on Home Improvement, turns 35.

Mexican actress Esmeralda Pimentel, who turns 27 today, is a popular performer in her home country’s telenovelas.  German actor Thomas Kretschmann, who turns 54, has worked a great deal in European cinema, including in two films, made 20 years apart, titled Stalingrad.  He also has a lengthy Hollywood resume, often as European-accented characters like Baron Wolfgang von Strucker in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  French actor Pascal Greggory, who is 62 today, appeared with Kretschmann in the French film La Reine Margot and has received three Cesar nominations in his career.

Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, who turns 56, released three albums in the 1980s as part of ‘Til Tuesday, and another eight as a solo artist.  She is also heard on the soundtracks of films like Jerry Maguire and Magnolia.  Songwriter and rapper Wiz Khalifa celebrates his 29th birthday today.  His last four studio albums have reached the Top Ten in the US, and his single “See You Again,” written for the soundtrack of Furious 7 as a tribute to the late Paul Walker, was #1 on the Hot 100.

Today was the birthday of three musicians who shared both talent and death at a young age.  Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) was known as “The Singing Brakeman” from his railroad career.  One of the pioneering stars of country music, he covered many traditional tunes but also wrote many of his own before dying of TB at 35.  Patsy Cline (1932-1963) was one of the first female stars in country music, following in the wake of Kitty Wells (see the August 30 article).  She had several hit singles—including “Crazy,” an early Willie Nelson song—before, like Buddy Holly, dying in a small plane crash.  Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (1945-1973) was a founder of the Grateful Dead, a vocalist who played keyboards and harmonica, until his alcoholism caught up with him.

Since he’s probably the least known of the three, how about a little Jimmie Rodgers, doing one of his own songs:

Sid Caesar (1922-2014) was one of the great innovating pioneers of the early days of television.  His two shows, Your Show of Shows, followed by Caesar’s Hour, were in a sense laboratories where sketch comedy was developed as a particular television art form.  Another thing Caesar did was to bring a group of very talented writers onto his shows, many of whom went on to make big names for themselves.  A partial list of the writing roster on Caesar’s shows includes Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner, and Neil Simon.

Peter Sellers (1925-1980) was, like Sid Caesar, a great comic performer, mostly but not entirely on film.  Not many people remember his albums, such as Songs for Swingin’ Sellers, but they were popular in England in the late 1950s.  His first notable film role was in The Ladykillers, and his Oscar nominations were for Doctor Strangelove and Being There.  However, the role that he is probably most associated with is Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the Pink Panther films.  Sellers made five films as Clouseau in his lifetime, but it wasn’t until the second film, A Shot in the Dark, that things started to click, with the addition of Herbert Lom and Burt Kwouk to the cast as Clouseau’s foils:

Richard I (1157-1199 is another English monarch who is often portrayed in film, by actors including Ian Hunter, Anthony Hopkins, Richard Harris, Sean Connery, and Patrick Stewart.

If today is your birthday, congratulations on sharing your big day with these notable names.  Birthday wishes to everyone celebrating a big day today.  Come back tomorrow for more celebrity birthdays.

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Posted on September 8, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. You’re two-for-two on matching NPR’s celebrity birthdays on my way into work. Today, they gave a shout out to Pink. When she first arrived, it seemed like she was being lumped in with the likes of pop tarts like Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson. But Pink was very obviously not one of them.

    I first discovered Martin Freeman on The Office and generally enjoy him in whatever he’s in. I don’t blame him for the disappointing mess that was The Hobbit trilogy. I never got into the Sherlock thing, but I loved the Fargo TV show. I’ll keep advocating for it even though no one I know watches it.

    When I was a kid, I loved the Pink Panther movies. This eventually lead me to discover some other Sellers movies including Dr Strangelove and Lolita which were pretty radical departures from Inspector Clouseau. I can probably thank the Pink Panther for my discovery of Kubrick. That’s just strange now that I think about it. Blake Edwards to Kubrick.

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    • The one thing that I liked about the Hobbit films was the casting. Martin Freeman was great as Bilbo. Richard Armitage and a lot of the other dwarves were very good. Sylvester McCoy was a delightful Radagast. Luke Evans was fine, Evangeline Lilly did about as well as you could expect given that her character was a complete canon foreigner put in there for purely commercial reasons. And we even got a Billy Connolly cameo.

      I grew up on the Pink Panther films. Then when I went off to college I saw Being There, a very different film if your expectations of Peter Sellers are set by Inspector Clouseau. I recall sitting in the auditorium waiting for the movie to become silly, which of course it isn’t.

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      • I didn’t get around to Being There until after Forrest Gump. I had read many comparisons between the two movies, so that was what I was expecting. While there are similarities, I would say they are more different than they are alike. I enjoyed Being There when I finally saw it, but it ended up falling short of my expectations which may have been too high. I should probably revisit it some day.

        Agreed on the casting of The Hobbit. Virtually everything else was driven by a desire to recreate the success of The Lord of the Rings which was not something the material could support. As a result, it was inferior in every way.

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  2. The Coen brothers film Fargo from 1996 was absolutely brilliant and turned out to be one of my favorite films of the 90’s. When I had heard there was going to be a Fargo tv miniseries you can understand my serious doubts. How could it not be anything less than a disappointment? Instead it exceeded my expectations wildly. I honestly think it stands tall with the film as great storytelling. And while Fargo the series has a phenomenal cast top to bottom, key to that first season was Martin Freeman who excelled in his role. I had never seen The Office before (the British version), I skipped the Hobbit films, so Fargo was my introduction to the superb Martin Freeman. Coincidentally I had been considering giving that superb first season yet another watch as I own it on DVD (I’ve already watched it a couple times but it is strongly rewatchable).

    I can’t recommend Fargo enough, it’s superb in every way. If you don’t believe me then listen to Lebeau. He has also raved about it and you know Lebeau will never steer you wrong.

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    • Except when giving directions. If I give you directions, don’t trust me. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I can get lost in a parking lot. People marvel out how inept I am when it comes to figuring out how to get from one place to another.

      But, yeah, the Fargo TV series is insanely good. I can’t decide which season I prefer. The 70s setting of the second season may give it a slight edge in my book. Looking forward to season 3 which I wish was sooner than it is.

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      • Same here. About anticipating season 3 of Fargo, that is. I think if push came to shove though I am anticipating season 3 of Better Call Saul more than anything else right now. But Fargo S3 sounds good so far, I think it will move up in time to about 10 years or so ago, which should be fun.

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        • When something is as far off as Fargo Season 3, I try not to think about it too much. Better Call Saul is also an excellent show. Definitely looking forward to the next season of that as well.

          Topic: Television has eclipsed film. Discuss.

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        • It used to be you’d stay home to watch mindless junk on tv and go to the movies for something with a little more substance. Things are the exact opposite now. TV handily trumps film, especially after this past summer’s overall lousy cinematic offerings. With only a few exceptions it seems like Hollywood isn’t even trying anymore on the big screen.

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        • I read an article on Wired the other day which suggested that 2016 is the year in which movies ceased to matter. They made a compelling case while allowing that things could pick up with the back half of the year’s releases. But no matter what, film isn’t going to be able to compare to the embarrassment of riches currently on TV. I recently started streaming Mr Robot Season 1 and what do you know – another terrific TV show to catch up with.

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        • Due to your mention I read the Wired article (good read!) and I have to say the author brings up some valid points. Maybe its because Hollywood is leaning so heavily on remakes reboots and sequels but very few movies – even the box office hits – make an impact on pop culture anymore or get buzz around the watercooler on Monday morning. Cinema was always king of pop cutlure, but it is not anymore.

          While the Wired author didn’t express it I could not help to think this: Batman Vs. Superman lit up social media for months on end in a way that no other film has so far this year. What makes that ironic is that BVS was so heavily discussed because it was so awful and disappointing. You could randomly throw a dart and hit upon a more well-received film, and a number of films have even outperformed it at the box office. But BVS is one of the few films this year to be discussed for more than five minutes after it was released. I think that’s a strong indicator that this is an especially weak year for cinema.

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        • BVS lit up my FB feeds, but only in groups I belong to that are devoted to that sort of thing. My friends and family weren’t discussing it at all which I think goes back to one of the points of the Wired article. The author asserted that movies were no longer aimed at general audiences but at specific niches. Super hero movies are targeting a specific group of people who like them. Star Trek appeals to Trekkies and no one else. Families go to animated movies, but most grown ups pay no attention to them. There was a group that, love it or hate it, cared passionately about BVS and debated its merits endlessly. But most folks I knew weren’t talking about it at all.

          Now Stranger Things and Pokemon Go exploded all over my FB feed this summer. No movie this year has come remotely close to that level of saturation.

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  3. I am continually impressed at the longevity of Pink’s career. When she first broke out in 2000 I figured she would be one of the countless short-term hit-makers who always come and go on the music scene. No offense to Pink, I do like her music but I didn’t initially expect much out of her. Amazingly she has racked up 22 Top 40 hits from her debut in 2000 all the way to this year where she added another Top 10 hit. She has remained a constant presence on Top 40 radio over 16 years, something very few artists ever accomplish. That’s pretty darn impressive.

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  4. For the second day in a row, we have the birthday of a very talented musician who died, at a tragically young age, in a small plane crash. Sadly, that won’t be the last such case this month.

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  5. I’m all about Aimee Mann, either with her output during her ‘Til Tuesday days, her collaborations with Rush, or her solo endeavors.

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  6. What?! Freeman was in the BBC’s Office?! I loved that show! Use to own the first two seasons! Don’t actually recall seeing Freeman…

    Also, you’re doing birthday posts now? That and, I’m maybe back and so might read/RANT…

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    • Long time no see.

      Yep, the site is hosting celebrity birthdays. Jestak is actually writing them and doing a fantastic job in my estimation.

      Yes, Martin Freeman was the “Jim” prototype on the original Office.

      I’ll be interested to see what you’re up to next. Let me know if you’re interested in contributing here.

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      • Darn, now I kinda wish I didn’t give them to a friend so I could rewatch and see just how I missed Freeman. BBC’s Office was far better than the US version in my book. I think the British dry humor worked far better than the more off the wall shenanigans of the US.

        Either way, I’ve been wanting to get back into reviewing for a while and this school year I think I’ll finally have the time to do so. Probably going to start off pretty slow though and just try for one review a month. Refind my writing footing and all that. Also, I still have editing rights here I believe (you gave me it a long time back) but most of what I end up writing just hasn’t seemed to fit with the vibe you got going here. If I do end up doing something that does though, I’ll let you know… Or maybe just post it.

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      • Sorry but not sure how to contact you otherwise right now. Do you still have admin rights at read/RANT? I seem to have lost mine.

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