Monthly Archives: December 2016

December 31: Happy Birthday Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley


Our two headliners today will both be seen in the upcoming movie Collide, so it was not hard to find a few photo headers pairing them out there.  They are also both knights, and both are winners of the Oscar for Best Actor.

Sir Anthony Hopkins turns 79 today.  He was influenced to enter acting by his fellow Welshman, Richard Burton.  Sir Laurence Olivier invited him to join the Royal National Theatre in the mid-sixties, and his first major film role was as Prince Richard (later King Richard I) in The Lion in Winter.

During the 1970s and ’80s he appeared in a wide variety of films, including Young Winston (as David Lloyd George), A Bridge Too Far, The Elephant Man, and The Bounty (as William Bligh).  He also won a pair of Emmys, both for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.  However, it was in a 1991 film that he played his best-known role for the first time:

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50 Ways Hollywood Can Help You Beat the Blues During This Strange Holiday Season


I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season.  I think a lot of people would agree that 2016 has been a bit of a bummer.  I’m hearing from friends that they are looking forward to putting this year in the rear-view mirror and starting fresh in 2017.  Before we do that, I thought I’d share this article from the January 2002 issue of Movieline with 50 helpful suggestions on how you can enjoy the holidays with a little help from Tinseltown.

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Daffy Does Disney Springs

Happy Holidays LeBlog readers! During my week in Florida this season visiting family I managed to fit in a visit to Walt Disney World’s newly reimagined shopping and dining district. This is the area that used to be called “Downtown Disney” (and a couple of other names prior to that), but was re-christened as “Disney Springs” with the updates. As you may see in the above video, this involved more than just a few new vendors and a fresh coat of paint. Join your own Daffy Stardust as I tour the entire thing, offer my thoughts on a few food opportunities, and witness the exciting new holiday drone show. Yeah, Disney is putting on a nighttime show that features over one hundred drones flashing different colored lights and flying in tight formations to create a new kind of entertainment!

December 30: Happy Birthday Patti Smith and LeBron James


Today’s biggest birthdays are from the worlds of music and sports, so I picked one headliner from each.

Patti Smith celebrates her 70th birthday today.  The “poet laureate of punk rock” is known for her fusion of highly literate, and of course poetic lyrics, with a very basic, “three chords and the truth” approach to music.  She has published several books—mostly collections of poetry, some that combine poetry and prose, and a memoir titled Just Kids which won a National Book Award.  She is also an accomplished visual artist who has had several major exhibitions over the years (she was a longtime friend of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe).

And although commercial success has never been her priority, one time, she had a big hit:

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Lego Dimensions: Fun With Fun Packs – Laval and Sensei Wu


Last time I looked at a pair of Lego Dimension Fun Packs, they were characters from DC Comics which I love.  Today, I’m dealing with two kid-friendly franchises I know nothing about.  So I’m going to kick off this article with a little Lego history.  In the late 20th century, the Lego brand had fallen on hard times.  In a bid to revitalize sales, the company made a deal to make Star Wars toys.  This lead to other profitable licensing arrangements like Batman and Harry Potter.  These days, Lego has an intricate web of licensing deals.

Flush with success, Lego has made a few attempts at creating their own intellectual properties.  Two of those are the Ninjago and Chima lines.  Both of these toy lines are supported with cartoon series that I have never had to watch.

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December 29: Happy Birthday Jon Voight and Mary Tyler Moore


Our headliners today were both big names in the 1970s.

Jon Voight is turning 78 today.  He began acting in the 1960s; one of his early roles was taking over the part of Rolf in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music.  During that show he met his first wife, Lauri Peters, who was the original Liesl on Broadway.

Voight had several TV guest roles in the 1960s and made his film debut late in the decade.  He first drew notice playing Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy in 1969; the film won Best Picture (the only X-rated film ever to do so), and Voight received a Best Actor nomination.  During the 1970s, he starred in films like Catch-22, Deliverance and The Champ.  His most important role, though, was as paraplegic Vietnam vet Luke Martin, starring opposite Jane Fonda:

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The Movie That Changed My Life


It’s been a little while since we had a Movieline list article.  These were a staple of the magazine.  Whenever they needed to fill a little space, they’d just start calling around Hollywood until they got a set number of responses to a question.  For the December 1996 “Black Hollywood” issue, they asked 65 African-American industry players to tell them about the film that had the greatest impact on their personal lives.

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December 28: Happy Birthday Denzel Washington and Maggie Smith


Two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington celebrates his 62nd birthday today.  After studying drama at Fordham University, Washington began working in television and theater in the late 1970s and made his feature film debut in 1981.  His six seasons as a regular on St. Elsewhere gave him his first widespread exposure.  He received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for playing Steve Biko in Cry Freedom, and then won his first Oscar, in the same category, as escaped slave turned soldier Silas Trip in Glory:

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Daffy Stardust takes on Haunted Mansion theories


It’s just a few days after Christmas, so obviously the natural thing to do is to compose another post about Disney’s Haunted Mansion. The topics I’m going to cover here were touched on a bit in last year’s tour of the Walt Disney World version of the Mansion, but since I’m still finding these fan theories lingering I thought I’d talk about them in a little more detail than before. I’ll be asking three central questions, with a little bit of crossover. Who is Master Gracey? Is he the Ghost Host? Do you die on the ride? Some fans will give you a “yes” to those last two questions, but I’m not so sure. Let’s take a look, shall we?
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December 27: Happy Birthday Gerard Depardieu and Marlene Dietrich


Gérard Depardieu turns 68 today.  He has been acting for nearly fifty years, and his extensive filmography includes over 200 film and television credits.  He has been nominated for a record 17 Cesar Awards for Best Actor, winning twice.  His first Cesar, in 1980, was for Francois Truffaut’s The Last Metro, and kicked off what was probably his most successful period in French film.  In the mid-1980s he starred in Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette, and he capped the decade by winning his second Cesar, for the title role in Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, a performance that also brought Depardieu his one Oscar nomination.

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December 26: Happy Birthday Kit Harington and Steve Allen


Kit Harington, who turns 30 today, began acting while in school.  He made his West End debut while still in college, and still maintains his stage career.  He recently starred in the title role in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (interestingly, he was named after Christopher Marlowe).  His feature film debut was in the horror sequel Silent Hill: Revelation.  He starred in the historical disaster film Pompeii, and has been cast in the title role in the upcoming film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, with a supporting cast including Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates.

But the role he’s known for is, of course, Jon Snow in HBO’s Game of Thrones.  Harington was nominated for an Emmy for the show’s sixth season, a season that was simply packed with revelations about Jon (warning for those who are behind in watching the series—there may be teensy spoilers in the upcoming video).

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Damon Wayans: Taming Wayans

Wayans - Bulletproof

Damon Wayans shot to fame on the sketch comedy show, In Living Color.  As the show’s breakout star, Wayans quickly made the jump to the big screen where success eluded him.  By 1996, Wayans’ movie career was cooling off.  That year, he starred opposite Adam Sandler (who was still best known for Saturday Night Live) in the buddy comedy Bulletproof.  In this interview from the December 1996 issue of Movieline, Wayans talked about his difficult childhood as one of ten children and how he hoped a biopic about Richard Pryor would set his career back on track.

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Lebeau and Daffy on Holiday Movies 2016


Merry Festivus, elves of LeBlog!

Each year is made up of a series of movie “seasons,” with every production company vying for box office dominance during these peak portions of the cinema calendar. Although there are 12 months in every year, movie theater attendance is, of course, way up during those times of the year when kids of all ages are out of school. Because of this, you’ll see most of the big event movies released in time for extended holiday periods.

Earlier this year, Lebeau and I sat down for a chat about the important releases and trends of the summer movie season, and this time we’ll be covering the same topic as it applies to what we’ve seen in November and December. Come along as we discuss the relative value of this holiday’s offerings and what it might mean for audiences and filmmakers long-term.

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