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. 🙂
Paul Feig is turning 55. He moved to California in his early twenties to attend USC and began getting guest roles on TV and small feature film roles in the mid-eighties. He first emerged as a major talent on the production side when he created the series Freaks and Geeks, which aired on NBC for just part of one season in 1999-2000; a few years ago TV Guide rated it #1 on a list of “Cancelled Too Soon” series, while Feig received two Emmy nominations for writing during its short life. In 2003, he made his debut as a filmmaker as the director and writer of I Am David.
After a dry patch in his career, Feig began to reemerge as a director and producer on The Office, receiving two more Emmy nominations and winning a DGA Award. He has also had multiple directing assignments on series like Arrested Development and Nurse Jackie. His feature film directing career took off with the success of Bridesmaids and The Heat. Since then he has directed, written and produced Spy and Ghostbusters, and is currently working on A Simple Favor.
James Urbaniak, who is 54, is known for his work in films like Henry Fool and American Splendor, for his voice acting, especially on The Venture Bros., and for stage work like his Drama Desk Award nominated performance in Thom Pain (based on nothing). Augustus Prew turns 30; he starred on CBS’s Pure Genius, which was canceled after one season, and then joined the cast of Prison Break for its fifth season. Denyse Tontz, who starred on Syfy’s Incorporated, also canceled after one season, is 23. Billy Miller, who celebrates his 38th, won three Daytime Emmys for his work on The Young and the Restless and now appears on General Hospital.
David Huddleston (1930-2016) had a long career as a film and television supporting player; his roles included Olson Johnson in Blazing Saddles and Jeffrey “the Big” Lebowski in The Big Lebowski. Director Curtis Harrington (1926-2007) was known for his work in horror and experimental film and for his influence on the New Queer Cinema movement.
Baseball Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda is turning 80 today. During his career, he won the National League’s Rookie of the Year award and later the MVP award, and led the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series win in 1967. Boxer Michael Carbajal won a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics, and for much of the 1990s held at least a share of the world title in the light flyweight division. He turns 50.
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) was a leading American poet of the 20th century, known for collections like Spring and All and Paterson. He was also a practicing physicians, serving as Chief of Pediatrics at Passaic General Hospital in New Jersey for nearly 40 years. Cheryl Strayed, who turns 49, has written a novel and two self-help/advice books, but is best known for her memoir Wild, which was adapted into a 2014 feature film starring Reese Witherspoon.
The headliners on this date one year ago were Bryan Singer and Anne Bancroft.
Bryan Singer is turning 52. He is currently filming the Freddie Mercury (of Queen) biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, and also is producing X-Men: Dark Phoenix. He is also an executive producer of FX’s Legion and Fox’s The Gifted and is the director of episode 1 of the latter, which premieres in October.
Kyle Chandler, who co-starred in last fall’s Manchester by the Sea, is 52. His Netflix series, Bloodline, has come to an end, but he was featured in Sidney Hall, which screened at Sundance, and will have major roles in the upcoming films Game Night and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Baz Luhrmann, whose latest project was co-creating Netflix’s The Get Down, is 55 today. Neill Blomkamp, who turns 38, is at work on a series of short films; the first of them, Rakka, was released on YouTube in June. Malik Yoba, who is 50, had a recurring role on season 1 of Designated Survivor. Anastacia, who is 49, spent most of the past year on her Ultimate Collection Tour and just released her latest studio album, Evolution. Danielle Brooks continues to appear as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on Orange is the New Black as she turns 28. Ella Purnell, who turns 21, appeared in a supporting part in Churchill, which came out in June, and stars in the October release Access All Areas.
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.