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June 18: Happy Birthday Paul McCartney and Roger Ebert


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Our two headliners today were both born on this date in 1942.

Sir Paul McCartney turns 75 today.  In 1957 he joined a band that had recently been started by John Lennon; within a year or two a guitarist named George Harrison had joined them and by 1960 they were performing as The Beatles.  In 1962, they let drummer Pete Best go and added Ringo Starr, and history was about to be made.

The Beatles remained together, as you probably know, until 1970.  Since then, McCartney has been recording and touring as a solo artist or as a member of Wings.  To the record-setting sales of Beatles records, he has added another 100 million or more post-breakup.  He is a 21-time Grammy winner—12 with the Beatles, 8 as a solo artist or with Wings, and one other collaboration.  He has written or co-written 32 singles that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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June 17: Happy Birthday Barry Manilow and Ken Loach


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Barry Manilow is turning 74 today.  Before he emerged as one of the leading pop/adult contemporary stars of the seventies, he spent a number of years in what he called the “jingle jungle,” composing tunes and slogans for commercials—remember “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there?”  Manilow does—he wrote it.  In the early seventies he worked with Bette Midler on her first two studio albums.

Manilow released his first studio album in 1973, but it was his second album, Barry Manilow II, which sealed the deal for him as a performer.  The album reached the Top Ten and included his first #1 single, “Mandy.”  He had two more #1 hits in the seventies, “I Write the Songs” and “Looks Like We Made It,” but it was a single that reached “only” #8 that brought him his only Grammy.

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June 16: Happy Birthday Laurie Metcalf and Daniel Brühl


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Laurie Metcalf is turning 62 today.  Her first credited film role was in Desperately Seeking Susan.  She has since had prominent roles in Internal Affairs, JFK, Blink, and Scream 2, and will be in the upcoming Lady Bird with Saoirse Ronan.  On television, she has been nominated for Emmys in the Outstanding Guest Actress category several times, for appearances on series like 3rd Rock from the Sun, Desperate Housewives, and The Big Bang Theory, and for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for Getting On.  Her most famous screen role, however, for which she was a three-time Emmy winner, was as Jackie Harris on Roseanne.

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Worst to First: Ranking the Alien movies


In a crowded summer movie season, Ridley Scott’s latest entry in the Alien prequel series has gotten squeezed out at the box office despite decent reviews.  What does that mean for the future of the Alien franchise?  It’s hard to say at this point, but it seems like as good a time as any to rank the Alien movies from worst to first.

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June 15: Happy Birthday Helen Hunt and Simon Callow


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Helen Hunt is turning 54 today.  The Oscar and multiple Emmy winner is our latest WTHH birthday.  As the linked article recounts, she began working as a child actress in the seventies, and then had a period of “paying her dues” once she transitioned to adult roles in the eighties.  But it wasn’t until the early nineties that she began to be successful.  She was cast as newlywed Jamie Stemple Buchman on NBC’s Mad About You; it ran for seven seasons, and Hunt was nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress-Comedy each season, winning four straight times from 1996-99.

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Mark Wahlberg: The Boogie Man


Mark Wahlberg is a movie star.  You don’t question that any more.  Next week he’s going to be headlining another Transformers movie.  Once upon a time, Wahlberg had to fight to be taken seriously as an actor.  He was still seen as Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch, rapper and underwear model.  Prior to Boogie Nights, Wahlberg had been making inroads towards respectability.  But Boogie Nights changed all that.  After his performance as Dirk Diggler, people started taking Wahlberg seriously.  In this interview from the June 1997 issue of Movieline magazine, Wahlberg talked about his burgeoning movie career.

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Lebeau Family Trip Report 2017: Universal Orlando Resort Day One


My family and I have recently returned from our latest theme park vacation.  When the kids were little, we made regular visits to Walt Disney World in Orlando.  Following our last trip in 2014, we decided it was time for us to explore some other options.  The following year, prior to embarking on our first family cruise (with Disney of course), we spent a day at Universal Studios.  This year, we settled on an extended visit at Universal Orlando.  I’ll tell you all about it after the jump.

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June 14: Happy Birthday Diablo Cody and Cy Coleman


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Brook Busey-Maurio, better known by her pen name of Diablo Cody, turns 39 today.  She first became known as a blogger, and then for her memoir Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper.  She had a huge success with her first screenplay, Juno, winning an Oscar and BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay and a long list of other screenwriting awards.  She followed up by creating a series about a suburban housewife with DID; Showtime began airing United States of Tara in 2009.

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Readers Rank the X-Men Movies


The X-Men franchise, with its wiggly continuity, spin-offs, reboots and cross-overs, is an odd duck.  Perhaps that’s appropriate for a series of movies about mutants.  Over the last several years, the series has certainly mutated in some unexpected ways.  Seventeen years ago, who would have expected movies like Deadpool or Logan would ever get made?  With the latter representing Hugh Jackman’s final performance as Wolverine, Jeffthewildman marked the occasion by ranking all ten of the X-Men movies from Worst to First.  Of course we wanted to hear from you readers as well.  Let’s see how readers ranked the X-Men movies.

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June 13: Happy Birthday Tim Allen and Ben Johnson


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It’s Tim Allen’s birthday; the actor and comedian is 64.  He began working as a comedian in the Detroit area in the seventies, and then relocated to Los Angeles and became a regular at The Comedy Store.  He began working in film in the late eighties, and in the nineties began his involvement in two major film franchises.  He played Scott Calvin in the first of the Santa Clause films in 1994, and a year later provided the voice of Buzz Lightyear for the first time in Toy Story.  In 1991, he also began starring as Tim “the Tool Guy” Taylor on ABC’s Home Improvement, one of the biggest hits of the nineties.

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Sigourney Weaver: The Heat is On


Sigourney Weaver is a genre icon.  It’s probably a safe bet that she is best known for having played Ellen Ripley in four Alien movies with the threat of a fifth installment to be made some day if the stars align.  Despite a strong connection with science fiction, Weaver’s career has been fairly eclectic.  She’s done comedies ranging from Ghostbusters to Working Girl and prestige pictures like Gorillas in the Mist.  And she’s been nominated for Oscars in all of these different kinds of roles.

In 1992, Weaver was returning to the part of Ripley for what was supposed to be the last time in Alien3.  She was coming off a hiatus during which she gave birth to her only child.  In this cover story from the June 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, Weaver discussed her changing priorities as an actress and a mother.

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Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 6


Mike, the One-Armed Man, arrives to Agent Cooper in a vision with a warning.  “You have to wake up.”  His words echo the thoughts of viewers who may be growing frustrated with the glacial pace of Cooper’s return from the Black Lodge.  Through six hours of television, we have watched helplessly as our protagonist stumbles through someone else’s life.  On some level, we all just want him to snap out of it!  Little by little, that’s happening.  This week Coop traded in his awful green blazer for his familiar black suit and one more piece snapped back into place.

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June 12: Happy Birthday Chick Corea and Frances O’Connor


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On one of the lightest days yet for major celebrity birthdays, we headline a very highly-regarded jazz musician and one of the leading actresses in Australia.

Chick Corea turns 76 today.  The jazz keyboardist has won more Grammys than any other jazz performer, with a total of 22.  He has been one of the leading artists in the jazz fusion subgenre since the late sixties, when he participated in some of Miles Davis’s pioneering fusion recordings.  He then formed the fusion group Return to Forever in the early seventies, issuing seven studio albums and a live album in about six years.  They disbanded in 1978 but reunited in the late 2000s and made a world tour starting in 2000.

Since 1986, Corea’s primary ensemble has been the Chick Corea Elektric Band.  He has also collaborated with a wide variety of other jazz performers, most notably vibraphonist Gary Burton, with whom he has won several of his Grammys.

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