Raúl Esparza is turning 47 today. He graduated from NYU in 1992 and made his screen debut in a guest role on Spin City in 1997. He has made guest appearances on series such as Pushing Daisies and A Gifted Man, and appeared in the recurring role of Frederick Chilton on NBC’s Hannibal. He has had roles in feature films such as My Soul to Take and Custody. However, his best known screen role is undoubtedly as Rafael Barba on Law & Order: SVU; he has been a regular on the long-running series since 2013.
On stage, Esparza is a major star. He made his Broadway debut, to much acclaim, in 2000, as Riff Raff in a revival of The Rocky Horror Show. He has gone on to be a four-time Tony nominee, once in each of the four major acting categories (Best Actor and Best Featured Actor in both a Musical and a Play). He has been seen on Broadway in Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow, Taboo (with lyrics and music from Boy George), and Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and Company (to give a partial listing). The 2006 revival of Company, in which Esparza starred as Bobby, was recorded and broadcast by PBS and later released on DVD and Blu-ray.
The big movie release of this past weekend, if I can believe the hype I’ve seen and the strong crowds I experienced, was the live action adaptation of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast. The 1991 animated musical production is one of the most beloved in the Disney canon, winning Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, and becoming the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture. The affection and nostalgia still attached to the animated film have made this year’s adaptation perhaps the most hotly anticipated live action Disney film of the past decade.
Join Lebeau and me as we discuss our own histories with the story and our reactions to the new film. There are mild spoilers here, but if you’ve seen the previous Disney film, the general story shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
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Kevin Kline celebrates his 69th today. He began his career with The Acting Company, a touring group co-founded by John Houseman, which provides young performers with a chance to gain experience. He was soon working on Broadway, winning Tony Awards for his roles in the original production of On the Twentieth Century and Joseph Papp’s revival of The Pirates of Penzance.
Kline soon started working in film. He made his debut in 1982 in Sophie’s Choice, and the following year was seen in two films, one of them Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill. The other brought one of his most memorable stage performances to the big screen:
The Golden Raspberries started off as an informal joke. Something for a publicist and his friends to do after the Oscars had ended. Over time, it has become and enduring and irreverent tradition. In theory, The Razzies poke fun at the worst movies of the year. But like any awards ceremony, the Razzies frequently make the wrong call. We’re going back and looking at the history of the Golden Raspberry Awards one year at a time.
The twentieth annual Razzies nominated the movies of 1999. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and The Sixth Sense were the highest-grossing movies that year. American Beauty won Best Picture and Hilary Swank won her first Best Actress Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry. The Razzies partied like it was 1999 even though the awards were actually handed out in Y2K. And that meant getting jiggy in the wild, wild West.
In the early 1980’s Phoebe Cates was one of the hottest rising stars in Hollywood. After memorable roles in two Hollywood blockbusters, her career cooled off. In the early 1990s, she went into retirement and has rarely been seen or heard from since.
What the hell happened?
As I indicated in my previous post and in the comments section that came with it, I went into this project fully expecting to prefer the film comedies I would have to choose from as I moved back into my younger days. Is this a bias based on personal tastes? Is it a generational bias that we would see repeated reliably if we polled thousands of people of different ages? Or are there really certain eras for different art forms that are simply of a higher quality than others?
As we roll back into my young adulthood in the 1990s, my guess is that it’s a little bit of all of the above.
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