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Archive for September, 2018

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Siobhan Finneran

Siobhan Finneran
Siobhan Finneran

Siobhan Finneran (Wikipedia)

Siobhan Finneran was born in 1966 and is an English actress. She made her screen debut in the 1987 independent film Rita, Sue and Bob Too, and subsequently worked consistently in television drama including roles in Coronation Street, (1989–1990) Clocking Off (2000–02) and The Amazing Mrs Pritchard (2006). In 2005, Finneran originated the lead female role in the stage play On the Shore of the Wide World and was awarded the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Also a comedy performer, Finneran appeared as a leading character in the first seven series of popular ITV sitcom Benidorm (2007–15).

Later television roles include portraying a lawyer in the mini-series Unforgiven (2009), an embittered servant in the first three series of the costume drama Downton Abbey (2010–12) and a recovering addict in Happy Valley (2014–present), for which she was nominated for the 2017 British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress. Later film credits include Mrs Swift in the 2013 film release, The Selfish Giant, which earned her a British Independent Film Award nomination.

Finneran was born in Oldham, Lancashire on 27 April 1966 to Irish immigrant parents. As a child Finneran was always drawn to the performing arts and was a fan of the celebrated English comedian Eric Morecambe, recalling that “as a little girl I wanted to be Eric Morecambe. Not to be like him but to actually be him”.  After studying a theatre studies course, she was in cast in her first major role as Rita in the 1987 film Rita, Sue and Bob Too. Kate Muir, chief film critic at UK newspaper The Times described the characters of Rita and Sue —two teenagers who both have a sexual affair with the older, married Bob (George Costigan)— “as raunchy, cheeky, unstoppable schoolgirls played with relish by Siobhan Finneran and Michelle Holmes.  Between August 1989 and March 1990 Finneran appeared as factory employee Josie Phillips, in the long running ITV1 soap opera Coronation Street.  The character of Josie is best remembered for her on-off employment, and difficult relationship, with her boss, Mike Baldwin.

Finneran continued to appear regularly on UK television, making guest appearances in numerous drama series including Heartbeat(1993, 1994, 2003), Peak Practice (1995),  Out of the Blue (1996), Where The Heart Is (1997), Hetty Wainthrop Investigates (1998) and The Cops (1999). Finneran also established herself in comedic roles including episodes of Josie (a 1991 comedy series starring Josie Lawrence), Cannon and Balls Playhouse (1991)[17] and as a regularly appearing cast member in ITV1‘s production of The Russ Abbot Show (1995–96).  Whilst having performed frequently in comedy, Finneran credits her performance as “a very damaged mother” in Out of the Blue in 1996 in triggering a shift towards more dramatic roles. From the late 1990s Finneran began to consciously cut back her acting work to raise her two children as her husband, the actor Mark Jordon, (whom she married in August 1997) was regularly away from home filming as a series regular in Heartbeat.

Between 2000 and 2002 Finneran appeared as Julie O’Neill in three series of the BBC1 drama series Clocking Off.  Subsequent roles in the early 21st century include the ITV1 Russell T Davies drama series Bob & Rose (2001), Sparkhouse (2002) –a modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights scripted by Sally Wainwright– and the two-part thriller Passer By (2004) starring James Nesbitt. In 2005 Finneran appeared as the female lead, Alice Holmes, in the original stage production of On the Shore of the Wide World at the Royal Exchange, Manchester. Finneran’s performance earned her the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. In 2006 Finneran was cast as a series regular in The Amazing Mrs Pritchard (2006). Her character, Beverley Clarke is an established partner in a law firm who is inspired to launch a career in politics by her experience of the titular Ros Pritchard, and ultimately becomes an MP.

In 2007 Finneran appeared as Kelly in the British Independent film Boy A. Also In 2007 Finneran appeared as part of the original regular cast in the British sitcom Benidorm which details the experiences of holidaymakers and employees at the fictional Solana hotel in Benidorm, Spain. Finneran described her character Janice Garvey as “feisty, foul-mouthed and quite fantastic”. Over the course of the series, Janice struggles to keep her family unit—comprising Janice’s mother Madge (Sheila Reid), her husband Mick (Steve Pemberton) and their own children and grandchild—under control. A television correspondent at the Sunday Mirror described the character as a “fiercely protective lioness, humorous, straight-talking, and saucy” inclined to “let-it-all-hang-out” with a wardrobe comprising “skimpy, mutton-dressed-as-lamb outfits”.  Finneran found elements of the shoot embarrassing — including the requirement to be filmed in swimwear— and one scene which involved her character “snogging” a young barman played by an actor in his early twenties.  In spite of the outlandish elements of the sitcom, Finneran notes that the cast “tried to find the truth in each character, to make them a real person – not a stereotype.” In 2008, Finneran explained that as the series was filmed on location in Benidorm, her parents stepped in to help with childcare back home, with the children visiting during half-term.

Finneran would ultimately remain with the series, through to its 7th series, which aired in 2015. Discussing the enduring appeal of the series in 2013, Finneran stated that the series’ fan base had become firmly established by the fourth series and that viewers were attracted to the “banter” and recognisable family dynamics that take viewers “to the extremes”.  She also felt that the contrasting summer setting and typical winter air date also provided a form of escapism for the UK audience. After discussing their intent to leave Benidorm during filming of the sixth series (2014), Pemberton and Finneran announced their join departures ahead of the 7th series (2015). Both actors wanted to spend less time filming abroad, and neither wanted to leave on their own. Finneran found filming her last scenes “heartbreaking” noting she was in “a terrible state” upon bidding farewell to co-stars and crew with whom she had forged a close relationship.

Alongside her role in Benidorm, Finneran continued to star in original drama series’. In 2008 she portrayed Sister Ruth, a Vatican nun drawn to investigate a priest who performs exorcisms, in five episodes of the supernatural thriller Apparitions.  In 2009 Finneran appeared as a main cast member in the three part ITV1 thriller Unforgiven as Izzie Ingram, a family lawyer who aids convicted murder Ruth Slater (Suranne Jones) track down her long lost sister. George Costigan, who appears in Unforgiven and first worked with Finneran in 1987 cited the mini-series as an illustration of Finneran’s versatility, and justification of his appraisal of her as an acting “hero” and personal inspiration, stating that “she has no background in it and she just goes there. It’s extraordinary. Those are the actors that electrify you.”[31] Also in 2009, Finneran appeared in episodes of The Street, and Blue Murder,  and the straight-to-DVD soap opera spin-off Coronation Street: Romanian Holiday. ‘She’s worked since she was probably 14 or 15 years old, and has basically sacrificed her entire life to somebody else, for the good of their life and their home — it’s no wonder that she would get frustrated or angry about things.” “

In 2010 it was announced that Finneran had been cast in Downton Abbey, a period drama depicting the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants. Upon its transmission, Downton Abbey received extensive critical acclaim, and strong viewing figures in both the UK and America.  Finneran’s character, lady’s maid Sarah O’Brien serves as an archetypal villain in the series’ narrative, whose schemes affect both her employers and her colleagues. The role was Finneran’s first in a costume drama. To become O’Brien, Finneran was required to wear “frumpy black” servants attire, a wig— which Finneran described as having “poodle curls” and “one bit [that is] proper bouffant” and spend around an hour in make-up each day to look less attractive.  Though screenwriter Julian Fellowes did not give her a backstory to work with, Finneran imagined that O’Brien was both traumatised by past experiences and, had accumulated anger, frustration and resentment issues from having worked in service all her life. In 2012 Finneran stated that she enjoyed the response to the character noting that viewers “love that she’s a nasty piece of work” and “love to dislike her”.

During her time on the show, the Downton Abbey cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2012 (for series 2), and were nominated also in 2013 (for series 3).  Finneran announced her departure in March 2013, ahead of the fourth series, explaining that she had been signed for only three series and did not wish to extend her contract, adding: “When I stop loving something, I stop doing it.” BbLater that year, when asked by the Radio Times how her character’s abrupt exit would be handled, Finneran retorted: “I’m hoping she’s flung off the roof of the Abbey”.

In 2013 Finneran starred in the second series of The Syndicate on BBC1, portraying Mandy, a hospital worker and domestic abuse victim who wins the national lottery with her colleagues. Finneran was attracted to the role because of the suspense of her character’s storyline, and the challenge of keeping the abuse scenes as true-to-life as possible.  Also in 2013, Finneran portrayed Mrs Swift in The Selfish Giant an independent film inspired by both Oscar Wilde‘s short story of the same name and screenwriter and director Clio Barnard‘s personal experiences of the socially fragmented northern English underclass.  Finneran’s character is a troubled yet loving mother, who she describes as “not quite the full shilling”.  In spite of the tough subject matter of the film Finneran enjoyed the filming process noting that she felt “safe and secure” in the hands of Barnard, who she felt to be a calmer director than any other she had worked with.  For her portrayal, Finneran was nominated for the 2013 British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2014, Finneran appeared in the French-Language film Un Illustre Inconnu (Nobody from Nowhere). In her private life, 2014 saw Finneran obtain a divorce her husband, Mark Jordan.[2]

Also in 2014, Finneran portrayed recovering heroin addict Clare in BBC One‘s Happy Valley—a crime drama that centres on the personal and occupational struggles faced by Clare’s cohabitant sister, sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire)—to general acclaim. Whilst eulogising the series’ feminist credentials Gerald O’Donovan of The Daily Telegraph praised Finneran’s “quietly compelling performance” and the character’s “gritty wisdom” and stated viewers were unlikely to witness “a more believably crafted female character” that year. A second series aired in 2016, which gave more focus to Clare’s backstory, interpersonal relationships and struggles with alcoholism. Reviewing an episode of the second series, Jack Seale of The Guardian described Finneran as “brilliant” in her depiction of both Clare’s “jittery vulnerability” and portrayal of “a snarling addict who has relapsed”. In spite of the series’ subject matter, Finneran claimed that as an inept cook, she found having to peel carrots and act simultaneously the hardest part of filming. She blamed being given a faulty vegetable peeler by the props team in having to “hack” at the vegetables and opined that the end result of filming “looks like I’m digging a hole in the road.

By the time of Happy Valley‘s second series, Finneran had known Lancashire for over 30 years. Both their on-screen partnership and the depiction of middle-aged women in general in Happy Valley have been lauded as two of the series’ most distinctive elements by television journalists and critics. Reflecting on the series’ popularity, Finneran stated she felt viewers had taken the show to their hearts because the cast “reflected them” and “looked like real human beings with authentic emotions and flaws”. Radio Timesreviewer Alison Graham stated in 2016 that Finneran and Lancashire “should share every acting award going”. Happy Valley won the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series in Both 2015 and 2017.  Finneran was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category in 2017.  Though correctly predicting that she would not win the award, Ben Lawrence of The Daily Telegraphidentified her as who he felt to be the deserving winner praising the “subtle, unfurling power” of her depiction. A third and final series of Happy Valley is expected to enter production, though not before Autumn 2018.

Between December 2014 and February 2015, Finneran appeared in the stage drama 3 Winters at the Royal National Theatre in London. In Autumn 2015 Finneran played a supporting role in the three part supernatural drama serial Midwinter of the Spirit.

In 2017, she portrayed real-life Detective Constable Christine Freeman in two-part drama The Moorside, a depiction of the 2008 disappearance of Shannon Matthews told from the perspective of the local community. Upon reading the script, Finneran felt that The Moorside told a necessary story that illuminated truths that had been distorted by media coverage.

Finneran’s next television role in 2017 was as Detective Chief Inspector Lauren Quigley, one of the protagonists in six-part ITV drama The Loch, a crime mystery set on the banks of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Quigley is an ambitious English career detective drafted in to investigate a serial killer and acts as a foil to the other protagonist, working mother and local woman DC Annie Redford (Laura Fraser). Finneran was keen to star in the series after reading the first three scripts and finding both her character and the small community setting intriguing, in addition to the prospect of working with a former Downton Abbey director (Brian Kelly) and Laura Fraser, whose acting she had long admired. Finneran based herself in Glasgow during the filming shoot and enjoyed “the buzz, the architecture, the social life”,describing the city as “one of my favourite places to ever work

In 2017, she played Nikki Kirkbright in ITV’s Cold Feet.

In 2018, Finneran played Becka Savage in the Doctor Who episode “The Witchfinders“.

In 2019 she played Sally Newell in The Widow episode “Poteza”.

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John Castle

John Castle (Wikipedia)

John Castle was born in 1940) and is an English retired actor. He is best known for playing Bill in Blowup (1966) and Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter (1968). His other notable credits include Man of La Mancha (1972) and RoboCop 3 (1993).

Born in Croydon, Castle was educated at Brighton College and Trinity College, Dublin, and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

John Castle

Castle’s first appearance was as Westmoreland on stage in Henry V on 5 June 1964, at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park. His first Broadway theatre appearance was in February 1970, as Jos in the short-lived musical Georgy.

In 1967 he made his screen debut as the plotting Prince Geoffrey in the big-screen adaptation of The Lion in Winter. The role garnered him much praise and set him on his way as a supporting actor in London and Hollywood. According to Rotten Tomatoes, The Lion in Winter is Castle’s “highest-rated” film.  Also in 1967, he appeared in the British TV Series, The Prisoner as Number 12, a sympathetic guardian in the episode, entitled “The General”.

Castle played the role of Octavius Caesar in Charlton Heston‘s poorly reviewed version of Antony and Cleopatra (1972).

Castle appeared as Carruthers, the most honourable of a trio of schemers in an episode of Granada Television‘s series Sherlock Holmes(“The Solitary Cyclist”, 1984). His association with Sherlock Holmes continued with his role as Nigel St Clair in the film version of The Crucifer of Blood (1991).

He played Inspector Craddock in an adaptation of the Agatha Christie story “A Murder is Announced” (1985), arole he recreated in the Miss Marple mystery The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (1992). He also played the title role in the 2000 made-for-TV version of Christie’s Lord Edgware Dies. In 1990 Castle starred as Superintendent George Thorne in the BBC’s radio adaptations of John Penn’s novels. Castle appeared in other TV series, including I ClaudiusBen Hall, and Lost Empires.

Among Castle’s stage performances was his role as Oswald in the Royal Shakespeare Company‘s revival of Ibsen’s Ghosts in 1967, with Dame Peggy Ashcroft as Oswald’s mother Mrs Alving and Gandhi in the play Gandhi at the Tricycle theatre London.

Castle is married to writer Maggie Wadey.


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Adam Driver

Adam Driver

Adam Driver (Wikipedia)

Adam Driver was born in 1983) is an American actor. He rose to prominence in the supporting role of Adam Sackler in the HBO comedy-drama series Girls (2012–2017), for which he received three consecutive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He made his Broadway debut in Mrs. Warren’s Profession (2010) and subsequently appeared in Man and Boy (2011). Driver went on to play supporting roles in such films as Lincoln (2012), Frances Ha (2012), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and Silence (2016). 

Driver won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his lead role in the drama Hungry Hearts(2014) and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor for playing a poet in Jim Jarmusch‘s Paterson (2016). He earned nominations for the Golden Globeand the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing a police detective in the black comedy film BlacKkKlansman (2018). Driver gained wider recognition for playing Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy films The Force Awakens (2015), The Last Jedi(2017), and the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker (2019). He returned to Broadway in 2019 with Burn This, for which he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

Driver is the co-founder of Arts in the Armed Forces, a non-profit that brings high-quality arts programming to active-duty service members, veterans, military support staff and their families around the world free of charge. He founded the organization with his wife Joanne Tucker in 2006.

Driver was born in San Diego, California, the son of Nancy Wright (née Sneedham), a paralegal, and Joe Douglas Driver.  His father’s family is from Arkansas and his mother’s family is from Indiana. His stepfather, Rodney G. Wright, is a minister at a Baptist church. He has English, Irish, Scottish, German, and Dutch ancestry. When Driver was seven years old, he moved with his older sister and mother to her hometown of Mishawaka, Indiana, and attended Mishawaka High School, where he graduated in 2001. Driver was raised Baptist; he had a religious upbringing and sang in the choir at church.

As a teenager, Driver described himself as a “misfit,” telling M Magazine that he climbed radio towers, set objects on fire, and co-founded a fight club with his friends after being inspired by the film Fight Club. After high school, and before his military service, Driver worked as a door-to-door salesman selling Kirby vacuum cleaners and as a telemarketer for a basement waterproofing company and Ben Franklin Construction. After high school, Driver applied to the Juilliard School for drama, but was rejected. 

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Driver joined the United States Marine Corps and was assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines as an 81mm mortar man.  He served for two years and eight months with no deployments before breaking his sternum while mountain biking. He was medically discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal. After leaving the Marine Corps, Driver attended the University of Indianapolis for a year, then auditioned again and was accepted into Julliard to study drama. Driver said that he was seen as an intimidating and volatile figure by his classmates, and struggled to fit into a lifestyle so different from the Marines.  He was a member of the Drama Division’s Group 38 (2005–2009), where he met his wife Joanne Tucker. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2009.

After graduating from Juilliard, Driver began his acting career in New York City, appearing in both Broadway and off-Broadwayproductions. Like many aspiring actors, he occasionally worked as a busboy and waiter. Driver also appeared in several television shows and short films. He made his feature film debut in Clint Eastwood‘s biographical drama J. Edgar in 2011.

In 2012, Driver was cast in the HBO comedy-drama series Girls, as the emotionally unstable Adam Sackler, the boyfriend of the lead character Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham). During the show’s run he received three nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role. The same year, Driver played supporting roles in two critically acclaimed films, as telegraph and cipher officer Samuel Beckwith in Steven Spielberg‘s historical drama Lincoln, and Lev Shapiro in Noah Baumbach‘s comedy-drama Frances Ha. He also appeared in the drama Not Waving But Drowning and the romantic-comedy Gayby. Additionally, he garnered major off-Broadway recognition for playing Cliff, a working-class Welsh houseguest in Look Back in Anger,winning the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play.

In 2013, Driver appeared in the drama Bluebird and the romantic-comedy What If. He played Al Cody, a musician, in the Coen Brothers‘ black comedy tragedy Inside Llewyn Davis, and photographer Rick Smolan in the drama Tracks. In 2014, he played Jude, a despairing father, in the drama Hungry Hearts; Jaime, an aspiring filmmaker, in Noah Baumbach‘s comedy While We’re Young; and Philip, the black sheep of a dysfunctional Jewish family, in the comedy-drama This Is Where I Leave You. For his performance in Hungry Hearts, Driver won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.

In February 2014, Variety reported that Driver would play the villain, Kylo Ren, in J. J. Abrams‘ Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). On April 29, 2014, he was confirmed as a cast member. The Force Awakens was released on December 18, 2015 to commercial and critical success. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardianhighlighted Driver’s performance in his review of the film calling him “gorgeously cruel, spiteful and capricious… very suited to Kylo Ren’s fastidious and amused contempt for his enemies’ weakness and compassion.”

In 2016, Driver played a supporting role in Jeff Nichols‘ sci-fi thriller Midnight Special, which was released on March 18, 2016. He also co-starred in Martin Scorsese‘s historical drama Silence (2016) as Father Francisco Garupe, a 17th-century Portuguese Jesuit priest, alongside Andrew Garfield. In preparation for the role, Driver lost almost 50 pounds. Jim Jarmusch‘s drama Paterson was Driver’s final film of 2016, in which he played Paterson, a bus driver who writes poetry.  The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and was released on December 28, 2016. Driver’s performance was acclaimed and he received multiple nominations for Best Actor from critics associations, winning several, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor. Peter Traversof Rolling Stone wrote “Driver’s indelibly moving portrayal is so lived-in and lyrical you hardly recognize it as acting.”  Paterson was included in many critics’ top ten lists of best films of 2016.

In 2017, Driver played a cameo in Noah Baumbach‘s The Meyerowitz Stories as Randy, marking his third appearance in one of Baumbach’s films. The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and was released on October 13, 2017 on Netflix. He also portrayed Clyde, a one-armed redneck veteran, in Steven Soderbergh‘s Logan Lucky, which was released on August 18, 2017.[42] He reprised his role as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was released on December 15, 2017. His performance was positively received, with his character lauded as the best in the series: David Edelstein of Vulture wrote, “the core of The Last Jedi — of this whole trilogy, it seems — is Driver’s Kylo Ren, who ranks with cinema’s most fascinating human monsters.”

In 2018, Driver portrayed a Jewish police detective, Phillip “Flip” Zimmerman, who helps infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in Spike Lee‘s comedy-drama BlacKkKlansman. The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and was theatrically released on August 10. He received critical acclaim for his performance in the film and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. Driver also starred as the lead character Toby Grisoni in Terry Gilliam‘s adventure-comedy The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which also premiered at Cannes.  In 2019, he starred as Daniel Jones in Scott Z. Burns‘ political drama The Report, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Driver returned to Broadway to play Pale against Keri Russell in a Michael Mayer-directed production of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This. He received acclaim for his explosive performance and was nominated for Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

In 2019, Driver was part of the ensemble cast of the Jim Jarmusch zombie comedy movie The Dead Don’t Die.

Driver will co-star with Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming Marriage Story. He is set to star in Sylvester Stallone‘s Tough As They Come  and Leos Carax‘s upcoming music drama Annette. He will reprise his role as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Driver married actress Joanne Tucker in June 2013. They live together in Brooklyn Heights with dog Moose, a Rottweiler-Pitbull mix.

He is the co-founder of Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF), a non-profit that performs theatre for all branches of the military, both in the United States and abroad.

Indie-rock band Sipper has a song dedicated to Driver.

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Janina Faye

Janina Faye

Janina Faye (Wikipedia)

Janina Faye was born in 1948 and is an English actress and director. She is a daughter of Florence Louisa Jonathan and Jan Smigielski. Her father was a Polish pilot from No. 303 Squadron RAF during the Battle of Britain.

She began her career as an actress in 1956 and includes theatre and television work in addition to many film appearances. In 1961 she appeared as Helen Keller in the William Gibson play, The Miracle Worker.  In 1962 she appeared as Anne in the thriller Don’t Talk to Strange Men. In 1971, she appeared in an episode of Doctor at Large. She appeared in several major fantasy and horror filmswhen she was very young, such as Hammer Films‘ original version of Dracula (1958), Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960) and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960).

In 1998, she teamed up with director Paul Cotgrove and Hammer co-star Ingrid Pitt to make the short British horror film Green Fingers, a story about a woman whose garden has strange properties with an ability to grow anything, even things that are no longer living.

She often appears at signings.

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Ronald Reagan Jnr.

Ronald Reagan

Ron Reagan Jnr (Wikipedia)

RonReagan was born in1958 and is an American former radio host and political analyst for KIRO radio and later, Air America Radio, where he hosted his own daily three-hour show. He is a commentator and contributor to programming on the MSNBC cable news and commentary network. His liberal views contrast those of his late father, Republican United States President Ronald Reagan.

Reagan was born and raised in Los AngelesCalifornia, the son of Ronald Reagan and his second wife, Nancy Davis Reagan. The family lived in Sacramento while his father was governor, from 1967 to 1975.  His sister, Patti Davis, is five and a half years older. His elder brother Michael Reagan, adopted as an infant by Ronald Reagan and his first wife Jane Wyman, is 13 years older. He also had two half-sisters born to Reagan and Wyman, Maureen Reagan (1941–2001) and Christine Reagan, who was born prematurely, on June 26, 1947, and died the same day. At an early age, his father, Ronald Reagan, often joked that they were related to every royal family with the name O’Regan in Europe. Burke’s Peerage provided the Reagans with their family tree, which lacked any direct connection to European royalty. 

Reagan dropped out of Yale University in 1976 after one semester to become a balletdancer. He joined the Joffrey Ballet in pursuit of his lifelong dream and participated in the Joffrey II Dancers, a troupe for beginning dancers, where he was mentored by Sally Brayley.  Time wrote in 1980: “It is widely known that Ron’s parents have not managed to see a single ballet performance of their son, who is clearly very good, having been selected to the Joffrey second company, and is their son nonetheless. Ron talks of his parents with much affection. But these absences are strange and go back a ways.” Reagan and Nancy went to see Ron perform at the Lisner Auditorium on Monday, May 18, 1981. The elder Reagan commented in his White House diary on this day that Ron’s performance was reminiscent of Fred Astaire.

Reagan became more politically active after his father left the White House in 1989. In contrast to his father, the younger Reagan’s views were unabashedly liberal. In a 2009 Vanity Fair interview, Ron said that he did not speak out politically during his father’s term because the press “never cared about my opinions as such, only as they related to him“, adding that he did not want to create the impression that he and his father were on bad terms because of political differences. In 1991, Reagan hosted The Ron Reagan Show, a syndicated late-night talk show addressing political issues of the day, which was canceled after a brief run since it was unable to compete with the higher ratings of The Arsenio Hall ShowThe Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and Nightline.

Reagan has worked in recent years as a magazine journalist, and has hosted talk shows on cable TV networks such as the Animal Planetnetwork. In Britain, he is best known for having co-presented Record Breakers (based on The Guinness Book of Records) for the BBC. Reagan presented a report from the United States each week.

He has served on the board of the Creative Coalition, an organization founded in 1989 by a group that included Susan Sarandon and Christopher Reeve, to politically mobilize entertainers and artists, generally for First Amendment rights, and causes such as arts advocacy and public education. From February to December 2005, Reagan co-hosted the talk show Connected: Coast to Coast with Monica Crowley on MSNBC.

Until its demise in 2010, Air America Media aired The Ron Reagan Show. The program made its debut on September 8, 2008.

In 2011, he published My Father at 100: A Memoir. In interviews promoting the book, Reagan described noticing his father was having certain mental lapses which, in hindsight, caused the younger Reagan to speculate subsequently that his father may have already been in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease while still in office. This assertion was attacked by critics, including his brother, Michael Reagan. Ron Reagan subsequently clarified that he did not feel the lapses were evidence of “dementia.”

In July 2004, Reagan spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his support for lifting Bush’s restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, from which he expected a cure or new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, of which his father had recently died. “There are those who would stand in the way of this remarkable future, who would deny the federal funding so crucial to basic research. A few of these folks, needless to say, are just grinding a political axe and they should be ashamed of themselves,” Ron Reagan said of the restrictions. “We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology.”  Reagan’s mother Nancy also supported this position.

In September 2004, he told the Sunday Herald newspaper that the George W. Bush Administration had “cheated to get into the White House. It’s not something Americans ever want to think about their government. My sense of these people is that they don’t have any respect for the public at large. They have a revolutionary mindset. I think they feel that anything they can do to prevail — lie, cheat, whatever — is justified by their revolutionary aims” and that he feared Bush was “hijacking” his father’s reputation.

Reagan later wrote the essay “The Case Against George W. Bush by Ron Reagan” for Esquire. He voted for Democratic candidate John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. Reagan endorsed then-senator Barack Obama of Illinois for president in the 2008 presidential election. In November 2015, Reagan endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2016 Democratic Party primaries.

Ron Reagan lives in Seattle. He married Doria Palmieri, a clinical psychologist, in 1980. She died in 2014 from neuromuscular disease. They had no children.

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Fred Webber

Frederick Webber

Fred Webber (Wikipedia)

Fred Weller was born in New OrleansLouisiana, the son of lawyers Carole and Francis Weller In 1966.  He is a 1984 graduate of Jesuit High School, a Catholic all-boys high school in New Orleans. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1988. He then studied acting at The Juilliard School as a member of the Drama Division’s Group 21 (1988–1992).

In 1993, Weller was one of the main regulars in the TV series Missing Persons. He has made guest appearances in episodes of Law & OrderLaw & Order: Special Victims UnitLaw & Order: Criminal IntentMonk and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He has also appeared in several well-received films, such as StonewallThe Business of StrangersThe Shape of Things, and the 2000 drama/miniseries The Beach Boys: An American Family portraying the character Brian Wilson.

Weller was initially successful as a stage actor, and stage acting is still his biggest passion. He performed in Neil LaBute and David Mamet plays and films. He appeared on Broadway in 2003 in the Tony award-winning play Take Me Out in which he appeared completely nude, and in 2014 in the Terrence McNally play Mothers and Sons. In 2018 he appeared on Broadway as Bob Ewell in Aaron Sorkin‘s To Kill a Mockingbird, an adaptation of Harper Lee‘s novel.

Weller has also played lead roles in many successful independent films, including Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things (with Paul RuddRachel Weisz and Gretchen Mol), James Toback’s When Will I Be Loved (opposite Neve Campbell) and The Business of Strangers (with Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles).

Weller starred in the USA Network comedy-drama series In Plain Sight as Deputy U.S. Marshal Marshall Mann. He worked closely with Mary McCormack (Deputy U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon) during filming.

Weller married actress Ali Marsh on September 6, 2003.  They have a daughter Azalea, born in 2007, whose godmother is his In Plain Sight co-star Mary McCormack.

He is a cousin of actor Peter Weller.


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Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas (Wikipedia)

Marlo Thomas was born in 1937 is an American actress, producer, author, and social activist best known for starring on the sitcom That Girl (1966–1971) and her award-winning children’s franchise Free to Be… You and Me. She has received four Emmys, a Golden Globe, and the George Foster Peabody Award for her work in television, and she has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. She has also received a Grammy award for her children’s album Marlo Thomas and Friends: Thanks & Giving All Year Long. In 2014, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony, the highest honor that a civilian can receive.

Thomas serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was founded by her father Danny Thomas in 1962. She created the Thanks & Giving campaign in 2004 to support the hospital.

Marlo Thomas was born on November 21, 1937, in DetroitMichigan, the eldest child of comedian Danny Thomas  (1912 – 1991) and his wife, the former Rose Marie Cassaniti (1914 – 2000). She has a sister, Terre, and a brother, Tony Thomas, who is a television and film producer. Her father was a Roman Catholic Lebanese American and her mother was Sicilian American. Her godmother was Loretta Young.

Thomas was raised in Beverly Hills, California. Her parents called her Margo as a child, though she soon became known as Marlo, she told The New York Times, because of her childhood mispronunciation of the nickname. She attended Marymount High Schoolin Los Angeles. Thomas graduated from the University of Southern California with a teaching degree: “I wanted a piece of paper that said I was qualified to do something in the world,” she said. She also was a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta.

Thomas appeared in many television programs including BonanzaMcHale’s NavyBen CaseyArrest and TrialThe Joey Bishop ShowThe Many Loves of Dobie GillisMy Favorite Martian77 Sunset Strip, and The Donna Reed Show, among others. Her big break came in 1965 when she was cast by Mike Nichols in the London production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, co-starring Daniel MasseyKurt Kasznar, and Mildred Natwick. In 1986, she was once again cast by Nichols on Broadway in Andrew Bergman’s Social Security, co-starring Ron Silver and Olympia Dukakis.

Thomas and her father, Danny, were cast as Laurie and Ed Dubro in the gripping 1961 episode, “Honor Bright”, on CBS’s Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre. In the story line, Dubro, a former convict, opposes his daughter’s plans to marry a neighbor, Vince Harwell (Ed Nelson). When Harwell’s current wife suddenly arrives at the church to stop the wedding, Laurie flees and is crushed to death by a team of horses racing through town. Dubro plots a unique way to punish Harwell, but it costs him his own life in the process.

Thomas starred in an ABC pilot called Two’s Company in 1965. Although it did not sell, it caught the attention of an ABC programming executive. He met with Thomas, and expressed interest in casting her in her own series. With their encouragement, Thomas came up with her own idea for a show about a young woman who leaves home, moves to New York City, and struggles to become an actress. The network was initially hesitant, fearing audiences would find a series centering on a single female uninteresting or unrealistic.

The concept eventually evolved into the sitcom entitled That Girl, in which Thomas played Ann Marie, a beautiful, up-and-coming actress with a writer boyfriend, played by Ted Bessell. The series told the daily struggles of Ann holding different temporary jobs while pursuing her dream of a career on BroadwayThat Girl was one of the first television shows to focus on a working, single woman who did not live with her parents, and it paved the way for many shows to come. Thomas was only the second woman to produce her own series, following Lucille BallThat Girlaired from 1966 to 1971, producing 136 episodes, and was a solid performer in the Nielsen ratings.

In 1971, Thomas chose to end the series after five years. Both ABC and the show’s sponsor, Clairol, wanted the series finale to be a wedding between the two central characters, but Thomas rebuffed them, saying that she felt it was the wrong message to send to her female audience, because it would give the impression that the only happy ending is marriageThat Girl has since become popular in syndication.

After That Girl, eager to expand her horizons, Thomas attended the Actors Studio,[8] where she studied with Lee Strasberg until his death in 1982, and subsequently with Strasberg’s disciple Sandra Seacat. When she won her Best Dramatic Actress Emmy in 1986 for the TV movie Nobody’s Child, she thanked both individuals.

Thomas at the 41st Primetime Emmy Awards, September 17, 1989

In 1972, she released a children’s book, Free to Be… You and Me, which was inspired by her young niece Dionne Gordon. She went on to create multiple recordings and television specials of and related to that title: Free to Be… You and Me (1972, 1974) and Free to Be… A Family (1987), with Christopher Cerf. Also in 1972, she served as a California delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida.

In 1973, Thomas joined Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin as the founders of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the first women’s fund in the US. The organization was created to deliver funding and other resources to organizations that were presenting liberal women’s voices in communities nationwide.

In 1976, Thomas made a guest appearance on the NBC situation comedy The Practice as a stubborn patient of her father Danny Thomas’s character Dr. Jules Bedford, and the chemistry of father and daughter acting together made for touching hospital-room scenes.

She has made guest appearances on several television series, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (as Judge Mary Conway Clark, a mentor of ADA Casey Novak), BallersThe New NormalWet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. She also narrated the series Happily Never After on Investigation Discovery. From 1996 to 2002, Thomas played Jennifer Aniston’s mother, Sandra Green, on the TV show Friends.

Thomas appeared in films such as Jenny (1970), Thieves (1977), In The Spirit (1990), The Real Blonde (1997), Starstruck (1998), Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999), Playing Mona Lisa (2000), LOL (2012) with Demi Moore and Miley Cyrus, and Cardboard Boxer (2014). She also starred in television movies including It Happened One Christmas (1977; also produced) (a remake of It’s a Wonderful Life),[9] The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck (1984; also produced), Consenting Adult (1985), Nobody’s Child (1986; Best Dramatic Actress Emmy), Held Hostage: The Sis and Jerry Levin Story (1991; also produced), Reunion (1994; also produced), Deceit (2004; also produced), and Ultimate Betrayal (1994).

Thomas’s Broadway theatre credits include Thieves (1974), Social Security (1986), and The Shadow Box (1994), and in 2011, she starred as Doreen in Elaine May‘s comedy George Is Dead in Relatively Speaking during a set of three one-act plays (The New York Times called Thomas’ performance “sublime”). The other two plays were written by Woody Allen and Ethan Coen.

Off-Broadway, Thomas has appeared in The GuysThe Exonerated (in which she also appeared in Chicago and Boston, co-starring with Brian Dennehy), The Vagina Monologues and Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Also off-Broadway, she appeared opposite Greg Mullavey in the 2015 New York debut of Joe DiPietro‘s play Clever Little Lies at the Westside Theatre.[11] Regional theatre productions include: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Hartford Stage; Woman In Mind at the Berkshire Theatre Festival; Paper Doll, with F. Murray Abraham at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre; and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds at the Cleveland Playhouse. In 1993, she toured in the national company of Six Degrees of Separation. In the spring of 2008, she starred in Arthur Laurents’s last play, New Year’s Eve with Keith Carradine, at the George Street Playhouse.

Thomas has published seven best-selling books (three of them #1 best-sellers): Free to Be… You and Me; Free to Be… A Family; The Right Words at the Right TimeThe Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2: Your TurnMarlo Thomas and Friends: Thanks & Giving All Year Long (the CD version of which won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children); her 2009 memoir, Growing Up Laughing; and  It Ain’t Over…Till It’s Over: Reinventing Your Life and Realizing Yours Dreams Anytime, At Any Age.

Thomas serves as the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which was founded by her father, Danny Thomas. She donated all royalties from her 2004 book and CD Marlo Thomas and Friends: Thanks & Giving All Year Long (also produced with Christopher Cerf) and her two Right Words at the Right Time books to the hospital.

In 2010, Thomas created MarloThomas.com, a website for women aged 35+, associated with AOL and the Huffington Post.

Thomas is the recipient of four Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a Grammy Award, a Jefferson Award, and the Peabody Award.

In 1979, the Supersisters trading card set was produced and distributed; one of the cards featured Thomas’s name and picture.

In 1996, she was awarded the Women in Film Lucy Award in recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.[13]

On November 20, 2014, the Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education and Collaboration was opened as part of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.[14] Hillary Clinton presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

On November 24, 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Thomas the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor an American civilian can receive, at a White House ceremony.

Thomas was in a long relationship with playwright Herb Gardner.

In 1977 Thomas was a guest on Donahue, the television talk show, when she and host Phil Donahue “fell in love at first sight.” They were married on May 21, 1980 and together they raised his five children.

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