Quick Hits: June 9-10-11

***** CONTENT WARNING: DRUG ABUSE *****

***** SPOILER ALERT: CONTAINS CLIPS FROM STRANGER THINGS 4 *****

  • On June 9, 1934, Donald Duck made his debut in Disney’s Silly Symphony cartoon The Wise Little Hen.
  • On June 9, 1980, Richard Pryor suffered second- and third-degree burns over half his body. Pryor had become addicted to freebasing cocaine and that evening, in a drug-induced psychosis, he doused himself with 151-proof rum and set himself on fire. Pryor spent six weeks in the Sherman Oaks Hospital burn unit. Given his age and the extent of his injuries, Pryor had only a 25-35% chance of survival, but he defied the odds. Two years later, Pryor incorporated a joke about the incident into his stand-up act, Live on the Sunset Strip.
  • On June 9, 2014, Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine.

Speaking of Laverne Cox, this exists and it is glorious.

Cox’s Orange Is the New Black co-star Samira Wiley also killed it.

  • One of my favorite film composers, James Newton Howard was born in Los Angeles on June 9, 1951. Howard dropped out of USC’s music program after six weeks and worked as a session musician for artists like Diana Ross and Ringo Starr. In 1975, he got his big break when his manager arranged an audition with Elton John; Howard joined John’s road band and arranged strings for iconic singles like “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”. He began composing music for films in 1984, with David Lynch’s Dune. Howard has nine Oscar nods to his name; among his nominated scores are The Fugitive, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Michael Clayton.
  • Thanks to Stranger Things 4, Kate Bush’s iconic “Running Up That Hill” is back on the charts in a bunch of countries, including the US. In fact, the song is currently sitting at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at #30 in 1985; it is now Bush’s first US top-ten single, thirty-seven years after its initial release. As a longtime fan, I adore the idea of an entire generation discovering Kate Bush’s music.
This scene is one of the highlights of the new season, thanks to Sadie Sink’s Emmy-worthy performance and the magic of Kate Bush
Bush’s original music video for “Running Up That Hill”
  • Volume 2 of Stranger Things 4 will be released on July 1; this is the only teaser Netflix has released, but I’m sure we’ll get a longer trailer in a week or two.
  • The teaser for Amazon’s A League of Their Own reboot has arrived. The series will premiere on August 12. I am 100% here for this.
  • On June 10, 2003, Wicked opened at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco after two weeks of previews. Much of the original cast – including the Tony-winning Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, and Norbert Leo Butz – went on to star in the Broadway production. Wicked debuted at the Gershwin Theatre on October 30, 2003; the Gershwin is still home to the show, which is now the fifth-longest-running Broadway musical in history. Wicked won three Tonys, seven Drama Desk Awards, and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
  • On June 10, 2007, HBO aired “Made in America”, the series finale of The Sopranos. The episode, which ends with a quick cut to black/silence, caused quite a stir. Many viewers mistakenly believed their cable or DVRs had malfunctioned (FYI for you youngs, streaming was in its infancy in 2007 and most people used either cable or DVDs to watch their favorite programming). The final scene has been the cause of much speculation over the years; the clues were there that Tony was about to become the victim of a mob hit (presumably by the guy at the counter in the Members Only jacket) but “Don’t Stop Believin'” is playing on the tabletop jukebox, Journey imploring us to hope for Tony’s survival. Regardless of your interpretation, it is brilliant filmmaking. At the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, “Made in America” earned David Chase the prize for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, and the series itself won Outstanding Drama Series. With those wins, The Sopranos tied Hill Street Blues for the most-honored drama series in Emmy history (Game of Thrones now tops the list).
  • Nashville, Robert Altman’s brilliant dramatic musical/political satire, was released on June 11, 1975. Nashville, generally regarded as Altman’s magnum opus, follows its two dozen-ish main characters over the course of five days leading up to a fundraising concert for a third-party candidate’s presidential campaign. The cast – including Lily Tomlin, Scott Glenn, Keith Carradine, Ned Beatty, Geraldine Chaplin, Ronee Blakley, Shelley Duvall, and Karen Black – is one of the greatest assembled for a motion picture. One of Altman’s trademarks was on-set improvisation, and Nashville was no exception; not only did his actors improvise much of the dialogue (with Joan Tewkesbury’s script acting as a “blueprint”), but they also wrote and performed their own songs. Nashville was a modest box office success and a critical darling. At the 48th Academy Awards, Nashville received five nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress for both Tomlin and Blakley, and Best Original Song for “I’m Easy”, which was written and performed by Carradine.
<swoons>
Keith Carradine won Nashville‘s only Oscar
  • After two years of COVID-related delays, the American Film Institute (AFI) has honored Julie Andrews with its Life Achievement Award. Among the evening’s presenters were Carol Burnett, Steve Carell, Cynthia Erivo, Gwen Stefani, and the surviving actors who played the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. TNT will air the ceremony next Thursday (June 16) at 10 PM; clips from the event should be available on AFI’s YouTube channel the following morning.

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