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In these turbulent and divisive times, there are precious few thing things that most Americans can agree on. The fact that Betty White is a national treasure is one of those few things. As the iconic actress celebrates her 99th birthday, I take a look back at her illustrious career, examine the qualities that made her an icon, remember the extraordinary moment that I got to meet her, and list ten classic moments from her career that are readily available to stream.

A Brief Summary of the Legendary Life and Career of Betty White

She may have been born in Oak Park, Illinois on January 17, 1922, but Betty White is a Los Angeleno through and through. She moved to Alhambra, California at the age of one and Los Angeles a few years later once the Great Depression set in. She has lived in Los Angeles ever since, famously turning down prestigious positions that would make her relocate elsewhere. (The first of many fun facts in this article: She turned town the opportunity to headline The Today Show in the 1960s because she did not want to move to New York and the position subsequently went to Barbara Walters.) …


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Image copyright: Buena Vista Pictures/Hollywood Pictures/Disney

In April 1994, a modestly budgeted, Christmas-set romantic comedy starring Hollywood up-and-comer Sandra Bullock became a surprise success. After 25 years and dozens of viewings, I can confidently argue that it should be a perennial Christmas classic — not to mention the fact that it is perhaps the perfect Christmas movie for this tremendously challenging year.

A Brief History of While You Were Sleeping

When While You Were Sleeping was released 25 years ago, Oscar-winning film icon Sandra Bullock was just breaking out. A key role in the surprise blockbuster Speed the year before had made her one of Hollywood’s hottest new commodities. …


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Image copyright: Republic Records/Taylor Swift

On December 10th, Taylor Swift made an announcement that no one saw coming — the imminent release of her 9th studio album within 24 hours. The news came less than 5 months after she dropped her 8th studio album, also inspired by and written and produced within her COVID-19 isolation. The “sister album” (as she calls it) continues many of the same wrenching lyrical themes and bold musical arrangements of the prior album while also going in new and exciting directions.

an overview of evermore

On July 24, 2020, Taylor Swift sent shock waves through the music industry when she unexpectedly dropped her 8th studio album, folklore. She had always spaced out her album eras by more than two years and this album came less than a year after her 7th studio album, Lover. In addition to being a surprise (announced to the world less than 24 hours before its release), it was also notable for three other reasons. The first is that it was the first high-profile music release produced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second is that it represented a marked departure from Taylor Swift’s increasingly pop music-oriented sound. …


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Image copyright: NBC/Universal/Peacock

Last month, NBC/Universal’s new streaming service Peacock debuted a sequel series to the iconic teen comedy Saved by the Bell, which ran in various iterations from 1987–2000. Developed by Emmy-winning 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield, the sequel has the same setting and brings several familiar faces back, but its markedly different style and tone have been divisive, with some giving raving reviews and others decidedly unimpressed. Here’s my take.

The Origin

Although it may have seemed wildly out-of-left-field and woefully unnecessary to some, there are actually three reasons that reviving Saved by the Bell in 2020 actually makes a lot of sense. …


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This Christmas season brings new content featuring Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, the “Star Wars” crew, and Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn (clockwise from top left; image copyright information later in the article)

Despite the halted production that affected most of Hollywood during the COVID pandemic, there are a number of brand new Christmas movies and specials that have come to streaming services in recent weeks. Here, I review ten of the most high profile ones, which feature a vast array of talent ranging from legendary musicians like Dolly Parton and Mariah Carey to Oscar winning movie icons like Goldie Hawn and Forest Whitaker to hot young stars like Kristen Stewart and Dan Levy to lovable fictional characters like Bugs Bunny and the Minions.

It is hard for many to imagine the holidays without the festive movies, television specials, and music that have embedded themselves into popular culture over the last several decades. …


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Image copyright: Sony/Universal/Warner Bros.

This month marks the 25th anniversary of my favorite movie of all time. Written by a pre-West Wing Aaron Sorkin, directed by a post-When Harry Met Sally… Rob Reiner, and featuring a sterling ensemble that included some of the finest work of Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, and Michael J. Fox’s careers, The American President is a highly underrated, politically charged romance. It was released to warm critical reception and strong but unspectacular box office, but never got the following that I believed it deserved. …


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Cast photo from the original “Saved by the Bell” (Copyright: NBC/Universal)

A sequel to the iconic Saturday morning sitcom Saved by the Bell, which centered on the antics of preppy schemer Zack Morris and his friends at Bayside High, launches this coming Wednesday on NBC/Universal’s new streaming platform Peacock. In preparation (and out of a desperate need for comfort and nostalgia during the pandemic) I rewatched the entirety of the original series this year. As it turns out, revisiting a childhood obsession after 25 years is a wild and thought-provoking ride.

I spent nearly 48 hours rewatching the entirety of Saved by the Bell in 2020. …


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Janet’s four consecutive masterpieces: 1986’s “Control” (Copyright: A&M Records), 1989’s “Rhythm Nation 1814” (Copyright: A&M Records), 1993’s “janet.” (Copyright: Virgin Records), and 1997’s “The Velvet Rope” (Copyright: Virgin Records)

During her 45-year career, Janet Jackson has established herself as a legend and an icon with 10 #1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, 5 Grammys, and one of the few spots occupied by a black woman in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But her astonishing artistry frequently gets overlook amidst her famous family, tabloid scandals, and evolving musical trends. In this article, I briefly review her life and career and countdown her greatest songs.

A Very Brief Biography of Janet Jackson


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Image from DWilliams via Pixabay

Recently, I have come dangerously close to succumbing to cynicism and apathy regarding our nation’s future. But this potential downward spiral was reversed when I shifted my attention away from Twitter and the news and toward the remarkable example set by those who keep fighting despite unprecedented challenges.

We are now in the home stretch of the seemingly interminable 2020 U.S. election. Rather, I should say that we are in the home stretch of voting in the election as it has become all too clear that one or both parties contesting the results is more likely than not. It is the most important election in generations and so much hinges on the outcome. …


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Cover art for Mariah Carey’s Memoir (Image copyright: Andy Cohen Books)

Since July, Mariah Carey has released over 200 obscure tracks from her ’90s heyday, a collection of notable unreleased songs that had been speculated about for decades, and a critically adored, best selling memoir that tells her life story while digging deep into complex issues of racism, sexism, and poverty. It has been a profoundly successful bid to cement her legacy and reclaim her narrative.

2020 has been a dumpster fire for virtually everyone.

But not for Mariah Carey.

She started off 2020 remarkably strong, entering the fourth decade of her career with the #1 song in America. Her perennial Christmas classic “All I Want for Christmas Is You” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time 25 years after its release in December 2019 and stayed there for three weeks. It broke dozens of records, including slowest ascent to #1 for any song in history and Mariah becoming the first artist in history to score a #1 song on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart in four separate decades. …

About

Richard LeBeau

Passionate cinephile. Music junkie. Classic TV lover. Awards Season Blogger. History buff. Social justice advocate. Avid traveler. Clinical psychologist.

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