The Essential Philip Seymour Hoffman

When I glanced at my e-mail alerts on Sunday and saw that Philip Seymour Hoffman, arguably the greatest film actor of his generation, had died of a probable drug overdose, I felt the same mix of sadness and anger that came over me when Whitney Houston died. Again, a performer taken way too soon… again a drug death preceded by reports that the artist was “clean and sober”…again that empty feeling of a creative resume half-filled, never to be completed. …

The Gummer Girls Follow Mom Into Acting

If you’ve been watching The Newsroom on HBO this season, you may have noticed something familiar about the young actress who plays Hallie Shea, one of the reporters following Mitt Romney through the Republican primaries of 2012. She is played by Grace Gummer, 27, and she is the second of Meryl Streep‘s daughters to take up her mother’s profession. Grace’s older sister, Mamie, 30, a Northwestern University graduate, starred in last year’s short-lived CW show Emily Owens, M.D., makes occasional appearances as …

Bob Dylan Recognized by Stuffy American Academy of Arts and Letters

While the world was watching for white smoke from the Vatican chimney, the undisputed master of American songwriting in the post-Tin Pan Alley era was himself inducted into an exclusive club. Officials of the American Academy of Arts and Letters announced that Bob Dylan had been elected, the first rocker to make the cut for a stuffy Academy that may be trying to remake its image. (In fact, as the Associated Press pointed out in its story about Dylan’s election, …

Now Read This!: March Memoir Madness

Memoirs are tricky. The best of them, like Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle, are brutally honest stories that have you laughing at a feckless father’s shenanigans in one moment and crying over a callous mother’s dismissal of her daughter in the next. The worst are what I call “stunt memoirs” – gimmicky accounts of quixotic adventures the author never would have undertaken without a publisher’s advance in hand. You can tell you’ve come across a stunt memoir by examining its …

‘Emily Owens’ a Win for Meryl’s Daughter Mamie

Shhh.  Don’t tell anybody we’re here.  In the ageist world of TV, especially broadcast TV, it is no longer enough to ignore viewers 50 years of age and above. Now, if we become fans of a show, it can actually hurt its chances for survival. Right, Kathy Bates? So as we venture into the youth-centric CW network for a look at Emily Owens, M.D., let us all tiptoe and refrain from loud conversation. Watch the show, but - God forbid - do …

Free AARP Member Movie Screening – Hope Springs on Aug. 1st

Blog readers! Hi! It’s Jenn from the Communications staff here at AARP Illinois  Would you like to come and hang out with us at the movies next week? We’ll buy!  AARP Members are invited to a free AARP Movies for Grownups pre-release screening of Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell.  Our staff is really excited that we’re doing such a fun event  (seriously we’ve been discussing it in the hallways all week) and we hope that you and your friends and family …