Helen Thomas, longtime White House journalist, has died

White House news correspondent, Helen Thomas, is dead at 92. Ms. Thomas will always be noteworthy in American journalism for having shattered the glass ceiling as the foremost White House correspondent of her generation. An iconic and prickly writer of conscience, she was always willing to speak her mind and was at her best when she once growled, Listen up, Mr. President. In 2009, we brought Ms. Thomas to Ann Arbor for a special event at the Michigan Theater cosponsored by Michigan Radio. We also had the good fortune to interview Ms. Thomas. We have both the video and interview available for streaming and downloading.

Described Video Service/DVS

AADL continues to grow its collection of films that have a Descriptive Video Service or DVS feature. More films are being produced for children and adults that are Described Video Recordings for L Card users to borrow. There are comedies, action, animation, horror and science fiction films available. Many can be sent by mail to our WLBPD patrons as Free Matter for the Blind. If there's a member of your family who has been missing out on movies due to low-vision, look at our list of described videos that you can watch together!

Twenty Feet From Stardom Returning to the Michigan Theater

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If you want to leave the Michigan Theater on Friday night with a smile on your face and a song in your pocket, check out Twenty Feet From Stardom, the delicious documentary about back-up singers. Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Wonder and other stars talk about the amazing work of these talented artists but it’s the women themselves who stay with you. The film will run through Thursday, July 18th. The 26 year old editor of this film, Jason Zeldes, is a Michigan native who is working on directing his own film, Romeo is Bleeding. Full disclosure–he is my own nephew and I think he is a remarkable storyteller!

“There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!”

In the mood for a throw back cartoon that will transport you to your days of youth? “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” Underdog is an American animated TV series that ran from 1964-1973. It featured the mild mannered Shoeshine boy (dog!) who transforms himself into a super hero canine by eating a super energy pill he keeps in his ring. (Incidentally, when the series re-ran on the Nickelodeon channel the network chose to edit out the pill popping part.) Revisit this gem and watch Underdog fight villains the likes of Riff Raff and Simon Bar Sinister, all in the defense of his love, Sweet Polly Purebred. For a more modern version, check out the 2007 live action movie released by Disney that features Jason Lee, Peter Dinklage and Amy Adams.

Find us at the Rolling Sculpture Show!

This Friday, July 12 from 2 - 8 pm, drop by the AADL tent (on Liberty between Main and 4th Avenue) at the Rolling Sculpture Car Show to play Pictionary, get extra points for the Summer Game, and play with trucks in sand. We can tell you all about our programs and give you a rest before you take in more rolling sculptures!

He is Legend

The world-renowned author and screenwriter, Richard Matheson died last week. He is remembered for having written numerous episodes for the legendary TV series, the Twilight Zone, but also for his science fiction novels , many of which were made into movies, such as I am Legend (made into 3 different movies: the Last Man on Earth; the Omega Man; and, most recently, I am Legend with Will Smith); the Shrinking Man (made into the 1957 classic movie, the Incredible Shrinking Man); Bid Time Return (made into the movie filmed at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Somewhere in Time); and Steel (most recently made into the movie, Real Steel). He has a long list of screenwriting credits to his name including the classic Edgar Allan Poe movie adaptations directed by Roger Corman like the Pit and the Pendulum. For me the most memorable piece he ever wrote was an episode of the Twilight Zone called Nightmare at 20,000 Feet with William Shatner as the airplane passenger who sees a monster tearing apart the plane’s wings as they are in flight. This was also remade in Twilight Zone: the Movie. He was creative all his life, having been first published at eight years old and writing through his 80’s. He was 87 when he died.

"Women Who Make America" Details Struggle for Equality

Makers: Women Who Make America is a three-part PBS documentary narrated by Meryl Streep. The film delves into the story of the birth of the modern women’s movement and covers five decades of women’s struggle for equality at home, work and life. I expected to have this documentary on in the background as I worked on other things, but found the film so engrossing, I watched all of it in one sitting.

The story of activism, feminism and what became known as women’s liberation is told through old film footage and interviews with women who did more than stand by and watch; they brought about change one move at a time. The women come from social, economical, and political backgrounds that are as varied as their personalities. They are flight attendants, coal miners, mothers, politicians, secretaries, writers, actresses, telephone operators and executives.

With retro music and advertisements, "Makers" quickly pulls the viewer into the stories and lives of women such as Judy Blume, Sandra Day O’Connor, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, Nora Ephron, Geraldine Ferraro, and Hillary Clinton.

James Gandolfini, a.k.a. the iconic Tony Soprano, has died

James Gandolfini, an award-winning actor on both large and small screens, has died.

Gandolfini blasted his way into the public's consciousness with his nuanced portrayal of Tony Soprano, the complicated head of a New Jersey mob family in HBO's popular series, The Sopranos, which first aired in 1999. Tony Soprano was, by turns, violent enough to beat a man to death for dissing the memory of his dead horse, henpecked by his wife, Carmela (Edie Falco, cowed by his mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand), and anxious enough to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco).

Mr. Gandolfini, a Jersey man through and through, was a graduate of Rutgers. He came late to acting, having sat in on a friend's acting class when he was 25. His first acting role was in Sidney Lumet's 1992 A Stranger Among Us (on order). Many other silver screen roles followed, including the 2001 Brad Pitt/Julia Roberts film The Mexican, in which Gandolfini handily stole the show from both megawatt stars playing a gay hit man.

Mr. Gandolfini racked up an impressive number of awards for Tony Soprano, including three Emmys for outstanding lead actor in a drama, a Screen Actors Guild (2000) and a Golden Globe.

Mr. Gandolfini, who was on vacation in Italy when he died yesterday, was 51.

Enjoy your stay at Pines

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke wakes up on a roadside with initially no recollection of how he got there, but knowing that he is badly injured. As he walks into the idyllic town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, some memories start to surface. He eventually recalls that he and his partner (wherever he is) were on their way to this town to locate two missing federal agents, but their car was struck by a semi. But does he have any proof of who he really is? of course not...Anyway to contact family or work? not a chance (although he tries!)...More mystery and suspense, not to mention a bit of horror and just plain weirdness, meld together into a book that is difficult to put down. If you like the writing stylings of Cormac McCarthy and the eerie storytelling of a Stephen King, then you will love Blake Crouch's Pines ! If you are interested to know more about the author check out his website, http://www.blakecrouch.com

He comments in the afterword that this story was inspired by his favorite TV show, Twin Peaks. And yes the story does take place in a beautiful small-town with odd folks in it and as he says, "...a pitch-black underbelly.", but his story goes somewhere altogether different...

Summer Classics Film Series @ The Michigan Theater

Summer is the time to relax at the Michigan Theater with the cool A/C and some cool movies after a long day of enjoying the sun.

Sundays and Tuesdays all summer long there will be a variety of films playing at the Michigan Theater as part of their Summer Classics Film Series, which kicks off June 16.

Enjoy big screen viewings of Blazing Saddles, Vertigo, A Night at the Opera, Dirty Dancing, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Planet of the Apes, Rocky, Sing-A-Long The Sound of Music, The Kiss, Lawrence of Arabia, Run Lola Run, and Casablanca.

For the night owls there’s another film series also playing at the Michigan this summer. The Summer Classics After Dark Series happens Thursday nights at 10pm and will feature films such as Django, Eraserhead, Taxi Driver, Willow, Sing-A-Long Trapped in the Closet, and Psycho. Be sure to check the full schedule for times and be ready for popcorn and movies. Or there's always the AADL copy to get you by.

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