Theater Review (Bethesda): ‘Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett’

Carol Burnett

Photo of Carol Burnett, courtesy of the Strathmore

I first discovered The Carol Burnett Show around the year 2000, when I was 12 years old. I loved watching those half-hour reruns every weekday after school, admiring those greats of comedy from the 1970s: Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, and of course, Carol Burnett. Mention the show to anyone who has seen it and there’s a good chance you’ll be reminiscing together the Gone with the Wind parody, the Tarzan calls, Mama’s Family, and other scenes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wil Wheaton Pushes STEAM at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton at the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Credit: Pat Cuadros

Thousands converged upon Washington, DC, last weekend for the fourth USA Science & Engineering Festival. The Festival is regarded as the largest STEM education event in the country, with family-friendly demonstrations and talks. They focus on guiding young people with interests in the career fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In addition to educators and professional associations, well-known scientists and even entertainers offer their insights on these exciting opportunities.

Actor and blogger Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation; Big Bang Theory) was one of the celebrity guests at hand for the festivities this year. On Sunday morning, he introduced the winners of the Generation Nano Awards on behalf of the National Science Foundation and the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The competition required high school students to imagine their own superheroes with powers emerging out of nanotechnology. With the angle on comic books and visual design, it was fitting that legendary comic-book writer Stan Lee joined Wil Wheaton (virtually) to extend his congratulatory sentiments to the winners. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview, Part 2: Bonnie MacBird, Author of ‘Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure’

Cover Art for 'Art in the Blood'

Courtesy of Bonnie MacBird

Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure follows Holmes and Watson in December of 1888 as they investigate a kidnapping, murder, and art theft. The author, Hollywood screenwriter Bonnie MacBird, recently met with me when I was on assignment with Blogcritics. She explained the influence of her screenwriting experience on the development of the novel. In this final part of our interview, MacBird discusses the research process and what’s next in her Sherlock Holmes series.

At your panel, you spoke about how great it is to find “research gold” in your preparation for a book. Can you mention a couple of other examples of historical facts you included?

Yes, there were several besides the finding of Dr. [Henri] Bourges, who is the Watson to [artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec]. Lautrec threw a lot of parties. There’s a picture in the annotations of them and obviously they had a lot of fun.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview, Part 1: Bonnie MacBird, Author of ‘Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure’

Photo of Bonnie MacBird

Courtesy of Bonnie MacBird

Bonnie MacBird visited the Virginia Festival of the Book to promote her latest book, Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure. Her long career as a screenwriter, producer, and director includes the screenplay for the original TRON as well as three Emmy Awards and eleven Cine Golden Eagle Awards. A lifelong Sherlockian, MacBird lives in Los Angeles and takes frequent trips to London.

Is this your first time at the Virginia Festival of the Book?

Yes, it’s my first time and I love it! I’m very impressed with Charlottesville. It’s beautiful. The whole town and the festival itself are quite impressive.

I know you have a background as a screenwriter, producer, and actress. You’ve put on a Sherlock Holmes play, The Blue Carbuncle. What was the transition like from screenwriting to novel writing?

My background is in the movie business. I’ve been 35 years in the entertainment business in Los Angeles. I started as a studio exec. I did development and that meant reading literally thousands of scripts. I think during that very formative time in my career, I got many lessons on story structure by doing that and working on screenplays, which are highly structured pieces of writing. Then I was a screenwriter for a number of years. I was the original writer of the movie, TRON, and then did a bunch of other scripts that sold. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview: Mark Tooley, Author of ‘The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War’

Photo of Author Mark Tooley

Mark Tooley is the president of the Institute of Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. This year marks his first visit to the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, VA. His latest book is The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War.

I don’t remember learning about the Washington Peace Conference in high school.

Even history and civil war buffs don’t know about it or, if they do, they know very little about it! Most history books devote only a few paragraphs. James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, one of the best overall histories about the Civil War, [has] only two and half pages. It’s a neglected and forgotten topic. There hasn’t been a book about it specifically since the 1950s.

Why is it important? Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview: Lisa Jakub – Author of ‘You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up’

Photo of Lisa Jakub

The 22nd Virginia Festival of the Book is underway this week in beautiful Charlottesville, VA. Produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Festival brings together authors known locally and nationally for interesting and enlightening panel discussions. Lisa Jakub was there on opening day to promote her memoir, You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up. She also spent a few minutes with Blogcritics to discuss her work.

A former actress, Jakub is perhaps best known for her roles in Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day. She left the acting profession at the age of twenty-two and now works as a writer. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Jeremy, and their rescue dog, Grace.

Have you been to the VA Festival of the Book before?

I have! I have attended for several years in a row now. It makes it even more exciting to actually be able to participate because it’s an event that I always look forward to. Read the rest of this entry »

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From the Archives: My Exclusive Interview with Mark Barrett from ‘Barney Thomson’

Photo of Actor Mark Barrett

Mark Barrett, Credit: Matt Swift

Readers may recall that I caught up with Robert Carlyle during the Whistler Film Festival for the North American premiere of The Legend of Barney Thomson. The actor’s directorial debut tells the story of hapless barber, Barney Thomson, who accidentally falls into serial murder. At the Q&A, Carlyle (TrainspottingOnce Upon a Time) gave credit to a young Scottish actor, Mark Barrett, for his contributions in the rehearsal process. “A lot of aspiring young actors ask for your advice and they never do it!” Carlyle exclaimed on that snowy evening in December. “But Mark, he did become an actor.”

Naturally, Carlyle’s words may have left readers wondering about Mark Barrett, who also has a small role in the black comedy as barber Ricky Callahan. I reached out to Mr. Barrett to find out more about his experiences working on Barney Thomson. The twenty-eight-year-old actor was more than happy to sit down for his first official interview. However, his excitement was tempered by a startling sense of maturity and intensity in his gaze: revealing a sharp and discerning fellow who takes his work seriously. Read the rest of this entry »

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