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Looking for a 7/4 movie suggestion?

Well, I always pretty much have the same one, and it’s showing today on TCM at 11:30/2:30.

Fans of the terrific HBO “John Adams” miniseries in particular might find this a refreshing alternative take on the founding fathers and just how the Declaration of Independence came to be written and signed. True, it’s a little stagy and far from the best Broadway-to-Hollywood transfer in movie history, at least on a strictly cinematic level. At the same time, it’s a cracking entertainment with first-rate wrting and indelible performances by William Daniels (“The Graduate,” “St. Elsewhere”) as Adams, Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard (“The White Shadow”) as eventual president Thomas Jefferson, and the once-blacklisted veteran character actor Howard Da Silva (“The Lost Weekend,” “Sgt. York”), for me, the definitive Benjamin Franklin. There’s also a nice appearance by a crush-inducing Blythe Danner (she became Gwyneth Paltrow‘s mom the same year the 1972 film was released) as a slightly ahistoric Martha Jefferson.

Now, if this is the first time you’re hearing of “1776,” there is one major difference between this and other cinematic history lessons, but you’ll that figured out by about 2:47 or by reading the name of the video.

Yeah, it’s a musical. The songs are by the late Tin Pan Alley songwriter turned history teacher Sherman Edwards and the great, if necessarily theatrical, dialogue is written by Peter Stone (“Charade”). Live with it. Here’s another favorite number with great work by Daniels, Da Silva, and Howard based on real opinions the three great men held.

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“Inglourious Basterds” tops SAG Awards (updated)

The win for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” for Quentin Tarantino‘s high-spirited war picture was the closest thing to a surprise for the Screen Actors Guild awards last night. Considering the genuinely outstanding performances “Inglourious Basterds” contains from such non-multiple award winners or nominees as Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Daniel Brühl, and Brad Pitt among others, this gives me a happy.

inglourious-basterds_pic2_m1

Otherwise, however, these awards getting almost as repetitious as our May and June weather forecasts in Southern California. (Say it with me, L.A. residents: “Late night and early morning low clouds followed by hazy sunshine in the afternoon.”)

So, guess what…The Best Supporting Actor trophy went to basterd par excellance Christoph Waltz, who at this point pretty much owns the category with his uber-first class bad-guy performance as the “Jew hunter” Colonel Hans Landa. Similarly Mo’Nique from “Precious” once again took the Best Supporting Actress for her work as the abusive mother of the title character in the lauded but controversial drama. The only thing likely to be more dramatic than her Oscar acceptance award would be the howls of disappointment if she somehow doesn’t win.

Jeff Bridges, too, is looking like a lock for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a down at heel country musician in “Crazy Heart,” as he picked up another trophy tonight. Apparently, everyone just decided this was Jeff Bridges’ year. It’s about time.

One award SAG has that the Oscars don’t, and probably should, is for stunt ensembles and that went to “Star Trek.” Well, that’s a refreshing change of pace.

A complete list of the SAG awards, which also covers television (three cheers for “Mad Men” and the great Betty White!), is viewable courtesy of the New York Times.

UPDATE: Oh by gosh by golly! I forgot to mention the one acting award where there will be some suspense at this year’s Oscars, and that’s Best Actress, which is shaping up to be a real battle between Meryl Streep’s interpretation of Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” and Sandra Bullock‘s red state Samaritan in “The Blind Side.”  Chalk the SAG awards as one up for Team Sandra.

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SAG Members Vote “Yes” on New Contract, 78% to 22%

As reported by Variety and Nikki Finke, the acrimonious battle between factions of the Screen Actor’s Guild ended in a huge victory for the more status quo forces backed by Adam Arkin, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, and Sally Field, as opposed to what I guess I have to call the more radical, or perhaps, activist wing of the guild as embodied by Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Melissa Leo and, in certain interviews, a very acrimonious Ed Asner.

Alan RosenbergIn what has to be a huge defeat for embattled guild president Alan Rosenberg, 78% of the 30% percent who voted sided against him and for the plan. He nevertheless says he will run again and I’m sure he’s not wrong when he cites the economy as a major factor in the vote. (You can see videos from both sides of the dispute from a past PH post here.)

Especially now that the outspoken Nikki Finke herself is aware of our existence, I’m terrified of saying something stupid about a topic I barely understand. (A little sad to have even less of a head for nuts-and-bolts business matters than actors, but there you go. Also, I’m jumping on this particular news train very late in the story.)

I will say, however, that as a resident of Southern California, residing in Anaheim South Hollywood, I am a little relieved. I’m sure there was a case to be made by the “No” side, but, for the rest of us, a major strike is not what we need out here, at least in the short term. At the very least, we’ve also been spared a catastrophic run on Two Buck Chuck in the wine section at Trader Joe’s.

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SAG & Swift & Stuff

Steve Benen, who is the main guy at the terrific political blog of the liberal Washington Monthly, frequently posts what he calls “mini-reports,” and as someone who desperately needs an efficient verbal containment device that will discourage me from running off at the keyboard, I’m borrowing his format. You can’t copyright asterisks, can you?
Tom Hanks
* Fortunately for readers, my eyes glaze over just as quickly as yours do when you the subject is proposed union contracts. Nevertheless, the ongoing Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) vote is important stuff and I can’t completely ignore it, even if I’m utterly unsure how I’d vote if I were in the union. Furthermore, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what happened to the current president of the union, Alan Rosenberg, who I gather has been stripped of his authority by the “new majority” who favor a proposed new contract. I could go on, but I’m already experiencing a minor case of mind melt, so here are the dueling videos: For “Yes” — Tom Hanks. For “No”: a bunch of talented but far less famous folks, including Tom’s good friend Ron’s dad. And a very long, but kind of interesting comment by Justine Bateman. More of this to come, I suspect.

* Ever heard of Tom Swift? I barely have myself, but I gather he was the hero of a series of pre-”Hardy Boys” type adventures with a touch of Jules Verne about a boy inventor. With bigwigs rummaging through such relics of a more polite time in popular culture as “Tintin,” it makes sense that Hollywood (director Barry Sonnenfeld, of “Men in Black” fame, included) is taking an interest.

* Box Office Mojo has some revisions. “Terminator Salvation” beat “Drag Me to Hell” after all.

* THR likes “The Hangover”, and I could go for a Bloody Mary right about now, myself.

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