Tag Archives: Tom Hanks

The new Mr. Rogers movie was fabulous, and a lot deeper than I thought. Seven years after the tragedy, a thrilling moment for Newtown, Conn. And in the NFL, the 49ers inexplicably lose, while Eli gets a sweet sendoff

I went into the movie theater Saturday night to see a movie I’ve been excited about for months, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” with certain expectations.
I felt reasonably certain I’d like it, since it was about Mister Rogers and starred Tom Hanks. I thought it’d be mostly lighthearted, it would be acted well, and I thought it would be focused on Hanks as Rogers, a perfect match of actor and subject.

Well, I was wrong about almost all of my preconceptions. This was a fabulous film, but it was NOT all about Fred Rogers, and his story.

It was really about the people in Rogers’ orbit, and how his personal touch, warmth and overall humanity impacted so many.

The movie is based on real-life events, with Rogers and writer Tom Junod the real-life duo here.

Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a cynical, world-weary journalist assigned to do what he thinks is a simple, almost beneath-him assignment: Write 400 words about Mister Rogers for an Esquire issue about heroes.

For a man who does long, thorough, critical investigative pieces, talking to a dude who performs with puppets, for children, would be a walk in the park.

But Vogel is a troubled guy, with a long-standing, cold relationship with his dad, Jerry (played wonderfully by Chris Cooper, who I’ve loved since “American Beauty.”) Vogel has also just become a father himself for the first time, and his patient wife (the very beautiful and very talented Susan Kelechi Watson from “This is Us”) is excited he’ll get to talk to Mister Rogers and perhaps have a reconciliation with his own dad.

And so the movie is really about Lloyd’s journey, more so than about Fred Rogers. And with lesser actors, it might have felt like a cheat, not getting to see the film through Rogers’ eyes. But Rhys is fantastic as always, giving Lloyd depth, and the movie itself goes a lot deeper than I thought it would, into human relationships, forgiveness, and how no man, even Mister Rogers, is a saint.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is warm, sometimes witty, and yeah, a little bit slow at times. But Hanks is terrific, giving Rogers shape and showing him to be a TV perfectionist, as well as someone who always seems to know the right thing to say.

It’s a very, very good movie, that like I said goes a lot deeper into emotions and human behavior than I expected.

Fred Rogers may not have been an actual saint, but he did change and help millions of lives. And that should be celebrated, always.

**Next up, this was by far the best thing that happened in sports this weekend. Saturday was the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, in Newtown, Conn.
This year the anniversary was also the date of the Connecticut state football Class LL championship game, between Newtown and Darien.

The score was tied at 7, there were a few seconds left, and Newtown QB Jack Street launched a pass downfield that wide receiver Riley Ward hauled in for a game-winning touchdown.

It was perfect, and it gave me chills. Many of these kids

 

**And finally today, a look at the NFL as we come down the home stretch of games, and after today I’m sad to report that most playoff spots are pretty well locked up, and there won’t be much drama the final two weeks.

But of course, I’m likely to be wrong, as most people usually are about the NFL.

— Most shocking thing that happened Sunday? No, not the Raiders collapsing, that happens all the time.
It’s the team across the Bay, the San Francisco 49ers, who have looked like the best team in the NFL most of the year, completely laying an egg and getting stunned by the woeful Atlanta Falcons, 29-22, after the Falcons scored a go-ahead touchdown with just two seconds remaining.

Again, do not bet on the NFL, people.

— In what likely was his final home game as a New York Giants starter, Eli Manning led his team to a victory over the putrid Miami Dolphins, and it actually was a sweet moment.

Eli hasn’t played most of the year, and quite honestly he’s stunk for most of the past five seasons when he was playing. But he is and always will be a Giants icon because of two incredible playoff runs that resulted in Super Bowl wins.

There is talk in New York that Manning is a Hall of Famer, and frankly I think that’s nuts. He was never an elite QB, I’m sorry but he wasn’t.
Still, it was nice that he got to go out on a high note, because he did give Giants fans two amazing memories (not that this Jets fan is bitter, nope, not at all, not one bit.)

— The Broncos and Chiefs got to play a snow game Sunday. Man, football in the snow is so much fun.

— Deshaun Watson, I’ve said it before, is so much fun to watch. He led the Texans over the Titans Sunday and I watched a good chunk of this game, and at least four times Watson scrambled out of danger to make plays that he had no business making. I just love this guy.

— The Eagles and Cowboys, the two least bad teams in the NFC East, both won Sunday to get their seventh victory of the year, and they play each other next week so someone will have to win. This assures us that a 7-9 team won’t get to host a playoff game. Now, only an 8-8 team will host possibly a 12 or 13 win team. One of the most asinine rules in the NFL, that a division winner must host, no matter how much worse its record is.

— The Browns. Oh, the Browns. With their playoff hopes still kinda alive, they went and got blown out

Good News Friday: The trailer for the Tom Hanks movie on Mister Rogers looks amazing. Two kids in the stands at a Phillies game make a heartwarming moment. And a 99-year-old Holocaust survivor gives a stirring, hopeful Ted talk.

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in this great wide world. Hope your week has been stellar, and that you’re going to do something fun this weekend, like do a cannonball into a pool or, if you’re like us, finally get to take home a new car (one Honda lease ends, another begins, it’s the cycle of life as our cars keep getting bigger and bigger. Much like our children).

Three great videos to share this week in Good News Friday, starting with one involving America’s greatest dude, Mr. Tom Hanks, and his upcoming portrayal of Mr. Fred Rogers, TV legend.

Even though there have been several documentaries made about this icon of America in recent years (including last year’s outstanding “Won’t you Be My Neighbor?”) Hollywood is making a new Mr. Rogers movie, due out this Thanksgiving.

Starring Hanks, whose image is as pure as was that of Fred Rogers. The trailer for the new film was released this week, and it’s pretty freaking magical. Enjoy…

**Next up today, this happened in the stands last week at a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game, and it wouldn’t be so remarkable if we just didn’t see it very often.

A foul ball was hit into an area where nobody was sitting, and two young boys, who apparently didn’t know each other, both raced for the ball. Then, well, clearly these children are being raised right by their parents.

**And finally today, a heartwarming speech by a man who’s seen so much. Shout-out to my friend Jen M., a loyal blog reader, for posting this on her Facebook page.

Meet 99-year-old Eddie Jaku, a Holocaust survivor who calls himself “The Happiest Man on Earth.” He gave a Ted Talk in Australia this month and it’s fabulous.

His story is not just a tale of Holocaust horrors, but an uplifting message of hope and love. If you watch this 12-minute video and don’t feel better, check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive.

What a man Eddie is! So inspiring.

Good News Friday: Buffalo Bills fans bombard Andy Dalton’s charity with kindness. A news anchor gets a marriage proposal live on TV. And “The Post” does a great job on the Pentagon Papers scandal

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in Internet-land, which can’t be as frigid as it is here in New York. My word was Thursday a horrendous storm day; I usually love snow but this was too much. Happily, it’s over and now it’ll just be 46 below zero today.

Which is a perfect segue to talk about the awesomeness of the people of Buffalo. Yes, Buffalo, the place where even polar bears are like “Can someone turn on a space heater or something?” Buffalo-nians have endured a lot with their sports teams over the years (four straight losses in the Super Bowl by the Bills, the Sabres losing their one Stanley Cup Finals chance on a goal that probably shouldn’t have counted),  and lately they’ve suffered through 17 consecutive non-playoff seasons from the Bills.

But finally last Sunday, thanks to the Bills winning and a remarkable comeback by the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the Baltimore Ravens, the Bills are back in the playoffs.

It truly took a sensational play by Bengals QB Andy Dalton to win the game, and only by the Ravens losing to Cincy did the Bills finally qualify. And of all the ways Bills fans could’ve celebrated their team finally making the playoffs for the first time this century (seriously, 1999 was a LONG time ago), this way the fans responded was the coolest.

Buffalo fans have helped raise more than $400,000, in a week, for Dalton’s preferred charity and the charity favored by Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd, who scored the winning touchdown. Dalton and his wife Jordan’s personal foundation sponsors several community outreach programs, including the Pass It On Fund, which aims to provide medical equipment and financial relief to families with seriously ill or physically challenged children.

And more than $40,000 has been raised for the Western PA Youth Athletic Association, which Boyd played in as a child.

Hilariously, most of the donations have come in $17 increments, since it’s been 17 seasons since the Bills last made the playoffs.

Dalton was overwhelmed by the generosity.

“We are blown away by everybody that’s donating,” he said. “Thank you to all the Bills fans, thank you for anybody that’s just supporting our foundation. Let’s keep it going.”

Very, very cool. How could you not root for the Bills on Sunday against Jacksonville?

**Next up, this kind of thing always, always makes me smile. Evie Allen is a female news anchor at WSIL-TV in Carterville, Ill. She was on the air on New Year’s Day morning when suddenly the weather forecaster started talking about a surprise in the weather and that “ice is coming around the corner.”

Then, out of nowhere comes Evie’s boyfriend Matt, to propose to her live on television. (Please click through, it’s a really sweet, short video)

Such a sweet, sweet genuine moment. Live TV, man, you never know what’s going to happen.

**Finally today, I was 99.9 percent certain I was going to love the new Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep/Steven Spielberg movie “The Post,” because it has those three icons in it, and it’s about a newspaper. In this case, The Washington Post, in 1971, wrestling whether or not to publish The Pentagon Papers, the explosive documents ex-government employee Daniel Ellsberg released to the The New York Times that documented how deep the deception and lies went, over four administrations, to convince the American people that the war in Vietnam was being won.

(And by the way, a fabulous, hilarious touch by Spielberg to have Matthew Rhys, who of course is a Russian spy on “The Americans” play Ellsberg.)

The story follows the Post’s female publisher, Katherine Graham (Streep), and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) wrestling with the legal, political and moral implications of running the Papers.

Both leads are, of course, fabulous, and there are a ton of other great actors you’ll recognize here, including Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, and the fantastic Bob Odenkirk playing the reporter who brings the Post the actual papers.

The drama is presented realistically, as there’s no 100 percent clear right answer, and watching Streep balance friendship and journalistic responsiblility (something 99 percent of publishers never deal with) was fascinating.

“The Post” is too long, probably by about 20-30 minutes, but other than that, it’s fantastic. I believe it comes out nationwide in a few days, I highly recommend it.

Between “Spotlight” and “The Post,” we’re on a roll with great movies about newspapers!

 

A rare good election night for Democrats has me cautiously optimistic. Three idiot UCLA basketball players about to encounter the China justice system. And Tom Hanks helps a man propose, awesomely

The last few election cycles, it’s been really hard being a Democrat.

Our candidates have been pummeled almost nationwide, losing local, state and oh yeah, federal races with pretty alarming regularity. It’s been so bad. Need I remind you about who the bigoted, sexual-assaulting man who currently inhabits the Oval Office is? He ain’t a Democrat.

So Tuesday night, after a long but great day for us featuring my new son’s bris (more on that Friday, I promise there’ll be no photos of the snipping), I was happy to, for once, see some Democrats doing well and winning races.

Way too early to say this is a rebuke of Trump and the GOP by America, but encouraging signs nonetheless.

Some quick thoughts on a rare election night when I’m happy:

— Let’s relax with all the “the Dems are back and will take back the Senate in 2018!” stories, national media. I saw way too many of those in just a brief look around Twitter Tuesday night (and geez, I’m so glad Twitter now gave everyone 280 characters. I’m sure it’ll lead to saner Trump Tweets).

Of course it’s good that Democrats won some races. But for a real, legitimate sign things are turning, let’s at least see what happens on Dec. 12, when batshit crazy former judge Roy Moore, who’s to the right of even Ted Cruz for God’s sake, is on the ballot for a U.S. Senate seat against Democrat Doug Jones. That’s a race that could have huge national implications.

Still, it was nice to go to bed feeling that maybe, maybe things were turning around. As horrible as Trump has been and will continue to be, maybe he will end up reviving the Democratic party nationally. With wins in the governor’s races in New Jersey (bye bye Chris Christie, we’ll miss you so much!) and Virginia, two blows were struck against awful ideas and intolerance.

Baby steps. But important ones. A few more election thoughts…

— A couple of very uplifting and cool election results from Virginia Tuesday, besides Democrat Ralph Northam winning the Governorship. First, in a beautiful piece of truth being more interesting than fiction, Virginia elected its first-ever trans woman to become a state delegate, as Danica Roem (pictured above) will represent District 13. What’s even more fabulous is Roem defeated Ralph G. Marshall, who wrote a anti-trans “bathroom bill” in Virginia earlier this year that was defeated.

Man, that’s gotta burn Marshall up. I hope he’s so burned up he’s got to go throw up in a public bathroom, and a trans person is in the next stall.

— Also in Virginia, you may remember in 2015 the absolutely horrific on-camera, live murder of a local TV reporter named Alison Parker. I can stomach just about anything on the news but I have never and will never watch that, it’s just too much. Parker’s boyfriend, Chris Hurst, was also a reporter but after what happened to her, left the media and decided to start a political career, in hopes of helping change some gun laws. Well, Hurst won his first race Tuesday, elected into the Va. House of Delegates.

“I know that Alison is with us and she’s smiling,” said Andy Parker, Alison’s father. “I’m so proud of Chris and all that he’s done with this campaign.”

— Bill de Blasio was easily re-elected as mayor of New York City. I voted for de Blasio, I generally like him, and I still have hope that he’ll end up being a good mayor. So far he’s been … a so-so mayor. He fights stupid fights with the press, comes off as impossibly arrogant and wildly defensive for a man who had to know the mayor of NYC gets criticized, and he seems to think he’s bigger on the national stage than he is. All of those things can be fixed, I just don’t know if de Blasio can do it, but I hope he can because he truly has good ideas about fixing income and housing inequality here in New York City.

**Next up, today, more proof that Tom Hanks is America’s coolest guy. He was at a book festival in Texas last week promoting his new collection of writing when, all of a sudden, he told the crowd he was bored of answering questions and wanted to ask one.

It was a marriage proposal from a man named Ryan McFarling to his girlfriend Nikki Young. Because this is 2017 and everything is videotaped, we are lucky to have footage of it. Her reaction at :26 is awesome.

** Finally today, the three college kids in this story deserve the title of “too stupid to be in college.” For some idiotic reason (read: money), Georgia Tech and UCLA’s men’s basketball teams are opening their season in China this week. An incredible amount of travel and school missed to play one game. But hey, happens all the time now in college hoops.

What doesn’t happen all the time is that three UCLA players, including LiAngelo Ball (L.A. Laker Lonzo Ball’s brother) were arrested Tuesday and charged with shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store near their Shanghai hotel.

And you know, they’re in China, so bail is not available, they take shoplifting very seriously, and these kids could face from 3-10 years in prison.

But don’t worry guys, Trump is in Asia right now. I’m sure he’ll take care of everything. Yeah, right.

I mean… really guys? Shoplifting in a Communist country? How stupid can you be?

Good News Friday: Carolina Panthers star Luke Kuechly takes a huge fan on a 21st birthday date. Tom Hanks and Jimmy Fallon do “Kid Theater.” And a man’s 100 love note tribute to his late wife

luke-kuechly

And a Happy Friday to you out there in Internet-land. We’re in the middle of Hanukkah, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is up, and Donald Trump is on his way to Mecca to pray with his favorite people as we speak (ha.)

Lots of good stories and videos this week that came my way. First up, if you’re a football fan you probably know the Carolina Panthers are having an amazing season, as the last undefeated NFL team right now. They’re 12-0, have a really good chance to go 16-0, and are one of the feel-good stories of sports these days.

One more reason to root for them: The huge heart of star linebacker Luke Kuechly. The hard-hitting ‘backer took a local girl suffering from cerebral palsy on a surprise birthday date.

As seen in this story, Jessica Hayes has cerebral palsy, autism, and is half blind. And she had one wish for her 21st birthday: “to meet Carolina Panthers player Luke Kuechly and give him one of my famous hugs.”

Kuechly surprised Jessica with flowers and a limo, and whisked her off to a great night.

See the video here at the bottom; it’s fantastic.

**Next up today, Jimmy Fallon continues to do great, creative work on “The Tonight Show.” This clip is from October but my friend Christine just pointed me to it this week; it’s from a recurring Fallon sketch called “Kid Theater,” where Jimmy and a famous actor read scenes from the actor’s recent movie, with the twist being that elementary school children write scenes for the film just knowing the title.

Tom Hanks and “Bridge of Spies” got the little-kid treatment here; I laughed really hard, especially at the second one.

100lovenotes.upworthy

**Finally today, another example of one man doing one simple thing, that explodes into something wonderful all over the world. This is Hyong Yi, of Charlotte, N.C., pictured with his wife Catherine and their two children.

Catherine died of cancer a year ago, and instead of mourning her death and feeling awful on the anniversary in November, Hyong did something awesome.

He took 100 love notes that he and Catherine had written to each other, and passed them out to strangers on the streets of Charlotte.

He then encouraged each person to pass on the notes to loved ones in their lives, and gave them blank notes to write their own personalized messages.

The hashtag #100LoveNotes has gone viral, and Hyong has heard from people in Scotland, New Zealand, and Canada, among other places.

People have made videos and put them on Twitter, and many of them are in this article here.

“What I wouldn’t give to have one more minute, even a minute, to talk, hold hands with Catherine,” Hyong says. “I want people to take a minute and reflect on that and take time to acknowledge those important in your life.”

Really beautiful stuff here.

The Atlanta Hawks pay your tolls. Tom Hanks with a slam poem about “Full House.” And Tecmo Bowl gets the NFL Films treatment

We start Good News Friday with a tale of an entire pro basketball team doing something nice.

Sure, you could say this was a publicity stunt, but it was still pretty cool.
From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the Atlanta Hawks paid everyone’s tolls on Georgia State route 400.

Yep, everyone’s 50-cent fare was picked up, going both ways, and the mascot (above) was even on hand to hand out schedules.

Course, if I’m a Hawks fan, I might’ve asked “I’ll spend the 50 cents, you think maybe you can use that money to get some decent players? I mean, have you seen our roster?”

**Tom Hanks will do just about anything; he’s reached a level of fame where no matter what he does, his reputation is Master Lock-safe.

So sure, he cursed on “Good Morning America,” last week, but this is way better. On “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” the other night, America’s favorite actor did a slam poem about the show “Full House.” As bizarre and hilarious as you can imagine it would be.

**Finally, I am so looking forward to this. If you’re anywhere between 25-40 and were into sports video games as a kid, you probably loved Tecmo Bowl. It was the greatest sports game ever on Nintendo (slightly edging RBI Baseball, in my opinion). Bo Jackson was unstoppable as a running back, Lawrence Taylor equally unstoppable on defense, and trying to win

The 30-minute NFL Films look at Tecmo Bowl airs today at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on NFL Network.  My DVR is already set.

Amazing they never could just gang-tackle that Bo Jackson fella.