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Dustin Hoffman - Up Close & Personal

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Dustin Hoffman's 42-year stage and screen career is legendary. From his edgy breakthrough performance in The Graduate, which paved the way for ethnic-looking actors in male leading roles, to his comic portrayal of both Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie, Hoffman's impact on American cinema is almost unequaled. These thoughts are from an informal interview/talk Hoffman gave that I was fortunate to have attended.

On becoming an actor

I never thought about being an actor when I was growing up. My parents put a piano in front of me and decided I was going to be a concert pianist. In those days, if you were black, you wanted to own a Cadillac and if you were Jewish, you wanted your son to be a concert pianist. So acting wasn't even a thought in my head. I only took an acting course in college because I was a terrible student and was told that no one fails acting—it was like gym class.

On landing his first starring role

In those days, you had to be tall, Aryan, blonde with blue eyes to get a leading part. These were values that the Jewish studio heads wanted. They created a kind of Christian, gentile reality. So for The Graduate, originally they wanted Robert Redford for the part of Benjamin Braddock, the WASP from New England as it's written in the Charles Webb novel. When they asked me, I didn't think I could play a role like that. Guys who were short and ethnic-looking, like me, didn't play roles like that. But then [director Mike] Nichols said to me, "Did you read the book?" and I said, "Yes." And he said, "Did you think it was funny?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "Well, maybe [Benjamin Braddock] is Jewish on the inside." And that's how he talked me into doing a test for it.

On his movie Ishtar

What the movie says is: Isn't it more important to spend your life doing what you're passionate about, albeit second-rate, than to be first-rate and successful at something that you don't care about. Even though it's a flawed movie, I still love it.

On culture in Los Angeles

There is a lot of culture here in Los Angeles; you just have to kind of look for it. The one thing that Los Angeles lacks is the ability and spontaneity to walk out the door and not know where you're going and not care. Here, you have to know where you're going because if you walk, you'll get stopped by a cop.

On gratuitous violence in Hollywood

I will not pick up a gun on camera unless the scene absolutely calls for it. I remember hearing President Clinton speak at CAA (Creative Artists Agency), and he said the kids who are affected by violence in films don't have families. It's very romantic for them, he said, because the gangs are their families. So violence gives them a sense of identity, whereas for us it's just entertainment. And everyone at CAA applauded and I said to my wife that I'd like to tell the President: "Mr. President, I want you to know when you're finished speaking and all these people go back to their offices, they're not going to change their behavior one iota because it's money to them." So I do feel very strongly about this.

On volunteering and philanthropy

I don't think I'm a good example because I made a choice to spend all my time being an artist and raising my family. When I hear how other people are so active with causes, my first thought always is: I hope their kids are getting it first. I mean, I have six kids and that's a lot of work. Maybe now is the time I'll start to get involved because the kids are out of the house. But it's hard for me because I'd like to know where the money is going. You hear that money raised for Tsunami relief never reached the people. I've given to individuals at times, but I'm very quiet about whatever I do. And when people ask of my time, I do it if I can because it is gratifying. I should probably do it more often.

photo courtesy PLATON/CPI

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5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.


The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.


Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):


A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."


When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”


Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in October
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NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Netflix subscribers are already counting down the days until the premiere of the new season of Stranger Things. But, as always, in order to make room for the near-90 new titles making their way to the streaming site, some of your favorite titles—including all of 30 Rock, The Wonder Years, and Malcolm in the Middle—must go. Here’s everything that’s leaving Netflix in October ... binge ‘em while you can!

October 1

30 Rock (Seasons 1-7)

A Love in Times of Selfies

Across the Universe

Barton Fink


Big Daddy


Cradle 2 the Grave

Crafting a Nation

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest

Daddy’s Little Girls

Dark Was the Night

David Attenborough’s Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates (Season 1)

Day of the Kamikaze

Death Beach

Dowry Law

Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief

Friday Night Lights (Seasons 1-5)

Happy Feet

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison




Love Actually

Malcolm in the Middle (Seasons 1-7)

Max Dugan Returns


Million Dollar Baby

Mortal Combat

Mr. 3000

Mulholland Dr.

My Father the Hero

My Name Is Earl (Seasons 1-4)

One Tree Hill (Seasons 1-9)


Picture This

Prison Break (Seasons 1-4)

The Bernie Mac Show (Seasons 1-5)

The Shining

The Wonder Years (Seasons 1-6)


October 19

The Cleveland Show (Seasons 1-4)

October 21

Bones (Seasons 5-11)

October 27

Lie to Me (Seasons 2-3)

Louie (Seasons 1-5)

Hot Transylvania 2

October 29

Family Guy (Seasons 9-14)


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