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7 Fun Facts About the White House Movie Theater

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White House Flickr

“The best perk in the White House,” Bill Clinton once said, “is not Air Force One or Camp David or anything else. It’s the wonderful movie theater I get here.”

There’s no shortage of amenities at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but perhaps the most culturally significant is the White House Family Theater, which has been playing everything from classic American films to shameless campaign promos since its inception in 1942. To get a feel for the establishment, check out this video about a 50th-anniversary screening of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) held by the Obamas last year:

In addition to its entertainment value, the family theater’s also become a valued tool with which the president may drive his political agenda. For instance, while fighting to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, George W. Bush invited Ted Kennedy to attend a viewing of Thirteen Days (2000), which favorably depicted JFK’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis, as part of a successful campaign to enlist the senator’s support. Here’s a quick look at the remarkable history of this unique film-going venue.

1. The First Movie Screened In The White House Was The Birth of a Nation 

Films were being shown in the presidential mansion long before the Family Theater was ever conceived. The Ku Klux Klan’s propaganda masterpiece has the distinction of being the very first shown there, during a special viewing for the Wilson administration in 1915, which the 28th president enthusiastically praised.

2. The Theater Was Originally A Coat Room

Located in the East Wing, the sizable space was converted at FDR’s request during his third term. Since then, it’s been renovated several times, as you can see in this slideshow:

3. Dwight Eisenhower Issued a Robert Mitchum Boycott Throughout His Presidency

Ike was quite fond of westerns, which were all the rage during the '50s, and took in several dozen of them while in office. But after perennial western star Robert Mitchum was arrested for marijuana possession, Eisenhower refused to watch any movie that gave him so much as a cameo, getting up and exiting the theater every time he spotted the acclaimed actor’s face on screen.  

4. The Last Movie John F. Kennedy Ever Saw Was From Russia With Love

According to most of his staffers, Kennedy rarely sat through an entire film, but seemed to relish the James Bond epic—possibly because the original novel was one of his favorite books—which he took in on November 20, 1963. The next day he left for Dallas, and on November 22, he was assassinated.

5. Lyndon Johnson’s Most-Watched Movie Was A Documentary About Himself

Narrated by Gregory Peck (who later earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom from the Johnson administration), A President’s Country (1966) was a 28 minute documentary focused on LBJ’s childhood and was distributed to American embassies worldwide. Though it was never released commercially in the U.S., Johnson watched it 12 times during his term.

6. Richard Nixon’s Favorite Movie Might Have Directly Affected His Foreign Policy

In addition to being widely regarded as one of the greatest biographical films of all time, Patton (1970) was a movie about which Nixon could barely stop talking. His ravings became so notorious that not only did Secretary of State William Rogers describe him as a “walking ad” for it, but the president later had to deny allegations that Patton had influenced his decision to invade Cambodia since he’d screened it twice in the days leading to the campaign.

7. Jimmy Carter Holds The Presidential Film-Watching Record

You might think former actor Ronald Reagan would have taken in more films during his administration, but his predecessor managed to squeeze in over twice as many, despite only having one term to work with. Carter watched 480 movies during his stay in the White House, including the controversial Midnight Cowboy (1969), the first X-rated movie to be shown in the Family Theater (though its rating had long-since been changed to R by the time of Carter’s screening). 

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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.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

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:

"Madmax"
"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.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

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):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

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."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

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.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

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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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

Bella

Big Daddy

Carousel

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

Hellboy

Kagemusha

Laura

Love Actually

Malcolm in the Middle (Seasons 1-7)

Max Dugan Returns

Millennium 

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)

Patton

Picture This

Prison Break (Seasons 1-4)

The Bernie Mac Show (Seasons 1-5)

The Shining

The Wonder Years (Seasons 1-6)

Titanic

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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