In 6th grade, when Rotten Tomatoes Senior Editor Grae was arranging movie outings for all her friends, she picked the movie. Through the years studying film at the University of Texas at Austin, being honored by Sundance and the Director’s Guild of America, and working as a filmmaker in Los Angeles, she realized how terrible she was at keeping her opinions to herself. The Popcorn Mafia podcast was born, and led to her becoming CNN’s movie critic. She also has dished the dirt with stars on HLN’s Showbiz Tonight, Fox News, G4’s Attack of the Show, and is a regular at the TV Guide Network and the Reelz Channel. Her passionate thoughts can also be heard on terrestrial radio all over North America. And just to note, she still won’t let other people pick the movies.
Movies this week:
- Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
This year, the beloved characters created by Charles M. Schulz will celebrate their 65th anniversary as part of the fabric of our culture. Hailed as one of the greatest cartoonist not only of his generation, but of all time, Mr. Schulz had the ability to take the most ordinary circumstances of everyday life and turn them into poignant observations as told through voices of a group of kids (and a beagle). Although he never thought of himself – or the characters he created – as opinion leaders or trendsetters, whether he realized it or not, Mr. Schulz was clearly ahead of the time with regard to social commentary and the influences his words had on a generation of readers. It’s no wonder that Mr. Schulz found himself at the center of attention with the introduction of the character Franklin to the strip in 1968. Not only was Franklin the first African American to make an appearance in the strip (and become a permanent fixture), he was the first minority character in a major, mainstream comic strip. Given the climate of race relations in 1968, a country (and world) still mourning from the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the introduction of Franklin to the established world of PEANUTS was not only timely, but retrospectively, groundbreaking. Mr. Schulz found inspiration and encouragement from the unlikeliest of sources: a suburban school teacher in Los Angeles, California named Harriet Glickman.
Shortly after the assassination of Dr. King, Ms. Glickman wrote to Mr. Schulz regarding the lack of minority representation in the PEANUTS. By 1968, with Emmys, a Peabody Award and a global merchandising program, PEANUTS was at the height of popularity. Given the success of the strip, Ms. Glickman believed that Mr. Schulz – and his voice – could bridge a gap and influence attitudes on race relations. Known for imparting words of wisdom through the voices of kids, Mr. Schulz possessed the ability to organically weave socially relevant topics into the comic strip without even realizing, and Harriet Glickman knew it, believing the brand – and she stated in her letter to MR. Schulz – had a “stature and reputation which withstand a great deal.” Last year, the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California displayed the letter and correspondences between Ms. Glickman and Mr. Schulz (which spanned three months) in an exhibit on the social commentary throughout the comic strip. The timing of Ms. Glickman’s initial letter to Mr. Schulz was no coincidence. In his first response back to Ms. Glickman, Mr. Schulz empathized with the schoolteacher by writing, that he and other cartoonists at the time were aware of the lack of minority characters, but were unsure of just how to integrate a minority character with being patronizing to a particular culture. To alleviate those concerns, Ms. Glickman reached out to her African American friends to candidly ask for their thoughts on the matter. The response was overwhelming.
On July 31, 1968, Charlie Brown, while on summer vacation with Sally, Linus and Lucy at the beach is seen looking out at the ocean, when Franklin approached, having found Charlie Brown’s beach ball. As simple as that, the first African American character was introduced into the world of PEANUTS. When summer ended, Franklin became a “regular” in the strip, appearing as a classmate of Peppermint Patty and Marcie (and a player on Peppermint Patty’s baseball team). While the introduction of Franklin widely drew praise from both critics and fans, it was not without its detractions. Schulz received one that one letter from fans opposing the idea of Franklin attending school with Peppermint Patty and Marcie. Mr. Schulz ignored them – and Franklin would go to appear in TV specials (his first appearance was in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”) and movies and remained a central character for the of the strip. For her part in all of this, Ms. Glickman remain proud as ever to be associated with the iconic character and strip.
Alka Dhillon is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Technalink, Inc. Technalink has provided information technology (IT) services and management consulting solutions to both government and commercial clients for 15 years. Ms. Dhillon has over 19 years’ experience in the information technology and management consulting industry.
In addition to her responsibilities as CEO of Technalink, Ms. Dhillon uses her passion for technology as platform to give back. She is committed to empowering youth to explore entrepreneurship and careers in science and technology. Ms. Dhillon is passionate about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and is a keynote speaker for the Girls in Technology organization (GIT) on the subject of Entrepreneurship and STEM to inspire more girls to pursue STEM related careers. Ms. Dhillon is actively involved in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and serves as a board member.
Ms. Dhillon has been honored with numerous awards not only for her professional achievements, but also for her commitment to serving her community. Her accolades include receiving the 2012 BRAVA! Women Business Achievement Award presented by SmartCEO, the Top 100 Women Leaders in STEM, the 2013 Locally Grown honor by Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and the Abe Veneable Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement presented by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Agency (MBDA).
Ms. Dhillon is the author of “THE OM FACTOR: A Woman’s Spiritual Guide to Leadership – 7 Essential Tools and 7 Key Traits to Cultivate for Your Success and Well-Being”. THE OM FACTOR is a user-friendly program of techniques that will help anyone, but especially women, be better at their jobs, more productive in their work, and happier in their personal lives.
Ms. Dhillon holds B.A. degrees in Economics and Spanish from the University of Virginia.
Possessing an effervescent personality and embodying the beauty, grace, class and charm of old Hollywood, it’s no wonder Cheryl Ladd remains one of Tinseltown’s favorite actresses. Since her big break as one of the beloved “Charlie’s Angels,” Ladd’s career has traversed television, film, and Broadway, and the beautiful actor-singer-author is still very much a triple-threat!
This August, audiences will see Cheryl starring in the Hallmark Channel movie ”Garage Sale Mysteries: The Wedding Dress” opposite Lori Laughlin. Cheryl will also be a guest star alongside series lead Liev Schreiber on the third season of Showtime’s hit “Ray Donovan”. Ladd will be playing ‘Tina Harvey’, a longtime game show hostess. She is currently shooting FX’s “American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson”. She will portray Linell Shapiro, the wife of Simpson’s defense attorney Robert Shapiro (portrayed by John Travolta). Ladd recently guest starred as the love interest to Martin Sheen in Charlie Sheen’s FXX comedy “Anger Management”. Last year saw the release of the faith-based film THE PERFECT WAVE, starring Ladd in a lead role. Her other recent credits include Ladd singing and dancing as ‘Mrs. Claus’ in the Disney musical THE SEARCH FOR SANTA PAWS: SANTA PUPS 2 as well as starring as an unhinged love interest to medical examiner ‘Ducky’ (David McCallum) on television’s highest-rated drama, CBS’ “NCIS”. She also appeared on “Chuck”, Hallmark’s “Love’s Resounding Courage”, and “CSI: Miami”.
A classic beauty and one of America’s sweethearts since her days as an “Angel”, Ladd made a memorable appearance alongside fellow angel and friend Jaclyn Smith to pay tribute to the late Farrah Fawcett and John Forsythe at the “TV Land Awards” several years ago. Prior to that, Ladd had a recurring role on NBC’s drama “Las Vegas” playing ‘Jillian Deline’, the wife of James Caan.
An avid golfer with a respectable index of 14, she authored Token Chick: A Woman’s Guide to Golfing with the Boys in 2006, an autobiographical book recounting her experiences in the sport of golf. The book follows Ladd’s experiences from being introduced to the game by her husband to stories of celebrity golf tournaments and pro-ams, as well as pointers for players of all skill levels.
A tireless humanitarian, Ladd has had the honor of being the first woman to receive the prestigious “Hubert H. Humphrey Humanitarian Award” by the Washington D.C. Touchdown Club for her continuing philanthropic endeavors. She is an ambassador for Childhelp USA – one of the largest national non-profit organizations dedicated to the research, prevention and treatment of child abuse, and was the recipient of the “Woman of the World Award” from Childhelp USA in 1987. Every year, Ladd teams with actor John O’Hurley to host a celebrity golf tournament to raise funds and awareness for ChildHelp USA, the forthcoming event happening in January 2012.
Moving effortlessly between mediums has always been second nature for Ladd, and the seasoned performer demonstrated such versatility when she starred as ‘Annie Oakley’ in “Annie Get Your Gun!” on Broadway. Her lifelong dream became a reality when she replaced Bernadette Peters in the Tony Award-winning musical.
Born and raised in Huron, South Dakota, Ladd spent her childhood focused on singing, dancing, acting – and moving on. While in high school, Ladd sang with a local group called “The Music Shop”, which brought her to Los Angeles upon graduation. The band eventually broke up, but Ladd stayed in L.A. intent on pursuing her dream of becoming an actress. In just a short time, she got her first professional break as the singing voice of ‘Melody’ on the cartoon series, “Josie and the Pussycats”. Armed with talent and perseverance, Ladd quickly added a string of significant credits to her resume, including the comedy/variety series, “The Ken Berry WOW Show”, with Steve Martin and Teri Garr. Ladd was then cast in the role of ‘Kris Munroe’ on “Charlie’s Angels” and was instantly catapulted into stardom. While still on the series, she developed and starred in the ABC telefilm, “When She Was Bad”, which dealt with the harsh realities of child abuse. Ladd’s numerous television credits include guest star roles on the sitcoms “Hope and Faith”, “Jesse” and a recurring role on “Two Guys and a Girl”. Additional television credits include “Though None Go With Me”, “Eve’s Christmas”, “Grace Kelly”, “Perfect Little Angels”, and “Every Mother’s Worst Fear” for the USA Network. The latter film, about a mother’s search for her teenage daughter who is abducted by someone who met her while surfing the internet was particularly special to Ladd, as it allowed her to star opposite her real-life daughter, Jordan Ladd. Feature film credits include BAGGAGE with Barry Bostwick, A DOG OF FLANDERS opposite Jon Voight, PERMANENT MIDNIGHT with Ben Stiller, POISON IVY with Tom Skerritt and Drew Barrymore.
In her spare time she keeps busy writing and developing new projects. She co-authored a children’s book with her husband of 34 years, Brian Russell. The book, “The Adventures of Little Nettie Windship”, teaches the value of good citizenship and championship. She also enjoys spending time with her Labradoodle, Crockett, and taking long walks in the hills surrounding her home in the Santa Ynez valley. Ladd’s focus, however, always remains on her acting.
11:15AM (PST) – Barnet Bain, award-winning Hollywood producer and director, radio broadcaster, creativity expert, and author of the book, “The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love, and Work”
Barnet Bain is an award-winning Hollywood producer and director, radio broadcaster, and creativity expert. Select film credits include Oscar Award–winner What Dreams May Come (producer); Emmy Award–nominee for Best Picture, Homeless to Harvard (executive producer); The Celestine Prophecy (writer, producer); The Jesus Film (writer); and The Lost and Found Family (director). Barnet is a member of the Transformational Leadership Council and a founding member of the affiliated Association of Transformational Leaders. He is also a contributing blogger for Huffington Post. Barnet consults and trains business leaders and private clients who are committed to high performance. Through his workshops, telecourses, and training seminars, Barnet guides people of all ages and walks of life to expand their vision of what is possible, step into their purpose, and contribute their gifts and talents with passion.