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Stars in School Plays

High school actors dream of one day becoming famous for their craft. They imagine a future date when they are sitting on a late night tv show and the host pulls out a video clip of them performing in whatever play they are currently doing in school.  This dream may motivate them to a better performance, but the future rarely works out that way.

A significant percentage of today’s movie and tv stars did get their start in high school productions of plays and musicals. They learned their craft and first experienced the thrill of performing at an early age.  Whether in drama  or speech classes, community theater, or just trying out for the high school play, they took their chance, and years later, it paid off.

Oscar Winners

Anne Hathaway — from the girl in The Princesses Diaries to an Oscar for Les Miserables, Hathaway has portrayed a dizzying array of characters, but it all started in Millburn High School in New Jersey. The actress also appeared in numerous productions at the Paper Mill Playhouse in shows like Gigi and Jane Eyre.

Tom Hanks — having earned multiple Academy Awards and nominations, Hanks memorably thanked his high school drama teacher during one of his acceptance speeches, outing the man who shaped his early performances.  At Oakland’s Skyline High School, Hanks cut his teeth acting in plays and musicals like South Pacific.

TV Stars

Steve Carrell — while he has now moved on to starring in film, Carrell was first a start for work on The Daily Show and an iconic role in The Office.  The actor studied acting at Middlesex School in Massachusetts where he notably started as an old man in You Can’t Take it With You in 1980.

Ashton Kutcher – now one of the highest paid actors in television, Kutchner has had starring roles in That 70s Show and Two and a Half Men. He attended high school in Iowa at both Washington High School and Clear Creek Amana High School. At the latter he appeared in plays like Little Shop of Horrors.

Chris Colfer — before getting paid to play a high school musical star, Colfer was a high school stage star. He performed at Clovis East High School where he not only acted in productions like Man of La Mancha, but also began writing and directing his own plays.

Other Stars

Here are some other stars who had notable high school performances:

  • Debra Messing — Greenwich High School, title role in Annie
  • Dianna Argon — Burlingame High School, Marty in Grease
  • Gennifer Goodwin — Lausanne Collegiate School, Olivia in Twelfth Night
  • Bill Murray — Loyola Academy, Caine Mutiny
  • Lady Gaga — Sacred Heart (Manhattan), Adelaide in Guys and Dolls
  • Rainn Wilson — New Trier Township High School, title role in The Frog Prince
  • Sean Hayes — Glenbard West High School, Harvey in Bye Bye Birdie
  • Woody Harrelson — Lebanon High School, Li’l Abner

Teachers looking to inspire tomorrow’s stars can find lesson plans for speech and communications at

Watch a Behind the Scenes Look of Man of La Mancha and see if you can spot Chris Colfer:
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March 24, 2014 at 2:44 pm Comments (0)

Celebrities with Financial Problems

The American Dream tends to equate celebrity with wealth and overall success. In reality, many celebrities are unprepared for the financial complexities that can accompany success in their given field. As a result a number of actors, musicians, singers, and other celebrities have faced their share of financial problems.

Here are some of the most famous incidences of celebrity financial difficulties.

Lauryn Hill — The rapper/songwriter spent time in jail in 2013 for tax evasion and will be under home confinement for a year as a result of failing to pay over $1 million in federal and state taxes.

Nicholas Cage starNicholas Cage — The Academy Award winning actor at one time owed over $14 million in taxes and faced jail time of his own.  By working closely with the IRS and seriously scaling back on his formerly extravagent lifestyle, the actor has managed to reduce his tax debt to $6 million.

Mary J Blige — Chart-topping singer Mary J Blige has defaulted on several loans, including one for her non-profit foundation.  As a result, she is facing various lawsuits totaling over $3.8 million.

Toni Braxton — Another singer who has faced tax and lawsuit problems, Braxton has filed for bankruptcy protection twice. At one time she claimed unpaid debts of $50 million that she was unable to pay.

Stephen Baldwin – Youngest of the Baldwin brothers, the actor also filed for bankruptcy and had his home foreclosed in 2009.  He had debts of more than $2 million at that time. In December 2012 he was arrested for tax evasion and owes over $350,000 in unpaid taxes.

Annie Leibovitz — The iconic photographer to the stars fell victim to circumstances when deaths, estate taxes, a failed book deal, and the birth of twins all contributed to a mountain of debt. At one point Leibovitz owed over $24 million and was facing the loss of ownership of her entire catalog of photographs.

Dionne Warwick — Singer and Psychic Friends Network spokesperson Dionne Warwick owes $10.7 million in taxes and filed for bankruptcy as a result.

Sharon and Ozzy Osborne — The rockstar and the talk show host owed nearly $3 million in back taxes. They managed to avoid jail and have already paid back $700,000 towards their IRS bill.

Younger stars can learn from the mistakes of these, and countless other celebrities, with tax, debt, and lawsuit problems. Otherwise they will find themselves on a list like this one sometime in the future.

Learn about accounting, fraud, and other financial problems at this site:

September 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm Comments (0)

Celebrity Race Car Drivers

Bentley Continental Flying Spur Vs Bugatti Veyron

One big advantage of celebrity is being able to pursue dreams that are out of the reach of most people.  Some of the most popular actors, directors, and musicians have turned their passion for driving fast and their dream of racing into a reality.  Here are some celebrities who were/are also professional race car drivers.

James Dean

The iconic actor loved racing and was able to achieve his dream, racing in the SCCA/Cal Club/Long Beach MG Club Palm Springs Road races, driving his beloved Porsche Speedster.

Steve McQueen

Another actor whose films included racing, McQueen moonlighted as a race car driver.  In 1970 he won the 3 litre class at the 12 Hours of Sebring and only missed the overall win by seconds.  He was also scheduled to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year, but was forced to miss it because he was set to film a movie about the race.

Paul Newman

Another famous actor, Newman played an IndyCar driver in “Winning” and took the training to heart.  After the film was released in 1969, Newman headed to driving school and entered his first professional race just three years later.  In 1979, he took second place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and continued racing well into the 1990s, winning the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1995.

Brian Johnson

In addition to fronting AC/DC, Brian Johnson is an avid collector of vintage race cars. He takes it a step further by driving these vehicles in historic races across the US and competing in celebrity race events.  Johnson more notably competed in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona where he finished 12th in the Prototype class.

George Lucas

Director George Lucas has featured racing in a number of his movies, including futuristic races in the Star Wars movies. Lucas was actually training to be a race driver in high school, competing in underground races, until a near-fatal car accident ended those dreams.  While filmmaking is now his life, he still gets behind the wheel to compete in celebrity races, such as the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the 2007 Long Beach Grand Prix.

Patrick Dempsey

TV superstar Patrick Dempsey has formed his own professional team. Dempsey Racing competed in the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Class and in 2013 entered the American Le Mans Series. In 2009, Dempsey finished 9th at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Frankie Muniz

Muniz gained fame as a young actor in the TV series “Malcolm in the Middle,” but has left acting behind to focus on racing.  Since 2006 Muniz has competed in the Formula BMW USA series and then the Champ Car Atlantic series.

Other celebrities who have found themselves behind the wheel of a race car include “True Blood” actor Stephen Moyer, Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil, and former Olympian Bruce Jenner who won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1986.

Article by Johnny Evans a writer and blogger on racing and motorsports.

August 15, 2013 at 7:46 pm Comments (0)

Top Grossing Movies of 2012

It is not surprising that 2012 has been an interesting year for Hollywood movies. Before the year started, most moviegoers where anticipating several titles that were scheduled to open within the year. As the year draws to a close, here are the Top 8 movies that so far rocked the box office in the Year of the Dragon.

movie popcornThe Dark Knight Rises

The movie failed to hit the mark set by Avatar, which is the highest grossing movie of all time. But it grossed more than $700 million worldwide. It shattered all opening weekend records. It reached the $500 million mark faster than any other motion picture. To date, people are still talking about it especially its unexpected ending.

The Amazing Spiderman

The movie, which earned $368 million in total, is a proof that moviegoers love familiar material. Andrew Garfield and his leading lady Emma Stone surprised the audience with their fresh take on their respective roles. So far, it is the second highest grossing film of 2012.

The Hobbit

Just when everyone thought The Lord of the Rings was over, The Hobbit was released. Its first part generated $356 million at the box office. Interestingly, the movie earned great reviews.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II

The Twilight Saga has come to its end. After making $316 million, this movie has lorded over the box office during its entire stint. Twilight fanatics worldwide did not fail showing support to their most loved motion picture.


Pixar was disappointed with its animated film Cars 2 in 2011, which only generated $191 million at the box office. The company’s Brave did better in 2012, having earned $302 million. The movie is an addition to Pixar’s list of box-office successes like Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2, and The Incredibles.

The Avengers

After making $260 million, this movie beat Thor and Captain America. Despite the unlikely reviews, it still did well at the box office, thanks to the interesting cast.


The movie was not a flop, after making $212 million. It became an indication that moviegoers still love Will Smith despite numerous reviewers’ assertion that this film is his worst since Wild Wild West. No one is expecting MIB 4 soon, though.

hunger games movie ticketHunger Games

Everyone agrees that $210 million does not sound impressive for a film that has been well hyped. But it should be noted that the film was not as big as Harry Potter before it opened in March but it succeeded in expanding its fan base to ensure the success of its sequel.

written by Chip Newell, an entertainment blogger and finance journalist whose guest columns regularly appear on entertainment blogs . He also covers subjects like Money Mutual & Montel Williams for finance and money management sites

June 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm Comments (6)

Brittany Murphy Was Born in Atlanta, Georgia

BrittanyMBrittany Murphy was born in Atlanta, Georgia in November of 1977. She demonstrated talent and a personal magnetism and charm at an early age. She was also a talented singer. Her mother moved the two of them, her parents had divorced when Murphy was two, to Los Angeles in part so that the young performer could pursue her career there. The world is now aware of Brittany Murphy due to the unseemliness and tragic nature of her death and most people associate her with Los Angeles though residents of Atlanta known she was one of their own. Even the tourists who may have heard about her death in the lounge or lobby of an other wise quiet Atlanta hotel may have been surprised to discover she was from that city.

Murphy stared in several Hollywood films during her short but successful career. She first gained popular attention for her appearance in the film Clueless, though she had appeared on various television series prior to that role. Clueless was a comedy and was released in 1995. It was loosely based on the Jane Austin novel Emma, though the stress on this is loosely. Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash were two other stars of this comedy with lots of summer backyard play. The film was not a huge commercial or critical success though it did inspire a television spin off as well as a book series.

Girl, Interrupted was the first film in which Murphy was strongly recognized for her skill and performance. It was released in 1999 and starred Winona Rider and was directed by James Mangold. Angelina Jolie also gained enormous attention as the troubled Lisa Rowe who was a resident in the mental institution in which Rider was admitted. Murphy played another girl in the institution, Daisy Randone, who was a pathological liar. The film was based on a memoir by the same name written by Susanna Kaysen. In her book Kaysen tells the stories and experiences she encountered during her time in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s. Kaysen was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder.

June 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm Comments (0)

Self-sufficiency in the Internet Age

The idea of self-sufficiency is one that doesn’t come around often enough.  It seems to be a pattern that occurs every other generation, where young people decide that it’s time to start making things simpler, and this begins with learning some of the more elementary survival skills.  Of course, there are always going to be subcultures and hidden communities that try to live off the grid for one reason or another, and sometimes these communities have absolutely opposing political viewpoints.  On a more mainstream level, there are people who are exploring the idea of self-sufficiency in the way that Thoreau conceived of it.

The last time it happened on a more mass scale was over a generation ago, when the counter-cultures were at a peak level.  The generation of the 60s came of age in the early 70s, and publications like The Whole Earth Catalog became popular and prevalent.  Perhaps there really is no publication like that one, because it was one of the first and one of the last to try to encapsulate all the information on living a simple life in one place.  One can find very useful articles on things like gardening, home improvement, and auto repair.  The idea of learning these very basic skills has always appealed to people who take a more active role in their lives, and who are not afraid of hard work, even well after the workday is over.

For a generation who were born with computers already in the house, it’s a very different world.  It’s also one where some of the most hopeful dreams of the last generation can be realized.  Part of the idea behind the notion of self-sufficiency is that information is perhaps the most valuable resource.  If people have the information on how to do things, then they are free.  There is energy, momentum, and power in knowledge.  And today’s world has more free flow of information than ever before.

Twenty years ago, a car breakdown would mean one of three things:  one would have to wait by the side of the road for help, or one would have an education in auto repair already, or there would be a manual in the glovebox.  Today, there are those who are knowledgeable about cars, and some much more so than others, but anyone with access to an internet connection can get a gmc online repair manual, and this is essential.  A much higher percentage of the population now has access to information that was difficult to find before.  The dream of Thoreau may still be far off, but there are aspects of the dream that are being born for the very first time right now.

Heather Boone is a journalist and blogger who covers software, the internet, and how technology affects education and society. Her work can be found on blogs like

May 21, 2013 at 11:22 am Comments (0)

Lauryn Hill’s Financial Problems

When Lauryn Hill shot to stardom with the Fugees in the early 1990s, there was no way of imagining she would serve jail time for tax evasion in 2013. Yet that’s exactly what the successful singer, songwriter, actress and producer faces after a court ruling handed down earlier this month.

Hill was sentenced on May 6th to serve three months at a federal prison camp. This will be followed by three months of home confinement to be monitored electronically and another nine months of monitored release. The rapper failed to pay taxes on $2.3 million in earnings and failed to file tax returns for several years.  She pled guilty to three counts of tax evasion in 2012, each count could have led to a year in jail, but the judge instead gave the minimal sentence.

Problems with the financial policies within the recording industry led Hill into seclusion and semi-retirement several times throughout her career.  The fact that the record labels and music conglomerates make hundreds of millions of dollars off her work while she receives a fraction of the profits was combined with a “climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism”  and led to her retreat.  Between 2005 and 2007, she lived what she described as “very modestly” with her children and during that time period she failed to file tax returns in an attempt to maintain her privacy from the media and the industry.

Nathan Hochman, Hill’s attorney, argued that the singer should not serve jail time for her transgressions.  He pointed out that many other celebrities have avoided jail time for tax evasion and that she has no previous legal problems and is the mother of six children.  Prior to sentencing Hill paid $970,000 in taxes for the period in question.

Whether Hill will actually serve those three months in jail has yet to be determined. The singer has signed a new deal with Sony Worldwide Entertainment which will allow her to create her own label and she recently released her first new single in over a decade, “Neurotic Society,” in what many believe is an attempt to end her money problems.

May 16, 2013 at 9:38 pm Comments (0)

Who’s That Racer?

Even if you’re only casually into motorsports, it’s still important to know the big names.  You can fake your way through a conversation about football or the latest Seahawks loss, but do you really know what you’re talking about when the name Shumacher comes up?  If not, then here are a few of the most noteworthy drivers out there today:

Michael Shumacher

Michael Shumacher, though recently retired, is a former Formula 1 driver that is generally considered to be the best of all time.  He’s a seven time world champ, and still holds the record for the most points scored in one year.  On the car show Top Gear, Shumacher was revealed as The Stig, the show’s own anonymous race driver, who has motor oil instead of blood, and is afraid of stairs.

Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick is, hands down, the most successful woman in the history of American open wheel racing.  She got a start in karting, but moved up in the ranks quickly, eventually competing in NASCAR.  To date, she is the only woman to have won a race in the IndyCar series, and currently races full time for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Sprint Cup.  She also moonlights as a model and spokesperson for the domain and hosting website GoDaddy.

Jeff GordonJeff Gordon

Mr. Gordon is another NASCAR star, racing full time for Hendricks Motorsports, alongside Danica Patrick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.  He has won the Daytona 500 three times, and has won the Sprint Cup series four times, so he definitely has some chops when it comes to stock cars.

Sebastian Vettel

It is said that Vettel is a genuinely friendly, decent person, but you would never know that if you only raced against him.  A perfectionist that drives for Red Bull, he is basically an expert on driving technique.  He managed 2nd  overall in the 2012 Formula 1 US Grand Prix, and is a favorite for 2013 as well.  Sure, he’s on a smaller team, but he is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Jenson Button

A Brit driving for McLaren, Button managed 5th overall in the US Grand Prix, but climbed his way to the #1 slot in the Brazilian Grand Prix.  Not too shabby for a racer who, at 33, is notably older than many of his peers.  Especially when you look at his record, which boasts 49 podium finishes, and two awards for Man of the Year from Top Gear magazine.

Yes, there are a ton of other exceptionally talented drivers out there, but this is a good primer on some of the most interesting ones.  Know of a driver they everyone else should follow?  We’d love to know!

February 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm Comments (5)

Celebrities Facing Legal Battles

Celebrities may seem to slide by with a lot of things in life and have many things that others struggle for simply handed to them. One thing that being famous doesn’t do for them, however, is allow them to escape from legal troubles. Celebrities face legal problems just like anyone else, and face struggles that others aren’t likely to contend with in their lives. Being a celebrity does not exempt anyone from having to follow the laws or cope with the same legal system as the rest of us—and may even make it more difficult to approach these problems. Celebrity legal problems can quickly escalate to tremendous scandal in the public eye, which will put additional pressure on already strained emotions.

Some of the common legal problems that celebrities cope with include:

  • Hotly contended high profile divorce
  • Emotionally-charged custody battles
  • Breach of contract claims
  • Complaints against or from managers
  • Drug arrests
  • Driving Under the Influence arrests
  • Personal injury
  • Tax issues

It seems that there is always a celebrity legal scandal on the news. Some of the legal battles that are currently underway include:

lindsay lohanLindsay Lohan

This is a name that no one should be surprised to hear included in a news broadcast. Lohan has been involved in multiple crimes and legal battles, but her most recent has seen her fire her lawyer mere moments before standing in front of a judge in a case of DUI and shoplifting.

Hulk Hogan

The former professional wrestler has seen his share of drama, but in recent years his name has become high-profile for much different reasons. After his extremely public divorce Hogan found himself involved in several legal situations. This most recent issue involves him suing a laser back surgery center for what he deems damaging and unnecessary surgeries. Hogan claims that these surgeries ended his career prematurely.

Josh Bryant

While some celebrity legal battles are funny, this one is heartbreaking. Josh Bryant, member of the Dallas Cowboys, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter for the December death of his teammate Jerry Brown when Bryant drove intoxicated and flipped the vehicle they were in. He faces up to 20 years in prison for the crime.

Milton Bradley

It’s not all fun and games for this unfortunately –named ex-major league baseball player. Bradley has been charged with 13 criminal counts against his wife including assault and battery. Known for his aggressive nature on the field, Bradley is also facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon and witness tampering. He could face 13 years in prison.

Chris Rainey

Another sports-related celebrity that is in hot water is Chris Rainey, former Steelers player. Rainey has been arrested for allegedly dragging his girlfriend out of a car, hitting her in the face and then chasing her and shoving her to the ground. This is not the first time Rainey has faced criminal charges related to a girlfriend. In 2010 he was arrested for stalking when he sent threatening text messages to an ex-girlfriend.

Lucy Watson is a blogger and Phoenix lawyer who writes about prominent legal cases and the legal problems of famous individuals and businesses for various blogs and websites.

January 31, 2013 at 12:36 pm Comments (6)

Top Celebrity Breakups of 2012

Here are some of the top breakups of 2012 — so far.

#7 — Taylor Swift and Conor Kennedy

The 22 year old music star recently broke up with her boyfriend of 18 years, Connor Kennedy. The relationship lasted a whole three month, which is long for Swift. Conor is a high school senior. Many believe he just could not keep up with Swift, who recently released her new album entitled “Red.” The album is doing very well and rumor has it that one of the songs on the album is about their breakup.

#6 — Samantha Ronson and Erin Foster

The nine (9) month relationship between 35 year old disc jockey and song writer Samatha Ronson  and her 30 year old partner Erin Foster , also ended this year.  Foster is an actress, famous for her role in the TV drama ‘The O.C.’ Rosen was previously in a relationship with Lindsay Lohan.

#5 — John Cena and Elizabeth Huberdeau

John Cena decided to call it quits with his Elizabeth Huberdeau in May. As to what went wrong between the two, no one can truly know. The 35 year old wrestler and action movie start stated that the split, after three (3) year marriage, was irreparable.

His wife and former high school sweetheart was not pleased and challenged their prenuptial agreement on the grounds that Cena was cheating on her. They have reportedly settled their differences and the divorce will soon be finalized.

#4 — Dennis Quaid and Kimberly Buffington

Dennis Quaid’s wife has again filed for divorce. This is the second time this year. The 58 year old actor and his wife have been married for eight (8) years and have two children (4 year old twins). Quaid is 18 years older than his wife. Buffington, a graduate of the University of Texas, is believed to be fed up with Quaid’s cheating.

#3 — Heidi Klum and Seal

Thirty-nine year old German business woman and former Victoria secret supermodel Heidi Klum and her husband Seal broke up after more than seven (7)years of marriage.  The 49 year old Nigerian born Seal was reportedly devastated by the divorce. Reports have been circulating that the reason behind the divorce is that Klum was and still is in a relationship with the couple’s bodyguard.  “Fornicating with the help” is what insiders say led to this split. The divorce papers were filed April 6, 2012.

#2 — Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis

Mega movie star Johnny Depp split with girlfriend of 14 years French model Vanessa Paradis, 39. The couple has two children.  It seemed that Paradis just could not handle being away from her home in France. Some fans think that maybe she just got tired of waiting for him to propose.

#1 —  Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Superstar movie actor Tom Cruise, 49, was blind-sided by his wife Katie Holmes, 33, when he was served with divorce papers in early 2012.  It seems Katie is not a fan of Tom’s religion, Scientology. Cruise is perhaps most famous for his Mission Impossible movies while Holmes got her break on the popular TV series “Dawson’s Creek.” The marriage lasted five years and the couple has one child together.

November 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm Comments (6)

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