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Smackdown '70: Meet the Panelists! 

by Nathaniel R

The next Supporting Actress Smackdown arrives on Mothers Day (of all days), May 13th. But before we get to that blessed actress-fixated event, it's time to meet this month's panel. We'll skip my introduction (Nathaniel) as the host because (hopefully) you know me already but if you don't, here I am.

We have an entire first-time Smackdowners group this month. So without further ado, let's get to know the five of them after the jump...


Mark is a content director at an arts marketing agency and happily works on many Broadway shows. He praises pop divas on his podcast Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs and he has written about arts and culture for The New York Times, Variety, and many others.

What does the year 1970 mean to you, Mark?

1970 was the year my parents got married, and they're still together. Naturally, I think of 1970 as a banner year for romance. It was also a banner year for star-packed ensemble films, and I'm glad that two of them are represented in this pool of nominees.



Dan Callahan is the author of Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman and Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave. His new book is The Art of American Screen Acting, 1912-1960, a consideration of twenty major actors, from Lillian Gish to James Dean. He writes about film for The Village Voice, Nylon, The Wrap, Sight & Sound, and several other publications. [Website]

What does the year 1970 mean to you, Dan?

I wasn't born yet, but when I think of 1970, I think of Ali MacGraw in her knit cap making snow angels in Love Story, and I also think of all the girls named Jennifer that I went to school with who were named after MacGraw's character in that movie."



Denise landed her breakout role in The Social Network after being spotted at a party by the film's casting director, Laray Mayfield. Her portrayal of Gretchen, an intellectual property attorney in David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's critically acclaimed film is a perfect example of art imitating life. While still in her twenties, Denise was an intellectual property lawyer with a specialty in technology. Other film and TV credits include: Puppet, Citizen Jane, Corn, Pandemic, and Showtime's Shameless.  In addition to acting and law, she coaches actors, comedians, individuals, groups and politicians with their performance, voice and presentation skills.
[Official Website]

What does 1970 mean to you Denise?

The Carpenters, The Jackson Five, and bell-bottoms!  And The Knicks won a championship!!”



Lena Houst writes about film and TV culture, often hinged by an obsessive queer trans-feminist perspective. Increasingly suspects music videos may be the purest distillation of cinema. Never met a film she couldn’t turn gay. Her writings can be found at Film Misery and Spark & Fizz. Lifelong NH resident, though with her sights set on New York.
[Twitter | Letterboxd]

What does 1970 mean to you, Lena?

One of many historical cinematic blind spots I’m eager to fill in, I perhaps know 1970 best from the impression I got from Mad Men’s final season. It seemed like the woozy, morally bankrupt hangover after the conflict and chaos of the ‘60s. Popular bands broke up. Far more tragically, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died of overdoses. The Vietnam War pressed on, and those protesting it faced extreme police violence, most notoriously at Kent State. At least from outward appearances, it looks like the year’s cinema reflected that bitter, tumultuous mindset.



Back in the late 1980s, Bobby Rivers was one of the VH1 veejays.  He was also the first African American VH1 talent to get his own weeknight celebrity talk show, a show that got high praise from The New York Times. He has also worked as an entertainment contributor or film reviews on show's like WNBC's "Weekend Today in New York," and Fox 5's "Good Day New York," Whoopi Goldberg's weekday morning show for Premiere Radio, and his own New York City cable show "Metro Movies with Bobby Rivers." He moved on to comic acting for The Onion and in national TV commercials.  He can currently be heard on the podcast, "MOCHAA with Bobby Rivers."

What does 1970 mean to you, Bobby?

The arrival of 1970 meant that we had survived a decade that was both breathtakingly terrific and overwhelmingly terrible.  The Kennedys were a young picture of hope in the White House.  They welcomed the fine arts, leaders from foreign lands and leaders from America's Civil Rights Movement. But the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King and presidential hopeful Senator Robert F. Kennedy fractured us emotionally.  There was national grieving. And there was the Vietnam War.  And Judy Garland died.  When she was being laid to rest, NYC police picked the wrong time to mess with the gay male community. That confrontation was the historic Stonewall Uprising that sparked a Gay Power movement.

When I was a youngster, our family lived in the curfew area during the Watts Riots. Those put our community in the national headlines the way the L.A. Riots of 1992 would after the Rodney King verdict.  The powder kegs of both L.A. riots were lit by the racial frustrations of Black people.  In the 1960s, that was all part of our season of darkness.

Our season of light included The Beatles, The Supremes, a new Broadway and film sensation named Barbra Streisand. The youth culture with its political protests and modern fashion statements got a Broadway rock musical called Hair. There was Dr. King's March on Washington, there was Woodstock and there was the our space program landing a man on the moon.

1970 meant a new decade, a new day, a new beginning.  It was a nervous beginning, but a new one just the same.

We'll talk to all five panels a week from Sunday at the "Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1970". Dear readers, get to watching those movies, and sending in your own ballots, and we'll all discuss on May 13th.

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Reader Comments (7)

That is a killer line-up (but when is it not?). Can’t wait for this

May 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIanO

Awesome! Welcome, all!

May 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I'm team Dan Callahan because I'm also obsessed with Ali McGraw in Love Story.

May 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Thanks to everyone who participates. Looking forward to the smackdown.

May 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Love Bobby Rivers! I watched him on Milwaukee's PM Magazine as a kid.

May 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

"often hinged by an obsessive queer trans-feminist perspective".

May 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

Love that Bobby Rivers! Can't wait.

May 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

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