That Thing You Do!

That Thing You Do : Cinema Quad Movie Poster

Set in Erie, Pennsylvania 1964, Tom Hanks‘ film – “That Thing  You Do” chronicles the road to fame escapades of the fictional one-hit wonder group – “The Wonders” (the original spelling was “Oneders”, often mispronounced, The” O-need-ers”, a running gag in the movie. 🙂  This was Hank’s directorial debut and was written by and co-starred Hanks who plays the band’s manager, Mr. White. It was produced by Jonathan Demme, Academy Award winning director of The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

The plot involves drummer Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) sitting in with the band after their regular drummer, Chad (Giovanni Rabisi) breaks his arm leap frogging over a parking meter before the annual Mercyhurst College talent show. Really?! At the show, Guy’s feeling good and goes with his gut, making one little alteration to “That Thing You Do”, the number they’re performing at the show. And we’re off and running!

The Wonders

Guy Patterson “Shades” (Tom Everett Scott)

Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn)

Jimmy Mattingly (Jonathon Schaech)

the unnamed bass player (Ethan Emery)

“and the lovely” Faye Dolan (Liv Tyler)



Cutting to the chase: 

Guy’s drumming is awesome, he changes the song tempo of “That Thing You Do” from ballad to upbeat, Faye calls Guy’s playing “wonderful” hence band’s name, teen girls dance, Villapiano restaurant gig, Tom Hanks signs the band changing the spelling from “The Oneders” to The Wonders. Boom! Number 1 hit record!


The rest, as they say, is one-hit wonder history.

that thing you do collage

Lenny (Steve Zahn) by far is my favorite Wonder!  He gets it.  Enjoy the moment.  He’s relaxed, funny and always the life of the party.  When asked a question by a reporter during their State Fair Tour he replies with a sorta crazy nasally sounding voice:  “Oh I’m not here with these fellas, I gotta pig in competition over at the livestock pavilion and I am gonna win that blue ribbon!”  Leaving the reporter with a stupefied look on his face.  Classic Lenny.  Priceless!


It’s a fun-filled musical ride well worth the viewing!


See the Cast of ‘That Thing You Do!’ Then and Now


Front Row: Tom Hanks, Liv Tyler, Tom Everett Scott. Back Row: Jonathon Schaech, Ethan Emery, Steve Zahn.

Read More: See the Cast of ‘That Thing You Do!’ Then and Now |

Nicholas Brothers – Flash! (So You Think You Can Dance?)

The Nicholas Brothers were a famous African American team of dancing brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000). Their highly acrobatic technique (“flash dancing“), demonstrated such a high level of artistry and daring innovations that they were considered by many to be the greatest tap dancers of their day.

Growing up with musician parents (mother played piano and father drums) who had their own band, the brothers were surrounded by some of the best Vaudeville acts of the time and became stars of the jazz circuit during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance . Fayard and Harold went on to have successful careers performing on stage, film, and television well into the 1990s.


Their signature move was to leapfrog down a long, broad flight of stairs, while completing each step with a split. This move was performed to perfection in the finale of the movie, Stormy Weather . In my humble opinion, the “Jumpin’ Jive” dance number in Stormy Weather was the greatest movie musical sequence of all time!

Nicholas Brothers - Jump!

Nicholas Brothers – Jump!

Another signature move was to arise from a split without using their hands. Gregory Hines (with brother Maurice – tap dancing brother and father team Hines, Hines and Dad) declared that if their biography were ever filmed, their dance numbers would have to be computer generated because no one now could emulate them. Ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov once called them the most amazing dancers he had ever seen in his life.


The Nicholas Brothers influenced every dancer that came after. Including Michael Jackson. Here they are together on the Jackson’s TV Show.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Lena Horne!

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was a singer, dancer, actress, and activist whose 1957 live album entitled, Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria, became the biggest-selling record by a female artist in the history of the RCA-Victor label. In 1958, this timeless beauty became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Tony Award for “Best Actress in a Musical” (for her part in the “Calypso” musical Jamaica).

Lena Horne

Lena Horne

I’m proud to say that Lena and I are sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. which in the summer of 1980 sponsored a 2-month series of benefit concerts for Soror Horne. Sixty-three years old and intent on retiring from show business, these concerts were represented as Soror Horne’s farewell tour, although her retirement lasted less than a year.

In May 1981, her one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music became an instant success garnering Horne a special Tony award, and two Grammy Awards for the cast recording. The 333-performance Broadway run closed on her 65th birthday, June 30, 1982.


Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music

Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music


In 1995, a “live” album capturing her Supper Club performance was released (winning a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album). In 1998, Horne released another studio album, entitled Being Myself. Thereafter, Horne essentially retired from performing and largely retreated from public view.


In her personal life, Lena Horne married twice, Louis Jordan Jones in January 1937 (divorced in 1944). There were 2 children from that union – daughter, Gail (later known as Gail Lumet Buckley, a writer) and son, Edwin Jones (born February 7, 1940 – September 12, 1970) who died of kidney disease. Lena’s second husband,  Lennie Hayton, was Music Director and one of the premier musical conductors and arrangers at MGM. They married in December 1947 in Paris and separated in the early 1960’s but never divorced. Hayton died in 1971.

Lena’s grandchildren include screenwriter Jenny Lumet, daughter of Horne’s daughter Gail and husband filmmaker, Sidney Lumet. Her other grandchildren include Gail’s other daughter, Amy Lumet, and her son’s three children, Thomas, William, and Lena. Horne also has a great-grandson, actor Jake Cannavale.

Lena was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. During World War II she refused to perform before segregated audiences and at The March on Washington, she performed and spoke in association with the NAACP, SNCC, and the National Association of Negro Women. Ms. Horne also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to help pass anti-lynching laws. In 1983, she was awarded the Spingarn Medal for outstanding achievement from the NAACP.


From her beginnings at The Cotton Club at age sixteen through her appearances in films, television, and on Broadway, Lena Horne’s career spanned over 70 years. Back in 2012 there were rumors about singer Alicia Keys portraying Lena in a biopic. Sounds interesting. What do you think? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if it ever happens.


Lena Alicia 2


In honor of what would be Lena’s 98th birthday, I’m featuring her most notable film:

Lena Horne  June 30, 1917– May 9, 2010

Lena Horne
June 30, 1917– May 9, 2010

“Stormy Weather” (1943) American musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox

This movie blew my mind!  I saw it as a kid in the early sixties having no idea that there had ever been an all Black cast in a Hollywood production. Most of the premier entertainers of the 1940’s appeared in this tour de force that still stands as one of the best musicals of all time!


Stormy Weather poster

Directed by Andrew L. Stone
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Jerry Horwin, Seymour B. Robinson (story)
H.S. Kraft (adaptation)
Starring Lena Horne
Bill Robinson
Cab Calloway
Katherine Dunham
Fats Waller
Fayard Nicholas
Harold Nicholas
Ada Brown
Dooley Wilson
Music by Harold Arlen
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Editing by James B. Clark
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 21, 1943
Running time 78 minutes
Country United States
Language English

“Stormy Weather” was the 2nd all Black cast film made by a major studio in the 1940’s. “Cabin in the Sky” was the 1st, produced by MGM. Lena Horne starred in both and became famous for her rendition of “Stormy Weather” although Ethel Waters first performed the classic at The Cotton Club Nightclub in Harlem in 1933.

The song was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler who worked as music composers at the renowned Cotton Club from 1930-1934. They wrote many of the jazz revue songs that were performed at the club and are still classics today. Harold Arlen wrote the music and Ted Koehler the lyrics.


“Stormy Weather” was selected in 2001 to The Library of Congress National Film Registry.


Stormy Weather 1

Get ready to have your “mind blown”!  This dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers is unreal.  Check it out.  Holy crap!!


Ethel Waters was a famous blues, jazz, gospel vocalist and actress.  Her best-known recordings include “Dinah”, “Stormy Weather”, “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Cabin in the Sky” (She also starred in the film) Let’s enjoy her interpretation of the classic tune by Arlen and Koehler:

“Stormy Weather”


Happy Birthday, Ms. Lena!

Lena Horne 2