’90s stars are still around if you know where to look

By | June 13, 2010


Unless you’re a fan of the show it’s based on, not a lot of familiar faces appear in “In the Loop.” There’s Sid’s dad from “Skins” and Tony Soprano, and you might recognize Lord Beckett from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, but the cast is largely made up of British actors you’d have to be a real specialist to know.

One major exception is Anna Chlumsky, best known as Vada Sultenfuss from “My Girl” and its sequel. I had no idea she had continued acting after those movies, but IMDB.com tells me she’s been on “30 Rock” and in several movies I’ve never heard of. She’s actually a talented actress, based on the three things I’ve seen her in, and I’d think the nostalgia factor for all of us who grew up watching “My Girl” over and over would make her at least some kind of cult star, but she must not be interested in that kind of career. If you take people by surprise with a role in an Oscar-nominated film, you haven’t been promoting yourself at all.

And promotion isn’t limited to red carpet appearances and letting Jay Leno talk over you any more — there’s Twitter, Facebook and even MySpace, if you really want to be inclusive. Talk shows are on every channel at every hour almost, so there’s at least one with a host you can stand. Public events with photo ops come in all flavors (what else does Paris Hilton do for a living?).

Another ’90s fixture has been taking advantage of all these publicity tickets, and it’s working well for them.

How you feel about Hanson probably depends heavily on how old you were in 1997 when “Mmmbop” was released. A lot of people likely regard them as I do Justin Bieber, which is understandable as they were never the most lyrically brilliant band. But there’s no denying that Hanson works harder than almost anyone in the music business. They have seven children between them but continue to write and tour. They visit Africa and tirelessly publicize the work of Toms shoes with barefoot walks before their shows. They run their own record label, a decision explained in their documentary “Strong Enough to Break.” And they still take the time to craft music videos you can’t stop watching, a tradition carried over from the Gus Van Sant-directed “Weird” at the beginning of their career.

The video for Hanson’s latest single, “Thinking ’Bout Somethin’,” is an amazing homage to “The Blues Brothers” and features Weird Al Yankovic, a friend of theirs since they worked together on “River” in 1998. Two of the three Hansons play multiple roles in the video, and fans love the dance sequence so much that it was taught to the audience on “Lopez Tonight” last week.

Like Donny Osmond and Heather Langenkamp before them, ’90s stars are refusing to just disappear and live with the perceptions we had of them as children. They may not be as ubiquitous as they were in their heyday, but if you pay attention, you’ll find them in unexpected places. Ever since Dustin Diamond appeared on “Celebrity Fit Club,” I’ve been waiting for Macaulay Culkin to turn up on some dancing competition show, and I think he could win. Maybe he could even persuade his “My Girl” co-star Anna to join him.

Elizabeth Hammon Zimmerman, eghammon@gmail.com, is a Daily copy editor. Read her new fashion blog, Newspaper Doll, at www.decaturdaily.com.

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