Will Kentucky coach Mark Stoops' debut be a smash? These people's were

rcopley@herald-leader.comAugust 29, 2013 

Saturday's University of Kentucky football game against Western Kentucky University marks the highly anticipated debut of new UK head coach Mark Stoops.

The hope in Big Blue Nation, of course, is that the Wildcats will kick the Hilltoppers all the way back to Bowling Green and then punt them to Lexington.

That would be a decidedly great debut.

To get into a positive state of mind for this auspicious premiere, here are a few pop culture debuts that went really, really well, some of which you can indulge in while waiting for kickoff Saturday night.

Kanye West releases The College Dropout (2004). Kinda like Stoops in football, West was already well-known in hip-hop by 2004, so people were curious to see what he did when he stepped up to the microphone. His album was a game-changer, with spirituality (Jesus Walks) and drama (Family Business). We can have vigorous, entertaining debates about West and his Kardashian babydaddydom, but anyone would love to take a first bow like this.

Orson Welles directs and stars in Citizen Kane (1941). The first time Welles got behind and in front of the camera, he created what many observers still consider the greatest movie of all time. Mysterious and dramatic, engrossing and artistic, the story of power-mad newspaper publisher Charles Foster Kane rewards viewing after viewing after viewing. The only downside for Welles was that everything he did after Kane was compared to it.

Alan Rickman in Die Hard (1988). Years before hissing "What is it, Potter?!" and variations on the phrase as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, Rickman made his feature film debut as the thoroughly despicable Hans Gruber. He was a perfect foil for one of the hottest stars of the late 1980s, Bruce Willis, contrasting the Moonlighting star's "yippee-ki-yay" American bravado with Eastern European disdain. Decades later, we still can't warm up to the guy, even in softie films like Love Actually (2003).

Harper Lee writes To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). This must-read Southern novel was not only Lee's debut, but her only novel. If you are going to offer the world only one book, few could argue with this one: a tale of racial injustice and understanding that humanized issues tearing at the fabric of the nation when the book was released. It remains a standard of the high school English curriculum, it tops many lists of great American novels and it continues to inspire its legion of readers. Meet a woman or girl named Scout, and it's a safe bet where that came from.

Aaron Sorkin creates Sports Night (1998-2000). Sorkin was already an acclaimed screenwriter whose scripts included A Few Good Men and Bulworth before making the move to TV, the medium with which he is now most identified. Before The West Wing provided liberals with an hourlong weekly vacation from the George W. Bush administration, Sorkin offered this dramatic comedy about a nightly sports show that attracted many fans who couldn't care less about sports but loved witty and compelling television.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience releases Are You Experienced? (1967). Think Purple Haze is a pretty amazing piece of rock 'n' roll guitar? Consider this: It was the first time most people had ever heard of this left-handed guitar player from the Northwest. And then consider that the album had other timeless tracks — Fire, Foxey Lady and Manic Depression. Talk about blasting out of the gate.

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes. Blog: Copiousnotes.bloginky.com.

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