Tim Thomerson talks about his new film “Asylum of Darkness” and some of old favorites

Even if you don’t recognize the name, believe me when I say you know Tim Thomerson. From the hilarious television show “Quark” to supporting roles in such films as “Iron Eagle,” “Rhinestone,” “Near Dark” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” to his starring performance as Jack Deth in the highly popular “Trancers” series, he has made good movies better and bad movies watchable.

While promoting his latest film, “Asylum of Darkness,” Mr. Thomerson took the time to talk about his long career and even indulged me in talking about some of my favorite films/performances of his.

Mike Smith: Can you give our readers a short introduction to your character in “Asylum of Darkness?”

Tim Thomerson: I play a detective named Kesler, which is a name director Jay Woelfel uses in many of his films (this is not the first time Mr. Thomerson has played a character with that name).

MS: Are those the roles you tend to gravitate too? Cop or soldier or someone else in authority?

TT: It’s really the paycheck that gravitates me to a role, you understand? (laughs) Any kind of money that they will give me that allows me to do what I like to do will count. No, no. I’ve known Jay for a long time and he’s a good guy to work with. Very easy to work with. I know his cameraman and I’ve done three movies with him. He knows my work and it was a pretty easy character to play for me. I just threw another trench coat on and parted my hair on the other side and wore glasses. I’m pretty sure in some scenes I’m wearing glasses. Probably because I’m reading my script off-camera. Like Brando. (laughs)

MS: It worked for him.

TT: It sure did, didn’t it!

MS: “Asylum of Darkness” features one of Richard Hatch’s last performances. How was he to work with?

TT: Richard was a good guy. I knew him for a long time. We had done a film together called “Unseen Evil,” which Jay had also directed. That was the first time I had met Richard. I knew who he was from “The Streets of San Francisco” and “Battlestar Galactica.” We’re both from California and he was an old-time surfer. I surf so we struck up a friendship. He was a real cool guy to be around. I would see him all the times at conventions and we would talk. He was a very mellow guy. The quintessential California person. The “Jeff Bridges” guy. Not from “The Big Lebowski” but Jeff in real life.

MS: I’ve got what I consider five of your best roles in films that fans may have missed but are definitely worth seeing. But before we talk about them, do you have a favorite role or performance of yours that you’re most proud of?

TT: Typically I never watch my work. If I happen to catch something, or if there is something I want to see to make sure I pulled it off…was I good in it or was I shitty in it? Did I do it how I was trained? (NOTE: Mr. Thomerson studied with the great Stella Adler for four years. Among her other students: Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch and Harvey Keitel). I guess one of my favorite roles was a character I did on “Hill Street Blues,” where I played a slum-lord named Nat Rikers. The role was the farthest I’d ever gotten from myself. I worked really hard to become this character. That’s one of my favorite guys. Then there was a little movie I did that Bryan Cranston directed called “Last Chance,” where I played an alcoholic writer, kind of an Ernest Hemingway-type guy. He gets writer’s block and gets back on the booze. He goes to A A and becomes a truck driver. Bryan and his wife produced it and we shot it out in the desert outside Palm Springs in a place known as “Methadonia” because there are so many meth labs out there. It’s a good little movie about a guy who’s involved with a girl who’s stuck in a bad marriage. But working for Bryan, and the direction that he gave me, like I said I usually don’t sit and watch my stuff, but the best direction I got from him…I was kind of stuck because I usually play bad guys or comedy guys. But this was a real person and I had to drop all of the “tough guy” snarls and just BE this guy. So Bryan told me, ‘just say the words. Just talk.’ And I thought, “Wow!” Nobody had ever told me that before. Bryan took the time to say that and that’s all he had to say. So that is also one of my favorites. Those are two of the things that I actually saw and I said to myself, “I believe that guy is real.”

MM: OK, I’m going to give you the title of a television show or film that you appeared in and just give me the first memory that comes to mind.

TT: I’m ready.

MM: “Quark.”

TT: Oh man, that was fun. That was a lot of fun. It was really one of my first jobs. I mean a legit job. I had been doing stand-up for awhile and I think I had just done “Car Wash” before that. It was so much fun. We only did eight episodes. It was great to work with Richard Benjamin. Buck Henry created the show and wrote some of them. It was the first time I got to work with Geoffrey Lewis, the great character actor, and Henry Silva. And I got to work with Ross Martin, who was great. It was a fun show to do and it was fun to play that silly character. And it was pretty hip stuff. And it was funny. I mean, even doing it was funny. Richard Benjamin was such a funny person. And we had great directors. Directors who had been doing television comedy since the beginning. We had Hy Averback, who had done “Sgt Bilko” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It was the 1970s but we had guys that had been working since the 50s and 60s. Everybody laughed on the show. The crew and the cast. It was fun. Really fun.

MM: “Carny”

TT: “Carny??” Nobody knows that movie. Any time you get to work with Gary Busey it’s going to be a trip. There were a lot of really fine actors in that film. Robbie Robertson wasn’t too bad for his first film, but we had Jodie Foster and Ken McMillian and Craig Wasson. We filmed it in Savannah, Georgia at a real carnival. We worked nights. For two months. And two months of night work – in Savannah, Georgia in the deep South – can make you crazy. Working on that movie was fun. I had known Gary so to work with him was fun. He was a real good guy. It’s so funny you picked that one. Nobody knows that movie, which is a shame because it’s a well shot movie. Jodie was still a youngster so, when we were filming at night, they’d shoot her stuff then shoo her off the set. Get her away from the insanity! Because when you work until 4 or 5 in the morning, that’s when the party started. Bunch of stunt guys and crazy electricians. It was pretty nuts. I had a lot of fun on that movie.

MM: “Honkytonk Man”

TT: Well, of course, I got to work with Clint (Eastwood). That was a mind blower for me because I’d always been a fan. And, of course, he was so cool. We shot it on the east side of the Sierras in the oldest city in California called Genoa. Working with Eastwood….I mean it goes by so fast. (Does a pretty good Clint Eastwood impression) “All right Tim, we’re going to shoot your close-up. Step on in here. Are you ready?” I said, ‘yes sir, I am” and we did one take. That was it man. We were gone. He flew me in and flew me out. What was fun about working on that movie was that Clint’s son, Kyle, was also in it. Years later I was skiing on a mountain one day when a guy ski’d up to me and said (gruff voice), “Hey, how you doing?” And of course, it was Clint and his son. I didn’t recognize him at first because he had a buzz haircut because he was working on “Heartbreak Ridge.” He had the G.I. Joe cut, you know? And I kept standing there thinking, ‘what is this big guy looking at me?” Then I recognized Kyle. The guy I was skiing with said, “You know Clint Eastwood?” And I just said, “Yeah.” It was just a great experience. I also worked on a movie he produced called “Ratboy” that Sondra Locke directed. It was just fun being around him, no matter how little the time was. And talk about a quiet set. No bullshit…everybody doing their job. That really impressed me.

MM: Finally, one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t know WHY I love this movie so much. “Rhinestone.”

TT: (bursts out laughing for quite a long time) Did you just say “Rhinestone?” You’re not from Kansas City. You must be from Dixie.

MM: I grew up in Tampa so maybe that helps.

TT: I’ve got to tell you, I once was told that “Rhinestone” and another film I was in, were called the worst movies of the 1980s. (NOTE: I’m thinking the other film was “Metalstorm,” a 3D extravaganza that is pretty much on every “Worst Films” list. But I got to work with Dick Farnsworth. Dolly Parton. Stallone gave me the job. I never knew that until years later when his brother, Frank, told me that. I’d known Frank for a while and one night he said to me, “you know, my brother gave you that job in “Rhinestone.” And I was like, “are you shitting me?” And he said, “uh uh.” Then one time, later, Sly walked up to me and said (Mr. Thomerson also does a fine Sylvester Stallone impression) “I really like what you did in that ‘Trancers” movie. It was a great set. Not complicated. No drama. We knew each other’s beats and rehearsed if. And then Dolly…you just don’t get any better than her, she’s such a neat lady. That was a lot of fun. And the fact that I got to work with Richard Farnsworth. Such a great man to work with.

CKY Bassist Matt Deis Discuss The Bands New Album “The Phoenix”.

Photo By: Jimmy Hubbard

Matt Deis is the bassist for the recently reformed CKY. The band is set to release a brand new album on June 16th titled “The Phoenix” and will performing on this year’s Warped Tour. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Matt recently to discuss the band getting back together, recording at the legendary Rancho De La Luna studio and what fans can expect from the band during this summer’s tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the reformation of CKY?

Matt Deis: A couple of years ago I stepped away from the band. This was around 2009/2010. I was having trouble juggling things at the time and just couldn’t do the band anymore. A couple years went by and during that time Chad and Jess had started working with Daniel Davies on vocals. Matt Janaitis who replaced me in the band wasn’t going to be able to work with the band anymore so the guys who I had never stopped being friends with called and asked if I could fill in on a few shows. We did some shows with Daniel but ultimately he chose to step away but suggested Chad should sing. From there things just kept going I was glad to be working with them again?

AL: Was doing a new album pre-planned or did this evolve over time?

MD: Things kind of evolved out of doing those shows together. We didn’t really have a set plan outside of knowing that we wanted to play again. Music is something I just know and having worked with the guys for so long everything felt very natural and we just went from there.

AL: Being this is the bands first undertaking as a three piece. What was the writing and recording process like?

MD: We got in a room and just starting jamming as a three piece band. When we were a four piece things were kind of very, cut and paste. Ideas were just sort of thrown out and pieced together. For “The Phoenix” we went to into this dirty warehouse with a very minimal amount of gear and wrote songs that fit the three of us. We didn’t try to get too crazy with the layers or anything like that. We just tried to make things sound good as a three piece. That was the real focus throughout recording. Chad had a lot of song structures figured out going in but there were holes that we all helped to fill in. We locked ourselves in the studio we rented for pre-production and just played. Everything was very natural.

AL: What was it like recording at the legendary Rancho De La Luna?

MD: For me personally I was just amazed that we got this opportunity. I had always seen it as this magical place for a select group of musicians so to be able to step foot there was a childhood dream. A lot of albums I grew up listening to were recorded there. Needless to say I was geeking out quite a bit. How it initially came about was Chad had gone out there with some friends and ended up falling in love with the place. When he brought it up about going out there both Jess and I were quick to say yes.

AL: The bands previous album “Carver City” had a unique concept to as it does “The Phoenix”. Can you tell us about that?

MD: The past albums did have a number of lyrical ideas and concepts attached to them. We didn’t do that consciously with “The Phoenix”. The phoenix in its most open interpretation is a mythical creature that rises from its ashes. That was sort of us as a band. We all had some things we needed to work through so there is a lot of re-growth and us individually over coming what we each had going on.

AL: Tell us about the bands first single “Days of Self Destruction”?

MD: We hadn’t intended on that song to be a single of any kind really. After meeting with our record label they felt that would be a good track to give out to fans. There really was no plan to give it the treatment like you would a single however the reception it received was so good that we just went from there. That song definitely has all the classic elements of CKY. It’s probably our most straight forward track off the album as it has big riffs, a big chorus and a big guitar solo at the end. For someone who has never heard CKY before the song is a good primer as it kind of showcases what we are all about.

AL: Can you tell us about the plans for the bands run on this year’s Warped Tour?

MD: I am really excited as I think this is one of the only remaining traveling tours of this size still happening. I remember being in High School and trying to see CKY on their first Warped Tour run in 1999. Things came full circle as Kevin Lyman the tours founder brought it up as he wanted to bring back bands from years past. We were in the early stages of recording at that point but the opportunity was too good to pass up. We figured everything was going to line up with the album release so we said yes immediately. The tour starts in Seattle so we are going to do a run through Canada before hand and just work our way over. We have such great Canadian fans so it should be a lot of fun. Coming off such a great UK run where 12 of the 13 shows sold out we really can’t wait to get out there here in the States. I think there are going to be a lot of people who get to see that maybe up until now only knew of us from an older sibling. Warped Tour tends to be a younger crowd and we aren’t sure who likes us these days (laughs) so this is going to be a great opportunity for us to meet a lot of new fans.

For more info on CKY head over to www.facebook.com/ckyalliance

Night Flight Orchestra Guitarist David Andersson talks “Amber Galatic”

Guitarist David Andersson is probably best known for his work with the Scandinavian metal band Soilwork a band which he has been a part of since 2012. Prior to joining the Soilwork Andersson was hard at work with his classic rock tinged group Night Flight Orchestra who recently released their third album titled “Amber Galactic”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with David recently about the album, its sci-fi theme and the bands plans to perform the album live.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how Night Flight Orchestra initially came together?

David Andersson: Me and Björn (Strid, also in Soilwork) first met in ’06, when we did our first Soilwork US tour together. We soon found out that we shared a mutual love for classic rock, so we started bonding over all those classic records, and before the tour was over, we’d decided to start a classic rock band ourselves. It took us a while to find the right people, but eventually we succeeded.

AL: What can you tell us about the upcoming release “Amber Galactic”?

DA: “Amber Galactic” is a concept album in a way, although it doesn’t have a straight narrative. It’s more a collection of stories that takes place in the same universe. “Amber Galactic” is set in a future where humanity is exploring and conquering space, but all the space commanders are women, just like the leaders back on Earth, and the men are mostly concerned with providing the ground service and idolizing and falling in love with those superior women that are always slightly out of reach.

AL: Where did this concept come from?

DA: The space theme was my idea. I’ve always read a lot of sci-fi books, mostly because in science fiction, anything is possible, and the things that you never thought would happen actually do happen. And, in a way, all those classic bands and artists from the 70’s and 80’s had the same totally over-the-top approach to everything that they did that was very science fiction-like, where everything was possible and there was no self-irony or “less is more“-thinking involved. Although the music industry was very different back then, and there was a lot more money, resources and drugs involved, I still felt that it is a shame that no one does those kinds of things anymore, at least not in rock music. It’s always been a dream to do something really epic, and what can possibly be more epic than space? So we decided to give it a go at it and just try to do the most epic, outrageous album possible.

AL: Was there anything new this time around with your writing/recording process?

DA: Nothing changed in the recording process, we’ve always produced and recorded everything ourselves. We don’t have any formula as such; we just meet in the studio, throw up some microphones, have a few drinks and start playing. But I guess we’ve gotten better at playing to our strengths and emphasizing the elements in our music that sets us apart from other bands. Though it’s nothing we’ve talked about, more like something in our collective subconscious.

AL: The band recently released a video for the song “Gemini”, can you tell us about that and why that song was chosen for a video treatment?

DA: Our label, Nuclear Blast, wanted to have “Gemini” as the first video release. It’s a song about a female space commander lost somewhere in space on a secret mission, and a love struck man back on Earth trying to get in touch with her to find out if his feelings are reciprocated. I’ve always dreamed of having an 80’s-style animated video set in space, so when we found Elia Cristofoli, an Italian animator/producer, it was fantastic to get a chance to finally do it.

AL: Are there plans to perform the album live/tour?

DA: Yes, we’ll do an exclusive show at the Rock Hard festival in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on the 3rd of June, and then we’ll hopefully do some sort of European tour in the fall. After that, we’ll see. It’s really fun playing live with The Night Flight Orchestra, and we’re always open for suggestions.

Amber Galactic is available for purchase now: http://nblast.de/TNFOAmberGalacticNB

 

STRIFE Guitarist Andrew Kline talks about 20th Anniversary of “In This Defiance”.

The iconic Los Angeles hardcore band STRIFE is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their landmark second LP “In This Defiance”. To commemorate the release the band has put together an extremely limited vinyl release and to find out more about the album Media Mikes spoke with STRIFE guitarist Andrew Kline.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the limited LP package you have coming out commemorating “In This Defiance”?

Andrew Kline: I wanted to do something special for the 20th anniversary of In This Defiance. We teamed up with WAR Records to produce a bubble gum pink colored record that comes in a hand numbered and hand silkscreened cover. There were only 100 made and were sold with a limited edition long sleeve.

AL: What was it like for you looking back and revisiting the album?

AK: “In This Defiance” is my favorite Strife album and we still play a lot of the songs live. It’s a record that I feel doesn’t seem outdated and still fits in with what’s going on within the current hardcore scene.

AL: How do you feel the album relates to the world we are living in now in 2017?

AK: Lyrically, In This Defiance is a pretty personal record. The songs “Grey” and “Blistered” still resonate with me as those songs really relate to the world now.
“Blistered by a raging sun’s flames
Mankind sealed its fate in its haste
Warning signs sent time after time
We just sit back in all this waste”

AL: There seems to be sort of a resurgence of hardcore bands from that late 80’/90’s starting to happen what do you feel has sparked that?

AK: I think that every few years there are a new crop of hardcore kids. They get involved with the scene and they start looking back and getting into bands from different time periods. I think this really created the demand. We’ve definitely seen more than a few bands reunite over the past few years, and I am ok with that.

AL: Are there plans to do some shows where you perform the album in its entirety?

AK: We are hoping to do some shows to support the anniversary of “In This Defiance” at some point before the end of the year. Fans can check out http://strifelahc.comto keep up to date with what is going on.

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide

Chris Gethard is a multi-talented comedian and actor (Don’t Think Twice, “Broad City”) who’s worked extensively in NYC’s improv scene at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater as well as having his own successful public access show, aptly titled “The Chris Gethard Show”. This weekend Gethard premiered a much more personal type of special on HBO with Chris Gethard: Career Suicide. In this touching, and darkly hilarious special, Chris uses comedy to detail his lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety including his brushes with suicide. The show held a special screening and talk-back at New York’s Tribeca Film Fest, featuring Chris, fellow comedian Pete Holmes (HBO’s “Crashing”), and moderator Ira Glass (NPR’s “This American Life”). I spoke with them on the red carpet about the development of the show and using comedy to cope with more difficult issues.

Besides hosting NPR’s “This American Life” podcast (which Gethard has appeared on), Ira Glass produced Don’t Think Twice.

Lauren Damon: Working with Chris on Don’t Think Twice, did you see the development of his show at all?

Ira Glass

Ira Glass: I mean, it’s funny, Don’t Think Twice…Chris is such an amazing actor. He’s so for-real in Don’t Think Twice, and that character does have a lot of overlap with who he is in real life. And who he is in this special. My main thing with the special is I’ve seen him develop it. I saw like a super early version in the basement in Union Hall, and then saw when it was up on stage. So I’m really curious how it translates to video.

LD: With the heavier themes, I feel like we have a need for that in comedy because things seem sort of dire in general…

Glass: It’s true…But I feel like the whole trend in comedy has been comedians getting super real about stuff that’s going on, you know. And I feel like when you look at the people…who are doing the most work right now, it’s like Louis CK and Tig Notaro and Mike Birbiglia, Aziz [Ansari]…You know that’s people talking about stuff that’s pretty real. Which I like because I like a real story. I think when somebody can tell a story that’s super funny but also is really a real thing, and emotional, it’s just like what could be more entertaining? That’s everything a person could want.

LD: That’s basically the best episodes of “This American Life”…

Glass: On a good day, yeah. On a good day. The formula on “This American Life” is we want it to be really funny, with a lot of plot at the beginning, then it will get kind of sad and sort of wistful at the end, then like throw a little music under it, you’re done!

In Don’t Think Twice, Gethard played Bill, a comedian coping with a hospitalized father on top of dealing with general anxieties of where he fits into his shifting improv group.

LD: In Don’t Think Twice, your character did a lot of the heavy emotional lifting, was your show already developing kind of around that time?

Chris Gethard: It’s funny because [Don’t Think Twice director] Mike Birbiglia was the one who kind of threw down the gauntlet and said ‘You should do a show about this side of yourself.’ I would talk about it to a degree in my work, but he was the one who was like ‘You got something here, go for it.’ So the experience of Don’t Think Twice and this show kind of went hand in hand. I was opening for Mike on the road, he developed the film on the road [and] during that process is when he really said ‘You should really go for it, I promise you, give it a shot.’ Really the first time I attempted the show was in an effort to sort of prove Birbiglia wrong and say like I don’t know if people are going to laugh at this. But I have learned never to doubt Mike. And those things really did dovetail nicely and springboard off of each other.

Chris Gethard

LD: How did Mike respond to it?

Gethard: Oh he’s been so supportive and I think he was–he also, as far as these off Broadway shows that are kind of comedy but that go serious, I think he really has helped pioneer that in the past few years. So I think he was very proud and flattered. I always give him a lot of credit as far as walking in his footsteps. So I think he was very psyched that I went for it. i think he also had a little bit of glee that his instincts were correct and mine were not. So thank god for that.

Pete Holmes had his own hilarious HBO comedy special (Faces and Sounds) as well as starring in their series, “Crashing”

LD: How do you know Chris?

Pete Holmes: It’s funny, I thought more people would ask, but here we are at the end of the line and you’re only the second person to ask, so it’s still fresh! It’s still a fresh answer. I was a fan of Chris, I would see him at UCB –actually not far from here, right around the corner. And then I took improv classes at UCB and Chris was actually my level 3 teacher because I had heard that he was so wonderful. And he was. I actually think Chris likes to downplay what a wonderful improv teacher he is because obviously he loves to perform more. But it’s almost a shame that we can’t clone him, because he’s such a great improv teacher.

LD: Your stand-up is a lot more silly and irreverent in contrast to the work Chris is doing in this special and I love that there’s space for both

Holmes: That’s nice, there is space for both! And I really love this show. It’s not the sort of stand-up I do but I also on my podcast [“You Made it Weird”] love to get very deep and weird and uncomfortable so I love seeing it in the live version with the laughs.

Pete Holmes

LD: On “You Made it Weird”, have you had any especially surprising guests?

Holmes: That happens all the time actually. For example The Lucas Brothers, the twin guys from 21 Jump Street movie…I [didn’t] know them that well either and they’re kind of low energy [in the film] and then they came on and were like the most high-energy, introspective, eloquent amazing guests. And you know, I didn’t really know them that well. So one of the things that I love about the podcast is that happens over and over. Your expectations just get completely blown out of the water.

The better answer would be Aaron Rogers, the quarterback for the Greenbay Packers…I didn’t know him either, but here comes a quarterback. And J.J. Redick who’s a basketball player just did it. And whenever these athletes come on and just kill it just as hard as the comedians, it makes me happy.

LD: With Chris being your teacher and then you had an HBO special and series first, is that kind of funny to you?

Pete Holmes: [laughs] I beat my teacher! It’s so funny, Chris and I had another thing where I did a talk show for Conan–he talked to me about this on his episode of my podcast. [Chris] was like when they gave you the talk show after Conan–which lasted about a year–he was like they were talking to me about [doing it] Like we’ve been competing in ways we didn’t even know! So I’m happy that now we’ve both landed at HBO, it’s not one or the other, but we can both be here. [laughs]

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide is now available on HBO, HBO Now & HBOGo

TFF 2017: Executive Producers of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

“The Handmaid’s Tale”, Hulu’s stunning adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel held its premiere screening at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival as part of their Tribeca TV series. The series follows Elisabeth Moss’s “Offred,” one of many handmaids forced to serve a man in a dystopic American society where a wave of infertility has caused women to be stripped of their rights and utilized strictly for reproduction. The series debuted its first three episodes on Hulu on April 26th, with new episodes available every Wednesday. I spoke with the executive producer and showrunner of this brutal and hopefully not too prescient series.

What kind of freedom did you find adapting this novel into a streaming series rather than a regular tv or film?

Executive Producer Warren Littlefield

Executive Producer, Warren Littlefield: Well look, it’s not network television. Margaret Atwood’s vision, that she created in her book 32 years ago, was a dark dystopian world. And Bruce Miller adapted that and it’s a powerful, dark and very disturbing world and our partners at Hulu did not limit us in what we were able to do. In language, in action and physicality, in sexuality, in brutality. We were able to deliver the message that we wanted to deliver. I think it’s a thriller, I think it’s entertaining but it’s pretty damn powerful, so fasten your seatbelt.

Showrunner and writer, Bruce Miller: I haven’t worked in film very much at all. Almost all my work has been in tv which is much more fun because you could have stories that go on forever. But working in a streaming service, you get the great benefit of not having to have a show that’s forty-two minutes and twenty-two seconds long, but it can be longer or shorter. Which, more than you know, throws the audience off. They don’t know what’s gonna happen when you don’t know how much is left! It could end five minutes from now or fifteen minutes from now and that makes all the difference.

Were you very familiar with the novel before you worked on it?

Miller: There’s a novel?! [Laughs] Yeah I read the book when I was in college, in a ‘New Fiction’ class–which shows you how long ago I was in college. I loved it and I read it a whole bunch of times, completely on my own just as–I was interested in it. So I wasn’t thinking about it in terms of turning it into a television show. And then when I started to get more into writing tv and my career took off, I probably looked at it more in that way. But when I heard they were making a tv show, I was excited because I would get to watch it! Not because I was going to be making it. And then over the years, the show didn’t come out and there were reasons and this and that and you know, I ended up, despite my gender, getting the job. And it was wonderful after having been so familiar with the book but also having been familiar with it in a lot of different time periods. Because it kind of was perennially relevant. Every time I read it seemed like ‘wow this is just the time!’ to read it.

Especially this election year, where it seemed like assailing women’s rights was just a common trend…

Miller: It’s a hobby!

At which point when you were filming, did you realize what a hot topic you were handling?

Showrunner Bruce Miller

Miller: I wrote the first few episodes before the election season started and then we were writing all the way through the debates and the election. And then we were shooting you know, in the middle…when Trump was elected president, we were shooting then. It was interesting, we were in Canada, so we had a little bit of a different perspective…But that was all very interesting. I don’t know–I’m sure subconsciously or unconsciously it changes the way you shoot things. But we were just trying to be gutsy. You know when you’re working from a book that showed so much bravery to write in the first place, you don’t want to be the wimp that turns it into a safe tv show. You want to be as bold as Margaret Atwood was. And so it just reinforced that idea that we should continue to be bold because its an important story we’re telling. But really, in a lot of ways like I said, I’m a writer, I’m in the question business, not the answer business. I’m just trying to put interesting questions out there, that doesn’t really change. I mean I certainly saw the relevance and certainly we went from saying ‘oh my gosh’ to ‘we better not screw this up!’ But I don’t know that anybody changed their story tact. I think we just became a lot more comfortable with what we had decided to do.

Littlefield: I think like the character of Offred, who is a fighter, that was our intention. We always felt a lot of pressure to live up to Margaret’s vision because it’s such a strong vision. And I think when we woke up in November in the middle of production, we were like ‘we better not screw this up!’ like…oh my god. But I think we were kind of fueled by [saying] ‘Alright, this is what we need to do.’ And I think the audience will be as well.

Streaming shows often come with binge-viewing, how do you feel about that approach?

Littlefield: Well, I kind of love what we’re doing. Hulu is presenting on the 26th of April, the first three hours, so you engage in a big way. And then each week, they’ll roll out an additional one. And so, I think that that also is really good because you want time. You may want to watch it again and it’s best I think in smaller doses, because it’s complex. I mean the world of television allows you to do complex characters and a complex narrative and we embrace it.

Can you discuss casting Elisabeth Moss in the main role?

Miller: Elisabeth Moss is astonishing in this. I’ve been a fan of hers forever. She has just such a range of skills and I can’t imagine anybody else in this role. She was who I wanted to be in this role from the beginning. She has main circuit cable connecting her heart to her face that doesn’t have an off switch. So whatever she feels bubbles up. But it’s a really interesting role to play because she’s got all this stuff showing on her face that she doesn’t want anybody else in the room to see, but she wants you to see. The best thing about Liz is she likes to be challenged so I got to write stuff that I never would have written for anybody else because everything I wrote that was harder and harder and harder, she loved it! So we got to really push the boundaries of the skills of an actor.

Series star Elisabeth Moss was understandably pressed for time on the carpet, but offered this comment on acting out the defiance displayed by her character Offred:

Elisabeth Moss

“It was important to me, I mean that’s her whole story you know? That she’s so beaten down and torn apart, and has everything taken from her and just will not give up. And she’s so stubborn. And I think it goes up and down throughout the season, to me that defiance that I think we would all find in ourselves if we had to.”

The Handmaid’s Tale continues to add new episodes to Hulu every Wednesday and was already renewed for a second season in 2018.

“Genius” Red Carpet at Tribeca Film Festival

Tonight marks the premiere of the National Geographic Channel’s first ever scripted series, Genius. From director Ron Howard, Genius follows the life of Albert Einstein as portrayed in his youth by English actor Johnny Flynn and later in life by Geoffrey Rush. The first episode screened this week at the Tribeca Film Festival as part of their Tribeca TV series. The pilot seamlessly time jumped between Flynn energetically fighting to become a physicist in his own right without the rigidity of his early school and the elder Einstein beginning to encounter the rise of Nazis later in life.

I got the chance to speak with some of the actors from the series at this red carpet New York screening about their characters and how working on the series changed how they see Albert Einstein.


English actress Samantha Colley portrays Mileva Maric, a physicist and Einstein’s first wife.

Lauren Damon: How much research did you put into playing Mileva?

Samantha Colley: Quite a lot. What I focused on was their personal letters–so the personal letters between Mileva Maric and Albert Einstein but also Mileva Maric and her best friend Helene Savic. When you google Mileva Maric you see these kind of black and white pictures of someone very [Colley stiffens her back] sitting erect on a chair. It’s kind of impenetrable and she seems very severe and harsh. But actually her letters reveal her to be very vulnerable, and loving and soft and riddled with self-doubt but deeply loyal. But it was the letters I focused on.

LD: How important do you think it is that you portray a female scientist, considering the general need for more women in STEM fields?

Colley: It’s enormously important! I mean Mileva Maric is an example of one of many many many women who have been snubbed by the scientific world and their works not being properly credited. There’s a school of thought that Mileva Maric was instrumental in some of Albert Einstein’s fundamental works and never cited. So using her as an example and shedding light on her is enormously important. And I hope it does inspire girls today to go ‘yeah that’s not going to happen to me, I’m not going to let that happen.’

LD: You share your scenes primarily with Johnny Flynn, how was he to work with?

Colley: Amazing. He was one of the most generous actors I’ve ever worked with and we had a real sense of play and trust early on and it was wonderful.

Richard Topol plays fellow scientist Fritz Haber, a man instrumental in the weaponization of poisonous gas in World War I.

LD: So you play Fritz Haber–dubbed the “Father of Chemical warfare”, a pretty daunting title, how much research did you do?

Richard Topol: I did as much as I could about what we know about him and I mean I had a lot of conversations with the writers and the directors and the producers about why would somebody do that? Right? …Like if you imagined living in a country that was at war with the countries all around it and you’re running out of ammunition. And if you ran out of ammunition, your country would be taken over, what would you do?

So to me, it was like he came up with an idea and his pitch was the same pitch that Einstein, you know that the Manhattan project and everybody who invented the atomic bomb came up with which is like ‘Look, we invent this thing, we show people how scary it is, use it once, it’ll never have to be used again.’ So that’s the way I thought about it that made it less daunting to me.

LD: Did you have any misconceptions about Einstein that working on this dispelled?

Topol: I didn’t really have any strong conceptions about him so they weren’t really dispelled. But I was like oh, I was excited to know that this guy was like a kid who never wanted to grow up. So I learned some fun things about him…Also I learned he had a really complicated personal life that I had no idea. And I think that’s one of the interesting things about the show: We know about his genius, we don’t know a lot about the personal and political problems that he had to face.


Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser appears in the premiere as an officious member of the US State Department 

LD: How much more did you learn about Einstein in working on this series?

Vincent Kartheiser: I mean I think you’ll hear from a lot of these people, he was a lot more of a scoundrel than anyone ever really–at least that I know–knew. And he was just kind of…he had this ability to lock out all things around him and just focus on the work. So you know, his kid could be slapping him on the leg and his wife could be hollering at him, and the dinner could be burning and he would just focus on the equation. And I think that’s really interesting in today’s world where there’s millions of distractions for all of us and we’re all constantly trying to figure out how to deal with it. He never had to battle with that. He was just always able to focus.

LD: How was working opposite Geoffrey Rush?

Kartheiser: It was wonderful. He’s such a giving actor, and he’s phenomenal. I mean, you’d be having a conversation and he’d be like [calmly] talking about the role, talking about the scene and then they’d go ACTION! And he’d just snap right into it. Just always exploring, always finding new things during the scene, and lots of fun.

LD: Were you also playing a scientist?

Kartheiser: No no, I was playing a person who works for the state department trying to clear his Visa so he could get into the United States…His visa wasn’t something that was just rushed through. I mean relative to today. These special visas…that have been in the news, you know that is these kind of people. Albert Einstein was someone who came in on a visa because of his talent, and his ability to teach, and his ability to give back to our community here in the states. So it’s a good example of how these kind of programs and the visa system works.

Genius begins tonight at 9 on the National Geographic Channel

Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac and “The Promise”

Director Terry George’s new film The Promise, which opened April 21st, sets a love triangle between an Armenian medical student (Oscar Isaac), an American journalist (Christian Bale) and the Armenian-born but raised-in-Paris Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) against the backdrop of the end of the Ottoman empire. The drama unfolds amidst the oft-under discussed Armenian genocide that took place beginning in 1915. It is a controversial subject that George and his cast hope the film can shed light on, even going so far as to donate all the film’s proceeds to human rights charities.

The cast, which also includes James Cromwell and Westworld’s Angela Sarafyan, gathered at their New York press conference to talk about what the film meant to them and some of the pushback making a movie on this subject can draw.

Conference discussion edited for article length.

Why did you decide to take this movie and what kind of approach did you take to your role?

Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac: For me, to my shame, I didn’t know about the Armenian genocide before I got the script and spoke with Terry. So it was new to me. And to read about that–to read that 1.5 [million] Armenians perished at the hands of their own government was horrifying and that the world did nothing…Not only that but to this day it’s so little known, there’s active denial of it. So that really was a pretty significant part of it. Also the cast that they put together. And then to learn that 100% of the proceeds would go to charity was just an extraordinary thing to be a part of.

My approach was to read as much as I could to try to immerse myself in the history of the time. And also in LA there’s a small museum that a few of us got to go to and see some stuff. And then for me, I think the biggest help was I had these videos and recordings of survivors that would recount the things that they witnessed as little boys and children. Whether it was seeing their grandmothers bayoneted…or their mothers and sisters sometimes crucified–horrible atrocities and to hear them recounted with, almost they would sound like they had regressed to those little kids again, and that was heartbreaking. So I did feel some responsibility to try to tell their story.

Christian Bale: And for me, continuing off what Oscar was saying, you know he was talking about the documentaries where you can see survivors talking about these horrific experiences that they’d seen their loved ones, families, that had been very barbarically killed…And to try to get into that mindset, to try in a very small way to understand the pain that they must have gone through, and the fact that people were telling them they were lying about what had happened. And they had witnessed it with their own eyes, had all of that emotion, but there were people who refused to call it what it is, a genocide. There are still people who refuse to call it that. We have yet to have any sitting US president call it a genocide–Obama did before, but not during–the Pope did, recently. But it’s this great unknown genocide, and the lack of consequence may well have provoked other genocides that have happened since. And for me, it became startlingly relevant because as I was reading the script and in the same way as Oscar was, learning about the Armenian genocide as I reading this–embarrassing, but I think we’re in the same boat as many people– I’m reading about…Armenians who were being slaughtered under siege on this mountain, and I’m watching on the news and it was the yazidis under siege, being slaughtered by ISIS… And just thinking this is so relevant…and so tragic, it’s very sad that it is still relevant.

Charlotte Le Bon

Charlotte Le Bon: By watching documentaries, I talked a lot with Armenian friends that I have in France…Also it was really present, just like Christian was saying–A couple months before the shooting I was in Greece just on a holiday, I was on Lesbos Island, who is the door to Europe through Turkey, and it was the beginning of the massive arrival of the refugees. And they were coming like a thousand per day, it was really really impressive. And I didn’t know about it by then. And I just remember being in the car and watching hundreds and hundreds of people walking by the street…and it was really really moving to see that. The only thing I could do was just like give them a bottle of water, you don’t really know what to do. And a couple of months later I was on set and recreating the exact same scene that I saw just a couple of months before.

Angela Sarafyan: I had known about the Armenian genocide because I grew up hearing stories from grandparents–the stories they had heard from their parents about their grandparents. So doing this film was very very close to my heart because it was a chance for me to give some light to that world in a very different way. It’s never existed on film, it’s a very controversial issue. So what I got to do was really look at the time and look at what it must have been like to live in that time. The simplicity of what that village was. And kind of survival and the romanticism of living in a small place. And learning how people survived in the atrocity. I didn’t really have to go through some of the horrendous things that you see, but I loved being able to kind of investigate that simple life. And I read more, because Terry had introduced so many books and scripts and material on it. So that was it.

Did the Turkish government give you any problems? Any kind of pushback?

Christian Bale and director Terry George

Terry George: I had a very healthy exchange with a Turkish journalist in LA, a representative of the Hollywood Foreign Press, who presented that the Turkish perspective is that a genocide didn’t happen, that it was a war and bad things happen and lots of people died on both sides…I pointed out to him that that’s exactly true but in the case of the Armenians, it was their own government who was killing them. So we talked…and you know, we had this thing where IMDB was hijacked, we had the sudden appearance of the Ottoman lieutenant movie four weeks ago that was like the reverse-mirror-image of this film right down to the storyline. And there’s a particular nervousness in Europe about the film and about the current situation…So it’s an extremely embroiled subject. But our idea, as always with any of these subjects, get it out there, let some air in, let’s discuss the thing. I’d be more than willing to sit down with any representative of any Turkish organization and talk this out in terms of our different perspectives and present our perspective on it. So we want to bring air to the subject rather than hide away…let’s have this discussion.

Bale: Maybe I shouldn’t say this but don’t you think also though that’s there’s kind of a false debate been created–a bit like climate change, you know?–as though like there’s as strong evidence on one side as on the other? There isn’t. There isn’t as strong of an argument. And then similarly with this. The evidence just backs up the fact that it was a genocide.

Was there a scene that particularly moved you?

Bale: Terry and Survival Pictures decided not to show the full extent of the barbarity of the violence that was enacted during the genocide. There were multiple reasons for that that I’ll let Terry explain. But there was one scene where Mikael, Oscar’s character, he sees many of his family members and also members of his home town who have been slaughtered…that was a very emotional one I think for many people that day. So seeing Armenians who were directly connected, or had family members who knew that their origins had come–that their families had gone through that previously–that was a very affecting day for I think for every single one of us on the film.

George: …Just as I did on Hotel Rwanda, I was determined that this be a PG13 film. That teenagers, schools, people who might be squeamish about the notion of seeing an R-rated genocide movie, that the horror be psychological. And that put the burden–and carried magnificently by both Oscar and Christian on that scene–the horror of the genocide is told through how Oscar conveyed those moments of what he found in his face…

Christian, your character is a journalist who experiences questioning over everything that you’re reporting, did the relevance of that today go through your mind?

Christian Bale

Bale: Yeah yeah of course I mean that was sort of developing during filming and then obviously has become much more present in the news–What’re we calling it now? “Post-truth” era? Just how important it is to have a free press for any democracy. So yeah, that’s another aspect of the film that’s become much more relevant.

I’d love to know more of your thoughts of the web hijacking of IMDB and RottenTomatoes against this film, who do you think organized this or do you think these are individuals?

George: You know it can’t have been 50,000 individuals decided, after we had two screenings in Toronto, to [rate] us 1 out of 10. Seems like a miraculously spontaneous thing to happen. So I definitely think that was a bot, or a series of bots that were switched on…Then we had the contrary reaction from, which I genuinely think was 25,000 votes from the Armenian community–because we didn’t have a bot going–voting 10 out 10. It brought in to highlight the whole question of, not only IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes…just the whole question of manipulating the internet, and manipulating reviews and people being swayed by that. And it’s a whole new world.

For any of the actors, in your research, can you talk about any of the unsung heroes that you found out about? Secondly, can you talk about how this movie may have changed your outlook on specific causes you’d want to support as a person?

Bale: There’s Aurora Mardiganian , she’s a real Armenian national hero…who the award is named after as well, who’s a phenomenal woman who went through real tragic circumstances but came through and told her story with film as early as 1919…She was phenomenal. I mean talk about a fierce, strong woman who overcame phenomenal tragedy. She was very inspiring.

James Cromwell

James Cromwell: I think Morgenthau [Cromwell’s character] is pretty impressive, I didn’t know anything about him when I started. And also you can’t leave out the fact that there were consular officers all over Anatolia who were also sending briefs back to Washington. And that’s one of the reasons that we have the record that we have. Morgenthau’s biography, his memoirs, and these reports which were eyewitness reports.

It strikes me as amazing that today there are no people with that sort of moral outrage as part of our state department. There are ambassadors to Yemen, there are ambassadors to Sudan and Somalia and Assyria and Libya and you hear nothing. No one stands up for the people who are being oppressed all over the world now as far as taking responsibility in the way Morgenthau took responsibility. Wilson was supportive, but not the legislature, not congress. Congress was against him. And after Wilson, Hoover was very much against him, against supporting his work and against establishing the Armenian state.

So as far as a cause is concerned, it just shows us that at the top, down to the average citizen, we have been so desensitized to the suffering of people, that we cannot recognize ourselves in the other. Which is one of the reasons you do a film like this. That it has a narrative at the core, so that the audience can come in and feel what other people feel. And that by doing that you do what Shakespeare said: ‘Hold a mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.’ That’s what we do…

Oscar Isaac and Angela Sarafyan

Sarafyan: For me personally, it would be in my family, the orphans really. Because all of my, I guess great great great grandparents were orphaned. They didn’t have parents left, they were all taken away. So the mere fact that they were able to survive and then able to kind of form families…One of them fled to Aleppo actually to start a family in Syria, and it seems like it’s coming full circle with people today fleeing from Syria to find refuge in other countries. So I find them personally as heroes in my own life. And the mere fact that they were able to survive, form families, have a sane mind–because I think that kind of trauma changes you genetically. So I guess they really would be the heroes and for me doing the film was kind of continuing that legacy and making it kind of live forever. Instead of it just being a story that was told, it kind of lives in cinema and it will be an experience for people to watch and have as their own.

Jeff Caudill talks about his new EP “Reset the Sun”.

Former Gameface front man Jeff Caudill is back with a new EP titled “Reset the Sun”. The six track EP is a bit of a departure from Caudills emo/rock sound and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jeff recently about the new sound, the special Record Store Day release of the EP and his summer tour plans.

Adam Lawton: Tell us about the new EP set to release on Record Store Day?

Jeff Caudill: It’s a concept record, an alt-country road record. The story is about about guy who made some questionable life decisions and is struggling with forgiveness and starting over – and the idea that no matter how far away you go, you can always come back.

AL: Was this release originally designed to be for RSD?

JC: No, but I’m really happy that it worked out this way. I’m a total vinyl nerd and I love Record Store Day so this is kind of the best thing ever. I’m releasing this EP on my own label, Fortunate Son, but my friends at Revelation Records are helping with distribution. They submitted it for RSD and it seemed that the stars aligned.

AL: Being this project is quite different from your work with Gameface were you nervous about exploring new genres?

JC: Well, I’ve always loved this kind of music. Even in Gameface I kind of leaned into the ‘twang’. I put out a couple solo records before this that have a more singer-songwriter vibe so I’ve been working towards this. But yeah, if people are expecting Gameface, they might be wondering what’s going on.

AL: What was it that appealed to you to go the way of the singer/songwriter as opposed to starting a new band?

JC: I’m always writing songs. It’s what I do. I just don’t get paid to do it. The way my life is these days, it makes more sense to just keep going and let the band members come and go as they may. Keeping a band together is tough. I’m enjoying playing with new people, and I enjoy playing solo. I think the solo artist thing allows for more versatility and freedom.

AL: Are there plans to tour behind release?

JC: I hope so. I have some tentative summer plans for some solo acoustic shows on both coasts. I’m also getting a backing band up to speed now too so who knows? As long as I’m playing music in some capacity, I’m happy.

Guitarist Brian Bell talks about The Relationship’s new album “Clara Obscura”.

Photo Credit: Renee Carey

Brian Bell is most notably known as the rhythm guitarist of the band Weezer, a group he has been a part of since 1993. Bell’s latest side project The Relationship released their debut self titled album in 2007 and are back with a new full length album titled “Clara Obscura” which will be released on April 18th. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Brian recently about the group’s formation, the new album and their plans for touring.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how The Relationship first came together?

Brian Bell: It originally started out as a song writing partnership between Nate Shaw and me. That started basically right after high school when I first moved to Los Angeles to attend music school. I had actually already graduated and was working in the cafeteria during the time that hair metal was the big thing. Guitarists at this time were more into flash and speed as opposed to the emotion and where music has gone today where you do have a lot of soloing. My style of playing has always been more about the emotion and texture which is what drew me to alternative music at an early age. One day I am in the cafeteria wearing a Butthole Surfers shirt and this guy comes in wearing a Chameleons UK shirt. With us both being so different from the other people at the school we connected and started jamming. We wrote our first song immediately after that. At the time we didn’t know how to shop songs or anything like that but we did know how to start a band so that’s what we did. That’s when we came up with name The Relationship. It was something that can have a lot of meaning and was also something that I knew could stand the test of time throughout all the trends in music. It’s a powerful name. In 2007 both Nate and I were going through some big personal changes and we needed something to make sense of our lives at the time so that’s when the band really came together and those changes played a bit part in the writing of our first album.

AL: What can you tell us about the new album “Clara Obscura”?

BB: The title of the album is a play on words about a fictional character named Clara who maybe inspired these songs. The songs are actually a collection of many things and hypothetical/fictional situations. After we had all the songs done I was looking for a word or phrase that summed up the sound of the record. Listening back I felt there was a balance between dark and light both lyrically and modally. I started looking for words that meant what I was feeling. I kept coming across a lot of art themes so I put a few of those together and came up with “Clara Obscura” which basically means clear and obscure.

AL: Did the changes in the bands lineup impact the writing of the new record in any way?

BB: I don’t know how much it impacted the writing as I was the primary songwriter on both records but as far as the band I had more opportunities this time around. I used studio musicians for the first album and they were all great players but one thing I have noticed about studio players is that they are there for the day and not necessarily there after they leave. They aren’t like a traditional band member who might go home and continue to work on things such as nuances and textures. With this second record you get a lot more of that I have a dedicated line up now made up of Jon LaRue, Justin Goings and Brandon Graham. Nate had left the band prior to the recording on the new record so we didn’t use any of his material or performances.

AL: Do you notice any differences when you are writing for The Relationship as opposed to when you writing for Weezer?

BB: With Weezer I submit songs and ideas. I will generally record an acoustic guitar and vocal and that’s it. These days I try not to over demo as I think an iphone recording of just me playing and singing is enough to sell the song or idea. If Rivers or management is drawn to it then he runs it through what I like to call “the Rivers computer” or simply his brain. After, it comes out it’s in its own unique way. I am just happy to be involved at all in that process. If it’s for The Relationship I may expand a little more on things and give space for the other musicians to fill up.

AL: Are there plans to tour outside of what has already been announced?

BB: I would certainly like to tour more however I don’t think anything has been booked yet aside from what has been announced. My schedule is very full at the moment so it’s hard to think outside of the two month blocks I set for myself. I have these two dry erase calendars which are super helpful in making sure I know what is going on from day to day. In this business you have to be able to roll with the punches so if something comes up and we are available we will do it.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

BB: The Relationship is really the only one right now. Last year I took some classes at UCLA for orchestration and arranging which you get a taste of on this new record but I would love to some more of that. In sort of tying in with that film scoring is something that seems intriguing to me as of late and something I think I would enjoy doing.

For more information on The Relationship you can check out http://www.therelationshipband.com/

Stefan White talks about the upcoming Battle4KC LifeSaver “Star Wars” battle

If you’re a fan of “Star Wars” I don’t need to tell you that this May fans all over the world will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original film’s release. In Kansas City, fans will be attempting to set a Guinness World Record for the largest light saber battle while raising money for a great cause, the battle against cystic fibrosis.

On May 6th, fans can join with Friends of the River for the epic Battle4KC LifeSaver “Star Wars” Battle to benefit Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Cystic Fibrosis Center. The event will begin at 5:00 p.m. at Berkley Riverfront Park 1298 E. Riverfront Drive in Kansas City. Recently we spoke with Friends of the River President Stefan White about the upcoming event and the goals set.

Mike Smith: Tell me a little about the event.

Stefan White: Battle4KC is an attempt to set the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the largest l ightsaber battle. The event will benefit Children’s Mercy Hospital and their Cystic Fibrosis wing. May is additionally cystic fibrosis awareness month.

MS: How did you come up with this idea?

SW: Years ago Friends of the River Kansas City started “Movies on the Riverfront” where once a month we held an outdoor movie night in the park on a giant 36′ screen. Over the past half-decade we see more and more and more organizations offering that, and so I decided that the time had come to create a new “thing” and another idea that would be ours. Each board member was tasked with brainstorming an idea to replace Movie Night. It could be a weekly thing, monthly, annually, whatever they wanted to pitch – they could walk in the door and pitch the idea.

There were amazing ideas floated, we actually have the next four years planned out because of that one meeting. However, Steven Fuller, one of our board members, came in and told us about the work that Children’s Mercy is doing, and that the Cystic Fibrosis wing does not currently have any fundraising outside of the hospital’s general fund. For instance, Big Slick goes towards Cancer specifically. (NOTE: Big Slick is an annual Poker-themed event put on annually by local celebs Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis and David Koechner)

He then pitched the idea of tracking down enough Storm Troopers and leaning on community businesses, partners, and resources to take over KC. Specifically, on May the 4th we plan on taking over the hospital, and fully expect all of those kiddos to beat up each and every one of those Storm Troopers. Across the 4th, 5th, and the morning of the 6th there will be additional corporate and landmark takeovers across our city from partners. All this being an opportunity for us to speak about the work Children’s Mercy is doing as well as the cystic fibrosis community which resides here in KC.

I figured there was no way this idea passes the board. No way. At all. Never going to happen. And it did – unanimously. Our next step was taking it to Port KC, whom we are an arm of working within their property at Berkley Park, and again I thought there is no way and no how this passes and we are granted permission. They came back with a resounding YES – and a request of how they could help. They actually were our very first sponsor organization to get the ball rolling.

So here we are, 10 months later preparing for the Guinness World Record team to arrive in our city, filling the park with 10,000 of your closest friends and engaging in an incredible day of activities for kids of all ages, featuring an outstanding concert from the Phantistics, a local KC band, and setting a new world record.

MS: Is there an age limit or can anyone interested participate?

SW: Not at all! Come young and come old. You do not need to be a “Star Wars” fan to play a role and be a part of this awesome evening either. Each ticket comes with a lightsaber built just for this event. Also, I want to make it clear that this is a family friendly event, families of all shapes and sizes, and also needs. We have partnered with the “Child Life” team from Children’s Mercy, who are a Godsend, and they are working hand in hand with us to make certain that no matter the child, the adult, and whatever needs there may be – you absolutely can participate. Nobody is excluded in the setting of this World Record. All we ask is that they shoot us a private message – don’t post publicly on our social pages because of HIPPA laws – and we will get you all setup, squared away, and ready for the event.

MS: Is there a current Guinness record for greatest light saber battle?

SW: There are many who have claimed to have set the record. If you hop onto the interwebs, so, so many have claimed it before. However, in speaking with our Guinness representatives, and our judges who are coming to KC – nobody has ever taken the proper and appropriate steps to do so. Therefore, if only one of you shows up…because we have the correct paperwork on file, we get the record. That being said, I have 10,041 lightsabers currently in my garage and would like to use each and every one of them in this attempt and the setting of the record.

MS: Can fans bring their own light sabers?

SW: You can bring your own. We do realize there are collectors and hardcore fans out there. HOWEVER, during the official battle, everyone must use the same light saber for the participants to count. It is a strange rule, I know, but it is the official rule of Guinness and we want to respect their wishes.

MS: Why is this such an important event?

SW: Sadly, a cystic fibrosis patient’s outcome 100% of the time is death…this is why we are fighting. This is why we are staging the event. Children’s Mercy Hospital is the #1 ranked hospital in the world for cystic fibrosis research – that is something to be darn proud of, and as Kansas Citians we need to stand behind them. The cure for cystic fibrosis is going to come from right here in our own backyard, from one of your neighbors. We would rather have the story light, while still taking a nod to the fact that we are fighting with a purpose.

For 14 years, Friends of the River has thrown amazing parties for the city, and on behalf of the city such as Riverfest. We raise funds and support other charities and organizations. Educational activities, park building, river cleanups, tree planting. This is the first time ever we have put the full weight of our machine, organization, and community ties into a cause such as this.

That is the vibe and story line I would prefer. As Kansas Citians we have the opportunity to find a cure for an entire people. Nothing is more important than that.

Website: www.Battle4KC.com
Social Media Handles: @Battle4KC

Singer Amy Lee of Evanescence talks about her new single “Speak to Me”

Amy Lee is the co-founder/lead singer for the Grammy Award winning rock group Evanescence. Lee has also participated in numerous other musical projects and has performed as a solo artist. Amy’s latest release is for the film “Voice From the Stone” starring Emilia Clarke and Marton Csokas. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Amy recently about the film, her experience at Skywalker Ranch and what’s in-store for Evanescence this year.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your new single “Speak to Me”?

Amy Lee: This was quite different for me. Writing a song comes from a lot of different places. This one has a really cool and unique story. It was written for the film “Voice From the Stone” which I got to actually see before writing the song. I really loved the film as it made feel so many different things. Being a new mother I was really able to connect with the film main theme as it centers on the bond between mother and son. For me to watch that and relate it to the new huge inspiration in my life I instantly knew it was something I wanted to do. I spoke on the phone with the film’s director Eric Howell and Michael Wandmacher the films composer and we had a great talk about the directional idea and once we were off the phone I went straight to the piano and came up with the initial idea. That doesn’t always happen with me. Sometimes I can go months waiting for an idea to come that I feel is good enough to move forward with. Working on this track was a very inspiring experience.

AL: Were you basing your idea on a portion of the films score or
was it something completely separate from that?

Amy: When I saw the film the score was there but it wasn’t completely finished. They weren’t looking for me to do anything related to the score. They wanted me to write the one and only song in the film which has lyrics. It was helpful to see the visuals and hear some of what was going on as it helped me envision the finished product.

AL: Was this your first time writing for a film?

Amy: I have actually written quite a few things for movies however, most of the time it hasn’t made it through all of the different doors you have to go through to get to the final product. (Laughs) There have been several things that have made it though. In 2014 I did my first score which was a much bigger undertaking as opposed to doing just one song when I worked with David Eggar on the movie “War Story”. There’s another film titled “Blind” coming out later this year that I worked on the score for as well. My experience working on this latest film was very unique as I was able to travel to Italy and visit the filming locations and I was also invited out to Skywalker Ranch in California while they were mastering parts of the film. That was just a dream come true!

AL: Do you ever find differences between writing solo/Evanescence material and music for films?

Amy: Definitely. When I am writing for Evanescence or for my solo stuff and I am writing something that is supposed to represent me. I have these expectations I set for myself to ensure that whatever I do represents who I am. From the lyrics to the music I want it to showcase me. Luckily there are lots of sides of who we are so I get the chance to go down a lot of roads. When you are writing for something like a movie where you are trying to represent the emotions of a character you have to put yourself in that place and try to speak artistically from that view point. Even though it’s someone else’s emotions you are their voice and vehicle. This is different but it’s a nice change as you are allowed to make other choices

AL: What was it like being able to work at Skywalker Ranch?

Amy: After showing my idea to everyone a couple days after our initial talk and them really liking it I was invited to the Ranch to record. I had never been away from my son at the time as he was only thirteen months old. I had to really think about things as it was such a great opportunity but living in New York I would have to fly across the country to California and leave my baby for the first time ever. We hadn’t even had just a single overnight away from one another at this point. After deciding to do it things really couldn’t have been more perfect. Being away put me emotionally in the right place to write the song as I was dealing with separation which was something the song needed. It was just perfect. The ranch is such a great place for creation. There recording studio is the most immaculate place I have ever seen. I actually stayed there and when you are a guest you get stay in your own private cottage with a bike you can ride from place to place on. The one night I was there I had this idea in the middle of the night so I rode my bike down to the studio and just started working. It was the perfect free space to work. Any chance I get to work there again I will certainly take it.

AL: Can you give us an update on your solo work and what is going on with Evanescence?

Amy: About a month ago I released a new solo song called “What Exists”. Looking at my solo releases I feel like I have released more than I actually have. (Laughs) I certainly feel like I have done a lot. I have done a lot of covers. Doing covers is something you can put your own style to without the pressure of having to write a song. I did some of those covers for Disney a few years back. Evanescence has started touring again and we are gearing up to start next month. We will be in South America for a few weeks then we go to Europe. We are working on a bigger project right now which I can’t talk about just yet but we will be releasing something this year. I am very excited!

AL: Any other projects you would like to mention that you have been working on?

Amy: I worked on the score for an independent film titled “Blind”. The film stars Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. I am not sure of the exact release date for it but I believe it should be coming out this summer, possibly fall. It was a different type of project for me. I didn’t do the soundtrack but as there was a need for music David Eggar would call me. It’s a very different film than “War Story”. For me it’s really fun to be able to work on different things as I get to learn about different genres of music or how to play a different way. There are different feelings which come along with all of that. It’s great to be able to find new collaborators and projects as you are giving yourself the space and a reason to try new things which I think can only be good for you.

Guitarist Alex Grossi talks Maps to the Hollywood Scars and their new EP “Vol. 1”

Alex Grossi is one of the busiest guitarists in today’s music scene. Some of his projects include the bands Beautiful Creatures, Hookers and Blow, Hotel Diablo and most notably Quiet Riot which he joined in 2003. Alex’s newest project Maps to the Hollywood Scars” recently released a new EP titled “Vol. 1” featuring former American Idol contest James Durbin. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Alex recently about the new project and the recent addition of James to the Quiet Riot lineup.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the new project Maps to the Hollywood Scars and, how you and James Durbin came together?

Alex Grossi: I had met James back in 2011 through a mutual business acquaintance when he was doing American Idol. We became friends during that time but lost touch for a few years. It wasn’t until James was doing a residency in Las Vegas recently that we reconnected and I started sending him demos. He was recording some great melodies and lyrics and the more we worked the better things kept getting. Eventually we have almost a dozen songs done. We decided to put out an EP to see how things would go and that led to us doing a second one and so on. Things happened very organically and we are very happy where things are at.

AL: What was the process like for working on the new EP titled “Vol.1”?

AG: I had been working on songs as they came to me for about a year prior. When I sent them to James he immediately got it and was inspired. There was really no set plan for anything but I had been demoing songs for about a year and finally found the right outlet for them. Having James come in has been great and also working with our producer AJ St James and Dizzy Reed who played piano and strings.

AL: How did Dizzy Reed become involved with the project?

AG: I have been playing in a cover band we do called Hookers and Blow for the past twelve or thirteen years. When we wrote the song “Death” I could just hear the string parts and piano parts. I sent him the song and asked him what he could add and what he sent back is what you hear on the record. He did a great job and nailed it.

AL: Are there any plans to tour behind this release?

AG: There have been some offers that have come in but with the both of us now being in Quiet Riot we have to work around that schedule and we would have to put a band together. Right now we are only going to do what makes sense for everyone as it’s hard to schedule something for spring and summer when we already have commitments with Quiet Riot. There has been talk of doing some late night television appearance but as far as a full blown tour we will probably only do a show here or there. It’s a side project and something that we want to keep special. We have plans but we just have to wait for the right time when everyone’s calendars line up.

AL: Can you give us an update on the recent Quiet Riot line-up change?

AG: We just announced James as our new singer and we are currently recording the new album with him titled “Road Rage”. We have bunch of new tour dates that just went up on the Quiet Riot website which will taking us all over the country and also to Canada. More shows keep getting added to it hard to keep up with them all. (Laughs) We are very grateful for the support which keeps us going.

AL: How instrumental were you in bringing James into the Quiet Riot fold?

AG: I was demoing the songs with James and during that time I was sending the tracks over to Frankie to check out. He has been very supportive of the project since I started it so when it came time make a singer change I offered to call James up and see if he would be interested. I called him up; he said he was interested and about two weeks later things were on their way. We did rehearsals and a photo shoot and that was it. It all happened very quickly. James is such a pro in that he came in prepared knowing all the songs and was ready to go. I am very blessed to play with such a great group of guys. We all get along great and I am really excited to get out there with this new lineup.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

AG: Back in 2002 I joined Beautiful Creatures replacing DJ Ashba. We recorded an album called “Deuce” which we just got the rights back to. We remixed and re-mastered that album along with adding a few new things. That is going to be released March 31st. We are calling it “Deuce Deluxe” it’s going to have a bunch of new stuff on it and it sounds really great. I also do a fun cover band with Dizzy Reed called Hookers and Blow which we will be doing some shows here and there. I also am working still with Steven Adler. Getting to see him play with Gn’R this summer was amazing.

For more info on all of Alex’s projects visit: www.alexgrossimusic.com

Louis Theroux on “My Scientology Movie”

British documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux is no stranger to controversial subjects. In his wide-ranging tv career, the unflappable Theroux has immersed himself in subcultures ranging from US TV infomercials to Neo-Nazis and the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. For his first feature film documentary, Theroux acted on a years-long fascination with the Church of Scientology. When the notoriously secretive Church wouldn’t admit Theroux to film their practices directly, the documentary took a much more unique approach. Theroux, director John Dower and crew turned instead to former Scientologists to share their experiences within the church and decided to film re-enactments of their stories. Their filming, including casting their own version of Church leader David Miscavige in the form of actor Andrew Perez, quickly drew the attention of the church. The crew finds itself being tailed, filmed and even confronted on public property. The resulting documentary is at once an entertaining examination of the alleged inner workings of the church as well as a realtime account of the lengths the church goes to to defend itself. The film made its debut at last spring’s Tribeca Film Festival where I sat down with Theroux as well as John Dower and Andrew Perez to discuss their impressions of the church and how the doc came together.

Lauren Damon: Before you started making the film, how much did you know, or thought you knew about Scientology?

Louis Theroux: I think I thought I knew quite a lot—

John Dower: You do know a lot.

Louis: Yeah, I mean but then to be honest with you, I’d first been interested in Scientology you know, more than 20 years ago. And then in 2002 or thereabouts, I made my first approach and took a tour of the celebrity center and basically was in negotiation to make a tv doc that way. That fizzled out. And then about ten years after that, our producer Simon Chinn came to me and said ‘Hey what about a theatrical doc? You know, we could do it on Scientology’ And by then—it was around then that the first book, Janet Reitman’s book,  Inside Scientology came out, I read that…I mean the fact is that you could really make a full time job of kind of reading the stuff that comes out on Scientology. The challenge in a way is to not kind of sink into the quagmire…there’s so many threads that you can follow, you know what I mean?

John: You know there’s stories from the past that could be made to whole films themselves.

Louis: You could make a film about just what [ex-Church leader and My Scientology Movie star] Marty Rathbun did in the 80s.

John: The Lisa McPherson Story…

Louis: The Lisa McPherson story. Or you could do one of Clearwater in the 70s and 80s or Bob Minton. About how he went from being a critic to being a Scientology supporter. Or at least agnostic. I mean it’s a lot of individual…and then there’s whole family stories. Not just Lisa McPherson but other ones…There’s a lot. The challenge is not kind of lack of material. It’s a sort of an overabundance.

LD: And that’s also just before you even get to researching what the beliefs are which is also so involved.

Louis: That’s right.

LD: And then Andrew, what had been your experience?

John Dower, Louis Theroux and Andrew Perez

Andrew Perez: I knew just I’d heard some stories of experiences just sort of on the top—the intro levels of communications and courses. I knew that it was on the surface, or to beginners it was a kind of self-actualization, a kind of self-help, kind of therapeutic…I mean going through past trauma and weeding out sensory things that you associate with that. And seeing The Master. So I did have a kind of a good intuition about the introduction to it and why it makes some people get into it. And also the fact that there was also a sort of deep sea of mystery after that intro couple courses or whatever.

Louis: It’s really interesting because—you know when you read Dianetics, like the kernel of what Scientology is is basically just a kind of take on Pavlov’s dog, isn’t it? It’s just about sort of sensory associations.

Andrew: Yeah.

Louis: And when you read Dianetics, it’s got a volcano and it’s like “This is the most amazing book I’ve ever read in my life!” it’s all “Rome fell because of not having a science of the mind!”…Then you find out it’s all about you stubbed your toe and an ambulance went by and now every time you hear an ambulance, you get a sore toe. And you’re like “That’s IT?!” That’s the modern science of mental health? How could anyone think that that was the answer to life’s mysteries?

LD: Then going back, when you considered doing it as a tv series, what do you think it was that made it warrant making a feature movie?

Louis: That’s a good question. And in a way that’s maybe something John would be better at answering.

John: This is my first feature. Yeah, there are…little nuts and bolts, like I think you need a great musical score for instance. And I do think the music in this film is amazing. The composer Dan Jones did an extraordinary score in this film and it needs a sense of scale. If you want people to play eight or nine quid or fifteen bucks, you know they need to feel like they’re getting something with a sense of scale. And I think Scientology has that built into it anyway. And it needs to be entertaining, it needs to feel like you know, it’s…You can ask Michael Moore, he says about his films he wants them to be like date movies. That people will go on dates. You know, it’s a big deal to go to the cinema these days. And I’d like to think that that’s in our film. I’d like to think that it’s entertaining. It’s got to be, it’s a movie.

Louis: For me, I think also it has to do with like in my tv stuff, it is fundamentally journalism and so I have agency but in terms of my place in the film and how I kind of change and push through the journey through the tv shows, but in this one I really do actually really kind of take the story—take the bull by the horns in a sense. So you’ve got—I’m much more of a protagonist which I think is important for the film to work….You know I’m the guy ‘on a mission’ in a sense.

LD: Had it ever crossed your mind to try and surreptitiously join the church?

Louis: Yeah we talked about it—

John: That was floated at one point.

Louis: Obviously when you’re brainstorming, you don’t—everything’s about ‘let’s talk about…well what’re the merits? What’re the ethics of doing this? How would it feel?’ I think quite quickly we concluded that it didn’t feel right.

John: Bad faith…for something like this.

Louis: Plus you wouldn’t even get to see very much. You know without actually having access to someone inside the SeaOrg and even then it might takes months to really get deep inside…Actually while we were making it, I did go along to the Los Feliz mission to just see what happens when you go in the front door. And just show up and say ‘What is this all about?’ To me it was interesting because I’m fascinated by Scientology but imagining if we’d been filming, it would not have been very interesting. It’s just there is a sort of hard-sell that they do at the church.

Marty Rathbun and Theroux filming an auditing re-enactment

LD: How long were you shooting your re-enactments before you were aware you were being tailed?

Louis: Marty said that ‘This car has turned up before’, do you remember that?

John: I think we were probably being tailed when we didn’t realize. There was a couple of times—that car, that white Toyota pickup truck that’s in that scene—one of our PA’s Shane said ‘I’ve seen that at the hotel before.’ You know, a good few days before. Maybe even on a previous trip. So we were probably being tailed but we didn’t realize.

Louis: The first time Marty tippled that we had been tailed, though I don’t think I believed him at the time, was the day we did the drills at the studio.

John: Oh yeah, he dashed around the corner, didn’t he?

Louis: Yeah, I mean that was the same day as two people turned up filming us who were journalists. I don’t know if they actually were Scientologists but on the same day Marty said ‘This car is suspicious.’

LD: So like a couple weeks in?

Louis: Well no, it was a while, we were filming more than a year. About two months in.

John: So how did they know that we put out a casting for David Miscavige?

Louis: I mean that casting went out on the wire, didn’t it?

John: I guess so.

Louis: So it wasn’t a secret.

Andrew: But yeah that’s one thing that we’ve said was that they knew that you’d done the casting for a young David Miscavige with Marty in the room.

John: With Marty, that was the kicker. So I wonder did they follow Marty the first day he arrived—

Louis: Maybe.

John: So maybe they were following us from the—

Louis: Anytime Marty came into LA, there’s a chance they might have known about it.

LD: Andrew, when you saw that casting how did you react to it? How did you feel knowing you were kind of playing half yourself and half re-enactments?

Andrew: I just came in, I knew they were doing re-enactments, it said like a BBC documentary on Scientology and I just—I knew that they were kind of shooting outside as I was entering, so I was aware of that and I just focused on playing the role. And I didn’t know where it was all going. It was kind of fun…They would go back to England and then they would come back and have some more material for me and it was kind of a workshop at first. Mike Rinder would show up, Marty was normally there. So I was learning through Marty. They were shooting the rehearsals. There’s a lot that you don’t see that was just the process of….So we were in a blackbox theater listening, watching Marty lead some auditing kind of sessions. Then we did that day at the Mack Sennett Studios, a full day of communication TR training and things. But yeah, I knew that there would be some stuff of just me being me…but I just wanted to focus on the role.

LD: Now do you guys have any idea of where all that footage that they shot of you goes?

Louis: I think it goes into an editing suite somewhere probably in Hemet, California and I think they will be piecing it together into some kind of online video.

John: I suspect they’re waiting for the film to be here. It’s already been seen in the UK—been to festivals in the UK, I think they’re more interested about…I have no idea.

Louis: I think they’re waiting to see what happens with our film and if our film reaches a certain kind of having a profile, that they will release their counterpunch.

John: It would be great if—obviously it would never happen but—I imagine theirs is going to be a shorter film given they only filmed us on two or three occasions…It would be great if, you know how they used to have shorts before the main feature? It would be nice to have theirs.

LD: Is the church as prevalent in the UK as it is here?

Louis: No. It exists and it has high profile kind of missions in locations—orgs, they call them— on Tottenham Court Road and by Paddington…but in terms of their actual number of followers, I think it’s really small.

John: No, it’s quite telling that there’s a road in London—Tottenham Court Road— and they have an Org on Tottenham Court Road and actually there was a time when it was very, in 90s even, I worked in the company around the corner and there were always people sitting outside, always people trying to get you to do a personality test but it’s just dead now. There’s like one person at the front desk, which is quite telling in and of itself.

My Scientology Movie is in select theaters, OnDemand and available to stream on Amazon and iTunes starting March 10th. For more information visit MyScientologyMovie.com.

Vincent D’Onofrio talks about his new film “In Dubious Battle”

The Marine recruit slowly going mad. The Norse-God looking garage worker. Orson Welles. A farmer inhabited by an alien bug. A New York detective. These and dozens more are characters created by Vincent D’Onofrio. From “Full Metal Jacket” to “Adventures in Baby Sitting.” From “Ed Wood”, “Men In Black” and the long running television series “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” From “Jurassic World” to the current “Daredevil” and “Emerald City” series, D’Onofrio is a true chameleon, adapting his talents for every new challenge. In his most recent work, he stars as London, a man with the ability to inspire and lead others, in the new film “In Dubious Battle,” based on a novel by John Steinbeck and directed by James Franco. Mr. D’Onofrio took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about the film, collaborating with Stanley Kubrick and what he’s working on next. Or as much as he can.

Mike Smith: What attracted you to the project?

Vincent D’Onofrio: Well, James is just an awesome dude. There’s that. And it’s something different. To do this kind of movie, out in the fields with a very low budget. No frills. Everybody there is there because of the author of the novel. The novel itself and what it means today. Just wanting to be there and participate. Knowing that it’s going to be a very unique variation of this novel in a style that lends itself to what the novel stands for in the first place. Unity.

MS: Had you read the novel before you were cast? And if not, did you read it to get a sense of Steinbeck’s take on your character, London?

VD: That’s a good question. I’m pretty sure I read it when I was younger because when I did read it a lot of it seemed familiar. Maybe because I’ve read so many other Steinbeck novels it seemed familiar. I can’t say for sure I read it as a youngster but I did read it.

MS: You have also directed in the past (Mr. D’Onofrio directed the 2010 horror film “Don’t Go in the Woods”). Is it easier – or more comfortable – for an actor to work for a director who has a true understanding of the acting process?

VD: No. All directors are different. You have to learn that. As a young actor I think you want a director who understands acting but you actually want to work with different kinds of directors. Some directors want nothing to do with your performance. Stanley Kubrick wanted nothing to do with your performance. He didn’t want to discuss the story other then how you were going to approach a particular scene. But that had to do with the writing of the scene and not the performance of it. Not what the result of it was going to be. He didn’t want to discuss it. Now we did re-write some scenes. Not just me but Matthew Modine and Lee Ermey with Stanley. We would come up with dialogue and Stanley would sit there with a typewriter and write it all. And once he wrote it would stick. There was no improvisation after that. It’s different each time and you actually welcome that as an actor. Different kinds of directors are exciting to work with. I loved that James was an actor and that he was in the film and directing at the same time. It’s really comforting to act with the director.

MS: The film has a great cast of actors. Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to?

VD: Oh my God…there are so many. It would be ridiculous of me to even start the list. We could talk about that all day, Mike. All day. There are so many great actors that have since passed away. There are so many young actors today that I love. There are so many actors from my generation that I love that I haven’t worked with. From the generation right before me…it’s a thrilling business to be in and to be the peer of great actors is so interesting and so uplifting.

MS: What do you have coming up next?

VD: My gosh! I think the last thing I did that isn’t out yet – I think it’s still in editing – is the remake of “Death Wish.” Eli Roth directed it. Bruce Willis plays the lead in it and I play his brother. Not much more I CAN tell you. Everything is so hush-hush. I may do a play before the summer. But I Tweeted about it and got in trouble. You can’t talk about anything these days. It’s such a bummer. I’ll just say I have a lot of stuff coming out. A lot of stuff in the can.