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.

Win a Blu-ray of Paul Rudd & Amy Poehler’s “They Came Together” [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of Paul Rudd & Amy Poehler’s “They Came Together”, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on DVD to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Paul Rudd film. This giveaway will remain open until September 12th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all of our Media Mikes readers worldwide. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

When Joel (Rudd) and Molly (Poehler) meet, it’s hate at first sight: his big Corporate Candy Company threatens to shut down her quirky indie candy shop. Plus, Joel is hung up on his sexy ex (Smulders). Amazingly, they fall in love, until they break up about two thirds of the way through, and Molly starts dating her accountant (Helms). But then right at the end…well, you’ll just have to see. (Hint: Joel makes a big speech and they get back together.)

Book Review “27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse”

“27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse”
Author: Howard Sounes
Hardcover: 360 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Named one of Publisher Weekly’s Top 10 Music Titles for Fall 2013 “27 A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse” written by Howard Sounes is a book that takes a look at music’s “27 Club” and the artists who comprise it. Told over the course of 360 pages Sounes looks not only at the artists lives but also at their deaths and from there attempts to compare the artists in an effort to find similarities in these 6 subjects.

When I received my copy of “27” I thought to myself why hadn’t someone thought of writing about this sooner? This so called “27 Club” isn’t just made up of meteoric artist who only experienced a flash of success. Instead the members of this club include influential musicians who during their careers impacted millions of listeners and helped shape their respective genre’s for years to come. The thing I enjoyed most about how Howard Sounes approached this rather speculative topic is fairly interesting. The book is broken in to two parts with the beginning chapters being devoted to the life of each musician and the chapters toward the end of the book relating the deaths of these individuals. It was kind of nice as having followed the careers of both Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse I was able to sort of jump around a little bit as a portion of the material here has been widely documented and I think I am still recovering from the media coverage of both these events even though they were some time ago now.

Those looking for definitive answers on what ultimately ties these musicians together in death might not be too surprised with the information contained in this book nor will the reader find a lot of new or undocumented information on the subjects as I don’t feel that was the authors intention with this book. Instead for the first time the information about these six people is available all in one place combined with one person’s perspective on the events which are surprisingly similar. Combine that with 16 pages eerily fitting black and white photography and “27 A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse” makes for an ok read.

Parks and Recreation's Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and Mike Schur chat about the big wedding episode

February 21, 2013 – Tonight’s Parks and Recreation will see the wedding of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) in a spontaneous ceremony put on by the Pawnee Parks department. The two stars spoke together, along with series Executive Producer and Writer, Mike Schur about the special occasion as well as Leslie and Ben’s relationship throughout the series.

 

Element of Surprise

Back in October, Ben Wyatt surprised viewers with his impromptu proposal to Leslie in one of Schur’s favorite moments of the series so far:

Mike Schur: “I like the proposal the most of the things that have actually aired because I’m of the belief that the most powerful weapon we have in tv these days after sixty years of sitcoms is surprise and that has been our goal with every relationship really and with every non-romantic story we tell on the show we just try to always be surprising to the audience. And that was the idea, we were not going to have the proposal come in the season premiere or in you know, November sweeps or you know, Christmas or whatever. We’re going to do it at a time where it just feels natural and right and that kind of takes people by surprise. That was the plan with the proposal and I think it worked.”

Everyone has to Chip in

Originally planned to take place in May, Ben’s sudden decision to hold the wedding instead at tonight’s Parks Department gala puts the entire cast to work:

Schur: “They basically have two hours to throw it together. So everybody kind of has a role to play. Tom Haverford becomes the officiant and has to get ordained online in like an hour and Donna plays a role in that for the first time we’re going to feature her beautiful and professionally trained singing voice…In order to pull this thing off, in classic Parks and Rec fashion, everyone has to chip in.

 

Will the wedding see Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) looking for ladies?

Schur: “The wedding is really about Leslie and Ben and everyone sort of gets that. So Tom is not—Tom has a desire to kind of shine at the wedding, as he always does in any social situation that he’s in. But it’s not about ladies. It’s about him wanting to be a star at the wedding.”

 

Did Leslie miss having a big production wedding?

Amy Poehler: “Leslie…is a modern woman. So it’s not like she has these weird fantasies about marriage or of weddings necessarily. So she’s kind of a combination of her liking to be in control. And what’s cool about that moment for both Ben and Leslie—because they tend to like to control things—is that they kind of throw things up in the air.”

 

Ben Wyatt as The One

Leslie Knope has dated an assortment of men throughout the series from Louis CK to Justin Theroux, but it became clear to everyone that Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt would be the one to wind up tying the knot with Knope.

Adam Scott: “We thought that it might be—Leslie and Ben might be a couple at some point but I think it was sort of a wait-and-see sort of thing. Because if we got together and didn’t quite click as a relationship…I sort of got the sense that they were gonna try that out and see if it works and if it didn’t maybe find something else for me to do.”

Schur: “The plan was always that this was a love interest and a long-term love interest. Our initial idea for Leslie was that she was gonna have a series of relationships with different men, different kinds of men over the course of the show and that she would sort of learn something different from each of them…She learned something from Mark Brendenowicz [Paul Schneider], she learned something from Louis CK’s character, she learned something from Justin Theroux and we were kind of like oh, Adam Scott, she’ll date him for a while and she’ll learn something from him. It was certainly the plan to have him be the love interest…The first episode—in the Master Plan episode—they have a conversation in a bar and I wrote this thing into it where Ben says to her very casually ‘You want to run for office someday, right?’ and she says ‘Yeah, how did you know?’ and he just sort of blows past it. I mean he’s just kind of got her number, he just kind of gets her. He understands her and what her goals are. And the second episode that we had which was the finale that year called Freddy Spagetti, they have a conversation and Leslie smiles at him and walks off and there’s a shot of Adam looking after Leslie with a smile on his face and as soon as I saw that I kind of realized that not only were they going to get together but they were never going to break up. It became really clear in that moment that this was it.”

Poehler: “It’s chemistry baby, you can’t fight it!”

 

Pawnee after the wedding

As always with Parks and Recreation, work goes on in Pawnee right alongside the romantic plots.

Schur:“In the second episode [tonight’s 9-9:30 half of the hour]… the cold open of that episode is Leslie and Ben coming back from their Honeymoon and just sort of talking about how much fun they had on their Honeymoon but the episode is just a regular episode of Parks and Rec and Leslie and Ben are in the same story. Ben is starting a new job and it’s the first day of work and he’s sort of thrown into this new challenge of his new job and Leslie has an event that she’s planning for which is sort of a correspondent’s type of event where the politicians roast each other and stuff.

And so I think you’ll see right away that there’s sort of a blue print going forward that yea, they’re married now but you know, they also have other aspects of their lives that are very important to them and so I hope and very much feel like that will be the thing that keeps it from feeling like the ‘magic is gone.’”

Parks and Recreation airs every Thursday at 8:30pm on NBC.

Adam Scott, Amy Poehler & Mike Schur talk about this season of “Parks and Recreation”

Last week’s episode (October 25th, 2012) of NBC’s Parks and Recreation managed to do something fairly rare in television these days with a genuine surprise for its audience. For those of you not caught up with your DVR, you may want to click away now.

Granted the episode was titled “Halloween Surprise” but viewers would be forgiven for thinking that Jerry’s “fart attack” was surprise enough. That was until Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) reappeared from his political travels to propose to Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) in their new home. It was heartfelt, funny, and definitely one of the series best moments. Poehler, Scott, and show creator and executive producer, Mike Schur, held a press conference  to discuss this big development in Pawnee:

What the vibe was on set that day and what you all were feeling as you were shooting that scene?

Amy Poehler: When I read that scene I cried because I was so happy that I had my job at Parks and then I got to do that scene with Adam and that Mike Schur wrote it because I knew it would be great.

And it’s very rare, you know, as an actor when you read a scene and you know it’s going to be great, you can just kind of see it. And so when we were shooting the scene I was really excited that we were getting to do it because I was – had really just been looking forward to doing it.

And I was really happy for Leslie, so I think the mood on set was a really kind of joyous one. I know even though it was kind of a sweet scene I know Adam and I were really just happy to have such a well written scene to get to do.

And we care about our characters so we were kind of excited that this was happening for them.

Adam Scott:   Yes, I feel the same way, I mean I also just kind of felt like, you know, this was a really big deal for all of us. I mean we of course are well aware that these are fictional characters that we are playing on television.

But I think we also want them to be happy and want them to be all right and we all care about them. I can say, speaking for myself that I care about them, you know, quite deeply and so, you know, knowing this scene was coming, you know, it was – maybe a little nervous about it but mostly just really happy about it.

And happy to be able to do it and happy for the characters and, you know, so the day we were doing it it was – it was like Amy said very kind of joyous but also there’s a real feeling that this was very special and we wanted it to be special for the fans and for he characters and we were all – it was exciting.

It’s so hard to keep a secret these days. So how did you guys all keep it under wraps?

Mike Schur:   Well there’s a lot of things, you know. We were extra, extra, extra careful not to – when we shot outside and you know, and there’s may paparazzi lurking around, we always would hide Leslie’s engagement ring and although a couple shots of it did get snapped a while ago.

We titled the episode Halloween Surprise and then we built it around what you think is the surprise, which is that they – Leslie and Anne surprised Jerry and he has a devastating fart attack. So that was meant to sort of throw people off the scent.

And I don’t know, we just didn’t – we just tried to telegraph where we were going to much, you know…In the first four episodes we tried to build in, you know, that – like that Ben was having a good time and was working really hard at this job in Washington that he cared about.

But also that there were things about the job that sort of annoyed him, like that the politician that he was – the politician he was working for who was kind of a robot who didn’t really care about anything. And that was contrasted when he called Leslie at the end of that episode and she was so revved up and just wanted to just put boots on the ground and kind of – and fix this problem in her town.

And you saw on his face and in his delivery that he just liked that better, you know. So we just tried to – just not to telegraph in the storytelling where we were going but the goal is that once it happens you think back and you think, oh yes that makes perfect sense.

So it’s just very meticulous, you know, writing and re-writing and story breaking and a lot of discussions with the actors about, you know, where we’re going so that they know how to play different things and how to kind of give certain clues without giving everything away.

And then just, you know, asking everybody on our production staff not to leak stuff to the Internet.

Amy Poehler: And you know, the fans of the show are always – we have such great fans. And they – I think some of them kind of found out or dug deep and they were kind of excited to know but they also I think were respectful and kind of like keep things like, you know, like letting people know about spoilers and just kind of trying to keep it adrift because I think they were as excited as we were.

Mike Schur:   Yes, it’s funny that you say that because I kind of snooped around yesterday before the episode aired and I saw that a lot of our fans had kind of called that it was actually maybe happening tonight…and they were, you know, really cool about it and not trying to spread it around and just kind of talking to each other and not wanting to like spoil it for others.

And I just kind of second that that we have the greatest fans of any show – I really just – we feel very, very lucky.

How connected is your staff in general to the internet?

Mike Schur: Well, I mean I’m – comparatively speaking I’m about to turn thirty seven and there’s a bunch of little whipper snappers on this writing staff and in the cast who are, you know, in their twenties. And I don’t understand anything they do.

There was a line that Leslie had in season two where she said ‘the thing about youth culture is I don’t understand it’. And that came right out of my brain because I don’t have any idea how these people, what they’re doing with their time.

I don’t understand it, it doesn’t make sense to me and I work out my own anxieties about the fact that I’m getting old by having young people do things that I don’t understand and then having Ron Swanson [played by Nick Offerman] scold them.

So, yes they’re incredibly connected, I mean it is absurd, the level to which twenty-five year-olds have merged with their electronic devices.

How much of an influence the supporting actors like Aziz Ansari (plays Tom Haverford) or Retta (as Donna) have over their characters?

Mike Schur: Well the story line last night [Donna live tweeted the Parks Department’s Halloween viewing of Death Canoe 4] obviously came out of real life because Retta has been doing this insane thing where she like live Tweet’s season two of Buffy and it’s hilarious, we all find it hilarious.

And so we just decided to work it into an episode. It’s a common theme on this show that we take aspects of the actor’s real life and kind of weave them into their characters and that seemed very much appropriate for Donna somehow.

So, you know, I think that – I think we do that with all the characters but maybe Aziz and Retta more than – and Nick [Offerman] I guess more than almost anybody else because they just do things in real life that we find funny and the writer’s room and then we try to find ways to work them in to their characters.

But that’s – everyone’s character has some aspect I would say of their real life persona. And it just seems funny to have Donna live Tweeting a terrible horror movie from 1986, so. It was also another extra in joke that the guy who complains to her about it was played by Joe Mande who’s one of our writer’s who is like – essentially lives on Twitter. So it was our little nod to the obsession with Twitter that exists in this – on the writing staff right now.

How are we going to see the proposal really impact the Parks Department?

Amy Poehler: Well, you know that no matter what Leslie will involve and include everyone in her plans all the time. This engagement will be said of everybody’s engagement.

Adam Scott: America’s engagement.

Were there ever any alternative ideas for Ben’s proposal?

Amy Poehler:  I loved that the scene is about everything to come, you know. It’s an empty room, which is – which can be depressing in some respects for some people but in this context it was all about hostility, you know, that nothing had filled that room. That that room was empty and open and ready to be filled with like the future.

And it was really cool that Dean Holland our Director and Mike Schur picked that it happened in front of the fireplace of the empty room, which is just really nice because it was like warm but, I don’t know. I just loved that Leslie looked around to see what was around here and there was just this big empty room, which was like basically the idea, you know, it’s basically what happens when you’re thinking about committing to someone.

It’s just the future seems really wide and open and clean and so that ended up being what it was and I thought it was perfect. But were there other ideas?

Mike Schur: The original original idea was that he was going to sing ‘It’s Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones next to a white tiger.

Adam Scott: Which I was lobbying for.

Mike Schur: Yes, you were really into that. And then we kind of scaled it back, we decided, you know, let’s make it a little, you know, classier and kind of quieter.

Amy Poehler: We couldn’t get – we couldn’t get the rights to the song.

Mike Schur: We couldn’t get the rights or the white tiger so we just used – all right well maybe he just proposes, you know.

Adam Scott: Mike I told you I had a firm connection to both of those things I totally could have made it happen.

Mike Schur: If showing me pictures on the Internet of Siegfried and Roy’s Vegas show does not mean you have a firm connection to anything.

Adam Scott: That is exactly what that means.

New episodes of Parks and Recreation air Thursday at 9:30pm on NBC.

Amy Sorlie talks about writing shark thriller “Dark Tide”

Amy Sorlie is the writer of the new shark thriller “Dark Tide”, which stars Halle Berry. “Dark Tide” was the first screenplay from Amy and she took out some time with Media Mikes to discuss working on the film.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the origin of the project “Dark Tide”?
Amy Sorlie: From a very young age, I was always very fascinated with sharks, especially Great Whites. They’re extremely mysterious creatures and provoke a fear unlike anything else. Like so many others, I was deeply affected by Spielberg’s JAWS and wanted to try and tap into the fear and write a really authentic shark film.

MG: What did you do in order to research sharks?
AS: Halle Berry plays a shark biologist who studies Great Whites. Through knowing their mannerisms and behavior, she has cornered the market on being able to swim outside the cage with them. I did quite a bit of research in the first initial drafts, but it was fun research for me and something I’ve always been interested in. I did a cage dive at the Farallon Islands and that was an amazing experience. I already had a lot of shark knowledge, so most of the research was in dealing with the locations and setting of the film.

MG: This was your first script, what was your biggest challenge?
AS: I think the biggest challenge was just taking it all in when Halle came on board and wrapping my head around the movie actually happening. The ramp up to production was really difficult because it fell apart a number of times and then everything happened so fast. That age old saying is true – once they pay you, they can do whatever they want. I think something that’s hard about the first one is that you’re trying to please everyone while attempting to protect the script, which is a balancing act. In the end, you just have to let go because some things are just out of the writer’s control.

MG: How do you feel the script was represented in the film?
AS: Ya know, this is a tough one. On one hand, I ‘m happy the film got made, but on the other, it’s always really difficult to see your work changed. It’s something every screenwriter will experience in their career and it would be dishonest to say I’m 100% happy with the final script. I think it had a lot of problems and the writer they brought in to do the production rewrite really didn’t have a strong understanding of the material. And unfortunately, some of the financial people involved were making creative choices and that’s always kind of a recipe for disaster. That said, it’s my first produced movie and I learned a great deal of what to do, what not to do and what’s out of my hands. I get compliments on my original screenplay all the time, so at the end of the day, that makes me really happy.

MG: What do you have planned next?
AS: I’m about to hit the market with a new script I just finished. It’s a really fun heist in the vein of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I’m also shopping a cable pilot and working on a wilderness thriller with producer Matt Baer.