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/

Greg Bell talks about working with Sirius/XM on Radio Classics

It was called “the theater of the mind.” Back before television families would huddle around their radio and listen to such popular shows as “Gunsmoke” or “Burns and Allen.” I still have fond memories as a young boy going to bed on Sunday nights and listening to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, drifting off to sleep while picturing the program’s action in my head.

I bought a Sirius/XM radio for my car because I love to listen to the music of the 1970s. But more often than not you’ll find me tooling down the road listening to a great old radio drama on Channel 148, hosted by Greg Bell. I recently had the opportunity to ask Greg some questions about his interest in Classic Radio and why it’s still so popular 50 years after the last program aired.

Mike Smith: Where did you develop your interest in the radio programs of the past?
Greg Bell: As I was born in the 1960s, I was too young to have listened to these shows when they originally played. What is often called “The Golden Age Of Radio” wrapped up in 1962, when CBS, the last network still playing weekly radio theater, ended that with the final episodes of “Suspense” and “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.” Personally I was always a fan of classic media, old films, TV shows and radio. I grew up listening to the revival radio shows including Himan Brown’s “CBS Radio Mystery Theater” in the 1970s and The Elliott Lewis led “Sears Radio Theater” in the late 70s and early 80s. And later I listened to “When Radio Was” during the Art Fleming and Stan Freberg era. The entire reason the XM (now Sirius XM) RadioClassics channel was created was to introduce all these wonderful shows to a whole new audience, who like myself, were not around when they originally aired. Great storytelling is truly timeless, and these shows prove that.

MS: How did the gig at Sirius come about?
GB: In December of 2001, I was hired at XM Satellite Radio in DC for the now-defunct USA Today channel (basically a radio version of the newspaper.) In the summer of 2002, they launched two new spoken word channels, Sonic Theater and RadioClassics. I was hired to run the classic radio channel, and was able to draw on my knowledge of classic films and television to also host the channel. XM merged with Sirius in 2008, and I was retained as the host of RadioClassics. And then following the retirement of Stan Freberg in 2006, I took over as the host of the syndicated series “When Radio Was” airing on approximately 200 radio stations across North America.

MS: You’ve hosted several radio themed cruises. What all do they entail?
GB: What a blast! We are currently preparing for the Fourth Annual Radio Spirits sponsored sea cruise: www.cruisingwithgregbell.com The first three were tremendous successes. While at sea we re-create both classic and original radio plays live on stage with the fans as the actors as well as handling the sound effects also created live. We also have old time radio trivia, show discussions, listening parties, gift bags, and perhaps most importantly it’s a place where I lot of folks, from all over the nation, who love the same stuff (classic radio theater) can meet.

MS: What are some of your favorite radio programs?
GB: Only way to answer that is to break it down by genre:

Comedies: Jack Benny is the king, but for great chemistry and timeless humor; my favorite is “The Phil Harris & Alice Faye Program.” Harris and Elliott Lewis as his pal, Frankie Remley were Cramden and Norton before the “Honeymooners” came along.

The top thriller and mystery series: For me they are “Suspense” and “The Whistler.” Both had tremendous storytelling and featured different themes each week, so it might be a murder mystery one week, science fiction the next and so on.

Police dramas: “Dragnet” was a radio show first and is very well done, but I also recommend “Broadway Is My Beat” (follows NYPD detective Danny Clover) and “The Lineup.”

The Westerns; sure everyone remembers “The Lone Ranger,” “Hopalong Cassidy” and “Red Ryder,” and they are entertaining but were targeted for younger listeners. So my favorites are “The Six-Shooter” (with Jimmy Stewart), “Fort Laramie” (featuring future “Perry Mason” star Raymond Burr) and “Gunsmoke.” Radio’s “Gunsmoke” which debuted three years before the TV version, is easily the best of the bunch. With a whole different cast (William Conrad was the voice of Marshall Dillon) “Gunsmoke” was much more than a western. The writers tackled issues of the 1950s like racism, xenophobia, domestic abuse, etc while setting the stories in the late 19th Century American West.

MS: Why do you think the medium is still popular?
GB: As I said earlier, great storytelling is truly timeless!

MS: With the popularity of satellite radio growing, do you think that radio dramas/comedies could return? Maybe “Screen Directors Playhouse presents ‘Jaws’?”
GB: It’s already here; there are tons of modern radio theater groups all over the country performing both classic and original scripts, so it’s truly alive and well.

MS: Do you have any new programs coming to the channel this year?
GB: There will always be series that our exclusive content provider, Radio Spirits, is able to get legal broadcasting rights to air and/or have digitally restored and prepped for satellite radio, plus they periodically supply us with more “new to the channel” episodes from series we currently feature.

For a list of the weekly shows, click here http://www.siriusxm.com/radioclassics/weeklyschedule

Lake Bell chats about “Man Up” along with director Ben Palmer and writer Tess Morris at Tribeca Film Festival

Man Up, the hilarious new comedy from director Ben Palmer and writer Tess Morris, made its NY debut at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival with the creators and star Lake Bell in a cheerful mood on the red carpet. They along with producers Nira Park and Rachel Prior spoke with me about working on the film.

The film focuses on the awkward Nancy (Bell) accidentally swiping some else’s blind date, Jack (Simon Pegg) and the wild night they have out in London. True to the spirit of Man Up’s main character Nancy, writer Tess Morris was unabashedly honest about how she felt about the premiere, laughing and saying, “First time I’m going to see it with a paying audience–so I’m really excited and also I feel sick!”

Lauren Damon: How did you come up with some of the phrases and strategies that Nancy throws out in this film? The tactical puke? The blowjob paradox?
Tess Morris: Because they’re all actual things in my life! Actually, The Blowjob Paradox is my friend Austin. I have to credit him. That was his theory that I stole. Never be friends with a writer because they’ll just use everything of yours. Tactical puke? Because I’m the least sporty person in the world. So the idea of me actually having to do a tactical puke is sort of like half the joke. But yeah, I just base a lot of stuff on–I have a notebook with me everywhere I go and I just nick everyone else’s…

LD: Like Nancy carrying a notebook.
Morris: Oh yeah! Yeah, she’s very much myself.

LD: Did you write Jack with Simon Pegg in mind?
Morris: No I didn’t, I actually wrote it on spec, but he came on board it quite early and just changed the whole process for me. Because obviously once he was playing Jack, I could just have even more fun with him. And he brought so much to it, obviously. As did Lake. So yeah, that was a very exciting moment when he agreed to do it.
LD: I appreciated how none of your other female characters are mean, how the other date isn’t grotesque or competitive.
Morris: Oh yeah, like she gets her–I just sort felt like it was really important that she didn’t come across as like some young shallow kind of gal. Like she’s really excited for them because she’s a good soul. And I don’t like mean movies, you know? What’s the point?

LD: Can you name some of your favorite romantic comedies?
Morris: Oh yeah! I love Moonstruck. I think it’s underrated a lot. And I obviously love When Harry Met Sally and I also, most recently, Silver Linings Playbook and Crazy, Stupid, Love and Enough Said actually. I really liked Enough Said a lot. I think there’s been a slight resurgance recently.

 

Producers Nira Park and Rachel Prior had worked with star Simon Pegg throughout his entire “Cornetto Trilogy” with Edgar Wright and even earliar than that on UK sitcom “Spaced.”

LD: Can you speak about your relationship with Simon Pegg since you’ve worked with him dating back to spaced?
Nira Park: Eighteen years, seventeen years…we met on Spaced actually so I’d done something small with Channel 4 with Edgar before Spaced, then Spaced was starting up and Channel 4 actually asked me if I’d just do a couple of days a week initially to just kind of help them get it together. And I remember being really nervous when I met Simon and Jessica [Hynes] and I’m a bit older than them and they said they were terrified of me for the whole of the first series but I was actually quite scared of them! And–cause he’s just so bright and so brilliant and so funny–so yeah, I did a couple of days a week at first and then we all got on so well that kind of within a few weeks they were like ‘will you produce it??’ So okay.

 

LD:How did you get connected to this particular script?
Park: Well this script came about, we were just saying, because Rachel [Prior]–well we were all completely obsessed with Bridesmaids because we premiered Paul at SXSW and Bridesmaids was the surprise screening at midnight after Paul’s screening and it wasn’t finished at that point and actually [producer] James [Biddle] and Rachel weren’t there but I came back to London and was like ‘Oh my god, I’ve seen this film! It’s amazing! I wanna make this film!’ and we were just like ‘Why are there no more female writers in the UK who are writing this kind of thing??’ And then literally a couple of weeks later, this script, no one in the UK really writes on spec in the same way–it’s not the same as in the States–and this script just arrived through the letter box written by Tess and she’d kind of written it for Big Talk in the hope that we’d like it. Because she liked the films, the other films. And it was like everything we’d been hoping for! So at that point, we picked it up and we developed it for like a year and a half, we attached Simon kind of six months into the development.

 

LD:When did Lake come in?
Rachel Prior: When Lake came in it was just as we got to the point where we had a script that we were happy with and we were about to sort of start putting together and actually with BBC films and StudioCanal to actually start going into production. And we saw a couple of trailers for In A World and it was like there’s this–we had knew Lake from “Children’s Hospital” but there was something in In a World where we were like ‘Oh my god, she could play Nancy’ It’s obvious she was great at accents. And then we read an interview with her where she had said she studied drama in the UK for four years so we were like ‘Can she do a British accent?’ And she can.
Park: A brilliant one.
Rachel: Some Brits when we tested the film had no idea that she was American!

 

Lake Bell’s previous film, In a World featured her playing none other than a dialect coach with a great ear for accents.

LD:Was it gratifying going from In A World where the subject matter was doing dialects to this full feature where you’re using your British accent?
Lake Bell: It definitely was. You know accents and dialects are very much an obsession of mine. That is very authentic to In a World. So this was definitely on my actor bucket list of things to do was to play a fully realized British character, so yes. It absolutely satiated a desire to play a British character.

 

LD: How familiar were you with Simon Pegg before you paired up here?
Bell: You know I had known Simon’s work and certainly upon first meeting him I noticed we had a good sort of comedic chemistry and you know was excited to kind of go down this journey with him because I thought ‘Yeah, this if is gonna work.’ Especially with Tess Morris’s words which are so brilliantly…I really do attribute the brilliant repartee to her script.

 

Finally, director Ben Palmer comes from having done the feature film of UK TV teen comedy Inbetweeners.

LD: Your previous feature was The Inbetweeners, with just this manic teenage male energy, how was it switching to having a strong female lead?
Ben Palmer: It’s how I respond to a script, to be honest. And so the Inbetweeners was a really big part of my life and when I got sent Man Up, I almost felt they probably had sent it to the wrong person. Because I never thought that I’d be doing a British romantic comedy. But there was something–within the first couple of pages of reading Tess’s script, there’s something in that dialogue that stuck with me. And in a way, it has sort of that sharpness and that speed and the naturalism, I suppose. Those characters are so well drawn that I was a sucker for it, basically. And there’s and edge and there’s a truthfulness and it’s anarchic in its own way. There’s swears, there’s all that sort of stuff that excites me, I suppose. Although it is a romantic comedy, there is a crossover to the Inbetweeners. And it’s nice just to keep shaking it up and do a different thing.

LD: The film takes place over the course of one night, but has so many locations, what was that shoot like?
Palmer
: I loved that hook, that it happened over sort of 24 hours, in one night really. So within that…the challenge is to try and liven it up and move it around and the fluidity and the speed that they’re hammering through this city. It’s trying to find locations, not the easy locations to shoot in, but to go well ‘this is where this would happen.’ And so with that, when you’re doing a low budget film, there’s problems there. Because you can’t close down whole blocks, so you’ve gotta sort of work around general public in a way. But that’s how you achieve something that feels real and honest.

LD: Bowling features heavily in Nancy and Jack’s date, was there a best bowler on the set?
Ben: (Laughs) Simon. Simon’s a pretty good bowler. I’d say he’d edged it.

Man Up opens in UK cinemas on May 29th, while Saban Entertainment has recently acquired US distribution rights. You can read my review from Tribeca here.

Blu-ray Review “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast”

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Mae Whitman, Rosario Dawson, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symoné, Megan Hilty
Director: Steve Loter
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Run Time: 76 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I have been a fan of the Disney Fairies franchise since the first Tinker Bell movie. They have all been very cute and honestly, each one is better than the next…until this one. “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” is easily the weakest in the franchise. The title is misleading as Tinker Bell takes a back seat to her fairy friend Fawn (who was voice re-casted by Ginnifer Goodwin). Unlike the previous films, the one is quite dark and a bit scary for the little ones. It doesn’t have that fairy charm of the previous films either. Plus Gruff aka the NeverBeast is not a likable character at all. I hope Disney resolves this with the next Tinker Bell film.

Official Premise: Return to Pixie Hollow for a heartwarming adventure, Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast. An ancient myth of a massive creature sparks the curiosity of Tinker Bell and her good friend Fawn, an animal fairy who’s not afraid to break the rules to help an animal in need. But this creature is not welcome in Pixie Hollow — and the scout fairies are determined to capture the mysterious beast, who they fear will destroy their home. Fawn must convince her fairy friends to risk everything to rescue the NeverBeast.

Disney is releasing this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy with access in Disney Movies Anywhere. The 1080p transfer is quite impressive still and you can tell the film was made with 3D in mind but, of course, Disney neglected to release on 3D Blu-ray. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is absolutely amazing and very impressive. Singer/songwriter KT Tunstall performs three news songs in the film, including “Float,” “Strange Sight” and “1000 Years” with singer/songwriter Bleu, but it is not the most upbeat song played during the film’s end credits.

The special features like the film is are not very entertaining. “5 Essential Ingredients to Getting Gruff” is a quick chat with Director Steve Loter and crew about the film’s development. “My Dad’s Movie: The True Story of The NeverBeast” features Loter again with his daughter discussing the film. “Jeff Crowin’s Guide to Real-World NeverBeasts” features the well know animal and nature conservationist as he discusses the title character and talks about other “NeverBeast” like characters in real-life. There are four deleted scenes with optional director intros. Lastly “Gruff Love” is a long promo for the film.

Bring on the Magical Mischief – Stitch and Tinker Bell Join “Disney Infinity (2.0 Edition)”

Fans asked for more Disney…and we heard you! Today, Disney Interactive announced that Stitch and Tinker Bell will join Merida, Maleficent and all of the characters from Disney Infinity and Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes in Toy Box 2.0 this fall.

As two of the most requested characters by the Disney Infinity fan community, Stitch and Tinker Bell will deliver their unique brand of magical, mischievous fun to Toy Box 2.0. Players will be able to create all-new adventures featuring the entire collection of characters from across the Disney Infinity universe, along with hundreds of Disney and Marvel-themed items, locations, props and vehicles.

Key highlights include: 

  • Stitch: The lovable “experiment 626″ from the popular “Lilo & Stitch” films comes to the Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 along with his trusty cosmic blaster and the ability to super jump to galactic new heights.
  • Tinker Bell: One of Disney’s most iconic characters, Tinker Bell enters the world of Disney Infinity with her magical healing Pixie Dust and the ability to glide to the stratosphere for fast-flying action.

In addition to the trailer, the new asset pack includes Stitch and Tinker Bell’s character images and screenshots.

The Stitch and Tinker Bell Toy Box figures will be available in retail stores this fall. Additional Play Sets and characters will be announced in the coming months.

About Disney Infinity

Disney Infinity is an interactive gaming platform where players have unprecedented freedom and endless opportunity to create stories and play experiences starring the beloved characters from across the worlds of Disney. Building on the success of last year’s initial launch, Disney Interactive announced that Disney Infinity’s next chapter, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, will hit stores this fall. In the all new game, players use real-world interactive figures to activate original storylines (Play Sets) in the virtual game worlds of popular Marvel franchises and create new adventures with other Disney Infinity characters in the Toy Box mode. Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes is rated E-10+ by the ESRB. For more information, visit Disney.com/Infinity.

Zoë Bell talks about doing stunts and taking the lead in “Raze”

Zoë Bell started off in TV and film by being the stunt double for Lucy Lawless in “Xena: Warrior Princess” and Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill”. Since then she has appeared in every film of Quentin Tarantino’s and even played herself in “Death Proof”. Zoë is taking the next step in her career with taking the lead role in the film “Raze”. She is also in talks to star in “The Expendables” female spin-off “The ExpendaBelles”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about the film with Zoë and her plans to take over Hollywood.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved with “Raze”?
Zoë Bell: Ken Gage came up with the concept years ago and then started fumbling around with the idea more recently again. He and Josh Waller are mutual friends and somehow my name got brought up since Josh and I have been friends for a while. Kenny got excited because he knew of my work with Quentin (Tarantino) and my stunt career. So I came in and met the guys and there was just so much energy and the direction how they wanted to go really appealed to me. We did the short first and then people got excited and from there we did the feature.

MG: How was it going from mega budgeted “Oblivion” to low-budget gritty “Raze”?
ZB: There is the budget obviously, the schedule and the fact that I had such a small role in “Oblivion” and a much larger role in “Raze”. I was also a producer on “Raze”. I do love the crafty tables on big budget movies though [laughs]. They both come with their own freedoms and limitions as well. I just love working on films regardless of the size, so I think that once I am engaged in whatever role I am playing, a fit is a fit and its my job.

MG: Tell us about the physical demands for this film?
ZB: On “Raze” one thing that was difficult is that we didn’t have enough time. We would shoot a fight in the morning and then try and get the next one if possible. The scheduling was very tough. As far as physical excertion, my experiences in the past has always helped me as a stunt woman. A lot of the other girls didn’t come from that background and it was very tough. But everyone just had such amazing attitudes. When I stunt double, I need to make sure the action is seen on the camera through my body not my emotions. So that was the most difficult part for me that I am not used to emoting so much for my roles while still doing stunts.

MG: You are the lead in this film; do you see yourself stepping out from the role of stunt woman to lead actress more in the future?
ZB: Yes, definitely. I would love to. It just feels like the next progression of my career. It is still new to me, scary, challenging and excited all at once. With stepping out of the role of stunt woman, it is hard because it has been my identity for so long.

MG: Would you be against having a stunt woman for yourself in films?
ZB: The reality at the end of the day my job as an actress is the same as my job as a stunt woman, which is to bring whatever I need to bring to the character to make it work. If I am playing a character that jumps out of plane for a living, I will do as much research as possible to participate but I have them bring in a professional skydiver because that is going to make the character more believable. So I am all for making the character as true as possible.

MG: What do you have planned for 2014?
ZB: “Raze” is my main focus for right now but I have a few indie films coming out next year. One is called “Douglas Brown” and another is “Freshwater” in which I play an alligator expert, so that was pretty cool. I have just signed with a new manager and we have been creatively plotting my takeover of Hollywood [laughs]. I have a TV show and a feature that I am really excited about to see if I can get some wheel under.

Book Review “Tinker Bell: An Evolution”

Author: Mindy Johnson
Series: Disney Editions Deluxe (Film)
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Disney Editions
Release Date: October 8, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t just love Tinker Bell? Ever since the first time that I watch Peter Pan, I fell in love. Her attitude was amazing and she is just such a great and lovable character. That feeling got even more amplified when I met my wife 15 years ago and found out that Tink was in fact her favorite character. Now that I have a daughter of my own, she has already watched all the “Tinker Bell” movies and have plenty of merchandise for her. This book takes us through the timeline of Tinker Bell from J. M. Barrie’s original version of the play “Peter Pan” to her latest Disney Fairies” franchise.

Official Premise: “Tinker Bell: An Evolution” is a full biography of the fiery little fairy. Designed in collaboration with the Animation Research library, it contains artwork that has never been seen before. The book is heavily illustrated, highly detailed, and will make the perfect gift for every grown-up who believes in fairies

It is crazy to think about but this character has actually been around for over a hundred years, which literally blows my mind. She started as a spec of light and now is one of the center of one of Disney’s biggest franchises She is a prominent part of the Disney parks as well and even opens every Walt Disney Pictures film with a sprinkling of pixie dust. The book is very impressive and is setup as a three act play. Act I takes us through the origin of Tink. Act II shows how Walt Disney created this amazing character and how she has developed. Act III covers Tink’s latest adventures in the recent years.

The images are super high quality and the book is such an easy read. If you are a fan of Tinker Bell, whether it is from “Peter Pan” or your kids with the Disney Fairies franchise, this book is a must own. Also in addition to this book, I have the privileged of knowing Margaret Kerry, who was the original model for Disney’s character and I know that she is also working on a personal memoir as well. So Tinker Bell may well be over 100 years old but she is still as hot as ever and showing no signs of slowing down ever, as long as people still believe in fairies 😉

Ashley Bell talks about roles in "The Last Exorcism Part 2" and "The Marine 3: Homefront"

We last spoke with Ashley Bell for her first starring role in “The Last Exorcism”, read it here.  Since then Ashley has been taking over the action genre with strong female roles in films like “The Day” and recently in “The Marine 3: Homefront”.  Ashley is also returning to her role of Nell Sweetzer in “The Last Exorcism Part 2” this month.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley again about her passion for these roles and how she enjoys performing her own stunts.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you get involved with “The Marine 3: Homefront” due to your connection with WWE Studios from “The Day”?
Ashley Bell: Yes very much so. Because WWE Studios acquired “The Day” from Toronto Film Festival, it put me on their radar. In talking with them after the release, they wanted to see if I would be interested in working on “The Marine 3: Homefront”. I read the script for the character of Lilly and the role really spoke to me.

MG: What was it about Lilly that drew you to the role?
AB: What I love about Lilly is that even though she is a hostage character she doesn’t give up…she fights. She is more of a wild card. Even if she is retrained with handcuffs, she is searching for the air holes  looking to get out and trying to fight back. I really like that determined spirit that she has. Also in reading Scott Wiper’s script, a lot my scenes are opposite Neal McDonough as well as Mike (‘The Miz’ Mizanin). But Neal is such an incredible actor. There is no one that plays a villain like Neal McDonough. Here is a terrorist but when you first hear him speak he almost makes sense…until he takes it over the top and then you know you are in trouble. I like the arguments that were being fought for – insurance and saving your home and family. So, yes I like the script for sure.

MG: You seem like an actor that isn’t afraid to get out there and get her hands dirty, am I right?
AB: Absolutely! That is when it gets fun for me! If I am not bruised or have some kind of a war wound…then I have not done my job [laughs].

MG: What do you enjoy about performing your own stunts in the action scenes?
AB: Coming from the first “The Last Exorcism”, which I did all my own physicality. Luckily, the roles I am doing now allow me to do my own stunts and going into action. That is really excited for me because I really love action movies! Like I mentioned with these strong female characters. I actually learned Muay Thai for “The Day” and I loved that training. It is just a wonderful form of exercise and I keep it up. Thank God, I did because it takes a lot of stamina in order to be on an action set, which for me is fun. n “The Marine 3”, you see this abandoned cruise ship which has been there for years and that is how it actually looked. It was all rust over and we were doing take after take running down the corridors, up and down the stairs, gun fire going off, explosions, cars are blowing up…and this was what I daydreamed off when I was a kid with my Nerf gun in my tree house.

MG: I got to tell you the the passion is literally coming right out of your mouth. It sounds like you had a blast.
AB: Well, I really did. I really hope I get to continue action since it is a lot of fun for me.

MG: Going from action packed to horror, tell us what we can expect from “The Last Exorcism Part 2”?
AB: This is the continuation of Nell’s story. Here is a girl that is completely shell-shocked from what happened to her. She doesn’t remember what happened at all, she is very vulnerable and shut out from the world. She is drawn out into New Orleans during Mardi Gras and she has to choose between good and evil. I agree do all my own physicality for this one as well. If you have seen the trailer, I do a levitating back bend and I have the stress fracture to prove it [laughs].

MG: After this film are you going to but a “no back-bend  clause in your contract [laughs]?
AB: [laughs] I know right. It is a stress fracture not trauma fracture. I was funny since I panicked when I heard this since I love working out. I love my Muay Thai lessons and taking ballet. So I was afraid I was going to have to stop working out. My doctor actually told me that the cure for something like this is to really build up your core muscles and to actually continue work out. So it hasn’t affected me at all.

MG: How was it for you returning to the character Nell this time around?
AB: It was very different actually. The character of Nell is completely broken. For this script, I was putting her back together and in doing so there was a lot of pieces missing and that is where the devil comes in! And that is where there are scares! Also there is also a different director on board, so it has a very, to be be redundant, different feel than the first one. It was a very new Nell.

MG: You’ve got action, horror – what do you have in the cards next?
AB: Well I am really happy to announce, I have also have a romantic comedy coming out. It is called “The Bounceback” and it is going to be premiering at SXSW 2013.

Margaret Kerry reflects on modeling for Tinker Bell in Disney's "Peter Pan"

Margaret Kerry is known best for her role as the live-action reference model for Tinker Bell in Walt Disney’s animated feature, “Peter Pan”. She also worked as the live-action reference model for the Red-Headed Mermaid in the lagoon sequence. With Disney’s “Peter Pan” being recently released on Blu-ray, Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Margaret about her role in the film and working with Walt Disney himself.

MG: How did you end up working as the model for Tinker Bell in the Walt Disney Pictures animated feature, “Peter Pan”?
MK: It may sound like I am going too far back but it is really not. I was adopted when I was 3 1/2 years old by this wonderful couple that were old enough to be my grandparents. They had no idea what to do with a tiny kid. They thought that I cute as a button and talented, so they started training me in acting. I got into Central Casting and I started working at 4 years old. I started in a movie called “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and I made $8.50 a day, which was a lot then. So my mother became a “Hollywood mother”, but she really wasn’t very good at it [laughs]. I remember the first time I walked onto Warner Bros lot, it was terrifying. I worked with Meglin Kiddies, which is the group that MGM hired for their films. Producer Al Burton started out and put me down as a co-host of a local show where we found talented high school kids and put them on the show. At the same time, I was working in radio and was cast as the eldest sister on “The Ruggles”. I also had done the Eddie Cantor movie “If You Knew Susie” and you can see me on YouTube dancing up a storm. Next, I got hired to do a movie at Fox. So while, I was working at Fox I got the call if I wanted to try out for the reference model of Tinker Bell. Also while I was working at Fox, I was with a choreographer named Roland Dupree, whom I ended up getting him the reference model for the character Peter Pan. So all come around that is how it happened.

MG: Can you reflect on your experience working with the legendary Walt Disney?
MK: I have worked at almost every studio in town by the time I was working at Fox. So I was pretty well-versed at what studios were like. When I got the call from my agent that I might have a chance at working at Disney Studios, Michael I can’t tell you how exciting that was. During those times, Disney was the premiere studio to work with. It was just thrilling. In fact, I was just there a few days ago and it is still just as thrilling. Everything is for the employees. Creativity is blessed there. And Mr. Disney himself was just great. You will see in my book (more on that below) photo archives found two photos with him working on the same sound-stage as Buddy Ebsen. He would then come over and chat with Marc Davis, who was the animation director of “Peter Pan” and I got to chat with him at least five times. There were people who worked in the studio for over a year and never even met Walt. So I was so fortunate. I went to school with both of his daughters at Monticello School for Girls, while they were there for a short period. So I spoke to him about that and it was like I was the only person in the whole world. It was such a great experience.

MG:How long did you work on the film?
MK: It was about 9 months. But I wasn’t there every day. I also voiced the red haired mermaid in the lagoon along with June Foray and Connie Hilton. I said lines like “Oh Peter, we just wanted to drown her.” We also did the live-action work and had our legs bounded together and we had to slither around. It was just fabulous.

MG:Where you ever approached to model for any other Disney films after “Peter Pan”?
MK: I got married and had a family. When I met Jodi Benson, from “The Little Mermaid”, I told her that I was the great-great-grandmother of Ariel and we had a great laugh. But I ended up going into voice over. I speak 21 different dialects and 48 different voices. So I worked on shows like “Clutch Cargo” and “Space Angels”. So my primary focus was voice-over and radio. But they keep calling me back each time they re-release “Peter Pan”.

MG: Tell us about your autobiography “Tinker Bell Talks: Tales of a Pixie Dusted Life”?
MK: I am shooting for Valentine’s Day 2013, but of course you never know what can happen with printers. There are 110 chapters, none of which are over six pages. There are 80 photos and some really fun stories. Did you know I produced an animation short for George Clinton from Parliament-Funkadelic. In 10 days, I produced seven minutes of animation for one of their concerts. There is a funny story about that because this as well.  Since my boss (at the time) did not get the cash for the animation when it was delivered, I had to go and track down this group of people on the Sunset Strip. There are all these very tall black men around me and I am only 5’2 [laughs]. I walked up to them looking to get paid. We had a great laugh and they were such nice people. Those are the some of the stories included. It has been great fun to work on.

Interview with Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell is the star of TNT’s “Good Morning Killer,” which premieres Tuesday, December 13. Catherine is also known for her role in TV series like “Jag” and “Army Wives”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Catherine about her new movie and what we can expect.

Mike Smith: Did you enjoy the experience of playing the character, Ana Grey?
Catherine Bell: Yes, I really did. I’d never played an FBI agent and found it fascinating just trying to get into the mind of a kidnapper, a rapist and track this guy. It sounds very fascinating. Obviously it was based on a wonderful novel, so we had a lot of things to draw from. It has been a very rich, rewarding experience actually.

MS: There are several other novels featuring your character. Is this something you’d like to continue doing later again revisiting this?
CB: I would love to. It’s actually something we talked about from the beginning. It ended up being such a wonderful filming experience. I think for all of us involved that we were instantly hoping to do more. So hopefully it goes in that direction.

MS: Is there an aspect of this character that you connect with or you really just didn’t like?
CB: I actually found her fascinating. She’s not a perfect woman by any means. She’s very smart, very good at her job, very much in control there. But very much not in control in her personal life, picks very bad relationships.  She definitely has some issues, which I found as an actress really fun to play.

MG: If IMDB is to be believed, William Devane started working the year you were born. What was it like working with such a veteran actor?
CB: It was fantastic. He plays my grandfather in the script as a great character, kind of just a crotchety old cop who thinks he knows better then me. He thinks the FBI are a bunch of whooses, so we have this sort of love-hate relationship. We had a blast. He’s definitely been around and knows how to fill a character’s shoes. It was really fun.

MS: What were some of your favorite moments that you had from filming on, “Good Morning Killer?”
CB: Oh, let’s see. So many. It was really, really one of the best experiences I’ve had filming, both the story and everyone involved in making it. All the actors were really wonderful from Cole Hauser and Titus Welliver and some great, great talent. But I don’t know. I loved doing the scenes that involved the killer, the bad guy. Those were – without giving anything away or what kind of scenes they were, very intense and very emotional and, yes, kind of very challenging to shoot a well. But yes, those are probably my favorite I would have to say.

MS: Why do you think people will want to take the time to watch, “Good Morning Killer”?
CB: Well, if they’re anything like me, they like to be entertained and so many people – myself included – like mysteries and thrillers and I know I’ve always been fascinated with serial killers. And to me it’s fascinating. So to have something that’s based on such a wonderful novel with such a great story I think makes for some good, fun popcorn-eating, soda-drinking movie watching.

MG: What’s your workout routine like to stay in shape for these roles?
CB: You know, most of the workout is done before we start filming. Once we start filming, honestly, especially something like this where I’m in every single scene, every day. I don’t think I had a day off on this one. So it becomes harder and harder to work out. You’re getting more and more tired and you just do a few pushups here and there, sit ups, you know, in the morning. But before I start filming, it’s pretty rigorous. I definitely do, like, an hour, hour and a half, sometimes up to two hours a day just getting in shape, lean and strong. Also doing some martial arts and whatever else I can depending on the role.

MS: What other projects are working on?
CB: Well, let’s see, we’ve got – I’m doing Army Wives right now. We just got picked up for ten more episodes in this season. I’ll be busy for a little while and we’ll do 23 episodes now. Also hoping to for maybe another “Good Morning Killer” movie or series after “Army Wives”. I have also some other projects that I’m working on as well as the producer and developing. I’m always busy…always working on something.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” Sets Sail on Blu-Ray


PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES: The Walt Disney Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer Films are proud to present the #1 worldwide box office success of 2011 – making over $1 billion globally – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in stunning high definition Blu-ray™, eye popping Blu-ray 3D™ (a first for the legendary franchise) and Movie Download on October 18, 2011.

Setting sail on an ocean full of hi-def adventures, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will debut in a Limited Edition 5-Disc Combo Pack (1-Disc Blu-ray 3D + 2-Disc Blu-ray + 1-Disc DVD + 1- Disc Digital Copy), a 2-Disc Combo Pack (1-Disc Blu-ray + 1-Disc DVD), and for the ultimate fan a 15- Disc Four Movie Collection. Additionally the movie will be available in 3D and High-Definition Movie Download.

The Limited Edition 5-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack includes hours of bonus materials offering fans a deeper dive inside Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides including immersive Disney Second Screen technology, exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences, Fountain of Youth mythology, an extensive look at mermaids, bloopers, deleted and extended scenes, and much more.

In addition, the Pirates of the Caribbean 15-Disc Four Movie Collection offers fans more adventures than ever before. The Collection is packaged in an authentic replica Pirate’s Chest, and includes a collectible map and an iconic skull disc case that holds the Blu-ray™ discs and digital copies of ALL four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, along with the Blu-ray 3D™ disc and DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed by Rob Marshall (Nine, Chicago), and written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, National Treasure 2Mask of Zorro), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the latest addition to the incredibly successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise that has for years entertained audiences of all ages with its thrilling adventures, hi-tech special effects and unique storylines.

Back as Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp (Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Alice in Wonderland) returns leading a sensational cast of talents that includes Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech), Ian McShane (HBO’s“Deadwood”) and more.

The visually stunning film shot in high-definition 3D invites viewers to embark on an adventure-filled ride with Captain Jack Sparrow as he searches for the breathtaking Fountain of Youth. Along the turbulent trip, fans are forced to re-think their knowledge of fairytale creatures when they are introduced to a group of alluring yet precarious mermaids, traverse isolated islands and fight international enemies.

Film Synopsis:
From Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer comes all the fun, epic adventure and humor that ignited the original. Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. A tale of truth, betrayal, youth, demise — and mermaids! When Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penélope Cruz), he’s not sure if it’s love or if she’s a ruthless con artist using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, Jack doesn’t know who to fear more —Blackbeard (Ian McShane) or the woman from his past. Directed by Rob Marshall, it’s filled with eye-popping battle scenes, mystery and all-out wit.

Ashley Bell talks about role in "The Last Exorcism"

Ashley Bell is the star of the new horror film “The Last Exorcism”. She plays the tortured young girl Nell who gets possessed. YES, that really is her doing that back bend, BTW. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Ashley about her role in the film and her growing career.

Click here to purchase “The Last Exorcism” DVD or Blu-Ray

Mike Gencarelli: What inspired you to be an actor?
Ashley Bell: I come from an acting family.  Both of my parents (Michael Bell and Victoria Carroll) are actors and my grandparents were actually vaudeville performers who went into publicity.  So it’s kind of the family business.  I like doing character roles.  I love researching and getting as far away from who I am as possible.  I discovered that in high school and have stuck with it since.

Mike Gencarelli: How does it feel to be starring in your first major role in “The Last Exorcism”?
Ashley Bell: Oh my God!  It’s incredible.  It’s incredible!  When I first went to audition for the role the character of Nell just hit me so strongly.  I fought so hard for this role.  The audition was actually me getting Exorcised in the casting office.  So there I was in this casting office in West Hollywood with a cameraman hovering over me while I’m having a demon summoned out of my chest and writhing around on the floor.  I thought to myself “my parents would be so proud right now.”  The character of Nell is so huge…to be able to research the role and go to Baptist churches…read every book on Exorcisms and talk to people…it was so much fun.  There was so much to explore.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you develop your character, Nell Sweetzer?
Ashley Bell: The director (Daniel Stamm) told me to watch all the “exorcist” films I could and “not do that.

Mike Gencarelli: What was the most challenging part of the production?
AB: When it ended, I think (laughs).  That day was the hardest.  I loved every single day on set.  We filmed on a plantation about 30 minutes outside of New Orleans on the bayou and between the bugs and the alligator that crawled on set and the humidity…it all lent to a really eerie and creepy feeling that is conveyed so beautifully in the film.  Actually one of the most fun and challenging days was filming the second exorcism scene when I did the back bend.  I didn’t know it was going to be required of me physically on set.  I prepared about a month before doing back bends and Daniel asked me if I had anything I wanted to try…any input.  And this being my first film I never would have dreamed in a thousand years that I’d be allowed to give any input. So I said yeah, I’ve been thinking about this and this and he said “good, good…put it in.” And the next day we ended up doing about 20 takes…we started early in the morning and went way late.  There was a thunderstorm in the middle of the day and I’m on the set just covered from head to toe in fake blood.  It was great fun.  Not only being challenged like that but having my opinion asked.

MG: Have you seen the finished film? More importantly, did it scare you?
AB: I did see it.  I saw it for the first time at the L.A. Film Festival.  It did scare me.  I live in Los Angeles and after the movie I went back to my old room in my parents’ house to sleep.

MG: Are you a fan of the horror genre?
AB: I am a fan.  I started watching horror films with my dad when I was about eight.  I saw “The Exorcist” when I was ten…and also slept with the lights on.  We watched everything.  We watched “Jaws” and “Pumpkinhead” and “The Gate”…”Poltergeist.”  I was raised on all of these horror films.  And Greg Nicotero (a long time friend of MovieMikes) did all of the special effects work.  I did all of the physical stuff but he handled the effects.  And getting the chance to go to his studio and see the “things” I’ve watched for years was mind blowing.  And Eli (Roth, producer of the film) is such a master in the genre’.  He knows how to build stories…how to build suspense.

MG: What are you working on next?
AB: There are a couple things brewing but I can’t really go into details.  But everything is going well.  To get the chance to experience the whole aspect of the job…doing publicity and getting interviewed…photo shoots.  Sometimes you can go your whole life as an actress and never get to experience that.  This film has been so much fun.  And it’s opened up so many doors.  I’m writing and developing a cartoon show.  I continue to work with the Groundlings (her mother was one of the founding members of the improve group.  I guess I’m hoping to just continue to work.

Click here to purchase “The Last Exorcism” DVD or Blu-Ray