Grace Kaufman talks about her role on the CBS series “Man with a Plan”

Teen actress Grace Kaufman has appeared in a variety of television shows including “The Closer” “2 Broke Girls” and the “The Last Ship”. Graces newest role has her playing opposite Matt LeBlanc in the CBS hit comedy “Man with a Plan”. Media Mikes has the chance to speak with Grace recently about her role on the show and also about her new film “Brave New Jersey”.

Adam Lawton: Tell us about your role on “Man with a Plan” and how the role came about?

Grace Kaufman: I play Kate Burns on the show. She is a very fun role to play because not only does she have a little bit of sass along with some rebellious qualities but she also really loves her family. That’s where I feel I connect with the role. Kate can be disobedient but loving at the same time. I had heard about the role by going through the normal auditioning process. I got the script and immediately fell in the love with my character Kate. I knew she was definitely a role I wanted to play. After my first audition I received a call back and that’s when I met Matt LeBlanc for the first time. That was very exciting for me as I have always loved his work. I found out shortly after reading with him that I had gotten the role and I was just over the moon about it.

AL: Was the role fairly laid out when it was presented to you or were you allowed to develop certain traits
of the character on your own?

GK: There were definitely some parts of the character that were already set ahead of time but, I also brought in my own set of traits and personality to the character. I think that’s what makes things more natural. I was very grateful for the opportunity to do that I was able to explore the character of Kate and really get to know her as well.

AL: What has it been like working alongside Matt LeBlanc?

GK: When I first met Matt at the initial call back it was like meeting one of your idols. I loved him on “Friends” and I have enjoyed his other work as well. Matt is very talented and a brilliant actor. To be in the same room and read with him was such a cool experience. Just being there was very exciting. We did our read through and there was some notes they gave me for the next read and everything just went from there.

AL: The show recently got picked up for a full run. What do you feel makes “Man with a Plan” stand out from other family based comedies?

GK: I feel like the show is not only one that’s fun for the whole family to watch but one that every member can relate to. I feel like a lot of the situations that happen on the show are things that happen to real families. That’s what I think makes the show so special and enjoyable for families to sit down and watch together.

AL: Was this your first experience filming in-front of a live studio audience?

GK: I have done some guest starring roles on shows which film in front of live audiences so I had some experience with that going in to this show. This was my first show that I was a series regular on where there would be a live audience. Even though I had done guests spots before in similar settings it was still very exciting and a bit nerve racking. The more we work in-front of the audience the more I have been able to see that they are not there to judge us. They are there to support us and laugh with us. Knowing that has made me start to feel very comfortable in-front of them now.

AL: You also recently had a film premier at the Austin Film Festival. Can you tell us about that?

GK: The film is called “Brave New Jersey”. I filmed that about a year ago in Tennessee. It was a lot of fun as I had never been to that state before nor had I ever done a period piece. The film takes place in the late 1930’s on the night of Orson Wells “War of the Worlds” broadcast. It’s set in a small town in Lullaby, NJ which overhears the broadcast and assumes real aliens are in-fact invading. The premise is based around if you know you only have one night to live what would you do? Having never done something like this before it was a lot of fun and I got to work with some really great people that I learned a lot from.

AL: What are your plans for the coming year?

GK: We start filming “Man with a Plan” again in January so I have that to look forward to. I also have a role on the show “The Last Ship” which is on TNT that just got picked up for a fifth season. I start working on that in April. I have been working on that show for about four years now so I am very excited that we are coming back for another season. The cast and crew have become like a family to me there. It’s quite different than “Man with a Plan” but they are both special to me in different ways. Shooting this fifth season is going to be really great.

For more info on Grace and her projects you can check out her various social media accounts at @ImGraceKaufman

“Star Trek: 50 Artists. 50 Years” Lands at New York’s Paley Center

September 16- “Star Trek: 50 Artists. 50 Years”,  which made its debut at this year’s San Diego Comic Con opens up to New York fans today at the Paley Center for Media in midtown. The exhibition, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek television series, features fifty pieces from ten nations as well as tie-in fan screenings and whimsical photo ops sure to please the Trekkies of Manhattan. Noteworthy amongst the art on display is a piece of the famous Vulcan salute by none other than the late Leonard Nimoy himself.

Work by Leonard Nimoy

To my eyes, Spock looks to be favored character by the show’s artists, including a digital illustration from Stanley Chow whom I spoke with at the exhibition preview:

Where are you from?
Stanley Chow: I’m from Manchester England.

What Inspired you to choose Spock?

SC: I think like when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s and then watching reruns of Star Trek, the first person I kind of looked up to was Spock. He seemed like the more intelligent one and slightly different. I guess with me it was–when I was growing up, I was the only Chinese boy in the village, you always kind of–I felt you needed someone different to look up to and aspire to, you know? And Spock was always the one, with his cool, calm, collected demeanor. And his pointy ears.

Artist Stanley Chow with his work

Do you have a favorite Spock moment?
SC: There’s not been a favorite moment, but I’ve always liked the kind of relationship he had with Uhura. You know? It was never kind of like a fully fledged relationship. It was always kind of like an underlying thing…Which was sort of my life with lots of girls when I was growing up.

Do you enjoy Zachary Quinto’s take on the character?
SC: Oh, I think he’s amazing! When he was picked, obviously he was off of “Heroes”…And then once he puts the ears on and he does his thing [in the] movies, he’s the only actor–it’s sounds kind of cliché to say he’s the only actor who could do Spock but he’s done it so well but that’s why it’s become a cliché isn’t it?

Head of CBS consumer products, Liz Kalodner was also on hand to celebrate the opening.

Do you have a Star Trek favorite character?
Liz Kalodner: Well Captain Kirk is the classic, c’mon! Although I have to say, Captain Janeway [From Star Trek: Voyager], also pretty good.

Do you enjoy the new film franchise?
LK: Oh, absolutely. i think JJ Abrams has done a wonderful job. It’s brought in a new, younger audience, and really has given the franchise great energy.
As you’re from consumer products, I noticed you’ve got a fictional cereal here in the exhibit, is that a favorite item?

LK: Yeah! So that’s by an artist named Juan Ortiz who loved Star Trek from when he was a kid and actually had that idea when he was a child. And he always wanted to do it. And I don’t know if you saw the back but there are cutouts, trading cards, because cereal boxes always had you know, the free in-pack or on-pack, so he created that.

Since Star Trek is coming back to TV are you getting ready with your department for that?
LK: We are getting ready! We’re working with showrunner but it’s all in the development stage. But it’s a wonderful time to be in the Star Trek business.

“Star Trek: 50 Artists. 50 Years'” brief stop in NYC concludes on September 25th. Details on the Paley Center’s screenings to coincide with the exhibit can be found here.

The Paley Center for Media is located at 25 West 52nd Street.

PJ Byrne reflects on his role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and his new show on CBS “Intelligence”

PJ Byrne is known best for his scene stealing roles in films like “Final Destination 5”, “Horrible Bosses” and most recently in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”. He is also the voice of Bolin in Nickelodeon’s hit animated show “The Legend of Korra”. PJ is not only a great actor but also a great personal friend and Media Mikes got to chat with him about about his role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and his new show on CBS “Intelligence”, which premieres on January 7th.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved with “The Wolf of Wall Street”?
PJ Byrne: Having gone to Boston College as finance major, this was one of those movies that I had been tracking for a while. I wanted to make sure that I got an audition for this film. Mr. Scorsese wasn’t going to be at the auditions and they would be held in New York not Los Angeles, so I decided to put myself on tape and improvise my own monologue. So I came up with this monologue with me calling up a guy and finding out that he passed away from his wife and I end up selling her like $100,000 dollars’ worth of stock, just to show how manipulative these guys where. Mr. Scorsese saw it, loved it and asked me to come out to New York to audition. So I went there and was freaking out but he is just the coolest guy there is man. He put me at ease, I improvised some more and next thing I know I am in the movie and for the part I wanted, which was even better.

MG: What was it like working a legendary director like Martin Scorsese?
PJB: It was a really special experience. He is this great iconic director that if you are lucky you get to work with as an actor. The thing with these iconic directors is that they are also great communicators. They give you the confidence to go out and do anything you want but at the same time they also prepare you so well during that process. At the end of the day, he realized that he wasn’t in from of the camera we were and he just let us do our thing. That was the greatest gift that he could give. The trust he gave me and confidence he gave me to sort of unleash because a lot of the things I did was improvised, which is a scary world in its own but I have been doing it for a while now. It is also scary in the sense that these guys are extremely unethical and crazy guys, so I have to leave PJ at the door and go in and become this character.

MG: How can you address the reactions about people saying that the film is glorifying these characters?
PJB: You want people in America to know how bad these guys are, so you want really get into these characters and portray them correctly. So if anyone ever calls you on the phone, be aware since these people are out to get your money. This is a great way to tell people to be very aware and to raise your radar and in this film, we do it in an interesting way. Removing the fact that this is an artistic movie, we really break down what these guys are doing and how they are taught to sell. Not saying that all guys that sell you stocks are bad but this movie is aimed to raise your awareness to watch and realize who is handling your money. If I learned anything in college is that, first, there is no such thing as a free lunch and second, no one cares more about your money than you do. I think it is important for people to watch this movie so it is seared into their brain.

MG: How does it feel to be called a “scene stealer” in your films?
PJB: I guess it is flattering to be called that but I do not go into a scene thinking that I am going to steal this scene. I think it is a lot of preparation, especially when you are improvising. I did all my work and I know my character. If you wanted me to sell a cupcake, I was so prepared for this guy and I could have sold anything in that moment, using “Wolf” as an example. So that is one thing, the other is coming armed with not necessarily jokes but different approaches to the role. Let’s say I prepared like twenty things and I only use two, I am still fully armed and ready. The third piece of preparing is being ready to roll with it and see where any of it goes. What you prepared might not be useful at all since the director and actors might be thinking about something else. But since you know the character so well, you are ready to go any which way. In the film, there is a bunch of stuff that I prepared for and then there are other parts we just went with. I had no idea that Jonah (Hill) was going to do the part of “Don’t look him in the eyes” and we ended up just riffing off that. I had that horrible line the first time that we see Margo (Robbie) and the line that came out of my mouth even scared me, which was “She is so hot, I would let her give me AIDS”. As horrible as that line is that is exactly who these guys were though. It is inappropriate because the time period is inappropriate with AIDS but is something that is going to stick in your head. This goes back to the idea of glorifying them; this was there to show that these are bad dudes and to be wary of them. So it is not just about scene stealer, it is about being prepared when going into a role.

MG: Let’s talk about your new TV show on CBS called “Intelligence”, tell us what we can expect?
PJB: After doing “The Wolf of Wall Street” and I have done a lot of comedies, you can’t plan this but I have always thought in the back of my head that I would love to do a drama. This came along and everything worked out and I feel just blessed to be a part of it. Everyone involved is really cool and I love the premise. This show is great mixture of “Homeland” meets “The Bourne Identity”. Being a guy that loved watching James Bond as a kid and in this I get to be the Q character a bit was very appealing. I also have this family relationship since Josh’s character who is considered a brother to me and having that conflict there was also interesting.

MG: Can you give us a run down about your character, Nelson Cassidy?
PJB: I am a computer genius in the show. I can do anything that Josh’s character can do on the computer…except he can do it 1.6 billion times faster because he has a microchip in his brain. So that is very annoying to me. My father created this chip and Josh’s character and he looks to him as his own son as he is a brother to me…except Josh is incredibly handsome and I am not as good looking, so that is a point of contention. I can get into fights but he is a trained Delta Force guy, so he can kick ass better than me…and that is annoying. So there is a lot of that brotherly jealously going on if you will [laughs]. But he is my brother and I have his back and we are always there for each other and that is a cool part of the show. When you have that family aspect when working on a show and you play a scene with a person you know or a co-worker you have to be more delicate. But when it involves your brother you can go from 0 to 10 right away and to me that is much more interesting. Another aspect of the character that I love is that I am not just behind a computer; I actually get to be put into the field. I had to shoot guns, save people and pull bombs out of bodies, so it is awesome from that perspective. The last aspect that I loved about the show is that I am like the person at home watching being thrown into this world where Josh’s character is the complete opposite and trained to be in this world. Meghan Ory’s character Riley is Secret Service, so she is also trained to be in this world. Same goes for the character Lillian, who is played by Marg Helgenberger. I just happen to be this super genius and by default I was just thrown into this world. So I do not know how to be a “super-agent” and I had to slowly transition into it and I found that to be a lot of fun to play out.

MG: What else do you have going on for 2014?
PJB: I’ve got this show right now. So this is the first time that I haven’t had to do pilot season, which is a little scary but still comforting. I get to go off now and go into the movie world. I got something brewing but I can’t say officially yet. I have a little window now to shoot something because if the show gets picked up then we go back to work in June. Then I still have “The Legend of Korra”, which is coming back for its third season and let me tell you…it is awesome! We are currently doing ADR and I have seen it all and fans are going to freak out since it’s that good. I am so proud to be a part of that show. So for now be sure to tune in to “Intelligence” on CBS and watch out for some other great projects in the works this year.

Christina Cha talks about competing on Season 24 of CBS’ “Survivor”

Christina Cha appeared on season 24 of the CBS hit reality show “Survivor”. Christina talked recently with Media Mikes.com about her experience on the show and also about some of her current projects.

Adam Lawton: What first prompted you to try out for “Survivor”?
Christina Cha: I had been a fan of the show since I first saw it back when I was still in high school. I thought it was amazing to see a show that takes someone from their normal adapted elements and puts them into these really harsh environments. I also am a very competitive person and I love playing games. In about 2010 I was working in corporate America and due to the economy I got laid off twice. I felt really sorry for myself as I didn’t understand why this happened. I took it very personal which is something I normally never do. I saw an open casting call for “Survivor” and did it absolutely last minute. I think there was only about 48 hrs. left to submit a video. I thought that it was something I had to do and I knew it was something I could be good at. I took my phone and shot a video of me being as obnoxious as I could be. (Laughs) From there I started going through the audition process and ended up on the show.

AL: Can you tell us anything about the audition process?
CC: I can’t say too much about the audition process. There are multiple stages that you have to go through. You start with your video and go from there. I had got through on my first try but I have talked with other people who have applied a bunch of times and they didn’t even get a call. I had gone in to a couple interviews and I also did one over the phone.

AL: Is there a certain memory that sticks out for you from the show that the viewers didn’t get to see?
CC: There were parts. When they are taping these reality shows they are taking about 3 days of footage and condensing it down to a 40 minute segment. There was a lot of stuff missing. You didn’t get to see me strategizing a lot which had fans thinking I was the most clueless player on the show. There really is no way to be a clueless player and make it as far as I did. I think the editing on me was a little unjust because I am not the type of person who likes to speak ill of anyone. That’s just something I don’t do. I tried to play the game very honest and true.  What I did in the game was to not give out any information. I am a terrible liar so I would just stare at people. I really was just trying to figure out what was going on in the game and figure out my placement from there.

AL: Was having the cameras around the entire time one of the more difficult parts of the show for you?
CC: In the beginning it was really weird. There were questions like where do you go to change your clothes? Or where do you go to the bathroom? A lot of times I would just say I need to use the rest room and swim out in to the middle of the ocean.  Strategizing was difficult also with the cameras around. My name came up so many times that it made things even harder. Every time the camera was on me they thought I was strategizing. I never got a break from anyone.  You get paranoid all the time.

AL: Did you find that the producers were often trying to stage conflicts or issues between players?
CC: Of course! That’s their job as a producer. If they weren’t doing things like that then they wouldn’t be doing their job at all. I was pretty aware of what they were doing as I have some friends that are also in this industry. I think that’s a lot of the reason why my edit was so unjust because they wanted me to answer things a certain way and I didn’t do that. In the back of my mind I wanted to win a million dollars so I didn’t want to leak any information out. I also knew there was life after “Survivor”. If I didn’t win the million dollars I would need to find a way to make myself look good. Whatever I did on the show would stick with me for the rest of my life. You have to be careful of what you say. Talking badly about someone as a form of strategy I thought was just bad taste.

AL: Is “Survivor” something that you would think about ever doing again?
CC: I love the game so I would definitely consider it. I think I would play it a little differently as I would want to make some big plays and strategize more. When you play the game the first time after watching it as a fan you think you know everything thats out there. Now that I have a little bit better understanding of things I think I would definitely play the game again.

AL: What types of things are you currently working on?
CC: I am still doing some recruiting and consulting on the side. I also am doing marketing and social media for a bunch of companies and I want to get in to hosting. I studied broadcast journalism in college and have a few shows that I also wrote that I am working on. I am really excited about some of the things that are happening right now.

AL: Is writing something that you have always wanted to do?
CC: I have been a life style journalist for the last 3 years now. In about 2008 I was talking to a client and he asked me what I was doing there? I was there selling a software platform so I asked him what he meant. I gave him my job description and he told me I didn’t look like I belonged there and that I looked like I belonged on television.  I looked at him and started crying. I told him I had been doing the job for X amount of time because it’s safe. He happened to be a publisher and he told me he is always looking for really good writers. He then asked me if I would be interested in being an associate editor and write about travel and various luxury products. I took his offer and have been writing for him and some other online publications. I am writing for about 12 online publications and I have my own blog. Hosting has been a side thing lately and I have some stuff also on the web. Survivor has been a wonderful stepping to help me get acknowledged more.

Blu-ray Review “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One”

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Marina Spirtis
Number of discs: 6
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Running Time: 1184 minutes

Season One: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

I have to first admit that I am new to the whole “Star Trek” universe. Earlier this year, I have completed watching the Original Series, the Animated Series and currently I am halfway through Season Six of “The Next Generation”. Let me tell you I am completely immersed in this series and I feel like I have been living and breathing “Star Trek” over the last few months. I have purchased shirts, iPhone cases and even baby onesies to only enhance my trek into becoming a full on “Trekkie”. I feel that my review would actually provide a unique perspective to this release, especially since I am not your typical hardcore fan. When I recently watched the first season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, courtesy of Netflix, I couldn’t help by thinking how terrible this series looked and it really needed an HD upgrade bad! Well, all of our prayers have been answered because this release brings the first season re-mastered beautifully in high-definition and just in time for the show’s 25th anniversary.

Firstly, when they say that this season has been restored, they are not saying that lightly. This show looks like it was ran through the cleaners and it is super pristine with proven before/after results. It is also is presented in the original 4:3 ratio, which should be a must for fans. Those who think that it would be better widescreen should know that this show was specifically shot for full screen ratio and wouldn’t even be able to be converted to widescreen without distorting the picture. Even though the first season isn’t the most highly regarded in the series it is still a great start and only a sample of what we can expect for future seasons. One thing that I was hoping for though was a better case presentation, the season’s 25 episodes are spread out among six discs delivered in a slim BD case with a slipcover. I liked “The Original Series” Blu-ray packaging way more than this but nonetheless fans of “Star Trek” couldn’t have asked for a better high definition jump to warp speed for this classic sci-fi series.

Let’s talk a little bit about the video presentation for season one of “The Next Generation”. These episodes haven’t been just remastered from the existing film masters, they actually went back to the original 35mm camera negatives and redone all the visual effects, all in high definition. The special effects are completely updated and revised, sort of what Lucas did with the “Star Wars” trilogy. The 1080p transfers of each episode are extremely sharp and are very impressive, summing up a really excellent restoration. There are two audio tracks included on this release. There is a mind-blowing DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track and a retro Dolby Digital 2.0 track as well. Personally the 7.1 track completely trumps the 2.0 track, the clarity of the sound is super clear and also completely restored. You honestly feel like the action is happening all around you and you are flying through space with the USS Enterprise.

Click play to watch the incredible side-by-side look at the transformation of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” into high-definition.

This release also includes a bunch of exclusive special features including never-before-seen archival footage, many brand new interviews and much more! Honestly the special features are worth the purchase alone for any true “Star Trek” fan. The extras are split over the 1st and 6th discs. Disc 1 starts off with a promo for Season Two of “The Next Generation” on Blu-ray, which I was very pleased to see that they are planning these seasons back-to-back. It is even more exciting since it revealed that it will contain a brand new, high definition 75-minute roundtable with the cast of “The Next Generation”. You can really tell that they are looking to please their series fans and not just cash in on a high-def release. There is the retro 1987 series introduction trailer, a season one vintage promo, three more launch promos as well as three episode promos. The real draw for this disc though is a brand-new 25-minute documentary titled “Energized: Taking The Next Generation to the Next Level”, which focusing on the remastering process and how they went to the original camera negatives and restored the visual effects in HD.

The rest of the special features are included on disc six, mostly vintage extras from past DVD releases but still worth checking out. Included are four production featurettes, “The Beginning”, “Selected Cast and Crew Analysis”, “The Making of a Legend” and “Memorable Missions”. It covers quite a bit of ground. Next up is a great three-part 95-minute documentary called “Stardate Revisited: The Origin of Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It provides some really comprehensive information about the series. The first part is called “Inception” , the second is “Launch” and last is “The Continuing Mission”. Don’t miss this for sure! Lastly there is a great 8-minute gag reel. “Star Trek: TNG” has always had a great sense of humor and this shows it. There is also another teaser for season two on this disc as well. I really am looking forward to what they are planning next, especially after this already amazing release.

CBS Films Acquires TIFF Crowd Pleaser “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”

CBS FILMS ACQUIRES TIFF CROWD PLEASER SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN

TORONTO – September 12, 2011 – CBS Films announced today that they have acquired the U.S. distribution rights to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN which made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival this week.  The announcement was made jointly today by CBS Films’ COO Wolfgang Hammer and EVP of Acquisitions Scott Shooman.

Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and political spinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt toprove the impossible, possible. Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star in the feature film alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristen ScottThomas (I’ve Loved You So Long).

Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.

“I am so happy to have the support of the team at CBS Films for the distribution of our labor of love, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.’ I had the best of times working on it with producer Paul Webster, writer Simon Beaufoy and the cast, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas,” said Hallström.

“Lasse Hallström has done it again with this beautiful, heartwarming, and elegant picture. The performances are amazing from top to bottom,” commented Shooman who continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring this extraordinary film to American audiences.”

UTAIndependent Film Group set up the film’s financing and brokered the deal with CBS Films.

About CBS Films

CBS Films is a division of CBS Corporation.  CBS Films will release four to six movies a year, spanning all genres.  For more information, log on to www.cbsfilms.com.