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

Photo By: Jimmy Hubbard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Howie Fields and “Big” John Wallace discuss music and Harry Chapin

As much as I admire many of the actors, musicians, ball players and others that I’ve grown up watching, I’ve only cried at the death of four of them:  John Lennon, because it was so senseless; Roy Scheider, because he was my friend; Ron Santo, because he was my first “idol” and Harry Chapin… just because.

When I was 13, Chapin’s song Cats in the Cradle came out.  It struck a chord in me that I never forgot.  It was almost like Harry was singing about my father and me.  My son is going to be 31 later this month, and that song still rings true.  Where I was once the little boy that wanted to spend more time with his dad, now I’m the father who has to accept that my son now has a family of his own.  As I got older I became a fan of Harry Chapin’s music and I was crushed when he was killed 34 years ago today, July 16, 1981.

Today, Harry’s music is still being played, the torch being carried by his brothers Tom and Steve and the members of Harry’s band.  I recently asked drummer Howie Fields and bass player “Big” John Wallace a few questions about Harry Chapin and his music.

Mike Smith:  What were your musical backgrounds before joining up with Harry?
Howie Fields: Drum lessons at age 15 followed by a parade of teenage basement and garage bands playing Beatles, Stones. Rascals, Dylan, Kinks, Hollies, Who, etc. Better bands WITH PAY in my college years leading up to my entry into Harry’s band in 1975.
John Wallace:  I started out as a vocalist in the Grace Church Choir in Brooklyn, New York, where I met Harry and the other Chapin brothers.  I dabbled with the bass guitar in my teen years and my first public appearance on bass was in my teens when Harry asked me to perform his songs with him in people’s homes in Brooklyn. Fast forward approximately 10 years when he asked me to join his band.

MS:  When did you join the band?
HF: 1975
JW: I was a founding member, 1972.

MS: How was Harry to work with – was he open to collaboration when working out his songs with the group?
HF:  That ran the gamut. Sometimes Harry would run down a new song or two and ask us to come up with some ideas during concert sound checks (which he rarely attended) and at other times he would come in with a song and have very precise ideas. The rest of the time it would be pretty equitable collaboration in the recording studio.

MS:  Is there a favorite song you enjoyed playing live?
HF:   “Mercenaries,” “Odd Job Man,” “The Mayor Of Candor Lied”
JW:  Too many to choose from.

MS:  Do you have a favorite memory you’d like to share?
HF:   Quite notably for me, within the run of the show (NOTE – in early 1975 Harry and the band performed on Broadway in a show titled “The Night That Made America Famous” with words and music by Harry.  The show went on to earn two Tony Award nominations), was the night of March 1, 1975. Both Saturday performances were completed and Harry entered the band dressing room and asked Big John if he would come with him to attend the Grammy Awards ceremony at The Uris Theater for which he had one extra ticket and for which he had been nominated as Best Male Vocalist for “Cat’s In The Cradle”. He was also performing the song that night but John politely declined. Harry then put the ticket up for grabs and only after it appeared no one else was taking, I found myself in a cab with Harry, his wife Sandy, and his dad Jim, rushing over to the Grammy’s which had already begun. We entered the building and as we approached the doors leading from the lobby into the actual theater, a young usher (about 20) noted that Harry was overburdened with a guitar (not in its case), a leather bag, and one or two other items. He offered to take the guitar which Harry gladly gave up and then, somehow, as the usher was holding the guitar and at the same time attempting to open the door to the theater for us, he simultaneously dropped the instrument and tripped in such a way that one of his feet came down right on the guitar. So…there the guitar lay…smashed on the ground. It happened in a nano-second and it wasn’t pretty. All I remember at that point was Harry putting his arms around this devastated and horrified kid, saying “Don’t worry about it bro”. He could be like that.

MS:  Harry was killed on his way to perform at a benefit concert.  Did that show ever go on?
HF:  No, that show did not occur but one year later the band plus Tom Chapin did a memorial show on the same stage in Eisenhower Park in Long Island.

MS: Are you amazed that, three decades after he passed away, Harry’s music continues to gain new fans?
HF:   I am, as it’s pleasantly remarkable to me that Harry’s music has endured AND in many circles/families has been passed down to younger generations. The variety of age groups are evident at many of our concerts.

Rock and roll fans take notice:  I first “met” Howie when I was working on a screenplay about Harry’s life.  I contacted Howie and asked him if he had any idea what the set list was at Harry’s last show.  He sent me a copy of it.  Not a list of the songs, but a copy of the actual set list.  Howie runs a web site called “Rock Paper” and I’ll let him tell you about it:

HF:   Rock Paper is a business I have had going for over 20 yrs. It’s an archives of rock music and its two main entities are a complete archives of Rolling Stone magazine, whereby ANY article, record review, concert review, advertisement EVER published in the magazine can be located. Rock Paper has over 10,000 back issues o the magazine going back to the issue #1 (1967). There are also thousands of other back issues available of other classic rock magazines….Crawdaddy, Circus, Creem, etc, etc, etc,

It also has an archive of concert ads cut from newspapers from NYC & the UK.

You can search for whatever you’re looking for at www.RockPaper.net.

All photos copyright www.harrychapin.com

 

Olivia Wilde and Reed Morano discuss the film “Meadowland”

In Reed Morano’s new drama Meadowland, Olivia Wilde stars as school teacher Sarah, the mother of Jesse (Morano’s son, Casey Walker). While on a family trip with Jesse and her husband Phil (played by Luke Wilson), Sarah loses Jesse from a bathroom at a rest stop. Morano and Wilde sat down at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival to discuss the making of the film.

Because the film is largely about Sarah’s journey in coming to terms with her lost son, it begins with the harrowing realization that Jesse is gone.

Lauren Damon: Could you guys talk about filming the opening sequence, both technically and emotionally of the child initially going missing?
Reed Morano: I mean, I think I just wanted to not follow the typical conventions of ‘okay, something bad’s about to happen, this is a thriller’ like I didn’t really want to do any indication of it. And that’s sort of like why you don’t–we don’t really even see Jesse before he goes into the bathroom. And I thought okay…We also didn’t really have very much time.
Olivia Wilde: Yeah.
Reed: I was surprised there. So I was like okay, we’re gonna film, let’s just do it. Let’s just have [the actors] do the whole action and we’re gonna kind of–I’m just gonna follow [them] with the camera. Since we were handheld, it was just very easy to just kind of like go with these guys, move off of them. We kind of had a general–we kind of planned out in general where [they] were gonna go look and then I just kind of went with [Olivia] and then focused on you know, Sarah for a while. And then I focused a little bit on Phil.
Olivia: It was very true to life to, we wanted to show that tragic realism of when something bad happens and if you play it back in your mind, you think ‘What would I have done differently?’ And that guilt that both parents may have felt. That they didn’t spend enough time focusing on him right before he went. You know, they’re in the front seat, Sarah’s working on something, Phil’s driving. And there is Jesse in the back kind of entertaining himself. And that’s why, you know, it’s a scene about real life, real parenting, [a] real family moment where everyone is not necessarily completely 100% focused on each other. And then they go into the rest stop and as we said, you don’t even see [Jesse] because that’s how it would be played back in their minds. Like for me watching it, that’s how Sarah’s remembering her last moments with him…She remembers the cookie, she remembers his little voice, she remembers small moments of looking at Phil. And then once they get to the rest stop, it’s kind of blotchy. She doesn’t really remember. She remembers he’s not there and then he’s gone. And when she goes back in her mind, she thinks ‘Who was there? When’s the last time I touched him?’ You know, all of that that we would all do trying to relive it and think what could I have done differently? So I loved how Reed made that choice just to do this as it would be true to life. Just another day, another moment.
Reed: Yeah because if you lose something, you don’t know ahead of time that’s going to happen…There was this thing at one time where people thought I was going to do this poignant moment in the first scene in the car and I was like no, it should be like real life. Like completely real. We don’t want to indicate–it’s not perfect. It’s just like a regular family hanging out, driving. Some people told us ‘Oh some of this stuff’s a little mundane’ and it’s like but that’s a family driving on a road trip. And then him going into the bathroom–I debated should I show a shot of the bathroom at first? To show, to reveal that the door wasn’t open initially. And then it’s like you’re putting too much pressure, you’re putting too much emphasis on him going into the bathroom. It’s like you’re already–people going into the movie, kind of already know what’s going to happen, but that would really indicate it.

 

LD: What was the thought process behind casting Reed’s actual son as Jesse?
Reed: Well, I mean there are practical reasons and there are emotional reasons to cast him. And I felt like when I was trying to cast–
Olivia: He was the best one!
Reed: He was the best one. I auditioned a lot of kids and I finally–and I was trying to avoid it–I think we talked about it and it’s like it’s so perfect, not only does Casey look like he could be Luke and Olivia’s son, he is also, he’s not an actor. He’s like really subtle…Like I know him, he’s sort of been my muse for a long time and I take a lot of photos of him. But just knew that he, he’s just wise beyond his years. And I just thought he’s going to be a natural in front of the camera. But besides that, originally I was scared of the idea because I was like, that’s so fucked up for me to do that. Am I putting this idea out to the universe and then my own son’s going to go missing? God forbid. And then I thought, no maybe it’s the other way around. Like I’m doing this so that it won’t happen to me. And I also thought it’s such a huge thing to ask of these actors, in particular Olivia, who has just had a son. And I know from experience that right after you have a baby, it’s the most emotional time period. It’s such a weird time for women. That’s why postpartum happens and all these other things. And I just thought I’m asking so much of her and I want to be like in it with her as much as possible and it was sort of like my way…And also, I wanted to make sure I got it right. You know, I feel like I wanted to know–and I don’t know, maybe it would have been better if it wasn’t a kid I was connected to because then I could find a way to make it emotional without having extra baggage attached–but I just, I wanted to really feel what they were feeling. And I felt like that was like the closest way I could do it.
Olivia: I think also in terms of performance, something I loved so much about the opening scene is how natural that moment is. And it’s hard to get a child actor to relax to that point. So I thought we were really lucky to have Casey, who’s not only I think a good actor, but he was so relaxed that we got these real moments that kids don’t typically do when they’re performing.
Reed: And to be noted, pretty much all the dialogue in that scene in the car is ad-libbed by the actors. It’s not–we ended up not really using anything from the script. I think the only thing we used was when he says ‘I’m thirsty’ and Luke says ‘Milk or juice?’ But then Luke added in ‘Or beer?’ and then Casey was like ‘Beer.’ [Laughs] I mean that’s what I mean. He was like SO on it. And then that whole story that Casey tells about ‘I was running…’ that was just me saying ‘Why don’t you tell us some stories about why you like going to see Uncle Tim’ and he’s like ‘Well last time I saw Uncle Tim in Ithaca, we were running around in a field of grass…’ And he just like made that up. The weird part is that later on in the movie, Luke tells a story about seeing Jesse running around in a field of grass behind his house. But that was actually in the script. But Casey had never read the script. So it was this weird like thing that happened. And I had to put it in and my editor was like ‘No no no, it’s too much of a coincidence’ But I’m like when people see the first scene, they don’t know what happens later so it’s fine.

The other child actor in the film is Ty Simpkins as Adam, an autistic student with whom Sarah emotionally connects at her school.

LD: What was the thinking behind having the character of Adam be autistic? And what was it about Adam that would have drawn Sarah in more than her other students?
Olivia: Well he’s an outsider and she relates to that. He has trouble connecting and communicating and she relates to that and so I think that was the reason for it. And I think Reed made the really wise choice, along with Ty, to create Adam to be subtlety different and so that Sarah would be the one to recognize what makes him special. But yeah, that everyone else had just kind of abandoned him and that she in no way sees herself as his proxy mother or him her proxy son, but I think she connects more to him. That he’s her and he’s probably the only one that she wants to be around because he’s not asking her to act normal. And she’s not asking him to act normal.

Director Jeppe Rønde and star Hannah Murray talk about “Bridgend” at Tribeca Film Festival

Jeppe Rønde’s harrowing new drama Bridgend made its debut during the Tribeca Film Festival this past week with both the director and star Hannah Murray (“Game of Thrones”) in attendance. Bridgend is based on the true story of a massive series of teen suicides that occurred in a small town in Wales. The suicides received media coverage at a point where seventy-nine young people had taken their lives between 2007 and 2012. In the film, teenager Sarah (Murray) moves to Brigend with her police officer father and quickly finds herself running with the pack of local teens who’ve recently lost some of their peers to suicide. They are a wild bunch who borderline worship the deceased and memorialize them in an anonymous online chat. All the while Sarah’s father, like the rest of the community, seeks to find what is causing this horrible phenomenon.

This mystery intrigued director Rønde who spent time in the actual community and eventually shot the film there on location. Rønde and Murray both spoke to me on the red carpet about how important it was to dramatize the town’s story in a respectful manner.

Lauren Damon: You spent time in the actual community of Bridgend, what was that like and did you go there with the goal of developing a film about it?
Jeppe Rønde
: I went there with the–a goal is a strong word–but I went there to try and find out what is this about? And why is this tragedy happening? Which is of course may be a mystery, because it doesn’t make sense. Why do so many youngsters kill themselves? So I was trying to figure out how can this happen? And how can it keep on going?

LD: Was Hannah’s character influenced by a particular story that you found there?
JR: Not particular, but I wrote the whole script through all the characters that I met there. Many of them. And I mixed them into, you know, one character. So you couldn’t do like a one-to-one, ‘oh this is that character’, because I would never be able to do that. Because that would be morally incorrect. So I built it on the reality I met but also making it a fiction which was important to me. Because it cannot be too close to the real people living there…

LD: How did you find filming in the actual location?
JR: Actually to film on the location was very important to me. Because you feel the presence of what is there. The geography is specific. There’s a fog coming, you know every day it rains a lot. And it can feel depressing. And at the same time it is extremely beautiful. And it was easy for me to get the actors into this state of mind that I wanted them to be in.

LD: How much preparation went into your work with the DP to get this very ominous atmosphere?
JR:
Of course we wanted to push forward a feeling of something that would be this collective subconsciousness. Something that’s within us that’s a darkness. So we wanted to put that also into the shot.

LD: What would you want audiences to take away from the ending of the film?
JR: I hope that they will take away from the ending that this is something that is beyond understanding of who we are as human beings. That there’s something in us that we don’t know what it is…that if we do look into it carefully, then we can maybe choose one or the other. Because it is an open ending.

LD: Is this still going on? All the suicide statistics associated with the town seem to come from 2007 and 2012.
JR: Because that’s the only figures that you can find officially. But unfortunately yes, it is still happening. From what I heard and no one really knows, but the media was shut down in 2010. So it’s difficult to say, but you would have to ask the authorities there.

 

Hannah Murray, who currently plays Gilly on “Game of Thrones” had a breakout role in the UK teen TV drama “Skins” but saw the role of Sarah as a wholly different teen.

LD: What was your initial reaction to the script?
Hannah Murray: I’d never done something that was based on you know, based loosely on true events. I felt a huge sense of responsibility and I didn’t really want to get involved unless I thought things were going to be done sensitivly and respectfully. And when I had been offered the part I had a meeting with Jeppe to ask him why he wanted to make this film because I was worried about someone, I don’t know, wanting to do it in a kind of half-hearted way or taking advantage. So when I understood how long he’d taken to research it and how dedicated he was to the subject matter, and how involved he’d become with the community, I thought ‘Oh, you’re going to do this right and you’re going to do this honestly and bravely and compassionately.’ So that made me decide that it was something that it was worth jumping into.

LD: How was it shooting in that location?
HM: I don’t think we could have made the movie anywhere else. When you go there, you feel something very unique about that place and it’s beautiful. It’s incredibly beautiful but in a very bleak way. And there’s something kind of almost mystical and strange about it. I loved being there but it was, yeah you do feel a sort of sense of darkness in the air. Maybe that was because of the story we were telling though, I’m sure.

LD: You have this background coming from “Skins” of acting in the midst of a bunch of wild teens, did you feel a little like you were tapping into that again?
HM: I mean I feel like they’re incredibly different projects in sort of every way. Skins shows a dark side of teenage life but it also shows an incredibly fun and comedic side of teenage life. And in this, I mean, one of my friends saw this movie and described it as a gangster movie. Which I think is a really really interesting way of looking at it. And I think there’s a kind of, there’s a level of tribalism in this world that is so much more severe than anything that related to my teen experience. Whereas “Skins” I could kind of go like ‘Oh yeah, it was fun, we went to parties.” It was very different.

LD: How was it different on set with between the days you had you just acting with the pack of young actors versus the more intimate, intense scenes of just your character and her father?
HM: I mean that was one of the most amazing things about the project was all the different people I was working with were so different in terms of experience they’d had and the types of things they’d brought to these characters. So yeah, I remember every day we had the gang there it was just like this injection of energy and they were so exciting and would throw all these amazing lines that they’d improvised…And they would talk a thousand words a minute. And when I was working with Steve [Waddington] I felt like a child and when I was working with the kids I felt more like an adult because I felt sort of more responsible for them. And then I also had the love story with Josh O’Connor, which was a whole other element to play out…but I love everyone who worked on the film. It was such an amazing group of people.

LD: Finally, congratulations of continuing with Game of Thrones–especially this season’s opener being their highest rated–
HM: Oh was it?
LD: Apparently
HM: Oh that’s great!

LD: Why do you think the audience just keeps growing for it?
HM: I think it’s a REALLY good TV show. I think people put an incredible amount of hard work into it. The production values are really high and I just think David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] and George [RR Martin] are geniuses. I just think they’re so smart…And George created this amazing world in the books and these incredible characters and then the way David and Dan have adapted it is beyond. I think they’re so so smart.

LD: And how many times a day does Kit Harrington have to hear he knows nothing?
HM: He gets told quite a few times. Not by our crew, but I’ve seen people come up to him in the street and that’s allllways the thing they want to say to him.

LD: How about you, do you get fan recognition out and about?
HM: Um, a bit. Less so than I think some of the others. I think because I’m–well, now I have red hair, but I’m normally blond in real life whereas I have dark hair in the show so I can kind of be a little bit more under the radar. But I still, I’m surprised how many people still spot me. I think because there are so many fans of the show.

RiffTrax Live! discuss “The Room” on the Tribeca Red Carpet

RiffTrax Live! took the stage at the Tribeca Film Festival for their first ever New York show on April 17th. The crew consisted of the talent behind classic TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett. Although MST3K went off the air officially in 1999, their particular brand of humor, consisting of running commentary on classic terrible B-movies got a new life in the form of RiffTrax. With RiffTrax, the guys have shed their MST3K alter-egos (Bill as Crow T Robot, Kevin as Tom Servo and Mike as…Mike) and have broadened their scope to include live shows and downloadable tracks riffing on mainstream studio films. For their Tribeca audience, the guys presented Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 “disasterpiece” The Room. I caught up with the trio on their red carpet. In true RiffTrax fashion while Mike posed in front of photographers, Kevin and Bill stalled off ­to the side to riff on his technique before all heading over for a hilarious chat about what they do:

Lauren Damon: So…why The Room?

Mike Lawrence: Have you seen it?
LD: Yep
Mike: Yeah. I mean it’s the weirdest movie ever, it has to be done.
Bill Corbett: It is the Citizen Kane of bad movies.

 

LD: Have you guys ever met Tommy Wiseau, does he know what you’re up to?
Mike: Oh yes.
Bill: Yeah, he has to agree to this, believe it or not.

 

LD: Does he think the movie is good?
Kevin Murphy: I think he was confused at first. He didn’t know exactly—He thought we were stealing his film at first—
Bill: He thought we were stealing his soul!
Kevin: But then he realized we were just having fun with it and he already knows people have fun with the film.
Bill: Yeah
Kevin: He’s accepted it and he’s embraced it so—
Bill: He decided to call it a comedy.
Mike: He’s a good sport about it.
Kevin: He’s a very good sport about it.

 

LD: And you’ll be doing this again live?
Kevin: We’re doing it live, May 6th, Rifftrax.com for all the information
Bill: Across the land!

 

LD: And you’ll have new material on this same film every time?
Bill: Yeah, this will probably change, yeah. This is very different from the one we recorded before, yeah, it’ll change a lot.

 

LD: Can you also talk about how with Rifftrax you switched from Mystery Science 3000 riffing on B-movies to now these downloadable tracks for mainstream movies?
Mike: Well we’ve never had a chance to do them, since we can’t get the rights to them, and the technology allowed it was just like there’s a whole bunch of movies out there that are opened up by doing it that way.
Kevin: It helped us to get some of these big, more recent films for our live shows. Like we’re doing Sharknado 2 in July. Yeah and then what’s that big blockbuster? Santa and The Ice Cream Bunny. [laughing]
Bill: George Lucas’s, I believe?
Kevin: [laughing] I think so, yes, in December.

 

LD: I enjoy downloading your tracks on my favorite movies. I have all your Marvel universe ones, because I’ve seen them a ton of times and I like to get a ‘new take’ on them.
Kevin: Yeah [all laughing] I’m glad we can provide that for you!
Bill: If we can do NOTHING else, it’s talk about the Hulk’s schlong.

 

LD: Do you miss your Mystery Science Theatre 3000 alter-egos, your robots?
Bill: I miss being Mike. I played Mike, you realize that don’t you?
Kevin: It’s amazing.
Mike: Make up. Hours in the chair.
Kevin: And Mike was Crow but he wasn’t a puppet, it was make up. It was just all make up. No, I had the opportunity to bring one of the show puppets home after the show was over and I said I don’t want that thing around my house. It would be like Anthony Hopkins in Magic [in presumably a demon puppet voice] “Chop your head off Kevin, CHOP YOUR HEAD OFF!”
Bill: KEVIN! KEEEEEVIN!

 

 

When you started MST3K almost 30 years ago did you ever think you’d be doing anything similar all this time later?
Kevin: No
Bill: I thought I’d work as like a bus boy or a porter or be, I don’t know on the Bowery.
Mike: I was sure I’d be back at TGIFridays. I still remember all the codes for extra broccoli.
Bill: Something to fall back on.
Kevin: We kinda were in job transitions and it seemed like fun so we did it and boom, we’re still here.
Bill: Well At this point we have no other discernible skill set. So we kind of have to do it.
Kevin: Yeah we kind of boned ourselves here!

 

LD: Do you go to see ‘real movies’? Are you in MS3TK mode, how  are you about people talking during films?
All: Oh yeah.
Bill: By all means, oh yeah. I hate people who talk in the movie theater! I’m really a prig and a tight-ass when it comes to that.
Kevin: “SHUSH!!” It’s true.

 

LD: Do you think, with rights issues, there will ever be a return to the MS3TK characters or that format?
Kevin: Really not up to us because we’re not really controlling—or owners of the company in any way. So…
Bill: I think they will be resurrected on the last days of EARTH. Like…the living and the dead…
Kevin: All the immortal souls.
Bill: Definitely that!

 

LD: Because it continues to have such life with dvds…
Kevin: Well, wait for the rapture, we’ll see what happens!
Bill: And this movie [The Room] will be the thing that kicks off the rapture.
Mike: Luckily you don’t have to wait very long at all.

Fortunately, the presentation at Tribeca did not bring about the rapture–although I can’t make any promises for the May 6th nationwide broadcast–but it was a hell of a good time. Not only were audiences treated to The Room, but the gang pre-gamed with a black and white children’s safety film, “Live and Learn” that featured more lessons than you can shake a dangerous pointed stick at. My face hurt from laughing and the crowd gave the trio a standing O.

 

Tickets for the May 6th broadcast of Rifftrax Live: The Room are available via Fathom Events

The Vicious Brothers and Brittany Allen discuss their new film “Extraterrestrial”

Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz make up the duo known as the The Vicious Brothers. They are the dudes behind the found footage cult film “Grave Encounters” and its sequel “Grave Encounters 2”. In there latest film, “Extraterrestrial”, they are taking on aliens this time instead of ghosts. The film stars Daytime Emmy winning actress, Brittany Allen as well as Michael Ironside (“Scanners”, “Starship Troopers”). Media Mikes had a chance to chat again with The Vicious Brothers and the film’s star Brittany Allen to discuss the film and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: You guys tackled ghosts with the “Grave Encounters” films, why aliens next?
Colin Minihan: “Extraterrestrial” was actually the first thing that we have ever written even before “Grave Encounters”. We have always loved anything to do with UFO, aliens and abductions We have thought that no film recently has done justice to the sort of alien abduction concept, so we wanted to take it on.
Stuart Ortiz: I think there has been a lot of B-movies in the last early 2000’s with alien scenarios and they are always really low production value. Why hasn’t anyone ever tried to make a “Cabin in the Woods” movie with younger 20’s and instead of it being a slasher make the slasher an alien. When Stu and I write, we usually lock ourselves up on the remote northern tip of Vancouver Island, which is surrounded by woods. You kind of always wonder when you are in the place like that what else is there. You can feel the fear of what is out there in the sky when you are looking up at the stars. I can’t imagine that aliens don’t exist, so I think since we think it could be real it makes it as scary as ghosts, which I also think exist.

MG: Brittany, how did you come on board this project?
Brittany Allen: I got the script through my agent. As soon as I finished the script, I contacted my reps and said that “This is something different and special”. I felt that they took the genre and did something new with it. It was very refreshing to read a strong female character that had very human emotions that she was working through in the contexts of a horror/sci-fi film. I related instantly to everything about her from her pessimism on love and the journey that she takes throughout the film. I had a really strong feeling about it, so I pushed for it and ended up meeting with the guys over Skype and then I got the part.

MG: You guys have much more visual effects here than your previous films; tell us about how you accomplished such amazing effects in the film?
CM: The visual effects undertaking on the film was massive for the budget we had. Stu and I wanted to make a blockbuster and we only had a million dollars to do it with. So we pushed our visual effects company to the point that every artists probably lost some hair to make the film look as good as it does. It is one of those things that when you work on a low-budget film that doesn’t have a major studio behind it, I think people feel more involved with it since there isn’t a thousand person team working on it. It is more responsibility for less people and having them step up into those roles. There is a ton of CGI in the film. The UFO is completely computer generated. The alien in the film is also completely computer generated. I feel like the level of detail in the alien is really quite something because people are thinking that it is a model or even a practical effect. When Stu and I were making the film, we were torn in wanted to do it practical or not. We are fans of the genre dating back to “John Carpenter’s The Thing” where practical effects were at their height. To do that now, it just wasn’t realistic within our shooting schedule. But I believe it was a great choice and I am very happy with it.

MG: Brittany, you’ve done some sci-fi including “Defiance”; what do you enjoy most about this genre?
BA: I like putting myself in another world. I have a pretty wild imagination and being able to use that to get into these characters. There is a freedom that comes with this and it is a real playfulness in it. It was just a rush too. I remember one night we had like an hour left to shoot and it was like 3am in the morning and we would do this crazy scene running in the woods. We would finish and would be screaming with our adrenaline pumping. So it was a lot of fun.
SO: I want to be in the front of the camera, that sounds like fun [laughs]

MG: Your role was quite demanding, especially in the third act; was it a big challenge for you?
BA: I would say the biggest challenge in those scenes was using this stuff called Ultra Slime. It was lathered all over my body. That was probably the biggest challenge. It is exactly like you would imagine it to be, it was the slimiest, grossest feeling ever. It was a challenge that I really embraced though.
SO: You were covering in that slime for like a whole day
BA: Yeah, there was one day that I was covered in the slime all day and I started to feel cold and uncomfortable.
CM: I remember I got a piece of it on my finger and I was like “Eww, get this off me [laughs].
BA: Afterwards, it felt like it was all over me when it wasn’t anymore. Overall, emotionally those scenes were some of the most fun to shoot.

MG: How was it working with Michael Ironside? And I love the aspect of the aliens being able to controls your minds… Were you tempted to blow up his head like in “Scanners” [laughs]?
SO: Yeah, I think we had that discussion every single day.
CM: Or we could have torn his arms off (ala “Total Recall”) or his legs bitten off (ala “Starship Troopers”). Is there a scene montage of Ironside getting limbs ripped off in his film? I just want to shoot a movie so that we can add just one part to that if so [laughs].
SO: Working with Michael was just great. He is super intense and even though he has been making films for 30 years and been in a ton of movies, he is still super passionate and excited about the work. You never know what to expect when you bring an actor in for a few days of work. We are huge fan boys of Ironside and it was great getting to work with him.
CM: He also had a lot of great ideas for his character that he brought to the table right away. In the film, he is wearing these ridiculous shirts and that was all his idea. So he was just so cool.

MG: This is your third film together; how do you feel that you have matured as directors?
SO: It is funny because “Grave Encounters” is such a completely different film from “Extraterrestrial” in every way. “Grave Encounters” is obviously a found footage movie and meant to focus around amateur footage versus “Extraterrestrial” in which we are trying to achieve a huge epic sci-fi extravaganza influenced by Steven Spielberg. I don’t know if we could have made this film first…maybe. I think that we learned a lot on “Grave Encounters”.
CM: We are both self taught filmmakers. Stu and I have been shooting films since he was was 5 and I was 8, so we have grown up with it. So with “Grave Encounters”, it is a found footage movie, you have to abandon the language of cinema that we potentially thought ourselves and throw the concept of elaborately staging a scene out the window because it would feel fake within the context of a found footage film. So I think with “Extraterrestrial”, it shows more of that classic influence like Stu said Spielberg…Zemeckis, these guys that put the focus on the staging of talent and telling the story with a camera. I am grateful that we got the opportunity to showcase our ability to direct outside of the found footage world. I prefer this type of filmmaking much more.

Kevin Kline and Israel Horovitz discuss new film “My Old Lady”

Israel Horovitz is a veteran playwright and stage director who at seventy-five years old is bringing one of his plays to screen for the first time with the film adaptation of My Old Lady.

My Old Lady stars Kevin Kline as Mathias a down on his luck author who is brought to France when his father dies leaving him a Parisian flat in his will. Mathias dreams of profiting off the sale of said-flat however are crushed when he finds the flat comes with a tenant (Dame Maggie Smith) to whom Mathias owes money to under a peculiar French real estate arrangement called a “viager.”

Horovitz and Kline were in great spirits when they sat down recently in New York to discuss adapting the play to film after its successful stage life.

 

How familiar were you with Israel’s play before you got involved with the film?         

Kevin Kline: I read it in French.

Israel Horovitz: Oh that’s right, I gave it to you in French or somebody–

Kline: Some crazy French producer who thought I could actually speak French well enough to play it when it was done in Paris.

Horovitz: You didn’t see it in New York though?

Kline: No.

 

In that version, was Mathias French?

Kline: No, he was American. That’s what was so–they wanted me to play this American but who spoke French. In the film version, the idea that he couldn’t speak French, this was something new.

Horovitz: The play was done in, I don’t know, fifteen or twenty languages around the world but it was most popular, or very popular in France. It was done in a 1200 seat theatre and played for a couple of years.

 

Mathias is a very sort of world-weary character, was it difficult to get into that mindset?

Kline: [In hilariously World-Weary tones…] I can’t believe you’re asking me this, same old, tired old question! World-weary? I do world-weary very readily. In fact I’m sick of that question! I’m weary of all this nonsense. [Losing the weariness]… World weary? Well he’s just a mess!…I never quite understood him. Nor did I wish to. I think it’s a good thing for an actor not to–I’m always wary of actors and directors who say ‘I’ve got an idea about Hamlet, here’s the deal, here’s what his problem is’ or ‘Here’s an idea I’ve got for Lear’ Or if an actor’s saying ‘You know what I’m playing? What my subtext is?’ I don’t wanna know! No. There’s a certain point to, a degree of ignorance which I’ve maintained precisely.

 

Horovitz also spoke at length about bringing together his main cast:

Horovitz: Kevin was the first–I didn’t want to do a movie that had, I don’t want to say unknown actors, but less-than-great-actors. Because some years ago the pope came to Paris and there was a big to-do with French writers saying you must know the division between church and state. They went out to the airport with signs protesting and the pope was this little old man about to die and the first thing he said, got off the plane and there were microphones, he said, “It’s a pleasure to arrive somewhere in this life as an unambitious guest.” And I directed this movie as an unambitious guest. Because I wasn’t trying to build a big film career…I just wanted to make a beautiful movie and I settled on that story because I thought the story could be funny and it could be serious at the same time. It could be possibly the kind of movie that I would love to see if I didn’t do the movie. And we’d shoot in Paris and like, what’s wrong with that? And my daughter would be the producer and what’s wrong with that?

…And I asked Kevin who was famously “Kevin Decline” and he said YES and then I roped him in. And he did the reading and we’re both theatre rats, so we did readings at my house and really, he really knew who he was playing and helped me you know, refine it. And then Maggie said yes and I flew to London and had a lunch with her and she said “I had twenty-five scripts offered to me and I’ve chosen yours, do you want to know why?” And I thought ‘Oh my god, do I really want to know? Okay, why?’ and she said “Because I don’t have to die at the end of your movie.”

 

What was it like to work with Maggie Smith?

Horovitz: Oh, she’s lovely. She’s Maggie Smith

 

Had you worked with her before?

Kline: No, no no no no. She’s probably the first dame. No I worked with Dame Joan– actually Lady, The Lady Olivier, Jane Plowright, who’s may be one of her best friends.

Horovitz: Judi Dench is Maggie Smith’s best friend. They’re both 79 turning 80 and they’re both terrified to turn 80. They talk to each other on the phone every day of their lives.

Kline: She was great she’s ..when I stopped finally boring her, pleading with her for more theater stories, you know I wanted to hear about all of her experiences in the theater. But, oh, consummate professional. Remember the day where she had to–she faints in the movie. Even if a thirty-year old faints, they say ‘okay, there’s a mat here and you’ll fall out of frame onto a nice, soft mattress.’ This was like the first take, um, she just fell on the floor!

Horovitz: She scared the hell out of–

Kline: All of us! Could have broken a hip, but no, was fine.

Horovitz: I did three takes and she would have gone on and I thought, ‘I can’t be the man who killed Maggie Smith.’ And I said “I’m very impressed, that you could do that Maggie” and she looked at me with this kind of sexy voice and said “You’d be amazed at what I can still do.”

 

When did you first encounter the concept of a “Viager”? And what was your reaction to it?

Horovitz: Well I had fifty something of my plays translated and performed in France. I spent tons and tons of my life there and I couldn’t believe it when I first heard about it. And then I started to research it and I saw these real estate agents that specialize only in viager apartments. It’s much more complicated than I made it in the movie. Because you can buy a viager apartment that has, they say “deux tete”, two heads. And you’re buying the husband and wife and you have to outlive both of them. So at first I thought, ‘man this is the most barbaric thing I’ve ever found!’ and then I realized, you know, it’s not so bad. If somebody’s old and they have no money–

Kline: Gives them a new annuity.
Horovitz: And they don’t have kids to leave their apartment to…If somebody gives them a bunch of money and pays them to stay in the apartment, pays them a little something and then they know they’ve got a roof over their heads for the rest of their lives, it’s fine. It’s not so much a gamble for that person, it’s a real security.

Julianne Moore and Michael Angarano Discuss “The English Teacher”

Craig Zisk’s new comedy, The English Teacher stars Julianne Moore as Linda Sinclair, a teacher in smalltown Pennsylvania whose quiet life is interrupted by the return of former student, Jason Sherwood. Sherwood, played by Michael Angarano (Haywire, Red State), is a failed playwright who Linda decides to redeem by mounting a production of his college thesis play at her school. Linda is helped along by the school’s drama teacher played by Nathan Lane. Moore and Angarano spoke to MediaMikes as the film made it’s debut at the Tribeca Film Fest this week.

Lauren Damon: How was it to work with this ensemble cast? You have all these Broadway veterans as well as small cameos from John Hodgman and Jim Bruer.

Julianne Moore: “That’s right! It was a pretty extraordinary cast actually. There were great, really really great people with yeah, Norbert Leo Butz and Jessica Hecht and Nathan Lane, Greg Kinnear and then yea, John Hodgeman and Jim Bruer. Jim Bruer I’d done SNL with a long time ago so I knew him from that. I mean that was my son was two months old, so that was fifteen years ago, which is crazy. But yea, we had a great cast. We were pretty lucky.”

Michael Angarano: “It was amazing, especially for me. Like I grew up watching them…Nine Months, The Birdcage, all these movies are like my family favorite movies. Like the kind of movies that you watch with your family. So for me it felt really cool and there was one scene, like other than the scenes I got to do with Julianne and Nathan and by myself which were so much fun, the scenes we would do with the whole ensemble really felt kind of like a play. Which was kind of fun to think about. I did a play when I was seven years old. I was Tiny Tim in Radio City and so I don’t have play experience. It was really fun.”

 

LD: Your last play experience was in 2006’s The Vertical Hour, is there anything that would lure her back to Broadway?

Julianne Moore: “Nothing!”

Michael Angarano: “I eavesdropped on a lot of conversations with her and Nathan where he was like ‘You know you’d be really great…’”

Moore:  “But then Nathan was like ‘I have this play’ and he’d send it to me and it’d be something that he’d like to direct and I was like ‘If you’re not gonna be in it, I’m not gonna do it!’ because directors do it and then, you know, they leave and stuff. Plays are really hard when you have children and when I did The Vertical Hour years ago, I just, I didn’t think about that. About how they wipe out your entire weekend and one day in the middle of the week where you’re not home and it’s just not worth it for my family. It’s actually easier to do a film. Because you come home at the end of the night, you’re there for dinner, you put them to bed, you get up, you go to work. You know, it’s like you’re on their school schedule and you have weekends free. But the theater is tough with kids.”

 

In that production Moore played opposite onstage boyfriend Andrew Scott who’s since went on to a MediaMikes favorite, BBC’s Sherlock.

LD: Do you keep in touch with Andrew Scott since he’s become Moriarty?

Moore: “I haven’t seen him in ages! He’s a great guy. He’s a wonderful guy.”

 

Crucial to the story of The English Teacher is the role Moore’s Linda played in inspiring Angarano’s Jason, Moore was lucky enough to have a similarly life changing teacher she spoke about:

Moore: “I had a teacher, I mean my high school drama teacher, Robie Taylor was the one who said to me you know, ‘you could be an actor’ and I was in plays after schools but I’d never met an actor, I’d never seen a real play, I didn’t think you could make a real living doing it. I didn’t know anything about the theatre. And she said ‘here’s a copy of dramatics magazine and here are different schools that you can go to’ and she kind of…I was like oh, okay! If I hadn’t met her, I don’t think I would have done that. I mean, so she really changed my life. And she knows that. I told her. I met her years later when I was in LA for a while and she was living in Arizona. And yea, she altered the course of my life.”

 

LD: Were there any special school productions that you did with her that you thought was like a turning point?

Moore: “Well she was…super ambitious in terms of what she put on. I mean the first production I put on with her was Tartuffe, Moliere’s Tartuffe. So nobody does that. They usually do Barefoot in the Park, you know? Or something. So she, I also did The Music Man with her which is a little more traditional. But I also played Madea for her. She just was very, she was like a real director, she seemed like a real theater director.”

 

LD: What drew you to the character of Linda?

Moore: “I loved Linda. I mean I was like Linda, I was the kind of kid that read all the time and went to the library and won the summer reading contest and ended up in the drama club after school because it was just another–I wasn’t athletic, I couldn’t do anything else–it was just another extension of reading. I feel like it would have been very easy for me to have been Linda if I didn’t have a high school English teacher who told me I could be an actress. So I found her incredibly relatable and I loved her. And I loved her kind of…she’s sort of an innocent, you know? And yea, I thought she was really endearing actually.”

 

LD:  A lot of these characters offer no apologies for their actions where it might be expected, can you talk about that?

Angarano: “It was kind of interesting because when we did a table read for it and when I first read Jason out loud with everybody there, it came across much angrier than I think he should have come across and I realized that there’s like this real like, kind of childishness about him that’s very annoying. You know what I mean? Like even his relationship with LInda in movie is kind of, I don’t know, he thinks that he’s this mature guy and he’s kind of projected himself to be that but he’s really just a boy. And so in the end I think it’s kind of like, you know I don’t think he really intentionally wants to hurt anybody. But he’s kind of like you know, kind of manipulative in an annoying childish, annoying kind of guy-getting-what-he-wants kind of way.”

Moore: “I think one of the nice things though about the movie too is people don’t apologize. A lot of them do some things, it’s kind one of those cause and effect things. Where at the end of the day, a lot of people are very shamed by their behavior [laughs] but there’s a kind of forgiveness that they all offer one another and a kind of looking the other way. Maybe they all weren’t their best selves at that moment but they had the best intentions. There’s a humanity I think to their recovery that’s very nice. In a sense where you know, your mother always told you ‘just let time go by and it’ll be better’ it’s true, they all kind of let a little time go by and it all sort of settles down again.”

The English Teacher is available now OnDemand and will hit theaters on May 17th.

 

David Kates & Joshua Mosley discuss composing “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”

David Kates & Joshua Mosley are the composers of Production I.G.’s “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, which is an animated prequel to BioWare’s “Mass Effect 3”.  The film is being released on Blu-ray/DVD on  December 28, 2012 and packs a hell of an epic score.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with David and Joshua about working together on this project and with the “Mass Effect” franchise.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you two ended up collaborating on “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”?
Joshua Mosley: Really great to talk with you. Shortly after I was hired on to the film I discovered the music of David Kates – particularly his work on the Mass Effect games. I really dug the way he put together his cues. I reached out and connected through social media. I felt he would be a great collaborator on this film. Soon after we met in person, I invited him to join me on this creative adventure. It was a totally awesome and fun experience working with David.
David Kates: Thanks for including us. We love what you guys are doing, and thrilled to be a part of it. Joshua, I recall, reached out to me through social networking, and mentioned that he had listened to some of my music so I reciprocated and checked out was he was doing, and was really moved by what he was creating. And I say moved, because it’s one thing to be impressed, and another altogether, to be moved. I felt that Joshua’s writing was coming from a very honest place, and I knew I wanted to get to know him. When the opportunity to collaborate on Mass Effect: Paragon Lost came about, I was initially very surprised because at the time, no one knew an animated version of the franchise was in the works. I was thrilled to be included, and fascinated by the potential creativity in bringing what I had composed on the games to the screen with Joshua.

MG: David, How does composing a “Mass Effect” animated movie differ from the video game series?
DK: The mission in composing for the game, particularly Mass Effect 2, was to give each level of the game its own musical identity while keeping the overall quality consistent, but the process is tedious and limiting. One of my favorite levels that I worked on was Garrus because I found him to be a character tormented by his own internal challenges. He wasn’t human, yet he identified with human qualities like compassion, justice, and loyalty. I wanted to bring out his discomfort in this while also accentuating this underlying, almost chemical level need to participate in battle. To achieve this, I had to create short loops that had different layers of content, and those layers would be trigger-based on what the player achieves while playing. It’s very challenging and difficult to really dig into a character’s development this way. In the movie, though, the story is laid out and develops chronologically, and there are so many opportunities to compose themes that you can use to comment on what you see on the screen. In fact, the dramatization of Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is one of the aspects of my collaboration with Joshua that I’m most proud of. I feel we gave the story real dimension, and brought out the real emotion that was written in the script.

MG: Since this is a prequel to the third game, does that pose any issue when approaching the sound?
JM: Sure it does. We definitely wanted to capture the essence of the musical landscape of the Mass Effect games, including elements from all three titles. That sound also had to translate to a big cinematic experience. I think it fits well alongside the games.
DK: We both studied and analyzed the scores from the games to make sure not to leave any identifiable elements out, and we knew we wanted this score to have a cinematic and expansive feel that brings the games to the big screen.

MG: What you were most concerned about when handling the “Mass Effect” universe for the fans?
JM: We definitely wanted the score to fit into the sonic experience of the Mass Effect games and give the fans that same emotional feeling that they got when they played them.
DK: We certainly wanted the score to feel as though it naturally lives alongside the other productions, and were initially concerned how our musical approach would live well with the anime style of animation. Fortunately, the two elements blended successfully and we didn’t have to go back and alter our sound palette.

MG: The film has a very epic sci-fi score behind it, tell us about the inspiration?
JM: Yes, this is a very epic score but at the center of it all is the humanity and the spiritual and emotional journey that Vega embarks on through the film. There are definitely big sci-fi action cues throughout but there is also a very intimate emotional underscore that gives it the depth it needed to support and propel that story.
DK: I would say our inspiration was the spiritual nature we discovered in the story. Joshua and I talked for many hours about what we wanted to achieve, and that included accentuating the underlying humanity of what was going on. James Vega goes through an experience that no one would ever expect to go through in their lives, yet, every one of us can imagine being confronted with making the kind of decisions that could mean the lives of so many, particularly the ones we know and love. We really dedicated ourselves to making sure that this would be the inspiration that motivated every note we wrote in this score.

MG: Tell us what each of you have planned next?
JM: I begin work on a new video game and film in January. I am also in talks on a few other projects of which I cannot disclose any information. Thanks again for having us!
DK: I’ve been fortunate to be participating in The Helfman Institute Composer in Residence program this past year, and I’ve been composing my first Operetta based on the biblical character Miriam. We’re rehearsing it now, and will be performing it in Los Angeles in late January.
Cheers to you and your readers!! Thanks so much and wishing everyone a merry holiday season.