Event Review: Monster Jam @ Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

I cannot even remember the last time I went to Monster Jam. I would think it has to be nearly 20 years by now at least. I have always been yearning to go back though and this year was the year! I have always been a huge Grave Digger fan and I remember cars like Big Foot that are no longer around. So I think it was about time for me to revisit this action packed event. This year Monster Jam headed back to the Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL on January 13th and it was one hell of a time! This definitely just became a yearly event for me again! Let’s just say that!

The event featured more than 12 trucks and drivers including: Grave Digger driven by Dennis Anderson; Son-uva Digger driven by Ryan Anderson; Team Hot Wheels driven by Scott Buetow; Monster Energy driven by Coty Saucier; Jester driven by Matt Pagliarulo; Xtermigator driven by JR McNeal; Rage driven by Cory Rummel; Barbarian driven by Devin Jones; OVER Bored, Bounty Hunter, Knucklehead, Madusa and Wrecking Crew.

Like I mentioned I have always loved Grave Digger (I mean seriously who doesn’t). He is just bad-ass. I mean the guy loses a damn wheel on his first go-around and still managed to come back and get second place at the end. During this event there were a few spotlight trucks who really just nailed every run! Monster Energy ended up winning the night, hands down! Their freestyle had me on my feet screaming! Wrecking Crew also tore up the stadium for sure! The audience was literally on their feet the entire event!

The part just wasn’t at the Stadium though! We arrived hours in advance and had an awesome time tailgating and enjoying the big open field. They also had the “Party in the Pits”, which was an additional $10.00 but gives a good opportunity for fans to get up close and personal to the Monster Jam trucks and drivers. They also had ramps setup with bikers doing tricks hourly. So very cool event for sure! Family fun! Plenty of families gathered at this event to show this wonderful event together and I will be one of those families for sure moving forward!

Kansas City Film Critics Name “Manchester by the Sea” the Best Film of 2016 During Presentation of 51st Annual James Loutzenhiser Awards

Manchester by the Sea was chosen as the Best Film of 2016 by the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the second oldest critics group in the country. MediaMikes film critics Michael Smith and Jeremy Werner are members of the group. Smith also serves as the groups secretary and is a member of the governing board. The film was also recognized with the Robert Altman Award for Direction and the film’s star, Casey Affleck, was chosen as the year’s Best Actor. The winners were announced today during a ceremony for the 51st Annual James Loutzenhiser Awards at the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet Theatre in Kansas City.

Manchester by the Sea led all films with three wins, while Arrival, Hell or High Water and Moonlight each received two awards. Natalie Portman was named Best Actress for her portrayal of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie while Jeff Bridges was awarded Best Supporting Actor for his work as a grizzled Texas Ranger in Hell or High Water. For the 13th time at least one category resulted in a tie when Viola Davis (Fences) and Naomie Harris (Moonlight) tied in the Best Supporting Actress category. Zootopia was named the year’s Best Animated Feature.

This year the group also awarded the inaugural Tom Poe Award for Best LGBT Film. A beloved associate professor of film and media arts in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Poe, who passed away in November at the age of 70, was a long-time member of the Critics Circle. His reviews were inevitably astute and well-informed yet just as naturally considered and kind, in keeping with his sympathies for both filmmaker and audience. It was Poe’s belief that “great film reviews give rise to thinking about films.” As such, he supported many members of KCFCC through encouragement and dialogue. Tom Poe was our colleague and friend, and it is our intention that this annual award honor his legacy as an advocate for LGBT rights and promote his desire for justice by way of accurate and beneficial representation. The inaugural recipient is Moonlight.

The full list of winners is below:

BEST FILM

Manchester by the Sea

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

BEST ACTOR

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

BEST ACTRESS

Natalie Portman – Jackie

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Viola Davis – Fences and Naomie Harris – Moonlight

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Eric Heisserer – Arrival

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Handmaiden – South Korea

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

OJ: Made in America

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Zootopia

VINCE KOEHLER AWARD FOR BEST SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY or HORROR FILM

Arrival

TOM POE AWARD FOR BEST LGBT FILM

Moonlight

Tommy Wiseau talks about “The Room” Rifftrax Live, James Franco in “The Disaster Artist” and his Hulu series “The Neighbors”

Tommy Wiseau is the director, producer, writer and star of the cult classic film “The Room”. Since the film was released back in 2003 it has achieved “Rocky Horror” like fame playing to midnight screenings non-stop to a huge fan base. Some called the film one of the worst ever made but true fans see “The Room” for what it really it, which is fun! The film was parodied live by the Rifftrax gang last year and is heading back to theaters again on January 28th, 2016. Media Mikes had a chance to catch up with Tommy again to discuss “The Room”, James Franco playing him in “The Disaster Artist” film adaptation and what else he is currently working on.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you feel about “The Room” being parodied by Rifftrax Live?
Tommy Wiseau: Yeah they reached out to me about a year ago about doing it. I liked what they did, I mean, I don’t support parts of it 100%, but it does show how fun “The Room” is. People take things too serious and the film isn’t made to be serious, it is made to be fun. If you haven’t seen the Rifftrax Live version of “The Room” in theaters, I would recommend it highly when it comes around again January 28th, 2016. And bring a big group of friends with you as well.

Mike Gencarelli: The film has been out for 13 years now, are you ever taken back by the continued interested in it year after year?
Tommy Wiseau: Yes, I am still surprised. I am happy that people are still talking about it and still seeing it in theaters. I also have been working a few new projects as well that I am excited for fans of “The Room” to see as well. I love touring with the film across the country. I usually show “The Room” and an episode of “The Neighbors” as a double header. It is a lot of fun to do and also getting to interact with the fans.

Mike Gencarelli: Last time we spoke back in 2011, you mentioned you were planning a 3D release for “The Room”; can we expect that soon?
Yeah that is something that I have wanted to do for a while. Making a film into 3D is definitely not an easy process. So yes, I still want to release “The Room” in 3D, but right now I am not sure if I want to reshoot the entire film in 3D or just convert it. But I am definitely still planning and exploring my options. Right now James Franco is making his film of “The Disaster Artist”, so I will let him have that and then I will focus more on the 3D after it is released.

Mike Gencarelli: Speaking of that, tell us about your feelings on James Franco playing you in the film adaption of Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s book “The Disaster Artist”?
Tommy Wiseau: I think James is one best actors in the business. I feel good that someone like him is playing me. Of course, I also feel a little like they are taking something away from me since it is based around my life and my movie. I hope that this is a big success for James since then in return I think it will also then bring more people to “The Room” and that’s good.

Mike Gencarelli: Exactly, I think that this will put your film back in the spotlight and also introduce it to a new audience…
Tommy Wiseau: Yes, exactly. I am hoping about that. James and his brothers are doing a very good job so far and I am excited to see it when it comes out later this year.

Mike Gencarelli: Do you have any involvement or input on the upcoming film?
Yeah James did speak with me about the role and I gave him some tips. My life is very complex but I believe he will do a good job. I also have a small part in the film as well, which is cool.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you enjoy playing the villain Linton Kitano in newly released “Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance”?
Tommy Wiseau: It is always great to play a villain, I loved it. This film was a very fun experience for me I can tell you that.

Mike Gencarelli: You TV series “The Neighbors” has aired 6 episodes on Hulu; any plans for more episodes on that format?
Tommy Wiseau: Yes! Currently 6 episodes have aired on Hulu and the fans really have been excited about what we have so far. I am currently working on another 6 episodes for Hulu. We have been also exploring releasing the episodes in animated format as well. If you inquire on our website, we can send even send them to the fans (free of charge). So that is something that we were trying and it also getting a good response. I hope to have the next 6 episodes on Hulu by the end of 2016.

Mike Gencarelli: You did a Reddit last year where you mentioned a new project called “The Foreclosure”, what can you tell us?
Tommy Wiseau: Yeah that is a project that I am currently working on as well as “The Neighbors”. “The Foreclosure” focuses on the housing market right now and looks into the current situation that we are facing today with people not being able to pay for their houses and being forced to foreclose. It is a current topic. There is also another project that I have that is currently untitled but that I cannot talk about right now…maybe in about 3-4 months, I can. But a lot of very excited stuff coming up for my fans!

Kansas City Film Critics Name “Mad Max: Fury Road” the Best Film of 2015 During Presentation of 50th Annual James Loutzenhiser Awards

Mad Max: Fury Road was chosen as the Best Film of 2015 by The Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the 2nd oldest critics group in the country. The winners were announced this afternoon during a ceremony at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre in Kansas City. Among the voters were MediaMikes own Michael Smith and Jeremy Werner.

The film, which had been nominated in four categories by the group, also took home the Robert Altman Award for Best Director for George Miller and Best Actress for Charlize Theron. The film was the only multiple winner announced by the group. The directing award is named in honor of seven-time Academy Award nominee and Kansas City native Robert Altman.

Leonardo DiCaprio was named Best Actor for his work in The Revenant. In the supporting categories, Michael Shannon received the Best Supporting Actor prize for 99 Homes while Alicia Vikander was named Best Supporting Actress for Ex Machina. PIXAR’s Inside Out was named the year’s Best Animated Feature.

Below is a complete list of winners:

BEST PICTURE: Mad Max: Fury Road

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST ACTOR: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

BEST ACTRESS: Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Michael Shannon – 99 Homes

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay – The Big Short
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Inside Out

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Phoenix (Germany)

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Amy

VINCE KOEHLER AWARD FOR BEST SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY or HORROR FILM: Ex Machina

Kansas City Film Critics Announces Nominees for the 50th Annual James Loutzenhiser Awards

Kansas City, Missouri – The Kansas City Film Critics Circle, of which both Moviemike and Jeremy Werner are members, and the second oldest film critic organization in the country, released their nominees for the 50th Annual James Loutzenhiser Awards, recognizing the best in film for 2015.

Sicario, a fall release that addressed the war on drugs in both the United States and Mexico, led all films with five nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for Denis Villenueve. The film also earned nods for Emily Blunt for Best Actress, Benicio Del Toro for Best Supporting and Original Screenplay.

Right behind are the summer action film Mad Max: Fury Road and the upcoming Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Revenant, which each earned four nominations, including Best Picture. Also earning Best Picture nominations: Room and Spotlight. DiCaprio was nominated as one of the year’s Best Actors, along with Steve Carell (The Big Short), Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and last year’s Academy Award winner in this category, Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl).

Charlize Theron was nominated as Best Actress for her role as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. Nominated alongside her and Blunt are Cate Blanchett (Carol), Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) and Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn).

Besides Del Toro, the list of nominees for Best Supporting Actor include Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Michael Shannon (99 Homes) and Sylvester Stallone, reprising his role of Rocky Balboa in Creed. In 1976 the group named Stallone the year’s Best Actor for playing Balboa in Rocky.

Blanchett’s Carol co-star, Rooney Mara, earned a nod for Best Supporting Actress, alongside Elizabeth Banks (Love and Mercy), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs).

Directors joining Villenueve in competition for the Robert Altman Award for Best Director are Alex Garland (Ex Machina), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) and George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road).

The group also handed out nominations for Best Animated Feature, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, Foreign Film, Documentary Feature and for the Vince Koehler Award, which is chosen as the year’s best Science Fiction, Horror or Fantasy Film.

Winners will be voted on and the results released this Sunday, December 20th.

Below is a complete list of nominees:

BEST PICTURE: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Room, Sicario, Spotlight

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR: Alex Garland (Ex Machina), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant), Denis Villenueve (Sicario), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

BEST ACTOR: Steve Carell (The Big Short), Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett (Carol), Emily Blunt (Sicario), Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Benicio Del Toro (Sicario), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Michael Shannon (99 Homes), Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Elizabeth Banks (Love and Mercy), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Rooney Mara (Carol), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Ex Machina, The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, Sicario, Spotlight, Trainwreck

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Big Short, Carol, The Martian, Room, Steve Jobs

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Anomalisa, Inside Out, Minions, The Peanuts Movie, Shaun the Sheep

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Assassin, Goodnight Mommy, Phoenix, Son of Saul, The Tribe, White God

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Amy, Best of Enemies, The Look of Silence, Where to Invade Next, The Wrecking Crew

VINCE KOEHLER AWARD FOR BEST SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY or HORROR FILM: Ex Machina, Goodnight Mommy, It Follows, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian

James Keach talks about directing “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”

It would be fair to say that the Smith family has a great admiration for the Keach family.  As a child, I enjoyed the many roles that Stacy Keach, Sr. played in most of the classic television westerns.  Then, in 1980, Mr. Keach’s children, James and Stacy, co-wrote and co-starred in the movie The Long Riders.  What makes that film so popular in our house is that James Keach played Jesse James.  My son, Phillip, is related to Jesse James on his mother’s side of the family, though thankfully he has never robbed a bank.

James Keach is probably best known on-screen as the motorcycle cop who pulls Chevy Chase over after the family dog is unwittingly tied to the back of the car in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”  He has also appeared in such films as “The Razor’s Edge,” “Wildcats” and “The Experts,” a film that deserved a much better marketing effort (shame on you Paramount).  He also played the role of the Warden in the Johnny Cash bio-pic “Walk the Line,” which he also helped produce.  Cash was the godfather of Mr. Keach’s son, John.

Turning his attention behind the camera, Mr. Keach is the director of the recent documentary “Glen Campbell:  I’ll Be Me,” which recently earned an Academy Award nomination for Original Song.  Mr. Keach and I spoke about the film and its impact before the nominations were announced.

Mike Smith:  How did you get involved in the project?
James Keach:  Julian Raymond, who had produced Glen’s last two projects, “Meet Glen Campbell” and “Ghost on the Canvas,” was producing my 18 year old son Johnny’s band.  He would come over to our editing room, which is also a rehearsal area, and would ask if I wanted to work on a project on Glen because he knew I had worked on “Walk the Line” several years ago.  We were very reluctant at first but we gave in to him.  He wanted us to make a documentary rather than a narrative film.  When we found out that Glen had Alzheimer’s it made me and Trevor (co-producer Trevor Albert) even more reluctant.  We thought, “oh my gosh, how can we make a movie that’s uplifting about THIS?”  And then we met Glen.  Once we met Glen and his family we realized that this man really wanted to make a difference in the world.

MS:  Is it difficult as a filmmaker, especially considering Glen Campbell’s situation, to not let your emotions dictate your approach to the material?
JK:  The big thing was…everything we had ever seen about Alzheimer’s, both in the documentary format and the narrative format, was very, very dark.  So the emotional resistance occurred prior to making the film.  Once we got to know Glen and we got to see his willingness to reveal the truth about what he was going through, it was like we were on the journey with him.  We were suffering it with him.  Emotionally we felt more for the family then we did for Glen because, when you’re going through it, you don’t realize what it’s doing to your family all the time.  Glen was very cognizant of what was happening and you see in the film that there is some remorse.  He knew things were getting weird and messed up but he really didn’t understand it, especially towards the end.  The real emotional impact came from watching his kids and his wife…the people that had known him for thirty or forty years…watch him going through the downward spiral.  And as an objective filmmaker you kind of had to stand back and observe everything and not become…you really just had to stand back.  And to reflect Glen’s personality, which has a lot of humor in it, and love, we could have easily gone on one track in the film and just shown one side of it.  But that wouldn’t have been Glen.  We also thought it was going to be a short journey.  We thought we’d be with him for five and a half weeks and we ended up spending two and a half years.  We kind of went down the rabbit hole with him.  Slowly but surely.  And even now, looking back at the film, it’s so courageous what he did and it’s a legacy for me as a filmmaker that I feel so proud that I was able to be a part of it.  To be at the helm, with my partner, Trevor, and to share this story.

MS:  Have you kept in touch with Glen?  How is he doing?
JK:  Yeah.  I saw Glen six weeks ago and the family sends pictures of him.  And I talk to Kim (Campbell’s wife).  He’s in good physical health.  He’s in good spiritual health.  He’s happy where he is.  He still has Alzheimer’s…it’s not going away.  But he’s not suffering.  He’s being well taken care of.  And I think that’s the most you can ask.  He has a lot of love around him.  He’s still full of love and full of laughter and full of faith.  Every once in a while he’ll lift his hands up and say “thank you, Lord.”  It’s kind of amazing.  I heard the other day…Kim said he played a little bit.

MS:  You’ve spent most of the past two decades behind the camera instead of in front of it.  Is that something you want to concentrate on?  Are you still open to acting jobs?
JK:  Have you got a job?  (laughs)
MS:  While I was curious if maybe they’ve talked to you about doing a cameo in the “Vacation” reboot.  Maybe you could be the cop that pulls Rusty over.
JK:  (laughing) That would be really funny.  Man, I had such a good time doing that.  That’s where my partner Trevor and I met.  He was Harold Ramis’ producer.

MS:  What do you have coming up next?
JK:  We have a lot of different films that are in various stages of development.  What we’re really trying to do is to make sure this film finishes correctly.  To make sure it gets in the right place in the digital realm because I think that is where most people are going to see it.  We’re chugging along and getting a lot of requests for screenings.  The most important thing is to school as many people as possible to see the film.  I think it will help change the conversation about Alzheimer’s.  It will certainly help leave a great legacy for Glen.  I think Glen’s intentions were to try and make a difference in the world…to create an awareness of how dire the situation is.  We did a screening for about 4,000 people in Nashville.  I went up on the stage…the Band Perry was there and we had a concert and a screening.  And during the concert, while they were setting up for their next song, I asked how many people in the audience had been affected by Alzheimer’s.  About 3,800 people stood up.  I think that there is a connection there with everybody.  People have to become more aware of this and do something about it before it really takes its toll on our country and each one of our families.

3D Blu-ray Review “James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge 3D”

Actors: James Cameron
Directors: John Bruno, Ray Quint, Andrew Wight
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Run Time: 91 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

When you are Academy Award® winner James Cameron, after you make classics like “The Terminator”, “Titanic”, “Avatar”; what do you do next? Well, for Cameron he has been working with the “Deepsea Challenger”, a state-of-the-art deep-diving submersible designed to reach Earth’s lowest known point. This documentary focuses on his successful voyage from March of 2012 to Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, which reaches a depth of over seven miles. If you love James Cameron and his under the sea adventures, this is both entertaining and educational…and of course in 3D.

Official Premise: As a boy, filmmaker James Cameron dreamed of a journey to the deepest part of the ocean. This film is the dramatic fulfillment of that dream. It chronicles Cameron’s solo dive to the depths of the Mariana Trench—nearly seven miles beneath the ocean’s surface—piloting a submersible he designed himself. The risks were astounding. The footage is breathtaking. “Deepsea Challenge 3D” is a celebration of science, courage, and extraordinary human aspiration.

Since it is James Cameron, I expected this to be in 3D. The 3D is definitely the best part of this release. Millennium is releasing this as a combo pack with a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD, so there are plenty of options here. If you can watch this in 3D, I would certainly recommend that for sure. The 1080p transfer is stunning with the underwater footage. It is framed at 1.78:1 aspect ratio and the film has extremely sharp image detail and vibrant colors. The audio is also impressive with an DTS-HD 5-1 Master Audio track.

In terms of special features, there is really not much included. There are two short featurettes included, which add to just over 5 minutes for both. The first is a look at the final dive before it happens and the second a post-dive wrap up. There is also a trailer included for the film. If you are looking for more, I would recommend the Special Collector’s Edition, which features a 36-Page book with imagery of production artwork, stills from filming, charts, depth measurement diagrams.

Win a DVD of “Filth” Starring James McAvoy [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “Filth” starring James McAvoy, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on DVD to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite James McAvoy film. This giveaway will remain open until August 29th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all of our Media Mikes readers worldwide. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

James McAvoy plays Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, a scheming, manipulative, misanthropic man who spends his time indulging in drugs, alcohol, sexually abusive relationships, and “the games” cruel plots and systematic bullying of his coworkers and friends. While working on the murder case of a Japanese student, he starts coming unhinged, slowly losing his grip on reality and suffering from a series of increasingly severe hallucinations as he desperately tries to hold his life together.

Korn’s Ray Luzier and James “Munky” Shaffer talk about touring with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

The heavy metal group Korn is out on the road this summer as part of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. The group recently released a tour version of their 2013 album “The Paradigm Shift” exclusively through Best Buy which features several new tracks along with some exclusive live tracks as well. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with drummer Ray Luzier and guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer during the tours recent stop in Scranton, PA about the release and how they connect with the different crowds they perform for each night.

Adam Lawton: When you are out on a tour like the Mayhem Festival is there any one thing that is the same from day to day?
Ray Luzier: We hear the same bands every day. (Laughs) What’s really great is that we get to play to diverse crowds every show. There are people who have seen us 27 times and there are people who are just seeing us that day for the first time. I’m not sure about constants but I try to stay in a similar routine from day to day.

AL: With the band playing all over the world how do you go about connecting with each of the crowds you perform for?
James “Munky” Shaffer: Every audience is different and that’s really the beauty of it. Like Ray said before you get people who have seen you a lot and you get people who have never seen you before. We are playing the same songs night after night so we try and keep that thought in our heads so we go out and put on a great show every night. We want them to really enjoy the show and to come and see us again.
RL: We may be super tired from traveling or whatever before we hit the stage but once we are up there we are energized bythe crowd. We are fans of music ourselves and still go out and see a lot of bands and buy their merchandise and what not. This is Korn’s 20th year as a band and I have been touring myself just as long. It never gets old. We are still excited to play every time we go up there.

AL: Have you guys seen any bands on this tour that you have really become fans of?
JS: Trivium is a band that has really impressed me. Their songs and how they engage the audience has really impressed me. Those guys are super tight professionally which is really inspiring. I know they have been around a few years but to see that level of commitment is really awesome. I was a mess at that stage of the game. (Laughs) I still am a mess but I have gotten a little better over time.
RL: I go out and check out the side stages from time to time and there are a lot of bands on this tour that have really impressed me. I watch bands like Mushroomhead and Miss May I and you can see just how hungry they are. They all have their own thing going for them which is really great to see.

AL: Can you give us some info on the tour version of your most recent album “The Paradigm Shift”?
JS: We initially released that album last year and after it was out for a couple months there were some songs that never got finished that we wanted to still work on. Jonathan went back in and wrote lyrics for these songs that we didn’t get to finish because we just ran out of time. They came out pretty good and we also decided to add some live tracks on the new release as well. When we are out on the road we like to have something in stores for people to buy that is fresh.

AL: Ray, how do you go about balancing your time in Korn and working with your newest project KXM?
RL: We all have side projects that we work on when we aren’t working on Korn. We just have a tremendous amount of music inside of us. I think these side projects are important for each of us to do as they help us remain creative. KXM is something that George, Doug and I have been talking about doing for years. The idea goes all the way back to my son’s first birthday party when we all were talking about jamming together. Scheduling is always the hard part as Korn is very busy but we hope to get some shows set up before the end of the year. Right now we are just working on videos and such.

James Garner Dead at 86

James Garner, whose rugged good looks and wry charm made him a star for almost seven decades, passed away last night at his Hollywood home. He was 86.

Born James Scott Bumgarner in Norman, Oklahoma, Garner began his acting career shortly after returning home from the Korean War. While serving our country he received two Purple Hearts for injuries he received in combat.

After a few minor roles in television and film he hit it big in 1957 playing Bret Maverick in the popular television program “Maverick.” So popular was the character that he would often appear briefly in other television westerns as Maverick. His first major film role came in 1963 when he co-starred in “The Great Escape.” The next year he became a leading man, appearing opposite Julie Andrews in Arthur Hiller’s “The Americanization of Emily.” With the exception of a brief 1972 series entitled “Nichols” he worked consistently in film for the next decade, appearing in such well received projects as “Grand Prix,” “Support Your Local Sheriff!,” “Marlowe” and “Support Your Local Gunfighter.”

In 1974 he took on the role he would always be associated with, private investigator Jim Rockford in “The Rockford Files.” Driving his Pontiac Firebird and living in his mobile home, Rockford, with the occasional help of his father, Rocky (Noah Beery, Jr.) and occasional guest stars, would take any case – for $200 a day, plus expenses! The show was so popular that it’s theme song, written by Mike Post, reached #10 on the popular music chart and even won a Grammy Award for best television theme. “TV Guide” later named it the 39th Greatest Television Show Ever!

After the show left the air in 1980 he returned to film, starring in Robert Altman’s “HealtH,” opposite Lauren Bacall in “The Fan,” re-teaming with Julie Andrews in the outstanding comedy “Victor/Victoria” and romancing Sally Field in “Murphy’s Romance,” a role that brought him his first and only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

The 90’s found him back on television, starring in the short-lived political series “Man of the People.” He also did several “Rockford Files” television movies and starred as Marshal Zane Cooper opposite Mel Gibson who took over the title role in the film adaptation of “Maverick.” The new millennium found him in space opposite Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland in “Space Cowboys” and also starring in arguably one of the most beloved romances of the decade, “The Notebook.” On television he gave voice to the Creator in the underrated “God, the Devil and Bob” and on the popular series “8 Simple Rules.” His role on “Rules” was expanded during the last season following the tragic death of the show’s star, John Ritter. Besides his lone Oscar nomination, he earned fourteen Emmy nominations (winning two) and twelve Golden Globe nods (winning three).

If I have one image of James Garner in my head, it isn’t from any of his film or television work. A few years ago, while visiting a local business, I was drawn to a photo of a group of young men, a few of them holding basketballs. I remarked to the owner that “the guy in the middle looks just like James Garner.” It was. The owner had served with Garner in Korea and, whenever time allowed, the men would have scrimmage basketball games at their post. In the photo Garner is beaming, as if he couldn’t be any happier. What’s amazing is that he had a whole new career ahead of him that he wasn’t even aware of. He will be missed.

CD Review “Ronnie James Dio- This is Your Life” Various Artists

“Ronnie James Dio- This is Your Life”
Various Artists
Rhino
Produced by: Wendy Dio
Tracks: 13

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Ronnie James Dio is one of the most beloved figures in rock history. His gifts, both as a singer and songwriter, are instantly recognizable, whether he was with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, or leading Dio. Sadly, Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer in 2010, but his towering voice and legacy live on. To celebrate one of rock’s most powerful voices, an all-star group of his friends and fans recorded 13 of their favorite tracks for a tribute album that will raise funds for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund (diocancerfund.org). Produced by his longtime manager and wife Wendy Dio, the album includes contributions by such metal heavyweights as Metallica, Motörhead and Anthrax, as well as appearances by many of the musicians who performed with Dio over the years.

Just the lineup alone with have metal heads clamoring to get their hands on this album. Everyone from Rob Halford and Glenn Hughes to Tenacious D and Killswitch Engage are here covering some of the most legendary songs in heavy metal. The thing I think I liked most about this release is that all the songs were performed in the same vain as the originals. That’s something you don’t find too often in tribute records as a lot of times you get re-workings of the original material which rarely lives up to the original. This was the complete opposite as each of the 13 tracks are a fitting salute to the original recording. Anthrax’s cover of “Neon Lights” is an explosive opening track which gives ways to solid performances of “The Last in Line” by Tenacious D, Straight Through the Heart by Halestorm and the always entertaining Killswitch Engage cover of “Holy Diver. However the real gems come in the way of the collaboration pieces. Corey Taylor and company do an amazing cover of “Rainbow In the Dark” while Rob Halford lends his soaring vocals to “Man on the Silver Mountain”, Metallica, A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King all join forces for the “Ronnie Rising Medley” which is something you definitely won’t want to miss.

“Ronnie James Dio- This is Your Life” has all the classic Dio songs we know and love but with amped up performances by some of today’s top metal artists and with Wendy Dio at the production helm each track takes on a life of its own blending both the new and old. Whether you’re a Dio fan from way back or a newer fan of one of the artists who appear on the album definitely pick this release up as not only will you be getting some really great music you will also be helping out a really great cause.

Track Listing:
1.) Neon Lights- Anthrax
2.) The Last in Line- Tenacious D
3.) The Mob Rules- Adrenaline Mob
4.) Rainbow In the Dark- Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Chrisitian Martucci, Jason Christopher
5.) Straight Through the Heart- Halestorm
6.) Starstruck- Motorhead w/ Biff Byford
7.) Temple of the King- Scorpions
8.) Egypt – (The Chains Are On)- Doro
9.) Holy Diver- Killswitch Engage
10.) Catch the Rainbow- Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
11.) I- Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12.) Man on the Silver Mountain- Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13.) Ronnie Rising Medley- Metallica, A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King
14.) This is Your Life- Dio

James D’Arcy talks about new film “After the Dark” and TV series “Those Who Kill”

James D’Arcy is known best for playing three roles in the 2012 epic sci-fi film “Cloud Atlas”, directed by Tom Tykwer and The Wachowski’s. He also played the role of Norman Bates in “Hitchcock”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with James about his role in his new film “After the Dark” and his new A&E TV series “Those Who Kill”.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with the film “After the Dark”?
James D’Arcy: I woke up to an email from my agent sending me the script. I read the script completely cold and I had no idea what I was about to read at all. There was the moment in the script when I shoot one of the kids in the head, that is when it really got my interest. I thought this was really an unexpected twist. Then when I finished the script, I thought it was challenging, provocative and intelligent. You have to have a brain to watch the film. I was enthusiastic due that those aspects. Then I received a bunch of photographs of where we would be shooting. When I saw the locations, it made much more sense to me. I couldn’t visualize how it would work until I saw the photographs. I was just blown away. Then met with John Huddles and really liked him. He had a lot of great ideas and it just grew from there.

MG: I was wondering about the shooting locations since they were extremely beautiful.
JD: Yeah, it was incredible. The three places we filmed in Indonesia were the Prambanan Temple, Mount Bromo and Belitung Island. When I saw the island, I thought “Oh my God, that looks like a holiday”. It was beautiful. We did have to work unfortunately as well [laughs]. The other two Prambanan Temple and Mount Bromo, I haven’t never seen any place like them before. I had no idea a place like Prambanan even existed before. For Mount Bromo, we actually shot in an active volcano. It was filming on Mars. It was really worth it since these were just such extraordinary places.

MG: What intrigued you most about your character Mr. Zimit
JD: I really didn’t know if he was a good guy or not. I liked that there was this dubious gray area. I liked that he was smart and very charismatic. You just never quite knew where you where with him. He was constantly pulling the rug out from under your feet. I thought he was very complex and not obvious and I appreciated that enormously as an actor.

MG: You provided narration throughout as a few of the scenarios played out; was this done before or after shooting the film?
JD: You have an advantage over me since I haven’t seen the completed film yet. We didn’t record any narration separation. We shot it as part of the scene. I do remember that I was slaving over this very long speech at one point. We actually shot that and I remember thinking that this was most likely going to be used as a voice over. Some of the dialogue we shot twice, once was in the classroom and once was on location, so we never quite knew where the director was going to make the cut.

MG: Since you haven’t see the film, I am not sure you can relate but I loved the score in the film and we also interviewed the composer, Jonathan Davis and Nicholas O’Toole, I felt like the music was another character in the film.
JD: Yeah, I can’t comment much on that. But I have been in movies, where the music does something and becomes a character itself. It doesn’t just enhance what you are already hearing and seeing, it adds this extra layer. That is when music is best in the movies.
MG: Honestly, “Cloud Atlas” is one of those films for me and I loved how well the score was intertwined into the film.
JD: Yes, that score was quite amazing. Tom Tykwer did a phenomenal job.

MG: What can we expect from your upcoming A&E series “Those Who Kill”?
JD: It stars Chloe Sevigny and myself. We are both very damaged human beings with scores to be settled. We shot the whole thing in Pittsburgh, which is an extraordinary location since it allows a lot really artistic shots. It is a very dark and powerful show. It was great being able to take a character over a few hours as opposed to just one feature film. We had a chance to explore. them. I am very excited for this show.

MG: You’ve done roles like Mr. Zimit in “After the Dark”, Thomas Schaeffer in “Those who Kill” and you played three roles in “Cloud Atlas”; do you seek out specific roles when you approach a project?
JD: I do not think that I have ever actively seeked out a role. But when you read a script, you immediately know the ones you have an affinity with. Often, the ones that I have an affinity for are also the ones I am afraid of. I am not sure if I am able do them, which leads me to then investigate and pursue further.

MG: What else do you have in the cards for 2014?
JD: I am filming a movie right now called “Survivor”. It is stars Milla Jovovich, Pierce Brosnan, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott and myself. We are shooting in London and Bulgaria. It is an action/thriller. It is really good fun and James McTeigue is directing it. He is just wonderful. I also did a film last year called “Let’s Be Cops”, which is a very broad comedy, even though I am not the funny part of it. Because of the way, the film was shot most of the scenes I were in were more serious but I did get to see the funny stuff and it is quite funny indeed. I think that comes out in the Summer.

“American Idol” contest James Durbin talks about new album “Celebrate”

Season 10 “American Idol” contest James Durbin recently announced that  he will be embarking on an a month and a half long  acoustic tour to promote his new single “Parachute”. The song which is off Durbin’s upcoming release “Celebrate” due out April 8th shows us a different side James and Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with James about that change, the upcoming tour and what he has planned for 2014.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell about your new single “Parachute”?
James Durbin: “Parachute” as a song is really accessible and catchy. There are a lot of hooks and spots where you can sing along. I get to have a lot of fun with it and just goof off. I think this song really shows my personality and it shows the changes I have made in my attitude over the last couple of years.

AL: What do you personally feel is the biggest change from your previous work to what is going to be released in the coming months?
JD: The first record was done in two and a half weeks. We did 14 or 15 songs in that time along with photo shoots and everything else that goes along with putting an album out. The first album was thrown together really quick. The new record “Celebrate” I have had a year and a half to two years to work on. In between touring and everything I have been able to get a lot of perspective and time to think. I have gotten to play my cards a little more wisely. I can look at things a little bit more before I do them now and I didn’t have that option the first time around. On the new record I got to co-write 10 of the 11 tracks. There is definitely more me on this record. It’s a lot more personal.

AL: “Celebrate” comes out April 8th. Can you tell us where everything is at in the process right now and a little bit about the pre-order packages that available on your website www.durbinrock.com?
JD: The record has been mixed and mastered so the music is all done. What we are working on now is the liner note and credits. We are also working on a video for one of the songs. We are getting all of the inner working pieces together. The stressful stuff is all done. As for the pre-order packs there are a couple different options. You can get everything from signed cd’s to hooded sweatshirts and bracelets. I also am doing a great partnership with the National Tourette Syndrome Association where $5 from every pre-order goes directly to that foundation. With those pre-orders you get an exclusive shirt that won’t be sold anywhere else along with a signed cd.

AL: Can you tell us about your upcoming tour that was announced recently?
JD: I am really looking forward to playing and getting out there. This tour is an acoustic tour which will feature me on guitar my bass player Justin and my buddy Jeremy. It’s going to be just the three of us jamming and playing the songs the way they were written. It’s going to be a very relaxed, intimate setting. We have been rehearsing lately and adding some interesting spins to a few of the songs. It’s fun to be able to get up there and just do what feels good. We are planning to do about an hour and twenty minute long set. With this tour I want people to be able to hear these songs the way they came out of my hand and the way in which they were originally written. I think this is a great way for people to understand the material.

AL: How do you feel you will be received this time around without the immediate push from “American Idol” and a three year gap between your previous album and your new one?
JD: I am excited to get out there. Last time people saw me I was sort of scraggly looking. Over the past few years I have gotten to know myself again. I feel safe and comfortable in my own skin again. I am still the same guy at heart but I am much happier.

AL: Other than the album release and acoustic tour do you have any other plans for 2014 you can tell us about?
JD: I have to get out there and tour. People need to hear these songs and call up their local radio stations and request them. There is a lot of hard work that needs to be done. I would love to say that I am going to be on tour with someone like The Killers or on the other end of the spectrum Bruno Mars but I can’t say that yet. That would be amazing but we will have to wait and see. Weather I am playing to 30,000 people or 30 people those who come and see me will get the same experience.

Edward James Olmos talks about new film “Go For Sisters”

Edward James Olmos needs no introduction but I’ll give you one anyway. Born in Los Angeles as a young man he dreamed of being a professional baseball player. However, as he got older he discovered rock and roll and the Dodgers lost an outfielder! As his musical career progressed he was encouraged to give acting a try. He found work with small roles in both film and television. In 1979 he earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance as El Pachuco in Luis Valdez’ play “Zoot Suit,” and reprised the role in the 1981 film version. Roles in films like “Bladerunner” and television programs like “Hill Street Blues” introduced him to new fans and in 1984 he began a seven year fun as Lt. Martin Castillo in the trendsetting show “Miami Vice.” Twice nominated for an Emmy Award for his work, Olmos was the coolest guy on television with the mustache to back it up!

In 1988 he became only the 2nd Hispanic actor to be nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award when he was nominated for his role as real life educator Jaime Escalante in the film “Stand and Deliver.” He went on to star in such films as “Selena,” “Talent for the Game” (one of my favorites) and “American Me,” which he also directed. A second generation of fans embraced him as Commander Adama in the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” mini-series, television series and films. Earlier this year he starred opposite Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in the hit film “2 Guns.” He will next be featured as ex-cop Freddy Suarez in the new John Sayles drama “Go For Sisters.”

I had actually been scheduled to speak with Mr. Olmos last year during an appearance in Kansas City. When we met I referred to him as “El Pachuco,” which drew a hearty laugh. Unfortunately a change in his travel schedule put our talk on hold so I was thrilled to speak with him this week about “Go For Sisters,” telling a good story and playing baseball on screen.

Edward James Olmos: Hello Michael.
Mike Smith: Hello, El Pachuco! How are you, sir?
EJO: (laughs loudly) I’m doing pretty good. How are you?
MS: Just fine. I’ve been waiting over a year to talk to you.
EJO: Here we are finally on the telephone. I’m ready!

MS: Give us an introduction to Freddy Suarez and your new film “Go For Sisters.”
EJO: “Go For Sisters” is a film written and directed by John Sayles, and it’s probably one of his best films…it’s up there with “Lone Star” and “Passion Fish.” He has created a wonderful, complex character study about two women in need of help. That help comes in the form of a disgraced L.A. police detective who got caught up in the corruption around him and had to pay the price. He’s forced to retire without a pension. He’s also suffering from a tremendous case of macular degeneration, which is an eye disease. So he not only has to deal with his feelings of self-esteem and self-respect but he has to now deal with his physical inabilities. He’s now a shell of himself. A blind shell. But he takes on a last job in the hopes of gaining back some self-esteem. He’s also hoping to make enough money to pay his taxes so he doesn’t lose his house.

MS: What attracted you to the project?
EJO: (laughs) The story I just told you! It was so well written…I couldn’t believe it. John had actually called me and asked me to produce the film. I’ve known John for over thirty years but I’d never worked with him. I told him it would be my honor and asked him to send me the script. I read the script and I was like, “wow.” It was so original. He asked me if I liked Freddy Suarez and I told him I loved him. “Would you play him?” “Of course I would.” So that’s how the whole thing started.

MS: As a director yourself, when you’re on set with someone like John Sayles or Ridley Scott or Michael Mann, do you spend your time when you’re not performing studying their techniques…seeing how they run a set?
EJO: When I’m on a set, moment to moment, my first priority is to build my character to help tell the story…be it theater, a motion picture or television. It’s important to pay attention to the story. But we’re all story tellers. All of us. From the grips to the lighting people to the director…the producers…the actors…we’re all story tellers. We’re all there to tell a story. When I’m acting I’m there for one reason and one reason only. To tell a story. And the story of “Go For Sisters” is one of the most original pieces of work I’ve done in a long time.

MS: You were in the big budget film “2 Guns” earlier this year and now you’re in “Go For Sisters,” which is a much smaller independent project. Do you have a preference when you choose a film project?
EJO: Not really. Again, it begins with the story. If the story is worth telling then I’m interested.

MS: Since we both love baseball, here is one of the questions I’d hoped to ask you last year: In the film “Talent for the Game” you portray a former ball player who gets the chance to catch one more time in the big leagues. As someone that once dreamed of being a professional ball player was it a special moment being able to portray one on film?
EJO: (almost like a purr) Oh yeah. It was probably one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in filmmaking. I love that movie. It’s just the most unusual little film that more people are seeing now then when it came out.

MS: What do you have coming up next?
EJO: I’m working on a film now called “El Americano,” which is an animated film that should be out in March. It’s a co-production between the United States and Mexico and it stars the voices of Lisa Kudrow, Paul Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Rico Rodriguez (Manny on “Modern Family)….myself. It’s a handful of great artists lending their voices. It’s an animated film for children but adults will enjoy it. It’s not like PIXAR, where the films are made for adults but children go to see them also. I’m really looking forward to it.

Val Lauren talks about working with James Franco on “Sal”

Val Lauren has done very well for himself, carving out an impressive career while staying just below the radar. That is all going to change thanks to his bravura performance as Sal Mineo in director James Franco’s bio film, “SAL.”
A longtime member of Playhouse West, Lauren is a frequent collaborator with his friend, Scott Caan, on various film and stage projects. He made his film writing and directing debut with the well received short film, “Help,” which I recommend you give a look at http://www.openfilm.com/videos/help

While getting ready for the release of “Sal,” which opened last week, Lauren took time out to speak with Media Mikes about Sal Mineo, changes in Hollywood and why James Franco has his cell number.

Mike Smith: How did you get involved with “Sal?”
Val Lauren: James Franco offered me the role out of the blue. I got a text from him saying that he would like me to play Sal Mineo. I had no idea the offer was coming so it really took me by surprise. That’s simply how it all started. I stared at my phone for a while and then I texted back “cool.” And the next thing you know we had jumped in feet first.

MS: Nice. The first thing I would have wondered is how James Franco got my cell number.
VL: (laughs) James and I are friends. We’ve had a collaboration as actors for many years now. We’re both part of the same theater company, Playhouse West, an acting school and repertory theater company in Los Angeles. That’s where we first met over a decade ago. We’ve collaborated together on characters we’ve played in our individual movies as well as on scenes in plays for the theater. It’s an ongoing joke that we’re regarded as the James Dean and Sal Mineo of the theater company. In fact, when James did the movie “James Dean” I worked with him for a couple of months helping to research the part and that’s where we both learned a lot about Sal Mineo. We considered writing a play about James Dean and Sal Mineo so that topic has always been there. After James read Michael Gregg Michaud’s biography about Sal he decided he wanted to tell a story about Sal Mineo and that’s what we did.

MS: In researching the part where you able to speak with any members of Sal Mineo’s family or his last partner, Courtney Burr?
VL: I was. I spent a wonderful afternoon with Courtney Burr. Michael Gregg Michaud is a friend of Courtney’s and one day he asked me if I wanted to meet him. Of course I said yes. So we went over to Courtney’s home and spent the day together. Courtney told me some great stories about Sal and about their experiences together. He had a chair…a beautiful chair…in his house that Sal had given him as a gift. He let me sit in it, which I was very nervous to do. I didn’t want to knock it over or break it. He told me about their time together. We really just talked a lot about Sal. I can really see why Sal loved him. I can also see why Courtney loved Sal. He was great in helping to inform and reinforce me about the man that I had been given the responsibility to represent.

MS: Though he didn’t flaunt his sexuality, Sal Mineo never shied away from the fact that he was gay, even in an industry that, almost four decades after his death, people do their best to stay closeted. Do you think that affected his later career choices? I mean, his last movie was “Escape from the Planet of the Apes.”
VL: It absolutely demolished him. Technically he was the first known actor to come out. He didn’t make a big thing out of it but he did not make any efforts to really hide it. He would do interviews with gay publications, which at the time were relatively unheard of. He would not stay undercover. This absolutely destroyed him in the business. Friends of his that were actors and actresses and directors were afraid to even hang out with him because they would not want to be guilty by association. And I found that just appalling that it happened. I’m very happy that, almost forty years after his death, we don’t have to hide ourselves. Not only in Hollywood but in life. People have finally started to wise up and say, “what’s the big deal here?” There has been a lot of growth since then. Although there are always pockets of people that are slow to catch on I think we’re on our way to sanity.

MS: As a writer/director yourself can you give us a critique of James Franco as a director?
VL: (laughs) I think he has a very interesting and specific lens through which he views things. I think he has a very unique perspective on how he likes to tell stories. I think he’s brave to venture out and try new things at a time when we often see the same kind of movies told in the same kind of format. He has very specific ideas on what he wants to explore, which is an attribute I find in the greatest directors that I admire. I applaud him for exploring areas that, frankly, other people are too afraid to touch.

MS: There had been some talk about you making your short film, “Help,” into a feature film. Is that still the plan?
VL: I believe that the story in that short film was told in full. We may make it as a feature and we may not. I’m still not sure. I’m really proud of the film as it is and I think that I’d like to make other movies now and tell other stories and let “Help” be what it is. Yes, it’s a short film. It is 40 minutes long. But I believe that the story I wanted to tell has been told.

MS: What else are you working on?
VL: Right now I’m directing a play that just opened called “One Hundred Days of Yesterday” that was written by Scott Caan. We’ve done about a dozen plays together….ones he wrote…ones I directed…ones we starred in. This is one that he wrote that I’m directing with two great actors. My next movie coming out is called “The Last Knight” and it’s based on this great Japanese tale of the 47 Ronin, who were a group of warriors that set out on a mission to avenge their master.

MS: I’ve got to end this by saying I thought your performance in “Sal” was brilliant. I’m making sure I use that word in my review as well. I think it’s so hard to play a real-life person that is so well known because people go into the film with a preconceived notion of how that person is. I think you captured Sal Mineo perfectly.
VL: You just made my day, man! Thank you so much. That really means a lot to me.