Keith Coogan reflects on his film “Adventures in Babysitting”

You may recognize Keith Coogan from his work in such popular films as “Adventures in Babysitting,” “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” and “Toy Soldiers.” Or you may remember him from his recurring role on “The Waltons,” where he was billed as Keith Mitchell. Coogan used his mother’s maiden name until the passing of his grandfather, Jackie Coogan. Jackie Coogan was the screen’s first child star, appearing opposite Charlie Chaplin in “The Kid” and then finding fame as an adult with his role as Uncle Fester in the classic television series, “The Addams Family.” His grandfather was a trailblazer for young actors and both Coogan’s Law, which mandates how children actors can work, and Coogan’s Account, which is where 15% of a young actor’s income goes to be saved until they are an adult, are both named for him.

This coming Monday, September 14, Keith Coogan will be appearing in person at the Kansas City Alamo Drafthouse Theatre for a screening of “Adventures in Babysitting.” In between flights on his way to KC, he took time off to talk about his career.

Mike Smith: You’re going to be in Kansas City on Monday, attending a screening of “Adventures in Babysitting” and the Alamo Drafthouse. When fans approach you on the street, is that the film they most want to talk about?
Keith Coogan: It’s really neck and neck with “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.” Of course I also have a lot of people that love to talk about “Toy Soldiers” as well. I think “Adventures in Babysitting” is the one that reached the most audiences. The other night I was doing an appearance at the Alamo Draft House in Lubbock and I kept wondering if the people were thinking to themselves, “Who is this old man sitting behind Keith Coogan’s table?” (laughs) It’s been 28 years since “Adventures in Babysitting” came out and it still plays great to the house. It still gets all the laughs. It really does hold up.

MS: It’s ironic that you star in the two greatest movies ever made about babysitting. I have to ask…was that planned?
KC: No. Not planned. In fact, it was sprung on me mid-production on the second one. It was originally supposed to be called “The Real World,” because it focused on the girl (Christina Applegate) and her career goals. MTV was a producer on the film and they noted that they had a reality television show coming out with that title. They said they polled a bunch of 13-year old boys and the new name of the movie is, “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.” I asked them, “you know I was in another babysitting movie, right?”

MS: You work consistently in both film and television. Do you have a preference?
KC: Not at all. Wherever the good material is. I just finished a play about a month ago…I even tried stand-up for the first time. I really think television has come around. You see more and more featured actors making their way to television. The stigma of, “Oh, it’s television,” is gone. They can do so much more in thirteen hours with “Daredevil” then they could have in a two-hour movie. There would have been so many things they would have had to lose. Television…cable…the Internet…NetFlix. It’s all happening.

MS: This year marks the 101st birthday of your grandfather. As the first real child star, did he ever offer you any advice when you were starting out in your career?
KC: Yes. Watch your money and be careful of mothers! (laughs) He never really would offer any tips on acting. He always said it was my own thing. I remember once I was going up to play Tom Sawyer. My grandfather had appeared in the first talkie version of “Tom Sawyer” but he wouldn’t give me any advice. He told me I had to make it my own. He would only give me professional advice. Things like being on time, be prepared, know your stuff. Don’t be a brat on the set. And, of course, to keep an eye on your money!

MS: Do you feel an obligation to carry on his legacy?
KC: He was the world’s first child star. Which means he was the world’s first former child star. He had a lot of insight into the cyclical nature of the industry. Enjoy it when it’s up…keep control when it’s not. He enjoyed working up until the last few years of his life, which is something I want to do. I want to keep doing this forever. It’s a legacy I want to continue. It’s a legacy my wife and I are constantly working on (in the background Mr. Coogan’s wife laughs and says, “Wow!”)

MS: What do you have coming up next?
KC: I am actually going to dive in and make a short film. I’ve written it and I’ve got another draft to go. It’s kind of ambitious. A great concept. It will be a nice little test run. Because what I really want to do is direct! (laughs) That’s a T-shirt you can get from the Screen Actors Guild because all actors really want to direct. I think I’m ready!

Bob Gale reflects on working with Robert Zemeckis on the “Back to the Future” series

I’ve been a huge fan of Bob Gale since the year I graduated high school. That year (1978), he and his writing partner, Robert Zemeckis (who also directed), came out with a small film called “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” a movie which detailed a group of youngsters plotting how to meet the Beatles during their first visit to New York City. Next up for the duo was the Steven Spielberg-directed comedy “1941,” an all-star epic featuring an amazing cast including Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Nancy Allen, Tim Matheson and Treat Willliams.

In 1980 the two wrote (and Zemeckis again directed) the outrageous comedy “Used Cars,” a film still on my top ten list of funniest films ever. Things changed for the duo in 1985 when Universal released “Back to the Future,” a film that spawned two successful sequels, earned Gale and Zemeckis their first Academy Award nominations and made Michael J. Fox a star. While Zemeckis continued on his path to Oscar-winning director, Gale continued to write and produce, eventually moving behind the camera himself.

In the mid 90’s, Gale partnered with Sony Pictures to produce an interactive theatre experience called “Mr. Payback.” I was very fortunate to work for Loews Theatres (owned by Sony) at the time and my theatre was one of the trial theatres for the film. Mr. Payback was a cyborg who punished the bad guys when they needed it. As the story progresses, the audience decides the punishments Mr. Payback dishes out to those who deserve them.

This Saturday evening, April 18, Mr. Gale will be appearing at the Kansas City Film Fest, where he will present a 30th Anniversary screening of “Back to the Future.” As his appearance grew near, we spoke about his early films, the resurrection of “Mr. Payback” and if he has any money on the Cubs winning it all this year.

Mike Smith: Hello.
Bob Gale: You called right on time. You score points for punctuality!

MS: 30 years ago your life was about to change. Did you have any idea that “Back to the Future” was going to be so well received?
BG: (laughing) Hell no! We had a hard enough time getting the movie made when we did. It took us almost three and a half years from when we did the first draft to get the movie into production. People kept telling us that it was a time travel movie and that time travel movies never make any money.
MS: Surprise.
BG: (laughing) Yeah.

MS: Your earlier films, among them “1941” and “Used Cars,” are now considered classic comedies with a great fan base. I actually saw “Used Cars” here in Kansas City when it screened at Showarama.
BG: Oh yeah, we did come out to Showarama to talk “Used Cars.”

MS: Can you explain why some films, especially comedies, sometimes take time to be recognized?
BG: Sometimes it has to do with the marketing. People need a reason to go to a movie. If they could figure out a way to do it right every time more movies would be more successful. I mean, the problem with “Used Cars” is that we opened in half of the country the weekend after the movie “Airplane!” opened. And “Airplane!” got all of the attention. And it should have, it was a very funny picture. Also, in hindsight, “Used Cars” was probably not the best title. You mention “used cars” to people and they have a bad connotation with the concept. Maybe if we’d called the movie “Trust Me” (the campaign slogan of Kurt Russell’s Rudy Russo) it would have done better. And Kurt Russell was not as well-known back then as he is now. And of course, older movies are now more easily accessible, with cable television and all the streaming home video. Now it’s not that hard to search out a movie that somebody has talked about to them.
MS: I would proudly put a RUDY RUSSO bumper sticker on my car!
BG: (laughs heartily)

MS: Tom Wilson (Biff in the “Back to the Future” films) famously sings during his stand-up act that “Back to the Future 4” ain’t happening. Any chance he’s wrong?
BG: No, he’s not wrong. Who would want to see a “Back to the Future” movie without Michael J. Fox in it?
MS: (feeling like an ass because I tried to be cute and instead sounded like an idiot) Wow. I didn’t even think about that.
BG: There you go. Besides, what did you think about “Indiana Jones 4?”
MS: Gotcha.
BG: Sometimes it’s best to just quit while you’re ahead, right?

MS: Any chance they’re ever release the Eric Stoltz footage? (NOTE: for those readers who don’t know, when Michael J. Fox was originally unable to star in “BTTF,” the role of Marty McFly went to Eric Stoltz. Apparently the filmmakers were not happy with Stoltz’s performance and made a deal with the producers of Fox’s television show, “Family Ties,” that allowed Fox to do both the series and the film).
BG: We’re not in a big hurry to do that because it would make Eric look bad. We’re not interested in shining a light on the guy and saying, “Jesus, see how (bad) he was?” We never destroyed the footage. Maybe it will be released after Zemeckis and I are dead. We felt it was of enough historic value that we wouldn’t authorize its destruction.

MS: Last “Back to the Future” question – if you had a chance to get into the DeLorean, where would you go?
BG: (laughs) What day is it? Every day you read about something and you wonder, “Gee, I wonder what really happened back then?” I have to say, I would really love to watch my parents on their first date. There is just something so sadistically voyeuristic about that. I would also like to go back in time to attend a lecture by Mark Twain…I’d like to go to some of the great, old World’s Fairs, to see what they were really like. I’d like to be a time traveling tourist.

MS: I worked for Loews Theatres back east and we were one of the theatres that had “Mr. Payback.”
BG: Wow!
MS: In this day and age, with everything being so interactive, is there any thought of bringing that process back?
BG: I’ve got a DVD where I recorded a couple plays of the show and I periodically take it around and show it to people and say, “Hey, we can do this. We can do this now.” But people still don’t get it. Eventually I think that they will. I do hope so. We were definitely ahead of our time with that thing.

MS: You’ve written for comics. Is it easier as an artist because you don’t have any time constraints? Where normally you’d have a 5-hour movie, now you can just stretch it out over enough issues?
BG: Every medium that you work in has its own rules and restrictions and conventions that you need to be aware of. So is it easier to write for comics then for movies? Not necessarily. There are certainly a lot fewer people that you have to deal with to get to the point where somebody pushes the button and says “let’s go” but you also have the matter of them saying, “OK, we want this series to be finished in four issues” when you thought you were going to have five or six to do it in. Again, you still have marketing to deal with and all kinds of crazy stuff because what it looks like from the outside is never the same as when you get in there.

MS: Finally, what are you working on next?
BG: I’ve got a television pilot I’ve been trying to get off the ground. This year has been so…everyone has been so crazed about “Back to the Future” and its 30th Anniversary…it seems like I can’t get two uninterrupted hours to work on something where I’m not interrupted by a phone call or email or an interview regarding some of the events were putting together for the rest of the year. There’s a fabulous book coming out, on or about October 21st, that is pretty much the definitive “making of” about the trilogy. You’ll see plenty of photos of Eric Stoltz in that. So for everybody that wanted to know what it looked like with him in it, they’ll get a taste of it.

MS: Quick follow-up that just hit me…do you have any money on the Cubs winning the World Series this year? (NOTE: In “BTTF II,” Marty travels to the year 2015 and is surprised to learn that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series that year, beating Miami).
BG: (laughs for a while) No, but interestingly enough, the Miami Marlins…the guys in their promotion department are big “Back to the Future” fans…they’re planning most of their season off of “Back to the Future II,” saying they’re going to rewrite history and win the World Series, not the Cubs. They’re going to do a big promotion at Marlins Park on September 25th (sadly, the Marlins play the Braves that night, not the Cubs). We’re going to go there and throw out the first pitch and they’re even going to make their uniforms look like the way we depicted them in the movie. Now when we made Part II, there was no baseball franchise in Florida, so when we created them we thought they would be the Miami Gators. The plan that I heard was that they were going to make Miami Gators uniforms for that night. But would I ever bet on the Cubs? Not a chance! I’m from St. Louis.
MS: Cardinal fan.
BG: That’s right.
MS: Wow, it must have hurt for you just to write that the Cubs won the World Series.
BG: Not at all. It’s a great joke! But look, here’s the deal. If the Cubs actually get into the World Series, Bob Zemeckis and I will be hailed as visionaries! But if they choke, the joke will remain funny for many more years to come.

MS: Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a real pleasure to speak with you.
BG: Thank you, Mike. It’s always a pleasure to speak with a “Used Cars” fan.
MS: I work for the local electric company and I deal with customers every day and I often find myself quoting Jack Warden to myself.
BG: (in a gruff Jack Warden voice) You don’t know dick!
MS: Exactly. That and “what are you, a f***ing parrot?!”
BG: (laughs)
MS: Have a great day and thanks again.
BG: You too, Mike. Bye. (continues to laugh as he hangs up the phone – I must say it feels so great to hear someone who makes you laugh think you’re funny).

The “Back to the Future” event with the Miami Marlins on September will raise money for Parkinson’s research. Media Mikes would like to ask its readers to please take the time to learn about the disease by visiting the Michael J. Fox Foundation at www.michaeljfox.org Thank you!

Drowning Pool’s CJ Pierce reflects on the 13th anniversary of album “Sinners”

C.J. Pierce is the guitarist for the Texas based heavy metal band Drowning Pool.  In recognition of the 13th anniversary of the group’s debut album “Sinners” Drowning Pool with be hitting the road with special guests Adrenalin Mob and Full Devil Jacket. To coincide with the tour the band is also releasing a two disc anniversary edition of the “Sinners” album which features rare demos, remixes and two unreleased tracks. Media Mike spoke with C.J. recently about the upcoming tour, the anniversary edition of the album and what the band has planned for new material.

Adam Lawton: What can fans be expecting from the bands upcoming anniversary tour?
CJ Pierce: Over the last few years this band has dealt with a lot of unlucky situations. From the loss of singers to other person stuff that may come out in a book one day but really this tour/release comes at a perfect time. With it being 13 years since the “Sinners” album came out and the band being in a really good place right now we wanted to do something special. The album is a two disc release which features demos we did for the “Sinner” record along with the initial tracks featured on there and a track that was the last thing we worked on with Dave Williams before his death in 2002.  The album has also been fully re-mastered. We are planning to play the entire album from front to back along with a few other great songs so it should be a great time for everyone.

AL: Are there any songs from the release that this will be the first time they have been performed live?
CJP: When that album first came out we certainly played all those songs a time or two. There are some that we haven’t played since Dave passed away. It’s going to be a lot of fun to bring some of those older songs back to the set especially with fans getting to hear the remixed versions on the anniversary album.

AL: What was it like going back in and working on these songs again?
CJP: It was way more emotional than I thought it would be. I found the old DAT tapes from the “Sinner” sessions and we remixed and cleaned them all up. When we first did the record it was a rush job because we didn’t have a lot of time or money. It was great to go back in and fix stuff so you could hear everything. I was able to isolate Dave’s original vocal lines and it was like he was in the room with me. It was a good vibe the whole time. During the same time I found a bunch of old tour footage with Dave in it along with some footage of our last session with Dave. It was awesome to find that stuff and put it out for the fans.

AL: Can you tell us about the video for the song “Soul” and its Indie GoGo campaign?
CJP: That video is made up of a lot of the footage I found during work on the album. As part of it we wanted to make something as a tribute to Dave. Some of the footage goes back to even before we were signed so it’s a really cool video. There’s even some footage of us doing this song even though it wasn’t included on the original release of the album. As for our work with Indie GoGo we really aren’t the type of band to make money that way but we wanted to do something special with this video/song. We came up with a Dave Williams shirt which for everyone sold all of the money will go to the American Heart Association. We want to raise $13,000 to match the anniversary date. Dave passed away from a heart condition so this sort of our way of giving back to an organization that helps treat heart related issues.

AL: Is there anything in the works for new material from the band?
CJP: Definitely! We probably have more material written right now than we have in the entire Drowning Pool catalog. It’s just a matter of picking which songs we want to use and which direction we want to go in. There have been several instances where we thought we had the record but then went out on tour, came back and wrote a bunch more songs. We continue to write all the time but right now we just have to decide which ones we want to use. We want to be in the studio sooner than later.

AL: With this tour running through March and into early April are there more tour plans beyond that for this year?
CJP: We have a lot of one off shows scheduled for the coming months. That’s really what we have going till the new album comes out. We are booked as far out as October with weekend shows so a lot more will start happening once the new album comes out.

Dave Coulier talks reflects on his role in “Full House” and his stand-up comedy tour

Dave Coulier is know best for his role as Joey Gladstone on “Full House”. What you may not know is that before “Full House”, Dave started out as a stand-up comedian. Well, he is returning to those roots this year with a comedy tour and is hitting the road with dates all around the country. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Dave about his tour, reflect a bit on “Full House” and even chat about his voice acting roles on “The Real Ghostbusters”. Check out his tour dates, here.

Mike Gencarelli: This year is a big year for you as you tour the comedy circuit from January through October; what can we expect that these shows?
Dave Coulier: I started doing stand up many years before “Full House” and I really wanted to get back to my roots. I love performing live. I have been lucky because people have really been packing these venues. I sold out shows in Cleveland and Cincinnati in the last month. I think a lot of people know me from “Full House” but not as a stand-up comedian. So it has taken a couple of years to remind people that this is what I started doing. But I have a really funny show. I talk about “Full House” a bit but you will also get to see what I do when you are not watching me on “Full House” re-runs. So it is fun!

MG: What would you say is one of the hardest parts of doing stand-ups?
DC:I think the most challenging part for me personally is the travel. The writing is a constant challenge for sure and the actual performing on stage is a real blast and I love it. I also really enjoy getting to meet my fans afterwards during the meet and greets. Like I said though, the hard part is being away from my wife and my family. You are living out of a suitcase in a hotel, so that is certainty tough. The performing, I have been doing that for 35 years, so that part is just a lot of fun.

MG: Since you are touring throughout the year, what do you do to make sure your material does get old for you personally each night?
DC:It is a constant process of weeding out material that doesn’t work and filling it with stronger, fresher and better stuff. That is the process night after night. This set that I am working with now is about an hour and fifteen minutes with material which will also be included in a stand-up special that we are going to be shooting soon. It is going to be called “Glorified Birthday Clown”.

MG: I know a few years ago you did a “Clean Guys of Comedy Tour”; is your current tour family friendly or adults only?
DC:I have always worked pretty clean. If you look at the landscape of comedy today, there is a wide specter of guys like myself, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, Jerry Seinfeld and we are all clean. Then there is the other side of the spectrum where the comedians are using F-bombs and being very edgy and there is a lot of different flavors in between that. For me, I just never worked any different. My goal early in my career was to get on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, which was clean. So, I got to make my first appearance on “The Tonight Show” when I as 24 years old and since then, I never really changed my style. So if you come out to one of my shows, you will not be offended. We have all types of people ranging from teenagers to grandparents.

MG: When you played Joey Gladstone on “Full House”; did you ever imagine that this show would still be so popular and people would still be saying taglines like “Cut. It. Out!”, after all these years?
DC:I think we are all really proud of the work we did and that it has had such longevity. It has also become very multi-generational. We have never been off the air since 1987. We have been syndicated in over 100 countries around the world. I think it owes to the fact that it is good family entertainment. You get some good values when you watch an episode of “Full House” and they don’t produce shows like that anymore. We are all also still friends as well, in fact just prior to us speaking now, I was on the telephone with John Stamos. We are closer than ever and I really love the friendships that have developed from working on this show.

MG: Lastly before “Full House”, you have also done tons of great voice work including voicing Dr. Peter Venkman on “The Real Ghostbusters”; what was it like working on a show like that?
DC:It was an great show to work on. It was such an iconic movie and to be able to play a part that Bill Murray played was a real treat for me because I am a real fan of his. It still has a fan base as well. In fact, at one of my stand-up shows recently and a fan had brought actual animation cells from the show to have me sign. So that was really cool that people are still enjoying it also. So for me the coolest part was just to have been involved.

Tippi Hedren reflects on “Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds” and her foundation

It’s the classic story of being in the right place at the right time. Newly moved to California in 1961, Tippi Hedren appeared in a television commercial that caught the eye of one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in history: Alfred Hitchcock. “Hitch” tracked Ms. Hedren down and cast her as Melanie Daniels in his classic film “The Birds.” She worked with him again alongside Sean Connery in “Marnie.” More than five decades later she continues to work, both on screen and in her continuing fight to stop the breeding of big cats through her THE ROAR FOUNDATION. And talent runs in the family. Her daughter, Melanie Griffith, is an Oscar-nominated actress and her granddaughter, Dakota Johnson, will star in the highly anticipated film version of “50 Shades of Grey.”

As she prepared for her upcoming appearance in Omaha this week at a charity screening of “The Birds” Ms. Hedren took some time to speak with me about the event and her foundation.

Mike Smith: You’re originally from Minnesota. Will this be your first visit to Nebraska?
Tippi Hedren: Not at all. I’ve been there before and I’m looking forward to returning and taking part in the festivities.

MS: How did you get the name “Tippi?”
TH: My father gave it to me. My baptismal name is Nathalie Kay Hedren and that was quite much for a little tiny girl. My father, who was of Swedish descent, started calling me “Touksa,” which is a Swedish term of endearment apparently. It went from Touksa to Tippi. And that’s the story!

MS: What do you think it is about “The Birds” that makes it a “must see” film more than 50 years after it was released?
TH: That movie has a life of its own! But when you do a Hitchcock film you know it’s going to be good but this has just been outrageous. One decade after the other. People like to be afraid and when you can be made afraid of something that you see every day that makes it even better.

MS: As with a lot of the screenings in Omaha, the artist Nicolosi has designed a special United States Post Office envelope to commemorate the event. Have you seen it yet?
TH: No, I haven’t.
MS: It’s a beautiful piece of work. I know you’re going to like it.
TH: I can’t wait to see it.

MS: Your daughter, Melanie, is a movie star in her own right and your granddaughter is about to star in what will surely be one of the most popular films of 2015. Have you ever felt the need, or have they ever asked you, for any advice on how to deal with Hollywood?
TH: Not really. I’ve never felt the need to talk with them. As a family we certainly respect each other’s talent but we’ve never given each other advice.

MS: “The Birds” was your film debut. Do you approach a film role the same today as you did back then?
TH: No. You have to understand that “The Birds” was a unique experience. For someone who had always wanted to be an actress, this was like Cinderella. I was chosen for the part because of a commercial I had done. I had been a model for the Ford Agency in New York City in the 1950s but the 1960s brought along the television and, of course, the television commercial. Commercials were financially lucrative, so much so that I was able to take three months off and travel around the world. Apparently Mr. Hitchcock became interested in me after seeing me in a commercial for a product called Sego, which was a diet drink. It was a commercial with a story line, not just a product plug. He asked Universal to find the girl in the commercial. Lo and behold, I had just moved back to California with Melanie and…
MS: Wow! Perfect timing.
TH: Perfect.

MS: Tell a little about your work with big cats.
TH: I’ve been rescuing big cats…lions and tigers…since 1972. This has become a major, major part of my life. I feel very strongly that these animals should not be bred and born in the United States to be sold as a pet or for financial gain. I’m very busy trying to get my second federal bill passed to stop the breeding. It’s titled the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act” and I hope your readers will look it up and write to their senators and congressmen to stop the breeding.

For more information on how to support Miss Hedren’s bill, go to https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/1998

Matthew Modine reflects on his role in “Memphis Belle”

Memphis Belle is being released for the first-time ever on Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on May 6th, 2014. Matthew Modine, who plays Captain Dennis Dearborn in this nail-biting adventure that spectacularly recreates the spectacular mission filmed for a 1944 documentary. Matthew took out some time to look back at the making of the film nearly 25 years after its theatrical debut.

There’s an entire genre of World War II movies. What makes these films so universally appealing to global audiences?
MODINE: That’s a great question. Perhaps it’s because WWII was the first war that was so well documented. Portable sound and film equipment allowed reporters and documentarians to easily carry cameras into the battlefields. I’m sure it was also the enormous scope of the war. We look back now upon the bravery of the men and women who selflessly fought to save the lives and freedoms of others. War films, in general, provide great material for writers and directors to quarry through. There are so many examples of intense emotional journeys, the fight for survival, the human bonds that are formed in extreme circumstances. These elements make for great dramatic storytelling.

Copyright@ Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc.

As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, what parallels can be drawn between the servicemen and women of yesterday and those defending their country today?
MODINE: The terrible cost of war. Sadly, there is evil in humankind. Ironic that “kind” is even a part of the word. We must, much more often than we do, look upon the young men and woman that go to battle and commend them for their service, their courage, and commitment. As we commemorate these anniversaries, it’s so important for each of us to acknowledge the sacrifice of our sons and daughters that are, all too often, called to duty.

How did you prepare for the role of Captain Dennis Dearborn in Memphis Belle?
MODINE: Before we began filming, the director, Michael Caton-Jones arranged for the actors to go to a “boot camp” in Southern England. The entire crew of actors were put through 10 days of rigorous training. The goal was to get the actors to learn to work together in a similar fashion that a B-17 crew that had been through 24 combat missions. Of course it is impossible to even approximate the actual horrors the Memphis Belle crew would have been witness to. But the British SAS team that put the actors through obstacle courses and physical training did a great job making the actors a cohesive team. It was tough at the time. But from the rearview mirror of time, it was fantastic!

When we finished our training, we traveled from Southern England to an airbase where we would film the exterior shots for the film. It was in Lincolnshire that we all had the amazing opportunity to meet the real men we were going to portray. Everyone had so many questions for the real servicemen. We wanted to hear from them about the challenges they faced. We all wanted to be as honest and as “real” as possible. To honor them. Hoping to convey the emotions they faced. Meeting Robert Morgan, the pilot of the Memphis Belle, and the role I was portraying, was a highlight of the entire process.

Perhaps the most emotional aspect of filming for me was having the opportunity to tell my Uncle Wylder that I was going to be in a film about him. Wylder was a Captain in the 8th Army Air Force and piloted a B-17. Now I would be doing the same in a film. I had so many questions for him and he shared stories the way men from that generation did. Very sparingly. Humbly. No bravado. I believe my Uncle and the others that have lived through the wars don’t speak colorfully about their experiences because they deeply understand the tremendous human cost of war.

Looking back, nearly 25 years since Memphis Belle debuted on the big screen, has the role of Captain Dennis Dearborn shaped your filmography?
MODINE: Yes. Of course. That sense of responsibility to people that fought, and to so many that died, stays with me. The terrible cost of war, not just the human cost, the loss of life, but what it does to the human soul. There are only a few surviving veterans of the Second World War right now. Special people of great character. I feel so fortunate when I meet with one of them, and incredibly honored when they recognize me from Memphis Belle and they say I “did good!”

Dawn Well reflects on “Gilligan’s Island” and new film “Silent But Deadly”

Dawn Wells is best known for her role as Mary Ann Summers, the young girl from Winfield, Kansas that takes an ill fated three hour cruise and ends up stranded on “Gilligan’s Island.”

Born in Reno, Nevada, Ms. Wells represented the state in the 1960 Miss America Pageant. She studied theater at the University of Missouri. After graduation she headed to Hollywood. In 1964 she won the role she is most identified with, Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island.” Following the show’s cancellation in 1967, she continued to work in television, appearing on such popular shows as “The Invaders,” “The Wild, Wild West” and “Bonanza.” She also appeared in a pair of films directed by Charles B. Pierce: “Windtalker” and ”The Town That Dreaded Sundown.”

She has continued to work steadily and can now be seen in the new Jason Lockhart comedy, “Silent But Deadly.” To promote her appearance, Ms. Wells sat down recently with Media Mikes to talk about her new film, her love of theatre and what Mary Ann has planned for the 50th Anniversary of “Gilligan’s Island.”

Mike Smith: Hello from Kansas City, just 3 hours north of Winfield, Kansas!
Dawn Wells: And an hour and a half west of where I went to college in Columbia, Missouri.
MS: M-I-Z Z-O-U
DW: (laughing) that’s it!

MS: Can I ask what attracted you to the film?
DW: Well, I’ve never played a grandmother. I’ve never played an elder role on film at all so I thought it would be fun. And I love the idea of supporting new talent. I thought it was cleverly written, the cast was great and I really enjoyed liked the idea of working with Jason. I’m at that stage in my life where I’m not trying to build a career. I get to do what I enjoy. I enjoyed it when I read it so I took the shot. I loved it.

MS: A few of your co-stars in the film are, like yourself, well known television personalities. Were you able to spend some time on the set talking about your various experiences on the small screen?
DW: Surprisingly, when you’re shooting on set there really isn’t a lot of free time to chat. We did get to know each other during rehearsals, of course. And after we finished filming. I’ve stayed close to many of them. Of course, Lee Meriwether and I both share the Miss America pageant together. And many of them I had worked with in the past on television.

MS: You’ve done everything – film, television, theatre – do you have a preference?
DW: I do enjoy acting in movies but I’ve always loved theatre best. I love the rehearsal time. I love having a live audience and being able to read an audience. I’ve had the chance to play so many interesting roles on stage.

MS: As a follow up, as an actor is it preferable to do a character on stage, where with each performance you can continue to discover your character or film, where you’re often pressed for time so you have to go by your instincts?
DW: Good point. On film you are rushed for time and many times you’ll finish a scene, move on and then think to yourself that there was something else you could have given during that scene. One main difference is reaction. If you’re doing a film, let’s say during the scene someone tips a cup over. Not a problem, you just do it again. On stage, you have to improvise. Let’s say I have a scene where I’m supposed to walk across the stage, grab a vase and toss it out a window. So I make my entrance, cross the stage and discover the vase is not there. You’re in the middle of the performance (laughs)…what can you do? Do I find something else to pick up? Do I walk off stage, grab the vase and then come back in? All those things go through your mind. It’s like a football game. You’ve got the play and you’ve got the play clock in your head. Theatre definitely keeps you on your toes because nothing is perfect. There’s really no such thing as a perfect performance. I remember George C. Scott once said, “you’re doing 8 performances a week. If you get 3 of them in a row good, that’s a miracle.”

MS: 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of “Gilligan’s Island.” Are there any celebrations or gatherings currently planned that you might be taking part in?
DW: 50 years. Sadly I just returned from Russell Johnson’s funeral (NOTE: Johnson played “The Professor” on the popular show). I still catch the show on occasion. Simple and funny and in black and white. Alan Hale and Jim Backus. It was such a joy. It came out during some tough times in the 1960s, when the country was having some very tough times. And I think we helped people laugh.

MS: “Gilligan’s Island” and the Beatles. You both kept America going.
DW: (laughs)
DW: I’m not aware of any celebrations yet but I do have a book coming out in September. I’m just finishing up the last chapter. It’s kind of a “What Would Mary Ann Do?” Remember, when we were dropped off on the island there was no birth control (laughs). Mary Ann got the most fan mail. Everyone loved her. And I feel that she was the rudder. The book is funny…it has a lot of my advice. I’m not sure about the title yet. I don’t know if it will be “Mary Ann: Good Girl” or “What Would Mary Ann Do?” but I do know it will be fun.

MS: What else do you have coming up?
DW: Well, I’m finishing my book. I’m also going to be doing the play “Steel Magnolias” in North Carolina this March. I’m working on a documentary. This is going to be a very busy year for me.

Kimberly Caldwell reflects on American Idol and new song “On the Weekend”

Kimberly Caldwell is no stranger to the spotlight and has been performing since the very early age of 5. She appeared on the second season of Fox’s hit show “American Idol”, released her first solo album in the 2011 titled “Without Regret” before venturing in to the world of television hosting. Kimberly has recently returned to her singing roots with the release of a new song titled “On the Weekend”. Media Mikes spoke with Kimberly recently about the new release as well as about her time on “American Idol”.

Adam Lawton: What first sparked your interest in trying out for “American Idol”?
Kimberly Caldwell: I started out in beauty pageants when I was 5. When I was 11 I appeared on “Star Search” and ended up holding the record for most junior vocalist wins. I just loved that show and being on it was a dream come true. From there I ended up performing in Branson, MI in a production titled “Country Tonight”. I was kind of trained to be a singer. At about 15 I took some time off for high school and did all of that good stuff. By the time I was 20 I was still living with my Mom and we both decided I needed to be doing something. That’s when the idea to audition for the show came about.

AL: What was the audition process like for you?
KC: When I auditioned the show was still very new. Things were much different then as they are now. I slept on the side walk in Texas on a futon for about 2 days. My friends would bring me food and stuff to help pass the time but it was rough. There was a girl in line that did let me shower at their house while my cousin held my space. That was really nice of them. They had given tickets out to get in to the audition so my cousin was in charge of that while I went to shower. When I got back the ticket was gone. One of the show staff walked by and I explained to them that my ticket was gone. He ended up remembering me from being on the WB’s “Pop Stars” as he had worked on the show so he thankfully let me in. I was really very lucky. After that I had a couple auditions where there were some really good singers. I was chosen out of those groups after auditioning for Nigel. It was after that when you finally get interview by Ryan. I remember that day very well because I had the most awful outfit on that you could ever imagine. I seriously looked like a hooker. I went in and sang “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and went on to Hollywood. I made it in to the top 24 and after the Wild Card Randy brought me back for the Top 10 where I finished 7th overall.

AL: What was it like transitioning from being a singer to being a television host?
KC: There have been some aspects of transition however I have always wanted to entertain people. Where someone will give me a microphone I will use that microphone. From the day I got booted from Idol I was talking to people with in the business. I ended up getting an offer to be a host on Fox Sports and have been working and living in Los Angeles ever since. My job at Fox helped me find my legs as a host. From there I went on to do some more tings with Idol and work with TV Guide. For over 7 years I had a number of my own shows where I did various hosting duties. During this time I did realize that my main dream was always to write and record an album. I stopped hosting and began focusing once again on music. Music is a huge part of me and it is something that I just have to do.

AL: Can you tell us about your new song “On the Weekend”?
KC: I had started doing shows again and my guitar player Andrew who was producing the music for the shows he and I started working together on new material.  We sort of just did it for fun and after awhile we had some really amazing songs. One of those was “On the Weekend”. I think this is such a great anthem for the 9-5 person. The song really represents who I am and was one I wrote just for me.

AL: Can you tell us about the video for the song?
KC: People have always been intrigued by hair for I can’t remember how long now. I am always being asked how I get it to look certain ways. Really all I do is go to the grocery store spend $8 on shampoo, wash it and then cut it with construction paper scissors to how I want it to look that day. (Laughs) It’s not difficult but people seem to like what I do.  I was getting a lot of attention in the hair and beauty world and got a column with Sophisticate hair Style guide. Out of that I got a sponsorship to do my video. We teamed up with Let’Em Have it Productions who did this video is just great. A bunch of my friends helped with it and it was just a lot of fun. I had all sort of people come out and play the different roles in it. Even my sister has a role in the video. Terry and Clint the owners of the company were so professional and relaxed. It couldn’t have been more fun. When I got to see the first cut of the video I loved it and that’s pretty much what we ended up releasing as the final video. For people who still haven’t seen it yet they can check it out at www.Kimberly-caldwell.com

AL: Have there been talks of doing a full length album?
KC: We did two other songs besides “On the Weekend”. These days not a lot of people are doing full-length albums. Ep’s seem to be the way to go as you only need a few songs for one of those. On my first album there were a lot of great songs that didn’t get a lot of notice because there were just so many songs on that record. I feel very strongly about packaging these three new songs together as an EP format as they all are just so good. All three of the songs are now available on ITunes.

AL: Can you tell us about some of your other projects?
KC: When I am in Los Angeles I am always on the go doing something. When I am in Vancouver with my Fiancé I have nothing going on. (Laughs) One day while I was there I just started wandering around the city looking for something to do. I have always wanted to make some sort of accessories line and my Fiancé said that if I did it I should call it “Stage Presents”. I thought that was great name. I just started collecting things and putting it all together on my living room floor. I bought my own sewing machine and started taking lessons. I started working with a leather company who taught me all sort of different skills on how to make various things out of leather. A lot of what I have learned has been through trial and error and watching YouTube videos. I think I have gotten pretty decent over the last few years. I now have an Etsy store at www.etsy.com/stagepresents . I am also in the final stages of completing a Stage Presents hair accessories line.

William Shockley reflects on roles in “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman” and “Showgirls”

William Shockley (born September 17, 1963) is an actor and musician. Shockley was born in Lawrence, Kansas. He graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in political science. Shockley has appeared in many movies and TV shows including Welcome to Paradise, In Justice, Showgirls, The Joyriders, and most notably Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman in which he played Hank Lawson. He also appeared in the 2007 film Treasure Raiders.

Mike Smith: You led a rather nomadic lifestyle as a young man. Did that experience help prepare you for the different roles you’ve played as an actor?
William Shockley: Moving around all the time during my childhood actually proved to be a huge plus. I can pretty much travel anywhere and feel comfortable with my surroundings. I was forced to learn how to acclimate and get along with strangers. I’m sure that living in different parts of America and living abroad in Europe gave me insight and perspectives that I have woven into various characters.

MS: You’ve done a lot of episodic television, most notably “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman.” Is there a comfort as an actor when you’re adding to the same character each week as opposed to a one-shot film character?
WS: Being a series regular on a television show like “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” was a true gift. I loved the privilege of developing a character over a 6-year run. I became very attached to the role of “Hank Lawson”. He was a complex character… lots of layers, which is wonderful. He was one guy on the surface, and a totally different person in his heart. The great writing on “Dr. Quinn” was a huge bonus. I’ve done many films as well, and I seem to always want to do a sequel to a film when I have a character that I connect with and enjoy portraying. I feel this way about “Born Wild”, a film coming out this summer, where I co-star with Barry Corbin, Kix Brooks (of “Brooks & Dunn”), Tanya Clarke, Joe Lando and Justin Deeley. The role in “Born Wild” is “CJ Jennings”… a guy with a wayward, troubled past, who goes back home to reconcile his future. “CJ” has so many issues and so much baggage, yet at the end of the day, he finds redemption. I also got to reunite with Joe Lando, from “Dr. Quinn”, on this film. Joe is a dear friend and it was great to be back on a set with him.

MS: You’re upcoming film, “Reaper,” teams you up with “Starship Troopers'” Jake Busey. Did the two of you get to trade any Paul Verhoeven stories?
WS: I actually didn’t have any scenes with Jake. I worked with Danny Trejo and Vinnie Jones, both great actors and a lot of fun to be around.

MS: In the almost 20 years since it’s release, “Showgirls” has blossomed into a cult hit, with midnight showings ala “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Did you have any idea when you were making the film that it would still resonate all of these years later?
WS: I don’t ever have a preconceived idea of how a film will resonate with the audience. As an actor, all I can do is prepare to the best of my ability, show up on the set, and deliver the goods. The rest is up to the director and producers and other actors in the film. You can only control yourself in this type of setting, and then, anticipate the best.

MS: What do you have coming up next?
WS: I actually have several films coming out in 2014. “Ambush at Dark Canyon”, a western that Team Two Entertainment produced (my production company) starring Kix Brooks and Ernie Hudson, was released January 14 and is available on DVD at Walmart. This summer I’m in two films, “Born Wild” and “Dug Up”, a redneck-stoner-zombie-comedy. Later in the year “Reaper” will come out, followed by “Finding Harmony” with Billy Zane and Allison Eastwood, and a western, “Hot Bath ‘An A Stiff Drink”, with Ronnie Blevins and Grainger Hines. My partners in Team Two Entertainment are Kix Brooks, Dustin Rikert and Eric Brooks. We have a big announcement being made this Spring. There’s a really awesome deal being set up that I’m very excited about. Stay tuned for those details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julie Adams reflects back on her role in “Creature from the Black Lagoon”

Julie Adams is known best as the bathing beauty Kay Lawrence in 1954’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. She also appeared in the musical comedy “Tickle Me” along side Elvis Presley in 1965. Recently, Adams has authored a book on her life and career called “The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From The Black Lagoon”, which was published in 2011 and is currently available via her website. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Julie about her role in “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and discuss her outstanding career.

Mike Gencarelli: Why do you think that Creature has resonated with fans for all these years?
Julie Adams: I think it’s a good movie. The script was well-written by Harry Essex and Arthur A. Ross. Jack Arnold was a fine director; he did a beautiful job directing the film. Our ensemble cast helped to make a fantastic story believable. The Creature suit was unique and original, and still captures audiences’ imaginations today with how immaculately it was designed and realized on film. The music also accentuates the suspense and enhances the scary moments. Creature enthusiasts from back in the 1950s watched the movie with their children in the 1970s. Today, people who grew up in the 70s run the film with their kids, so we now have three generations of fans — it is truly remarkable to be a part of this kind of phenomenon.

MG: What was your initial reaction when you first saw the Gill Man costume? Was it on Ben Chapman or Ricou Browning?
JA: I was startled the first time I saw the Gill Man fully realized. I’ll never forget how believable the costume looked. I did the majority of my work in the film with Ben Chapman. Ricou primarily worked with my double, Ginger Stanley, in the underwater sequences that were shot in Wakulla Springs, Florida.

MG: Did shooting the film in 3D cause any issues during production?
JA: Have you seen the new 3D Bluray? Shooting in 3D had very little impact on me throughout the course of the production. That aspect of the filmmaking was left up to our fine camera crew and director. I have seen the new 3D Bluray. In fact, we screened it in Jacksonville, Florida in March at Sun-Ray Cinema with a sold out audience. The entire film has been digitally restored. It’s almost like a new movie. Like a crystal clear window into the past. It is absolutely spectacular!

MG: What was it like swimming knowing that “the creature” was underneath you?
JA: In actuality, it was all an illusion. Because I only did the swimming on the surface at Universal Studios in Hollywood, the Creature was never beneath me at the studio. That was the magic of editing. The stunning underwater photography in Florida was seamlessly cut together with the shots of me on the surface on the studio backlot, creating the effect for the audience that the Creature and I were actually in the Black Lagoon together. I’m still astonished at how well the underwater ballet with Kay and the Gill Man still captivates viewers to this day!

MG: Any interesting stories from shooting in the water?
JA: Probably the most intriguing was from a scene near the end of the picture when I am being carried by Ben Chapman in the Creature’s underwater lair. Someone at the studio had forgotten to heat the tank that day. It was a chilly autumn morning, and the water was quite cold. So when Ben emerged with me in his arms I was trying desperately not to shiver. The goggles on Ben’s Creature mask fogged up and he couldn’t see very well. The cave set was made up of paper mache’ rocks that had a few jagged edges. While carrying me unconscious in his arms, Ben accidentally bumped my head against one of the rocks and my eyes suddenly opened and I raised my head. The director yelled “Cut,” and production was delayed momentarily while a small scrape on my forehead was tended to by a nurse. Of course, the studio made a publicity stunt out of it and pictures were taken of the mishap. I still love seeing the photo of Ben in his Creature suit looking over me solicitously as the nurse tends to my forehead. In the end, it was a very minor incident and production resumed about fifteen minutes later.

MG: Tell why did you decided to write your memoir “The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From The Black Lagoon”?
JA: It was really the fans’ idea. Over the years a lot of folks who enjoy my work in movies and television asked me about writing a memoir. Finally in 2009, my son Mitch and I decided it was time to sit down and write one! It took us more than two years to complete. We have been delighted with the response to it, movie enthusiasts from all over world have read it, some have even sent nice notes telling me how much they have enjoyed it. There is an entire chapter about the making of Creature from the Black Lagoon, the book is also filled with numerous behind-the-scenes photos form Creature and other films and television shows that I appeared in through the years. It is available exclusively through my website at www.julieadams.biz.

MG: Any plans to release as audio book expanding the original small run?
JA: Due to the popularity of the print book, we released the audio book near the end of 2012. I read the entire story for the production, which was a lot of fun and brought back so many memories. I think my fans have enjoyed hearing me read the story on the audio book. Some even own both the print and audio book, which is wonderful!

MG: What was it like working with Elvis Presley?
JA: It was a dream. I’m from the South and Elvis was a true Southern gentleman. One example of this was how he sent all of the actresses in Tickle Me flowers on their first day on the set. I also marveled at how well he performed his singing numbers in the movie, lip-syncing them perfectly. Elvis was a phenomenon, and I cherished my time working with him!

MG: Looking back on your amazing career what were some of your favorite roles?
JA: Naturally, I loved the role of Kay Lawrence in Creature. It was nice playing an educated scientist who goes off on an adventure up the Amazon in search of the origin of a mysterious claw. I also enjoyed portraying Laura Baile in Bend of the River, opposite James Stewart, whom I consider to be one of the silver screen’s finest actors. Later in my career I had great fun as Eve Simpson, the realtor in Cabot Cove on Murder, She Wrote. She was an eccentric character who provided some funny moments on the show. And of course it was a great experience to play comedy with someone as skilled as Angela Lansbury. I also loved performing in the theatre. One of my favorite roles was as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s masterwork Long Day’s Journey into Night. I’ve been fortunate to play a lot of interesting women over the years, and feel blessed to have had so many opportunities in film, television, and on the stage to entertain audiences.

Sam J. Jones reflects on “Flash Gordon”, “Ted” and plans for “Ted 2”

Sam J. Jones is best known for the lead role in the 1980 cult classic “Flash Gordon”. Sam recently appeared in the the Seth MacFarlane directed live-action film “Ted”, as himself and stole the show. Sam took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about his work on “Flash Gordon”, “Ted”, plans for “Ted 2 and his work in the security business.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you reflect on the fandom that surrounds “Flash Gordon” over 30 years since its release?
Sam J. Jones: It has been wonderful and is such a blessing. We filmed it in 1979, so that is 34 years ago and was released in Christmas of 1980. We are talking about three different generations here. It is amazing. It has had a good run and it has opened a lot of doors for me. I have traveled all over the world. It has even continued in the film “Ted”.

MG: Queen’s score in the film is so iconic, how do you feel that it works in the film?
SJ: It really complemented the film well. Queen was huge, obviously but it also opened up doors for them as well at the time. Combine their amazing soundtrack with the great visuals and you have a winner. All that creativity came together and produced this unforgettable visual experience.

MG: How often are you approached with people screaming “FLASH!! AAA-AAAHHH!!” and how do you respond?
SJ: Well, I get real close to them…then I head butt them [laughs]. No, it is fun it really is. Sometimes people walk by me on the street and don’t even say anything just scream and continue walking. They don’t even wait for a reaction. That sort of thing happens a lot.

MG: I wanted to ask about about you being originally signed up for seven “Gordon” sequels. Is that true?
SJ: I think it was a couple sequels at the time, yeah! Like anything else they decided not to pursue it. It has been optioned a couple of different times over the years with various development deals for a sequel, so hopefully that will happen soon. I would love to be apart of it again.

MG: Also can you talk about how your voice being dubbed over in the film?
SJ: We filmed the entire project in London, England and one week in Scotland. After filming you always have to go back and do ADR to fix the vocals. So I didn’t head back, I was working on other projects at the time. So they went ahead and got another actor to try and match my voice. It is what it is. I am sure next time I would rather find a way to get back there and do it myself.

MG: Tell us about how your role in “Ted” came about?
SJ: It is pretty simple, Seth MacFarlane called me and said that when he was eight years old he saw “Flash Gordon” and it changed his life. He knew then that he wanted to be a creative guy in the business and that was his inspiration. So he called and said he had this script called “Ted” and if I would be interested and I said “Of course”. At first, he wanted me to play myself but it turned out to be a parody of myself.

MG: What was it like getting back into those tights again after all those years?
SJ: It was fun. It was great working with the cast with Mark Walhberg, Mila Kunis and Patrick Warburton. Actually Patrick and I used to be in acting classes together, so it was good to see him again. It was Seth’s first time directing live-action and he did a fantastic job. He was always very prepared each day.

MG: Going from film business to security business, tell us about your current work?
SJ: It has been natural transition for me. I was a marine before I was an actor, so the background was there before I was in the movie business. So I got married and started having our five children and things slowed down a bit since there is a lot of downtime in the film business. So I wanted to fill that void, so I talked to my wife and decided to do that I was already trained in. I went and took some additional specialized training, actually the same as the Secret Service and the State Department. I started working the Los Angeles area, then I worked in Katrina and excelled in security operations. From there I got an invitation to move to San Diego to help run the Cross-Border Security Operations into Mexico. So that is what I have been doing for the past eight years now. I love it because when a film project comes up, I am able to drop everything and do the film. So it works out.

MG: “Ted 2” is planned for release Passover 2015, any word of a return for you?
SJ: Yeah, of course. Seth already asked me to do it. He mentioned that they will be filming in the Spring of 2014. So I can’t wait for that!

David Mickey Evans reflects on the 20th Anniversary of “The Sandlot”

Even if I had never seen 1993’s “The Sandlot” I could have quoted it line by line for you. I coached youth baseball for 15 years and it was, by far, the most quoted baseball film on the field. “You’re killing me, Smalls!” “You’re an L7 weenie.” And, of course, “you play ball like a girl!” Nothing like enjoying the good sportsmanship of 13 and 14 year olds. But if you’re going to be a ballplayer you need to talk like a ballplayer. And at one time, writer/director David Mickey Evans was a ballplayer.

Now touring the country in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary of “The Sandlot,” Mr. Evans has behind him an impressive resume of filmmaking. I first discovered his work when I took in 1992’s “Radio Flyer.” Inspired by his own turbulent childhood, the film was a moving look at the bond between two brothers dealing with a brutal step-father. (NOTE: I met Adam Baldwin, who played the step-father in the film, this past summer and I told him the same thing I told Mary Tyler Moore when I met her after seeing “Ordinary People” – – -“I HATED you in this film.” He thanked me.) The next year saw the release of his most popular film, “The Sandlot.” Since then he has written and/or directed popular sequels to both “The Sandlot” as well as in the “Beethoven” series. During our pre-interview conversation I discover we both not only played baseball as kids but were huge fans of the popular sports books of the 1960s and 70s written by Matt Christopher. We also talked about the game of baseball and our love for it. That’s where the interview begins.

Mike Smith: I know you’re a big baseball fan. Did you play when you were younger?
David Mickey Evans: Oh yeah. We occasionally played organized Little League but you had to pay money and we were really poor. So most of the time we’d play in park leagues. You’d have the dude that owned the local bar getting you T-shirts…kind of like “The Bad News Bears.” I was really good. I played in quite a few local leagues near Pacoima (California) in the San Fernando Valley. I was on the Cardinals…the Giants…I was on the Indians, which was a big team, when I was about eleven. If memory serves…I wonder if you can find this on the Internet…I think I hit .560.

MS: Was “The Sandlot” inspired by any of your childhood baseball memories?
DME: Here’s the thing. The “A-Ha” moment for me was an incident I remembered from when I was a kid. The kids on the block didn’t like my friends and I. They would beat the crap out of us all the time. There were playing baseball one day and they hit their ball over the fence. They told my little brother to go get it. They said if he did then we could play with them. Of course, they had no intention of that. They just wanted their ball back. And there was a big dog on the other side of the fence named Hercules that went after my brother and bit him…ripped his leg to shreds. It was a bad memory. But one day I was in my car and I thought, “wait a minute…what if these guys were all buddies? What if that ball was worth $3 million?” I’ve got a movie. None of the kids in the film are any kid I knew. All of the kids are an amalgam of EVERY kid I knew. But what I like to say most about the film is this. When Walt Disney finished Disneyland in a year and a day and he’s walking down Main Street U.S.A…and still, today, of all the parks Disneyland is still the best…and he has some dignitaries with him. Now Main Street U.S.A. is modeled after the way Walt Disney remembered growing up in Marceline, Missouri. It wasn’t actually his boyhood home but it was the one he identified with. The dignitaries say to him “Walt, you did it. This is exactly the way it was back then.” Disney tells them that it’s not. It’s the way it should have been. “The Sandlot” is the way I wanted my childhood to have been. That’s not how it was. Luckily God has given writers a time machine…a pencil on paper. (My work phone rings) Is that a flip phone?
MS: Yeah, it’s my work phone.
DME: Where did you get that? (laughs) I didn’t know they still exist!

MS: One of the questions my son asked me to ask you was if any of the boys you played with went on to play professional baseball. Was there a real life Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez?
DME: You know there’s always that kid. I remember one or two kids from grade school…when you get to about third or fourth grade you start recognizing them…they’re just BETTER athletes. Or students. You just start noticing them and you want to be like them. You wish you could kick that kickball as far as they can. And that kind of kid is specifically on whom I built Benny “the Jet.” And here’s something else. The “Jet” nickname didn’t just come because he was fast. When I was a kid I took karate lessons for a little while and I studied with the Urquidez brothers. The most famous of them is Benny. They called him “the Jet” because his hands and feet were so fast. I saw him a few years ago. He’s got to be 60 and he could still clear a bar! He’s an incredibly fit and ridiculously athletic man. (NOTE: Now age 61, Benny “the Jet” Urquidez amassed an incredible professional fighting record of 49-1. He trained Patrick Swayze for his role in “Roadhouse” and can be seen in the film in the scene where the monster truck gets driven through the auto dealership). I always admired him when I was a kid. He was like a super hero to me. That’s why Benny got “the Jet” in the middle of his name.

MS: Are you surprised at the response “The Sandlot” still gets 20 years later? How many memories it triggers in a person. I mean, 20 years before it came out I was the kid riding with my friends over to the next town to play baseball all day. In the neighborhood we’d play all day until our moms called us in for dinner. In 1993 it was my son doing the same thing. And I’m sure 20 years from now my grandson will be doing it.
DME: I don’t know if I’m surprised. Obviously you can’t predict that kind of reaction. You just have to go for it as a filmmaker and if it stands the test of time….what else is there? It still stands the test of time and I’m incredibly grateful for that. That means I did my job. And I’m satisfied that I did my job right. This is also the only one of my films where the studio left me alone…they let me do it the way I wanted to do it. It wasn’t committee filmmaking, it was me. My crew. My cast. But you can never predict that. I wish I could. I would bottle it, I would sell it and you would never see me again (laughs). I had a guy come up to me in Springdale, Arkansas and he had (12) copies of “The Sandlot” on DVD and he asked me to sign them. While I was signing them he’d say, “this one is for me, this one is for my wife, this one is for my kids, this is for my grandkids and this is for my great-grandkids.” Four generations right there. I gave that guy the biggest hug. That was better to me than winning an Oscar. I was in Utah earlier this year at the location where we shot the film. The Utah Film Commission had re-built the backstop, cleaned up the field and made it look exactly like it did on the original field. They could only seat 1300 people for the event and they sold out in 11 minutes! They dedicated a historical marker to me and the film. I’m serious, they can keep the Oscar!

Shirley Jones reflects on her career, musicials and plans for upcoming memoirs

Depending on your age you’ll have different memories of Shirley Jones. For my parents era they will be of her roles in some of the most popular movie musicals of all time, including “Oklahoma,” “Carousel” and “The Music Man.” If you’re my age you remember her best as Shirley Partridge, working mom and vocalist on the popular television series “The Partridge Family.” Young people today remember her as the randy Grace in the comedy “Grandma’s Boy.” No matter your memory, it’s safe to say that Shirley Jones has had one of the most incredible careers in the history of entertainment.

Born outside Pittsburgh, a lucky bus ride put Ms. Jones on the path to stardom. Intending to become a veterinarian, she instead walked into an audition for the musical team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. So impressed was the casting director that he called both gentlemen at their homes and had them come listen to her sing. Two weeks later she was on Broadway and the rest is history. Twice married (to the late Jack Cassidy, father of her sons Shaun, Patrick and Ryan) and currently celebrating almost 36 years with comedian Marty Ingels, Shirley Jones has certainly lived an incredible life.

Media Mikes spoke to Ms. Jones recently in conjunction with two upcoming events. The first is a benefit screening of the film “Carousel” in Omaha on May 24th. The second is the upcoming release of her autobiography to be published next month by Gallery Books.

Mike Smith: How does a young girl from Pennsylvania end up becoming an Academy Award winning actress?
Shirley Jones: (laughs) It’s a stroke of luck. I was very fortunate at my first audition in New York. I was actually on my way to college to become a veterinarian. I wasn’t going to be in show business I was going to be a vet. I had graduated from a small town high school. I went to an audition for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s casting director and he called both Rodgers and Hammerstein to hear me. I sang for them and two weeks later I was in my first Broadway show. That’s how fast it happened. I spent three months in the Broadway production of “South Pacific.” Then they flew me to California to screen test for the role of Laurey in “Oklahoma,” and that’s how that happened. And it all happened in less than a year.

MS: And they say show business isn’t easy!
SJ: (laughs) I know. But you know something, I’m not sure that could happen today. It was just the time…where I was…it was one of those things that happen rarely. I was the only person put under personal contract to Rodgers and Hammerstein. I was never under contract to a studio.

MS: What was that experience like…to have your career guided by two genuine legends?
SJ: incredible. It truly was incredible. It was so great for me. I did three shows while under contract with them. By the time I got into movies the studio system was over so in a way it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because then I went on to do everything, from television to films and everything else. And Rodgers and Hammerstein were so wonderful to be with and work with. They produced the movie version of “Oklahoma,” not the studio. We did some shooting at MGM but the majority of it was shot at Nogales, Arizona. They were on the set every day for seven months.

MS: You’ve appeared in some classic movie musicals. “Oklahoma.” “The Music Man.” “Carousel.” Do you have a favorite among them?
SJ: My favorite score is “Carousel.” Without a doubt, of all the things I’ve done, that’s my favorite. I think it’s some of the most beautiful music ever written. In fact, Richard Rodgers always claimed it was his finest work. When I perform in concert I always open with “If I Loved You” and I close with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” To me it’s the most beautiful music. The movie is wonderful, though I thought it could have been a little bit better. We had a very old director (Henry King, director of films like “Twelve O’Clock High” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”) but a great cast. Frank Sinatra was scheduled to play Billy Bigelow. We had done all of the rehearsals…even all of the pre-recordings, which is what we did back then. We had spent three months in pre-production. We were going to shoot the film in two separate processes – regular Cinemascope and Cinemascope 55 – and when Frank got to the set in Maine he asked why there were two cameras. Henry told him we would be shooting each scene twice. Frank told him, “I signed to do one movie, not two,” got in his car and drove back to the airport. So I got Gordon MacRae on the phone, who was in Lake Tahoe doing a nightclub act with his wife, and I said, “how would you like to play Billy Bigelow in “Carousel,” and he said “give me three days I have to lose ten pounds!”

MS: What a great call. I’m a big Sinatra fan but I can’t see anyone but Gordon MacRae in that part.
SJ: Me too. And that voice. Nobody sang like Gordon. He had the best voice of all time.

MS: You won an Oscar for your role in the film “Elmer Gantry,” a role many of your musical fans may not have expected to see you in. How did that part come along?
SJ: It was an incredible role. Burt Lancaster fought for me to play that part. By the time I’d finished doing musical motion pictures – “Music Man” hadn’t come out yet – Hollywood had stopped making musicals pretty much because the European market wasn’t very receptive to them. My career was pretty much over. When you were a singer at that time they didn’t consider you an “actress” so to speak. I went and did some television, which was looked at as a big step down for movie actors. They were doing some wonderful dramatic shows like “Playhouse 90” and “The Philco Playhouse.” But I had some wonderful roles. I had a great part opposite Red Skelton in a “Playhouse 90” show called “The Big Slide” and Burt Lancaster happened to have seen me in that part, playing an alcoholic “Sunshine” girl in the Mack Sennet era. And he loved my performance. And after he saw me he fought for me to play the role of Lulu Bains in “Gantry.” He called me while I was in San Francisco doing a nightclub act with my husband Jack Cassidy. I pick up the phone and I hear, “Hello, Shirley, this is Burt Lancaster.” I said, “sure it is” and I hung up! (laughs) Thank heaven he called back and said, “No, this IS Burt Lancaster.” He told me to go get the Sinclair Lewis novel “Elmer Gantry” and look at the role of Lulu Bains. On your day off he asked me to fly to Los Angeles and meet with the films writer/director, Richard Brooks. Of course I did as he asked. I flew in and met with Richard Brooks, who originally did not want me for the part. He had somebody else in mind. He was the writer/director but Burt was the co-producer and he was very definite about having me play Lulu, which was so great. I got the part. Richard Brooks would always shoot his films in sequence so I wasn’t due on set until the middle of the film. But Burt would have me come on set every day to watch the other actors and to watch how Richard Brooks directed. On my first day of shooting I had to do the hardest scene in the film – standing in the house of prostitution and telling the other girls how I had met Elmer Gantry – and I didn’t have one bit of direction from Brooks. He sat in his chair smoking his pipe like I wasn’t even there. I went home that night in tears thinking he was going to fire me. I didn’t have to work the next day and they screened the rushes of what had been shot the day before. Brooks called me afterwards and said, “Shirley, I owe you an apology. Not only are you going to be great in the film but I predict you’re going to win an Academy Award.” And that’s how that happened. Burt was the one that got me the part and it changed the course of my whole career. My career would have been literally over had that not happened. But I went on to do 20 more feature films after that.

MS: And now, of course, it’s time for the obligatory “Partridge Family” question.
SJ: (laughing) Of course.
MS: What do you think it is about the show, and the music, that it is still popular some four decades after it first premiered?
SJ: Well, it was really a new definition of a television series. I was the first working mother on television. I was actually offered “The Brady Bunch” first and I said “no” because I didn’t want to go into a television series and play a regular mom taking the roast out of the oven. But when I was offered “The Partridge Family” I thought it was very unique. The fact that the whole family was working together musically but you still had stories about the kids and the mama…I loved the idea. And the fact that David, my stepson, was going to play my son was just great. It also gave me an opportunity to stay at home and raise my kids, which was something I couldn’t do making films because I was constantly away on locations everywhere. When they were younger I could take them with me but now they were school age, which was another reason I wanted to do a series. And the agents and managers at that time were all telling me, “Don’t do a television series, Shirley, because if it is successful you’ll BE that character for the rest of your life.” They were pretty right about that but it was still great for me to do.

MS: They don’t make as many film musicals today as in the past, but some of the them are pretty well done. “Les Miz” comes to mind as a recent achievement. What is your opinion on the movie musicals of today?
SJ: I thought “Les Miz” was wonderful, but I’d also seen the Broadway show and thought it was divine. Everybody in the film was wonderful. Hugh Jackman is one of my favorite performers. When I was visiting Australia he and I did bits from “Oklahoma” together on stage. (NOTE: Jackman starred as Curley in an Australian production of “Oklahoma” in the late 90’s) He was just great. But they don’t do that many musicals anymore, as you know. But the ones they do do I think have been successful.

MS: You’re publishing your memoirs next month. What was it like to sit down and review your career?
SJ: It wasn’t easy (laughs). In fact I thought “do I really want to do this?” But it came out very quickly and easy. All of the things that have happened I was fortunately able to recall for the most part. And all of the people that I worked with…I worked with some of the greatest movie stars of all time. I’ve had two incredible husbands. Both crazy, but wonderful. I’ve got three incredible sons and an incredible stepson. I’ve got twelve grandchildren now. And I was an only child which makes it even more interesting.

Lisa Hochstein reflects on being in “The Real Housewives of Miami”

Lisa Hochstein is known best for her role in Bravo’s hit reality TV series “The Real Housewives of Miami”. She joined the show in its second season and has been a fan-favorite very quickly. Lisa is currently shooting the show’s third season but took out sometime to chat with Media Mikes about being on the show and shared some tips to exercising and staying in shape.

Mike Gencarelli: You joined “The Real Housewives of Miami” during its second season. What was your highlight of being on the show?
Lisa Hochstein: I would have say just having a new experience in my life. It has been a life-changer. My life is a lot different that it way the year before. It consumes you in your life being a part of this cast and the show. You are really being open and letting all of America and even the world into your life, your home, your personal struggles and your triumphs.  But is also really nice to be able to relate to a lot of different people. I have been told that I have touched people in different ways. That is what life is all about giving back, helping out and making a difference is someones life.

MG: You quickly became a fan favorite on the show, can you reflect on the fan base that you have developed?
LH: It is incredible. I am very flattered. I wasn’t sure how the world was going to take me. People either love you or hate you. People tend to judge me based on my appearance, how I look and the way I dress. But once they get to know me, they truly get to know who I am. I can only be who I am. I never pretend. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And people really took to that.

MG: Since it is a reality show; do you ever find it hard to deal with the drama it entails?
LH:  Yeah! Definitely working on a show like “The Real Housewives of Miami” there is always some kind of drama. That is a given. We aren’t always each others cup of tea and that is why we butt heads sometimes. Everyone’s personality is unique and different. When people have these strong personalities you are bound to butt heads.

MG: Were you ever a fan of any of the “The Real Housewife” show before and now after becoming one of the housewives?
LH: Yeah of course. I think that it is everyone’s guilty pleasure watching “The Real Housewife” shows. My understanding was that you want to watch it because of the glits and the glam and see how everyone is living. The luxury of it all is very appealing. Now I am a part of the franchise and it is a wonderful family to be apart of.

MG: How do you feel about your husband, Dr. Leonard Hochstein, being called the “Boob God”?
LH: He is the number #1 plastic surgeon in the country. No, I don’t mind. I think it is actually very accurate. He does more breast implants than any one surgeon in the entire country. He really truly is the boob god. Someone on Fox News has dubbed him that and since then everyone has followed the trend and it is who he has become. So for anyone in the country if they want to do their boobs, they immediately think “Hey I want to see the boob god”. It has been great for business and you can’t get a booking with him for a while in fact. So yes he does see many breasts but it doesn’t bother me. It is his job and it is what he does.

MG: Tell us about some the causes/charities you support?
LH: We love to support The Humane Society. We also love to support The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is such a great one for children that have life threatening illness. We are able to raise money to get them the wish of their dreams. We will continue to always support these charities. The two things that I feel are the most innocent in life are animals and children, so I definitely have a soft spot for those two causes.

MG: Can you share with us your tips to exercising and staying in shape?
LH: Summer is coming up. So everyone is trying to get into top shape for the summer. In Miami, we have to be in shape all year round [laughs]. One of my favorite things to do right now is juicing. Vegetable juicing with a little touches of fruit to add that sweetness. It has transformed my skin and given me such energy. I don’t even need coffee anymore. It completely turns back the clock on your body. I have only been juicing for about two months now but it has been amazing. I do it in conjunction with my regular exercise and routine. I work out four times a week with circuit training and 45 minutes of cardio a day. Now that I am juicing, I find that I don’t have to do much cardio. The juicing is sort of like spring cleaning. So that is my number health tip for right now! I recommend it for everyone!

MG: What do you enjoy most about living in Miami?
LH: Oh my God! There is no question, we are in the best place to live in the world. We have the most beautiful beaches. We have some amazing nightlife. We have some of the best restaurants in the world and are only getting better. We have some of the best shopping. There is no store that you cannot find in Miami. Any major flag store that is worth going to is here. We have comedy, plays, concerts, sport games. It is one of these cities that you will always have something to do and never be bored.