Film Review: “Penguins”

PENGUINS
Narrated by: Ed Helms
Directed by: Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson
Rated: G
Running time: 1 hr 16 mins
Disney Nature

I don’t know what it is about penguins that make them so damn cute!  Is it the way they walk?  The fun they obviously have when they slide across the frozen tundra of the Arctic?  The excessive fuzziness of their young?  I really don’t know but I’m pretty sure they could do an all-penguin remake of THE EXORCIST, complete with projectile vomiting and self-gratification with a crucifix and people would go “awwwww.”   Which is exactly the sound I made many times during a recent screening of “Penguins.”

Steve is an Adelie penguin looking for love.  He and the other males in his colony are on a trek to find a mate.  But the road to love isn’t easy.  Especially when your pals are stealing parts of your nest in order to attract that special gal.  And what are you supposed to do when you finally meet her?

A beautifully shot (over an almost three year period) film that manages to be both heart-warming and thrilling, “Penguins” gives the audience the “birds-eye” view of life in Antarctica.  And it’s a pretty chilly one.  Whether it’s having to walk miles upon miles to find food or teaching your chicks how to play dead when a leopard seal tries to eat them, it’s a hard knock life.  Yet, it’s also one full of love and adventure. 

Like “March of the Penguins” before it, “Penguins” is a film the entire family can enjoy.  Kids will love it for the penguins; parents for the story.  Nature is on full display in this film and it’s one I highly recommend.

Win a “Hellboy” Gift Pack

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Lionsgate films to give (10) random readers an opportunity to win a prize pack from the upcoming film, “Hellboy.”

All you have to do is let us know below what film franchise you’d like to see re-booted. (10) random entries will be chosen and they will win a prize pack from the film, which includes a t-shirt, hat and a run-of-engagement pass.

This giveaway will run through Sunday, April 14th at 6:00 pm CST. Entries chosen will be notified by email about how to obtain their prize package. Good luck!!

“Hellboy” opens this Friday, April 12th, nationwide!


Official Site:                              https://hellboy.movie/

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Film Review: “The Haunting of Sharon Tate”

THE HAUNTING OF SHARON TATE
Starring: Hillary Duff, Jonathan Bennett, Lydia Hearst
Directed by: Daniel Farrands
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 34 mins
Saban Films

As a child of the 60’s, I grew up in a time full of tragedies.  Some of these events (among them, the assassinations of JFK and RFK) intrigued me to the point of learning everything I could about them.  Another were the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends at her home in August 1969.  Which really made me want to see the new film, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.”

In 1969, Sharon Tate was on her way to becoming a movie star.  With roles in films like “The Fearless Vampire Hunters,” where she was directed by her future husband, Roman Polanski, and “Valley of the Dolls” she proved to be a very beautiful woman whom the camera loved.  A year earlier, during an interview, Sharon Tate spoke of a premonition she had of her death, one that was very disturbing. 

After a brief clip from the aforementioned interview, the film picks up in August 1969, when Sharon Tate (Duff) returns from London, where she is visiting her husband while he prepares for his next film.  8 ½ months pregnant, Sharon is happy to be home, surrounded by her best friend, Abigail Folger (Hearst), Folger’s boyfriend, Wojceich Frykowski (Pawei Szadja) and family friend (and Sharon’s former lover) hair stylist Jay Sebring (Bennett).  One day a knock on the door reveals a small, bearded man asking to speak to “Terry.”  Despite being told that Terry no longer lives there, the man drops off a package and leaves.  Sharon is told that the man and his friends has been coming by constantly, looking for the former owner of the home, record producer Terry Melcher.  That night, Sharon has a vision of a very violent encounter with the mystery man, one that continues to grow in violence and intensity.

I’m completely torn in how to review this film.

On the plus sign, I give much credit to writer/director Daniel Farrands, who has done an incredible amount of research and ensured that everything noted in the film, from the red mailbox at 10050 Cielo Drive to the name of Sharon’s dog (Dr. Sapesrstein) is faithful.  There were a few factual errors but, creative license being what it is, I’m not going to quibble.  The performances are also strong.  Though Hillary Duff looks nothing like Sharon Tate (while Ms. Duff is certainly attractive, I can honestly say that, at the end of the 1960s, Sharon Tate was one of the most beautiful women in the world), she gives a fine performance of a woman slowly descending into a nightmare she cannot prevent.  The supporting cast is also well cast and deliver good work. 

On the negative side, the film is horribly violent.  A quick intro using actual news and crime scene footage opens the film, and the murder scene including Sharon Tate’s body is shown, though her body has been retracted from the image.  However, as Sharon’s vision continue to grow, so too does the violence.  In the real attacks, Ms. Folger was stabbed almost 30 times…Mr. Frykowski over 50…and you get to witness almost every one of them.  That and the fact that Ms. Tate was pregnant make the violence horrific to watch.  Eventually you become numb to the violence being inflicted, taking away from the horror of the situation.

So I’ll leave it up to you, the reader.  If you’re looking for an interesting take on a very familiar story, you might want to check this film out.  If you’re not a fan of multiple murders, repeatedly depicted, you may not.  Or, like me, you’re just waiting for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming take on the story, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

20th Annual Planet Comicon Kansas City a Rousing Success!

PHOTOS BY DAN LYBARGER
The legendary William Shatner

I had just begun my position as Director of Marketing for Dickinson Theatres in early 1999 when I received a phone call from a gentleman named Chris Jackson, who explained to me that he had an idea for a local convention that would continue to grow into something amazing. Wanting to be involved, I sent Chris a lot of promotion posters (I’m thinking THE MATRIX, THE MUMMY, and STAR WARS: EPISODE I were included) to give away. Chris even arranged for one of the guests, actor Kenny Baker – he played R2D2 in the various STAR WARS films, to sign some posters for me to use as a giveaway. And so it began.

This past weekend, Chris’ vision, PLANET COMICON KANSAS CITY, celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary with another convention that cements PCKC as not only the best convention in the Midwest, but one of the best in the country.

“The Exorcist” star Linda Blair

The guest list was a virtual honor role of some of the biggest celebrities in film and television. Such icons as Linda Blair, William Shatner and Henry Winkler made appearances (this was Winkler’s first visit to Kansas /City since early
2010, when he graciously became the first ever interview for Media Mikes).

Mr. Shatner had been at PCKC in the past,but you wouldn’t know it from the legion of fans that lined up to greet him. Other celebrity guests included Oscar-nominee Chris Sarandon, PRINCESS BRIDE co-stars Cary Elwes and Wallace Shawn, “Super-men” Dean Cain and Tom Welling as well as well as WWE Wrestling Hall of Famer Mick Foley.

Chris Sarandon

Graphic art fans were also treated to a bevy of comic and graphic novel artists, and an amazing array of fans dressed as their favorite characters.

Members of the “Spiderverse” took the streetcar to the show
Mr. Henry Winkler

The vendor selection, as in the past, was varied, with tables offering pretty much everything for everyone.

This “League of Their Own” fan was there to see Lori Petty
COSPLAY was the theme of the day

All in all, it was an amazing weekend. I can’t wait to see what Chris Jackson has in store for the next 20 years!

Interview with Oscar Winner Richard Dreyfuss

With my 15th birthday approaching, my father asked me what I wanted to do.  Having been intrigued by the television commercials for a new film, “Dog Day Afternoon,” I told him I wanted to see that movie.  On Sunday, September 21, 1975, my father dropped me off at the University Square Mall Cinema in Tampa to see the movie.  Sadly, I didn’t know it was rated “R” and was told I couldn’t buy a ticket.  As I began to dejectedly walk away, the girl in the ticket booth called out to me “have you seen JAWS yet?”  I hadn’t.  124 minutes later, my life was changed.

I include this because of what I did after the film.  Like a normal kid, I wrote fan letters to the three stars.  I soon received a letter from Richard Dreyfuss’ cousin, Arlene, who informed me that she ran Richard’s fan club.  If I wanted to join, it would cost me $5.00 (a week’s allowance at that time).  I immediately sent her the money, along with a note saying “if you ever need any help.”  Within a few months, I was helping her with the club – basically I handled the fans east of the Mississippi river.  It was a great time for a teenager.  I’d scour the newspapers for articles about Richard and each month would send out a packet to the fans, which usually consisted of Xeroxed newspaper clippings and the occasional photograph.  Not sure how many members were in the club, but when it disbanded in November 1978, shortly after the release of “The Big Fix,” I was dealing with almost 1,000 fans.

A collection of photographs sent to fans

I’ve been very fortunate to have met Mr. Dreyfuss twice in my life.  Once, in Baltimore, when he was on the set of the film “Tin Men,” and in July 2017 when we were both guests at a Hollywood Celebrity Show.  At that show I was able to stand near his table and listen to him tell the most amazing stories.  I mention this because Mr. Dreyfuss is currently traveling around the country, offering fans the opportunity to take in AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS.  He will be in Kansas City this week (April 4th) and I have been honored to have been chosen the moderator of the event.  Call it practice, but I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Dreyfuss and ask him some questions, a few of which may be included when we’re together Thursday night.

Mike Smith:  What led you to pursue a career in acting?

Richard Dreyfuss:  Wow!  I don’t know….what leads someone to follow what they love?  I don’t think I really had a choice. 

MS:  Was there a film or performer that inspired you?  I acted a lot through my 20s but couldn’t make a living at it, but the inspiration came from wanting to do what YOU did.  I know you’re a fan of actors like Charles Laughton, Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy, among others.  Were they the catalyst?

RD:  They were, of course.  I have no memory of NOT wanting to be an actor.  I think the first time I got on record was when I was nine years old.  We had just moved to California from New York, and I said to my mother, “I want to be an actor.”  And she said, “Don’t just talk about it.”  So I went down to the local Jewish Community Center and auditioned for a play.  And I really never stopped.  I realistically never had more than ten days when I wasn’t acting in a play, or a scene or a class or a job until I was 27. 

MS:  You made your film debut in two very different films in 1967 – “The Graduate” and “The Valley of the Dolls.”  What do you think is the biggest difference between filmmaking then and today?

RD:  There are so many.  The general level of quality for an actor has plummeted.  When I was younger I never hesitated telling young actors to “go for it”…to pursue it.  And now I don’t say that, because the real rewards are so rare…so few and far between  The quality of scrips, from an acting viewpoint, suck.  The sequel syndrome that we’re in, which we can’t seem to get out of, has really lessoned the level of quality of writing.  Of story.  And it seems more arbitrarily decided upon as an element of chicanery and thievery, even for a business that’s famous for it, it goes on.  Film acting is not something I really recommend.  If you want to be an actor in America you can live a very great and satisfied life if you never think about being a star.  You can have a great life in Kansas City.  Or St. Louis.  Or a million other places.  But if you want to go for that kind of brass ring, which I would question – if you do want to go for it, go to therapy first – you’ve got to go to L.A. or New York.  And those towns are pretty sick.

Mr. Dreyfuss’s break-out role – Curt in “American Graffiti”

MS:  You famously almost turned down your role in “Jaws.”  Are there any roles you turned down and then later regretted your decision?

RD:  Oh yeah.  I was once watching a movie and I kept thinking, gosh, this seems so familiar.”  I thought “oh, shit,” and then I remembered why.  And I didn’t ALMOST turn down “Jaws,” I did turn it down.  I turned it down twice.  And then I changed my mind and begged for the part.  (NOTE:  The story goes like this.  After turning down “Jaws” – twice – Mr. Dreyfuss saw his upcoming film “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and thought his performance was so terrible that he’d never work again.  He then called director Steven Spielberg and accepted the role.  Of course, when “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” was released, Mr. Dreyfuss received rave reviews for his performance, even being named Runner Up as the Best Actor of 1974 (tied with Gene Hackman for “The Conversation”) by the New York Film Critics Circle.)

I will never tell you the ones I turned down that became hits.  Thank God there aren’t that many of them!

As Matt Hooper in “Jaws”

MS:  What fuels the passion for your work?

RD:  If you asked me a question about my process – how do you do this…what’s your method? – I would completely be unable to answer that.  And I’ve always known I’d never be able to answer those kind of questions.  But I know that, in a business where if you’re a successful actor you want to direct, I’ve never wanted to direct.  So I didn’t.  I wanted to act!  I had made a decision when I was very young, which probably wasn’t the most strategist thing to do in the world, but it was the way I chose to live.  Which is to day, if I do a drama, then I’ll do a comedy.  Then I’ll do a drama.  Then I’ll do a comedy.  That’s basically what I tried to do.  And the mistake in that is that I don’t think I ever did something enough times to establish a kind of signature recognition of what I do.  I did both.  I did lots.  And I thought that was the best way for me to pursue my life.  And that’s what I did for sixty years. 

MS:  Where do you keep your Oscar? (NOTE:  Mr. Dreyfuss received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl.”  At age 30, he was, at the time, the youngest actor to win that award).

As Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl”

RD:  For the most part, in the refrigerator.  (laughs).  I always want people to know about it, but I don’t want to brag.  But I figure that sooner or later they’re going to open the refrigerator. 

And I’m also very aware that the list of actors who were ever nominated or won an Oscar is as great a list as the ones who never were.  It’s a wonderful evening, but it’s rarely more than that.  It’s a great evening.  You’re aware of the film work because the audience for film is in the millions.  But I make no distinction between film and theater.  And, of course, the audience for the theater work I’ve done will be 1/100th of that of the film audience.  But to me, it was always – if not equal than more important –so that is something that I travel with.  I have a little bucket list of things that I check off every once in a while.  “OK, you did a Broadway show…check.”  From the time I was nine, into my teenage years, I was always in acting classes.  At acting schools.  I was always with actors.  And they would always talk about a “National” theater.  And I would say, “There’s never going to be a National theater in this country.  However, there could be fifty “State” theaters.  And, as someone who lives in Kansas City, I would say to you that, something that people should not ignore, is the fact that we are from so many different places…so many different cultures…that we come together as Americans only when we’re HERE, and we learn to be Americans.  And each of us, whether you live in Seattle or Mississippi, you have different strains of a culture.  And I have always wanted each state to have its own theater.  And, in a state like California, which is huge, you could have two, anchored North and South.  And, instead of trying to get everyone to agree on A National Theater, we could have one in every state.  It’s silly to think we can’t afford a State theater, to be able to see how Missourians and Floridians and North Dakotans approach theater.  I think that would be a great endeavor and a great thing to do.  Only because we teach so few things that we share. We’ve actually given up on the notion of teaching things that are of shared values.  And that’s causing this terrible breach in the country.  And we should try to find things that we can share.  And one of them could just be the artistic endeavor of a State theater. 

MS:  That makes a lot of sense.

RD:  And they’ll never do it (laughs).

MS:  Quick follow-up to the Oscar question, one of your fellow nominees that year was Richard Burton.  When Sylvester Stallone read the name of the winner, and you heard “Richard” did you think Burton had one?

RD:  My competition was Burton, Marcello Mastroianni, John Travolta and Woody Allen.  There was no easy answer.  But I just knew I was going to win it.  (laughs)  That’s all I cared about. 

Richard Dreyfuss with his Oscar – named Best Actor of 1977 for “The Goodbye Girl”

MS:  Me too, that night.  I always wonder how people sometimes vote.  You were also nominated for “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” but I thought you were most deserving four years earlier for “Once Around.”

RD:  It’s probably the easiest vote to define.  There are two ways people vote in the Academy.  One is, you vote for your friend.  Or, you vote for who you think is best.  In that order.  It’s simple.  You may not be able to predict it, but that’s the way people vote.  And it’s the reason why people do vote.  It’s not a mystery.  The only thing wrong with the Oscars now is that there are too many other awards, and it’s cheapened the whole thing. 

For more information on attending AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS, either in Kansas City or at a later date, click HERE.

NOTE: Mr. Dreyfuss wanted me to stress that, even though his appearance will be followed by a screening of “Jaws,” he will be discussing his entire career. So whether you’re a fan of “American Graffiti,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” or want to know about his fantastic cameo in “Piranha,” come on out and listen to some amazing stories.

Film Review: “The Hummingbird Project”

THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT

Starring:  Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgard and Salma Hayek

Directed by:  Kim Nguyen

Rated: R

Running time:  1 hr 51 mins

The Orchard

There’s a great scene towards the beginning of “Something About Mary” which features Ben Stiller and Harlan Williams talking about William’s idea for a video entitled “7 Minute Abs.”  Stiller shoots down his idea by commenting that someone may try to better him with a video entitled “6 Minute Abs.”  The new film “The Hummingbird Project” offers the equivalent of “5 Minute Abs!”

Vincent Zeleski (an excellent Eisenberg) and his cousin, Anton (an equally good Skarsgard) are employees at a high tech communications firm, writing code and making the boss rich.  But they have come up with an idea.  One that will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.  And all they have to do is dig a tunnel from Kansas to New Jersey.

A well written (by director Nguyen) and directed thriller, the film introduces us to the Zeleski cousins as they begin to hatch their scheme.  Their plan is to build an underground optical fiber system that can intercept stock buying and selling transactions on their way to New Jersey, allowing them to get their orders in first and profit off of their information.  Their goal is to have a signal that reaches the Garden State from the exchange in Kansas in less than 16 milliseconds.  17 is too slow. 

It is so nice to see Eisenberg in a role that he can inhabit.  While I thought he was OK as Lex Luthor in the recent “Justice League” themed films, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the “The Social Network” Eisenberg, one who deservedly earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.  Here he is the idea man…the fast talker who won’t take “no” for an answer.  As cousin Anton, Skarsgard is an odd bird with a good heart and a great mind.  He’s the kind of person who will tell you “it’s a secret” than draws up a hand-written non-disclosure form for you to sign because he just explained the entire project to you.  As the boss who feels hurt by her employee’s betrayal, Hayek is, as always, beautiful and firm.  And it’s so nice to see “Breaking Bad” star Michael Mando (Nacho) in a good role playing a genuinely good person.

Win Passes to Kansas City’s Planet Comicon

Has it really been 20 years since Planet Comicon first appeared in Kansas City? Yes it has. I know because I’ve been to every one! And now we want to let some of our readers attend what has been described as “the best Convention in the Midwest!”

We are giving away (5) pair of passes to attend the convention on Sunday, March 31st. AND, we are giving away a pair of passes to attend all three days of the Con.

All you have to do is let us know below what celebrity guest you’d most like to meet at an upcoming Convention. Six random winners will be chosen and, from those six, one will be randomly chosen to wen the weekend passes. The others chosen will receive a pair of passes to attend on Sunday.

This giveaway ends at 8:00 pm on Wednesday, March 27. Winners will be chosen and will be emailed their passes. Good Luck!!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “The Hummingbird Project”

Meida Mikes has teamed up their friends at The Orchard to give (30) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “The Hummingbird Project.”

The film, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard, will be screened on Wednesday, March 27th at the AMC Studio 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm

All you have to do is let us know in the comments below what film you are most looking forward to this summer. (30) random comments will be selected and they will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. The contest ends at 8:00 pm Monday, March 25th. Winners will be notified by email. Good luck!

Film Review: “Us”

  • US
  • Starring:  Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elisabeth Moss
  • Directed by:  Jordan Peele
  • Rated: R
  • Running time:  1 hr 56 mins
  • Universal Pictures

It used to be that, when I thought of Jordan Peele, I thought of his character, Raffi, the baseball player who used to over congratulate his teammates by yelling “Slap Ass!” and whacking them on the backside.  Then he won an Oscar.  Which means when I sat down to watch Peele’s newest creation, “Us,” my expectations had been raised.  And, wow, was I not disappointed.  In this reviewer’s humble opinion, Peele has created a new horror masterpiece.

1986.  A time of movies on VHS tapes and Hands Across America (which I actually participated in).  It’s a beautiful night on the boardwalk as little Adelaide Wilson (Madison Curry) and her parents take a stroll.  Her mother excuses herself, reminding her husband to watch the little girl.  He doesn’t and the little girl wanders down to the beach, where she enters a house of mirrors.

Not the best place to lose yourself.

There is so much I want to tell you about this film, but to do so would spoil one hell of a night at the movies.  Like his Oscar-winning debut film, “Get Out,” Peele has found a way to combine drama, humor and horror in such a perfect way that I found myself, literally, on the edge of my seat during the screening.  I haven’t done that since I was 16 and snuck into a re-issue of “The Exorcist.”

To even go into slight detail about the performances would be a major spoiler so I will just say that, like “Get Out,” Peele has assembled an amazing cast with much to do and many ways to do it.  Peele’s direction is fluid, keeping the story moving at an almost breakneck pace.  During the end credits he thanks many of the filmmakers he admires, including Steven Spielberg, whose work obviously influenced some of the shots in the film.  And, if I could, I’d give the film an extra star for dressing one of the characters in a JAWS shirt!

Don’t walk, run to the theatre to see “Us.”  And be prepared to run some more!

Film Review: “Finding Steve McQueen”

FINDING STEVE McQUEEN

Starring:  Travis Fimmell, Rachael Taylor and Willian Fichtner

Directed by:  Mark Steven Johnson

Rated: R

Running time:  1 hr 31 mins

Momentum Pictures

1980.  In a small California town, Harry Barber (Fimmell) has something to confess to Holly (Taylor), his girlfriend of seven years.  Holly thinks a break-up is coming but it’s more like a stick-up.  You see, Harry is a bank robber.

Based on a true story, “Finding Steve McQueen” is one of the smaller films that often get overshadowed by the latest offerings from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Through flashbacks we find Harry back in 1972 (who Molly knows as John) working in his Uncle Enzo’s factory, along with his younger brother, Tommy (Jake Weary).  The factory is a front for Enzo (played by the always fun to watch Fichtner), who is, for lack of a better word, the “boss” of Youngstown, Ohio.  Enzo has learned from a friend that President Richard Nixon, who Enzo is definitely not a fan of, has squirreled away $30 million in campaign funds in a bank not far from San Clemente (the Western White House).  Eager for a big score, and the chance to stick it to the President, Enzo and his team, including Harry and Tommy, journey west to pull off what Enzo believes will be the perfect crime.  After all, if someone steals the President’s dirty money, who can he call?

The film is both clever and, if you’re a fan of the 1970s, nostalgic.  The script, by Ken Hixon and Keith Sharon, moves sharply through the decade, taking time to introduce things like hot tubs and historic characters.  When the F.B.I. bureau chief (Oscar winner Forest Whitaker) gets a visit from his boss, Mark Felt (John Finn), you can’t help but smile when Felt tells him to read an article in the Washington Post written by “a couple reporters named Woodward and Bernstein.”  For those who don’t remember their history, Felt was the infamous “Deep Throat” who led Woodward and Bernstein to their Pulitzer Prize.

Director Johnson keeps the story moving and kudos as well to whoever picked the songs that accompany the on-screen action.  They helped set a perfect tone for a film that doesn’t need someone in Spandex to make it entertaining.

Kansas City – Win Passes to Attend An Evening With Richard Dreyfuss

Long time readers know how much the Mikes love the movie JAWS. Well now we want to share that love with our Kansas City area fans by giving them the opportunity to an amazing evening “Jawing” with Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss.

“Jaws”
Richard Dreyfuss with his Oscar – named Best Actor of 1977 for “The Goodbye Girl”

The event, which will be moderated by Media Mike’s own Mike Smith, will be held on Thursday, April 4th at the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College. After the event, stay and enjoy a screening of the greatest film ever made (ok, I’m biased), JAWS.

Our friends at J & S Promotions has given us passes for (5) lucky readers and a guest to attend the event. All you have to do is let us know below your favorite Richard Dreyfuss film. Five random comments will be chosen and will receive a pass for (2) to attend the event. This giveaway will end on Sunday, March 31st at 6:00 p.m. Winners will be notified by email.

To purchase tickets to the event – including a Platinum VIP Package which puts you in the green room with Mr. Dreyfuss, click HERE. Good Luck!

“American Graffiti”

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “US”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Universal to give (5) lucky readers and a guest the opportunity to be one of the first to see one of the most anticipated films of the year, “Us.”

The screening will be held on Tuesday, March 19th at the Cinemark 20 & XD Theatre in Merriam, Kansas and will start at 7:00 p.m.

FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A PASS FOR YOU AND A GUEST TO THE ADVANCE SCREENING IN KANSAS CITY ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS COMMENT BELOW WITH THE TITLE OF YOUR FAVORITE HORROR FILM. (5) RANDOM ENTRIES WILL BE SELECTED. THE GIVEAWAY RUNS UNTIL 6:00 p.m. ON SUNDAY, MARCH 17th. WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED BY EMAIL WITH INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO CLAIM THEIR PASSES.

NO PURCHASE REQUIRED. 

US has been rated R (Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian) for violence/terror, and language.  

“Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel” book nominated for Rondo Hatton Award


“Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel,” a book written by Media Mikes co-founder Michael A. Smith, with Louis R. Pisano, has been nominated in the category BOOK OF THE YEAR for the 17th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

The Rondo Awards have recognized, since 2002, the very best in film, television and publishing in the field of Classic Horror.

“Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel,” was initially published in 2015. However, Smith spent two years after its publication finding more behind the scenes photos and tracking down more members of the crew to tell their story about working on the Hollywood Sequel that launched the constant stream of films we have today.

Filmed but never seen: the death of Bob (Billy Van Zandt)

The nominated book is a limited (to 1000 copies) signed and numbered edition, with the majority of the photos and images posted in color.

Tegan West, Sarah Holcomb, Martha Swatek and Gary Springer on set. West and Holcomb would later be replaced in the cast.

If you would like to vote for the book, send an email HERE and tell them you’d like to vote for the JAWS 2 book for Book of the Year. If you would like to order a copy, please click HERE.

Actor Ian Shaw talks about portraying his father in his new “Jaws”-inspired play.

As many of you readers know, both myself and Mike Gencarelli (your favorite “Mikes”) appear in the brilliant “Jaws” documentary entitled “The Shark is Still Working.”  The film tells the story of the making and the impact of the 1975 blockbuster.  But there are stories still to be told.  Ian Shaw, whose father Robert portrayed Quint in “Jaws,” has written a play, based on stories his father told him about the production, entitled “The Shark is Broken.”

Like his parents (his mother was the brilliant actress Mary Ure), Shaw is an accomplished actor with many film and television credits to his name.  In what I call a stroke of irony, Ian portrayed Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot who dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in the television film “Hiroshima.”  “Jaws” fans will remember that Quint was a sailor on board the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the ship that carried the bomb to the island of Tinian, where Tibbets began his mission.  

Mr. Shaw took some time out recently to speak with Media Mikes about his latest project.

Mike Smith:  What can you tell us about “The Shark is Broken?”

Ian Shaw:  It’s 1974. Martha’s Vineyard. Three iconic actors are confined together during the tortuous filming of what will one day be regarded as the greatest blockbuster movie of all time  Forced into close proximity by studio politics, endless delays and foul weather, the three must deal with violent outbursts, squabbles, rampant egos, petty rivalries and the fact that the mechanical shark keeps breaking down.  This causes their insecurities to run riot. Is this film going to ruin their careers? Who is going to want to see a film about sharks with hardly any shark in it? And who is the star of the movie anyway? 

MS:  What inspired you to take on this project?

IS:  Like so many people, I’ve always loved the film, except of course I have the personal connection of being Robert Shaw’s son.  The film is a rare combination of elements combining to maximum effect: the performances, the music, the design, the writing, the direction, the cinematography and editing all combine to create a fantastic amount of tension and emotional reaction from the audience.  That’s really hard to do. When I was a little older, I read Carl Gottlieb’s spellbinding account of how they managed to achieve it, The Jaws Log.  What particularly fascinated me were the problems they had with “Bruce”, the nickname for the shark, named after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer.  Then there’s the sheer audaciousness of filming at sea, the relationships with the locals, and the tensions between my father and Richard Dreyfuss.  Both of whom I admire hugely, I might add.

Ian Shaw sneaks a peek at “Bruce” while visiting his father on the set of “Jaws” in 1974. (Photo used with the kind permission of Ian Shaw)

MS:  You started your professional acting career in your mid-20s.  Was there any reticence on your part to pursue the profession, being th son of two very distinguished actors?

IS:  No.  I had a wonderful drama teacher at my school, Michael Walsh.  From the age of eight, I was performing in school plays, and I fell in love with the process.  And I think if your parents are actors, you think it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. Later on I discovered how hard it was for other actors from different backgrounds to make the leap.  I just made a promise to myself one day that I would pursue the path of an actor. I can remember the exact moment, as if it was yesterday. I was standing outside the school gym, where we used to put on plays. Even though I was very confident, probably with the arrogance of youth, I told myself it might take a long time to become successful! So there was never any question about what I would do. You can’t break a promise to an eight year old!  

Your older brother, Colin, portrayed your father’s character as a young boy in “The Deep.”  You bear a striking resemblance to your father.  Would you consider portraying him in a project?

IS:  Well, here we go – I’m playing him in The Shark Is Broken.  Wish me luck…

MS:  What else are you working on?

IS:  I’m also performing with the actors Duncan Henderson and David Mounfield in our adaptation of three Damon Runyon stories – the show is called Broadway Stories, and it will alternate nightly with The Shark Is Broken at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival, Venue – Assembly Festival, George Square.  Damon Runyon is best known for being the source material for the musical “Guys and Dolls.”  His short stories, which centered around the world of New York’s Broadway, took in what might be seen as the seedier side of life; a place of gamblers, molls, hustlers, dames and gangsters. With an utterly distinctive vernacular he described this hard, and often illicit world, but without the usual judgement or dismissal.   The first story is about a woman who murders her husbands for the life insurance.  The second is a study of the relationship between a half blind cat and a mobster holed out in a derelict hideout. The last is a comedy about an eating contest. 

NOTE:  Readers interested in helping get THE SHARK IS BROKEN to the sage can click HERE

Information about the upcoming performances of THE SHARK IS BROKEN and BROADWAY STORIES will soon be available HEREh

Film Review – “Isn’t it Romantic”

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC
Starring:  Rebel Wilson, Adam Divine and Liam Hemsworth
Directed by:  Todd Strauss-Shulson
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hr 26 mins
Warner Bros.

Natalie (Wilson) isn’t sure about a lot of things.  A skilled architect, she is treated more as a gopher by others in her office instead of a valuable asset.  One thing she is sure about?  She hates romantic comedies,which her assistant (Betty Gilpin) constantly watches at her desk.  One night, while battling a mugger, Natalie is knocked unconscious.  When she comes to, she discovers that her life has changed. And she’s not happy.

A winning comedy built around the chemistry of its stars, “Isn’t it Romantic” is a fun time at the movies.  Much of the fun comes from trying to pick out all of the rom-com tropes that Natalie dislikes yet is now experiencing.  Handsome suitor?  Check. Overly-gay best buddy? Check.  Killer karaoke chops?  Yes, sir. The more she learns the more frustrated Natalie gets.  And when she learns that every time she tries to use the “F” word she is overridden by the sound of a honking horn, she is horrified that the world she is now living in is only rated PG 13.

With two of the “Pitch Perfect” films behind them, Wilson and Adam Divine have built an amazing rapport, and it shows on the screen. Hemsworth is quite charming and Bollywood star Priyamnka Chopra is both funny and beautiful!  The story moves quickly (the film is less than 90 minutes long) and makes a nice Valentines gift for that special someone.  Unless,of course, they hate romantic comedies!