“Toy Story 4” Summer Road Trip Rolls into Kansas City on June 23rd

 Attention “Toy Story” fans, this announcement is for YOU!

  On Sunday, June 23rd, the “Toy Story 4” Summer Road Trip will be making a stop in the Kansas City area. A “Toy Story 4”-themed RV will roll into Kansas City, featuring photo opportunities for fans, film-themed prizes, carnival games and lots of family-friendly fun.     

Local “Toy Story” fans are invited to take part in the activities. Two film ambassadors will be on hand to share details about fan-favorite characters—Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep—as well as new characters coming to the big screen—Forky, Bunny, Ducky and Duke Caboom, among others—learn more about this all-new adventure.     

The event will be held at the AMC Town Center 20, 11701 Nall Ave. in Leawood, Kansas and will run from 10:00 am through 3:00 pm.

Our Critics Pick the Best (and Worst) of 2018

Once again, the time has come for your favorite film critics to choose the films they loved – and hated – from 2018.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let us know below.  Happy New Year!

THE BEST

Michael A. Smith‘s TOP TEN

1.VICE – Like his Oscar winning THE BIG SHORT, writer/director Adam McKay gives a humorous take on the life and times of our 46th Vice President. 

2. BOY ERASED – Stellar performances by Lucas Hedges and Joel Edgerton (who also wrote and directed) in a film dealing with “conversion” training.  Edgerton is beginning to look like he will be one of the best filmmakers of the next generation. 

3. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – The story of Freddie Mercury and his musical group QUEEN.  Some complained that Mercury’s X-rated lifestyle was tamed down too much but Rami Malek’s award worthy performance is the real story here.

4. A STAR IS BORN –  Damn you, Bradley Cooper!  Is there nothing you can’t do?  Cooper stars and directs in the fourth telling of the familiar tale, adding enough twists to make it seem new.  Extra points for casting the amazing Lady Gaga.

 5. BLACKKKLANSMAN –  Easily Spike Lee’s best film since DO THE RIGHT THING, the film’s 1970’s era message is just as important today.

“Risking life and limb for our entertainment”

6. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT – The best of the M:I films, with Tom Cruise once again risking life and limb for our entertainment.

7. CHAPPAQUIDDICK – An early film this year that looks into the fateful accident that derailed the Presidential dreams of Ted Kennedy.

8. BLACK PANTHER – Not a great Marvel Movie…just a GREAT MOVIE.  With FRUITVALE STATION and CREED already on his resumé, director Ryan Coogler has proven to be a voice to be listened to.

 9. HOSTILES – A January release, this is an outstanding period western starring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi and, sadly, Scott Wilson in one of his final roles.

 10. CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? – Award worthy performances from stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant highlight this true story about an author who had to resolve to forgery to make any money.   

Lauren Damon’s TOP FIVE

1.BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE – I cannot speak highly enough of Drew Goddard’s follow up to one of my Halloween faves, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. Once again Goddard holes up his small cast in a single location that is not quite what it seems and is a joy to explore. And what a cast! While bigger names like Jeff Bridges and Jon Hamm deliver reliably solid performances (the latter chewing all the scenery with a fabulous southern accent), the real revelations are from relative newcomers Cynthia Erivo and Lewis Pullman. The Tony-winning Erivo is the film’s heart as a struggling singer who checks into the El Royale ahead of a nearby gig. When she gets wrapped up in a scheme with Bridges’ character, Goddard uses her powerhouse voice to deliver “You Can’t Hurry Love” in easily my favorite single sequence of the year. Meanwhile Pullman is just barely holding everything together as the hotel’s lone caretaker whose role entails much more than cleaning towels and whose past is bubbling beneath his boyish, twitchy surface. I really just wanted to hug him. Finally, as with CABIN, Goddard goes ahead and subverts Chris Hemsworth’s affable hero persona. This time by casting him as a vile Charles Manson type–this is the 60’s in California after all– whose limited screen time serves merely to concentrate the sinister vibes emanating off his gyrating abs. Everyone is supported by top notch production design, a rocking soundtrack and some gorgeous Seamus McGarvey cinematography. It just really sizzles.

“It’s a crime that Collette isn’t in the major film awards conversations (yet?)” 

2. HEREDITARY – This slow burning descent of one family after the death of their secretive matriarch may be an all time fave viewing experience in a packed theater. Where a lot of modern horror relies on jump scares, Ari Aster held us captive in many scenes by showing the terrors just slightly to the side in the gloom of the frame or holding on the silence after a traumatic event–all while my audience slowly lost its mind. Which was fitting, because we were watching Toni Collette’s character doing roughly the same. It’s a crime that Collette isn’t in the major film awards conversations (yet? C’mon Academy!) because she was so engrossing and almost painful to watch.

3. BLACK PANTHER – Ryan Coogler’s brilliant entry into Marvel was remarkable for so fully realizing a whole new world within a “Universe” we’ve already been living in for the past decade. And unlike some chapters of the MCU, he did it right here on Earth. Wakanda was beautiful and populated by such a well drawn cast of characters, it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite (but it’s Shuri, come on). Meanwhile, unlike some big purple menaces, Erik Kilmonger’s (Michael B Jordan) ‘villainous’ motives were some of the most complex that the franchise has dealt with. So much so that Chadwick Boseman’s T’challa had to face a real crisis of conscience that not many Marvel heroes do!

4. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU – I feel like the less I say about this film, the better new viewers’ experiences will be. Boots Riley’s take on the desolate modern economic landscape just throws a LOT at you with a notable hard turn in the second half that will likely decide where you land on this one. As someone who is rarely surprised at movies today, I was fully on board.

5. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – I knew going in that every outlet in the Disney-Marvel Marketing Machine kept saying “It’s Thanos’s movie, it’s really going to belong to Thanos” but boy, I was not prepared for…Thanos’s movie! Not only did the Russo brothers bring to life a presence worthy of scaring the bejeezus out of ten years of assembled super heroes, but that they let him Do That was a true shocker. It’s hard for me to judge INFINITY WAR fully until I see what goes down in ENDGAME because, to quote THE PRESTIGE, “making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back.” But for now, I sit stunned.

Michael D. Smith’s TOP TEN

1. BLACK PANTHER – The best movie of the year, BLACK PANTHER proves to be one of the two or three best titles in the 10-year Avengers odyssey. Directed by the brilliantly talented young filmmaker Ryan Coogler (CREED, FRUITVALE STATION), this supremely entertaining, comic book epic has a superb cast and an engaging, intelligent story. Its story of a young king who thinks he knows what it takes to be a ruler but is faced with a day of reckoning that turns his views upside down is a potent one. The climax is tragic to the point that it’s Shakespearean and it’s all assisted by one of the most consistently good performances by an entire cast that you will see, especially in an action movie. Michael B. Jordan, who was cheated out of an Oscar nomination for his role in CREED, is a powerful presence in the film as its lead antagonist. BLACK PANTHER has everything you could ever want in not only a superhero movie but in a movie period. 

2. A QUIET PLACE – In terms of creativity and originality, A QUIET PLACE is only rivaled in recent times by last year’s masterpiece “Get Out.” A brief, yet sophisticated sci-fi horror tale brimming with mystery, A QUIET PLACE stars the husband/wife team of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt as a couple struggling to keep their family alive in a world taken over by aliens who react to sound. You must pay attention to the little details in this one to spot clues to the backstory, which itself is horrifying. The story has a bit of a Stephen King-like vibe to it as the suspense builds around the impending birth of a new baby. A must-see.

3. FIRST REFORMED –  Ethan Hawke shines in what is arguably writer/director Paul Schrader’s greatest cinematic endeavor. It is a work of art in every sense of the word as Hawke plays the minister of a tiny congregation in an old church in upstate New York. His character is haunted by a past that riddles him with guilt and leads him to drink. When we meet him, he has begun to keep a diary of his tormented thoughts as he tries to mentor those that are just as much pain as he is. Hawke is mesmerizing in the most brilliant performance of his career with strong supporting help from Amanda Seyfried and a nice dramatic turn by Cedric the Entertainer. The ending is haunting to say the least and will leave you and anyone you watch it with debating what it all means. 

“Olivia Colman delivers the best performance by an actress in 2018 and it’s not even close”

4. THE FAVOURITE – With some of the best costume designs you will see in any film, THE FAVOURITE is a wonderful historical drama containing the most splendid, witty dialogue of the year. Set against the backdrop of early 18th century England, two women (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) vie to be the favorite of the increasingly sickly Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). The political intrigue is delightful as Weisz and Stone’s characters will go to any lengths to be the apple of Queen Anne’s eye, thereby having access to tremendous power. Colman delivers the best performance by an actress in 2018 and it’s not even close. She is brilliant in every sense of the word as portrays a woman teetering on insanity after having had 18 pregnancies but no living children. There are ultimately no winners in all of it. Just tragic losers. 

5. LEAVE NO TRACE – While watching the powerful performance delivered by New Zealand-born actress Thomasin McKenzie in the drama LEAVE NO TRACE, it is impossible to not think about what director/writer Debra Granik once pulled out of a relatively unknown young actress named Jennifer Lawrence. It is perhaps an unfair comparison considering that Lawrence received the first of her four Oscar nominations for her role as a tough, teenage Ozarks girl in 2010’s WINTER’S BONE. However, as Tom, McKenzie provides something that is special to watch on the silver screen. Through her eyes alone she projects her character’s tough, determined nature which she also reveals is just a façade masking a 13-year-old girl’s desperation to please a father (Ben Foster) traumatized by war. Foster once again demonstrates how skillful he has become in recent years. Pain leaks out of every pour in Foster’s skin as his character is so consumed by PTSD from combat that he puts Tom in danger every day they are on the run without thinking about what he is doing. Based upon the 2009 book My Abandonment by American novelist Peter Rock, LEAVE NO TRACE, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, is a moving work of genuine sadness that will pull at the heartstrings of anyone who has a heart.

 6. BLACKKKLANSMAN – In what is Spike Lee’s best effort in years, BLACKKKLANSMAN is an engrossing crime drama loosely based upon real events. It tells the tale of new African American, Colorado police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who infiltrates a local branch of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s via the phone. To represent himself in person, he convinces a Jewish detective (Adam Driver) to be his face. While it’s an entertaining piece of work that takes a lot of dramatic license, Lee’s effort tackles racism head-on and reveals its ugliness likes few films do. As such, it’s not without controversy but because of that it accomplishes the goal of making people talk and think about racism in America. 

7. GREEN BOOK – Inspired by a true story, this period drama is a surprisingly complex, emotional work considering its director, Peter Farrelly, is best known for comedic fare like SHALLOW HAL and DUMB AND DUMBER. With GREEN BOOK, Farrelly captures the stark racial divide of 1962 America with an exploration of the relationship between white bar bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) and black pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) as they travel across the Midwest and Deep South. Mortensen dazzles with his knack to bring to life every subtle nuance of the characters he plays. This role is no exception as he helps make Tony Lip someone we can truly care about even though in the beginning it’s a little tough to do. Ali, a 2017 Oscar winner for MOONLIGHT, gives Don a vulnerable sophistication while also breathing out a certain degree of naïveté without seeming to break a sweat. It all adds up to GREEN BOOK being the type of rare movie where everyone can feel a little bit happier about the world when the lights go back on. 

8. WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? – Like many other people, I grew up on Mr. Rogers so perhaps I’m a little biased, but this documentary feels like a warm and cozy sweater vest. It dispels a lot of myths about the man who wanted nothing more than to work with children. We learn a lot about this kind, gentle soul from those closest to him and it’s refreshing in this age of cynicism and character assassination to discover he was pretty much exactly like he was on the TV.

9. HEREDITARY –  Simply put, this is one of the most messed up movies you will ever see. HEREDITARY is tale of a family being turned upside down when the family matriarch’s death starts a sequence of horrifying events that lead to a supernatural, head-scratching, unsettling climax. Toni Collette is fantastic as the mother of two who becomes increasingly unraveled thanks to a plan set into motion by her recently deceased mother. It goes without saying that a film is automatically creepy when it silently begins with a nondescript obituary on the silver screen. Don’t stay up too late to watch this. Otherwise you will feel the need to keep all the lights on and the covers over your head.

“Rami Malek absolutely commands the screen”

10. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – Some of have criticized this film for not devoting more time to the exploration of the late Freddie Mercury’s private life. However, this rock biography is not titled “The Freddie Mercury Story.” Instead it focuses on the rise of a band with a singer who had a rock voice like none other before or since. While the story is admittedly a little glossy, the core strength of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is the incredible performance by lead Rami Malek who absolutely commands the screen. He masters every movement, every voice inflection, every insecurity, every bit of bravado of the real Mercury. It is a legendary accomplishment and is worth every penny to see.

Jeremy Werner‘s TOP TEN:

“It’s good for the souls of the young and old.”

1. EIGHTH GRADE -Back in August I wrote, “Cringy. Heartfelt. Anxiety inducing. Unflinching. Heartbreaking. Hopeful…Bo Burnham’s debut film seemingly has it all, and it does.” That still rings true after a few rewatches. Four months later, along with dozens and dozens of screeners, EIGHTH GRADE, is still my favorite film of the year because of how raw and emotional it is. It’s good for the souls of the young and old.

2. BLACKKKLANSMAN -Last year, GET OUT made me feel what it’s like to be a black man in a predominantly white situation or setting. This year, BLACKKKLANSMAN made me feel my own white guilt. Both movies are timely and timeless. BLACKKKLANSMAN is a church sermon that needs to be heard by everyone within an earshot. This is easily Spike Lee’s best film since DO THE RIGHT THING if not his magnum opus.

3. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE – Phil Lord and Chris Miller should just have their own animation studio. They were robbed of an Oscar for 2014’s LEGO MOVIE and it’ll be another crime if SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE doesn’t win best animated picture this year. It’s a trippy journey that blurs the line between comic book and cinema. Not only is it the best animated film of the year, it may be the best superhero movie of the year. Sorry Disney.

4. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU -What begins as a satire, quickly becomes a hyper absurd sci-fi that blends commentary on racism and classism, along with jabs at America’s path towards corporatocracy. Boots Riley brings a fresh voice and unique criticism that’s familiar, yet distinct. It’s the kind of film with no middle ground. You’ll either love or hate it.


5. WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? -In today’s climate, the world might need another Mr. Rogers, if that’s possible. Without mentioning any names or incidents, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? feels like a pertinent documentary about the impact kindness and compassion has. Even the iciest of hearts will have a tear in their eye by the end credits.

6. VICE -Comedy doesn’t quite the praise it deserves. Ask any actor or creator how hard it is to craft something funny. Now add in a dose of reality and seriousness. Just like in THE BIG SHORT, Adam McKay tackles a difficult subject and makes it palatable for general audiences. VICE is a dark riot, making us laugh and realize the expanding power of the Executive Branch.

7. BOY ERASED -Not only is this a powerful story about sexual identity, but it’s a somber reminder about how one of the America’s most heinous acts, conversion therapy, remains legal. The film does a nuanced job of highlighting the emotional, mental, and sometimes physical cruelty that conversion therapy puts it’s victims through. It’s simply tragic.

8. MANDY– What if heavy metal music became a movie? You’d have MANDY, an 80’s acid nightmare come to life, with the help of a gonzo, smiling Nicolas Cage, covered in blood. This is a midnight film that will surely develop a cult following, or at the very least, a legion of Cheddar Goblin fans.

9. WIDOWS – This is Steve McQueen’s most mainstream film, yet it’s still visually intellectual like his previous films. McQueen is a master behind the camera and weaves a caper that’s not only rich with heavy material and social themes, but engaging from beginning to end.

10. THE FAVOURITE – THE FAVOURITE  is devilishly funny and cynical. It’s the kind of movie that could delight those who loathe period piece dramas, like myself. The humor and dialogue crackle for two hours as the film’s three leading ladies find new, humorous ways to stab each other in the back.

HONORABLE MENTIONS : SUSPIRIA, ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE, FIRST REFORMED, ISLE OF DOGS, ROMA, BLOCKERS, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS, LOVE,SIMON, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, MOM AND DAD

AND…THE WORST

Jeremy Werner: 

1. JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM -The bigger the budget, the more it should be looked down upon. This movie cost nearly $200 million and it stunk like one big pile of dino crap. Just think how many good, small budget films could have been made instead, but that wouldn’t have raked in over a billion dollars, now would it?

“Like one big pile of dino crap”

2. BOOK CLUB -Not only do they still make crap like this, but they release in theaters and trick good actors and actresses to star in it. This is pure drivel. Keep this crap off the silver screen and keep it on the Lifetime Network.

3. WELCOME TO MARWEN -The more I think about it, the more this film makes me mad. It’s a steaming crap that’s beneath the actors in it, it soils Zemeckis’ good name and unfortunately mishandles a true story. Unlike most train wrecks, you can look away from this one.

4. SUPER TROOPERS 2 -Careful what you wish for. Fans of the original should have looked towards other fanbases who asked for a sequel, like GHOSTBUSTERS, THE HANGOVER, etc. and got a big pile of crap instead. This movie is an unfunny dumpster fire that should offer a refund to it’s IndieGoGo supporters.

5. TERMINAL – Didn’t hear about this one? Good. To reiterate my favorite word in this list, it’s crap. This is the kind of film I could easily placed at the top, but it’s not as deserving as my scorn as the other films noted above because it quietly came and went without ruffling too many feathers. Still though. This one is crap. Don’t even bother looking it up out of curiosity.

Michael A. Smith:

1.LIFE ITSELF – As I say on our Podcast, I’ve never been so happy to see someone hit by a bus.  THIS IS US plots work in small doses, but on the big screen, they suck!

2. THE MEG – If my 230 pound body can’t swim by people without attracting notice, then a 50 foot shark sure as hell shouldn’t be able to.

 3. OCEANS 8 – Boooooooooooorrrrrrrrrring!

4. LOVE, SIMON – What could have been a film that delivered a great message takes the easy way out by making everything peachy too easily.

5. GRINGO – I had so many high hopes for this film.  Sadly, Nash Edgerton did not get any of the film making skills his brother Joel inherited.  

Positron’s Voyager VR Chair Takes Off with First Man

Positron CEO Jeffrey Travis

It’s safe to say I will try anything when it comes to new theatrical experiences. I’ve always loved Lincoln Square’s IMAX screenings, I’ve seen entire Broadway plays done in binaural audio (that’s “3D” sound) and even shelled out extra ticket money to see a favorite film in 4DX once or twice. So I was excited to try out Positron’s Voyager Chair, a VR experience which is being deployed to several theater celebrating the release of Universal’s First Man. Guests heading out to several AMC locations across the nation have not only the chance to just see the Damian Chazelle film, which is released on October 12th, but to take a small excursion to the moon themselves.

I got to try out the Voyager chair on Tuesday both with the First Man VR experience as well as a seasonally-appropriate horror short called “Night Night” and was really impressed with the level of immersion, from the spatial audio to truly being able to look in all directions within my headset. My First Man mission even had an animated co-pilot! Best of all, the Voyager chair itself, whose design looks straight out of Men In Black, was actually pretty comfortable and even after these two shorts I felt no sort of motion sickness, which I was wary of considering 3D films can give me a headache.

Positron’s CEO Jeffrey Travis was in New York this week with the Voyager to talk about the potential that this technology presents to cinematic VR experiences.

Lauren Damon: Was this pod created just for First Man?

Jeffrey Travis: No, we created this to be a platform for cinematic VR in general. So the first kind of wider public experience was we did The Mummy with Universal. So we’ve done three experiences with Universal–The Mummy, Jurassic World and First Man. It was all really cool. But there’s a lot of other studios and places that we use these with. The idea is to create ultimately VR cinemas.

LD: Is the goal here to get whole theaters of these?

JT: Yeah! So we can do theaters with this. Mini ones of twos or threes and we actually set that up here at Pod hotels here in Brooklyn. It’s open to the public. We have pairs of chairs at AMC theaters here in New York at Lincoln Square, San Francisco, DC, LA, but eventually we’re going to be putting this in permanent installations and creating VR theaters of 30-40 chairs and people could buy a ticket and come for an experience that’s either like something of what you’ve just experienced or longer. Somewhere from a half hour to an hour.

LD: Yeah because how long can you view it without feeling it too much?

JT: Yeah we talk about that. I think the ideal length is about half an hour for cinematic VR. I think longer than that, the headsets can get a little heavy on some people. But those are being made by companies like Facebook and Samsung and Microsoft and HP and they’re getting better all the time. So I think we will be able to have 90 minute VR experiences. But right now a half hour feels like a very full meal.

LD: What would the price point be in terms of ticketing?

JT: So probably around—it depends on experience—but probably averaging around $30.

LD: That price is actually similar to they have those “4D[x]” theaters here, what are your thoughts on those?

JT: We do get asked about that. I think it’s still fundamentally different. You know, to me the 4D movie theater, you’re adding some sensory effects that compliment the 2D screen experience. Which is fine and good, but what we’re trying to do here is really bring VR to where you forget about the screen, you even forget about the motion…So it’s almost like you don’t notice it’s happening. You should just feel like you’re actually in the story. That’s kind of the goal, not just a little enhancement but something that’s integrated.

LD: How much testing goes into something like this? How much time does it take to produce?

JT: It really depends on the piece but it goes through a lot of testing. Several months. This next piece that we’re working on is called “Shady Friend,” a VR comedy starring Weird Al Yankovic. It’s a psychedelic comedy that uses scent as well and it’s about a guy that accidentally takes this latest designer drug and goes on this crazy LSD trip. So we’re using motion, haptics and scent and it’s in post-production right now, we shot in July, and it will probably be ready by January. About six months.

LD: When did you start working on this particular First Man experience?

JT: First Man, so that was produced by Ryot and CreateVR and they started actually just two months ago. It was a very accelerated schedule. Which is a little more unusual.

LD: Was all that footage created for this VR?

JT: So obviously the stuff you’re seeing in Mission Control and on the screens is from the film, but then everything else for the VR experience had to be created from scratch. The films assets are mostly 2D and we needed to create these 3D volumetric environments like the moon.

LD: Are you going to get Ryan Gosling to try this out?

JT: I hope so! We had them at the premiere of First Man in the space there. So he was there, I didn’t get a word whether he did it or not. I know the producers of First Man got in there.

LD: There’s definitely a push to add more to theaters considering how much is available for home streaming, do you see this as adding to that?

JT: That’s the idea. I think that movies are certainly in the US and North America, struggling with people going to the box office because they’d often rather stay at home and stream on Netflix. So I think part if the appeal for this is that hey, this is an experience you really can’t get at home. At least not yet. And this brings people out to the movies or at least out to our locations and experiences.

LD: What other films will be having similar tie-in experiences like this?

JT: I mean there’s some coming we can’t really talk about, because they’re not really announced yet. But we’re working working with several other studios besides Universal on some titles and we’ll be announcing as we can.

Positron’s Voyager Chair is offering First Man experiences through October 14th at AMC Theaters in NY’s Lincoln Square, DC’s Georgetown 14, San Francisco’s Metreon 16 and LA’s Universal Citywalk locations

Behind the Screen: Remembering Burt Reynolds

 

I’m a little late to the party, I know, but I really needed a day to gather my thoughts before I wrote my tribute to Mr. Burton Leon Reynolds, Jr., who passed away yesterday at the age of 82.  Cause of death was listed as a heart attack.

I grew up in Tampa, and if there’s one thing that Floridians were always proud of it was that Burt Reynolds was one of us!  Yes, he was born in Michigan but at age 10 he and his family made their way to the Sunshine State, so he’s one of ours!

Burt became an actor by accident.  He attended Florida State University on a Football Scholarship (in high school he had been named both ALL STATE and ALL SOUTHERN as a fullback).  In his sophomore year, he injured his knee.  He later injured the other knee, and ruptured his spleen, in an automobile accident.  These injuries hampered his ability and, seeing his dreams of playing professional football dashed, he decided to look for a career.   After hearing him read Shakespeare in English class, his professor convinced Reynolds to try out for a play he was producing, called Outward Bound.  Reynolds won the lead role and, for his performance, was given the Florida State Drama Award.

With the award came a summer at the Hyde Park Playhouse in New York.  There Burton met actress Joanne Woodward, who introduced him to agents in the area.  This lead to his first appearance on Broadway, in the play Look We’ve Come Through, earning good reviews.  He went on the road with the show but soon found himself out of work.  However, he soon found himself in the company of Mister Roberts, with Charlton Heston in the lead role.  The play’s director got Reynolds an audition for the film Sayonara, but that film’s director, Joshua Logan, informed Reynolds he couldn’t use him as he looked too much like the film’s star, Marlon Brando.  Logan did encourage Reynolds to go to Hollywood, where he soon found himself in small roles on television.

His big break came when he starred on the television show Riverboat.  He gained more fame when he joined the cast of Gunsmoke as Quint Asper, a “half-breed” blacksmith.   As his success in television grew, he began doing films, including Angel Baby and Navajo Joe.  Reportedly producer Albert Broccoli asked Reynolds to be George Lazenby’s replacement as James Bond, but Reynolds turned him down, being unable to imagine an American playing the British secret agent.

“Deliverance” made Reynolds a star

Reynolds ascended to star status with his role in the film Deliverance.   The film, coupled with Reynolds appearing as the centerfold of “Playgirl” magazine began a run of success that would, by the end of the decades, see him named as the most popular actor in Hollywood.

“COSMO” made him a legend!

His meteoric box office run included such films as The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, White Lightning, Gator, The Longest Yard, Lucky Lady and the second most popular film of 1977:  Smokey and the Bandit (damn you, Star Wars!)  1978 gave us all a double shot of classic Reynolds, as both Hooper and The End are released.

As the 1980s rolled in, he continued his streak with roles in Smokey and the Bandit 2, Cannonball Run, Best Friends and Paternity.   He also took more interest behind the camera, directing several of his films, including Sharky’s Machine, which was both a box office and critical success.  Having released an album in the early 70s, Reynolds was a natural to star opposite Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  He later went on to star on the long running television series Evening Shade, earning an Emmy as Best Actor in a comedy.

Burt sings! One of the prizes on my record shelf!

Though he has played many an iconic character, Reynolds also turned down many roles that made other actors stars.  Besides James Bond, he turned down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars, Michael in The Godfather and John McClain in Die Hard.  The one role he regrets turning down was one written especially for him, that of former astronaut Garret Breedlove in Terms of Endearment.  Citing a promise to his friend Hal Needham to do the film Stroker Ace, Reynolds turned the role down.  The part was given to Jack Nicholson, who would go on to win the Academy Award as Best Supporting /Actor for his work.  The one role he’s glad he turned down?  Edward, the lonely businessman played by Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.  Reynolds actually repeatedly turned down the role that would bring him his only Oscar nomination, that of Jack Horner, the adult film director in Boogie Nights.

We at Media Mikes have many fond memories of Burt Reynolds.  Both Mikes (and our wives) met up in New Jersey, where Reynolds was scheduled to be a guest at the Chiller Theater convention.  Due to scheduling reasons, Reynolds could not attend, but we spent the weekend making each other laugh as we all tried to impersonate Reynolds classic, high pitched “Ha-ha!” laugh.  In 2011, Mike G. got the envious job of getting to interview Reynolds for the site.  You can read that interview HERE

And if you want to hear that classic laugh, click HERE.

Breaker, breaker to the Bandit. Keep those wheels spinning and the beavers grinning. R,I.P. sir.

Attention Florida Friends: Joel D. Wynkoop needs your vote!!

Over the years, Media Mikes has mentioned Joel D. Wynkoop.  A long time Tampa friend of mine, Joel is known for his locally produced horror films and is quite the cult hero in (and beyond) the Sunshine State.  He also has his own magazine that not only promotes his work, but the work of other aspiring actors in Florida.

The on-line site Creative Loafing Tampa Bay is compiling votes for its 2018 BEST OF THE BAY contest and Joel has been nominated in the category of Best Actor.  I’m hoping you readers will click HERE and, in the category of Best Actor, cast a vote for Joel.  For some reason, nominees are listed alphabetically by FIRST name, so look for Joel under the “J’s.”

For a look at some of Joel’s work, click HERE

Thanks!

 

Icons and Legends of Hollywood on View in NYC

This week New York film fans and prospective collectors have a unique opportunity to check out an array of props and costumes from Profiles in History’s upcoming ‘Icons & Legends of Hollywood’ auction. The auction, set to take place in Los Angeles June 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th, features over 2000 pieces dating all the way back to the silent era.

I got a chance to take a tour of this exhibit which opened yesterday to the public and will be on view through Saturday, May 19th at The Society of Illustrators located at 128 East 63rd Street.

Besides showing costumes from stars of Hollywood’s golden era such as Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor and Groucho Marx in startlingly pristine condition, some of the props on view are among the most iconic in Sci-Fi history.

I was first shown Ripley’s spacesuit from the first Alien as well as a helmet worn by John Hurt. They were joined in this show by Ripley’s flamethrower from Aliens, apparently an actual flamethrower!

For children of the 80s and 90s however, I think the real highlights of this collection might well be Michael J Fox’s hoverboard from Back to the Future: Part II (a hole is in it of course because Marty ripped the handle bar off of it), Richard Attenborough’s amber-topped cane from Jurassic Park and a rather roughed up biker jacket from the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s arrival in The Terminator.

This show is truly just the tip of the ice berg for this massive auction which has memorabilia ranging from just a couple hundred dollars to those soaring with estimates over $100,000. However if you’re only looking to drop a couple bucks to take a look at these items up close but not take home, do not miss this show!

The exhibit will be open to the public:
On Tuesday, May 15th, 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM.
On Wednesday, May 16th, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
On Thursday, May 17th, 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM.
On Friday, May 18th, 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM.
On Saturday, May 19th, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
Located at The Society of Illustrators 128 East 63 Street New York, NY 10065.

More about Profiles in History: Icons & Legends of Hollywood

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Singer Amy Lee of Evanescence talks about her new single “Speak to Me”

Amy Lee is the co-founder/lead singer for the Grammy Award winning rock group Evanescence. Lee has also participated in numerous other musical projects and has performed as a solo artist. Amy’s latest release is for the film “Voice From the Stone” starring Emilia Clarke and Marton Csokas. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Amy recently about the film, her experience at Skywalker Ranch and what’s in-store for Evanescence this year.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your new single “Speak to Me”?

Amy Lee: This was quite different for me. Writing a song comes from a lot of different places. This one has a really cool and unique story. It was written for the film “Voice From the Stone” which I got to actually see before writing the song. I really loved the film as it made feel so many different things. Being a new mother I was really able to connect with the film main theme as it centers on the bond between mother and son. For me to watch that and relate it to the new huge inspiration in my life I instantly knew it was something I wanted to do. I spoke on the phone with the film’s director Eric Howell and Michael Wandmacher the films composer and we had a great talk about the directional idea and once we were off the phone I went straight to the piano and came up with the initial idea. That doesn’t always happen with me. Sometimes I can go months waiting for an idea to come that I feel is good enough to move forward with. Working on this track was a very inspiring experience.

AL: Were you basing your idea on a portion of the films score or
was it something completely separate from that?

Amy: When I saw the film the score was there but it wasn’t completely finished. They weren’t looking for me to do anything related to the score. They wanted me to write the one and only song in the film which has lyrics. It was helpful to see the visuals and hear some of what was going on as it helped me envision the finished product.

AL: Was this your first time writing for a film?

Amy: I have actually written quite a few things for movies however, most of the time it hasn’t made it through all of the different doors you have to go through to get to the final product. (Laughs) There have been several things that have made it though. In 2014 I did my first score which was a much bigger undertaking as opposed to doing just one song when I worked with David Eggar on the movie “War Story”. There’s another film titled “Blind” coming out later this year that I worked on the score for as well. My experience working on this latest film was very unique as I was able to travel to Italy and visit the filming locations and I was also invited out to Skywalker Ranch in California while they were mastering parts of the film. That was just a dream come true!

AL: Do you ever find differences between writing solo/Evanescence material and music for films?

Amy: Definitely. When I am writing for Evanescence or for my solo stuff and I am writing something that is supposed to represent me. I have these expectations I set for myself to ensure that whatever I do represents who I am. From the lyrics to the music I want it to showcase me. Luckily there are lots of sides of who we are so I get the chance to go down a lot of roads. When you are writing for something like a movie where you are trying to represent the emotions of a character you have to put yourself in that place and try to speak artistically from that view point. Even though it’s someone else’s emotions you are their voice and vehicle. This is different but it’s a nice change as you are allowed to make other choices

AL: What was it like being able to work at Skywalker Ranch?

Amy: After showing my idea to everyone a couple days after our initial talk and them really liking it I was invited to the Ranch to record. I had never been away from my son at the time as he was only thirteen months old. I had to really think about things as it was such a great opportunity but living in New York I would have to fly across the country to California and leave my baby for the first time ever. We hadn’t even had just a single overnight away from one another at this point. After deciding to do it things really couldn’t have been more perfect. Being away put me emotionally in the right place to write the song as I was dealing with separation which was something the song needed. It was just perfect. The ranch is such a great place for creation. There recording studio is the most immaculate place I have ever seen. I actually stayed there and when you are a guest you get stay in your own private cottage with a bike you can ride from place to place on. The one night I was there I had this idea in the middle of the night so I rode my bike down to the studio and just started working. It was the perfect free space to work. Any chance I get to work there again I will certainly take it.

AL: Can you give us an update on your solo work and what is going on with Evanescence?

Amy: About a month ago I released a new solo song called “What Exists”. Looking at my solo releases I feel like I have released more than I actually have. (Laughs) I certainly feel like I have done a lot. I have done a lot of covers. Doing covers is something you can put your own style to without the pressure of having to write a song. I did some of those covers for Disney a few years back. Evanescence has started touring again and we are gearing up to start next month. We will be in South America for a few weeks then we go to Europe. We are working on a bigger project right now which I can’t talk about just yet but we will be releasing something this year. I am very excited!

AL: Any other projects you would like to mention that you have been working on?

Amy: I worked on the score for an independent film titled “Blind”. The film stars Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. I am not sure of the exact release date for it but I believe it should be coming out this summer, possibly fall. It was a different type of project for me. I didn’t do the soundtrack but as there was a need for music David Eggar would call me. It’s a very different film than “War Story”. For me it’s really fun to be able to work on different things as I get to learn about different genres of music or how to play a different way. There are different feelings which come along with all of that. It’s great to be able to find new collaborators and projects as you are giving yourself the space and a reason to try new things which I think can only be good for you.

 

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Guitarist Alex Grossi talks Maps to the Hollywood Scars and their new EP “Vol. 1”

Alex Grossi is one of the busiest guitarists in today’s music scene. Some of his projects include the bands Beautiful Creatures, Hookers and Blow, Hotel Diablo and most notably Quiet Riot which he joined in 2003. Alex’s newest project Maps to the Hollywood Scars” recently released a new EP titled “Vol. 1” featuring former American Idol contest James Durbin. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Alex recently about the new project and the recent addition of James to the Quiet Riot lineup.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the new project Maps to the Hollywood Scars and, how you and James Durbin came together?

Alex Grossi: I had met James back in 2011 through a mutual business acquaintance when he was doing American Idol. We became friends during that time but lost touch for a few years. It wasn’t until James was doing a residency in Las Vegas recently that we reconnected and I started sending him demos. He was recording some great melodies and lyrics and the more we worked the better things kept getting. Eventually we have almost a dozen songs done. We decided to put out an EP to see how things would go and that led to us doing a second one and so on. Things happened very organically and we are very happy where things are at.

AL: What was the process like for working on the new EP titled “Vol.1”?

AG: I had been working on songs as they came to me for about a year prior. When I sent them to James he immediately got it and was inspired. There was really no set plan for anything but I had been demoing songs for about a year and finally found the right outlet for them. Having James come in has been great and also working with our producer AJ St James and Dizzy Reed who played piano and strings.

AL: How did Dizzy Reed become involved with the project?

AG: I have been playing in a cover band we do called Hookers and Blow for the past twelve or thirteen years. When we wrote the song “Death” I could just hear the string parts and piano parts. I sent him the song and asked him what he could add and what he sent back is what you hear on the record. He did a great job and nailed it.

AL: Are there any plans to tour behind this release?

AG: There have been some offers that have come in but with the both of us now being in Quiet Riot we have to work around that schedule and we would have to put a band together. Right now we are only going to do what makes sense for everyone as it’s hard to schedule something for spring and summer when we already have commitments with Quiet Riot. There has been talk of doing some late night television appearance but as far as a full blown tour we will probably only do a show here or there. It’s a side project and something that we want to keep special. We have plans but we just have to wait for the right time when everyone’s calendars line up.

AL: Can you give us an update on the recent Quiet Riot line-up change?

AG: We just announced James as our new singer and we are currently recording the new album with him titled “Road Rage”. We have bunch of new tour dates that just went up on the Quiet Riot website which will taking us all over the country and also to Canada. More shows keep getting added to it hard to keep up with them all. (Laughs) We are very grateful for the support which keeps us going.

AL: How instrumental were you in bringing James into the Quiet Riot fold?

AG: I was demoing the songs with James and during that time I was sending the tracks over to Frankie to check out. He has been very supportive of the project since I started it so when it came time make a singer change I offered to call James up and see if he would be interested. I called him up; he said he was interested and about two weeks later things were on their way. We did rehearsals and a photo shoot and that was it. It all happened very quickly. James is such a pro in that he came in prepared knowing all the songs and was ready to go. I am very blessed to play with such a great group of guys. We all get along great and I am really excited to get out there with this new lineup.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

AG: Back in 2002 I joined Beautiful Creatures replacing DJ Ashba. We recorded an album called “Deuce” which we just got the rights back to. We remixed and re-mastered that album along with adding a few new things. That is going to be released March 31st. We are calling it “Deuce Deluxe” it’s going to have a bunch of new stuff on it and it sounds really great. I also do a fun cover band with Dizzy Reed called Hookers and Blow which we will be doing some shows here and there. I also am working still with Steven Adler. Getting to see him play with Gn’R this summer was amazing.

For more info on all of Alex’s projects visit: www.alexgrossimusic.com

NYCC 2016: Adult Swim’s DREAM CORP LLC

Have you made your appointment with Dream Corp LLC yet? The mind-bending new series from creator Daniel Stessen is currently admitting new patients every Sunday night at 11:45pm on Adult Swim. Starring Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite), Stephen Merchant (“The Office”, “Hello Ladies”), Nick Rutherford (Balls Out, “Drunk History”) and a host of guest stars, the series follows a strip mall clinic that uses advanced technology to invade its patients dreams in order to solve their real life problems. At New York Comic Con this year, the Adult Swim panel was treated to the first two episodes of Dream Corp which blend live action sci-fi and trippy rotoscope animation.

Accompanying the new series to NYCC was creator Stessen with stars Gries, Rutherford and Merchant (who also serves as an executive producer on the show). I sat down with them to talk about this new addition to the Adult Swim lineup.

How did you develop Dream Corp?

Daniel Stessen: I had the concept, been developing it for a while, and created this world and kind of came over to Steve for a little guidance as to how to make it more palatable to a larger audience. Being that he has some–

Stephen Merchant and Daniel Stessen

Stephen Merchant: I think he’s being immodest–or he’s being too modest, I should say, that’s not right. Too modest. I was there as just a friend of Danny’s…to do a voice for this robot [T.E.R.R.Y] that’s in the show and inevitably whenever there’s anything creative going on, I like to start meddling, and just offering thoughts. And we started talking more and more. And it was just for me, it was something I would have done as a friend anyway…but I just thought, you know, let’s try to screw these guys for some money. (Both laugh)

Stessen: And the robot, we love the robot, he was built by Jim Henson Studios…That was one of the more validating moments of my last ten years on Earth, just getting that call that they were on board to build Terry the robot.

Merchant: There’s a really strong visual sense to the whole thing, again largely down to Danny. He’s just got an incredible visual imagination. And so you see that both in the real world–where you see this kind of twisted, eccentric sort of laboratory– and then also when you enter that dream world. And that’s done with the rotoscope animation. When you go on the set, it’s you know, it’s bits of cardboard and people with fake cardboard wings and cardboard jaws and things. All of which is going to eventually going to be animated but which only [Danny] can really see. So a lot of people I think are just stood there and like ‘you want me to what? I’m drowning in spaghetti now?’ And he’s like ‘Trust me.’ So it’s sort of extraordinary, an extraordinary kind of vibe there. Wouldn’t you say people were confused [on set]?

Stessen: It’s just, when people would walk on when we were shooting the dream world stuff, people would walk into an empty room and I would just be like ‘this is going to feel super weird, just trust me, it going to look real cool.’

Can you speak about your characters?

Nick Rutherford and Jon Gries

Nick Rutherford: I play patient 88–
Jon Gries: Nick!
Rutherford: Yeah, Nick as well, who comes to the office to work on erectile dysfunction and pretty quickly realizes that the office itself is kind of dysfunctional.
Gries: What happens is that he has to work for us because he can’t pay for his procedure
Rutherford: Yeah I can’t pay for the procedure and you think that it’s a confidence issue and I don’t have a job so you say–
Gries: A job?
Rutherford: Why don’t you work here? And I’m like this is a terrible place, but I kind of go along with the flow.
Gries: So he’s really the eyes of the audience. Because obviously he’s come into this place that is so–well from some perspectives, would be ridiculous and crazy. It’s not from my perspective.
Rutherford: It’s your life’s work.
Gries: It’s my life’s work. Dr. Roberts has this vision that this is the most transforming and necessary procedure but he’s lost his funding. So now he’s working out of a strip mall because he believes and he knows that it’s working. He knows that he’s changing people’s lives. There’s a little problem here and there but–
(Both laugh)
Rutherford: There’s a lot of problems.
Gries: There’s a couple of bugs that get worked out of the system. But it could be because the system’s really old and we haven’t had the money to update it.
Rutherford: And I think Nick, Patient 88, comes into it and kind of sees a family forming. Because everybody trusts and loves each other. Like there’s, Stephanie Allen plays Joey, his protégé–
Gries: My intern for nine years. No pay!
Rutherford: (laughs) Yeah, Nine year intern. Who loves him and obviously thinks he’s the most brilliant guy ever and he just does not give her the time of day. And Mark Proksch plays kind of the navigator of sorts, I don’t know if you know his work–
Gries: He’s amazing. And he doesn’t ever leave the building. For fifteen years he doesn’t leave the building.
Rutherford: So he’s incredible. And then [Ahmed Bharoocha] plays kind of the nurse and he’s just this big stoner who doesn’t even really care. So Everybody relies on each other in a nice way. So the meat of the story is us working together and growing together and me being thrown into this world. And it being very dangerous, but also fun. And then bringing in these amazing guest stars and throwing them into that.
Gries: He gets attacked by June Squibb at one point. She stabs him.
Rutherford: Yeah she stabs me in the neck with a a screw driver. I’m kind of like the Kenny, I get hurt a lot. (both laugh)

Have you ever had a weird celebrity dream like with [episode one guest star] Dave Coulier?

Rutherford: Yeah that was really surreal.
Gries: I did, I had a weird celebrity dream. I was very nervous, I was about to do a movie years ago and I dreamt that I was in a barbershop. And I was sitting and the man sitting in the next chair was Fred Astaire.
Rutherford: Really?
Gries: True story. And he looks at me and he goes, “Are you worried about something?” And I said “I’m just a little uncomfortable” And he said “Have fun. Just have fun.” I swear to god! And that was like two days before I started shooting Fright Night Part 2.
Rutherford: Have fun out there.

What was it like working with the rotoscope animation?

Dream Corp LLC/Adult Swim

Rutherford: It’s really fun because everything is so grand. You know it’s like now you’re falling off of a hot air balloon, or now you’re running away from your bullies in high school. So you’re playing these large characters, so you just kind of jump into it. Like, I remember thinking when I was very young and being an actor, how it must be really hard to shoot like Jurassic Park when you’re in front of a green screen and then they’re like “and THAT’S a velociraptor” and you’re like “ahhh!” I didn’t feel that at all during the production that that those scenes were difficult thing to do. Because they’re just so silly and fun and you’re wearing kind of a half costume so they can animate it later. Like I’m dressed up like Legolas–
Gries: And literally it was sometimes it was pieces of cardboard, you have cardboard on you almost like a really bad–
Rutherford: Like a play
Gries: Like a kid’s play. But you know it’s all for reference and they’re gonna draw on top of it. And the thing is, knowing how beautiful the animation is also gives you the impetus that when you’re in it, you understand what it’s going to look like, so it helps, it augments. Whatever decision or choice you’re going to make, you can go further with it because you just have that confidence behind that animation. It’s almost like ‘pay no attention to me, it wont be the real me, it will be a better me.’

Stessen: The inspiration came from working with his name’s Michael Garza [of Artbelly Productions] out of Austin, Texas. He worked on A Scanner Darkly, and then a couple other guys on the crew are Scanner Darkly. And one of the woman who was an animator on Waking Life. Which I’m a huge fan of. I saw Waking Life a while back and watched it over and over and over again. Huge inspiration. And we made a short film together that did well in festivals and kind of, we started developing that style in trying to evolve it and I think we’re pushing it forward a little bit and figuring out that we can build things out of cardboard. And make a dragon face. Because all he has to do is draw what’s there. Not that’s all he has to do–his job is to draw what’s there. So we could draw you [all] here and now you’re on a volcano, you know what I mean? So it gives us a lot of flexibility and the fact that with where we are, with little funds, we could do a ton.

What can viewers expect for the rest of the series?

Gries: Surprise after surprise after surprise. I’m not kidding you, it’s different every time!
Rutherford: Yeah it really is. I mean there’s this kind of thread of these different guest stars coming in and getting their therapy as our relationship progresses and as the interrelationships between Joey and Ahmed and…Randy–Randy’s arm gets cut off (laughs)–
Gries: There are things that happen, there’s a continuity within the core group and yet at the same time it’s absolutely ridiculous what happens–but it still stays, it still answers that continuity. And yet the people that come, the patients that come, their stories individually are so different from week to week that it just gives us a whole other area to run through.
Rutherford: yeah There’s like a couples therapy–a gay couple comes in to get like couples therapy. June squibb comes in to quit smoking but then finds out that really just she just wants to have sex.
Gries: And have a baby–and she’s never had sex in her life.
Rutherford: So Roberts appeases that in the dream world–
Gries: You know he says, it’s been a while!

Dream Corp LLC is on tonight and every Sunday on Adult Swim at 11:45pm, with the premiere episode currently streaming at AdultSwim.com

For photos from Adult Swim and many more NYCC panels, make sure to check out our Facebook page!

 

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

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

Work by Leonard Nimoy

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

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

What Inspired you to choose Spock?

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

Artist Stanley Chow with his work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owain Yeoman on the New Season of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”

4/20/2016 The cast and creators of “Turn” at the New York Historical Society

Haven’t you heard? American history is so hot right now, you guys. Between Hamilton dominating Broadway and our electoral cycle being, for better or worse, completely unprecedented, now’s as good a time as any to look back to where it all began. “Turn: Washington’s Spies” returns Mondays on AMC for its third season so you may do exactly that. “Turn,” based on a book by Alexander Rose, follows the Culper Ring, an unlikely batch of spies from Long Island who helped George Washington turn the tide of the American Revolution. After two strong seasons—which, for you binge-watchers out there, are both currently streaming on Netflix!—the third looks to be the most exciting yet. There will be the addition of their own Hamilton and more importantly, the infamous defection of Benedict Arnold.

Owain Yeoman

Originally an American war hero for his decisive actions at the Battle of Saratoga, an injured Arnold was passed over for promotions he believed were his due and eventually his bitterness swayed him into the service of the British. On the show, Arnold is played with humanity by Welsh actor Owain Yeoman as part of a love triangle that involves romantic rival, and British spymaster, John Andre (JJ Feild) and beautiful loyalist Peggy Shippen (Ksenia Solo). Yeoman was part of a premiere screening panel last week at the New York Historical Society where I talked to him about today’s politics and the exciting times to come for his role on the show.

Lauren Damon: When you’re working on a show like this and at the same time watching this year’s election, does it have a greater impact on you?

Owain Yeoman: It’s very interesting I think, the parallels between—and I think it’s something that the show is consciously trying to market this year, is the, you know the parallels between the Red states and the Blue states and how things, depressingly, probably haven’t changed for a few hundred years. You know, we’ve still got the same old gripes and the same old battles. I think it’s very smart of AMC also to kind of market a you know, “WWGWD?”—What Would George Washington Do?—type campaign… And it’s true, he’s the father of our nation, of this nation, not necessarily my nation! [laughs] But you know the nation that I’ve come to call home. And I think it’s incredible how the show really does speak to the current political climate. And we couldn’t be more in the sort of fervor of it all with [the New York primary vote] going on here last night. So I think that’s our hope, that people really see that though hundreds of years have gone by, the themes and relationships and political climate is definitely still the same.

LD: This season is really your season, getting into Benedict’s treachery, is that exciting for you?

OY: Very exciting! Yeah, I mean like I’m finally becoming the traitor I always hoped I’d be! [laughs] It’s kind of a dubious prospect. He’s one of the those characters who when you tell people who you’re playing, they’re like ‘Oh you’re playing That Guy, I’m sorry’ but it’s a great challenge. I love discovering a more human side to him because I think you know he’s known very one-sidedly as America’s biggest traitor and there’s so much more to him. He was a great hero, the hero of Saratoga, and he was a real person. And I think if you approach something in that black and white area and don’t have the gray area that is real life, it doesn’t do someone justice. So that’s what we’re concerned about, showing the journey that gets him to be that guy.

LD: Yes in grade school history he was definitely The Bad Guy.

Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold on “Turn: Washington’s Spies”

OY: Yeah, it’s like ‘Ooooh it’s Benedict Arnold!’ Yeah and I think you know that it’s important to understand that he was one of America’s greatest generals before he became the famous traitor. And I think you only get a sense of the drama and the tragedy of that turn if you establish him as the general that he was before that fall. So you know hopefully people can get invested in that, and people can be you know, sort of see a different side to the character than maybe grade school taught us about, you know?

LD: As on the show, is there on-set any rivalry between you and JJ Feild?

OY: Oh always! [laughs] Yeah, I mean we’ve got a fierce love triangle that really comes to a head—no pun intended you know ’cause someone loses theirs at some point [laughs], history’s the ultimate spoiler for this show so I don’t feel bad about saying that. But yeah, it’s one of those things where you know, the stakes are high. In love, in the political climate, international climate. And this show—this season is the season [creator Craig Silverstein] said he always wanted to make. So all the big stuff’s happening this year, it is the Don’t-Miss Season.

Ian Kahn (“George Washington”) and Owain Yeoman (“Benedict Arnold”) at the New York Historical Society

This Don’t-miss season of Turn: Washington’s Spies starts Monday April 25th at 10pm on AMC.

Sitting down with “Everybody Wants Some!!” stars J. Quinton Johnson, Glen Powell and Wyatt Russell


Described by its writer/director, Richard Linklater, as a “spiritual sequel” to his popular 1970’s set film Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! follows the fun times being had by a small college baseball team in 1980. To promote the film, co-stars J. Quinton Johnson, Glen Powell and Wyatt Russell sat down with me at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre in Kansas City. Johnson enters the room in full voice, performing a song he literally just wrote. Powell, the most outgoing of the group, sits between the other two, eager to chat. Russell, a former hockey player and the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn (he has his dad’s eyes) busies himself with his phone. And so we begin:

Mike Smith: What was it like going back in time to 1980?

Glen Powell: It was a transitional time and everything. Clothing. Presidents. Everything was kind of shifting and changing. Our relationship with the world was changing and I think this movies about guys who were shifting from either college to the real world or high school to college. And that shift not only in their world but in the world at large is what the film is about.

Wyatt Russell: So it’s AWESOME! [everyone laughs]. I mean we talked about the clothes and the hair and the music. I think everything was much sexier then I just love that era.

GP: Nowadays we have social media…smart phones… so when you go to parties today everyone has their phone out to show how good time they’re having. But in that era it’s like having a good time with these people right here.

WR: I’m at the Bieber concert!

J. Quinton Johnson

J. QUINTON JOHNSON: I’M AT THE BIEBER CONCERT!!!

[Note: Justin Bieber was in Kansas City the same week as the guys]

GP: And when we’re having a good time, we’re also athletes on the dance floor. Rick [director Richard Linklater] told us that back then athletes were peacockers, in every sense of the word. When I was an athlete, we were almost wallflowers. You go to practice and then you go home and do your thing. I mean these guys are drinking beer. Today it’s much more competitive.

JQJ: You’re not going to be out at the club.

WR: I played hockey. When I played in Europe it wasn’t a problem going out for a few drinks. But when I played in the states it was pretty rigid. Back then it wasn’t for a career you were going to make a lot of money and become a brand and sell a lot of clothes.

GP: Rick also talked about the body type of an athlete back then. Today everyone takes supplements…they’re all almost like Adonis, they’re all shredded. Back then Rick said we would’ve been in what you would call pretty good shape. I mean you are athletes but you just don’t look like one. It’s a different body type now.

MS: Was it easy to film the baseball scenes? I mean you all had participated in athletics before, right? Wyatt, you played hockey…

JQJ: I played basketball.

Glen Powell

GP: I played football. On the set we would have baseball practice every morning. We had a couple guys who had played professional ball. One had played for the A’s, and a couple of played in college. So those guys helped out the guys who might not have had that much baseball experience. We also had to do a skills video as part of our audition. I think Quinton had the most entertaining non-baseball video.

JQJ: I mean I was an athlete. I could catch a ball. I could throw a ball. But I wasn’t a baseball player and Rick knew that instantly. So what I did is I added more flair as an artist. Again I played basketball so I threw a dunk in there. And I kept trying to throw in more as a person. I was juggling. I had a shot of a dog running through the park, set to the tune of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town.”

GP: I was filming Ride Along 2 so I went to a batting cage and filmed mine. And then I just laid a bunch of 80s music on top of it. Mine wasn’t nearly as fun as yours.

Wyatt Russell

WR: I had like five minutes to do mine because I had a go somewhere. The casting director called me on Friday and said you have to have it in… By 5 o’clock… On Friday. It was a big festival going on and all my friends were out of town. I didn’t even have a baseball glove. So I ended up going to my brother’s house and had him film me using my seven-year-old nephew’s glove.

MS: The film is full of great 80’s music. Did you listen to any particular songs to get into the feel of the era?

GP: Yes. Rick gave each of us and iPod nano with 100 songs from 1979 and 1980 on it. And so were ever we went… whatever we did… we listened to the music. And if we are in his game room playing ping-pong we listened to the music. It was a big part of getting us in tune with the times.

Everybody Wants Some!! is now playing in select cities. For tickets, visit everybodywantssomemovie.com

LG Eyes Mainstream Adoption of Wearables With First Device Powered by Android Wear

“Glance-able” Interface of LG G Watch to Appeal to both Consumers and Developers

SEOUL, June 26, 2014 – With an eye on transforming wearable devices into more than just a conversation piece, LG Electronics (LG) today introduced the highly anticipated LG G Watch (http://goo.gl/Ie8TB0), one of the first devices powered by Android Wear™, Google’s new operating system which extends the Android platform to wearables. As a wrist wearable device featuring a button-less design, the G Watch will appeal to a mass audience with its simple minimalist design, quick and “glance-able” access to useful information and seamless connectivity with other Android devices, keeping users connected wherever, whenever.

“As one of the first to market with Android Wear, LG wanted to develop a product that functions as an essential companion device but most importantly, was simple to use,” said Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of the LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “We wanted a device that would be simple to learn and so intuitive that users wouldn’t even have to think about how to use its features. That’s what the LG G Watch is all about.”

“Watches powered by Android Wear aim to show you the right information and suggestions you need, right when you need them,” said Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps. “It’s been great to work with LG on the launch of the G Watch ? especially given its simple, easy-to-use design.”

At the core of the LG G Watch is a powerful and energy-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 400 processor clocking in at 1.2GHz. Paired with a low power consuming Always-On 1.65-inch IPS display with true-to-life color reproduction, the LG G Watch enhances the functionality of Android smartphones by providing quick access to useful information. The Always-On screen makes it easy to tell the time with a quick glance. Connected via Bluetooth, the LG G Watch displays messages, shows who’s calling, controls music playback and more without the smartphone ever having to be removed from a pocket or bag.

Integral to the LG G Watch and Android Wear is a simple new user experience designed around cards, which provides useful information when it’s needed, and voice recognition which allows one to ask questions and get things done easily. With voice recognition, LG was free to design the LG G Watch without any buttons or keys. Users can send text messages and search for useful information just by saying, “Ok Google”. LG and Google worked closely together from the outset to design a truly integrated experience.

The LG G Watch combines form and function in a subtle, minimalist design with an intuitive touch-based user interface. And with an Ingress Protection rating of IP67, the LG G Watch is designed to be protected from dust and water resistant for up to 30 minutes to a depth of one meter. The LG G Watch will be available in two colors ? Black Titan and White Gold ? and is constructed of PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coated stainless steel with a rugged silicone wristband in matching color. The LG G Watch can be personalized with any standard 22mm strap available in the market.

The LG G Watch will be available for pre-order on the Google Play Store starting June 25 in 12 countries including key markets such as the United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea and Japan. The LG G Watch will also be available soon after at retailers in 27 markets such as Australia, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Russia. Additional details will be announced locally at the time of availability.

Key Specifications:
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 400 processor
Display: 1.65-inch LCD IPS (280 x 280)
Memory: 4GB eMMC / 512MB RAM
Battery: 400mAh
Operating System: Android Wear
(compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 and above)
Size: 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95mm
Weight: 63g
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0
Sensors: 9-Axis (Gyro / Accelerometer / Compass)
Color: White Gold/ Black Titan
Others: Dust and Water Resistant (IP67)

Movie Mike to Host 35mm Screening of “Jaws”

Long time readers of MediaMikes.com know that the Mike’s love the movie “Jaws.” So when an opportunity came up in Kansas City to host a 35mm presentation of the Steven Spielberg classic, the people at the Alamo Drafthouse knew where to turn.

Mike Smith will host the special “late show” screening of “Jaws” on Saturday, July 5, at the Alamo Drafthouse Kansas City. The show will start at 10:30 p.m. Prior to the screening Smith will have on display some of his extensive collection of “Jaws” memorabilia. MovieMike and Loaf will also be interviewing fans of the film for an upcoming BEHIND THE MIKES Podcast, which is recorded live each week at the Alamo.

For tickets and more information, go to: http://drafthouse.com/movies/the_late_show_jaws/kansas_city

 

Related Content

Mimoco® Announces Star Wars x MimoPowerBot™ Line of Universal Backup Battery Chargers for Smartphones and Tablet Devices

(New York – June 25, 2014) – At CE Week 2014 (Booth #169 in the iLounge), Mimoco, the Boston-based consumer electronics design studio, is proud to announce the Star Wars x MimoPowerBot™ line of backup batteries for smartphones, tablets, and other 5V USB-powered devices.

MimoPowerBot is Mimoco’s newest tech’cessory, originally hatched on Kickstarter where fans were invited to preorder the product concept expanding upon Mimoco’s character-based spin on designer electronic accessories.

Renowned for the MIMOBOT® collection of designer USB flash drives and eight Star Wars x MIMOBOT series, yielding more than 30 different stylized Star Wars characters in the form meets function electronic line, Mimoco’s newest crossover collaboration with Lucas Licensing continues the trend of pioneering licensed electronics.

The Star Wars x MimoPowerBot line kicks off with a pair of fan-favorite characters: the loveable droid, R2-D2; and the Empire’s own Sith lord, Darth Vader.

Both Star Wars x MimoPowerBot styles will be powered with a 5200mAh capacity lithium-ion battery with a 2.1A output for fast universal charging of tablets, smartphones, and other 5V USB-powered devices. The MimoPowerBot can charge a smartphone up to 3 times on a single charge and will serve as a trusty companion on long intergalactic trips to keep one’s device powered up while on-the-go.

In addition to the Star Wars crossover products, Mimoco is also showcasing at their CE Week booth their original Bloohvian and Animobotz designs, as well as the Adventure Time x MimoPowerBot collection. The full MimoPowerBot line will ship in time for holiday 2014, alongside the currently available MimoPowerTube assortment also on display in the Mimoco booth.

For more info, please visit Mimoco.com and prelaunch.com where Mimoco is currently accepting preorders for the new Star Wars x MimoPowerBot line.

If you want to pre-order these, click below:

Darth Vader: http://goo.gl/VmsRdK

 

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