Saying Goodbye to the Middle

 

I don’t watch a lot of television.  Not because I don’t want to.  I just don’t have the time.  I do have some shows that I try to watch each week (thank you DVR), like “Family GuyFamily Guy” and “Brockmire” and “Modern Family,” shows I really enjoy.  Last year my wife and I binge-watched all of “Breaking Bad” over a 6 week period and loved it.  We’ve also gone through three seasons of “Better Call Saul,” which we also binged, and are waiting impatiently for AMC to announce when season four starts.   These last two shows we really enjoyed, but watching them over so short a period you don’t really grow up with them.  This was not true of our relationship with the Heck family, the stars of “the Middle.”

The story of Mike (Neil Flynn) and Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton) and their three children – Axl, Sue and Brick – “the Middle” was an amazing look into middle class life in middle-America.  Set in Indiana, the show gave an honest look into a family where mom is well intended, dad loves watching his football and each of the kids have their own distinct possibilities.

For nine seasons we watched as Axl (Charlie McDermott) went from cool and confident high school football star to slightly less cool and confident college football player to a young man setting out on his own in the world.  Meanwhile, the always optimistic Sue (Eden Sher) was always cheerful, no matter what life put in front of her.  And then there was Brick (Atticus Shaffer), publicly awkward but an avid reader and someone who never seemed to let the little things life threw at him keep him down, like having to sit in a lawn chair at the dinner table because the dining set only came with four chairs.  As well acted as these roles were, and as well written as the show was, I was shocked to learn that it had only been nominated for ONE EMMY AWARD – for makeup!!!  Hopefully in this last season Emmy voters will realize they’ve lost a classic and honor the show.

(l-f) Heaton, Flynn, McDermott, Sher and Shaffer

We followed the Hecks from highs and lows, through ups and downs, and we felt with them because they underwent pretty much everything every family goes through at one time.  And they usually solved the problem with one word: love.  Despite the unusual reactions to sometimes simple things, each episode would end with an affirmation of the family’s love for each other.  This gave the viewer an emotional bond and I’m not ashamed to say that both my wife and I were crying at the end of the show’s final episode.  We will miss out regular Tuesday night meeting with the Hecks but we won’t forget them.  How can we?  They’re family.

 

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It’s Time to “Answer That Question, or Take the Physical Challenge,” As Nickelodeon Brings Back “Double Dare” in Brand-New Series!

Double Dare Returns This Summer for a New Generation of Trivia, Stunts, Wringers, Hamster Wheels and Nose Picking

BURBANK, Calif.–April 25, 2018–Nickelodeon is bringing back the original kids’ game show Double Dare this summer with 40 brand-new episodes, giving a new generation of fans the chance to compete in the messiest and most physically challenging competition of their lives. With Double Dare remaining an iconic touchstone for its original millennial audiences, the new version will feature the gameplay and challenges they remember, as well as appearances from blasts from the past and stars from today.

Double Dare features two teams competing to win prizes by answering brain-bending trivia questions, completing messy, physical stunts and ultimately facing the infamous obstacle course–the human hamster wheel; the classic gigantic mouth; the wringer; and the iconic Double Dare nose.

Double Dare premiered on Oct. 6, 1986, on Nickelodeon, and ran from 1986-1993, making it the network’s longest running game show. Shortly after its debut, Double Dare became one of the most popular original daily programs on cable television. The series went into syndication in 1988, and was later revamped as Super Sloppy Double Dare in 1989. The show also ran on broadcast television as Family Double Dare in 1988, followed by new versions on Nick, including Double Dare 2000.

About Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon, now in its 39th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 90 million households and has been the number-one-rated kids’ basic cable network for 22 consecutive years.

 

 

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CINCO DE MARIO: The Countdown is on -One Month Until Cinco de Mayo, as MARIO LOPEZ Announces His Newest Endeavor

Mario Lopez expands his brand across the US, one weekend at a time.

LOS ANGELES (April 5, 2018) – As the Cinco de Mayo countdown begins, Entrepreneur, Emmy® Award-winning host of nationally syndicated “Extra” and the nationally syndicated iHeartMedia radio show “On with Mario Lopez”, will bring a new kind of fiesta, “Cinco de Mario” to a city near you.  Cinco de Mario will feature authentic Mexican food and drinks, margaritas, micheladas, craft beers and more.  Lopez is known for his fun-filled, contagious energy and it’s no secret that he loves his Mexican heritage.

Lopez has partnered with Rick Phillips of RND events to launch Cinco de Mario nationwide. “Rick is the best in the business and I know with Rick, these events will be stellar,” says Lopez.

Rick’s Arizona Taco Festival was the first taco festival ever organized. Today, the event has grown into a two-day spectacle with over 40,000 people attending, and over 60 restaurants competing.  It also includes a wildly popular tequila expo that’s viewed by tequila companies as a premier collection of 100 top brands. Out of the gate, this was the most successful inaugural event ever produced in Scottsdale, AZ. “People love a fiesta and Mario knows how to party.”  Said Rick.

Lopez loves his heritage and continues to seek out authentic products to bring to the market place.  Most recently he joined forces with Oscar de La Hoya to bring Casa Mexico Tequila to the forefront.  Cinco de Mario represents the best Lopez has to offer.  “I’m all about working hard and playing hard.  If you know me, you know that good food, drinks, music, friends and family are what I have always been about.  I’m just bringing them together in one spectacular traveling event.”

The Cinco de Mario Tour

Starting in Scottsdale, where the Lopez-branded event debuts, Cinco de Mario will take Lopez’s team and his brand nationwide, stopping at select cities along the way.  Lopez adds, “We plan on expanding the brand across the nation, in places from Los Angeles, California to various cities throughout Ohio, Texas, Florida and more to start.  Now is the perfect time to showcase the positivity and glory of Mexican heritage throughout the U.S. and the world.”

Fiesta time!

Come get your feast on!  Cinco De Mario will have culinary offerings that range from food trucks to resort chefs dishing out tacos, tamales, and other gourmet Mexican fare.  Other features include an authentic Mexican Mercado, fabulous Mexican bands, Mariachi, Ceviche Bars and more.

www.cincodemario.com

Mario Lopez

Mario Lopez continues as host of “Extra,” the Emmy® Award-winning entertainment news program, for the show’s 24th season. This will be Lopez’s tenth consecutive season as the show’s host, after co-hosting “Extra’s” weekend edition since January 2007.

A man of many trades, Mario Lopez has the overwhelming desire to always keep active. Mario is the two-time Emmy-winning host of “Extra” a nationally syndicated daily entertainment show. Concurrently, Lopez is the host of the nationwide iHeartMedia radio shows “On with Mario Lopez” and “iHeartRadio Countdown with Mario Lopez.” Lopez has also launched a YouTube channel called “The Lopez Family.” Created alongside Awestruck, the channel features his wife Courtney, their two children, and their two dogs. He can currently be seen as the host of the new CBS live-action game show “Candy Crush,” based on the popular mobile game.

Not only does Lopez have a proclivity for the entertainment industry, he is also an avid sports fan. He has taken his love of sports, specifically boxing, to the next level as a host of the iHeartRadio podcast “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” which is also featured on the FOX Sports Radio website.

In September 2014, Lopez released his first autobiography, “Just Between Us.” In his memoir, Lopez shares his successes and disappointments, never before-told stories and family values. Lopez became a New York Times best-selling author with his healthy eating guide “Extra Lean.” In May 2011, he released the follow-up to “Extra Lean,” entitled “Extra Lean Family.” This new book featured recipes and tips beneficial to the entire family. Additionally, Lopez penned “Mario Lopez’s Knockout Fitness,” a best-selling fitness book that offers readers a look into his impressive workout regime; “Mud Tacos,” a vibrant children’s book he co-authored with his sister Marissa; and “Mario & Baby Gia,” a children’s book he wrote for his daughter Gia. “Mario & Baby Gia” is currently being developed into an animated series.

No stranger to rigorous routines, Lopez danced his way to the finals in the third season of ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars.” Shortly after, in summer 2009, Lopez successfully completed his first run on Broadway, starring in the long-running hit musical “A Chorus Line” as the beloved character Zach.

Mario was named the Alumni Ambassador of Fitness by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), joining the ranks of some 25 other prominent alumni, including Denzel Washington and former President Bill Clinton in the organization’s BE GREAT campaign. Via the campaign, Mario helps bring to light the major issues affecting today’s young people, including the importance of graduating from high school and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the key role community-based organizations like BGCA play in the positive development of children.

Even with all his other ventures, Mario is still in love with acting. Lopez appeared as Dr. Mike Hamoui on eight episodes of F/X network’s popular show “Nip/Tuck,” Lopez’s run on the series bringing an instant and well-deserved cult following. He previously starred in the highest-rated program in ABC Family history, “Holiday in Handcuffs.” He also starred opposite Mark Consuelos in the made-for-TV movie “Husband for Hire,” the most-watched program ever on the Oxygen Network.

Mario currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Courtney, their daughter Gia, and their son Dominic.

 

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NBC’s “Blindspot” Goes Global at NYCC

NBC’s hit show Blindspot returned this week for its third season. The second season finale certainly raised the stakes for this year by launching the story a full two years ahead, scattering the show’s main characters across the globe, and increasing the mysteries of the missing timeline. Not to mention a whole new set of glowing tattoos for main character Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) to unlock. In case you missed it, the premiere certainly rose to the challenge set down by that cliffhanger. Friday night’s “Back to the Grind” featured no less than a wedding, a knife fight and a boat chase through Venice while reintroducing Jane’s nemesis brother, Roman (Luke Mitchell).

I spoke to the show’s cast and creator recently at New York Comic Con about what to expect for this new season. If you head on over to the Media Mikes Facebook page you can check out the full video interviews (don’t forget to give us a “Like” while you’re there!)

For Jaimie Alexander, Jane Doe’s new set of tattoos were a complete surprise. “I get to the end of the script,” said Alexander, who hadn’t read ahead, “and I was like ‘What!? More? I have more?!'” As seen on “Back to the Grind” one new tattoo already had Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza) on edge, which is right in line with Roman’s schemes. “These tattoos are not only about Roman’s end goal…” said creator and executive producer, Martin Gero “but also exposing truths within the team.” Luke Mitchell was excited to take on the role of The Big Bad saying “it’s nerve-wracking and feels like a lot of responsibility.”

It’s not all about the big bad though, as Gero and crew emphasized the James Bond-like nature this new year is bringing. “The world is kind of a scary place right now and we could all use a little escape,” Gero said, “And the show–the show can be scary and serious at times, but it was really important for us this year to have a lot more fun. To bend towards more of a kind of Bond model. The show is very international this year. We shot a big part of the premiere in Italy and we’re shooting in Australia, in Barcelona, all over Africa. So like the show’s going to have a scope the likes of which you’ve never seen, I think, on a network television show before. But then on top of that it’s also just more fun. the show is a lot of fun this year. And we hope it’ll be kind of addictive and great.”

Adding to the fun is the return of fan favorite character Rich Dotcom (Ennis Esmer), who is now working on the good side, though annoying the team all the while. Esmer, who’d appeared twice last season says his return was “a complete surprise.” He joked “It still feels like someone made a mistake at some point.”

Blindspot airs Friday nights at 8pm on NBC

Full interviews are viewable on our Facebook page:
Jaimie Alexander & Luke Mitchell
Audrey Esparza & Ashley Johnson
Sullivan Stapleton & Rob Brown
Ennis Esmer & Martin Gero

Amazon Prime ‘Activates’ The Tick and Lore at NYCC

Fans looking to escape the crowded New York Comic Con show floor this past weekend were taken care of by a pair of immersive ‘activations’ presented by Amazon Prime. On site at the Jacob Javits Center, the streaming service introduced two of its newest series, The Tick and Lore, in style. I was fortunate enough to spend time exploring both experiences with some friends over the course of the con weekend and needless to say, they got me hyped to check out the shows.

My first stop was The Tick’s massive Dangerboat installation on the upper level of the con. Dangerboat is not just the headquarters to the Tick’s nemesis, Overkill, but also has a sentient artificial intelligence all its own (on the show he’s played by geek icon Alan Tudyk). In keeping with that, NYCC’s Dangerboat was also talking and fully sentient and began immediately interacting with my crew when we boarded.

Both of Amazon’s experiences were connected to an RFID wrist tag that we registered before entering. In Dangerboat the tag was used to print out our custom Aegis database ID as well as getting our own tin of FO HAM. Thankfully the tin actually contained “NEAT!” Tick pins and not canned meat. Dangerboat concluded with a fun green screen video op that with yet another swipe of wrist tags was emailed or posted wherever we chose. All told, Dangerboat took my group about a half hour to fully interact with due to the level of options on the various screens, not to mention the funny rapport we developed with a sentient boat(!) which was pretty incredible as far as con setups go. Whomever was the mind behind Dangerboat certainly captured the humor and spirit of the show itself and provided some of the best laughs of the weekend.

About The Prime Exclusive Series, The Tick:
“Bursting with scabrous original storylines that turn on a dime, The Tick is a comedy with kinetic action, a wryly inventive visual style and crisply quotable dialogue. Heroes have flown among us for decades but mild-mannered accountant Arthur Everest (GRIFFIN NEWMAN) one day finds out there are also genuine bad guys in this new Amazon Original Series. He believes he has proof that The City, where he was born and raised, is actually controlled by a global super-villain known as the Terror (JACKIE EARLE HALEY). Destiny soon brings Arthur together with an eccentric, tall, blue-suited muscleman with a mysterious past and list of superpowers: The Tick (PETER SERAFINOWICZ). The title character serves as both the conscience and the unchecked id of the story. Citing the call of destiny, the Tick procures for Arthur a moth outfit with retractable wings and insists that he suit up as his sidekick. He and Arthur are the ultimate odd couple, but may just bring out the best in each other. In their quest to take back The City, the unlikely pair of heroes quickly sees just how complex the struggle between good and evil has become.”
The Tick returns to Amazon on February 23rd 2018

Descending down a level into the Museum of Lore was yet another unique RFID experience and definitely welcome this Halloween month. Based on the hit podcast, Lore sets out to retell the true life macabre stories that inspire some of horror’s most notorious tropes. In a series of interactive rooms, my group tromped through haunted dolls, magical mirrors and werewolves as presented by a trio of delightfully over the top actors. Utilizing our RFID bands, we were rewarded with messages from The Other Side and a cool photo souvenir over a pretty twisted werewolf buffet….

About The Prime Exclusive Series, Lore:
“Sometimes the scariest stories are true. Lore is based on the global, award-winning podcast sensation from creator Aaron Mahnke, and executive produced by Ben Silverman (The Office), Howard T. Owens (The Biggest Loser), Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), Brett-Patrick Jenkins (Face Off), Glen Morgan (X-Files), Jon Halperin and Mark Mannucci (A Year in Space). Lore brings the podcast to life and tells the real life origin stories that have led to our modern day myths and legends, including vampires, changelings, werewolves, séances and possessed dolls.”
Lore is fittingly debuting on Friday October 13th.

 

 

NASCAR Racing returning to NBC on Saturday, July 1st at 7 p.m. EST from Daytona International Speedway | NBC’s Sports Food Trucks in the Orlando-Daytona area THIS WEEK!

In celebration of NASCAR Racing’s returning to NBC on Saturday, July 1st at 7 p.m. EST from Daytona International Speedway, NBC’s Sports Food Trucks will be making several stops in the Orlando-Daytona area THIS THURSDAY, JUNE 29th– SATURDAY, JULY 1st !

We invite you to come out and enjoy the different food themes inspired by your favorite NASCAR drivers! NASCAR fans of all ages will enjoy the NBC Race Flag Chips Truck, NASCAR on NBC Go-Go Snow Cones Truck, and NASCAR on NBC Racecar-B-Q Truck. There will also be opportunities for attendees to participate in activities, games, and enter-to-win prizes. Below is the list of stops the food trucks will be located throughout Thursday, June 29 – Saturday, July 1st.

Thursday, June 29

6 – 7:30 p.m. ET – New Smyrna Speedway (3939 State Road 44 West New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168)

Friday, June 30

Noon – 4 p.m. ET – Oceanfront Park / Daytona Beach Bandshell (70 Boardwalk, Daytona Beach, FL 32118)

8-10 p.m. ET – Dirty Harry’s (705 Main St Daytona Beach, FL 32118)

Saturday, July 1

Noon – 2 p.m. ET – Daytona Flea Classic Car Show (1425 Tomoka Farms Rd, Daytona Beach, FL 32124)

5 – 7 p.m. ET – Daytona Beach Brewing Company’s 3 Year Anniversary Party (482 Fentress Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114)

 

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New Netflix Original Series inspired by the music of the Beatles, “Beat Bugs” Airing Now!

 Netflix has been known for their original series content. They have come up with some truly amazing shows like “Marvel’s Daredevil” or “Orange is the New Black”. One of their latest their latest though is aimed at a slightly younger audience yet has stolen the hearts of the entire family. The new preschool-targeted animated children’s show is called “Beat Bugs”, it is a Netflix Original Series inspired by the music of the Beatles. That’s right the Beatles. Each episode is specifically titled after a song and it also re-recorded and sang throughout the episode. I cannot recommend this show any more! Fun for the whole family!

This show follows five friendly, child-like bugs that learn big lessons about the world around them, all from the safety of their own backyard. There is no shortage of talent either, this Emmy Award-winning series features the talents of P!nk, Sia, Eddie Vedder, James Corden as well as other big-name stars who cover the Beatles songs in each episode. The main reason why “Beat Bugs” is so important because it introduces a whole new generation to one of the most influential band in rock history (and my favorite), The Beatles.

I have a five year old daughter and she doesn’t like The Beatles…she LOVES them! From the moment she was born literally, we had Beatles lullabies playing in the hospital and flash forward five years, she is gearing up to see Paul McCartney live in concert this Summer! She is non-stop singing their songs. So when I introduced this show to her and the she heard the theme song “All You Need is Love” kick off, her eyes lit up…let’s just say that it took literally six episodes before we could get her away from the TV!

Netflix really has a huge hit on their hands here and I know that there is lots more planned for this show in the future with cool consumer products outside of the episodes. If you want to find out more about this show please check it out via the following links: Official WebsiteNetflix Page. Stay tuned also to MediaMikes.com as we will be covering this show with all their excited new products coming out this Summer.

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide

Chris Gethard is a multi-talented comedian and actor (Don’t Think Twice, “Broad City”) who’s worked extensively in NYC’s improv scene at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater as well as having his own successful public access show, aptly titled “The Chris Gethard Show”. This weekend Gethard premiered a much more personal type of special on HBO with Chris Gethard: Career Suicide. In this touching, and darkly hilarious special, Chris uses comedy to detail his lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety including his brushes with suicide. The show held a special screening and talk-back at New York’s Tribeca Film Fest, featuring Chris, fellow comedian Pete Holmes (HBO’s “Crashing”), and moderator Ira Glass (NPR’s “This American Life”). I spoke with them on the red carpet about the development of the show and using comedy to cope with more difficult issues.

Besides hosting NPR’s “This American Life” podcast (which Gethard has appeared on), Ira Glass produced Don’t Think Twice.

Lauren Damon: Working with Chris on Don’t Think Twice, did you see the development of his show at all?

Ira Glass

Ira Glass: I mean, it’s funny, Don’t Think Twice…Chris is such an amazing actor. He’s so for-real in Don’t Think Twice, and that character does have a lot of overlap with who he is in real life. And who he is in this special. My main thing with the special is I’ve seen him develop it. I saw like a super early version in the basement in Union Hall, and then saw when it was up on stage. So I’m really curious how it translates to video.

LD: With the heavier themes, I feel like we have a need for that in comedy because things seem sort of dire in general…

Glass: It’s true…But I feel like the whole trend in comedy has been comedians getting super real about stuff that’s going on, you know. And I feel like when you look at the people…who are doing the most work right now, it’s like Louis CK and Tig Notaro and Mike Birbiglia, Aziz [Ansari]…You know that’s people talking about stuff that’s pretty real. Which I like because I like a real story. I think when somebody can tell a story that’s super funny but also is really a real thing, and emotional, it’s just like what could be more entertaining? That’s everything a person could want.

LD: That’s basically the best episodes of “This American Life”…

Glass: On a good day, yeah. On a good day. The formula on “This American Life” is we want it to be really funny, with a lot of plot at the beginning, then it will get kind of sad and sort of wistful at the end, then like throw a little music under it, you’re done!

In Don’t Think Twice, Gethard played Bill, a comedian coping with a hospitalized father on top of dealing with general anxieties of where he fits into his shifting improv group.

LD: In Don’t Think Twice, your character did a lot of the heavy emotional lifting, was your show already developing kind of around that time?

Chris Gethard: It’s funny because [Don’t Think Twice director] Mike Birbiglia was the one who kind of threw down the gauntlet and said ‘You should do a show about this side of yourself.’ I would talk about it to a degree in my work, but he was the one who was like ‘You got something here, go for it.’ So the experience of Don’t Think Twice and this show kind of went hand in hand. I was opening for Mike on the road, he developed the film on the road [and] during that process is when he really said ‘You should really go for it, I promise you, give it a shot.’ Really the first time I attempted the show was in an effort to sort of prove Birbiglia wrong and say like I don’t know if people are going to laugh at this. But I have learned never to doubt Mike. And those things really did dovetail nicely and springboard off of each other.

Chris Gethard

LD: How did Mike respond to it?

Gethard: Oh he’s been so supportive and I think he was–he also, as far as these off Broadway shows that are kind of comedy but that go serious, I think he really has helped pioneer that in the past few years. So I think he was very proud and flattered. I always give him a lot of credit as far as walking in his footsteps. So I think he was very psyched that I went for it. i think he also had a little bit of glee that his instincts were correct and mine were not. So thank god for that.

Pete Holmes had his own hilarious HBO comedy special (Faces and Sounds) as well as starring in their series, “Crashing”

LD: How do you know Chris?

Pete Holmes: It’s funny, I thought more people would ask, but here we are at the end of the line and you’re only the second person to ask, so it’s still fresh! It’s still a fresh answer. I was a fan of Chris, I would see him at UCB –actually not far from here, right around the corner. And then I took improv classes at UCB and Chris was actually my level 3 teacher because I had heard that he was so wonderful. And he was. I actually think Chris likes to downplay what a wonderful improv teacher he is because obviously he loves to perform more. But it’s almost a shame that we can’t clone him, because he’s such a great improv teacher.

LD: Your stand-up is a lot more silly and irreverent in contrast to the work Chris is doing in this special and I love that there’s space for both

Holmes: That’s nice, there is space for both! And I really love this show. It’s not the sort of stand-up I do but I also on my podcast [“You Made it Weird”] love to get very deep and weird and uncomfortable so I love seeing it in the live version with the laughs.

Pete Holmes

LD: On “You Made it Weird”, have you had any especially surprising guests?

Holmes: That happens all the time actually. For example The Lucas Brothers, the twin guys from 21 Jump Street movie…I [didn’t] know them that well either and they’re kind of low energy [in the film] and then they came on and were like the most high-energy, introspective, eloquent amazing guests. And you know, I didn’t really know them that well. So one of the things that I love about the podcast is that happens over and over. Your expectations just get completely blown out of the water.

The better answer would be Aaron Rogers, the quarterback for the Greenbay Packers…I didn’t know him either, but here comes a quarterback. And J.J. Redick who’s a basketball player just did it. And whenever these athletes come on and just kill it just as hard as the comedians, it makes me happy.

LD: With Chris being your teacher and then you had an HBO special and series first, is that kind of funny to you?

Pete Holmes: [laughs] I beat my teacher! It’s so funny, Chris and I had another thing where I did a talk show for Conan–he talked to me about this on his episode of my podcast. [Chris] was like when they gave you the talk show after Conan–which lasted about a year–he was like they were talking to me about [doing it] Like we’ve been competing in ways we didn’t even know! So I’m happy that now we’ve both landed at HBO, it’s not one or the other, but we can both be here. [laughs]

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide is now available on HBO, HBO Now & HBOGo

 

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TFF 2017: Executive Producers of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

“The Handmaid’s Tale”, Hulu’s stunning adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel held its premiere screening at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival as part of their Tribeca TV series. The series follows Elisabeth Moss’s “Offred,” one of many handmaids forced to serve a man in a dystopic American society where a wave of infertility has caused women to be stripped of their rights and utilized strictly for reproduction. The series debuted its first three episodes on Hulu on April 26th, with new episodes available every Wednesday. I spoke with the executive producer and showrunner of this brutal and hopefully not too prescient series.

What kind of freedom did you find adapting this novel into a streaming series rather than a regular tv show or film?

Executive Producer, Warren Littlefield: Well look, it’s not network television. Margaret Atwood’s vision, that she created in her book 32 years ago, was a dark dystopian world. And Bruce Miller adapted that and it’s a powerful, dark and very disturbing world and our partners at Hulu did not limit us in what we were able to do. In language, in action and physicality, in sexuality, in brutality. We were able to deliver the message that we wanted to deliver. I think it’s a thriller, I think it’s entertaining but it’s pretty damn powerful, so fasten your seatbelt.

Showrunner and writer, Bruce Miller: I haven’t worked in film very much at all. Almost all my work has been in tv which is much more fun because you could have stories that go on forever. But working in a streaming service, you get the great benefit of not having to have a show that’s forty-two minutes and twenty-two seconds long, but it can be longer or shorter. Which, more than you know, throws the audience off. They don’t know what’s gonna happen when you don’t know how much is left! It could end five minutes from now or fifteen minutes from now and that makes all the difference.

Were you very familiar with the novel before you worked on it?

Miller: There’s a novel?! [Laughs] Yeah I read the book when I was in college, in a ‘New Fiction’ class–which shows you how long ago I was in college. I loved it and I read it a whole bunch of times, completely on my own just as–I was interested in it. So I wasn’t thinking about it in terms of turning it into a television show. And then when I started to get more into writing tv and my career took off, I probably looked at it more in that way. But when I heard they were making a tv show, I was excited because I would get to watch it! Not because I was going to be making it. And then over the years, the show didn’t come out and there were reasons and this and that and you know, I ended up, despite my gender, getting the job. And it was wonderful after having been so familiar with the book but also having been familiar with it in a lot of different time periods. Because it kind of was perennially relevant. Every time I read it seemed like ‘wow this is just the time!’ to read it.

Especially this election year, where it seemed like assailing women’s rights was just a common trend…

Miller: It’s a hobby!

At which point when you were filming, did you realize what a hot topic you were handling?

Miller: I wrote the first few episodes before the election season started and then we were writing all the way through the debates and the election. And then we were shooting you know, in the middle…when Trump was elected president, we were shooting then. It was interesting, we were in Canada, so we had a little bit of a different perspective…But that was all very interesting. I don’t know–I’m sure subconsciously or unconsciously it changes the way you shoot things. But we were just trying to be gutsy. You know when you’re working from a book that showed so much bravery to write in the first place, you don’t want to be the wimp that turns it into a safe tv show. You want to be as bold as Margaret Atwood was. And so it just reinforced that idea that we should continue to be bold because its an important story we’re telling. But really, in a lot of ways like I said, I’m a writer, I’m in the question business, not the answer business. I’m just trying to put interesting questions out there, that doesn’t really change. I mean I certainly saw the relevance and certainly we went from saying ‘oh my gosh’ to ‘we better not screw this up!’ But I don’t know that anybody changed their story tact. I think we just became a lot more comfortable with what we had decided to do.

Littlefield: I think like the character of Offred, who is a fighter, that was our intention. We always felt a lot of pressure to live up to Margaret’s vision because it’s such a strong vision. And I think when we woke up in November in the middle of production, we were like ‘we better not screw this up!’ like…oh my god. But I think we were kind of fueled by [saying] ‘Alright, this is what we need to do.’ And I think the audience will be as well.

Streaming shows often come with binge-viewing, how do you feel about that approach?

Littlefield: Well, I kind of love what we’re doing. Hulu is presenting on the 26th of April, the first three hours, so you engage in a big way. And then each week, they’ll roll out an additional one. And so, I think that that also is really good because you want time. You may want to watch it again and it’s best I think in smaller doses, because it’s complex. I mean the world of television allows you to do complex characters and a complex narrative and we embrace it.

Can you discuss casting Elisabeth Moss in the main role?

Miller: Elisabeth Moss is astonishing in this. I’ve been a fan of hers forever. She has just such a range of skills and I can’t imagine anybody else in this role. She was who I wanted to be in this role from the beginning. She has main circuit cable connecting her heart to her face that doesn’t have an off switch. So whatever she feels bubbles up. But it’s a really interesting role to play because she’s got all this stuff showing on her face that she doesn’t want anybody else in the room to see, but she wants you to see. The best thing about Liz is she likes to be challenged so I got to write stuff that I never would have written for anybody else because everything I wrote that was harder and harder and harder, she loved it! So we got to really push the boundaries of the skills of an actor.

Series star Elisabeth Moss was understandably pressed for time on the carpet, but offered this comment on acting out the defiance displayed by her character Offred:

Elisabeth Moss

“It was important to me, I mean that’s her whole story you know? That she’s so beaten down and torn apart, and has everything taken from her and just will not give up. And she’s so stubborn. And I think it goes up and down throughout the season, to me that defiance that I think we would all find in ourselves if we had to.”

The Handmaid’s Tale continues to add new episodes to Hulu every Wednesday and was already renewed for a second season in 2018.

 

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“Genius” Red Carpet at Tribeca Film Festival

Tonight marks the premiere of the National Geographic Channel’s first ever scripted series, Genius. From director Ron Howard, Genius follows the life of Albert Einstein as portrayed in his youth by English actor Johnny Flynn and later in life by Geoffrey Rush. The first episode screened this week at the Tribeca Film Festival as part of their Tribeca TV series. The pilot seamlessly time jumped between Flynn energetically fighting to become a physicist in his own right without the rigidity of his early school and the elder Einstein beginning to encounter the rise of Nazis later in life.

I got the chance to speak with some of the actors from the series at this red carpet New York screening about their characters and how working on the series changed how they see Albert Einstein.


English actress Samantha Colley portrays Mileva Maric, a physicist and Einstein’s first wife.

Lauren Damon: How much research did you put into playing Mileva?

Samantha Colley: Quite a lot. What I focused on was their personal letters–so the personal letters between Mileva Maric and Albert Einstein but also Mileva Maric and her best friend Helene Savic. When you google Mileva Maric you see these kind of black and white pictures of someone very [Colley stiffens her back] sitting erect on a chair. It’s kind of impenetrable and she seems very severe and harsh. But actually her letters reveal her to be very vulnerable, and loving and soft and riddled with self-doubt but deeply loyal. But it was the letters I focused on.

LD: How important do you think it is that you portray a female scientist, considering the general need for more women in STEM fields?

Colley: It’s enormously important! I mean Mileva Maric is an example of one of many many many women who have been snubbed by the scientific world and their works not being properly credited. There’s a school of thought that Mileva Maric was instrumental in some of Albert Einstein’s fundamental works and never cited. So using her as an example and shedding light on her is enormously important. And I hope it does inspire girls today to go ‘yeah that’s not going to happen to me, I’m not going to let that happen.’

LD: You share your scenes primarily with Johnny Flynn, how was he to work with?

Colley: Amazing. He was one of the most generous actors I’ve ever worked with and we had a real sense of play and trust early on and it was wonderful.

Richard Topol plays fellow scientist Fritz Haber, a man instrumental in the weaponization of poisonous gas in World War I.

LD: So you play Fritz Haber–dubbed the “Father of Chemical warfare”, a pretty daunting title, how much research did you do?

Richard Topol: I did as much as I could about what we know about him and I mean I had a lot of conversations with the writers and the directors and the producers about why would somebody do that? Right? …Like if you imagined living in a country that was at war with the countries all around it and you’re running out of ammunition. And if you ran out of ammunition, your country would be taken over, what would you do?

So to me, it was like he came up with an idea and his pitch was the same pitch that Einstein, you know that the Manhattan project and everybody who invented the atomic bomb came up with which is like ‘Look, we invent this thing, we show people how scary it is, use it once, it’ll never have to be used again.’ So that’s the way I thought about it that made it less daunting to me.

LD: Did you have any misconceptions about Einstein that working on this dispelled?

Topol: I didn’t really have any strong conceptions about him so they weren’t really dispelled. But I was like oh, I was excited to know that this guy was like a kid who never wanted to grow up. So I learned some fun things about him…Also I learned he had a really complicated personal life that I had no idea. And I think that’s one of the interesting things about the show: We know about his genius, we don’t know a lot about the personal and political problems that he had to face.


Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser appears in the premiere as an officious member of the US State Department 

LD: How much more did you learn about Einstein in working on this series?

Vincent Kartheiser: I mean I think you’ll hear from a lot of these people, he was a lot more of a scoundrel than anyone ever really–at least that I know–knew. And he was just kind of…he had this ability to lock out all things around him and just focus on the work. So you know, his kid could be slapping him on the leg and his wife could be hollering at him, and the dinner could be burning and he would just focus on the equation. And I think that’s really interesting in today’s world where there’s millions of distractions for all of us and we’re all constantly trying to figure out how to deal with it. He never had to battle with that. He was just always able to focus.

LD: How was working opposite Geoffrey Rush?

Kartheiser: It was wonderful. He’s such a giving actor, and he’s phenomenal. I mean, you’d be having a conversation and he’d be like [calmly] talking about the role, talking about the scene and then they’d go ACTION! And he’d just snap right into it. Just always exploring, always finding new things during the scene, and lots of fun.

LD: Were you also playing a scientist?

Kartheiser: No no, I was playing a person who works for the state department trying to clear his Visa so he could get into the United States…His visa wasn’t something that was just rushed through. I mean relative to today. These special visas…that have been in the news, you know that is these kind of people. Albert Einstein was someone who came in on a visa because of his talent, and his ability to teach, and his ability to give back to our community here in the states. So it’s a good example of how these kind of programs and the visa system works.

Genius begins tonight at 9 on the National Geographic Channel

A Conversation with “Life Interrupted” creator Steven Wishnoff

If you are a fan of 70s television, and the stars that made it so memorable, get ready for a new program, available on YouTube, called “Life Interrupted.” Created by Nick at Nite/TV Land veteran Steven Wishnoff, the show tells the story of former child actor Mason Bell, (Mason Reese) whose career peaked at the age of 10. Mason is turning 50 and nothing has turned out quite the way he expected. He lives in New York’s East Village in a rundown studio apartment over the equally run down bar he co-owns with his ex-wife, Ally (Alison Arngrim). Ally left Mason years ago to marry gallery owner Nina Woodworth (Erin Murphy). Adding to the fun is Mason’s former mother-in-law, and landlady, Annie Hughes (Dawn Wells), Nina’s mother Marnie (Michael Learned), Mason’s best friend Oliver the globe trotting rocker (Robbie Rist), a wise-cracking bar maid (Lindsay Heston), a studly dishwasher (Luis Lopez), Mason and Ally’s son, Junior (Robbie Allen) and a bar full of colorful friends. The show debuts February 14th, on YouTube.

Mike Smith: Give our readers a brief introduction to “Life Interrupted.”

Steven Wishnoff: Hmmm. ‘Life Interrupted” was created as a half hour comedy pilot that was shot in late 2015. We began with a Kickstarter campaign and shot it on a small budget. As frequently happens when you’re working with a limited budget, and (when you have) lots of friends doing lots of favors, it took us about a year to finish the show – and actually show it to the cast/crew privately. Soon after that, the decision was made to re-cut the show into a web series. The way the show was written and shot, that was a fairly easy (though time consuming) adjustment to make. And so, about two and a half years after I began writing it, the show that launches on Valentines Day 2017 came to be.

MS: What inspired you to create the show?

SW: I grew up an actor (in NY) doing musical theatre and, like most actors, I had a number of “survival jobs.’ So, while I was working on HBO’s first scripted drama’, “OZ,” I was also working for Nick at Nite and TV Land, writing and producing content in the early days of TV Networks embracing the internet. You see, as much as I loved musical theatre, I also loved television and was a bit of a walking encyclopedia of TV trivia. That kind of memory was really useful at Nick at Nite/TVLand. You have to remember, this was before Google. (laughs) Yes, I’m that old. Anyway, I was one of the online producers for the TV Land Awards. At that show we had former child-commercial actors Rodney Allen Rippey (Jack in the Box) and Mason Reese (Underwood Deviled Ham) making appearances. So I created a bit where we interviewed them together where they supposedly had an East-Coast/West Coast rivalry a la Biggie and Tupac. We had a lot of fun with it and as a result Mason and I became friends and stayed in touch over the years. It’s worth noting here that the TV Land Awards also featured Erin Murphy who played Tabitha Stephens on “Bewitched.” She and I had actually met a few years earlier in the 90’s along with her TV brother, David Mandel, who played Adam along with his twin Greg. Fast forward more than a decade … Mason and I were talking on the phone and he told me that he really wanted to “get back in front of the cameras”. He asked me, “what kind of show would I even do?” and my reply was, “I don’t know I haven’t written it yet.” At that point, a friend and I had recently finished a pilot called “The Legend & Me” which was intended for Marilu Henner and Charlene Tilton. So I got to work on a show with Mason in mind.

The goals for the show were:
-It needed to be something within Mason’s comfort zone. After all, it had been many years since he’d done anything scripted. In real life, Mason had either owned or invested in several bars over the years – and in fact he still was a partner in an East Village, NY bar when I started writing. So I made an East Village Bar a primary location. But then where to go? Well, Mason had been famous as a child actor. So his character was going to have been a formerly famous actor too. And then… Well
-It needed to be a story/plot that would ring true in the real world. Something contemporary, but still familiar enough to be comfortable for an audience. I didn’t want it be a series of one liners or just set-up/joke, set-up/joke. I wanted the humor and interest to come from who the characters are in the world they live in. And so I came up with something relatable – “What if you woke up at 50 and your life wasn’t anything like what you thought it would it be? How would you feel about it?”

And so I wrote the story of a man who had been a famous child actor, but whose life now leaves a little to be desired.

MS: I pretty much grew up with your cast. Just reading that Mason Reese, Robbie Rist, Erin Murphy, Dawn Wells and so many other people that I remember from my youth are involved in this project makes it pretty much, to paraphrase a common expression, “must watch TV” for me. How easy was it for you to get these actors to participate?

SW: Putting this cast together was actually easy… all I had to do was ask. You see, most of us know each other and are friends. Mason and I are friends. Alison Arngrim (who plays Mason’s ex-wife) and I are friends, Erin Murphy, who plays Alison’s wife, and I have known each other since the 90’s, and she, Alison, and others grew up in LA and have been acting their whole lives – and know each other/are friends. Mason and Robbie Rist are good friends and both are very into music (Robbie Rist and I wrote our theme song). I’d known Dawn Wells for a long time and actually produced her interview for The Archive of American Television. Her role (while loosely based and named for a real-life friend of mine) was written for Dawn – from the very beginning – and it is SO NOT Mary Ann! Michael Learned came to us through her publicist, B. Harlan Boll (who also represents Dawn, Alison and Erin – and is a dear friend of mine). I wrote Michael a letter asking her to read the script – and she called me within 48 hours to tell me she was in. Robbie Allen, who plays Mason and Alison’s son and I were in a short film together (as actors). He is a brilliant talent to watch – and if you look, he bears a striking resemblance to Alison. So for Mason (who is vertically challenged) to have a son who is 6’4″ is very funny. Brandon Cruz and Mason have been friends for years, and Brandon and I had worked together on TV Land Awards one year. The actors who play Julio (Luis Lopez) and Merri (Lindsay Heston) were people I knew and brought in. In fact if you look closely at the party scene, one of Alison and Erin’s friends in the bar is none other than Jeannie Russell (who was played Margaret in the original Dennis the Menace). And behind the scenes were even more friends.

MS: You’re a year older than I am so I’m pretty sure we watched a lot of the same television growing up. Do you have a particular favorite show from your youth?

SW: I had many favorite shows growing up. “Bewitched,” “The Donna Reed Show” (the inspiration for the opening sequence of “Life Interrupted”), “The Patty Duke Show,” “I Love Lucy,” and then later the entire block of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “The Carol Burnett Show (in fact, all muscial variety shows). I am fortunate to have grown up watching all of Garry Marshalls shows, and then the Norman Lear Shows (I LOVED “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and then “Fernwood 2Nite”). I love good TV.

MS: How long is “Life Interrupted” scheduled to run?

SW: We are rolling out with seven “webisodes” that make up the full pilot of the show.

Q: Are you working on anything else?

SW: I’m always working on several things at once. While I’m still acting, and singing (as often as I’m able) – I have another pilot finished, a one hour series that I’m in rewrites with and am almost done with a feature (a romantic comedy) that I’m particularly proud of. I’ve created a series of “Funny or Die” sketch style shorts for Jeremy Miller (another friend). And there is a stage play that I was originally writing for Patty Duke. Her passing hit pretty hard. I will come back to it at some point, just not right away.

For more information:

Grace Kaufman talks about her role on the CBS series “Man with a Plan”

Teen actress Grace Kaufman has appeared in a variety of television shows including “The Closer” “2 Broke Girls” and the “The Last Ship”. Graces newest role has her playing opposite Matt LeBlanc in the CBS hit comedy “Man with a Plan”. Media Mikes has the chance to speak with Grace recently about her role on the show and also about her new film “Brave New Jersey”.

Adam Lawton: Tell us about your role on “Man with a Plan” and how the role came about?

Grace Kaufman: I play Kate Burns on the show. She is a very fun role to play because not only does she have a little bit of sass along with some rebellious qualities but she also really loves her family. That’s where I feel I connect with the role. Kate can be disobedient but loving at the same time. I had heard about the role by going through the normal auditioning process. I got the script and immediately fell in the love with my character Kate. I knew she was definitely a role I wanted to play. After my first audition I received a call back and that’s when I met Matt LeBlanc for the first time. That was very exciting for me as I have always loved his work. I found out shortly after reading with him that I had gotten the role and I was just over the moon about it.

AL: Was the role fairly laid out when it was presented to you or were you allowed to develop certain traits
of the character on your own?

GK: There were definitely some parts of the character that were already set ahead of time but, I also brought in my own set of traits and personality to the character. I think that’s what makes things more natural. I was very grateful for the opportunity to do that I was able to explore the character of Kate and really get to know her as well.

AL: What has it been like working alongside Matt LeBlanc?

GK: When I first met Matt at the initial call back it was like meeting one of your idols. I loved him on “Friends” and I have enjoyed his other work as well. Matt is very talented and a brilliant actor. To be in the same room and read with him was such a cool experience. Just being there was very exciting. We did our read through and there was some notes they gave me for the next read and everything just went from there.

AL: The show recently got picked up for a full run. What do you feel makes “Man with a Plan” stand out from other family based comedies?

GK: I feel like the show is not only one that’s fun for the whole family to watch but one that every member can relate to. I feel like a lot of the situations that happen on the show are things that happen to real families. That’s what I think makes the show so special and enjoyable for families to sit down and watch together.

AL: Was this your first experience filming in-front of a live studio audience?

GK: I have done some guest starring roles on shows which film in front of live audiences so I had some experience with that going in to this show. This was my first show that I was a series regular on where there would be a live audience. Even though I had done guests spots before in similar settings it was still very exciting and a bit nerve racking. The more we work in-front of the audience the more I have been able to see that they are not there to judge us. They are there to support us and laugh with us. Knowing that has made me start to feel very comfortable in-front of them now.

AL: You also recently had a film premier at the Austin Film Festival. Can you tell us about that?

GK: The film is called “Brave New Jersey”. I filmed that about a year ago in Tennessee. It was a lot of fun as I had never been to that state before nor had I ever done a period piece. The film takes place in the late 1930’s on the night of Orson Wells “War of the Worlds” broadcast. It’s set in a small town in Lullaby, NJ which overhears the broadcast and assumes real aliens are in-fact invading. The premise is based around if you know you only have one night to live what would you do? Having never done something like this before it was a lot of fun and I got to work with some really great people that I learned a lot from.

AL: What are your plans for the coming year?

GK: We start filming “Man with a Plan” again in January so I have that to look forward to. I also have a role on the show “The Last Ship” which is on TNT that just got picked up for a fifth season. I start working on that in April. I have been working on that show for about four years now so I am very excited that we are coming back for another season. The cast and crew have become like a family to me there. It’s quite different than “Man with a Plan” but they are both special to me in different ways. Shooting this fifth season is going to be really great.

For more info on Grace and her projects you can check out her various social media accounts at @ImGraceKaufman

 

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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.

Win a copy of Time Life’s “The Wonder Years: The Complete Series”

In preparation for the upcoming “The Wonder Years: The Complete Series” DVD box set re-issue on August 23rd Media Mikes and Time Life would like to give fans of the show a chance to win a copy of the series for their very own. Please leave us a comment below or email us your favorite memory from the show. This give away will remain open until Wednesday, August 31st at 5pm, Eastern Time. One entry per-person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select a winner and notify them via email.

“THE WONDER YEARS: THE COMPLETE SERIES”

For six seasons, The Wonder Years captured the angst of growing up in suburban middle-class America in the late ’60s, as seen through the life and times of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage).
Audiences eagerly followed his evolution as a typical awkward teenager who remembered every moment of his transition from childhood with excruciating detail and remarkable hindsight. From his first kiss with Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) to his friendship with Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano) and the ups and downs of the Arnold family, fans shared in laughter, love, and loss, but above all, wonder.

This 22-DVD set contains all 115 episodes from the six seasons of this landmark series that aired from 1988 to 1993. Included in this specially-priced slipcase set are complete show notes with episode synopses, cast member reflections, “Current Events,” and more plus nearly 12 hours of bonus material, as well as an astounding soundtrack of over 300 classic period songs as they were featured in the original broadcasts featuring such artists as: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, and of course, Joe Cocker’s unforgettable theme.

BONUS FEATURES
• Highlights from the first cast reunion in 16 years
• Roundtable discussions with Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano
• 6 newly produced featurettes
• Farewell set tour
• One-hour ABC broadcast of the series finale
• Exclusive interviews with the show’s creators and cast including Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, Alley Mills, Dan Lauria, Olivia d’Abo, Jason Hervey, and more!

ABOUT THE WONDER YEARS
The Wonder Years debuted in 1988 following ABC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XXII, and the affectionate look at growing up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s in suburban America was unlike anything else on television. It was 1968 — the year of Nixon, space walks, Mod Squad, and Vietnam. Enter Kevin Arnold, a sixth grader at Kennedy Junior High School. Set against the suburban backdrop of Anytown, USA, Kevin sought to minimize his teenage angst while dealing with an older, noogie-happy brother Wayne (Jason Hervey), a rebellious sister, Karen (Olivia d’Abo), distant, workaholic father, Jack (Dan Lauria) and doting housewife mother, Norma (Alley Mills). Add to the mix Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano), his nerdy, allergy-riddled best friend, a potential love interest in winsome girl-next-door Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) and narration by an older, wiser, wittier Kevin (voiced by Daniel Stern) to add perspective to the nostalgia, and you have the perfect recipe for TV greatness.

The contest is now closed and the winner has been emailed.

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