Marina Sirtis reflects on the 25th Anniversary of “Star Trek:” The Next Generation”

Marina Sirtis is best known for playing Deanna Troi in “Star Trek:” The Next Generation”.  The show is celebration its 25th Anniversary this year.  Marina took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about reflects on her role on the show and what makes this show so timeless.

Mike Gencarelli: “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is celebrating its 25th anniversary, what is your most fondest memory looking back?
Marina Sirtis: The best memories all circulates around my fellow thespians. They were the best bunch of people I ever worked with and became family. We just hit it off from the get-go and they are still my best friends. That was honestly the best part of the job.

MG: You attend many “Star Trek” conventions, what do you enjoy most about meeting fans?
MS: The great thing about going cons is getting to meet you fans. I think we have a very symbiotic relationship with our fans. We get as much out of them as they get out of us. I can’t tell you how many time people would come up with me and say “I become a psychologist because of you” and that is just what a compliment. I am an actress and I just played this part. It was a job [laughs]. I could have ended up on “Law & Order”, you know what I mean? To have some such an impact on people’s life is something that when I was studying at drama school never entered my consciousness.

MG: What do you think makes this series so timeless?
MS: The thing about it “Star Trek”, especially “TNG”, is probably one of the one shows that every generation of the family can watch together. I always used to say apart from The Weather Channel [laughs], it was the only real family show, since you can’t even watch the news anymore with kids. People always tell me it was family night for them and they used to order a pizza and sit around and watch “Star Trek”. Some people tell me that even with 25 years past, when they watch it now it brings back just great memories for them.

MG: How is it for you being know as the sex symbol of the entire show?
MS: Mike, I have to tell you I was a very ugly child. When I say this to people they don’t believe me. But I was have pictures to prove it [laughs]. I have to tell you a story, Mike. When my mother passed away, my sister-in-law called me and asked what I wanted out of her apartment and I just told her I wanted photos. She called me up a few night later hysterically laughing because she was going through the photos and told me she found the ones of me when I was young. This is what she tells me, “You were right Marina, you WERE really ugly!”. So to be regarded as a sex symbol, I am thrilled [laughs]. The little ugly girl inside of me is going “Woo Hoo!!”.

MG: I feel that season six was your characters strongest, including “Face of the Enemy”, can you reflect on your favorite season?
MS: I have to be honest, if you go back to the first season there was a lot of episodes that I wasn’t in. I was very worried, I was going to be written out. I knew the writers had created this character but didn’t really know what to do with her. She was an empath, so if she did her job right we had no storyline. Rather than deal with the situation, I was just written out of the episodes. Come the season one hiatus, which was very long due to the writers strike at the time, Jonathan Frakes got married to Genie Francis. We all went to the wedding and Gene Roddenberry was there also. He approached me at one point and said to me that he wanted to talk with in private. We stepped outside and he told me that the first show of season two is going to be a big episode for me and that I would be in fact opening the season. That meant more to me than anything. It was huge. So that was a very important season for me because they finally got her as a character. From there she just kept evolving.

MG: Did you have any creative control with your characters direction?
MS: Oh, no no no no [laughs]. I couldn’t change a word, none of us could.

MG: What you say was the most challenging aspect for you throughout the series?
MS: The biggest challenge was keeping Marina out of Troi. Marina is not a sweet as her [laughs]. She is not as sweet and not as nice. She is very temperamental, as well as loud and obnoxious. So that was definitely the biggest challenge for seven years. Sometimes though, I tried to sneak her in especially if Jonathan was directing [laughs].

MG: Did you ever keep any memorabilia or costumes from the show?
MS: I am pleading the 5th on that one. Draw your own conclusions [laughs].

MG: Have you ever considered writing a memoir for your experience on the series?
MS: Well I have thought of writing a memoir of my life, because I have had quite a fascinating life. I am one of those people that things just happen to [laughs]. I just have these adventures. As far as writing a book on our experiences on “Star Trek”, in the culture we live in now it is the bad behavior and the scandals that sell. There is not a publisher on the planet that wants to buy a book that tells the story of how we all loved each other [laughs].

MG: Have you had a chance to experience “Star Trek: TNG” on Blu-ray yet?
MS: I saw some of the first episode and it just looked amazing. It looks like we actually shot it last week. It is really great.

MG: I have been reading that fans have been requesting you to be on “Doctor Who”, what are your feelings?
MS: You know what, I would so love to be on “Doctor Who”. Sir Ian McKellen, who is one of our premiere actors on the planet, when he was asked what his ambitions where a few years ago, he said he wants to be a pantomime dame and he wants to be on “Coronation Street”, which is like the longest running show on the planet. Well he has managed to do both and that was really cool. So who knows? Anything is possible. There is a lot of things that I still want to do. Being Deanna for the rest of my life isn’t a problem, actually. But I don’t look like her anymore [laughs]. So I am just glad that it is that Deanna in HD and not me today [laughs].

MG: Tell us about what upcoming projects you are currently working on?
MS: Michael Dorn and I have been trying to get a romantic comedy off the ground for a couple of years now. Well, mostly Michael. It is going to star basically a bunch of “Star Trek” actors. It will be cool for the fans to see us star in something different. So it is a really cool project and he recently posted it through Kickstarter (click here) and it is called “Through The Fire”. Some of the things are pretty cool that you get for backing the film, llike getting to hang with us at a convention or a walk on role. So definitely check it out and spread the word. I also just did a movie based on a video game that doesn’t have a title yet but I am sure you will be hearing about it soon. Next year, I will be shooting a horror movie in Australia and also another possibly called “Shadows from the Sky”. So we have a lot of great projects coming up.

Blu-ray Review “Full Metal Jacket: 25th Anniversary Edition”

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Kevyn Major Howard
MPAA Rating: R
Distributed: Warner Home Video
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Running Time: 116 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

As much as I absolutely love this film, the 25th Anniversary release of “Full Metal Jacket” feel a little but like a double dip…but you know you still need it if you are a die-hard fan. The main draw here is a newly added 60 minute documentary and an impressive 48-page DigiBook with photos from Matthew Modine’s personal collection. Also within there are behind-the-scenes stories on the production and the music. I think for this is honestly worth the purchase alone. If you agree then you don’t want to miss this release. I know it may be hard to believe but this is the first time I am watching this film on Blu-ray and it was definitely worth the wait.

The film says to included a new remastered video though it is the same as the 2007/2011 releases. Nonetheless it still looks incredibly impressive. It easily warrants 5/5 stars for 1080 transfer alone. There are many a few audio when it comes to the film’s audio. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is the default but the uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track is sharper and more impressive. The special features are decent but feels a little light overall. “Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes” is an hour-long documentary, which follows director Jon Ronson as he is given a chance to dig through thousands of boxes on Kubrick estate following his death. There is a commentary track from author/screenwriter Jay Cocks and actors Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’onofrio and Lee Ermey. Sounds perfect right? It would have been but it was recorded individually, so the fun was gone. Matthew Modine takes the lead in “Between Good and Evil” focusing on the filming, casting, and the overall production. Lastly, there is the theatrical trailer included.

Buy It 8/7 on Blu-ray™ – http://bit.ly/MHtK10
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Premise: Marine recruits endure basic training under a leather-lunged D.I., then plunge into the hell of Vietnam. Matthew Modine heads a talented ensemble in this searing look at a process that turns people into killers.

Discovery Channel adds Shark Savers as conservation partner for Shark Week’’s 25th Anniversary

Discovery Channel and Shark Savers, a shark conservation non-profit organization, are teaming up for the 25th Anniversary of the highly popular Shark Week, the network’s annual weeklong programming event devoted entirely to the ocean’s apex predators.

Shark Week, kicking off this year on August 12th at 9PM E/P, attracts millions of viewers each summer. And once they learn that a growing number of shark species are threatened with extinction, and that tens of millions are killed annually for the shark fin trade, many will feel compelled to both learn more and take action.

Through Discovery’s conservation page discovery.com/savethesharks and Shark Savers’ website www.sharksavers.org, people can join the fight for sharks by learning more about why they are so important to our planet, educating their community and taking a pledge against shark fin soup.

“Shark Week is how millions of people learn about sharks, and we will bring additional knowledge and action to that conversation”, said Michael Skoletsky, Executive Director of Shark Savers. “Sharks are critically important to our ocean ecosystem and yet are being killed by the tens of millions a year, mostly for their fins. Sharks are in trouble and they need all our help.”

One of this year’s new Shark Week programs features Shark Savers’ Board Chair, Wendy Benchley. How Jaws Changed the World examines the effect that the Jaws book and film, written by the late Peter Benchley, had on the world. Initially, the unexpected effect was to shape a highly negative public perception of Great White Sharks. Paradoxically, over time, Jaws also contributed to a new generation of shark scientists and conservationists and even some key individuals to devote their lives to shark conservation.

Brooke Runnette, Executive Producer of Shark Week, said, “While Shark Week’s primary purpose is to entertain, we also know that our audience loves sharks as much as we do, and that means making a commitment to protecting sharks. Shark Savers was chosen as one of our new shark conservation partners because they have the programs and campaigns to enable our audience to actively participate in the important task of shark conservation.”

Discovery Channel’s SHARK WEEK is cable’s longest-running programming event and will celebrate its 25th anniversary with all-new specials beginning Sunday, August 12 at 9pm ET/PT.
About Discovery Channel: Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 210 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please visit www.discovery.com.

About Shark Savers: Shark Savers is dedicated to saving sharks and mantas through building awareness, education, and action. Founded in 2007 by six long-time divers with a shared passion, our mission is to save the world’s dwindling shark and manta populations. Today, more than 25,000 members from 99 nations share that passion. Focusing on action and results, Shark Savers’ programs result in more protections for sharks and mantas, locally and globally. By leveraging broad professional experience and ocean expertise, Shark Savers brings this important issue to the public in many compelling forms, motivating people to stop consuming sharks and shark fin soup, working for the creation of shark sanctuaries, and empowering divers as advocates and citizen scientists for sharks. For more information: www.sharksavers.org

Blu-ray Review “Shark Week: 25th Anniversary Collection”

Distributed by: Discovery Channel
Release Date: July 31, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG
Episodes: 4
Running Time 212 min

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to Discover Channel’s “Shark Week”, I am one of its biggest fans. I count down the days to next year following each completion. I was expecting a lot from the 25th Anniversary Collection and was let down a little. I prefer last years Blu-ray release much more titled, “Shark Week: Jaws of Steel Collection”, which included eight episodes instead of only four. I simply expected much more from the 25th Anniversary release. Overall though who don’t own the prior “Shark Week” Blu-ray releases, should consider picking this up, especially for its low-cost.

This 25th Anniversary Collection features the the following Shark Week episodes “Great White Shark: Uncaged”, “Blood In The Water”, “Ultimate Air Jaws” and “Mythbusters: Shark Special”. I am a big fan of all of these, especially “Blood In The Water” except the “Mythbusters” episode. I have never enjoyed the “Mythbusters” show at all even when it crossed over into “Shark Week”. Lastly where’s is my favorite special “Shark Hunter: Chasing the Great White” focusing on the late great Frank Mundus??

Now the Blu-ray release itself is impressive. The 1080p transfers on each episode is sharp and looks great. It is also presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  The audio track is also impressive for this Blu-ray. There are no special features included but I guess what can one expect behind bonus episodes. I wish they would have given this release a bit more umph and delivered a real 25th collection with multi-disc and numerous more episodes/

LeVar Burton talks about TNT’s “Perception”, “Reading Rainbow” iPad app and 25th Anniversary of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”

LeVar Burton is a well-known actor who has appeared in shows like “Reading Rainbow”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the mini-series “Roots”. LeVar is currently guest starring in TNT’s new show “Perception”, which premiers Monday July 9th at 10:00 PM Eastern. LeVar took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about TNT’s “Perception”, his new “Reading Rainbow” iPad app and also the 25th Anniversary of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get attached to TNT’s “Perception”?
LeVar Burton: Ken Biller and Mike Sussman are Star Trek alums and I read the pilot and forced my way in. I love Ken’s writing and I loved his pilot and I called Ken and said, “Is there any way I can be in this?” And he said, “Well, the one character that you’re right for it’s like in a scene in this pilot.” And I said, “Yes, but, you know, I see room there for this guy to grow.” And Ken worked it out. You know, he was thrilled at the prospects. We had a great relationship on Star Trek and I directed a lot of episodes that he wrote and as a fan I just wanted to be in this.

MG: This show is a crime procedural but it also has additional elements to it as well. Can you reflect?
LB: Well, I would say it has a real psychological element to it. I think that Ken’s point of view on the treatment — and I’m going to put this in quotes, “mental illness,” and brain chemistry and how our perceptions literally determine our reality. I think this is a fascinating conversation to have especially in the popular culture medium like television.

MG: How was it been working with Eric McCormack on the show?
LB: I’m a huge Eric McCormack fan, was before meeting him and working with him and even more so now. He totally kills this role, definitely, and I really appreciate the difficulty of what he is so deftly doing in every episode. And he’s just a joy to watch and a marvel to behold. I’m so happy to be working with Eric McCormack. And then on top of being as good as he is, he’s also a real professional. There are a lot of kids who want to be famous these days who come to Los Angeles and say that, you know, they want to be an actor or an actress but really what they want is to be famous. Eric is a real pro, right. He takes what he does seriously, yet he doesn’t take himself as a celebrity seriously, so he’s one of those people who knows, understands what it means to be the number one on the call-sheet. You know what I mean when I say that? Number one on the call-sheet. Eric knows, he knows what it represents. He knows how to do that. People like Scott Bakula, Mark Harmon, they’re guys who know how to be number one on the call-sheet, right. They care about the work and saying good night to everybody when they leave just that their humanity is a part of how they move in the world and it shows up in their inter-personal relationships with cast and crew and it just wonderful when you see that in action.

MG: Your career has been marked by such really important and really iconic roles and a whole slew of awards for “Reading Rainbow”. What do you still want to accomplish at this point in your career as an actor and director? What still keeps you working on every day?
LB: Aside from “Perception”, I’ve really taken a bit of a side-step and as much as the last two years of my life have dedicated and wholly devoted to the “Reading Rainbow” app. We launched it just last week and in 36 hours shot to number one in education. It’s still the number one grossing education app. This really feeds my passion. My mother was an English teacher. My older sister is a teacher. My son is in education. I have cousins, nieces, this is the family business, you know what I’m saying? I did “Reading Rainbow” the television show for 25 years and Rick Berman, the executive producer of “Star Trek”, having produced a children’s television series “The Big Blue Marble”, knew how important the show was to me and knew how important the show was to television. And so, he made it possible for me to do both “Trek” and ‘Reading Rainbow” at the same time. Ken knows it fully well how important “Reading Rainbow” is to me and this is what I feel like I’m really, really supposed to be doing. And the reason why we brought Reading Rainbow back is there is such a need right now. We have fallen so far behind our own expectations as a nation in terms of how we educate our kids and what the outcome of a public school education is these days. And we can’t rely on government to get it done anymore. It has to be a public-private partnership. Our government is brokaye, right? We’ve spent the last decade plus engaged in funding the machineries of war and our kids have been left behind. And, you know, from my point of view that’s just not OKAY.

MG: So with the app out, this is maybe a nice break for you being in a recurring role on television?
LB: It brings a balance to my life because I stepped away from acting after Next Generation and became a full-time director. And then my business partner, (Mark Wolfe) and I decided to re-launch the Reading Rainbow brand. And so that’s been a two-year journey. And now through Perception, I haven’t been on television in, I don’t know what, 10 or 12 years in a series. So I get to return to my first love here. And Ken, as the writer-producer, is committed to giving me notes to play that he knows the public hasn’t seen from me before. So I get to go to work and act and love every minute of that and love the people that I’m working with, Eric and Rachel and just really tremendously talented, quality human beings. My day job right now is continuing that mission of inspiring children who are making decisions as to whether they’re going to be readers or not, to choose the light.

MG: Do you think there’ll be any controversy when a show airs considering it’s like a fully-functioning schizophrenic with a job but doesn’t take any medication?
LB: Well, it’ll be interesting to see if there is, isn’t there? I think the whole idea of mental illness and the stigma that we have associated with it in this country is up for discussion. We are ripe to reevaluate that stigma. And to be able to, as I say, have that conversation begin with a television show, I know the value of that. I watched this nation become transformed in eight nights of television around an issue that goes to the heart of almost everything that happens in this country, in this culture. And that’s the subject of slavery and its legacy on subsequent generations. So I know and appreciate fully what the value of the medium to be an alive part of the evolution of culture. And I just think that we really need to have this conversation in America about how we feel about out-of-balance brain chemistry, just like we needed to have the conversation about racism in America, its roots and its legacy.

MG: You always seem to star in series that thrive on intelligence. How important is intellect and programming to you as an actor?
LB: Oh, my gosh. It’s everything. Unless the story-telling is smart, it’s hard to have impact. I’m really drawn to intelligence and to intelligent story telling. And, you know it when you see it. Even if you can’t define it, you know it when it smacks you in the face, right? And I’ve been really lucky. I’ve been very, very blessed throughout the course of my career. I just am grateful. I’m enormously grateful.

MG: You’ve been on a lot of shows with a lot of big fan bases like “TNG” and Reading Rainbow, obviously. You’re quite interactive with your fans via Twitter, so what are you enjoying most about interacting with them?
LB: Twitter I love because it’s an opportunity for me to have a conversation with people who are from different parts of my life and my career, “Roots” fans and “Star Trek” fans and “Reading Rainbow” fans. I can converse with them absent gatekeepers. I get to say what I want, when I want in a manner that I want 140 characters at a time. And there’s no studio or network or publicist between me and my voice. That’s what I love about it.

MG: Are you going to be going to San Diego Comic-Con and also sort of what’s your take like the fan experience at a Comic-Con versus sort of the insider experience at the Comic-Con?
LB: Definitely, I mean, I will at Comic-Con this year. This is the 25th anniversary of “Star Trek: Next Generation” coming on here, so we are actually doing, not in San Diego but we are doing a sort of a reunion tour where all of the cast is getting back together. We did the first one in Calgary back in April. We have dates coming up in Orlando and Austin and Toronto, I think. So from the inside when two or three and in these cases all of us are together, it’s just a glorious experience because we all remain incredibly close even though we don’t see each other every day like we used to when we were shooting the show. Patrick lives in England, Jonathan is always off working, we’re all doing other stuff with our lives. However, when we’re together there’s just nothing better.

Blu-ray Review “Gremlins: 25th Anniversary Edition”

Directed by: Joe Dante
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Polly Holliday, Frances Lee Mccain
MPAA Rating: PG
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Release Date: December 1, 2009 / May 8, 2012
Run Time: 106 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

This Blu-ray release was for the film’s 25th Anniversary, so nothing new hear besides a release to support the release of “Gremlins 2” Blu-ray. There has been some really terrible talk about this Blu-ray but I didn’t see any may issues and quite enjoyed it. I grew up watching “Gremlins” and my wife got to experience this film for the first time on Blu-ray.  We were both whistling the theme song for days following.

The Blu-ray, while not the best transfer ever, was not the worst either.  Have you ever seen “Black Christmas” on Blu-ray?…Yikes! The VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer looks fine for me in its aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Like I said not the best but definitely not the worst. The audio was definitely impressive and worked well with Jerry Goldsmith’s classic score.  There are two audio tracks included boasting a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and an Dolby Digital 2.0 track.

The special features included are a bit lacking but worth checking out.  There are two audio commentaries included.  The first includes director Joe Dante, producer Michael Finnell and special effects artist Chris Walas. The second commentary track features director Joe Dante, and actors Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan, Dick Miller and Howie Mandel.  Both tracks are equally decent, one focusing on production and one shooting stories.  “Gremlins: Behind-the-Scenes” is a 1983 vintage featurette featuring footage from the shoot.  It is dated but fun to take a trip back to 1983.  There are also over 10 minutes of additional scenes included, which definitely add some fun scenes and more Judge Reinhold.  Lastly, there is a photo gallery and trailers for “Gremlins” and “Gremlins 2: The New Batch”.

Synopsis: A man buys a Mogwai as a Christmas present for his son. The young boy is told to keep the pet away from water, out of the light and never to feed it after midnight. Inadvertently, the creature is dampened and almost instantly, produces half a dozen furry replicas of itself –which continue to multiply and turn the small town upside-down.

Buy It 5/8 on Blu-ray™
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“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is Coming to Town October 25th

The dark comic gem RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE will be released on DVD and Blu Ray on October 25th. Based on the award winning shorts from director Jalmari Helander that have already acquired a cult reputation on the internet, this re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies features a Santa that you won’t want coming to town. This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus. Own the film that is soon to be required perennial holiday viewing just in time for Halloween.

SYNOPSIS:
It’s the eve of Christmas in northern Finland , and an ‘archeological’ dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn’t the one you want coming to town. When the local children begin mysteriously disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa’s elves, however, will stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare – a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality.

RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE is a re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies, and is a darkly comic gem soon to be required perennial holiday viewing.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
– The two original short films in which the Christmas tale was born, Rare Exports Inc. (2003) and Rare Exports – The Official Safety Instructions (2005)
– The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
– “Blood in the snow” – a look at the concept art
– Animatics & computer effects video comparison
– Behind the scenes production stills photo gallery
– Original theatrical trailer from Finland

Official Site: http://www.oscilloscope.net/films/film/41/Rare-Exports-A-Christmas-Tale
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RareExportsMovie

“Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection” 10-Disc Set Arrives October 25th

TIMELESS SOUND-ERA FILMS FROM THE LEGENDARY HAL ROACH LIBRARY DEBUT IN ONE EXTRAORDINARY DVD SET  FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE U.S.

LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION

Digitally Remastered And Digitally Restored, Loaded With Over Two Hours Of Special Features, The Spectacular 10-Disc Set Arrives October 25 From RHI Entertainment And Vivendi Entertainment

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – Celebrating the genius of the most beloved comedy team of all time, LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION debuts in a stunning 10-disc set on October 25, 2011 from RHI Entertainment and Vivendi Entertainment. With a comedic style that defined an era and created a legacy that is still celebrated today, 58 of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s talking shorts and feature films, produced under legendary movie mogul Hal Roach from 1929 through 1940, are now available for the first time in the U.S. all together in one magnificent collection.

Transferred in high definition for the first time and digitally enhanced for home viewing in the finest quality available to date, the set contains favorites that have been enjoyed for generations including Helpmates, Hog Wild, Another Fine Mess, Sons of the Desert, Way Out West, and the Academy Award® winning film The Music Box.

LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION comes housed in collectible, book-style packaging with an extensive, detailed film guide. The set also boasts over two hours of special features including exclusive, never-before-seen interviews with comedy legends Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis, Tim Conway and more, who discuss the enduring impact and influence of Laurel and Hardy.

Additional features include commentaries by Laurel and Hardy aficionados, along with a virtual location map that allows viewers to take an interactive tour of the iconic places in and around Los Angeles where Laurel and Hardy filmed. Available for the suggested retail price of $99.98, LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION showcases some of the most cherished and hilarious films in cinema history and is a must-have for comedy fans and collectors everywhere.

Interview with Robbie Tucker

Robbie Tucker is co-starring in Disney’s “Prom”, playing the character Charlie, a sweet kid brother that tries to play matchmaker and brings sincere tenderness to the comedy. Robbie also recently appeared in “Little Fockers”, working alongside Ben Stiller.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Robbie about his new film “Prom” and how he loves acting.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got involved with “Prom”
Robbie Tucker: Well I auditioned with a lot of other kids.  They liked me and I booked it [laughs].

MG: Tell us about your role of Charlie?
RT: He is the little brother of the main character in the film.  I help my brother try and get a date for prom.

MG: Any cool stories from working on the film?
RT: It was just fun in general working on the film.  Everyone was so nice to me.

MG: Did you get any tips from the other actors?
RT: They told me just to be myself, which was really nice.

MG: What make you want to get into acting?
RT: My sister first started acting and when I saw her doing it and I thought it looked fun.  So I tried it out and I really liked it.

MG: When you worked on “Little Fockers”, did you get a chance to meet the whole cast?
RT: I got to meet Ben Stiller.  He was really fun to work with.

MG: How do you find working on “The Young and the Restless” differs from doing the film “Prom”?
RT: Filming on the show is more faster.  It changes pretty often during shooting.  They do a bunch of scenes everyday and that is different from a movie, which is spread over a longer time.

MG: What other projects do you have coming out?
RT: I just did a movie in Michigan called “Family Weekend”. It is about my older sister in the movie and how she kidnaps our parents for the weekend.  They are also too busy for the kids and never listen to them.  It is really funny.

Interview with Raymond J. Barry

Raymond J. Barry has not only appeared over 50 film but also more than 75 plays. He is known most for his role as Ron Kovic’s father in the “Born on the Fourth of July” and for playing Pa Cox in “Walk Hard”, and its well known quote from the film, “The wrong kid died!” Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Raymond about his role in this years film festival favorite “Hamill” and his current play in New York.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you became involved with the film “Hamill”?
Raymond J. Barry: I was asked to do the project by my agent. She showed me the script. I read it and that is how it happened. I like what I read and decided to do it. There was another factor involved though…my son was being recruiting for basketball by the University of Rochester. We shot in that area and I wanted to go check out the college [laughs].

MG: Where you familiar with the UFC fighter, Matt Hamill prior to coming on board?
RB: No I wasn’t. I don’t watch that stuff is it too violent. Mind you, I am not a pussy [laughs] but I don’t just like it. I find professionally wrestling boring. I don’t mean to be a snooty guy, but I like college wrestling though. Professional wrestling looks fake to me, even though I know they get hurt…but it just looks fake.

MG: How was it working with Russell Harvard in the film?
RB: It was great working with him because he is absolutely and totally 100% real. When you are working with somebody with a handicap, they can’t fake it. There is something amazing with the behavior and the means of communication. I really liked working with him, it was great.

RB: What did you think about me in the wrestling outfit?
MG: [laughs] Listen you pulled it off and you got him pinned in that scene [laughs].
RB: You know when I was in high school I wrestled, so I knew a little about it. I thought that was a really funny shot.

MG: Your work has ranged from comedies like “Walk Hard” to dramas like “Born on the 4th of July”, any genre you enjoy to work in more?
RB: It doesn’t matter to me. I can work in either one but actually comedy does come easier for me. I am a lot funnier than people think. I am usually hired to be a tragic figure or a hard guy, something like that. I am pretty funny though [laughs]. People always come up to me in the shopping malls and say “The wrong kid died” [laughs] from “Walk Hard”. It has become a memorable line.

MG: Tell us about working on the hit show “Justified” and tell us about your character?
RB: It is a great character. He is a little crazy, if he is pissed off he will hit you over the head with a baseball bat. He is also charming and people seem to like him. I did a movie up in Spokane, WA and a woman came up to me and said “Are you my favorite father?” I wondered who the hell she was talking about. She said “I watch “Justified” all the time”. So I guess people really like him.  I have been shot twice and I had a heart attack and I am still alive. They keep shooting me but they don’t kill me.

MG: You are a stage veteran, tell us about your new show “Awake in a World that Encourages Sleep”?
RB: I also wrote that play. I am doing it at the Theater for the New City in Manhattan. The play was promopted by a book I read called ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man’ by John Perkins. Specifically what that book is about is a guy who worked for an organization connected with the CIA. What they do is they engaged in lending, where they will give large sums of money to a country like Panama or Ecuador. They will build a dam and demand it is built by American companies, so money does back into the American economy. The guy in the book got sick of it, quite his job and  he wrote this book and. I read it and it just blew my mind. So I pretended I was him walking through a park on the day he quit his job. He comes upon a woman, turns out she works for a corporation. Then the husband comes, who turns out to be his boss. Meanwhile the woman is attracted to me. You have this threesome going with a backdrop of politics. I think I have gotten something really good. I am doing it in NY until April 24th at which then I will bring it back to Los Angeles.

MG: Anything else you want to throw in?
RB: I got a two year old, a eleven year old, a nineteen year old and a thirty nine year old. I was the New York State High Jumping Champion in 1957 and I am 72. Those are the interesting facts of my life [laughs].

I find

Interview with Steven R. Monroe

Steven R. Monroe is known best for recently directing the 2010 remake of “I Spit on Your Grave”. Steven has also directed a number of films for Syfy Channel i.e. “Ice Twisters” and “Mongolian Death Worth”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Steven to ask him a few questions about his latest work as well and his past films.

Mike Gencarelli: What was the most difficult task in directing “I Spit on Your Grave” remake?
Steven R. Monroe: During the production the most difficult task was making the sure the film was dark, disturbing, raw, upsetting and bleak as it should be for the fans of the original.  Then also trying to address possible new fans, trying to make sure both sides of the audience that would see this film would get what they wanted and then some.  Lastly also trying to be sure I was delivering the film the producers and distributors needed and wanted. Once the film was finished and people were seeing it, the most difficult thing was dealing with people that didn’t get the film at all and probably should never have seen it in the first place and then listening to them making judgments on me personally because they were offended. I don’t care if people take issue with what I have done as a filmmaker, I’ve been at it a long time and you get thick skin, but when people make personal attacks when they know nothing about me or who I am, it can be pretty aggravating and more difficult to just brush off.

MG: Did you feel any pressure to live up to the original?
SR: Yes, absolutely. There are very passionate fans out there of the original and it was my responsibility to do everything I could to be sure they got what they were hoping for or not hoping for. The original stirred up a lot of emotion and a lot of anger, it’s a handful, but a welcome one to try and deliver something that lives up to all that. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

MG: What was your process for casting the lead of Jennifer?
SR: I just wanted someone that was not a name first and foremost. And I wanted someone with a natural beauty, a bit of naivety, a bit of strength. I wanted certain resemblance’s to Camille Keaton in our new Jennifer. As an actress she needed to be fearless and to understand the magnitude of what we were doing and be able to handle what would come at her down the road. Sarah Butler had all of those. She was perfect no matter what anyone says about her, I know the right choice was made to cast her.

MG: Tell us about your film “Complacent”, which you wrote, produced and directed?
SR: “Complacent” is very close to me not only because it is the only film out of 15 that I have directed that I directed, wrote, and produced but also because there are many elements of that film that were inspired by both my life and my wife’s. The film is a study of my perspectives of different events of our lives some that happened together and many that happened to me before we met. A lot of it is very close to her and a lot is very close to me and I wanted to put it all in a dark, sad, funny at times somewhat satirical bag and shake it up together. Most people that have seen it have said to me that they saw part of themselves in the film within at least one of the characters. The cast was amazing and brought all these suburban white Americans to life big time for me. We did the film for literally no money and it was all passion that got it done. I am indebted to everyone that worked on that project.

MG: You have worked with Cerina Vincent on three films now, how did this relationship start?
SR: Cerina is now a very dear friend. My wife and I love her very much. We first met about seven years ago when I was directing a horror film for Stephen J. Cannell and we were trying to cast the lead. He came in the office and said, how about Cerina Vincent from “Cabin Fever”… Without thinking I said “yes”. We hit it off on that shoot, became friends and then she did a Syfy film for me “Devil On The Mountain” (which Syfy changed the title to “Sasquatch Mountain”) then we did “Complacent together”. She is a very underestimated actor, drama or comedy, horror or action or thriller she can do it all.

MG: You have worked with Syfy Channel on quite a few films now i.e. “Ice Twisters” and “Mongolian Death Worth”, tell us about working on those films?
SR: The TV movie world is very different than feature films. For the most part people do not understand that in television directors do not have a whole lot of say in a whole lot of things. Even though I am seriously poked fun at all over the internet for doing TV movies and then “I Spit On Your Grave”, I don’t care because I am actually very fortunate to be able to jump formats like that and shooting a Syfy movie is like being eight years old again and making my sci fi and action films with my super 8 camera. You have creatures, stunts, guns, blood… Come on, it’s a blast. Funny thing with internet critique is that if the people that were goofing on me for the TV movies I did before “I Spit” actually did a moment of research they would see that I have also done six other feature films.