Win a Blu-ray of Steve Coogan’s “Alan Partridge” [ENDED]

To celebrate the Blu-ray release of Steve Coogan’s “Alan Partridge”, Media Mikes is excited one (1) copy of the Blu-ray to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Steve Coogan film. This giveaway will remain open until June 27th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email

Steve Coogan reprises his most popular role, as the iconic Alan Partridge, the famous local radio DJ and one time talk show host. Alan finds himself at the center of a siege, when a disgruntled fellow DJ (Colm Meaney) decides to hold their station hostage after learning that he’s getting sacked by the new management.


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CD Review: Alan Cumming “The Head that Wears a Crown”

Alan Cumming
“The Head that Wears a Crown”
Publisher: GPR Records
Spoken Word
Release Date: April 30, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I have been a huge fan of Alan Cumming for as long as I can remember. I can still recall the day I saw him (and met him) on Broadway for the first time dating back to “Design for Living” in 2001. He has such a wonderful presence about himself. When he speaks his lines, they come with such delivery and purpose. It does help that he also has a bitchin’ Scottish accent. So what is better than having the internationally acclaimed actor and Tony Award Winner to do a spoken word CD of the “best of” works of Shakespeare. These monologues include 22 of Shakespeare’s most well-known and loved moments. Alan is no stranger to Shakespeare having starred in Julie Taymor’s film version of “Titus Andronicus” and also his one-man show of “Macbeth”, which he currently stars on Broadway. He delivers Shakespeare’s words so flawlessly and with such force that he knocks it out of the park track after track.

“The Head that Wears a Crown” is subtitled as “Speeches For Royal Men By William Shakespeare”. Some of the classic Royal speeches included are, “To be or not to be” from “Hamlet”; “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” from “Macbeth” and “Now is the winter of our discontent ” from “Richard III” and many more. The speech were specifically chosen by Alan Cumming himself. The only main issue I had with the album is that there is no announcement between tracks. I mean that unless you are watching the track list very carefully or have every single one of these speeches memorized, they kind of spill all together. I think this would have been a perfect release if there was a title card before each track began so you can get a better grasp. Obviously this is not the kind of album that you will blast going down the highway, if you are looking for that check out Cumming’s last album “I Bought A Blue Car Today”, but it would be a must listen for any lover of Shakespeare, the fine arts or ”Glee” fan. “Shine, I’ll stand by you”…Mr. Cumming.

Track Listing:
1. “O for a Muse of fire” (HENRY V)
2. “Now is the winter of our discontent” (RICHARD III)
3. “You common cry of curs!” (CORIOLANUS)
4. “I have been studying how I may compare This prison” (RICHARD II)
5. “Look here, upon this picture” (HAMLET)
6. “Mad world! mad kings! mad composition!” (KING JOHN)
7. “If it were done when ’tis done” (MACBETH)
8. “Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick;” (HENRY IV Part 2)
9. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;” (HENRY V)
10. “To be, or not to be: that is the question;” (HAMLET)
11. “What must the king do now?” (RICHARD II)
12. “Methinks I am a prophet new inspired” (RICHARD II)
13. “Why, lords, what wrongs are these!” (TITUS ANDRONICUS)
14. “O that this too too sullied flesh would melt,” (HAMLET)
15. “Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,” (AS YOU LIKE IT)
16. “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,” (MACBETH)
17. “What’s he that wishes so?” (HENRY V)
18. “Hear, Nature, hear!” (KING LEAR)
19. “How all occasions do inform against me,” (HAMLET)
20. “Let me speak, sir,” (HENRY VIII)
21. “If music be the food of love, play on;” (TWELFTH NIGHT)
22. “Now my charms are all o’erthrown,” (THE TEMPEST)

Brett Alan Coker Talks About His Upcoming Project (And How You Can Help)

I worked in the movie theatre business for 20 years. In that time I met hundreds of young adults who loved movies and planned to make them some day. But I’ve only had one who, at the age of 17, had already written no less than (5) full length feature films (and I still have the scripts to prove it). His name is Brett Alan Coker and he is now working with Kickstarter to help fund his next project. Hoping to get the word out, Coker talked with Media Mikes:

Mike Smith: Tell us about your new project.
Brett Alan Coker: The project is called “Lenexa (a docu•mys•tory)” and it’s a quasi-documentary. It is going to be done in the form of a documentary. But it is part truth and part fabrications. It is going to be a blend of coming-of-age tales from my own life and made-up stories of characters that I have created over the years with my writings.

MS: Sounds simple.
BAC: I really don’t know how else to describe it other than to say it is hopefully going to be a love letter to Kansas and to the city of Lenexa, as well as a home movie and a mystery.

MS: Talk about the story of “Lenexa”:
BAC: It is all predicated on an suburban legend of a treasure left behind by a group of guys that were petty thieves in the late 90’s. As the story unfolds you receive more and more information about the guys whom created and left the treasure, as well as deduce what the treasure actually is. If it in fact exists, what it is, and where it is. All the information needed to figure out the truth about mystery of the treasure will be in the documentary. But it is up to the viewer to piece it together.

MS: You’ve written several scripts. Have you filmed any of your work?
BAC: This project, hopefully, will be the first of many. Using the funds I am attempting to raise from I will be able to get the equipment and software I need to do this film, and many others after. I don’t know what you know about, but it’s a website that helps people crowd source funding for creative projects. It’s an all or nothing thing. I am looking for raise $5,000 by March 11th, 2013. And if I don’t hit that goal, I don’t get a dime. I could have $4,997.00, and if I don’t get the last $3.00 then…nothing.

To give a hand to Brett’s project, just visit:

Gregory Alan Isakov talks about his music and upcoming album

Gregory Alan Isakov is a singer/song writer who has had songs featured on Showtime’s hit series “Californication”. Gregory’s song “Big Black Car” was part of a popular McDonalds Christmas commercial in Canada which helped propel the song to the #1 position on the Canadian iTunes chart. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Gregory recently about his work and about his upcoming album.

Adam Lawton: What was it that interested you in playing music?
Gregory Isakov: I was always playing songs growing up. I sort of was doing it for myself for a long time. I never thought I would be playing music for other people. I got out of school and started playing out here and there and now I am doing it a lot. It was just something I got into after high school.

AL: How did your music end up in the hands of a few different television and commercial writers?
GI: We put all of our records out ourselves and we have also been touring for awhile. It has never gotten too crazy or anything as we never signed on to a major label. We had thought about doing that but we decided to go the more DIY route. A lot of people we have connected with over the years have just heard our stuff at shows or on the radio. Everything has been pretty organic.

AL: What was your first thought when you were asked for the use of the songs?
GI: I am always really excited when film or television wants to use one of our songs. However there are times where I might not think what they want to do fits in with what I am after but, when I see the finished product it has always looked pretty cool.

AL: Has anything changed for you since having one of your songs be at #1 on the Canadian ITunes chart?
GI: It seems like when we go back to towns we have played before the crowd has always gotten a little bigger. The ITunes thing came out of us doing a show in Toronto and being asked if one of our songs could be used for a commercial spot. I was a little skeptical as I didn’t know if we wanted to do something like that. We were set to pass on it but then I started to think that we could use the money for a lot of cool stuff. We ended up donating all the money from that commercial to a number of charities that work on things such as organic farming. It was such a cool thing to be able to do. I am usually worrying about how we are going to pay for gas. (Laughs) I never thought people would care about a song in a commercial.

AL: Your last album release was in 2009. Are there any plays to record some new material in the near future?
GI: Yeah! I have been working on a new album for about a year and a half. It is pretty much done and will definitely be out this year. We were going to release it in the fall but we had been working on some new stuff and the record took a turn and went somewhere else. I think it will still be out this fall at the latest.

AL: Do you normally like taking quite a bit of time in between releases?
GI: I spend a lot of time writing in general. Sometimes our records consist of songs that we have had for a long time. At times we have songs that don’t record well and take more time while others record very easily. It is
something you kind of have to follow as you go along. We have wanted to do an anthem inspired Springsteen type record but it always seems to turn out differently. It’s funny because we will start out with an idea and then we start recording and things take on a life of their own. You want the songs to feel complete. A lot of stuff I write specifically for the record and don’t play it live.

AL: What are your plans for the rest of this year?
GI: We are on the road right now and we are going to be playing a lot of festivals. In the fall we will be heading to Europe after we have some time off to finish the new record. I don’t think we ever have more than 3 weeks off at a time.

Alan Rinzler talks about working with Hunter S. Thompson

Alan Rinzler is known for working as consulting editor for the late Hunter S. Thompson on “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail”, “The Great Shark Hunt” and “The Curse of Lono”. Alan has also worked with such respected authors such as Clive Cussler and Robert Ludlum, as well with memoirs for Frank Capra and John Lennon. Media Mikes had a chance to pick Alan’s brain to tell his experience with working with the late Hunter S. Thompson.

Mike Gencarelli:  “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” and “The Great Shark Hunt” are two of my favorite Hunter S. Thompson books.  How did you get involved with him?
Alan Rinzler: Back in 1965 or so, I published a book at the Macmillan Company by Danny Lyons called The Bike Riders which was a photo book about a group known as the Chicago Outlaws and I was very interested in reading another book about motorcycle gangs.  At that point I had never heard of Hunter Thompson but I got a copy of his first book Hell’s Angels and loved it. It wasn’t a big success at first, but eventually sold more copies over the years as Hunter became famous.  Then around 1969, I was the Vice President and Associate Editor of Rolling Stone and met Hunter. Hunter had decided to run for Sheriff in Aspen, Colorado, where he lived. He wrote a couple of pieces about his campaign and nearly won.  Then we published his classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in two parts. In 1970 we started a Rolling Stone book company called Straight Arrow Books, of which I was President and Editor-in-Chief. We decided to cover the run-up in the primary campaign and 1972 presidential election. We were  competing with Theodore White’s “Making of the President” series that had started with JFK in 1960. White had written books covering the presidential campaigns of 1960, 64 and 68 and we knew he would be working on one for 1972.  So we assigned Hunter to the job.  Of course, 1972 was a very interesting campaign.

MG: Tell us about your experience working with him?
AR:  Hunter hated editors and ignored deadlines.  During the ten years he’d struggled to get a foothold as a writer, the editors at various magazines he submitted ideas and articles to either rejected his copy or tried to homogenize the style to fit what they thought was their audience. We loved the way he wrote but when you’re covering a presidential election you’re covering breaking news and have to be timely. After spending what was for us a lot of money to send him out with the other major league reporters covering the primary and election, we didn’t hear from him for weeks at a time. We weren’t getting any pages for the book and deadline for completing all the articles and weaving them into a book was getting closer.  We had gotten printers waiting and our distribution network was geared up so we could get out there before Theodore White. By November, Hunter was avoiding me and when I tried to find him sent me threatening letters, like “If you come anywhere near me, Rinzler, I’ll break every bone in your body”.  So I had to take drastic measures.

He was hiding out at the Seal Rock motel at the end of Geary Street out by the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco. I loaded up my car with a big Nagra tape recorder, dozens of grapefruits, which I knew he loved, and a few cases of Wild Turkey. Hunter resisted at first when I pounded on his door but eventually relented. He wanted to do a good job and knew he needed help.  We worked out a system where I interviewed him, we’d have a team of people driving out with the pages they’d transcribed so we could take me out of the narrative, edit, re-record, retranscribe and then start all over on the next chapter. I had my dog Pushkin with me, a big brown shaggy poodle who went crazy every time he heard the seals barking and jumped all over our papers and photographs we had spread on the bed and all over the room, spilling glasses, chewing up the towels. Made a terrible mess. After sixteen days of no sleep we polished up the final manuscript, ready for the presses. But that’s basically how we wrote that book and it turned out to be pretty darn good.  Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is still in print, still being read as a model of gonzo campaign coverage and revered by smart journalism students. Not just because it’s funny, smart and original.  It is.  But Hunter also produced comprehensive meticulous analysis and evaluation of the primary process and the presidential election itself.

MG:  Do you still have the recording from your sessions?
AR:  I do.  I have all of the recordings.  I taped everything because that’s how we worked.  And I taped all of our phone calls too.  Then when I came back to Berkley I got in the movie business for a while.  I knew Jack Nicholson and Jack was a huge admirer of Hunter’s.  So we all met together in Hollywood at Jack’s house, out by the pool…Nicholson wanted to film an idea Hunter had for story called “Guts Ball or The Great Shark Hunt”. The studio wanted to do it.  Jack wanted to do it.  But it never happened. At this point, Hunter was deteriorating in both in his life and in his writing. He got worse instead of better on the addiction front.  His wife left him. Friends and a series of very willing girlfriends, none of them could keep him even reasonably straight.

MG:  How does he compare with the many other famous authors you have worked with?
AR:  It was ultimately a sad story.  At first I was pissed off at him.  And disappointed that, in my opinion, he was wasting  his talents.  Then we did one more really good book together “The Curse of Lono”. I left Rolling Stone and was working as Director of Trade Publishing at Bantam Books, so I could get him a big advance, the best motivation for Hunter, who was usually broke. To make sure we got the book done, I moved into his home, the Owl Farm near Woody Creek Colorado. He was snorting buckets of cocaine and drinking an awful lot, but I managed to tape, transcribe, gather up dozens of random scraps and ideas that I eventually, after a few months, gathered up in a big suitcase and took back on the plane while he was passed out in bed. The Curse of Lono was a little incoherent in spots but really the last brilliant thing he wrote, in my opinion.

He could have written another dozen books if he’d cut back and controlled his bad habits.  It was amazing he lived to 67 but by then he hadn’t written a good book in more than 25 years. A few months before he died he phoned me in the middle of the night. “Rinzler…Simon and Schuster has given me a lot of money and all I have is a bunch of junk. I need you to come out here tomorrow morning and get to work. Like the old days.” I asked him to send me the manuscript and he was right, it was awful. But before I could make it out there he had killed himself. Ironically, that very same draft came out without any editing and was on the NY Times Best-Seller list for eight weeks with the title “Kingdom of Fear”. Hunter’s fans want to read anything he’s written and don’t seem to notice that the book was awful. He’d be ashamed to know this, I bet.

Most of the author I’ve worked with keep getting better: Toni Morrison, Tom Robbins, Clive Cussler. The only other writer I think of in conjunction with Hunter, though an entirely different personality, was Jerzy Kosinski, who also killed himself.   He wrote “The Painted Bird.” One of Jerzy’s books was made into film Being There, in 1979 starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine, who was a very good writer. I did two very far out books with Shirley, Out on a Limb and Dancing the Light.

It’s very hard to be a writer.  It takes discipline, craft, courage and intelligence. Good writers struggle to balance their work with their personal lives – relationships, kids, money. I admire their bravery and devotion and have worked how for 50 years helping and supporting many authors who’ve produced long-lasting work that’s made a difference in their readers’ lives.


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Interview with Alan Menken

If you know anything about Disney and its music, you surely know the name Alan Menken. Alan has created the songs and music from such timeless Disney classics as “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, “The Little Mermaid” and the list just goes on. His last work is on Disney’s new hit film “Tangled”. With the awards season around the corner and Alan’s score and songs for “Tangled” is already buzzing up a storm. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Alan about his music and his process for creating such memorable songs.

Click here to purchase Alan’s scores

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you originally got involved with Disney?
Alan Menken: I originally got involved through my late collaborator Howard Ashman. The contact to Disney though really came from a number of directions. One the main directions was David Geffman, who produced our “Little Shop of Horrors” movie and a close associate to Jeffrey Katzenberg. They were looking for talent young composers and work on their animated musicals.

MG: When you are collaborating on a song, which comes first: the music or the lyrics?
AM: What comes first is us giving ourselves a clear assignment. We have a lot of questions we want to have answers for ourselves and the coordination with the directors, before I touch the piano or my collaborator touches the PC.  But generally these days I would say the music comes first. Often we will have a title and I will write a piece of music around that title. I always will write with my collaborator in the room to structure what I am thinking musically. That way it is in total coordination with his imagination and he is able to figure out what he wants to say.  How much we wants to say? What the dramatic impulse will be? How long he wants the sentences to be? So, generally music first but with a strong tense of what will be said in mind as I write the music.

MG: How do you you feel the music in “Tangled” differs from other Disney films?
AM: At least in a couple of places it is more guitar and folk rock orientated than any of the others. That was the intention, when I looked at Rapunzel with her long hair and her urge for freedom. I wanted to think what fresh vocabulary we could give to this that hasn’t been heard before but still compatible to the classic Disney sound. I thought about Joni Mitchell and the song ‘Chelsea Morning’ and I felt folk rock as something that would be a good place to go.

MG: Tell us what was your favorite track on the “Tangled” soundtrack?
AM: Well I love ‘I See The Light’. The song is a great moment in the film and I am very happy with the beauty and simplicity of the song. ‘Mother Knows Best’ is a track I was very pleased with. Honestly, I was happy with the whole thing in general. To bring up the score tracks, ‘Waiting for the Lights’ is one of the best score moments I believe I have ever written.

MG: When do you start to create the music? Is prior to seeing footage or is it when you have a script?
AM: I get to be involved at the very top of the project and the very end of the project…and everything in between. In the very beginning when we are writing songs, there is nothing but an empty room with some sketches around. We have some story ideas and we all sort of start together. It is very important. We are hired not only to write but to also consult as to where songs should go and how they should function. We also need to make sure the score has a life of it own but at the same time be totally compatible with what the characters in the story are doing. Then I get to be at the very end, when I am really there working with the directors and fulfilling their vision of how they want to finish the movie.

MG: How was it working with directors Nathan Greno And Byron Howard on “Tangled”?
AM: Actually they where very hands on. They are younger and they had a strong vision of what they wanted. They actually forced me to go to places I haven’t gone before, as far as the score is more live-action. The underscore that is. They were very concerned about wanting to keep the songs contemporary. They definitely guided me in a different direction and I was very grateful for that.

MG: I personally grew up listening to your music for “Aladdin”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid”, how do you feel that your music has affected so many people?
AM: It is incredible! I look back at it as those where the years of my life when I first started regularly in Hollywood and I enjoyed that time. It was great. As to the affect it had on people, that was obviously something that went far beyond what any of us could have predicted. I feel blessed, I think is the best way to look at it. I feel like I was just doing what I do and I was very fortunate.

MG: Of all the films you have worked on, do you have a favorite?
AM: Not really. No, I don’t. Honestly I can say truthfully every one of them are scores that I am equally proud of. As a movie and as a general experience, the one that did not receive the success it deserves was “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. That was clearly the most ambitious of our projects.

MG: How does it feel to have won more Academy awards then any other living composer in Oscar history?
AM: Actually, its any living person [laughs]. I was winning at a time when my scores we getting sort of two for one. We were getting recognized for scores and also as individual songs. It was new form that was very dominate. I am very proud of what we did but I think it is a fluke that I have won so many.

MG: Any truth to the rumor of a live action “Beauty and the Beast” film?
AM: There was but it is now shelved. We were actually working on it though. Doug Wright had written a new Umberto and I wrote a new song for Tim Rice. Who knows it may find the light of day.  But at the moment, no.

MG: Are you still planning to adapt “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Newsies” for the stage?
AM: Yes it is. Those are on the way. Actually we have basically four or five stage musicals in the works at the moment and a number of them are actually adaptations of films.

MG: Do you find that more different to adapt music for the stage than for the screen?
AM: Well stage is definitely more hands on. There is no point where is it “finished” since it is constantly being rewritten and constantly being reinterpreted on stage every time it is being performed. Where as with film you get it right once. You can walk away and let others do what they do and enjoy it. The technique of what we do as writers is very much the same though. We still have to tell the story, speak through the characters and use the same type of dramatic techniques that we use on stage and in film.

MG: What do you feel the future holds for films with music in them like in “Tangled”?
AM: It is hard to say, it really is. I am always pleased and a bit surprised when they come back and say they want to do another. There is always an issue with doing full out musicals. First since there is a whole other layer of expense and work that has to happen in order for a musical to work correctly. Also because the public’s appetite for musicals waxes and wanes, you know it comes and goes. I would say when “Tangled” was supposed to be released, I figured we would be pretty much done with musicals for a while. I think the success of “Tangled” has been a revelation and a surprise and therefore I think there will be at least another one. But I do not know what it will be or when it will be. But luckily, knock on wood, we kept the form alive to fight another day.

Click here to purchase Alan’s scores


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