Ashley Eckstein talks about new Marvel and Transformers lines for Her Universe

Ashley Eckstein is known best for her role of Ashoka Tano in the TV series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. She also started the company Her Universe, which has a mission to create stylish, fashion-forward merchandise for female sci-fi fans. Her Universe has joined forces with some of the biggest names in the sci-fi/fantasy world to create merchandise exclusively for female fans – both apparel and accessories for such well-known names as Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek and The Walking Dead. Ashley Eckstein has now become one of the leading voices for female fans while Her Universe is making fangirls “geek chic” from head to toe! Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley to discuss her new lines for this Summer and also what she has planned for this year’s San Diego Comic Con.

Mike Gencarelli: Let’s talk about your exciting team up with Marvel for your Ultimate Fangirl Fashion Apparel Line, what can we expect?
Ashley Eckstein: Our Marvel line is something that I am really excited about. It was something that I have been on working on for well over a year now. Fans have been asking me for Marvel at least a couple times a week, every week for a long time. So Marvel was the top of my list of licences to get next. It took some searching to get the right contact but once I got it, I reached out and we just had some great conversations. Marvel is so supportive of their female fans. They have been trying to find a way to do more and to shine the spotlight on their female fans. We were able to get a deal with them in the Fall of 2013 and we were off and designing in December of 2013. It takes a while to develop and line and get product made. We have been working on it though for quite some time. It was a very tough secret to keep.

MG: How did you go about picking which characters would be featured in this line?
AE: That is the tough part [laughs]. Marvel has such a huge universe. There are so many characters and where do you start? To give the short story, there are only so many characters in our license, so that narrowed it down a bit for us. With the new films this year like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, that was a big inspiration for us. You also need to design in mind for “The Avengers”, so we do have some Black Widow. We started with a few classics and are already designing for many more characters and listening to the fan feedback everyday to offer fans what they want.

MG: I know plenty of fangirls who love the character Loki…
AE: Yes, we already have a Loki dress that we will be coming out with soon [laughs].

MG: Sticking with Marvel; you are also voicing Dagger on the animated series, “Ultimate Spider-Man” in the upcoming season…
AE: Yeah, they haven’t aired yet. I believe these are airing sometime this Fall. But I am excited to voice that classic character, which we haven’t seen in a while.

MG: Marvel is not the only new line you have; you also just launched a “Transformers” Fangirl Fashion Line; tell us about that?
AE: We have been working on Transformers about the same length of time we have been working on Marvel. We got the license back in the Fall and have been designing for that since then. Since it is such a classic franchise, there is so much you can do with it. Of course we started with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. We went a little retro with it especially with Dinobots being in the new film. So we have them and. of course. we are designing for some Decepticons as well as some of the female Transformers as well. There is just so much and I am very excited to get to play in this universe.

MG: If those two aren’t cool enough, I see you also launched a new Doctor Who line; tell us about that?
AE: Yeah, Doctor Who is something that is constanstly going on for us. I am such a massive Doctor Who fan myself, especially with the new Doctor coming up this August. In the meantime, I feel like all the fangirls in America still have Doctor Who fever including myself [laughs]. So you can look forward to a lot of new Doctor Who designs coming up. Also I am excited that our Doctor Who line is now available in Walt Disney World’s Epcot in the UK Pavilion. So that is really cool as well.

MG: You are also still coming out with great new “Star Wars” lines including your all-new Custom R2-D2 My Hero Jewelry Line; tell us about that new exciting line?
AE: The jewelry is all handmade, great quality and made in the USA over in Downtown Los Angeles. I have the opportunity to collaborate with The Sparkle Factory and they did this collection for us. I love jewelry and I was getting fed up with some that fall apart after only a few wears. These are higher end collectible pieces that are going to last the test of time. I wanted some nicer jewelry for “Star Wars”, so we got this opportunity and these are great pieces and pieces that you can be proud to give as a gift. While they are more expensive, I still wanted to keep them affordable for the quality that you are getting. They are priced between $38-85 dollars. I am very proud of this jewelry and there is definitely more coming. We are playing with Darth Vader next, got to give some love to the Dark Side as well. We started with R2-D2 because he is my favorite…and my hero.

MG: Also tell us about your #FlauntYourWorld Instagram Fangirl Fashionista contest?
AE: I am just so inspired by all the fangirls that are posting their photos with Her Universe lines. We used that hash tag before but we wanted a way to be able to search these photos. So we were asking the fans to use #FlauntYourWorld hashtag for their photos and once a month we are picking an Instagram Fangirl Fashionista. She will appear on the our website for the entire month and also get a $50 gift card. It is exciting for me to see everyone’s photos. I never wanted to be the only Her Universe model, so I am excited to be able to showcase our fans.

MG: Lastly, I hear you have some exciting plans and are collaborating with Nerdist Industires at San Diego Comic-Con for the very first “Her Universe Fashion Show”?
AE: Yeah! We are doing the first ever “Geek Couture” fashion show at San Diego Comic-Con this year. We are teaming up with Nerdist and also Hot Topic. We have pre-selected 36 designers. They range from some professional and some amateur designers. They are going to be walking the runway on July 24th at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, which is just two hotels down from the convention center. These are “Geek Couture” pieces and they are seriously awesome. They are going to blown people away. We are going to pick two winners, a judges pick and an audience pick. They are going to have the opportunity to design a Her Universe collection with myself to be sold at Hot Topic. Nerdist will be posting the entire fashion show at somepoint in August as well for those who can’t make it. We are really excited about this! So if you are going to San Diego Comic Con, don’t miss this!

Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe Teams Up with Course of the Force as Official Apparel Merchandise Partner

NEW YORK, NY – June 26th, 2013 – Star Wars™ fans are preparing for yet another epic journey this year as the 2nd annual Course of the Force lightsaber relay prepares for its launch July 9th through the 16th. This time, Her Universe™, a leader in female genre merchandise, and founded by actress and voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ashley Eckstein, will be the apparel merchandise partner for the event. Her Universe will be selling this brand new merchandise for both men and women at the COTF “conival” events in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Huntington Beach and Oceanside Pier as well as at the Her Universe booth at San Diego Comic-Con International where the relay concludes. $5.00 from the sale of each shirt and $10.00 from the sale of each hoodie will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Course of the Force is an Olympic torch-style relay that all aspiring Jedi Knights can take part in. The week long journey, which begins in San Francisco and ends in San Diego, benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundations of California. Renowned artist Russell Walks designed the 2013 look for Course of the Force that is featured on the merchandise.

“Since I began working as an artist with Lucasfilm, a lot of my childhood wishes have come true,” said Walks. “Designing the key art for the Course of the Force relay allowed me, in a very small way, to help some kids realize THEIR dreams, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and I consider myself very lucky to have been asked to help.”

In addition to providing the apparel for this year’s Course of the Force, Eckstein is also returning, for the 2nd year in a row, as co-host with The Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick and other talent for the exclusive coverage of the relay.

“It’s an honor to return as a co-host and merchandise partner for Course of the Force,” said Eckstein. “This is truly a magical and Force-filled event. It was also a pleasure to work with Russell Walks. We are so lucky that he donated his time and talent to create this amazing design!”

You can still sign up for Course of the Force, the lightsaber relay from Skywalker Ranch to Comic-Con International in San Diego July 9-16, 2013 benefiting the Make-a-Wish Foundation, by clicking here:

About Her Universe
Her Universe was launched in 2009 by actress and entrepreneur Ashley Eckstein, and her partner, The Araca Group, known as one of the most innovative theatrical production and merchandise companies in the world. Her Universe was created to directly address the expanding market of female fans by entering into its first agreement with Lucas Licensing to develop and produce a line of female-centered Star Wars apparel and accessories. The success of that line was followed up with a collection for the Syfy network including such shows as Battlestar Galactica and with BBC America for Doctor Who and with CBS Consumer Products for Star Trek. You can learn more about Her Universe and purchase the current line of fangirl apparel and accessories by going to and by following Eckstein on Facebook ( and Twitter (

About Russell Walks
Illustrator Russell Walks began drawing before he could speak. He lives in Montana, where he spends his days drawing, painting and counting himself lucky that he actually gets paid for doing what he loves.

STAR WARS™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.


This amazing Course of the Force design, created by artist Russell Walks, is available for both Men and Women. For every t-shirt purchased, $5.00 will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

$10.00 will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation with the purchase of every hoodie. This super comfortable sweatshirt features the new Course of the Force crest created by Russell Walks on the back and logo on the front.

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Ashley Eckstein Debuts New Star Wars™ by Her Universe Apparel at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends 2013

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 13th, 2013 – The Force is back at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park as Star Wars Weekends returns May 17th through June 9th. Fans from all over the world come to share their love of all things Star Wars and Disney during this special event. Returning for the fifth year in a row is actress Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and founder of the popular sci-fi merchandise line for fangirls, Her Universe™. As with previous years, Eckstein will be bringing an all-new, unique range of Star Wars by Her Universe designs to the month-long event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios including fashion tops, tunics, tanks and dresses located in Darth’s Mall. Eckstein will be meeting fans and signing autographs every day during the event and she will also be returning as host for Behind the Force: Star Wars Voices each weekend.

“As a lifelong Disney fan, it’s a dream come true for me to return to Disney’s Star Wars Weekends and debut my new Her Universe merchandise,” said Eckstein. “It’s been an honor to work with Disney to create designs for this event. We have an assortment of new items for female fans of all ages, including our new exclusive Return of the Jedi necklace in honor of the 30th Anniversary!”

Her Universe has only made 1,250 necklaces to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of this beloved movie. This extremely limited edition piece will come with an autographed certificate by Eckstein and will only be sold at select Her Universe events debuting at Star Wars Weekends. Only 500 necklaces will be available for sale at Disney starting on May 17th. They are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Also debuting at the event will be will the highly anticipated Rogue Squadron dress and X-Wing Pilot tank top. Other items premiering will be matching youth and adult R2-D2 tunic tops, an adorable youth Princess Leia tunic top, retro women’s fashion tops and a limited edition Asajj Ventress costume top.

Photo credit: – Kelsey Edwards Photography-

About Her Universe
Her Universe was launched in 2009 by actress and entrepreneur Ashley Eckstein, and her partner, The Araca Group, known as one of the most innovative theatrical production and merchandise companies in the world. Her Universe was created to directly address the expanding market of female fans by entering into its first agreement with Lucas Licensing to develop and produce a line of female-centered Star Wars apparel and accessories. The success of that line was followed up with a collection for the Syfy network including such shows as Battlestar Galactica and with BBC America for Doctor Who and with CBS Consumer Products for Star Trek. You can learn more about Her Universe and purchase the current line of fangirl apparel and accessories by going to and by following Eckstein on Facebook ( and Twitter (

About Disney’s Star Wars Weekends
Running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 17th through June 9th, Disney’s Star Wars Weekends is an annual event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park celebrating all things Star Wars. In addition to offering fans a unique opportunity to join Jedi Masters, Sith Lords and Star Wars celebrities for special shows, presentations, memorabilia and the all-new Star Tours attraction: Star Tours –The Adventures Continue. For more information on Star Wars Weekends, visit: or

STAR WARS™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.











Ashley Bell talks about roles in "The Last Exorcism Part 2" and "The Marine 3: Homefront"

We last spoke with Ashley Bell for her first starring role in “The Last Exorcism”, read it here.  Since then Ashley has been taking over the action genre with strong female roles in films like “The Day” and recently in “The Marine 3: Homefront”.  Ashley is also returning to her role of Nell Sweetzer in “The Last Exorcism Part 2” this month.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley again about her passion for these roles and how she enjoys performing her own stunts.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you get involved with “The Marine 3: Homefront” due to your connection with WWE Studios from “The Day”?
Ashley Bell: Yes very much so. Because WWE Studios acquired “The Day” from Toronto Film Festival, it put me on their radar. In talking with them after the release, they wanted to see if I would be interested in working on “The Marine 3: Homefront”. I read the script for the character of Lilly and the role really spoke to me.

MG: What was it about Lilly that drew you to the role?
AB: What I love about Lilly is that even though she is a hostage character she doesn’t give up…she fights. She is more of a wild card. Even if she is retrained with handcuffs, she is searching for the air holes  looking to get out and trying to fight back. I really like that determined spirit that she has. Also in reading Scott Wiper’s script, a lot my scenes are opposite Neal McDonough as well as Mike (‘The Miz’ Mizanin). But Neal is such an incredible actor. There is no one that plays a villain like Neal McDonough. Here is a terrorist but when you first hear him speak he almost makes sense…until he takes it over the top and then you know you are in trouble. I like the arguments that were being fought for – insurance and saving your home and family. So, yes I like the script for sure.

MG: You seem like an actor that isn’t afraid to get out there and get her hands dirty, am I right?
AB: Absolutely! That is when it gets fun for me! If I am not bruised or have some kind of a war wound…then I have not done my job [laughs].

MG: What do you enjoy about performing your own stunts in the action scenes?
AB: Coming from the first “The Last Exorcism”, which I did all my own physicality. Luckily, the roles I am doing now allow me to do my own stunts and going into action. That is really excited for me because I really love action movies! Like I mentioned with these strong female characters. I actually learned Muay Thai for “The Day” and I loved that training. It is just a wonderful form of exercise and I keep it up. Thank God, I did because it takes a lot of stamina in order to be on an action set, which for me is fun. n “The Marine 3”, you see this abandoned cruise ship which has been there for years and that is how it actually looked. It was all rust over and we were doing take after take running down the corridors, up and down the stairs, gun fire going off, explosions, cars are blowing up…and this was what I daydreamed off when I was a kid with my Nerf gun in my tree house.

MG: I got to tell you the the passion is literally coming right out of your mouth. It sounds like you had a blast.
AB: Well, I really did. I really hope I get to continue action since it is a lot of fun for me.

MG: Going from action packed to horror, tell us what we can expect from “The Last Exorcism Part 2”?
AB: This is the continuation of Nell’s story. Here is a girl that is completely shell-shocked from what happened to her. She doesn’t remember what happened at all, she is very vulnerable and shut out from the world. She is drawn out into New Orleans during Mardi Gras and she has to choose between good and evil. I agree do all my own physicality for this one as well. If you have seen the trailer, I do a levitating back bend and I have the stress fracture to prove it [laughs].

MG: After this film are you going to but a “no back-bend  clause in your contract [laughs]?
AB: [laughs] I know right. It is a stress fracture not trauma fracture. I was funny since I panicked when I heard this since I love working out. I love my Muay Thai lessons and taking ballet. So I was afraid I was going to have to stop working out. My doctor actually told me that the cure for something like this is to really build up your core muscles and to actually continue work out. So it hasn’t affected me at all.

MG: How was it for you returning to the character Nell this time around?
AB: It was very different actually. The character of Nell is completely broken. For this script, I was putting her back together and in doing so there was a lot of pieces missing and that is where the devil comes in! And that is where there are scares! Also there is also a different director on board, so it has a very, to be be redundant, different feel than the first one. It was a very new Nell.

MG: You’ve got action, horror – what do you have in the cards next?
AB: Well I am really happy to announce, I have also have a romantic comedy coming out. It is called “The Bounceback” and it is going to be premiering at SXSW 2013.

Ashley Eckstein talks about “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, “Sofia the First” and Her Universe

Ashley Eckstein is known best for voicing Ahsoka Tano in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. She is also voicing the role of Mia the Bluebird in Disney Junior’s “Sofia the First”. Ashley also is behind Her Universe, which features sci-fi clothing lines for “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” and most recently “Doctor Who”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley about her voice over work, as well as what she has planned for Her Universe.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working on Disney Junior’s “Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess”?
Ashley Eckstein: It is really going to be a great show. I wish I had a show like this when I was a little girl. They are really going to hit it big with this one. I have smaller supporting role as Mia the Bluebird. But just to be a part of a show with Disney’s new princess is great. You know me, I am such a Disney nut and I have to pinch myself. I think girls are just going to love it…and the guys. It is just classic Disney and I think that factor transcends gender too.

MG: Can we expect Mia the Bluebird in the series next spring?
AE: Oh absolutely! We have already recorded the first season. It is really exciting. For me it is just classic Disney. Plus Mia the Bluebird gets to sing. So to be able to sing in a Disney project…oh my gosh…check it off the bucket list [laughs].

MG: This season in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” has been great, what has been your favorite arc?
AE: It would have to be what we are watching right now, the Youngling arc. It is funny, I keep using the word classic but it is very classic “Star Wars”. It teaches, probably the most frequently asked question that I get from fans, which is “Where does Ahsoka get her light saber from and how?” This arc addresses that question, which I think is a big question for any kid. Every Jedi has their own unique light saber. So that lends to the question, where did they get it and how? And why is it unique? This arc also just teaches such valuable lessons and morals. I think “Star Wars” is for all ages and that’s what is so nice about it. Especially where we are in “The Clone Wars” getting so closer to “Episode III”, the stories tends to get darker and darker. But we also have a very young audience and the Youngling arc is not for just kids, it is for all ages. There is something for that young Padawan – that Youngling – that just has these questions about the force and the basics about “Star Wars”. You get some really nice answers in this arc. I also like to see Ahsoka more as a teacher and a mentor. I think that is an interesting role for her.

MG: Since you are involved with both LucasFilm and Disney, what is your take on the recent news?
AE: I wrote a blog recently on and anyone can see that I am over the moon because I am such a Disney nut. For me, I do not think that there is a better company to have bought out LucasFilm than Disney. I have worked with them for the last four years during Star Wars Weekends. I have seen firsthand the level of commitment and detail as well as perfection and expertise that Disney puts into the “Star Wars” brand. I know they are planning to continue that. So I am really excited.

MG: Since you launched Her Universe with your “Star Wars” line, since then you have expanded to “Star Trek” and now “Doctor Who”, tell us about that?
AE: It has definitely been an exciting year to be able to add now “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who”. I have been a fan of both franchises. “Star Trek” is so iconic and I grew up watching episodes my whole life, “Doctor Who” has been a new obsession for me that I have started since the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, has been on the air. Now I am going back watching the previous Doctors because I am just obsessed with it. It is really excited. I feel like we have a lot of the classics – again with the word classics – of the sci-fi genre with “Star Wars”, “Star Trek”, “Doctor Who” and even “Battlestar Galactica”.

MG: Speaking of “Doctor Who”, did you get to meet David Tennant during his work on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”?
AE: You know, I am so bummed. We did not. He recorded from London. He plays such a cool character in the show. He is just such a great actor and I wish I could have had the chance to work with him.

MG: Tell us about Her Universe’s expansion into Hot Topic and Think Geek?
AE: Hot Topic has been another AMAZING partner. I think a thing that is really important for fans to know about Hot Topic is that they really care about their fans. They are big on social media and constantly listening to what their fans want. They base their merchandise off the fans needs and requests. I promise not all the companies are like that. I would use the word ‘legit’ with Hot Topic. They are legit. They really care about their fans. The same thing goes for Think Geek. They are on the ground level with their fans, talking with them and figuring out what the fans what. I think that is very important for any brand.

MG: Have you ever considered doing a Disney line with Her Universe? Would love to see your take on “Alice in Wonderland”?
AE: Oh man, that would just be a dream come true [laughs]. I can’t say we are doing that right now but any opportunity I would get to design for Disney literally would be – check it off the bucket list! It would be a dream come true. We got to work with Disney with selling Her Universe during Star Wars Weekends. But if I ever got to do anything with the Disney character…oh…my…gosh!

Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe Offering Online Cyber Monday Exclusives

Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe Offering Online Shoppers Cyber Monday Exclusives Including FREE Ground Shipping and a FREE Holiday Star Wars Pin with Any Order

NEW YORK, NY – November 19th, 2012 – Shopping for Fangirls is not always easy but actress Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and founder of Her Universe™, the innovative and ground breaking sci-fi merchandise line for female fans, has made gift-giving a little easier this year. Eckstein debuted new Her Universe designs today that will launch on Cyber Monday, November 26th, including the third annual collectible Star Wars pin with signed certificate by Eckstein featuring everyone’s favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca. This highly coveted pin is FREE with any order while supplies last. Plus, for Cyber Monday only, Her Universe will be offering FREE US ground shipping on all orders.

“Cyber Monday has replaced Black Friday for most people and has become one of the most exciting shopping days of the year!” said Ashley Eckstein. “I get overwhelmed by the big crowds on Black Friday and prefer to shop from the comfort of my own home, but I am always looking for a deal. With FREE Shipping and a FREE autographed gift, we’ve made shopping for yourself, or the fangirl in your life, much easier.”

It’s Chewbacca’s turn to don the famous Santa hat for this year’s highly collectible Star Wars by Her Universe holiday pin. Only 1,000 pins have been made and each one comes certified with Eckstein’s autograph. Following the highly sought after R2-D2 and Yoda holiday pins from previous years, which sold out in record speed, Chewbacca will now join this exclusive collection. This free gift has a $30.00 retail value.

Her Universe customers will find a selection of new fashion items to please any Geek Girl just in time for the holidays – from Star Wars to Star Trek, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica.

New for the season, fans will find fashionably fun Darth Vader Star Wars pajamas by renowned artist Katie Cook. “Everyone knows I love creating designs for Her Universe,” said Katie Cook. “I jumped at the chance to combine two of my favorite things: Star Wars and pajamas.” In addition to PJ’s Her Universe has a new Missy style Star Wars top, new Doctor Who tops, an ultra cozy Battlestar Galactica sweatshirt, Star Trek earrings and a new Star Trek “Gorn” t-shirt featuring the art of guest designer and founder of Bye Bye Robot, Charity Wood.

“Working with Her Universe on the Gorn shirt was magical,” said artist Charity Wood. “If the little-girl-me would’ve known that, in her future, she’d make artwork for her favorite sci-fi genres, she would’ve exploded.”

About Her Universe
Her Universe was launched in 2009 by actress and entrepreneur Ashley Eckstein, and her partner, The Araca Group, known as one of the most innovative theatrical production and merchandise companies in the world. Her Universe was created to directly address the expanding market of female fans by entering into its first agreement with Lucas Licensing to develop and produce a line of female-centered Star Wars apparel and accessories. The success of that line was followed up with a collection for the Syfy network including such shows as Battlestar Galactica and with BBC America for Doctor Who and with CBS Consumer Products for Star Trek. You can learn more about Her Universe and purchase the current line of fangirl apparel and accessories by going to and by following Eckstein on Facebook ( and Twitter (

About Katie Cook
Katie Cook is an illustrator and writer that lives in Michigan. She has done work for Lucasfilm, The Jim Henson Company, Marvel Comics and more. Her websites are and

About Charity Wood
Charity Wood is a professional artist and Co-Founder of Bye Bye Robot, which features fine art reproductions and posters of hers and a select group of other sci-fi artists. (

It’s Chewbacca’s turn to don the famous Santa hat for this year’s highly collectible Star Wars by Her Universe holiday pin. Only 1,000 pins have been made and each one comes certified with Eckstein’s autograph. The pin and autograph are free with any order on Cyber Monday and is a $30.00 retail value.

New for the holidays is this cozy pajama set featuring the fun art of Katie Cook and showcasing a playful Darth Vader who wakes up on the Dark Side of the bed.

By popular demand, this new Missy-cut V-neck is flattering to the female figure and features elegant Japanese Star Wars symbol art.

This crew neck sweatshirt with tunic length and front pocket is feminine and comfortable at the same time and features the BSG seal.

Who doesn’t love a monster with bedazzled eyes? This new Missy-cut tee featuring everyone’s favorite original Star Trek series alien, the Gorn, is new for the holiday season from Her Universe.

Give a subtle nod to the original Star Trek series with these classic earrings featuring the famous Vulcan hand sign within the Delta shield symbol.

Show your love for everything Doctor Who by wearing this new 100% cotton tee proudly emblazoned with the word “Whovian.”

Amelia Pond was The Girl Who Waited but we all secretly wish we could be the Doctor’s next companion. Simple, yet powerful, this 100% cotton tee pays respect to the Doctor’s recent Companion while stating some things are worth the wait.

Ashley Tisdale talks about her role in “Sons of Anarchy”

Ashley Tisdale us playing the role of Emma Jean on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”, who is a high-earning escort at Diosa International. She is known best for her roles for Disney like “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and the “High School Musical” film series. Ashley also has a role in next year’s “Scary Movie 5”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley about her role in “SOA” and what we can expect.

Adam Lawton: Could you tell me what fans can expect to see from Emma Jean?
Ashely Tisdale: With Emma Jean, first of all, I love Sons of Anarchy. I was so excited to be able to be on this show just because I personally watch it, and I felt like…of course I come from Disney and I have a lot of young fans, but I do have fans who have grown with me as well. I’m now twenty-seven, and I was just really excited to do something different for a change. I always want to grow as an actress and this was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I thought that was super exciting just to do something that I haven’t done, and to have people see me in a different light, and I had a great time doing it. With Emma Jean, she is a high-priced escort, but she just gets into the club and they blame a couple of things on her. She’s kind of in trouble, but she’s the high-priced escort for what she looks like. She’s definitely the young kind of high school looking girl. There’s nothing too crazy, though.

AL: What type of steps if any did you take to prepare for the physicality of it and just the overall mental portion of that role?
AT: I feel like it’s so funny because before Disney, I did tons of stuff; I did network shows, I had done Donnie Darko. I had done a bunch of stuff before I even came to Disney, and it’s so funny because while you’re doing something that I’m so grateful for what Disney gave me and the experiences that I got, at the end of the day, I can do so much more than what I did on that channel and what I did in those movies. It takes just one person to give you that chance, and for me it was better to give me the chance to know that I can do something different and when he asked me to do the show, I was just so excited. For me, I think this is the transition in my life for me as an actress. I always joke around that Sons of Anarchy took my acting virginity because I definitely have a scene in that show, but I’m doing a movie right now, “Scary Movie 5” where I’m doing a lot of stuff that’s completely out of my comfort zone, and I think that’s the key. I used to be where I wanted to make sure every step was thought out. With every project I did, I had to make sure I’m comfortable, but I think about when you’re growing, even as a person, you have to just do it and get out there and that’s the only way to grow, is to challenge yourself.

AL: Can you give us a little bit of a background on the fight preparation between you and Katey Sagal? Did they have you go through a lot of classes or training to do that scene? Granted, it wasn’t a long scene, but it was a pretty physical scene?
AT: No, they pretty much just threw us in there. We had a set choreographer, obviously, and they just went over exactly what we were going to do, and I have done that in the past obviously with … so it wasn’t to scary but I was really freaked out. I was like, oh my God, is she really going to hit me? But no, she’s the nicest person in the entire world and so it was just really funny; we had a great time doing it.

AL: Do you know how much the character was already laid out when they brought it to you and did you get to provide any of your own input with that role?
AT: Yes, Kurt had it, pretty much; it was like the episode was written so he had told me he had thought about me just because they wanted her look to be very, like she’s this young kind of Disneyesque girl like the young girl that you wouldn’t expect to be a high-priced escort, and he had thought of me. I kind of just went in there, and he met with me actually right before I started shooting just to talk about it and pretty much it was really straightforward… I think in every character, I just kind of bring something to the character that I could make my own, and I just felt like how I usually relate to a character is what I bring to it. I just felt like using the youngness to the advantage and kind of the flirtatious thing, and it was definitely different from anything that I’ve ever done and I was very nervous, but Kurt and everybody were just so cool about it.

AL: What could you tell us about Emma Jean’s relationship to Jax?
AT: Jax really comes through for her, but I think she still questions who—she’s just there to do her job. She’s just there. She’s a worker. She’s an earner, so she’s there just to do her job and get out of there. Because of what happened in the last episode, she’s now being obviously; we don’t know if what has happened with the club and who told on the club, and so she is definitely a candidate for obviously being one of the people who might have. I think with Jax, she still questions; she doesn’t trust everybody. However, he kind of comes through in a way for her.

AL: What was the most memorable part of working on the show?
AT: The most memorable part about working on the show? Every single moment I was there, I was just so excited to just be with a cast that they are extremely talented, extremely grounded, and so nice. I just learned so much from being around them with Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, and Charlie Hunnam. They are also really a tight-knit group, which is so great just to see that they actually are like the boys; all the guys. I think they had gone camping that weekend, and I just thought that was so cool. I had the best time on the show. It was such a great experience.

AL: Can we expect more gritty, hardcore, so to speak, roles like the Sons of Anarchy maybe to come throughout your career?
AT: Yes, I definitely think that there is a part of me that, I did a pilot this year, but it didn’t go for CBS and there was a character that I played, and she was kind of this raunchy, edgy character, and I just loved showing that other side of me. I felt like Sons of Anarchy, I got to do that with and also with Scary Movie 5, I get to play kind of all the characters that I’ve created in the past and also to do new things with that. It is definitely where I’m headed. I like to do things that I think people don’t expect right now, and I want to keep obviously challenging myself, like I said.

AL: You mentioned being such a fan of the show and now being part of the show, what do you feel, in your opinion, is why the show resonates so well with viewers?
AT: I just think Kurt is just such a great writer, and I’ve watched the show and I just cannot turn it off half the time. I remember getting into it a couple of years ago. I actually had downloaded it on Apple TV, and then I had to download the rest of the season. I would just sit there and watch each episode, but I feel like the actors, like I said; they are so close-knit, and they are actually really these guys that actually hang out with each other, and I’ve always felt that when you have such a great cast like that it kind of reminds me of when I did High School Musical. We all hung out together, and we all are really good friends, and I think that definitely resonates, and you see that in the show. You see this biker gang, but you see that they are brothers pretty much and it really comes through.

Ashley Eckstein Reveals Special Events and Exclusive Her Universe Merchandise for Star Wars Celebration VI

NEW YORK, NY – August 14, 2012 – The largest gathering of Star Wars fans, Star Wars Celebration VI, is about to take place again in Orlando, Florida August 23rd through the 26th and Ashley Eckstein announced today that she and her fangirl apparel company, Her Universe™, will be there in a big way with a special event, a panel and exclusive merchandise.

• After receiving hundreds of requests from female fans all over the country to be a Her Universe model, Eckstein (the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars) is offering a free Her Universe photo shoot on Saturday, the 25th from 10am till 7pm in room W305A. Girls are encouraged to come dressed in their favorite Her Universe top or hoodie to be photographed by professional photographer Preston Mack ( Her Universe shirts will be provided just for the photo shoot if girls do not have one on that day. A sign-up sheet will be posted outside of room W305A that morning for those wishing to reserve a time slot and it will be first come, first served. The completed photos will be posted to a special photo board following the event on Facebook so girls can tag, share and download their photos. “Her Universe is a brand for the fans, and when the fans overwhelmingly tell me what they want, I do my best to make it happen,” said Ashley Eckstein. “It’s important to me that I am not the only Her Universe model because fangirls come in all ages, shapes and sizes and I want to represent the entire fangirl community by using real fans as my models. I am also so excited to have Preston Mack! He is such an accomplished photographer and I am honored that he will be sharing his time and talents with us!”

• In addition, Eckstein will be hosting a very special panel with author Carrie Goldman based on her new book, Bullied – What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. Carrie is the mother of Katie Goldman, the little girl who was bullied for carrying a Star Wars water bottle to school. Carrie has spent the past year and a half researching and writing about this topic and Ashley encourages fans to come and join the conversation. The panel will take place on Thursday, the 23rd from 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM in room W311 ABCD.

• Celebration would not be complete without exclusive Star Wars merchandise and Eckstein divulged that Her Universe will have two exclusives that fans have been asking for at the Her Universe booth #915. One of the most popular characters from the Star Warsexpanded universe, Mara Jade, will be featured on a stunning new V-neck shirt with original art by renowned artist, Cat Staggs. Only 300 of these shirts will be available at CVI. “This is a shirt I was very excited to do,” said Cat Staggs. “I love Mara and wanted to depict her as both beautiful and powerful. She, like Leia, is such a fantastic character that while charming your socks off she can also take you down… I hope fans enjoy the shirt just as much as I did creating it.” Second, to accent the Mara Jade V-neck shirt, fans will have one more chance to pick up the exclusive R2-D2 3D Sterling Silver plated charm to add to the existing Star Wars by Her Universe charm bracelet. Standing 3/4” in height, there will be only 300 of these adorable little droid charms available at the convention. However, Eckstein recognizes that not all fans have the opportunity to join the fun and travel to Celebration VI, so she is making available a limited number (50 of each) of the two exclusive CVI items on The exclusives will be available starting at 10 AM EST on August 23rd. First come, first served. In addition to these exclusives, fans can buy Her Universe merchandise at booth #915 for female fans of all ages, including babies and plus sizes. Ashley will also debut two new tank top designs where fangirls can show their allegiance to the Republic or make a statement that they prefer the dark side.

About Star Wars Celebration 
The biggest party this side of the galaxy, Star Wars Celebration VI brings fans of all ages together, from all points of the globe, to celebrate the pop-culture phenomenon that is Star Wars. Both hardcore and casual fans will gather to have fun while celebrating their passion for all things Star Wars, discovering what’s new, and being the first to see what’s next. It’s four fun-filled days of exhibits, a vibrant, interactive show floor, screenings, exclusive merchandise, celebrity guests, panels, autograph sessions, fan-inspired activities, and other surprises. The event runs from August 23rd to August 26th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. More info visit .

About Her Universe
Her Universe was launched in 2009 by actress and entrepreneur Ashley Eckstein, and her partner, The Araca Group, known as one of the most innovative theatrical production and merchandise companies in the world. Her Universe was created to directly address the expanding market of female fans by entering into its first agreement with Lucas Licensing to develop and produce a line of female-centered Star Wars apparel and accessories. The success of that line was followed up with a collection for the Syfy network including such shows as Battlestar Galactica and with BBC America for its Doctor Who franchise and with CBS Consumer Products for Star Trek. You can learn more about Her Universe and purchase the current line of fangirl apparel and accessories by going and by following Eckstein on Twitter and visiting the Her Universe Facebook page.

About Photographer Preston Mack 
Preston Mack is a professional photographer based in Orlando, FL. He shoots for advertising agencies such as Yellow Shoes Creative, The Meyocks Group, GSD&M, Carol H Williams Agency, PUSH and Fry Hammond Barr. His corporate clients include MLB Advanced Media, ECCO Shoes, Southwest Airlines, Kraft, Hy-Vee and Walt Disney World. For more info visit

Interview with Ashley Madekwe

Ashley Madekwe is co-starring in ABC”s new hit show “Revenge”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley about her new show, what to expect and also her upcoming film “Victim”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your new TV series “Revenge”?
Ashley Madekwe: “Revenge” is a juicy drama set in the Hamptons. It follows the story of Emily Thorne who returns to get revenge on the people who wronged her father. It really reminds of the big soaps from the 80’s. Lots of drama!

MG: What do you like most about playing Ashley Davenport?
AM: Ashley acts as almost a narrator for the audience. Especially in the early episodes. She knows everyone and all their secrets.

MG: The show is loosely based on “The Count of Monte Cristo”, how do you feel it stands out from other shows?
AM: “Revenge” is a true prime time soap and it makes no apologies for that. We relish in the drama and it gets juicier with each episode!

MG: Tell us about the production so far for the show? How episode have you shot? Where is shooting happening?
AM: We’re just about to start shooting episode eight and so far we’ve had a big party or social event in each episode. I love these scenes because it’s a chance for a lot of the cast to be together at once. Those scenes start to feel like real parties.

MG: Did you enjoy working in the horror genre for “Bedlam”?
AM: I loved working on “Bedlam”. It’s fun to create the suspense of horror for the audience. I loved all the stunts. I don’t want to spoil the story for you but I have a great fire stunt towards the end of the season.

MG: How was it working with Billie Piper on “The Secret Diary of a Call Girl”?
AM: Billie is a fantastic actress so it was always a joy to go to work and film with her.

MG: Tell us about your upcoming film “Victim”?
AM: “Victim” was written by two friends of mine. The second I finished reading the script I knew I wanted to be involved. Its a really touching story about people escaping their circumstances, love and betrayal. We shot the entire thing on location in London which is my home town so it was a real treat for me.


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Her Universe Founder Ashley Eckstein Brings Geek Chic to Dragon*Con


ATLANTA, GA, August 23, 2011 – Almost half of all sci fi fans (and Dragon*Con attendees) are women, and they’re just as eager as the guys to show their devotion to their favorites. Actress and entrepreneur Ashley Eckstein, who provides the voice of Ahsoka Tano in the hit animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, has met the challenge with her new ?geek chic clothing line, Her Universe ( Ashley will be offering her new line of female-focused apparel and accessories (including Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica convention exclusives), and meet the fans, at this year’s Dragon*Con.

Married to former Major League Baseball player, two-time World Series Champion and World Series MVP, David Eckstein, Ashley grew frustrated with the lack of merchandise made for the growing number of female Sci-Fi fans. When she couldn’t find Star Wars clothing for herself, as a fan, she made the decision to create her own line called Her Universe. As someone who always expressed herself through her sense of style, she now shares her love of all things Sci-Fi with other geek girls. Ashley has made it her mission in fighting for the underdog, of spearheading the call to create a place for female fans in a pop culture community typically dominated by men. Her stylish line of geek chic apparel and accessories features fashionable, female-focused products from such powerhouses as the Star Wars brand, and Syfy properties Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13 and ?Syfy’s Original Movies, among others. It may be a “man’s world,” but Ashley is quickly proving that there’s more than enough room in Her Universe for everyone.

Dragon*Con is the largest fan-driven science fiction, fantasy and pop culture convention in North America. Celebrating its 25th year, Dragon*Con brings over 40,000 fans to downtown Atlanta each Labor Day weekend to enjoy appearances by celebrity guests, musical performances, panel discussions, costume contests, and more.

Interview with Ashley C. Williams

Ashley C. Williams is one of the stars of the horror film “The Human Centipede”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley about working on that film as well as what is has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: What did you think when you first read the script for “The Human Centipede”?
Ashley C. Williams: I was shocked but I was pretending not to be since I knew that wasn’t what they wanted to see. There wasn’t really script though when I first went in. It was more like a premise, but was also very interesting to me.

MG: At what point did you get to read the script then?
AW: In one of my call backs, I think it was the third. They had a breakdown of each scene and what each scene would consist of. At that point is when I really found out more in detail what the film was going to be about.


MG: Was it uncomfortable for you staying in that position throughout shooting?
AW: It definitely was uncomfortable for me to be in that position to shoot scenes. It was difficult at first and I wasn’t sure how I was going to have to approach it from an acting perspective. I figured I would just wing it, especially for those insane moments, like anyone would. Overall though, it was exhausting and definitely mentally and physically intense.

MG: What was the longest duration you were in that position?
AW: Actually we were never in that position for longer than five minutes. We would go in shoot a scene and then we were able to get out of it very easily. Whenever they would yell cut they would then throw blankets on us. It wasn’t that difficult in that sense. Althoughafter five minutes our knees would start hurting, our backs would get strained from being pulled forward by Aki. Whenever he would walk Ashylee and my back would be pulled forward. That part was a bit harsh on us.

MG: How was it working with Dieter Laser, was he really as creepy in real life?
AW: On the set we never got to know him because he kept to himself and stood in character the whole time. Until the last day on the set we had a cast party. He was all smiles and wanted to get to know us and we just asking “Who is this man?” He was amazing to work with and gave us so much to feed off of. Even when he wasn’t on the set he would be there behind the camera for us to see to work off. That was great. He was really great to work with.

MG: Tell us about the film, “Empty” which you also star in?
AW: It is about the worldwide gas crisis. It focuses on a couple who come out from a camping trip for a week and find that the roads are deserted and there is this major gas issue. Then from there try have to survive. It resolves around their relationship and how work with each other. It is a thriller/sci-fi/drama. It comes out on DVD, July 26, 2011.

MG: You will also be starring in “Hallow Pointe”, are you excited to be working on this film with such a great genre cast?
AW: I am honored to be working with all of those people. We haven’t started shooting yet and we are currently in pre-production. I am really excited. It is a werewolf film and I have never been a part of that type of film before. It is going to be really fun. I had met Thomas Churchhill at a convention, the director, and we met he said offered me a part of his film. So I am really excited.

MG: What are you currently working on?
AW: I am currently shooting a drama/comedy/coming of age film called “Leaving Circadia”, in which I have a supporting role. We are shooting that right now in New York City. It has a really great cast. Christian Coulson, who played Tom Riddle in “Harry Potter” series. Also Michael Cerveris is in it…he is a Tony award winner. So I am really glad to be apart of it.

Interview with Freddie Highmore

Freddie Highmore is known best his roles in “Charlie in the Chocolate Factory” and Finding Neverland”, both with Johnny Depp.  Next up, he is starring with Emma Roberts in the upcoming romantic comedy “The Art of Getting By”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Freddie about his new film and discussed about his career to date.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your most recent film “The Art of Getting By”? What drew you to this project?
Freddie Highmore: It was a fantastic film. New York was a joy to be in.  What really attracted me to the film was the honesty of it.  It doesn’t present the sort of stylized version of high school that you often get with some of these movies.  It is incredibly real and it is actually quite refreshing. People will go and see the film and have it actually represent the feeling of growing up…feeling of that first love…feeling of that wanting to succeed and the pressure to succeed. The film encompasses all though things and in a real way.

MG: How was it working with Emma Roberts?
FH: Emma Roberts was fantastic.  It was a real joy to get to work with her. The fact we got a long so well right from the start was incredibly helpful.  It is great to get along with someone that you are working with especially with the more intimate moments, they felt more real

MG: Are you generally a fan of the romance genre?
FH: Yeah I am.  I am, obviously.  But some of them perhaps what they are lacking is the way the actor portrays it.  They sometimes need to overdue it emotionally and make it too obvious to people.  I think people really will enjoy our film and see that start they think George is a bit depressed and a bit deluished in life. But actually by the end they will find out who he is.  I think people enjoy seeing that kind of movie.

MG: You’ve worked with so many A-list directors, Tim Burton and Ridley Scott for example, how was it working with first time director Gavin Wiesen?
FH: It was great. One thing that all directors seems to have in common is an amazing amount of energy.  For Gavin, despite the film being somewhat based on real events and in fact on him, he is incredible open.  He is open to the fact that it will be a movie and people will have various interpations of the story.  It was really rewarding that he was able to give up a certain part of something felt attached to him.

MG: After working on the very large production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, how does working on a film like this compare to indie “The Art of Getting By”?
FH: I think on the independent film, each day was definitely more filled up.  You definitely get through more in the day oppose to just doing one massive shot, which will take the whole day shooting.  There is just something nice about working on the independent film.  You are with a smaller crew and get to know everyonestraight away. Everyone is really willing to be there, excited and looking at the same goal.  It makes it a really excited project to be apart of. We were just running around New York and grabbing shots on the go.  Perhaps New York represents the aim for the film, not just going for the postcard picture of Manhattan.  It is sort of the real New York and the people that live and work in it.

MG: What would you say has been your most challenging film to date?
FH: I think they have all been different.  I am not sure if one has been more challenging than an other one.  I have been lucky in that way.  I have been able to play different character for different genres and not get tied up in one thing in particular. Every film should be a challenge and it keeps you popping and really focused about doing it.

MG: “Arthur and the Invisibles 2 & 3″ were just recently released, how was it working on those films not only acting but also voice acting?
FH: It was fun doing a voiceover in the film oppose to just acting.  I think the people think it is always easier to do a voice but for me I thought it was more challenging.  Since you are never really working with the people.  You just sort of go off and make it up on your own.  There is definitely a lot of preparation for a role like that.

MovieMikes’ “Falling Skies” Interviews

“Falling Skies” is a new sci-fi drama series that was created by Robert Rodat and Steven Spielberg. The series will be premiering on TNT on Sunday, June 19, 2011, with a two-hour premiere. The series will consist of 10 episodes.

The story behind the show deals with the aftermath of an alien invasion. It follows a group of survivors who come together to fight back against the invading aliens. The cast for the show Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, Dale Dye, Drew Roy and Peter Shinkoda.

I have had the pleasure of watching the first five episodes in advance and let me tell you this is a show you will not want to miss this summer. The show mixes sci-fi with really great human drama which leads to a great show. I was also lucky enough to interview most of the primary cast from the show. They were able to chat with me about their experiences on the show and what we can expect from it.

We will be posting new interviews each day leading up to the premiere of the show on Sunday. Hope you enjoy them and feel free to leave comments.


Dale Dye

Drew Roy

Moon Bloodgood

Noah Wyle</

Peter Shinkoda

Interview with Jason Lee

Jason Lee is currently starring in the TNT’s “Memphis Beat”, which is begins season two starting June 14th. Prior to this Jason has worked on the TV series “My Name is Earl”. In film,. Jason is known for his roles in Kevin Smith’s films “Mallrats”, “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma”. He has also played Dave in the “Alvin in the Chipmunks” series, with its second sequel being released this Fall, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked”. Movie Mikes had a chance to attend a conference call with Jason Lee to discuss the new season of “Memphis Beat” and what we can expect from it.

Mike Gencarelli: Do you find it difficult for you combining the comedy with the drama for this show?
Jason Lee: This season it’s easier because that was more of the direction we wanted to take this season because we felt that that was lacking a little bit last season in retrospect. I think with anything you do characters have to be believable, acceptable, likeable that’s always sort of my stance like even with a guy like Earl.  With just a massive list of wrongs you still like the guy, you know what I mean? I felt like we needed with “Memphis Beat” and have Dwight feel even more tangible real likeable, accessible, approachable and less of the character or a sort of a iconic thing that we were trying to have him be in the first season. Strangely, I thought a lot about Burt Reynolds back in the 70’s, that strong kind of jokes every man just that kind of humor from that and the camaraderie with like those movies like “Cannonball Run” and “Smokey and the Bandit”. I guess trying to incorporate that into this show and making it have more of that old school kind of Southern flair, that energy and you see more of that coming out and that’s balanced with the more dramatic stuff of I’ve seen them today these guys are cops and people are being murdered and no shit there’s a lot of stuff happening here. But I think it was a little to precious the first season.

MG: What would you consider is the most challenging part working on the show?
JL: I would have to say the lip-syncing and the performances. I try to be as genuine with those and make that feel as heartfelt as possible and make it look as good as I can. That’s sometimes a difficult thing learning those songs and…putting my heart into it and making it feel right. I want to do justice to that. Also always being conscious of walking that balance between reality and fiction and trying to keep it real and not cheesy or forced but as believable as possible.

Q: Well you’ve got a great show. Were you surprised how well the show went over last season?
A: I mean yes, I thought it was interesting enough as the start to something potentially better…and we’ve made it better this season in my opinion.  Sometimes you do something with one formula and then you look at it and you go, well you know what it didn’t quite feel what it – the way it should have felt and then so you reconvene you look at it all and you start fresh with the strengths from last season and then having sort of gotten rid of the weaknesses. I think the show is more fun this season Dwight is a little bit more identifiable he’s less of a character and more of just a guy. It’s less of a sacred kind of Elvis thing and more of just a Southern dude who loves music and he happens to be a musician and a performer. This season there’s less of country Elvis thing and more of just Dwight performing music. Certainly Elvis is his idol but you know what really kind of didn’t help in our favor at the beginning of the first season was that people have this ideal that the show is like cop by day Elvis impersonator by night and that kind of screwed us up a little bit. Because it was not that and then when we presented the show as something else it was difficult to work our way around that. Now we just sort of shed all of that and it’s just more about Dwight loving the South and being just a guy who loves everything from Elvis to Johnny Cash to Muddy Waters to probably Simon and (freakin’) Garfunkle.  He’s just a guy who loves music and he’s a performer. So it was really important this season that we made Dwight more of a just a dude and less of this kind of character or this icon or something. We just have a more fun kind of lighter, looser kind of old school cop show with more car chases and shoot outs and more more joking and having fun and more camaraderie among among us, there’s a gang. We needed to go through season one to see all this stuff and make this season more fun.

Q: Okay you were talking about a minute ago about Dwight and he’s one of the coolest cops in recent TV history. What you did to bring that cool swagger to this role?
A: Oh man, well it’s I think it was the boots, some of the wardrobe, the car, the music, the old guitars. It’s sort of like there’s a little bit of a modern day kind of cowboy vibe to the guy, which I think is really interesting. But that could get real cheesy real fast. So I just try to be aware of the importance of this guy’s job and making it as much about how much he cares as it is about how “cool” the guy might be and how fun it is to play this guy. It’s kind of walking a little bit more of a line between character and realities than we did I think last season. So I learned – we all sort of learned a lot from last season.

Q: All the music on this show is incredible. Can you talk a little bit about that the barrage of great songs that crop up throughout each episode?
A: Well that’s the beauty of the show it’s taken straight from the South.  It’s like you’re going to get those flavors of blues, R&B, Elvis.  It’s like the backdrop to the show because it takes place in Memphis and we all know how important music is to the Memphis to the South. So it’s like it’s kind of – it’s the character to the show just as much as Dwight’s car is.  We get away with a lot of stuff that I don’t think we’d get away with it if the show took place somewhere else because in the South your town is like you’re very prideful of it. There’s such a sense of camaraderie and community here because everybody shares everything and that’s very much a Southern thing I found. So with that comes a real sense of pride and Dwight carries that pride with him. There’s a pride of “hey we do things differently around here”, which I think is really cool.

Q: What is the City of Memphis think of Dwight in the show When you go to Memphis,even if it’s just to shoot exterior scenes, do they greet you like you’re a local hero?
A: It speaks volumes of about how awesome Memphians are.  The biggest disappointment that we’ve heard is Memphians saying that they have seen quite a bit of New Orleans in the show and saying that they totally understand that we really wanted to shoot in Memphis but they still embrace the show.  They understand that it’s a bunch of red tape sort of logistical kind of governmental tax incentive stuff all this stuff.  They’re usually kind to us. This season we have a fantastic production designer and she is very anal and we’ve tried even harder this season to make it even more authentic. Overall though the Memphians are they like the show. I’ve done press there locally in Memphis and and they say, “We like the show and we’re certainly happy that it has just the title Memphis in it and we understand why you can’t film here. It’s disappointing but we don’t hate the show” so of course that’s nice to hear.

Q: Have you ever been much of an armchair detective in real life? When it comes to crime dramas and mysteries do you watch them? Do you read them? And if so who are some of your favorites?
A: I’m a product of the 70’s.  My favorite stuff is like “Streets of San Francisco”, “Rockford Files”, “Dukes of Hazards”, “C.H.I.P.S”, you know what I mean? Like “Smokey and the Bandits”…that’s my vibe.  Something that I bought to the table for this season is like that we needed to make it feel a little bit more fun and action packed than kind of just old school like these other shows. We tried to do that season one but we didn’t quite nail it. I feel like that energy that you see on shows like “Rockford Files”. Just that fun camaraderie and that’s just like energy…just the style of it.  I feel like we’ve tapped into that more because to me it’s just cool aesthetic and it fits this Southern Dwight thing…the old car that he drives, the music, the energy.  There’s more laughs this season. It’s a little lighter and it feels a little bit more just down home.

Q: What do you think of Sam Hennings as an actor and as a person?
A: Oh Sam is amazing he has really found his thing this season even more so I think. Just because overall the energy has shifted and there’s more room to have fun and just be real and not be so serious all the time. Quite a few scenes this season, I’m not in this time around because we’ve tried to balance out the work load.  We are trying to put more focus on the other characters.  Sam’s had some great story lines so far and he’s really gotten the shine. He’s a great fit for this show. He’s from Macon, Georgia and he’s just like he’s an old school.  He’s the perfect old school kind of cross city cop.

Q: Last season ended on kind of an emotional cliffhanger with Dwight finding out that his dad might have been a dirty cop. Is that storyline going to be followed up at all?
A: Yes sir we’ve already filmed that episode.

Q: Does your schedule allow you to do any films on your hiatus?
A: Yes I really want to get back into doing some film work.  Hopefully this year later this fall. I miss that, I miss it and I’m really looking to find something that I can do for this year.

Interview with American McGee

American McGee is the man behind the game ‘American McGee’s Alice” and its follow-up “Alice: Madness Returns”. American currently runs his own game development company, Spicy Horse, which is based in Shanghai, China. Movie Mikes had a chance to pick American’s brain about the new games as well as other projects he is currently working on.

Click here to read our review of “Alice: Madness Returns”
Click here
to enter for a chance to win a copy of the game on Playstation 3.

Mike Gencarell: So why the 11 year wait between “American McGee’s Alice” and “Alice: Madness Returns”?
American McGee: There wasn’t really anything magic of the time between the new game and the last game.  The truth is that it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, which was also the case when we made the first game.  But this time around…I had left EA after the first game and lived in Los Angeles for a while.  Then I moved to Hong Kong, then to Shanghai.  I had to move to Shanghai and start a studio here before I thought we had the development capabilities to tackle doing a sequel.  So I called up EA and let them know what I had in mind.  They thought it sounded good so we got it started.  It really just came down to “right place, right time.”

MG: What inspired you to take the wacky world of “Alice” and turn it into a very dark psychotic world?
AM: Basically EA asked me to come up with the game concept.  I spent the years prior to working at EA working at id software, where we did all the “Dune” and “Quake” games.  I was actually tired of the whole “space marine/big brown worlds and guns” games and I had a feeling that I wanted to come up with something that would really push both the technology and the story telling.  I was driving in my car one day and this song by the Crystal Method came on.  It was called “Trip Like I Do.”  The song opens up with a guy doing sort of a monologue talking about a world of wonder.  And those words hit my brain and I started thinking “wonder….wonder….wonderland.”  I thought we could do something really fantastic with “Alice in Wonderland.”  So when I got back to my office I sat down and started thinking about the characters and Alice’s world and how it could be adapted to appeal to gamers but also maintain the appeal that the books have to such a wide audience around the world.  So out of that was born this world and this story and this take on it which a lot of people seem to think feels like a good direction.

MG: Tell us about the development for the CGI cut-scenes in the new game?
AM: We still kept it kind of old school.  We use a lot of storytelling in the environment.  It’s a lot of passive stuff so that we don’t take the player out of the game playing experience.  Then we also have the cut-scenes in game, like a lot of games do, where we’re using the characters in the world to tell some of the story.  The only thing we have that is sort of pre-rendered are the 2 ½ D motion graphic cinematics.  We just recently released one of those, which is the opening to the game.  It’s a two and a half minute long animation showing the opening of the game.  We actually ended up doing over 30 minutes of animated content like that.  It’s really cool because it suits the game really well.  It tells the story really well.  It really fits into her world.

MG: If you had to choose one thing, what did you enjoy most about doing the new game?
AM: I’d say that it’s the overall sense of pride the studio has in having delivered the game because it’s actually quite historic to see a full blown cross-console/cross-platformplay Triple A western game concept get developed from start to finish in China.  For gaming China has historically been a place that’s mainly used for outsourcing.  Even when you have companies like EA and other big studios here a lot of the creative direction…a lot of the development…is actually being done off shore, outside of China.  They’re giving a lot of the core production work to the team here.  This is the first time that, from start to finish, we built a game of this size and this caliber in China.  The whole team is quite proud of that.

MG: What was the biggest challenge in bringing “American McGee’s Alice” to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network?
AM: There were a lot of little obstacles and hurdles for the tech team to get over.  That was almost purely a tech job.  Basically on our side we had two guys, Jake and Milo, doing all the coding.  We also had a company on the west coast of the U.S.  It’s kind of ironic.  We’re in China and we outsourced the work for some of the technology to a company in California.  They did have to jump over some hurdles to get the game to fit to memory and for the interface  to come up to the standards that are required by the platforms.  But so much time has passed.  The power that is now available on the consoles is definitely up to the task of playing the game.  And it looks great.  If you play the old game now, on a console and a big screen, it’s absolute gorgeous.  The original “Alice” was envisioned as a console title early on.  There was meant to be a console version – a PS 2 version – when we finished the PC version.  It actually comes over very nicely.  At its core the soul of the game is really a console  platformed action game. It came over quite nicely.

MG: The music composed by Chris Vrenna in the first game was fantastic.  Tell us about the score for “Madness Returns”?
AM: Chris came out early on and actually consulted with our composers and sound designers here in Shanghai.  He ended up contributing one track but the bulk of the music was done by Jason Tai.  We also had a guy named Marshall Crutcher in San Francisco that did a lot of the more classical pieces that were traditionalist instruments like cello and violin.  So if you listen to the main theme of the song that was something that Marshall contributed.  But the bulk of the audio done in China was done under Jason’s direction.  Jason is Malaysian but went to school in England so he brought with him a really wide range of ability and an exposure to music from around the world.  So when you play the game and you move through the world you get a really good sense of that.  There’s a lot of diversity…a lot of variety in the music.

MG: Was it different making a multi-platform game vs. just a PC game?
AM: I’d like to say that there was something really different about it but the truth is that so many people on the team, myself included, had prior experience in console development and the technology these days allowed us to create a game that is automatically cross-platform right out of the box.  It really makes it pretty straight forward as long as you put your planning together the right way early on.  Something as a studio that we really pride ourselves on is being really good at the planning for these long term projects.  And as a result we’ve actually developed a pretty sane development process and schedule.

MG: There have been talks since 2004 about a film adaptation of”Alice.”  Now that it is back in the spotlight, do you think those ideas will be revisited?
AM: It’s largely out of my hands.  There’s a film producer in Hollywood that is in control of the rights.  That’s the destiny of the project.  But I know that he’s trying many ways to get it set up and made.  I decided a long time ago not to hold my breath when it comes to the ways and moves of Hollywood.  Sometimes things can happen ridiculously fast and sometimes it can take decades for stuff to get made.  I think we’ll all just have to wait and see if maybe the new game has an impact on getting the film to move forward.

MG: Why was the game production on “American McGee’s Oz” canceled and do you ever plan to revisit that project?
AM: It was really sad.  When I left EA we had all of this momentum because of the success of “Alice.”  I figured I’d done “Alice in Wonderland” so I decided to tackle “The Wizard of Oz.”  So we came up with some story lines and some art and started building the concept.  We had toys made, had a book deal in place, got the game deal set up…had the film rights sold.  Everything was moving along and feeling really great.  Then one year into production on the game the publisher ran into pretty significant financial troubles.  And they killed, across the board, all of the their games except for one.  They were just finishing up the MMO for “The Matrix.”  They had run out of money and they cut out work on all games except for the one they thought would make them some money back.  So we were a victim of their financial woes.  And once the game fell a lot of the other stuff also started to fall by the wayside.  When the film guys saw that the game wasn’t going to get made they cooled on the film idea.  And so forth and so on.

MG: Is that something you can now proceed on with your own studio, Spicy Horse?
AM: Right now that project is so messy in terms of the rights.  The game rights are owned by Atari still.  The film rights are sitting at Disney with Jerry Bruckheimer.  Somebody has the toy rights, somebody has the book rights.  I think today to get the momentum back and get the project moving again would just be so much work and trouble.  I think, in fact, should we decide to ever revisit “Oz” we would just start from scratch.  Because it is a public domain story we could come up with a whole new take on it and just relaunch completely from scratch.  We may do that someday but for now we have a lot of other stuff that we’re working on that’s keeping us occupied.

MG: What’s next from Spicy Horse?
AM: We just announced some news.  Actually, “Alice,” for us, was a bit of a distraction from our core business strategy, which has a lot to do with why I came to China in the first place.  And that was to be in the on-line game space.  Our first project was strictly on-line, an episodic project called “Grim.”  We just announced that we’ve secured financing that we’re going to use to self-fund a lot of original IP.  And we also just signed a deal with a company in which we’re going to take one of their existing IPs  and transform it into a 3-D free-to-play game.  So from this point forward all of our focus is going to be on making on-line multi-player free-to-play games.  These will be in 3-D.  A lot of your Facebook games are in 2-D and we want to help transition the market to 3-D.  So that’s where a lot of our energy will be going as we move forward.