Film Review: “The Day the Music Died – the Story of Don McLean’s AMERICAN PIE”



  • Starring:  Don McLean, Garth Brooks and “Weird” Al Yankovic
  • Directed by:  Mark Moorman
  • Rated:  Not Rated
  • Running time:  1 hr 34 mins
  • Paramount +


It’s one of the most popular and recognized songs in the world.  An 8-minute epic about the end of rock of roll, chronicling February 3, 1959.  The day the music died.  That song?  Don McLean’s masterpiece, “American Pie.” 


I’ve been in bars all over the world, from the good old USA to Europe, and I’ve never heard this song played without everyone in the place singing along.  The chorus is infective and the verses memorable.  But what was the impetus for the song?  And why is it even more popular today then the day it was released over 50 years ago?


“The Day the Music Died” gives an amazing insight into the mind of a songwriter so gifted that he was the inspiration for Roberta Flack’s Grammy Award winning song “Killing Me Softly with His Song.”  As a sidenote, I should mention that the tale of how that song came to be is worthy of a documentary film of its own.  Like many singer/songwriters of the late 1960s, McLean would spend  hours putting pen to paper, trying to put his thoughts to music.  A chance remembering of his time as a paperboy kindled a spark that has yet to be extinguished.  As the verses poured out of his mind, it only took McLean an hour to write the heart of the song, going back – as many songwriters do – to fine tune the verses until they sounded perfect.



Not only does the film take an inside look at the composition of the song, but also gives a glance back, and a nod to, a simpler time in rock and roll.  The three young musicians whose death registered so strongly with McLean – J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper), Ritchie Valens and McLean’s musical idol, the great Buddy Holly – get their due here, climaxed by McLean’s meeting with Valens’ sister, Connie, whose heartfelt thanks to McLean for helping to immortalize her brother is genuine and moving.


I was 11-years old when “American Pie” was released, and I can still remember the local Chicago radio station playing it over and over.  I also remember one Sunday edition of the Chicago “Tribune” that included an in-depth look at the song, line by line, in an attempt to decipher the meaning behind the words.  Who was the Jester?  Was he talking about Vladmir Lenin or John Lennon?  And what exactly was a dirge?  Who knew, but they were being sung in the dark.


As I mentioned above, the song was over 8-minutes long (8:42 to be exact) and it was originally released as a two-sided single.  Though radio stations initially played just one side of the 45 rpm disc, listener requests caused them to play the entire song.  If you don’t count streaming sales (sorry Taylor Swift – anyone can download a song from a computer – in my day you had to leave the house and buy the record), “American Pie” remains the longest running song to hit #1 on the Billboard charts.  



As an added bonus, McLean explains the song’s title.  In the past 50-years I’ve heard all kinds of stories, among them that the plane that crashed, killing Holly and the others, was called “American Pie.”  Incorrect.  To my knowledge, the plane had no name.  In early 1995, famed disc jockey Wolfman Jack was promoting an upcoming appearance in Baltimore and taking listener’s calls.  I got in and asked him if he knew where the song got its title.  He said he did and would reveal the truth at his appearance.  Sadly he passed away before he could – if I’d had my way – whisper it in my ear.  Now I know.  I’d tell you, but then you’d be missing out on one hell of a story!

Film Review “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”

Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgård, Olga Kurylenko, Joana Ribeiro
Release date: 10 April 2019 (US)
Running time: 132 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I had no idea that back in May of 1998, when I first snuck in to see a film in theaters called “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, that he would end up becoming one of my favorite directors and influencing my interest in film so much. Terry Gilliam has always had a lot of luck with getting his film well receptive. They are always unique and never follow the Hollywood typical bubble that every other film does. Well “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is no different for Gilliam. This was a film that he was trying to get made for nearly three decades. If that shows nothing else it is that the guy was determined to bring this project to life no matter what. Well after it’s long journey to the world, it is definitely worth the wait.

Back in 2000, Jean Rochefort was originally cast to play Don Quixote and Toby was to be played by Johnny Depp (imagine that?!). They even made a documentary about this failed attempt called “Lost in La Mancha”, worth checking out. I have to admit thought, I am HUGE fan of Jonathan Pryce, who also collaborated with Gilliam in his film “Brazil”, another one of my favorites). Pryce nails it for me as Don Quixote. Other than Depp, the role of Sancho Panza has previously had even Robin Williams and Ewan McGregor attached before Adam Driver aka Kylo Ren in the “Star Wars” Universe. I have to admit, if I had a dream cast and out of all the people that could have played Panza Driver probably wouldn’t have been my first choice. Don’t get me wrong, he was good in the film and did the role justice but I wanted a little more from him here.

Here is the film’s official Premise: “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is the story of Toby (Driver), a cynical advertising director, who finds himself trapped in the outrageous delusions of an old Spanish shoe-maker (Pryce) who believes himself to be Don Quixote.  In the course of their comic and increasingly surreal adventures, Toby is forced to confront the tragic repercussions of a film he made in his idealistic youth – a film that changed the hopes and dreams of a small Spanish village forever. Can Toby make amends and regain his humanity? Can Don Quixote survive his madness and imminent death? Or will love conquer all?

When I watch a Terry Gilliam directed film, you know you are going to get amazing locations, really unique set designs, wonderful costumes and simply the best cinematography. “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” delivers in all of these departments, no question. The film runs a little long for me personally and when watching it with my wife, I noticed she checked out not shortly after it started. I think I appreciated it cause you can see where all the blood, sweat and tears went into this film. You can tell that this was the hail Mary pass at the end of the quarter for Gilliam and I definitely think it was a score!

Speaking earlier of “Lost in La Mancha”, the writers and directors of the film are currently working on a follow-up film, titled “He Dreamed of Giants”, which dives into the history of the film’s making this time around and what has happened since the events documented in “Lost in La Mancha”. Count me in!

Dan Fogler talks about his new film “Don Peyote”

Dan Fogler is a man of many trade. The guy is an actor, director, artist and even won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. He has been in films like “Balls of Fury”, “Faboys” and also voiced the character Zeng in “Kung Fu Panda”. Dan’s latest film is quite personal to him and helped him achieve a personal journey. It is called “Don Peyote” and he not only starred in it but also wrote, produced and directed it. If you get the name it is definitely quite the trip but really gives Dan a chance to show off his very impressive acting chops. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about the film and the long road to hitting theaters on May 16th.

Mike Gencarelli: What the hell were you on when you came up with this crazy film, “Don Peyote”?
Dan Fogler: I am saying there is probably a strong foundation of THC in there. Then you have to add in on other aspects of hallucinogens along the way in a very Alice in Wonderland-esque fashion [laughs]. I have heard from some people that while watching the movie they get a buzz off it since it is such a trip. The film is sort of like my homage to “The Wizard of Oz”, where it goes black and white to color. Our character goes from a everyday Joe to a complete nut case and he sees this lush and colorful world.

MG: Tell us about the road to getting this film released on VOD now and in theaters on May 16th
DF: I started this film back in 2011 and I just wanted to make a movie about the energy that I was feeling at the time. A lot of people were going through it wondering what would happen at the end of 2012 with the Mayan Calendar. I was also about to get married and was stressing out a little about what the future would bring. So I wanted to document that and I decided to create this character Warren Allman, who was essentially like the “every man”. In the film he finds his purpose, which is to find what is coming at the end of 2012. He goes to the several steps of fearing it, then trying to prepare for it and just embracing it. I have always been fascinated about the guy standing on the side of the street with “The end is near” sign. How the hell did he get like that? [laughs]. Did it just appear like that? Or just drop out of a space ship? [laughs]. So Warren goes under this entire transformation throughout the film.

MG: Tell us about all the hats you wore for this film including directing, writing, producing and acting?
DF: Yeah, well a lot of it came out of necessity. I wanted to together a nice juicy role that I could get into it. A lot of it was just something that I was going through that I really wanted to document. I wanted to go through a journey and answer some questions about myself and I did that through this movie.

MG: How did you end up co-directing with Michael Canzoniero?
DF: I love him. He is a buddy of mine. The movie was just made with friends and with asking a lot of favors. We didn’t have a lot of money. When I made my first movie “Hysterical Psycho”, I thought that it was like going to camp. It was such a great experience of casting my friends and working with them. So I just did the same thing but on a slightly larger scale with “Don Peyote”.

MG: This role is quite dramatic as well as funny, tell us about ow you approached that aspect?
DF: I wanted to show off other sides of my acting. That was probably the catalyst for starting this film. I have also always been interest in that prophet journey and what would it be like to be a modern prophet. Plus at time, the energy globally was so phonetic. It seemed like the dial was turned up and I wanted to capture that in the movie. You have stuff like Occupy Wall Street happening and there were riots happening everywhere. It felt like people were just waiting for something to happen. I feel that post-2012, we are starting to get more of a positive vibe coming in here and that really was the message of the movie. Everything comes in waves. Things can be rough and hard but then around the corner you find happiness.

Styx’s Lawrence Gowan talks about the band’s “Soundtrack of Summer” 2014 tour with Foreigner & Don Felder

Lawrence Gowan is the lead vocalist/keyboardist for the legendary rock band. Earlier this year, they announced their 2014 summer tour titled “Soundtrack of Summer”, which will feature a co-headline with Foreigner and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Lawrence Gowan about their upcoming tour, creating new music and his thought’s on being a member of Styx for 15 years.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some info on the bands upcoming tour?
Lawrence Gowan: We will be out this summer with Foreigner and Don Felder. We have toured the states with Foreigner in some time. We did some shows with them over in England and we realized that the pairing of the two bands was just really great. We wanted to add a little more to the bill like we had done last summer bringing Ted Nugent out with this. This year were brining Don Felder formerly of the Eagles. It’s a great night of entertainment when you can add a third element that takes things over the top. We had done a show last year with Don and it was fantastic. The fact that he has written so many of those Eagles classics that people know is great but he also has an amazing band as well. We added him to the mix and now fans will get 3 hours of music that they know all the words to. The tour is being call the “Soundtrack to Summer” tour and I think that is very fitting. It definitely describes our experiences from playing in the U.S. and Canada. I think people will probably be tired from singing after it’s all over.

AL: The last tour featured Styx performing the “Pieces of Eight” and “Grand Illusion” albums in their entirety. Will the band be picking different albums to perform for this tour?
LG: I don’t think it will be this time. The evening is very much hit driven so I think people will be hearing all the songs they know. Having performed albums in their entirety I have found this to be a curious thing. The big thing is that audiences seem to keep getting younger and younger. So many people seem to have discovered classic rock in the last 10 years. At our shows we see younger people enjoying the experience of hearing some of our albums in their entirety. They seem to share their enthusiasm for both our hits and other tracks from the various albums that don’t get as much play. One of those tracks is “Man in the Wilderness”. That song was never released as a single and it has become a huge favorite. Of course we will be playing “Come Sail Away”, Blue Collar Man” and Renegade” as they are some of our corner stone’s but we can change our set a little to hit some of those more obscure songs which have become peoples favorites over the years. There’s going to be diversity in the night with an element of cohesiveness among the three bands.

AL: Being this is not the bands first time out in a multi-band tour format how do you go about keeping the shows fresh and new from year to year?
LG: That’s our task. It just so happens that we are band who is up to that challenge. We love hearing from fans that the show was even better than the last time they saw us. We are always trying to figure out ways to elevate the show and play the songs better than we have before. A song is a living thing. It’s not stagnant piece of music that stays the same. Every time we play one of our songs it’s going to be a little different. Each night songs take on new meaning for us when we play them. Each day is new and it’s another opportunity to try and get the song right. There is a lot more going on with the music than just being a collection of notes. There are feelings and emotions that need to be navigated every time you play a song. That’s our challenge. In addition to that Styx is a band of 5 front men. Everyone on stage is a great entertainer and musician. I think that’s why the audience is so engaged in what we do. We have a tremendous connection with the audience and we are certainly aware of that. The combination of the band, the song and the audience is infectious. We love what we do and constantly want to do it better.

AL: As an artist I am sure you always want to be creating new material however, does the fans wanting to hear the bands previous catalog make it tough to introduce new material?
LG: There is definitely a balance. We did a full album about 10 years ago that we are still trying to play as much as we can. It hard to squeeze a song in to the set but when we have the chance we will do that. We also had a cover album come out where we did a cover of “I am the Walrus” and that ended up being a big hit with classic radio stations. We try and get that one in there whenever we can. We have been trying to put out some new pieces when we can. We also have re-recorded some of the classic Styx songs and added new pieces to those. We always look for the opportunities to add something new. We also have to try and grapple with the reality of the music industry right now. The one thing that can’t be downloaded or replicated in any way is the live experience. That’s what people are drawn to.  Every show is different
and its own separate experience.

AL: This May will mark your 15th year as a member of Styx. When you first joined the band did you ever envision being where you are today?
LG: I have had a really fortunate career. I had a successful solo career in Canada prior to joining Styx and was able to garner a big enough audience to where I could one day perform with Styx in 1997 when they came to Montreal. That led to the second half of my career where I get to be a part of this legendary band. Not many people can make a claim like that. My career has gone backwards in that I had the long solo career and then a lengthy band career. I really have enjoyed the whole thing. There is always something more you want to accomplish but when I am beating myself up about that I look at where I am and see how fortunate I am. It’s a very unique situation and I am so grateful to be part of this.

Don Jamieson talks about VH1’s “That Metal Show” & new comedy album “Hell Bent for Laughter”

Don Jamieson is a veteran stand-up comedian who can be seen weekly on VH1 Classics popular television series “That Metal Show”. Along with co-host Jim Florentine and Eddie Trunk the trio spread the word of all things metal while incorporating in studio interviews with everyone from Zakk Wylde to Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Media Mikes spoke with Don recently about his work on the show and about his upcoming comedy album titled “Hell Bent for Laughter”.

Adam Lawton: How did you first get connected with Eddie Trunk?
Don Jamieson: Jim Florentine and I were fans of Eddie’s radio show which is on here in the NY/NJ area. We usually always listened to his show on our way back from some awful comedy gig that was out in the middle of nowhere that we didn’t get paid for. The only solace we would have from those crappy gigs back in the day was to get in to the “Trunk Zone”. On his show Eddie would talk about all the bands that we grew up listening to and really loved. Eddie was just like as so we had to meet him. Today they call it stalking (laughs) but we basically just walked around some shows until we found him and we all ended up becoming best friends. It’s great to all be working together on the VH1 Classic show.

AL: What were the first ideas mentioned about doing the show?
DJ: After we had become friends with Eddie he would have us on his radio show as guests and we were basically doing what would become the television show however on the radio at that time. We just talked about music and sat in when there were guests. We broke each other’s balls then just like we do now and there was some good chemistry there. We figured we would try and find someone crazy enough to put this on television.

AL: What has fan reception been like since returning to New York for season 13?
DJ: We loved doing the show in Los Angeles and being recognized while walking up and down the Sunset Strip was pretty. However were all East Coast guys and we missed taping in New York. I look out in to the audience there and see a lot of the same people who I used to see at L’Amour’s in Brooklyn in 1986. It really is a lot of fun.

AL: Did the push to move back to NY come from you guys or from the fans?
DJ: The network controls everything. We may seem like we are in control of stuff but really we have less control than the Amish. (Laughs)

AL: You guys always seem to be having fun in front of the camera but can you tell us what it’s like behind the scenes?
DJ: There is a lot of farting going on. Not much else goes on other than listening to music while crop dusting one another. (Laughs) We usually go over notes a little bit but with all three of us being metal heads now for 35/40 years it’s easy for us to sit down and have a conversation with one another along with our guest/guests. We like to just try and stay loose. We break each other’s balls and have a good time while talking about music.

AL: Has there been one guest in particular that has stuck out as a personal favorite of yours?
DJ: There has been a bunch. I will always love the stuff we did with Brian Johnson, Lemmy and Alice Cooper. I love the classic guys as those are the bands I came up with. Lemmy is seriously like my idol! I wish he would have adopted me. As far as the television show goes I love guests who are very outspoken and who tell it like it is. The season we had Ted Nugent on and to me that’s the ultimate guest. That guy holds nothing back and shoots straight from the hip. Sometimes guys like that can be polarizing but at the same time you know you are going to watch. You can’t wait to see what they are going to say next.

AL: How much of the show would you say is scripted?
DJ: We never plan what we are going to say to one another. That was the tuff part about putting the show together was how three people were going to interview one guest. Luckily we had worked out some of those kinks on the radio over the years. I can look out the corner of my eye and see if Jim or Eddie has a question they want to ask. We have some good non-verbal cues of how we are going to sort things out. We are fans just like the people watching so the questions we ask aren’t scripted. Hopefully we are asking the stuff that fans like us want to know. My favorite interviews are always the ones where you don’t get to the questions you want to ask because things ended up going a totally different but cool way. We just save those questions for when the guest comes back next time.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the things you have going on outside of the show?
DJ: I have my second stand-up album coming out March 18th on Metal Blade Records and it’s called “Hell Bent for Laughter”. This is my second album with them and I did a lot of hard rock and metal jokes as compared to my last album. That has become such a big part of my life and it would be hard to get up on a stage and not talk about that stuff.

AL: Being that you have pretty close ties to the hard/rock metal community do you find yourself checking your material on that subject a little more now than in the past?
DJ: If something gets a laugh on stage I am going to keep doing it. When I did the Orion Festival with Metallica I did some jokes about them with James and Lars right there. If the jokes funny it’s funny and it’s nothing for anyone to get offended by. I think most people know that this stuff comes from the heart. When you are with your buddies you break each other’s balls. That’s how you show affection for one another. You never say just go up to your buddy and say “I love you” unless your drunk in a bar somewhere. (Laughs) You bust on them for 10 minutes and they know you care.

AL: You and the other guys from the show have started doing some live shows together. Do you have any of those coming up in the near future?
DJ: Jim, Eddie and I go out and do these really fun stage shows. Eddie tells a bunch of hilarious rock and roll stories and Jim and I will do some stand-up. We also do some Q&A with the audience which is a lot of fun. Sometimes we bring up special guests if the situation occurs. If people want to find out where we are going to be they can check out my website at or Follow me on Twitter @realdonjamieson

Foreigner’s Kelly Hansen talks about “The Soundtrack of Summer” Tour with Styx and Don Felder

Photo Credit: S. Schweiger

Kelly Hansen is best known as the current lead singer of the rock band Foreigner. He joined the band in 2005 after Lou Gramm left in 2003 to pursue a solo career. Foreigner just announced their 2014 tour, called The Soundtrack of Summer along with Styx and Don Felder of The Eagles. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kelly about tour, music and other future plans.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what we can expect from your upcoming The Soundtrack of Summer tour?
Kelly Hansen: It is a tour of the U.S. and starts May 16th. Tickets are on sale now. It will consist of Foreigner, Styx and Don Felder (The Eagles). We are real excited about it. We all have been able to hang out recently and working on a re-recording of the track “Hotel California”. So that is pretty cool. We were also on “Fox and Friends” this past week in NYC, where we did a medley of “Juke Box Hero”, “Hotel California” and “Blue Collar Man”. We are rehearsing and getting ready and it has been great. I think it is going to be an awesome summer tour. It will certainly be a fun night of music with a lot of great hits.

MG: Foreigner and Styx have toured together before but tell us about the addition of former Eagles guitarist Don Felder?
KH: You are always trying to find a good package. It was a good time for us to try and all get together. Styx has been doing very well. Things are blowing up for Foreigner recently. We had had a lot of things come up and it has really given me the feeling that this is going to be a good year for us. I have a good feeling about this tour and that the vibe is going to be really good.

MG: Can you tell why you choose to record a new version of the Eagles’ “Hotel California”?
KH: I am not sure if it was a management idea or a band idea. I know that Tommy Shaw had written and played with Don on his latest record. So there was that partnership going on. We thought that it would be a good song for everyone to get on board with and be a part of and to redo for the show. Jeff and Don really came up with the arrangement, the plan and put it together. We all did different parts on it. I sing a verse…Tommy sings a verse…Don sings a verse. Tommy, Johnny and Don all play solos on it, so it is really cool.

MG: I read that Styx and Foreigner will interchange closing slots for the tour; tell us about this dynamic?
KH: Yeah, we call it flip-flopping. You come up with the cities for the tour and then you talk about which show would be good for each band to finish. Some fans want particular bands to close and that is cool. You just sort it and make sure it is pretty even. I like it because it makes it feel like a co-headlining gig.

MG: What can fans expect from the compilation album as well to go along with the tour?
KH: It is going to have songs from each band on there and maybe a couple of extras things. It will be available for sale during the tour. I am not sure of the complete details yet.

MG: Tell us about your appearance at a New Jersey Buffalo Wild Wings to get customers psyched for the Super Bowl halftime show this year?
KH: It was very last minute, we went in on our day off, and I had just gotten back from Germany. I went into the studio and re-sang the lyrics since the words changed for the spot. Then we flew into Secaucus, NJ and it was very on the fly. There were like twelve hidden cameras in the restaurant. It is a sports bar, so there were a lot of TV screens throughout. We had these cheerleaders come out with tons of confetti and we just started playing the tune. We totally surprised people and we did it a few times. We would wait for the restaurant to clear out and do it again. It was wild. Everyone had a great time.

MG: Lastly tell us about plans for a new Foreigner album and plans for yet another tour later this year to play the “4” album in its entirety?
KH: We were talking about doing that, yeah. We are also going to Germany to do an acoustic tour, which is something we have never done before. We will be playing all these cool opera houses in Germany. We were talking about doing the whole “4” album in its entirety, which will be cool. Concerning the album, there is already some writing that has started. I do not know if it will be a whole new album, it will mostly likely be a mix package with new material and hits. So we are looking forward to that as well.

MG: How do you get the energy to constantly tour non-stop?
KH: It is pretty heavy duty. I really have to try and take care of myself. I got a green juice sitting next to me right now. I have to make sure I get plenty of rest. The management and everybody is real good to make sure about asking me if I can do a particular schedule and they take real good care of me.

MG: I am a juicer myself, so I am sure the fans are going to want to know what your green juice recipe is?
KH: Mine is spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, ginger, lemon and apple. I like to do it heavy on the green, just a little bit of fruit. I do not like sweet juice. I like it to be pretty gnarly. I like that [laughs]. If you are juicing andf you have all that pulp left over, what you should do is put all that in a pot fill it up with water and you can make this great vegetable stock that you can use for all kinds of recipes. That way you can use the vegetables twice, especially if you are buying organic and they are more expensive. You juice the vegetable first and take that out and use that to make the stock. Then you go and put in your fruit, so you are not making a vegetable stock with fruit in it. I really enjoy that.

Film Review “Don Jon”

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 30 mins
Relativity Media

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Don Jon” is the story of a man in New Jersey who cares and believes solely and whole heartedly in his body, his bachelor pad, family, God, girls and porn. And not in any particular order because, if so, porn would be in between every thing he loves. Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is a bartender that loves the night life, and there isn’t a night that he goes out that he returns home alone. He has no problems getting girls and they are always an 8 or better. So what’s the problem? He loves porn! He watches it any time he has a spare moment. For this reason any encounter he has is never like the clips and videos he watches. He is always left feeling unfulfilled, disappointed, still looking for that great sex!

Enter Barbara Sugarman (Johansson) She’s a “dime” — a straight up 10. Jon is in love at first sight and unlike every other girl in New Jersey she makes him work for it. No first night hook up, no one dinner date hookup. It’s meet the families, meet the friends, spend quality time. He is in love and he’s sure nothing could ruin this feeling…she’s the girl he’s been looking for to change him. But, just like every other girl, she isn’t a pornstar or anyone that gets paid for sex. He realizes this after their first encounter. Back to the porn he goes only to have Barbara catch him in the act. Heart broken and realizing the overall problem he actually has, he finds help directly and indirectly from the people around him, including his parents, played by Tony Danza and Glenne Headly, and an older woman in Jon’s class played by Julianne Moore.

This film is a very impressive writing and directing debut by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He captured a lifestyle of men that is becoming somewhat of a common problem in America and across the world. With easy access to the internet men are just a click away from beautiful, sexy, easy women. This gives men delusions of how woman act and that you can still find that one girl that will do anything but you can take home to your parents and, more importantly, to church. He details this struggle very well which makes me wonder…how much of this story is fact and how much is fiction.

The film not only shows the struggle of an addict and his consequences, it follows his story to the end. Deceit in a relationship comes with consequences. With consequences a great lesson is generally learned. Though you may have lost that love you had the lessons learned are much more important. You love and lose but you will love again.

“Don Jon” is well written with a great cast. It’s a great love story with numerous short, one second porn clips. In other words, it’s a love story that men will enjoy. Gordon-Levitt does a fine job on both sides of the camera and I will make sure to catch the next movie he decides to put his talents to.


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Don Coscarelli talks about “John Dies at the End” and “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “Phantasm” sequels

Don Coscarelli is one of my favorites directors in the business. He has directed films like the
“Phastasm” series, “The Beastmaster” and “Bubba Ho-Tep”. His films just seems to grab this cult following and only grow over the years. I worked as part of the street team going back to “Bubba Ho-Tep” and it was such a great experience. If you are a fan of his work then you have already seen or need to immediately see his latest film “John Dies at the End”, which arrived on Blu-ray and DVD on April 2nd. It is a fantastic film and a great return for Don. Media Mikes took out sometime to chat with Don about this film and also got some tips about the “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “Phantasm” sequels.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us what attracted you to “John Dies at the End”?
Don Coscarelli: I am an avid reader and I always try to pick up books that are interesting. It’s not that easy to sit around and generate a completely new idea. I have done that a few times but it is a challenge. It is a lot easier when you find a nice piece of literature and turn it into a feature. True story, I got this email out of the blue in my inbox one day from a robot at They told me that I would love “John Dies at the End”. I read the byline for it and thought that it would make a great movie. It is just an interesting testament to the power of these computer programs and algorithms that Amazon has in place to track our taste. I read the book and just loved the attitude and style, sense of humor, had some great characters and villains and I knew it was for me. So I tracked down the writer and bought the movie rights.

MG: The story is quite epic; where you ever concerned about the scale of the story before making it?
DC: Of course. For starters, I thought that the film would have been great for a major studio release. I might have been completely naive but I thought it would be a fresh new kind of horror with a little comedy mixed in. I went out and tried to get major studios to fund it and they just didn’t get it. Then ended up realizing that we would have to make it on a much smaller budget with the money I was able to raise myself and with investors. It was a very ambitious project going into and there were new challenges every day. It was a bit of an effort but it paid off for sure.

MG: There are quite a bit of visual effects used in the film; would you say this has been you-r most ambitious project yet?
DC: Yes absolutely. I think that part of it Mike is that I am a naturally optimistic person and I always put myself into these situations. In the first “Phantasm”, I had this pretty cool sequences written out with a flying sphere and goes into the persons head. I just thought, “Yeah, we’ll figure out how to make it fly and into his head later”. When we were out there in the mausoleum, we just sat there wondering how the hell we were going to pull this off. Thankfully using fishing line, paper clips and tape worked out for us. In this movie it was the same situation. We figured that we could find a way to make the meat monster and then send them to this other world as well and have this 80 foot long eye-ball creature. I just keep saying “We’ll figure out a way to make it work”. I get myself into trouble sometimes. I think the fact we were able to put some level of polished visual effects into the film and I am very happy with them.

MG: Tell us about the creature effects used in the film? Meat Monster?
DC: One of the benefits of having made some movies is that I have a lot of great friends out there. Robert Kurtzman helped us out on this film. He is also a great director as well and directed the film “Wishmaster” back in the day. He was one of the founding make-up effects artists with KNB EFX as well. Greg (Nicotero), Howard (Berger) and Bob have been so helpful with my career over the years. Bob created the Bubba Ho-Tep. Howard did the Bruce Campbell old age make-up. Greg was even an apprentice going all the way back to “Phantasm II”. So Bob has always offered to help out. He created the meat monster suit and it is a wonderful work of art. There is so much detail there that doesn’t even translate onto the screen. There is tons of stuff that you barely see like, a whole pineapple ham on one of the monsters hands. That was a totally old school sequence by the way. The entire shot was done with meat on fishing line. We choreographed it with all the meat on the floor. We even used some reverse motion and it was a lot of fun. There were some other great effects as well that Bob put together like the mustache bat. That was really cool. I was looking at it the other day in my office and it is this little mustache with the wing aperture on its back, like a bird. We filmed it on a green screen and then filled it in. There was a bunch of great old school stuff in this film.

MG: The flying mustache scene reminded me of the scene in “Bubba Ho-Tep”, when Elvis is fighting the Scarab in his room.
[Laughs] That’s funny Mike because when I read this book and I came across that sequence with the mustache, I thought to myself that this was sort of like “Bubba Ho-Tep”. There are other elements as well that are right out of “Phantasm”. It was my kind of stuff!

MG: David Wong (aka Jason Pargin) has written a sequel, “This Book Is Full of Spiders”; any interest in continuing the story?
DC: I would first like to say that the sequel is great. It is called “This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It”. It is just a very cool follow-up and I think it is brilliant in many ways. It is a little premature now to try and decide for it to be a sequel. We would need to see how this film does. If it came the time and it seemed viable, I would certainly take it on.

MG: Since the ends credits of “Bubba Ho-Tep”, over 10 years ago. we have been waiting for a sequel; is that still in the cards?
DC: It is always in the cards [laughs]. The cool thing about it is that I learned from when I was touring with “John Dies at the End” is how many people freaking love “Bubba Ho-Tep”. It’s so great. I think that maybe the delay we had is actually a good thing because it is developing this great cult following. I for sure want to do it and I know that Bruce Campbell still wants to do it. I think we just need to find a way to pull it all together.

MG: Next year is 35 years since the first “Phantasm”. Since Phantasm: Oblivion” was released, there were talks of a fifth sequel; why do you fans keeping asking and why does this series refuse to die?
DC: Look I would love to take all the credit for that [laughs], but look I think it has to do with the power of those performances. The weird thing about it is that when this first came out we were criticized for some of the acting in the movie. Yet with these performances by Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister and of course Angus Scrimm folks really love them. After the fourth film, I was hoping to wrap up the story since it was a bit open-ended in a “Phantasm” way. So fans have always been asking for a “Phantasm 5”. The good thing is though the actors are in great shape. Angus has a nice role in “John Dies at the End”; I thought he pulled it off beautifully. This is something that I will be looking into in the near future, since there is a definitely an audience out there.

Don Felder talks about working with The Eagles and his new solo album

Don Felder is probably best known for his lead guitar work with The Eagles. Felder was inducted with the group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 however left the group shortly their after. He has recently released a new solo album titled “Road to Forever” which is his first solo release in 30 years. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with Don recently about the album, his autobiography and his plans for 2013.

Adam Lawton: With your last solo album being released 30 years ago what prompted you to now release an album of new material?
Don Felder: When you are in The Eagles you eat, breath and sleep Eagles business. You are either on the road, writing songs, doing interviews or performing. It is something that is all consuming and a monster of a machine. When I left the band in 2001 I really went through a period of self reflection. I started meditating between 30 and 40 minutes a day where I would look back at my life. I was trying to get a handle on what had happened to me and how I had changed. I would come out of these sessions and write down my recollections. My fiancé had read them and told me she thought it would make a great book. I told her that I was the world’s worst English student in high school and I actually had to go to summer school because I failed English. The next thing I know I am on a plane to New York with a literary agent. We ended up coming back with 5 offers from publishing companies to publish this book. I then had to look at the daunting task of having to take all these recollections  of my life story and write it in to a book. That took some time. During that first year of separation from the Eagles I also was separating/divorcing from my wife. Everything that I knew was stripped away from me. I had to find a place where I could resolve all of that. As I was going through the book writing process there would be painful parts that I needed to work through. To help myself through those tuff times I would go in to my home studio and write a song about it. I wrote 26 song ideas at about the same time I was writing my book. This was an effort to emotionally and intellectually flush myself of these feelings. I didn’t want to carry this excess baggage with me through the remaining years of my life. After the book was published I went out on the road to promote it as well as doing shows with my solo band which I have had for about the last 8 and a half years. In between all of that I worked on this album. I took the best 16 songs from the original 26 and recorded them for this CD. At that point I really shifted myself away from book writing and promotion. There were a lot of reasons that caused this album to take so long. I definitely wasn’t at home just twiddling my thumbs. (Laughs) I had a really full plate on all levels.

AL: Did you find any similarities between writing a book and writing music?
DF: Absolutely! It was a dual cathartic experience. On one hand I was writing the text of my life while on the other I was writing the music to my life. I turned those stories and experiences in to songs. To me real art weather its film, literature, painting or music contains stuff that have a human common denominator. People can experience those things and relate to them. I felt it was important for me to take my experiences and put them in these songs.  For me that is one of the most personal things an artist can do is to expose themselves in these ways. I felt the process to be very personal on both levels.

AL: The album features an impressive lineup of guest appearances. How did you go about picking people to appear on the album?
DF: One of my top criteria was having people that I know and who are good people and friends that wanted to have fun. When I finished the song “Fall From the Grace of Love” I wanted it to have these really great harmonies in the chorus. I called my friend Steven Stills who I was in a band with when I was 15. He actually lives down the road from me and we hang out and play golf together. When I got to California the first band I was in was Crosby, Nash. I called those guys up and asked them if they would sing on the record. They came over immediately and we had a really great time. There was no drama like I was so used to with my old band. Steve Lukather is probably one of the funniest guys to be in a room with. Not only is he a great guitar player but he is a ton of laughs. He played on the song “Road to Forever”. Tommy Shaw of Styx came in and helped with a couple tracks. Randy Jackson also came in and did some bass work on a song. Everyone knows him as the “Dawg dude” on “American Idol” but, he is a monster bass player! Randy is probably one of the top players in the Los Angeles area. He just destroyed this thing. They are all just friends of mine who happened to be in or around town. We had a lot of fun and made some great music. Those sessions really wiped away the old stigma of being in the studio and having arguments and contentious feelings. There was none of that and everything was just all good. In fact I had such a good time that I will promise the next album will not take another 30 years. (Laughs)

AL: How did your song “Fall From the Grace of Love” end up being chosen to appear in an episode of Showtime’s “Homeland”?
DF: I love the show and was just as shocked as everyone else when I heard they wanted to use one of my songs. I watch that show religiously as I think it is one of the most exciting shows on television right now. I got a call a few weeks back by the people who handle my publishing company that they had received a request from the people at “Homeland” to use the song. I said absolutely and felt quite honored.

AL: Can you tell us about your tour plans for the rest of this year and in to 2013?
DF: I think my last date for 2012 is December 15th. We have had such a great response to not only the new record but also the live shows that I plan on working from early February through fall of 2013. I will probably stay out on the road until it gets too cold to be slopping around out there. I could certainly use a vacation right now. It seems the closest I get to a vacation these days is doing interviews with people like yourself.

AL: What do you think has been the biggest change in your audiences over the years?
DF: Personally I am not a fan of going to really large venues like football stadiums or hockey arenas to hear music. I think that is the wrong place to go. The sound is usually bad and most instances you are so far away from the stage that you get a better show watching the video monitor than you do from your seat. It is just not comfortable. I prefer to play the 3-5,000 seat arenas. In the summer I do like playing larger venues like State Fairs and such with bands like Reo Speedwagon and the Doobie Brothers. Those big festivals that happen during the day are really great and people love that. I think the smaller venues are much more comfortable and intimate. It also is better sounding for the artist and listener at a smaller venue. We are also able to make the ticket prices much more affordable than that of say the Eagles. About 60 percent of my shows consist of Eagles songs while the rest is covers and solo material. It’s a great evening where by the end everyone is up on their feet dancing and having a great time. There is no drama as it’s just a great group of guys playing great music and having fun.

AL: Is there anything else we can be watching for from you in the coming year?
DF: There are a lot of things in the planning stages for 2013. Those things will start to show up on the website once they become public. Right now there are a couple tours being planned. One includes going to Japan, Europe and Australia. That is going to be contingent on the routing of where we will be and when during next year. I can’t really say exactly what will happen until those are contracted. I love to be out playing music and have a very child like enthusiasm for it. When you are doing something you love to do it is a playful experience. I have been fortunate enough and been given the gift to be able to do what I love. I enjoy it for that.

Blu-ray Review “Don Juan DeMarco”

Directed by: Jeremy Leven
Starring: Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway, Rachel Ticotin, Bob Dishy
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Running Time: 97 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

1997 was an odd time for Johnny Depp, he is popular but not yet guaranteed to be bankable. The star of this film really though is Bryan Adams for his song “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?”, easily one of the best love songs ever. The film itself has problems but looks great hitting Blu-ray for the first time, thanks to Warner Bros. Since Johnny Depp has become this giant international star, it is a lot easier to watch his earlier films (if that makes sense).

Johnny Depp plays John Arnold DeMarco, a man who believes he is Don Juan, the greatest lover in the world. He examined by psychiatric Dr. Jack Mickler (Brando) in order to cure him of this delusion. During the treatments, it becomes more apparent that this is a medical issue, especially when the Dr. rekindles the romance in his own marriage. Great co-starring cast including Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway.

The Blu-ray itself looks beautiful with its 1080p transfer. Some of the locations in the film are just breathtaking. The audio packs an impressive DTS-HD Master Audio, which works some amazing with the film’s score. In fact the special features, though very dismal, include an isolated score track which I highly recommend. The only other extra is the music video for Bryan Adams’s “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?”. Of course it is great to watch it but it is also easily available right on YouTube in high quality.

Buy It 4/10 on Blu-ray™
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Synopsis: Two time Academy Award winner Marlon Brando (On The Waterfront, The Godfather), Academy Award winner Faye Dunaway (Network) and Johnny Depp (Pirates Of The Caribbean, Blow) deliver tour de force performances in this critically acclaimed romantic comedy. John Arnold DeMarco (Depp) is a man who believes he is Don Juan, the greatest lover in the world. Clad in a cape and mask, DeMarco undergoes psychiatric treatment with Dr. Jack Mickler (Brando) to cure him of his apparent delusion. But the psychiatric sessions have an unexpected effect on the psychiatric staff and, most profoundly, Dr. Mickler, who rekindles the romance in his complacent marriage.

Interview with .38 Special’s Don Barnes

Don Barnes is one of the founding members of the Southern rock band .38 Special.  He provides vocals and guitar for the band and is responsible for many of the group’s biggest hits, including “Rockin’ into the Night”, “Hold On Loosely” and  “Caught Up in You.  .38 Special is tours constantly and currently took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about his music and how he keeps touring fresh over the years.

Mike Gencarelli: So where are you currently touring this week?
Don Barnes: We are currently appearing at Epcot’s Food and Fine Festival concert series on 10-3-11 through 10-5-11.  It is a very exciting venue.

MG: Let’s talk about the many generations of fans that you have. How can you reflect that you not only have one generation of fans but many?
DB: Well I think it is really great because a lot of the fans were fans back in the 80’s and they played our music. We have a lot of cross sections of ages that come to our show and we like to see that. We are all big cult kid oriented kids…I mean we’re basically kids our selves. We like to crank the guitar up and be 19 years old again. People come out and it’s always a good cross-section. It’s everything you want to hear from a band. It’s just your high energy, bombastic presentation. We have people singing along and it’s a real surreal thing for us. Donny and I remember sitting at the kitchen table and scratching out lyrics and trying to come up with just the right thing to say, and then to see ten thousand people singing along. It’s an experience that not a lot of people get to have.

MG: You guys tour a lot all year. What do you guy’s do to keep that fresh and original for you?
DB: We do a hundred cities a year, every year. We’ve been doing that the past 25 years or so. We try to get our quota in, but we change the set up a bit. We move things around, we put new songs in and things. But we realized over the years that somebody that bought the album, the old vintage antique album and held on to it, that there are other songs there that may not have been top charting songs but they remember them because from when they play that album. We try to put things in that we like that are kind of in your face attitude. We’ve become kind of the premier live act because people know it’s a successful event because we bring the party to the people all the time. It’s really about the celebration of the brotherhood of us neighborhood guys. We started out a long time ago like anybody, practicing in the garage and you get the cops called on you for being too loud. But you know it’s a celebration and it’s carried us into the future. We appreciate everybody making us a part of their lives all these years. We try to bring those  songs out and we see the reaction immediately. We see high fives out there we see people singing along that have tears in their eyes because it reminds them of some time in their lives for nostalgic reasons or whatever. It really makes us play those  songs with just as much passion and commitment that was there the first time that we recorded them. It’s always been 110% from us and it’s kind of unspoken thing from us that we don’t slack up we stack up. It’s a team effort. We look at it as a real team thing. We go out there to win every night and I think that’s what has contributed to the longevity of the group.

MG: I’ve seen you all live a few times and you always have so much energy it’s unbelievable.
DB:  I appreciate that, we all played our dues, we all starved together. We all came from Jacksonville. All the groups, from Lynyrd Skynyrd to The Allman Brothers, to Molly Hatchet. Everybody came from Jacksonville and wonders if it’s in the water or something. Even The Outlaws are right down the road. It really was as young kids…young boys, we were playing in sailors clubs at 15 years old. We made $150 a week and that was pretty good for 15 years old. The fundamentals we learned early on about structures of songs and the craft of song writing because you learned all the popular songs back then. You start sensing the elements about what makes it popular to get it on the radio. You then decide how you will write your own songs and you starve for 10 years [laughs]. If it was easy everybody would be doing it.

MG: You have such a great library of songs, what do you do to choose your set list for each show?
DB: We see the reaction from songs we try songs out, we try to line them up. We look at it like a graph. It starts off with a big opening and the graph goes up and up and up and in the middle you give a little relief like Donnie does a tribute to his brother Ronnie from Lynyrd Skynyrd. You know Ronnie was killed in a plane crash in ’77 so we do a song called “Rebel to Rebel” that relaxes the people with the emotions and nature of the song. Then we go on climbing and climbing and we end with a big high note and everybody is exhausted along with us. It’s everything you want to hear through the history of the band. We put together a medley of secondary songs from movies. A lot of soundtracks and things. We want to make sure people hear their favorite song. Even “Back to Paradise” from “Revenge of the Nerds’ movies. We make sure we get them all in there.

MG: You’ve toured with thousands of people, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon, Hank Williams; can you share any crazy tour stories?
DB: We opened for Kiss back in the 70’s and they had a radio contest and this was back when nobody had heard about us before. Kiss was in their big wave of success, they grossed something like four million dollars that year or something. Every city had Kiss face contests and we would play and just for the first hundred rows we would see nothing but people with grease paint on their faces and it was really like “The Twilight Zone” to us.

MG: How did you all become involved with CMT’s “Road Pranks”?
DB: They just called us up and said they wanted to do a show about what people  do on their day off. That was the whole ruse was to include our crew. We talked about the ruse was they wanted to come film what bands does on their day off. In reality it was going to be that we were going to set them up and play a trick on them. The fake show was going to be called “Down Time” and I told all the crew guys so we would see all the hobbies that they have. Of course all the crew guys are all gear heads, rocket enthusiasts and tech heads with miniature rockets and stuff. We set them up bad [laughs]. In the mean time we are planning on having the fire department, Home Land Security, the cops are going to come raining down on us for using rockets and stuff.  Of course we were all in on the joke but we had to act like we were in trouble too. It worked out pretty good. Those cops were pretty good. Those cops even had me scared a little bit! When we finally revealed it to them they weren’t very happy about all that. They didn’t speak to us for a day or two there. They didn’t know how to take it. They have sworn revenge on us though that they will get us back.

MG: Tell us about the new album, Live In Texas, recently released on August 31st, 2011.
DB: We are putting together a collection of songs through several cities from Texas and calling it “Live From Texas: 36 Special”. We were able to use a lot of advances in technology, we were able to bring our own equipment and record. At first we were just going to record it and have them at the merchandise table at the shows so the fans could sort of bring the party home with them, but when we listened back we realized this was some killer stuff, it came out a lot better than we thought it was. We decided to get them packaged up and distributed. A lot of pictures and everything. The main thing with utilizing the technology though is that a listener could put on headphones on and it literally feels like you’re sitting right in the middle of the crowd and right in front of the band. That’s not something that a lot of live acts can do. It’s almost like surround sound. You can just place the crowd behind you and around you and of course the sound of the band is all over you. It’s just the celebration of all that and it’s just rockin’. We’re real happy with the way it came out. It is available now on and iTunes and in stores. “Live From Texas: 38 Special”.

MG: I hear that you are in pre-production for a new studio album, is that true?
DB: Yeah. I mean we have several projects going right now. Of course newly written songs, big rock stuff, you know, we call it Muscle and Melody. We put the Muscle of the Guitars and the strength of that in your face and good melody and story over the top. We have that going and that should be released next year. We also have an acoustic sort of version of some of the classic songs that we were able to take poetic license to change the keys and rearrange things, like the song If I’d Been the One became a really beautiful ballad. We didn’t want to take it where it was an unplugged series where bands just sat on a stools and basically played the songs the same they do electrically because that is kind of boring to us. So like “Caught Up In You”, has a beat too it and a bit of reggae. Also we are entertaining some new movie projects…soundtracks and things.

MG: What is your process when you create new songs? Where do you draw your inspiration from for certain projects?
DB: Songwriters tend to always be in search of a great premise, a good title, anything that sort of sparks the  original germ of the idea. Like Caught Up In You; years ago I was dating this girl and I said You know I can’t every get any work done, I’m just so caught up in you all the time. It was like  a lightbulb went on, like that was a great positive thing. A happy angle to it. There are other songs that have a darker side but A Whole Lot of Loosely was about a marriage that I’d gone through. It was going down hill and I thought “Why Can’t people Celebrate their differences and not try and control each other”. So out of a negative message came a positive piece of advice. We try to put the truth in our songs so people can relate to their own lives. It’s kind of undeniable thing when you use the truth.  It’s one thing to say “Ooo baby I need you, I miss you.” but that’s kind of made up, contrived song, and people sense that. If there is a real story there, I can just tell you to keep the antenna up there, from personal experiences, there is just a wealth of information there. If you can scratch down a title you can come back to it later. As far as the musical side of it, that all comes from just noodling around on a guitar or piano or something with a little micro cassette player and I can take just ten seconds of something and then move on to something else Then when you come back to it you almost can’t remember that you’d played it so you listen to it more objectively from a different perspective and you think “Hey that’s not a bad idea, I can make a song out of that.” That all comes from experience, of learning how to noodle around and how to entertain yourself.