Interview with GWAR’s Don Drakulich

If you don’t recognize the name Don Drakulich, you might know him better as Sleazy P. Martini, the leisure suit wearing manager of GWAR. Not only is Don one of the founding members of the horror themed rock group, but Don also is a special effects artist and owns his own special effects production company, Hyper Real Productions. recently had the chance to speak with Don about his career in the effects business as well as his time with GWAR.

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Adam Lawton: What made you want to get involved in the FX business?
Don Drakulich: I had always been playing around with stuff.  My dad had bought me a super 8 camera when I was in high school.  Like a lot of kids from the 70’s, I had been wowed by “Star Wars”.  So in my mind I wanted to do the same sort of thing. My friends and I would take models and black backgrounds with pin holes for stars in them and try and duplicate the things from “Star Wars.” After high school, I went to college to originally double major in film and illustration.  But when I got there I found illustration wasn’t what I had expected, and there was no actual proper film degree. They had film classes, but not an actual program. I ended up following through with painting and print making and gave up the idea of being Frank Frizetta. It wasn’t until after my first year out of school that I started hanging out at the dairy which was a spot in Richmond, Virginia where everyone would come together and hang out. That’s when I got back into the FX sort of stuff. It was kind of a return for me to my early interests and from there it was pretty much all self-taught.

AL: Was this around the same time that you met up with Dave Brockie?
DD: Yeah it was about 1985/86 that I started hanging around those guys, and we started doing FX stuff. We didn’t have money at the time to do effects the way they are normally done, so we figured out a bunch of low budget ways to do things. We were using things like cloth re-enforced with glue, which was how we made some of the early costumes. Within about a year we were dabbling in latex, but we were along ways a way from being Rick Baker.

AL: How did you guys come up with what GWAR was going to be?
DD: Initially the GWAR costumes were going to be for a low budget movie that Hunter Jackson wanted to make called “Scum Dogs of the Universe.” Hunter approached Dave about using some of his band Death Piggy’s music in the movie, and Dave saw the costumes and said why don’t you let us open a show or perform in the costumes.  Hunter did and the whole thing snowballed from there. The idea started to run away from Hunter at that time, and it began to be more about the band than the movie.

AL: Did the movie ever get made?
DD: No, not even close. There were aspects of the movie that were eventually shot for shorts but the epic which he had planned which was set to take place on a space ship that gets attacked by space pirates never got off the ground. The closest thing to it would probably be the video for “Cardinal Sin” as it kind of has some of the elements that were going to be for the film. The basic idea was “Road Warrior” in space. That’s kind of how the whole GWAR thing started out. We were heavily inspired by “Road Warriors.”

AL: In GWAR’s first movie “Phallus in Wonderland” aside from your role as Sleazy P. Martini, did you have a hand in any of the production?
DD: I did some of the editing, as well as being the special FX coordinator for the movie. I went out and basically put together the crew that was actually going to do the film. I linked up with Blaire Dobson after meeting him at a show in Canada.  We decided to use his production crew. Unfortunately Blaire was let go about mid way through the process, however some of his crew stayed on to finish.  I guess you could say I was Executive Producer even though I didn’t pull the money strings. I did put together the crew that made that film happen.

AL: Your character, Sleazy P. Martini, made his first appearance as this time correct?
DD: No, it actually started right at the very beginning. Originally, we had two Martini type characters/managers, and after a show or two, we decided to try myself out as the character. I then took the characters and evolved them both into one greasy 70’s Elvis type leisure suit wearing pimp.

AL: You toured with the band in 2008 which was your first time since 1996 correct?
DD: Yep I hadn’t done much touring since 1996. I did a three week stint in 2000 w/ the Misfits which was loads of fun, but I have been staying away from touring since then.

AL: Any particular reason?
DD: As an artist you find it very frustrating. You need to create new things and doing new stuff, and when you are on the road, you are at a kind of always doing the same thing night after night. I had also gotten married at the time.  But personally it was dislike of being on the road. People are always asking me why I walked away.

AL: Recently the Sleazy character did make an appearance on Jimmy Fallon recently, correct?
DD: Yeah that was me. I got to be a face in the crowd. That was interesting.  They always make jokes about how cheap the late night sets are, and not until you get there do you realize they really are cheap (laughs). The production is very small as well as the audience. This was, I think, the first time GWAR had ever performed properly on National TV.

AL: Can you tell us what you have going on lately?
DD: Right now my main efforts are going towards putting together a documentary about the very early years of GWAR. It’s being produced by me and Bob Gorman. Right now I am going through the reams of footage I have. I am kind of looking at it as finding a needle in a hay stack, but the entire haystack is full of needles.  So it’s hard to pick a spot to start. There is about 24-25 hours of interview footage alone, as well as a lot of old performance footage and pictures. I want to show the inception of GWAR when the band first started out at the Richmond Dairy. But overall, what I really would love to do is an FX based project, so put the word out.

Go to to check out photos of some of Don’s work and to purchase limited edition GWAR sculptures and DVD’s

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Sleazy P. Martini

Interview with Scott Bakula

Scott Bakula is one of the stars of TNT’s hit show “Men of a Certain Age” which returns this Fall for its second season. Scott is no stranger to television after starring in classic hit television series, “Quantum Leap”, “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “Chuck”. In “Men of a Certain Age”, Scott really shines in his role of Terry. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Scott about his work on the show and whats to come in season two.

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Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to star in “Men of a Certain Age?”
Scott Bakula: They sent me a script and told me it was for the new Ray Romano TV show. I was interested, as I’m sure everyone was, to say what Ray was going to do after “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I was really just taken by these three guys and their relationship. I thought it was unusual television…I thought it was unique television. And risky because…in the world we live in today is anybody going to tune in to watch three old guys talking about “stuff?” And happily it’s worked out. I think at the time that I came in to audition Andre’ (Braugher) was pretty close to being a done deal. I didn’t know he or Ray so I said, “let’s go see if I can get along with these guys!” We hit it off and then I went back a couple of days later and did some scenes on video, which they sent over to the network. Ray jumped in and we talked about the material. And I got the part.

MG: What has been the best part, for you, in working on this show?
SB: When the three of us are doing something together…that’s when I think the show works great. Ray came from stand up and has a unique sense of humor. He has a lot of character. And a lot of his life’s views are in the middle of this piece…in all three characters. We have a really good time working together. It’s very easy…very natural. We laugh a lot and have a really good time. That’s very unusual I think.

MG: That’s what I like about the show. The three of you guys…it’s so natural. It’s like you’re not even acting.
SB: I agree with you. And that was the hope…that’s why we all went through the audition process. I mean, you have three guys who once had their own t.v. shows. A few t.v. shows. And to put the three of us together could have been a disaster. One guy might want more of this or more of that or more attention. But we just don’t have any of that. It’s very easy and simple. And I think that shows on screen. And that’s lucky.

MG: We recently interviewed Melinda McGraw, who co-stars with you. How is it to work with her?
SB: We’ve had a really great time. You know it’s funny…we worked together 20 years ago on “Quantum Leap.” Her first t.v. show was “Quantum Leap.” And I remembered her well from that show…it was a very distinctive episode. It’s funny, because I hadn’t seen her in 20 years and the way her character is introduced is that she and I had done a commercial 20 years ago. And that commercial is now on YouTube all of a sudden…it’s done in a retro, really bad way. It’s one of those things where you know everybody is laughing at it and making fun of it. And so we reconnect that way. And in real life I hadn’t seen her in 20 years either, so it’s been a really comfortable relationship. She’s a great actress. And she fits in with the style of the show really well.

MG: What can we expect from your character, Terry, in season two?
SB: Well the big thing is that he’s working at the car dealership…and that’s a big challenge for him. Just having a regular job is a huge challenge for him. He’s trying to do a good job for his friend. He’s trying to put his life together. He does a lot of growing up this year on the show. He does a lot of growing up this year on the show. He gets into a rivalry with another employee of the dealership and it’s typical guy stuff. He gets competitive and he gets ticked off and they kind of have this rivalry. But Terry also finds out that he can be successful at something and that is a big deal to him. And now this relationship with Melinda comes along and he’s experimenting in being in a committed relationship. Of course, in the tradition of our show, there are a lot of seriously bad bumps along the way, which I don’t want to give away. It’s a rocky ride for Terry. Which is what you’d expect from a guy like him.

MG: The show is very funny, but also has a very dramatic tone. How is it to play both sides?
SB: I love it. I think any artistic endeavor…if it’s just one thing that’s not life. Life is a lot of things happening at once. Some days it’s tough and other days it’s goofy. It’s moment to moment. The things that pull you down…you just never know. And that’s what I think life is. And I think the show reflects all aspects of it. And I think that’s why people are relating to it. We’re not trying to be, “oh here comes the big drama scene,” or here comes…we’re really bouncing all over the place. With three guys in different places in their lives it also gives us great variety.

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Interview with Ernie Hudson

From Winston Zeddemore in the “Ghostbusters” series to Warden Leo Glynn on HBO’s “Oz”. Ernie Hudson has played a wide array of roles. Movie Mikes’ Adam Lawton got a chance to talk with Ernie at this years Chiller Theatre convention and got a chance to ask him about his career and the possibility of a “Ghostbusters 3”.

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Adam Lawton: You played Warden Glynn on HBO’s hit series “Oz”, was it hard for you to come out of that role when shooting was all done for the day?
Ernie Hudson: No it’s not hard. It’s acting. I would be in the character on set with all the other guys who are into their roles but at the end of the day I am very clear about who I am and who the character is. It was an interesting character. I think if an actor plays a character that he loves or people seem to like that character more than him, it’s very tempting to want to stay there.

AL: You were in the Crow with the late Brandon Lee was it hard for you and the rest of the cast to go back to work after the tragedy that occurred involving Brandon.
EH: I didn’t want to go back and do it but a lot of the guys felt that Brandon had worked so hard on the film, that it would be a shame not to finish it. So we came back and finished after about an eight week break. “The Crow” is actually one of my favorite movies. They really did a great job with it, but it’s just so tragic. They had actually called me to do the other films but I felt that after the first one it should have been put to rest.

AL: Working with Bill Murray, you must have some interesting behind the scene stories?
EH: Bills a great guy, he’s kind of quirky but I love him. He’s a guy who is very much into what he’s feeling. I know he really cares about his work, which is probably why there hasn’t been another “Ghostbusters” as of yet.

AL: Rumors are “Ghostbusters 3” is in the beginning stages?
EH: Dan and Harold are working on the script. If it happens we will see but Bill has been the hold up. His definition of good is a little bit different than everybody elses. So we will see, I would love to see it happen. I know the fans have been asking for it…so hopefully.

AL: Any projects you have coming out you would like to tell the fans about?
EH: I just finished a movie called “Doonby” with Jon Schneider. I also how worked on some voice work for the animated “Transformers” series and also “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2”.

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Interview with Director, Uwe Boll

Uwe Boll is best-known for adapting video games into movies, having directed and produced a number of such adaptations, including “House of the Dead”, “Alone in the Dark”, “BloodRayne”, “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale”, “Postal” and most recently “Far Cry”. Although he also has a few non-video game themed films, “Rampage”, “Darfur”, and “Stoic” coming on in this year they look really good and different from his past films. Everyone should give these films a chance and see the potential that Uwe Boll has as a director.

Thanks to the beauty of Skype, I was able to talk with Dr. Uwe Boll via Germany and got a chance to chat and ask him a few questions about his career, his upcoming movies and how he feel about how the critics have it out for him.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell me about the process of how you choose the movies you will direct?
Uwe Boll: It is different movie by movie, lets say a video game like “House of the Dead” was not developed by me and came to me from third parties. Basically “House of the Dead” was Mindfire and it was more a financial decision and a market decision to say lets make “Alone in the Dark”, lets make “In the Name of the King”. These kind of movies you get more money for financing, you get bigger stars and you can make bigger sales. There are the other movies like “Stoic”, “Rampage”, “Darfur” and “Postal”, they are my kind of movies. I really have emotions behind them, also usually I am writing the scripts and so on.

Mike Gencarelli: You have made quite a few films based on video games, what is your connection to the genre?
Uwe Boll: I think I am a big fan of genre movies, of horror, thriller or sci-fi. I think of the video games movies based on film genres and not as a genre of its own. Like “Postal” is a comedy but based on a video game, “In the Name of the King” is based on a fantasy movie, “House of the Dead” as a zombie movie. This is how I try to treat the movies I make, I try to get various rights to different kinds of video games so I am not redundant. I don’t try to only make horror movies, I try to sci-fi, action, fantasy and to basically have a wider range of genres.

Mike Gencarelli: Where do you usually get funding for your films?
Uwe Boll: It depends, in the beginning, I had ten film funds in Germany to raise money. In the beginning people could get 50% tax rebate on them, this stopped. Even then you still have 50% of your money in the movie, so you hope of course that the movie is a hit, not a flop. This strategy was over from the 2006 and on, so movies like “Rampage”, “Darfur”, “Stoic”, “Alone in the Dark II”, “Bloodrayne II”, were all financed more classically with pre-sales, bank loans, and deferrals where CGI companies invested. This is a reason why we went a little lower with the budgets.

MG: Although you haven’t had much box office success in the US theatrically, “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” was your last in 2007. Are you planning your next US theatrical release?
UB: My movies are available for a theatrical release by Phase 4 in America, but it will be only NY and LA, a mini platform release. The tendencies of some territories, is that the P&A is so expensive that the math is just not working any more. For example in Russia, Thailand, Middle East or Singapore, these kind of territories you can still release movies with money and advertising. You basically have a better shot at getting the money back. In America, Germany and England, its so expensive to release movies, with all the TV spots you need to book. It is tough. “Max Schmeling”, my boxing movie, will get a wide release in Germany, if it works in Germany maybe we get a bigger release in America. Max Schmeling against Joe Lewis, people know the story, it is a period piece movie, set in World War II. Who knows maybe it will get a better shot in America after it gets put out in Germany.

MG: Why do you like low budget films compared to bigger budget?
UB: It is definitely easier to recoup the budget if you spend $5 million and not $50 million. It is in a way, a movie like “Rampage” has a chance to recoup all of the money only out of DVD. It’s not so nerve wreaking as it was it “Bloodrayne” or “In the Name of the King” where you are totally depending on the US theatrical release to get the money back. In the “Bloodrayne” case, we only ended up getting 900 and with “In the Name of the King” we had 1600 or 1700 screens but it is not enough. With a movie like that if you are not in the best screens in every town, if you are only in the secondary screens you cannot make a hit anymore. It was a Freestyle release, an independent release, and 20th Century Fox only have TV and DVD rights but not theatrical right. You do not have any support from the exhibitors, they just don’t play your trailer, if you are Freestyle.

MG: Your films have not been favorably reviewed by the critics, what gave you the idea to challenge your critics to a boxing match?
UB: When “Bloodrayne” came out and I got bashed to the ground for it, I compared the reviews from “House of the Dead” and “Alone in the Dark” with “Bloodrayne” and they were all the same. They are not the same movies, I think they are totally different movies to be honest, you really can not compare the three movies. I know people that love “House of the Dead” because it is so cheesy and violent. “Bloodrayne” is a way better movie than “House of the Dead”, I believe. Based on this frustration I said “Hey guys, if you want to kill me or destroy me, lets do a boxing match”. I figured they should try to kill me physically in the ring. A few people stepped up to do it and it was like real like “Jackass” stunt.

MG: You ended up winning all of 6 the boxing matches? Is that correct?
UB: Yes, and they are on Youtube. Each fighter had three months to prepare. One guy said he was boxing for a year and another guy Chris Alexander, who is now I believe the boss of Fangoria, said he trained in the boxing ring. I told everyone I boxed when I was younger, so I went back in training and this was in my advantage.

MG: You currently have a petition against you called “Stop Dr. Uwe Boll”, it is at 353,594 signatures? if it gets to 1 million would you actually retire?
UB: I think no, its has been too long. If they would have made to a million in like 2 months, then they would have had something. They even got sponsored by that gum factory. I felt like its three years later, forget it. I also felt that people signed numerous time on the petition so it is probably only like 150,000 people that actually signed it.

MG: You work with a group of actors that show up in each of your films, Michael Paré, Will Sanderson, Zack Ward & Ralf Moeller to name a few. What is your reason for that?
UB: If you have a good relationship with somebody it is way easier to use them again in a movie, you don’t have that insecureness anymore that in the beginning. It’s more fun to make a movie with people you worked with before. Michael Paré has the record I think with like 10 or 11 movies I’ve done.

MG: What is your favorite past time besides directing?
UB: Watching movies, having good food, playing sports. That is it, basically my job is my hobby also, it is fun to do it.

MG: Tell me about “Bloodrayne: The Third Reich”, Is this your favorite series you’ve created?
UB: I like “Bloodrayne” because I like the person, half vampire/half human. In the beginning the whole concept was to move 100 years forward with each episode. The classical vampire movie in part one, the second one in the Wild West and the third one is set in 2nd World War where Rayne fights the Nazis. The story is Dr. Mengele played by Clint Howard, wants to get her blood to make Hitler immortal. They try to catch her alive to brings her to Berlin and to do a blood transfusion. In between she fights against the Nazis and the commander, played by Michael Paré, who plays the villain. He gets bitten and turns into a vampire also and starts killing his own people. It is an interesting story, sort of like the first part again, very violent and a lot of sex. The second part because of the Wild West, you couldn’t have real gore because they were shooting with their guns the whole time. We shot it in Croatia and finished last week and i think we have some really cool stuff.

MG: Tell me about your other upcoming films?
UB: I am on tour here the next few weeks, with “Rampage” in Europe and some festivals in Brussels, Amsterdam and Munich. On April 29th, “Rampage” will be getting theatrical release here in Germany in like 10 screens each. “Darfur” comes in June in America, but “Rampage” will only be direct to DVD release by Phase 4 on June 1st. They are also releasing “The Final Storm” on DVD April 13th, it is more a conventional thriller about what if the end of the Earth happens, but you own a small farm and you do not get the information, no press and no telephone. Slowly it turns into like a psycho thriller, Luke Perry is playing the psycho part and Lauren Holly is the wife. It is a little like “Cape Fear” meets the end of the world. “Stoic” also comes out on DVD April 13th, which is the jail movie I did, about a real case in prison. I’ve got a lot of movies and its tough to almost follow up most.

MG: Anything you have to say to your fans?
UB: I hope everyone checks out the new movies I did especially, “Stoic”, “Rampage” & “Darfur”, I think they are totally different than the video game based movies and I enjoy doing both. As a director, I watch a lot of movies. I like watching them for fun and I try to make movies like “Bloodrayne”, “In the Name of the King” and “Far Cry” to be just entertaining, I do not try to have a message with them. From time to time it is good to tell the story with facts like “Stoic” or you have “Darfur” about the genocide in Sudan, you use real stuff and make interesting movies out of them. I hope the people that watch the genre movies will follow me over to the other movies and say that they will give me a shot.

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Interview with Eric Roberts

I had the pleasure of meeting up with the amazing talented Eric Roberts. His career began with King of the Gypsies (1978), earning a Golden Globe nomination for best actor debut. He earned both a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in Runaway Train (1985). He is starring in the upcoming “The Expendables” directed by Sylvester Stallone. He is also currently appearing on NBC’s “Heroes”. His daughter is Emma Roberts (Valentine’s Day).

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Mike Gencarelli: What was it like to work with such a diverse cast in “The Expendables”? Can you tell us about your character?

Eric Roberts: Well with Sly (Sylvester Stallone) leading the way, there was really no pressure, it was like going to fucking camp and it was really fun and we all know each other, we all have been in good movies together and all have been in bad movies together and we like each other. Sly is a good leader, Sly is all boy and Sly doesn’t take no for an answer. So you know we all deliver for him and its fun to go to camp with the boys. I play a rouge CIA operative. I play a guy that falls in love with his own power in his situation, so they realize they have to get rid of him…so they do

Mike Gencarelli: I heard you were recently cast in the new Roger Corman creature feature “Sharktopus”, can you tell me about the movie and the character you play?

Eric Roberts: All I can do is I can tell you this, you’ve heard of sharks that scare you, you’ve heard of octopus’ that scare you. Put a shark and octopus in bed together, what do you create.. you get a “Sharktopus”. The “Sharktopus” is so bad, that I get looked at as an evil scientist, when in reality I am just an incredible scientist, but they don’t get me.

Mike Gencarelli: You play Salvatore Marconi in “The Dark Knight”, how do you feel about the movies success? Do you have any reflections on the movie? Was Marconi fun to play?

Eric Roberts: I think it is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever saw for what it is, its genre, everything, it’s just cool to watch and I hope that man hires me again, that Chris Nolan. Yeah it was good to be part of it, he was a blast to play, cause its easy. It was a blast. We shot it at a place called the old Zeppelin hanger, 30 miles north of London, this great big old hanger, it had the Zeppelin IV at the turn of the 20th century. It was three football fields wide, it was nine stories tall and you walk in and its all Gotham City, it was just really cool, like a life size dollhouse.

MG: After playing Thompson on NBC’s “Heroes”, how do you feel the direction of the show has taken and did you enjoy playing that character?

ER: I worked so hard on the scripts, I worked so hard on the history. I am an old homework actor and I started having fun with the character this season. They made my character an understanding human being, you understand where he is coming from for the first time. I like that cast, they are a lot of fun.

MG: You have worked on a lot of music videos over the years, ranging from The Killers to Akon to Mariah Carey? What is your connection to music?

ER: What interesting is that you are behind, because every video I have been on has gone number one and I’ve been in 4 or 5. Yeah, I’ve become videos lucky guy. What happened was that Sophie Miller was directing The Killers video and she called me to play a pimp and that is how it all started.

MG: You’ve been working in the business since you were 5, you’ve worked on theater, TV, movies. Nominated for an Oscar, two Golden Globes, have you ever thought about directing?

ER: They always ask me to direct shit, I love my headache, and I don’t want their headache. I really love what I do.

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Interview with Corbin Bernsen

I recently met up with Corbin Bernsen who is currently starring in USA Network’s “Psych” and known for roles in “L.A. Law”, “Major League” series and “The Dentist”. I had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his career and what is in store for the future.

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Michael Gencarelli: You are currently starring in the USA Network television show “Psych”. As you are approaching your fifth season this summer, what can we expect from the show and your character, Henry Spencer?

Corbin Bernsen: Truthfully, I have no idea where they go, first day out of the picture, I wait to get the scripts and go “Ok that’s what you want me to do”. Everyone keeps saying they are going to add more Henry, but they’ve been saying that for three years. I just sit back and take it as it comes and everyone always asks me to do a TV series. But the trust is, in a TV series you do not change much. It is usually more of the same, that’s kind of what the nature of a TV series is but when you change drastically you’re not doing the series you did when it was successful. I think you’ll see more, maybe a little bit more of Henry, maybe. Maybe going back a little bit the root of the relationship with Shawn.

Michael Gencarelli: You’ve worked on a few daytime soap operas, such as “General Hospital” and currently “The Young and the Restless”. How do you like working on soaps? Do they differ much from other television shows and movies? Your mom, Jeanne Cooper, has worked on “The Young and the Restless” for 35 years, how is it working with her on the show?

Corbin Bernsen: It’s great, I love working with her. I feel like I still haven’t done the thing I want to do with her. She is an incredible actress and thank God, she has her home there on the “The Young and the Restless” but I still think that she should be doing like “What Happened to Baby Jane”. She should be doing one of these crazy shows (referring to Monster Mania convention) and one these crazy movies. Maybe put her with Malcolm McDowell in a movie, that would be great. For me acting is always acting, you know I don’t care if it’s soaps, commercial, whatever. There are a few technique differences, at the end of the day it is about character, story and I just try and keep as in the moment as anyone possibly can. I mean it is no big difference, I mean it is not working with you know refined dialogue, necessarily its more about emotion in soaps. We don’t walk around constantly emoting in life but soaps tend to emote a lot. It doesn’t allow the moment to moment sorta human shit that we all do and experience, so that would be the biggest difference.

Michael Gencarelli: Any plans for the return of Dr. Alan Feinstone of horror movie franchise “The Dentist”?

Corbin Bernsen: No, I would like to, I have been talking to Brian Yuzna, the guy who directed it and really going back because when we did it, it was really a small little movie but it has got a pretty big following. The truth is then and now it could have gone theatrical for a short period of time. He and I were saying “Wouldn’t it be fun to do The Dentist in 3-D”. So yeah, we’re talking about that, but the problem is the rights to that have been sold a couple of times to companies that have acquired companies and we’re actually talking to Lionsgates right now but they do not know about all the stuff that they acquired so you have to convince them that that should be the thing to make right now. If you start a writing campaign to Lionsgate, tell them you want to get this movie going.

MG: You took on quite a few roles for your new film “Dead Air” such as director, producer, actor and production design. Did you find it hard to juggle all those various tasks?

CB: No I love all that, I am doing another movie in two weeks in Akron, Ohio, called “25 Hill”, about a soap box derby and my son is going to be a production designer but we are going to work very closely, and I enjoy it. I raise the money, write the script, act, I do everything you know. I’d barbecue the lunch if I could get a grill.

MG: I read you have one of the world’s largest collection of snow globes, over 7000? Do you have a favorite?

CB: Yeah, 7000. Well I have been collecting for 20 years. I am sort of fascinated by them. I was thinking here (referring to Monster Mania Convention in Cherry Hill, NJ) that like I wish I had more for the different great horror movies. I got one from “Halloween”, “Fargo’s” got a good one, not a horror movie though. Actually there’s a “Friday the 13th”, I am actually have some horror but they’re the little plastic ones. Yeah, It is actually funny, in the vain of where we are here, well I actually have a couple of favorites but there is this one that came out Halloween in the 70’s or 60’s. It’s a grim reaper with skull and crossbones in the belly, these figures sometimes have like a glass belly and from what I understand there is only one of these.

MG: What is one of your favorite memories working on the “Major League” series?

CB: My favorite moment working on Major League was following around Charlie Sheen to the clubs at night. You know that term chick magnet, he was like chick super government magnet. He would walk in a place hang out for 10 minutes and like the Pied Piper, the most beautiful women in the world would literally follow Charlie out.

MG: Working on “L.A. Law” from ’86 to ’94, you were nominated for 2 Golden Globes and 2 Emmys and the show was nominated for over 100 awards and won many of them. How did it feel to be have been on such a highly acclaimed show?

CB: Well that was a great thing, it gave me my career, gave me the key to the kingdom. I tell that to Stephen Bochco. It also left me for years with two things. One is that, I went from like zero to 60 overnight and there is a resentment and there is a certain part of the business, the industry part that doesn’t respect that, because they don’t assume you put the time in, which was false. The other one was that I played this character that everyone assumed I was and for years, I really didn’t get the kinds of roles I wished I’d done. Even following out of L.A. Law some of the movies I did playing the same role as you’ve seen in Major League. I loved it. It’s a great movie, but I played the pompous sort of prissy boy and when you do that you get as you get older, you sorta become, not really typecast, but what are you. As opposed to Bruce Willis out of “Moonlighting” does “Die Hard” and he is an action hero till this day.

MG: Was there ever any roles that you wished you had done?

CB: There was a role I probably should have done. Joel Schumacher was doing a movie called “Cousins” which was a remake of a french film called “Cousin, cousine” and I met him and at the same time I was being wooed by Disney to do this movie called “Hello, Again” with Shelly Long, same kind of role but much more visibility and all the people around me said “Oh you gotta do that”. Jeffrey Katzenberg who was a wonder kin at Disney, was sending me stuff in the mail saying “Please come and be in our movie, forever we will be grateful”, so I went and did that and it turned into being a pitiful fucking movie and meanwhile William Peterson went on to do “Cousins” and we both ended up doing alright but I could have had some more interesting roles.

MG: What projects do you have planned for the future?

CB: I am sort of deep in the indie world, you’ll see a lot of little films that I am involved with. Generally I’ll go in for a couple of days, make a few bucks, its not about money, its meeting all these young filmmakers. I am really involved not in the indie world but the true indie world. I just did a movie here yesterday in Philadelphia, called “Calender Girl”. I am more involved in the films that I am making as writing, producing, directing. Just did a movie up in Canada, sort of a family movie, called “Rust” that Sony just picked up, that will be out next year. I’m doing a movie in three weeks set in Akron, “25 Hill” about a soap box derby. I have another pretty good idea for a movie I am doing in Canada, tentatively titled” Meteor Man”, about a mentally challenged guy that insists that he comes out of a meteor shower. The town doesn’t believe him and it poses sort of the question if you can believe in God, why can’t we believe in something paranormal or stuff that we can’t see like our faith teachings. It’s that or a story about a guy that comes up to teach, this is just wacky and I did not do drugs to get to it, an ex NHL hockey player and gets asked to come to a small town to coach kids in playing hockey only to find that it is twelve chimpanzees, who are refugees from a Russian ice show, they got stranded in the town. The town has purchased them and he has to go coach twelve chimpanzees.

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Interview with Henry Winkler

I’ve had the very good fortune to meet many of the stars I’ve admired in my various jobs in the movie business. Sean Connery. Charlton Heston. Of course the late, great Roy Scheider. But it wasn’t until I met Henry Winkler that I realized a person’s on-screen persona can be so similar to the one he lives off-screen. Most celebrities are usually courteous when greeted by a fan (I can name a couple who aren’t but that would be indiscreet). However sometimes the courtesy is forced. In 1989 I attended an event featuring Mickey Mantle. Hoping to get a baseball autographed by the Yankee great, I stood in line for almost 2 hours. When I got to his table, an assistant took my ball from me, passed it down to Mantle, who signed it and passed it to another assistant, who handed it back to me. As I took my ball I said, “Thank you, Mr. Mantle.” Mantle gave me a quick glance and went back to signing the next item. “Did you see that,” another person in the line said to me, “Mick looked at you!” It was at a similar promotional event that I met Henry Winkler. Rather then sit behind a table and surround himself with assistants, Mr. Winkler stood and greeted each fan personally, not only shaking their hand or giving them a hug, but exchanging a quick story or two. And after more then three decades of stardom, there are plenty of stories to share. From the iconic Arthur Fonzarelli on “Happy Days” to a successful career as producer and director, Henry Winkler has seemingly done it all. And with style.

Mr. Winkler graciously answered some questions before catching a plane.

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Michael Smith: You’re a graduate of the Yale Drama School, Class of 1970. Did you have any classmates that went on to fame? Also, I see your 40th Reunion Celebration is coming in June…will you be attending?

Henry Winkler: Twenty-five actors started with me at Yale. Eleven finished the program. Three were asked into the company. James Naughton, who went on to win Tony Awards on Broadway (for “City of Angels” and “Chicago.” TV fans may also recognize him from the “Planet of the Apes” television series), Jill Eikenberry of “LA Law” fame, and me.

I almost never go to reunions. I’m not exactly sure why, but I have an aversion to them. I think I noticed that I break out in a rash thinking about them.

MS: You were very close friends with John Ritter, and you both got an early break by appearing on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” How did you two meet?

HW: We met at the 25th anniversary of the ABC network. There was a big party. John’s table was directly next to mine. Our chairs were back to back. I leaned over and whispered to him that I thought the promo for his new show “Three’s Company” was very funny and that his physical comedy in it was fantastic. That started a long and loving friendship.

MS: In 1974 you appeared alongside Perry King and Sylvester Stallone in “The Lords of Flatbush.” Could you tell by working with them that they would both go on to pretty successful careers?

HW: Sly Stallone hid in this big, over the top persona of a street-tough. But underneath was an articulate, dedicated, very funny, successful writer.

When we were doing the movie, I had the opportunity to walk him home to his apartment. It was in a walk-up building with no elevator on Lexington Ave. He shared it with his wife, Sasha, and their bull mastiff. He painted the windows black so that he would not be disturbed by time while he wrote. A year later, he and his wife drove across country with their dog. The car broke down on Sunset Blvd. He called me and said he’s got a problem. I went and picked them up and took them to the apartment they were renting in Hollywood, north of Sunset Blvd.

MS: Stephen Verona recently released a book on the making of “Lords.” I was unaware that Richard Gere was the original choice to play Chico. That’s even more of an impressive cast. Was there a reason Perry King replaced him?

HW: I replaced him.

Interviewer’s mea culpa! Mr. Winkler’s character in the film is “Butchie.”

MS: Of course 1974 also brought about “Happy Days.” If memory serves me correctly, the character of Fonzie was very minor at the beginning of the series and wore a blue windbreaker. When was it suddenly ok to break out the leather?

HW: Garry Marshall made a deal with the powers that be at ABC that the Fonz would only wear leather when he was near his motorcycle or riding his motorcycle. Garry then called all of the script writers on our show and said, “Never write a scene for the Fonz without his motorcycle”.

MS: You went from ensemble player to second billing. Were there any hard feelings among your co-stars?

HW: No. The cast of “Happy Days,” no matter what their age, were completely professional. There was no attitude, not even for a moment for the ten years of the show’s run. We played charades together, played baseball together, traveled all over the world for the USO together and worked very hard together to make the show as funny as it could possibly be.

MS: Let’s talk about one of my favorite films, “Heroes.” I was a movie theatre usher when the film came out and even today, every time I hear Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” I think about the coming attraction. I’ve read that after “Happy Days” made you a star you were offered many different parts, from the role William Kaat would eventually play in “First Love” to Danny Zuko in “Grease.” What made you choose “Heroes?”

HW: A lot of the opportunities were very “Fonz” like, so I wanted not to be type cast.

Of course, hindsight makes us all brilliant. If I had to do it over again, the one decision I would have changed- I would have done “Grease”. I went home and had a Coca-Cola. John Travolta went home and bought a plane.

MS: You won back to back Golden Globe awards in 1977 and 1978 for your work on “Happy Days.” In 1978 you were also nominated as Best Motion Picture Actor for “Heroes.” So many television actors try features and fail miserably. Did the nomination give you a sense of validity?

HW: No. I don’t think so. I was very appreciative but I think validity is not defined by awards, but rather by longevity. The most difficult part of being an actor is remaining relevant.

MS: You did 255 episodes of “Happy Days.” Plus, the show spun off four more series and an animated show. You made appearances on “Laverne and Shirley,” “Mork and Mindy” and “Joanie Loves Chachi” plus voiced the Fonzie character on “The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang” cartoon. AND you pitched on the “Happy Days” softball team. When did you find time to sleep? 🙂

HW: I always believed in the phrase, “If you want something done, give it to a busy man.”
I so enjoy the fact that I get to do my work everyday, that sleep becomes irrelevant.

MS: Ron Howard left “Happy Days” to pursue his directing career but you stayed with the show the entire 10 years, even though you had a very successful movie career. Did you ever entertain the idea of leaving?

HW: No. I never thought of leaving. I thought, “If I sign my name to the paper, I’m going to honor my commitment.” Ron’s choice was completely different. He knew from a very early age, maybe 15, that directing was going to be his path. So after his commitment of 5 years was over, he left to pursue his passion. And luckily for us, he did, because he is truly one of the most successful directors in the world. And TRULY great at what he does.

With that question answered, it was time to head for his plane. There are many more questions to ask and, schedule permitting, perhaps Mr. Winkler will grant us some of his time again. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Winkler for participating in our interview series.

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