Different Rapids Levels on a Full Grand Canyon Rafting Trip

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most amazing wonders. It’s home to different rock formations and rivers that can’t all be traveled within the day. One of the reasons why people love this Canyon is that it’s also home to many rapids.

River rafting is one of the activities you’ll be doing in the Grand Canyon. If you didn’t know, rapids in the Grand Canyon are rated in levels from I-X with X (or Class X) being the most difficult rapids. It’s important to know what levels of rapids you’re only allowed to go in especially when you’re not a seasoned river rafter. At the end of the day, it’s your safety that matters.

So what are the different rapid levels you can find in the Grand Canyon?

Class I: Easy

For a large Canyon, there are still several rapids that even kids can enjoy. If there weren’t, families won’t be able to raft through the Grand Canyon. Class I rapids have very few obstacles and when they do, you can spot them a few meters away. The water is still fast-moving, but there aren’t any obstructions to hit, so it’s really kid-friendly.

Class II: Novice

Compared to Class I rapids, Class II rapids are a little more challenging but not to the point that you’ll struggle. For this level of whitewater, there are a few obstacles and boulders that you have to avoid. The waves are medium-sized so you’ll feel a few bumps along the way. If you have children, your guide might have to give extra assistance for additional safety. Don’t worry, injuries and accidents are rare for this level of rapids.

Class III: Intermediate

Intermediate rapids already include having eddies and large waves. While they’re noticeable from afar, it’s still not as easy given that you have to maneuver around them or risk getting turned over. The water is fast and strong, and it’s ideal that you are able to maintain control of your raft easily for a safer trip.

Class IV: Advanced

Class IV rapids require more advanced skills when it comes to handling eddies and waves. For this level, kids are not allowed given that the whitewater is already powerful. Turbulence may also occur. Sometimes, even adult beginners in rafting are not given leave to go through Class IV rapids.

Class V: Expert

Class V rapids require experts and skilled rafters to go through this type of rapids. If you’re not one of them, then you won’t be allowed to take this route. Rapids in the Class V level means there are unavoidable waves that you won’t be able to see right away. There are several obstructions, but the more challenging parts are the steep holes and congested areas.

Class VI-VIII Extreme

The Class VI-VII rapids are extreme rapids. This means that there are big and long waves. Strength and endurance are key traits required to pass through these types of rapids. There is also unpredictable danger all the time, so even the slightest error can cost your life. What’s even more difficult in rapids like these is that rescue, when needed, is not always guaranteed.

Class IX-X: Turbulent

Is there anything more difficult than extreme? In the Grand Canyon, there is. The Class IX-X rapids are for those who are skilled and professional but find the Class VI-VII rapids too uneventful. At this point, these rapids are only for those who are looking for an adrenaline rush and the thrill of risking life and limb.

There are different rapid levels found in the Grand Canyon. Hopefully, this guide will help you in identifying what type of rafting trip you’ll take with your family or friends.

Things to do in Melbourne leading to AFL Grand Finals

AFL is one of Australia’s most loved and celebrated sports and it is happening very soon – if you and your buddies or special someone are looking forward to it as well, then you should book a room near the area in advance. DriveNow made a list of accommodations for AFL finals so you can easily secure the best seats while at the same time still have the chance to stroll the beautiful Melbourne before the grand finals.

Here are some awesome things to do in Melbourne as you look forward to AFL Grand Finals.

Federation Square

Just opened in 2002 and located in the centre of Melbourne, the Federation Square is an awesome place to meet-up as it is in the heart of the city. The square is where you’ll find the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) as well as the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), both of which are nice location to check out.

The big stage and screen are typically used for big events. Moreover, free Wi-Fi is offered for anyone who needs to go online. It’s a fantastic place to relax in the summer if you don’t enjoy the beach. Particularly since there a few bars and cafes close by!

Royal Botanic Gardens

While the place is not as famous as the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide, this version is still great place to check out! You can find a wide variety of flora and fauna here spanning 363 hectares or 897 acres!

The Botanic Gardens is a nice place to go and explore if you’re looking to get close to nature inside the city. There’s lots of space for relaxation and it rarely feels too crowded.

Old Melbourne Gaol

One of the famed and intriguing places in Melbourne, the Old Melbourne Gaol is seriously worth your visit if you love history. As its name suggests, the place was once a jail that’s now converted into a museum. It shows a lot about the early history of both Victoria and Melbourne.

One good reason to check out the gaol is because the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly was hung for murder here back in 1880. Kelly become a cult figure in recent years as well, and this is the best place to know about his past! It’s surely one of the top things to see in Melbourne!

Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)

The MCG, or the G, as the locals refer is the biggest stadium in Australia and a haven for cricket fans. It is home to the National Sporting Museum. Even if you’re not much of a sports fan, it’s recommended to visit MCG.

It is an impressive stadium that can accommodate over a 100,000 people and is impressive when it’s full. If you have the time, don’t forget to check out an Aussie Rules or cricket match to experience this first-hand!

The Grand Finals

The AFL grand final stays in Victoria until 2057, so if you’re looking to catch the action year after year, then you need to have a solid grasp of where you should go for accommodation. DriveNow made a list of accommodations for AFL finals for your consideration. To make the most out of your stay, be sure to also book a car in advance to get places faster.

What are you waiting for? Time to invite your buddies or special someone and start creating your AFL Grand Finals itinerary!


“Birdman”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Lead 87th Academy Award Nominations

“Birdman,” the film that triumphantly put Michael Keaton back on the map and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson’s fanciful comedy, led all films this morning when the nominations for the 87th Annual Academy Awards were announced, with each film garnering (9) nominations, including Best Picture.  Other films with multiple nominations include “The Imitation Game” (8), “American Sniper” and “Boyhood” (6) each, and “Interstellar,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Whiplash” with (5).  All of these films, with the exception of “Interstellar,” earned Best Picture nods.  The last film in the Best Picture race is “Selma,” which surprised many by only earning (2) nods.  Due to the revised voting system, only (8) films qualified for Best Picture nominations – a maximum of (10) are allowed.

In the race for Best Director, the nominees are Alejandro G. Inarritu (“Birdman”), Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”), Bennet Miller (“Foxcatcher”), Wes Anderson (“The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”).

Bradley Cooper earned his third consecutive Oscar nomination, this one for Best Actor, for his role as real life soldier Chris Kyle in “American Sniper.”  Other nominees for Best Actor include Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”), Bennedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”), Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”).  Best Actress nominees are Marion Cotillard (“Two Days, One Night”), Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”), Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”), Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) and Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”)

In the Supporting Actor category, the nominees are Robert Duvall (“The Judge”) Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”), Edward Norton (“Birdman”), Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”) and J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”).  Supporting Actress nods went to Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”), Laura Dern (“Wild”), Keira Knightley (“The Imitation Game”), Emma Stone (“Birdman”) and Meryl Streep (“Into the Woods”).  This is Meryl Streep’s NINETEENTH acting nomination, an incredible achievement.

Nods for Best Animated Film went to “Big Hero 6,” “The Boxtrolls,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Song of the Sea” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”

The winners will be announced on February 22, 2015.  Mark you ballots now!


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Win a Blu-ray of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

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

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of legendary concierge Gustave H. and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft of a priceless painting; a raging battle for an enormous family fortune; and a desperate chase on motorcycles, trains, sleds, and skis – all against the backdrop of a suddenly and dramatically changing continent.

Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Celebrates Grand Opening

No. 1 selling American band of all time – The Beach Boys – Performed at Grand Opening
Celebration of Fourth On-Site Hotel

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 19, 2014) – Universal Orlando celebrated the official Grand Opening of its fourth on-site hotel –Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – this evening with a beach bash featuring a surprise performance by The Beach Boys. The brand-new hotel features a total of 1,800 moderate and value priced rooms that evoke the classic, retro-feel of iconic beach resorts from the 1950s and 60s.

Located on-site at Universal Orlando Resort, the new hotel is a destination within itself – featuring a stunning design with bold colors, retro-inspired architecture and sweeping vistas that transport guests back to a time of relaxation and endless family fun. Cabana Bay guests can experience incredible amenities throughout the hotel, including:

  • Soaking up the sun at the 6,000 square foot sand beach surrounding the 8,000 square foot zero-entry pool at the Lazy River Courtyard
  • Enjoying a leisurely float around Universal Orlando’s first Lazy River at an on-site hotel, with waterfalls and cannons for interactive fun
  • Taking in the stunning view of the Lazy River Courtyard while savoring a specialty cocktail, a freshly made smoothie and simple grill menu items from the rooftop deck at The Hideaway Bar & Grill
  • Bowling a strike at the 10-lane Galaxy Bowl
  • Channeling the godfather of fitness at the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio
  • Racing down the iconic dive tower waterslide and splashing into a 10,000 square foot zero-entry pool in the Cabana Courtyard
  • Enjoying a retro-themed specialty cocktail from Swizzle Lounge or Atomic Tonic
  • Finding something delicious for the entire family at Bayliner Diner, a food court with something for everyone to enjoy including a salad bar, burgers, sandwiches, pizza, pasta and grab-and-go items

Click here to watch a video series to learn more about the hotel and all the amenities it has to offer, including an all-new look at the Lazy River Courtyard and brand new standard guest rooms.

Rates for the standard guest rooms begin at $119 per night, and can run as low as $93 per-night depending on the length of stay. Rates for the family suites begin at $174 per-night, and can run as low as $134 per-night depending on the length of stay. Cabana Bay guests also get exclusive benefits only available to on-site hotel guests at Universal Orlando, including Early Park Admission one hour before the theme parks open.

The value-priced standard guest room features two queen size beds, a mini fridge, and a flat screen TV for a comfortable and affordable stay. The family suite sleeps up to six people and includes two queen size beds, a fold-out foam bed, kitchenette, a sliding partition for privacy, two flat-screen TVs and a bathroom with preparation spaces for three people at once.

“Our new hotel is a destination unto itself,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Universal Parks and Resorts. “From the incredible retro design to the bowling alley to the lazy river and more – this hotel is the perfect complement to our other hotels.”

“Cabana Bay Beach Resort is an exciting and first of its kind addition to the Loews Hotels & Resorts family,” said Jonathan Tisch, Chairman, Loews Hotels & Resorts. “We are thrilled to bring a unique and fun offering to guests traveling to Orlando, as we open our fourth hotel with our partners at Universal Parks and Resorts.”

To learn more or to make a reservation, call 1-888-273-1311 or visit www.universalorlando.com. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is co-owned and operated by Loews Hotels & Resorts.

About Universal Orlando Resort
Vacation like you mean it at Universal Orlando Resort – where every heart pounding, jaw-dropping, goose-bumping second counts.  It is the only place where you can turn spending time with your family into spending time as a family.  Together, you can soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, become a Minion in the hilarious and heartwarming Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, and join Optimus Prime in the fight to save mankind on the new mega-attraction, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D.  And coming this summer:  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Universal Orlando Resort is home to two incredible theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure; four magnificently themed on-site hotels:  Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the newest addition, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal CityWalk – a nighttime entertainment complex featuring a collection of nightclubs, restaurants and shops.  And located just minutes from Universal Orlando Resort is Wet n’ Wild, Orlando’s premier waterpark.

Universal Orlando Resort is part of NBCUniversal, a Comcast company.  Follow Universal Orlando Resort on Facebook,TwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Loews Hotels & Resorts
Headquartered in New York City, Loews Hotels & Resorts owns and/or operates 20 hotels and resorts in the U.S. and Canada including the newly acquired Loews Madison Hotel located in the heart of Washington at the epicenter of legendary D.C. landmarks and the Loews Boston Hotel, one of Boston’s preeminent historic buildings, situated on the corner of Berkeley and Stuart Streets. Located in major city centers and resort destinations in North America from coast to coast, the Loews portfolio features one-of-a-kind properties that go beyond Four Diamond standards to delight guests with a supremely comfortable, uniquely local and vibrant travel experience. For reservations or more information about Loews Hotels & Resorts, call 1-800-23-LOEWS or visit: www.loewshotels.com.

Blu-ray Review “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Owen Wilson
Director: Wes Anderson
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Run Time: 120 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was no question one of my most anticipated films of 2014. It is also since seeing it one of my favorites. The film is absolutely stunning and like all Wes Anderson films completely out there. It is funny and yet romantic at the same time. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has an ultra all-star cast including Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Léa Seydoux and Harvey Keitel. Let’s not forget the hotel, which is a like a character itself. This is beautifully shot. If you are a Wes Anderson film, you will not be let down!

Official Premise: The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” comes to Blu-ray in a combo pack including a Digital HD Ultraviolet copy. The 1080p transfer is nothing short of a masterpiece. The film switches between a wide array of aspect ratios including 2.39:1, 1.85:1 and 1.33:1, which is the bulk of film. I really enjoyed the way that Anderson and his cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman decided to be very experimental with the way they shot this film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track also works perfectly with the dialogue and score.

Since all of Wes Anderson’s films make their way to Criterion Collection, they are going to have a hard time topping the audio and video tracks. But they definitely have room to improve in the special features, which are ok but nothing spectacular like the film. “Bill Murray Tours the Town” is short featurette with the actor visiting locations. There are three short Vignettes, which run under 10 minutes. There are three promotional featurettes focusing around “The Making of The Grand Budapest Hotel”, the “Cast”, director “Wes Anderson”. Lastly there is a Stills Gallery and Theatrical Trailer.


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Enter to Win “Grand Piano” on Blu-ray [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “Grand Piano” on Blu-ray on May 20th, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on Blu-ray. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Elijah Wood film to date. This giveaway will remain open until May 19th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is the most talented pianist of his generation, but has stopped performing in public because of his stage fright. Years after a catastrophic performance, he reappears in public for a long awaited concert in Chicago. In a packed theater, in front of an expectant audience, Tom finds a message written on the score: “Play one wrong note and you die.” In the sights of an anonymous sniper (John Cusack), Tom must get through the most difficult performance of his life and look for help without being detected.


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Film Review “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori and F. Murray Abraham
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 40 mins
Fox Searchlight

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Though it may not look like much today, a half century ago there was no place finer than the Grand Budapest Hotel. We meet a young writer (Jude Law), who is researching the hotel for an upcoming book. As luck would have it, he is informed that the hotel’s owner, Mr. Moustafa (Abraham) is on the premises. A quiet man, Mr. Moustafa visits often and when he does, insists that he lodge in a small room in the employee quarters. Mr. Moustapha invites our young writer to join him for dinner and, over wine, tells him the story of the majestic hotel.

As the second World war rages across Europe, we are introduced to Mr. Gustave (Fiennes), the concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel. Gustave is in charge of everything – from the flowers put out on the tables to what is served for dinner. When he’s not looking out for the needs of the guests, Gustave is looking out for the needs of the FEMALE guests, preferably the elderly ones. He gives them pleasure and, when they pass on to a better place, they give him a piece of their estate. As we meet Gustave he has just hired a young man (Revolori) to be the hotel’s newest Lobby Boy. Things go well until Gustave learns that one of his favorite guests (an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton, standing in for Angela Lansbury (!)) has passed on. He attends the reading of the will and learns that he has been left a very valuable painting. However, the late woman’s children, led by a wild eyed Adrien Brody, protest. Realizing his chances of getting the painting legally are probably slim and none, Gustave, with the assistance of his trusted Lobby Boy, steal the painting. And the adventures begin.

Wes Anderson has always found a way to create different worlds so perfectly that we, the audience, feel right at home in them. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is no exception. Filled with fully fleshed out characters, amazing dialogue and a look that is right out of the 1940s, the film travels smoothly on the shoulders of Ralph Fiennes. Moviegoers who know him only as the sadistic Nazi officer of “Schindler’s List” or Lord Voldemort may be shocked when they see what a fine and natural comedian he is. He is joined by an all star cast that includes Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel and long time collaborators Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. The script, by Anderson and Hugo Guiness and inspired by the works of author Stefan Zweig, is full of the humorous twists and turns that Anderson is well known for. The production design is outstanding, with attention to detail making the film a virtual picture postcard of the Continent.

Film Review “Grand Piano”

Starring: Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Kerry Bishé, Alex Winter
Directed By: Eugenio Mira
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 90 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Elijah Wood is Tom Selznick, a pianist who gets to rare chance to participate in the musical score to his own hostage situation in Eugenio Mira’s Grand Piano. Mira takes a fairly silly setup–think Speed or Phonebooth on a night at the theatre– and turns in a fun, stylish thriller that would not be out of place in The Twilight Zone.

Selznick is a piano prodigy returning to the stage for a concert honoring his mentor after a crippling public failure sent him into hiding five years before. He’s understandably nervous and it seems in a sea of people expecting him to choke again, his only support is his wife watching from the boxes. Everything is going smoothly in preparation for the concert, much to the chagrin of the anxious Selznick. He wouldn’t mind if, for example, his mentor’s flawless custom piano hadn’t been successfully shipped to the venue that evening. But no, it’s all fine until he flips open his sheet music to find scrawled in red ink “PLAY ONE WRONG NOTE AND YOU DIE” (Here is where I half expected Rod Serling to come in smoking for a recap, alas…) Understandably, Selznick views this as a prank until the sniper gets into radio contact and provides some proof. Wood, with his wide expressive eyes and array of nervous ticks, makes for a compelling hostage drawing us in as he grasps the gravity of the situation and then little by little steeling himself as attempts to regain the upper hand and keep everyone safe.

Meanwhile John Cusack is appropriately villainous as the menacing voice on the other end of the phone. He gruffly hints at the bitterness fueling this particular heist but the film wisely avoids backstory in focusing squarely on Selznick’s predicament. Also lending a hand on the side of the baddies is a shady theatre security guard played by Alex Winter who provides the muscle to the distant sniper. He’s great as a twitchy henchman who’s not quite as invested in the concert as Cusack’s caller is.

Taking place almost entirely in the concert hall, Mira composes some gorgeous shots often in the deeps red of the theatre upholstery to pile on the tension. Occasionally the cinematography, and the film itself really, drifts into campy territory but it seems fitting within the structure of this over-the-top cat and mouse setup. After an opening credits sequence that gives a horror house ride-like tour through the inner workings of the eponymous piano, you really don’t expect anything less.

Grand Piano opens theatrically on March 7th


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Michal Sinnott talks about working on “Grand Theft Auto V”

Michal Sinnott has appeared on several television series such as “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “One Life to Live”. Michal’s most recent role is that of Tracey De Santa in the super successful video game “Grand Theft Auto V”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Michal recently about what it was like working on the project and about her role in the upcoming independent film “Horror Con”.

Adam Lawton: What was it that interested you in becoming an actress?
Michal Sinnott: My mother has her Master’s Degree in theater. When I was really little she brought me to one of her auditions. We both ended up getting a role in the play as the mother and daughter. That was my initial introduction to acting. I think my mother had tried before this when I was really young however I was just too shy. I am originally from Virginia which is a right to work state. You can work on both union and non-union jobs there so I started working on locally based projects and projects that were coming to Virginia to shoot. I ended up going to a performing arts high school even though acting was something I wasn’t sure I was going to want to do. Growing up in a single parent home I knew the reality of things very early on as to how hard of a struggle this type of career could be. I didn’t want to have to struggle so I was determined to get a “real job”. My senior year of high school I had to write a play for a class which I then submitted to a festival in Richmond, VA. The play ended up winning and I got to go to this 3 week conference where my play was put on in this huge theater. That experience was so phenomenal and it really opened my eyes to things. While I was sitting in that theater watching my play I said that I would do this and I have just never looked back.

AL: How did you first become involved with “Grand Theft Auto V”?
MS: This audition was just like any other for actors. You get the call the night before and the next day you are in an office reading for a part. You end up just throwing yourself in to it. A lot of things are often shrouded in secrecy so generally you don’t even know what you are really reading for. The thing with “Grand Theft Auto” is that they have such a dedicated fan base that people are constantly looking for hints and clues about what could be coming out. Things were kept as anonymous as possible.

AL: Were you allowed to experiment with the character or were you asked to stay more to the script?
MS: There was certainly room for improvisation. I think that’s something I have found in most situations I have been in. There generally is always a little bit of wiggle room. If you are working on a play then things are more to the script same as if you are on a set and the director is directing their own words. When the director is working in more of a collaborative type setting then there is usually that room to improv. Tracey is such an awful character so to be able to explore that and be able to say things you would never say in real life was pretty interesting.

AL: Prior to your work on “Grand Theft Auto V” had you been interested in voice/performance capture acting?
MS: Yes. I have a strong background in voice over acting as I started doing that when I was still growing up. I have done commercials for places like Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. This was actually my second time working on a video game however this experience was a bit different.

AL: Were you familiar before-hand with the popularity of the game franchise?
MS: Not entirely. I am not a gamer so I didn’t really know. I also didn’t really know I was working on “Grand Theft Auto V” for quite a while. I knew I was working on something for Rock Star but that was about it. (Laughs) I didn’t really see the full magnitude of the project as it was happening. Even back when I auditioned for the part I had no idea that it was a project I would be working on for 3 years. Nothing has prepared me for how big this has become. It is astounding! I feel like the lucky girl who won the lottery. It started out as this random audition that I had no idea about where it would take me.

AL: Did you find it hard in any way working on the project for so long?
MS: Tracey is not the most nuance character. There were times where I would go a couple months without working on the character and when the time came to start working again I was able to jump right back in to the role. I established the attributes of the character very early on and when you get back on set after a break it all sort of just comes back. Working on the project for so long gave me time to explore all the variables with the role. That is something that you don’t always get to do with other roles that aren’t as long.

AL: What do you feel was your favorite part of the process?
MS: I really liked working with the same group of people for so long. All of the tech people who made this happen were just great. To get to see them every day was just great. We became this sort of family. I developed this sense of familiarity which was really nice.

AL: Can you tell us about some of your other current projects?
MS: I did a couple independent films which are making their way around the circuit. One is called “Every Drop Counts” which is a film that was shot entirely live at a horror film convention. I play a roller derby girl who is this sort of weepy lesbian. She is just always falling apart. I think I cried in every scene. (Laughs) I am also producing on a Bio-pic film about Rick James. This is a really interesting project that I am excited to be working on.

Grand Entertainment Inks Deal With Pilgrim Studios for Syfy’s “Ghost Hunters”

Exclusive U.S. DVD Distribution Rights for Season 9 of the #1 Paranormal Show

LOS ANGELES, CA – Grand Entertainment Group (GEG), an independent multi-platform content and distribution company, has obtained exclusive DVD rights from Pilgrim Studios to Season 9 of their hit Syfy original series “Ghost Hunters.” Under the deal brokered by GEG President David Rand, Michael Purleski, Vice President of Legal Affairs for Pilgrim Studios and Executive Producer Alan David. Grand Entertainment Group will produce market and distribute the latest season on DVD throughout the United States.

“Ghost Hunters,” the #1 paranormal reality television series and longest-running series on the Syfy network, is executive produced by Craig Piligian, Mike Nichols, Thomas Thayer and Alan David. “We are very excited to be working with Pilgrim Studios and the ‘Ghost Hunters’ franchise,” states David Rand. “The show has a loyal fan base and past DVD sales have performed well — we anticipate as much success with Season 9.”

In Season 9 of “Ghost Hunters,” Jason Hawes and his team from The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) continue conducting chilling investigations across the country.  Locations include Los Angeles’ historic Sowden House, said to be the site where Elizabeth Short — more famously known as “The Black Dahlia” — was brutally murdered; the eerie Peoria Asylum in Bartonville, IL, where an estimated 16,000 people perished under gruesome conditions; and Sylvan Beach Amusement Park on Lake Oneida, NY which, according to its owners and patrons, is a rollercoaster of paranormal activity.

“Ghost Hunters” Season 9 will be available second quarter at major retailers and online distributors.

Pilgrim Studios | www.pilgrimstudios.com

Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios produces a wide variety of unscripted programming for television, including Fast N’ Loud for Discovery; Ghost Hunters and Killer Contact for Syfy; The Ultimate Fighter for FOX Sports 1; Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy for History; Orange County Choppers for CMT; Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s and Raising Whitley for OWN; David Tutera: Unveiled for WEtv; Wicked Tuna for National Geographic Channel, and Swamp Pawn for CMT. In the scripted realm, Pilgrim’s original movies for Lifetime include Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy; Abducted: The Carlina White Story and the crime thriller Stalkers.  Pilgrim’s most recent scripted projects include a pilot for ABC Family and a mini-series for Spike about the 2012 terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Grand Entertainment (GEG) | www.GrandEntertainmentGroup.com

Grand Entertainment Group (GEG), launched in early 2012, as a complete destination for programming.  With the ability to distribute DVD; digital; streaming; television and limited theatricals, Grand Entertainment gives filmmakers and their films the platform they deserve. GEG is a subsidiary of Grand Distribution Group, which produces and distributes diversified products, services, and technologies.  With a line-up of films slated for 2014, GEG is moving forward in a “Grand Way.”  


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Bruce Kulick talks about playing music with Kiss and Grand Funk Railroad

Bruce Kulick is probably best known for his work with the multi-platinum selling group Kiss during the bands non-makeup years. Kulick spent 12 years with the band prior to the group’s 96/97 reunion tour which featured all four original members clad in their signature makeup. Bruce went on to play in several other projects such as Audio Dog, BK3 and is currently the guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad. Media Mikes caught up with Bruce recently to discuss his career as well as his tour plans with both Grand Funk and former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi.

Adam Lawton: You joined Kiss while they were still going through somewhat of a transitional period. What was it like for you stepping in to that situation?
Bruce Kulick: I was aware that the band sort of hit their peak in the late 70’s early 80’s. They were still doing good stuff but “Music From The Elder” was a weird time for them. I was always aware of the band as I lived in New York and my brother had done some work with them. After things didn’t work out with Vinnie Vincent I knew that they were looking for people. When I saw that they got Mark St. John it made sense as music was really changing at the time. Bands like Van Halen were very popular on the scene. I think it was important for them to find a guy who was a hot shot, gunslinger type player who could do all of the tricks as opposed to someone like Ace Frehley whose style is rooted in that of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. When it came time for the Animalize tour to start Mark was having some health issues and wasn’t going to be able to tour. My brother had recommended me to the guys as did Mitch Weissman who is a singer/songwriter. When I first started working with Paul and the rest of the band they asked me not to cut my hair and told me I would need a guitar with a Floyd Rose so I could do some of the tricks that were popular at the time. I went in and played a solo on one song and did some little fills at the end of a couple others. After that is when they asked me to fill in for Mark. I was thrilled that maybe it was just going to be for a few weeks but it turned in to 12 years. When it was all said and done that I was going to be the new guy I remember getting a pep talk from Paul where he told me that he wanted me to be very competitive with my playing and that I should be able to cover both the older material and the new stuff. I was very grateful for the opportunity.

AL: On your website you have done several Kiss album retrospectives that are very in-depth. What was it like looking back on your work for those albums?
BK: For me celebrating stuff like that has always made a lot of sense. I found that if I don’t do it now I’m not necessarily going to remember more if I was to wait longer. The whole thing came out of an offer that came through for me to visit Australia and do some shows. I have always been well received there and this was going to actually be my third time there. The promoter said we needed an angle and it happened to be the 20th anniversary of “Revenge” being released so they asked me if I could do some things from that album. It was like a giant light bulb went off in my head. I was given some DAT tapes of the sessions by Bob Ezrin and I realized that I had a treasure trove of material. Things just started coming back to me from those sessions. The clinics I did over there ended up becoming very long even though I didn’t play much but the fans were mesmerized. From there I decided I would have to write all this stuff down and find a good time to release it on my social media sites. After I did the first one I started realizing the anniversaries for these other albums and followed suit with what I had done with the “Revenge” piece. I had a really great time going through the stuff I collected over the years and thinking back about all those stories. We raided all of my closets and boxes of photos and such to find things related to the particular albums I was writing/speaking about. I am always being asked about doing a book and your basic book talks about this tour or that tour and what you thought about certain people. It’s not my style to throw anyone under the bus so I just didn’t want to do something like that. I would rather do something like what I am doing. I don’t have a title or anything yet but even after things are posted on line I end up finding more stuff that could be included in those stories. Each one of these look backs is sort of a chapter. It’s very exciting to be able to tell these stories from an era of the band that doesn’t get a lot of attention.

AL: Is there a specific piece from your work with Kiss that you are most proud of?
BK: There are highlights from all of it but I would have to say working on the “Revenge” album really said a lot. We spent a lot of time on that album and really paid attention to detail. I thought the “Unplugged” album was another really great piece. I never realized how tight we really were on that show. The band looked great and it was filmed really well. Even though un-beknownst to me that was the catalyst to end my career with the band it was still a great performance. I am very proud of my work on that.

AL: You are currently playing guitar with Grand Funk Railroad. Can you tell us how that opportunity came about?
BK: The industry is actually pretty small and you never know who you are going to meet. Years ago I played with Michael Bolton and we ended up opening for Bob Seger. Don Brewer was Bob’s original drummer and he is actually doing shows with Bob on his current tour. We met then and later on at another music event we met again so I was on the short list when Don and Mel Schacher were looking at putting together a new version of Grand Funk. Once they had a singer in place they reached out to me but I had to think about it for a little bit. They were looking for a guy who could forge his own sound while not hurting the stuff from the past. This was similar to what I did with Kiss. I ended up going to Michigan where Mel lives and we rehearsed in a show room at a nearby casino. Things were pretty easy right away and it’s amazing that here I am 13 years later gigging with Grand Funk.

AL: Did you have to spend a lot of time reworking your sound/tone when you first joined the band?
BK: Not at all. I really do what I do well. To be honest I get to play a solo in every song and I am not trying to imitate Mark Farner’s tone in any way. I have always had this talent for picking out signature riffs that people identify with and they want to hear those a certain way so I try to keep things as close as I can. You definitely have to make things your own so you don’t come off too stiff or clone like. I like to take my finesse and add it to the Grand Funk material. They are another one of those iconic bands.

AL: Can you tell us about some of your appearances/tour dates for the coming months?
BK: Grand Funk just keeps adding dates. The site was just revamped and it looks really great. Things are always being added to it so people should definitely check it out. I also have a string of acoustic dates with John Corabi. He and I have a certain chemistry that just works together. When I realized Grand Funk wasn’t going to be as busy this spring due to Don working with Bob Seger I got a little more aggressive with the people I know in Europe who book shows. We tried to work things out so that we could take the Eric Singer Project over but unfortunately Eric couldn’t commit due to various Kiss things that were in the works. The promoters still wanted us to come so John, I and Chuck Garric who plays bass in the Eric Singer Project and who also has his own group happened to have some shows that are double booked with us. During those shows the plan is to do the acoustic thing and also jam as an electric group. There aren’t that many gigs on this run as its set up to fit in between my Grand Funk gigs. I never seem to have the ability to say I am free for two months or something like that but that’s not a bad thing. I am glad the band keeps me busy.

AL: Have you thought about putting out a new album with any of your other projects?
BK: It’s been 3 years since my last solo album “BK3” has come out and it is time for me to get some new material out. I have been writing and compiling some things so I like to think that I can get something out this year. I have mostly been looking at doing some gigs with my brother when time permits. People seem quite excited about seeing a Kulick brother’s thing. We are also looking at a few songs to possibly record for an EP. I am always a phone call or an email away from working on another project. Every day is exciting.

AL: Are there any other things going on with you lately that you can tell us about?
BK: I just got back from Europe where I appeared at large event called “Movie Days”. That was a lot of fun. I get excited myself meeting people who are iconic. Especially sci-fi people as I am a big fan of that genre. I have done many Kiss conventions around the world that are specifically unique to Kiss but this was only my second time I think appearing at a more movie themed event. I like when fans are excited to meet me and I get it because I am a fan myself. Getting to meet people I idolize is really amazing. That’s something I love about the entertainment industry.

Grand Entertainment Group is Proud to Announce the DVD Releases of “Rewind” & “Neverlost”

LOS ANGELES, CA – Grand Entertainment Group (GEG), a newly founded independent multi-platform content and distribution company based in Los Angeles, is proud to announce the DVD releases of “Rewind” and “Neverlost”, two independent thrillers, on August 14, 2012.

Rewind” stars Allen Leech (“The Sweeney”), Amy Huberman (UK’s “Threesome”) and new comer Sophie Brosnan.  This thriller takes you on a journey into a young woman’s past.   Karen (Huberman), a recovering addict, has settled into a successful new life with her husband and young daughter. When Karl (Leech), an old boyfriend recently released from prison, turns up unexpectedly, Karen’s buried past comes back to haunt her; and she is forced to confront a world she thought she’d escaped from, to protect her family and her future.

Neverlost”, written and directed by Chad Archibald (“Bounty Hunters”) stars Emily Alatalo (“Dead Genesis”), Ryan Barrett (“Exit Humanity”) and Jennifer Polansky (“I Hate Toronto: A Love Story”).  After losing Kate (Alatalo), his high school sweetheart, in a horrific fire, Josh Higgins’ (Barret) life tumbles into a depressing mix of insomnia and poor choices. After taking seemingly harmless sleeping pill, Josh is thrusted from his current banal existence to one that he had lost years earlier. As the walls of his own psychosis slowly start to close in around him, Josh must race to save himself, Kate and the parallel life that he vows can never again become…lost.

Both “Neverlost” and “Rewind” are available at most major retailers and on Amazon.com along with GEG’s first release “Zyzzyx Road”.  President/CEO David Rand stated “These are the first of many films that GEG plans on distributing.  We will be releasing at least two films per month, through 2012 and anticipate more in 2013.”

For more information on these releases and other Grand Entertainment Group DVDs can be found online at www.GrandEntertainmentGroup.com

Grand Entertainment Group (GEG), launched in early 2012, as a complete destination for programming.  With the ability to distribute DVD, digital, streaming, television and limited theatricals, Grand Entertainment gives filmmakers and their films the platform they deserve. Grand Entertainment Group is a subsidiary of Grand Distribution Group that encompasses production and distribution for diversified products, services, and technologies.  With a line-up of films slated through 2013, GEG is moving forward in a “Grand Way.”

Grand Opening of the Smithsonian’s Warner Bros. Theater

On 2/1/12, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History celebrated the grand opening of the new Warner Bros. Theater in Washington, D.C., with a ribbon cutting and presentation of the Smithsonian Bicentennial Medal to Clint Eastwood for his contribution to the American experience through film. The medal recognizes Eastwood’s six decades of captivating national and international audiences through his work as an award-winning actor and director.

Accompanying the opening of the theater, a new display of objects will be on view showcasing the unique brand of Hollywood storytelling and accessibility that has helped to define American culture to global audiences. The inaugural display includes costumes worn by Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and Eastwood along with Harry Potter’s robe. Visitors will also see objects representing Warner Bros. studio history such as Jack Warner’s silver telephone and Bugs Bunny animation drawings.

Blu-ray Review “Styx: Grand Illusion / Pieces of Eight – Live”

Starring: Styx
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Run Time: 131 minutes

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

The boys of “Styx” still got it. They still know how to put on an entertaining show and they definitely can still sing and rock out! They might throw in a little extra cheese now and then but that should be expected. This concert was filmed on November 9th, 2010 at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, TN. The whole theme of this show is Styx performing their classic albums “The Grand Illusion” and “Pieces Of Eight” in their entirety for the first time, back to back.

These albums were the pinnacle point in the bands career that brought them to global success. Of course, included in these albums are some great classic songs like “Come Sail Away” and ‘Renegade”. What I also thought was cool was that they are also performing some songs for the first time live. So it is cool to see how they put that together and nail each song. Each member of the band gets a chance to showcase their still existent skills at this concert also and it is very impressive how great they still sound today! Just loose the red hair please, Lawrence Gowan.

The Blu-ray looks decent even though it is only presented in 1080i definition. The concert itself though is very colorful and exciting. It is really a very impressive event that they put together. The sound is also superb and really pushes the limits. Of course great sound should be expected from a concert Blu-ray. There is only one special feature included but it is one really good one. It is called “Putting On The Show” and it is an in-depth look on what it takes to setup for such an epic concert.

TRACK LISTING: 1) Intro/1978 2) The Grand Illusion 3) Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) 4) Superstars 5) Keyboard Interlude 6) Come Sail Away 7) Miss America 8) Man In The Wilderness 9) Castle Walls 10) The Grand Finale 11) Great White Hope 12) I m O.K. 13) Sing For The Day 14) The Message 15) Lords Of The Ring 16) Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) 17) Queen Of Spades 18) Renegade 19) Keyboard Interlude 20) Pieces Of Eight 21) Aku-Aku


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