The Interrupters Kevin Bivona talks about being a part of this years Vans Warped Tour

Kevin Bivona is the guitarist/keyboardist of the ska/punk band The Interrupters. The L.A. based band just released their second full length album titled “Say It Out Loud” via Hellcat Records and are currently out on the Vans Warped tour in support of the release. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Kevin prior to the bands set in Syracuse, NY about the group’s background, their new album and their relationship with Rancid front man Tim Armstrong.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background info on the band?

Kevin Bivona: The Interrupters are from Los Angeles, and are sound is kind of a mixture of ska and punk. We started the band at the end of 2011 and release our first record in 2014 in Hellcat Records. Our second album “Say It Out Loud” just came out in June and we have been touring pretty solid since the release of the first album. This is our first summer out on Warped tour and so far we are having a really great time.

AL: What was that appealed to the band about doing a tour like Warped tour as opposed to a traditional headlining tour?

KB: We had actually planned on doing our own headlining tour. The band has been very fortunate in that we have been able to open for a lot of great bands who have amazing fan bases. We have been out on tour with Rancid, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Less Than Jake to name just a few. Through opening for all those bands we felt we had developed a solid enough fan base to go out and do our own headlining tour. We then got the offer to join the Warped tour which was taking place the same time as our newest record was scheduled to come out. We wanted to take that huge opportunity to expand our fan base even more before going out on our own. We were really lucky to get the offer. There is so much variety on this tour and you get to play for people who might not otherwise check out your band so this was just the perfect thing for us as a band.

AL: With Warped tour being one of the few remaining touring festivals in the U.S. What do you feel attributes to the shows staying power?

KB: Warped tour has a very loyal fan base. As that fan base evolves sound does the line up from year to year. If you look back 20 years ago when bands like Bad Religion, Nofx and Rancid were playing it and who could still play it today as they are the godfathers of the tour off of them sprouted all these sub-genres of music who have found a home here on the Warped tour. I think the fact that Warped tour stays current with what’s going on in the various scenes and fans know this that’s why more and more people come out to see the shows each summer. What I am seeing a lot of this summer is parents who bring their kids to the shows who have their own set of bands they want see which is just really cool. Having a multi-generational appeal like Warped tour has is something very rare.

AL: With the band being on the tour all summer who are some of the bands you like to check out each day?

KB: There are so many. I like to see Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish; Masked Intruder is amazing and really fun to watch. Teenage Bottlerocket and Pepper are a couple others I like as well. I found out about this band Ballyhoo! while being out here and there are great as well.

AL: How did your relationship with Tim Armstrong and Hellcat Records come about and what is it like working with him?

KB: I first met Tim in 2005 after getting the job as the touring keyboard player in The Transplants. While we were out on Warped tour that year Tim had a studio on the bus so him I started working together. Pretty much any project he has going on I try and get on in one way or another be it playing or working behind the console. I have worked on all sorts of projects with Tim from his Tim Timebomb solo stuff to the Jimmy Cliff record. It’s just a lot of working with Tim and he is always down to check out what I have going on as well which is really cool. With The Interrupters I think we definitely have a sound that fits the Hellcat sound and all of us individually and collectively had worked with him before so when we started the band he jumped on board as a producer/collaborator. Tim was super helpful while we nailed down the band’s sound and vibe. Making our second record with him was a lot different than our previous as we had more time together and some shows under our belts. That first record is sort of an introduction to who we are as a band. We had a solid and defined vision of who we are with this second album so it made things much easier I think when it came time to write and record.

AL: You mentioned a headlining tour was in the works after Warped tour wraps up. Can you tell us anymore about that?

KB: We are trying to put all of that together right now. We have never done a headlining tour in the states before so that’s going to be something new. Right now we are focusing all of our energy on these Warped tour shows and then once we wrap up with that in mid August we should have some more concrete plans for the band and the rest of 2016. We want to play as many places as we can in support of this new record.

For more info on The Interrupters you can check out http://www.wearetheinterrupters.com/

Kevin Greutert talks about directing and editing horror film “Jessabelle”

Kevin Greutert is the director of the films “Saw VI”, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter” as well on editor on the entire “Saw” franchise. His latest film is called “Jessabelle” and is a ghost story set in Louisiana. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about the film and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: How was it going from directing “Saw 3D” to a film like “Jessabelle”?
Kevin Greutert: I was very eager to step away from the “Saw” franchise. I loved doing those movies but I wanted to get on with something different and really work with characters that are more developed and have more dramatic texture going on. When this script crossed my desk, I was super excited. It felt like a real breath of fresh air. We made it for a lot less money and a lot less time than most of the “Saw” movies. So in that regard, there was some different challenges as well. There are times when you what to put a camera or lights somewhere but it just isn’t possible. But It was absolutely worth it since the story is so good and the actors and crew were such a pleasure to work with. They made it so easy.

MG: Did you enjoy working in a more slow burn type of horror?
KG: The “Saw” movies were so energy fueled. I love making movies that are as physically engaging as possible. You say slow burn but I hope it isn’t too slow [laughs]. I have been told that this movie has a really amazing pace to it. It is not a movie that is throwing stuff at the screen the entire time. I think the most fun scenes in the film are the really quiet scenes that rely on the tiniest sound to trigger a scare or you see a shadow move in the background. To get to play with that kind of aspect instead of arms getting chopped off felt great and it felt really great on the set. There were no sets for this film, it was all shot in an isolated plantation. You can hear the night birds and there were alligators everywhere. So it was great to do a quiet ghost story.

MG: Like with the “Saw” franchise, you also edited “Jessabelle”; tell us about that aspect?
KG: It is interesting, I enjoy editing a lot but there are challenges to doing both. Directing a film is like climbing Mount Everest. It is really hard and takes all of your resources. By the time you finish, you really just want to go to the Caribbean and spent a month decompressing. By editing the film myself as well, I am climbing Everest and once I reach base camp, I have to turn around and do it again. It is that hard. There is no time to waste and you need to get right back into it. If there is any problem with the footage, it is on you. If I am editing someone else’s film and if something didn’t come out right or they failed to shoot a scene or get a shot, I can say “Man, those guys screwed up” [laughs]. That being said, I still felt pretty good when we got this film in the can. There were no reshoots needed or anything. So the hardest part of editing this film was actually all the stuff that I had to leave on the cutting room floor. Sarah Snook does every take different and they were all great. I am only person in the world who will see how these scenes could have been. These are tough decisions to see something so good and not be able to use it because something else was slightly more appropriate. That is a challenge but it is still very exciting as a filmmaker.

MG: That tub scene is quite effective; tell us about shooting that?
KG: Yeah, the bathtub scene was a tough one. Basically, we had to figure out how to create the sensation that the tub was filling up with swampy, oily, disgusting water. We had to find a place to shoot it. We were in this abandoned three story mansion. The only room we could do it was on the second floor, so in the dining room underneath, we had to build a giant 4×4 super structure to keep the tub from failing through the floor. It was probably our biggest shoot day. We had to have condor cranes at the windows with different lights and rain effects. We had a hot filled with water ready to make sure the girls didn’t freeze to death. Then on the very last day of shooting I had wanted to get a few more shots in the bath tub, so we had to set it all back up again. I thank the crew because it was a tough thing to do.

MG: Did you ever feel limited by the PG-13 rating?
KG: I always wanted this movie to actually be PG-13. When you put an R rating on a horror movie, people have expectations that this movie is going to deliver gore and blood etc. This is a very scary movie but not scary because of violence. It is scary due to its psychological situations. With that said, when we did submit the film to the MPAA, we did get back an R rating several times and we had to make a few adjustments. But for most people, if you would see both versions side by you probably wouldn’t be able to notice anything major missing.

MG: I liked the locations which created a lot of atmosphere in the film; tell us about where it was shot?
KG: From the day that I first read the script to the day that we started shooting, it was not a long time. First order of business was to cast it and simultaneously with that was to find a place to shoot it. Originally we drove all over Louisiana trying to find the right place. We would up in North Carolina and thought it looked more like Louisiana than Louisiana [laughs]. We originally found a great house and shortly after we were told that this guy James Wan was using it for a film called “The Conjuring” [laughs]. James is good friend of mine though and we found another place and ended up working in the same town at the same time as them. In the plantation we found, no one has ever made a movie there before and no one had lived there for decades. The last inhabitant was an old schizophrenic man. The walls were completely covered with strange drawings. It felt like a true haunted house. When you see the film it looks like a very derelict building but we cleaned it up a lot [laughs]. It was really a great place. When they go through the swamps, it was all the real thing. We had alligators following us around. It was wonderful.

MG: What can you tell us about your next film, “Visions”?
KG: That film is also produced by Jason Blum. I am currently editing it. It is a wife that buys a winery to overcome a tragedy. Her husband is also trying to sustain an agricultural business during a drought and the wife is pregnant. She starts to experience some very mysterious hauntings in the house. I don’t want to say too much but it has one of the best third acts that I have ever seen. I read the script for the first time back in 2008 and called everyone to get this film made. It took a while but it is great and I can’t wait for it to be released.

Kevin Kline and Israel Horovitz discuss new film “My Old Lady”

Israel Horovitz is a veteran playwright and stage director who at seventy-five years old is bringing one of his plays to screen for the first time with the film adaptation of My Old Lady.

My Old Lady stars Kevin Kline as Mathias a down on his luck author who is brought to France when his father dies leaving him a Parisian flat in his will. Mathias dreams of profiting off the sale of said-flat however are crushed when he finds the flat comes with a tenant (Dame Maggie Smith) to whom Mathias owes money to under a peculiar French real estate arrangement called a “viager.”

Horovitz and Kline were in great spirits when they sat down recently in New York to discuss adapting the play to film after its successful stage life.

 

How familiar were you with Israel’s play before you got involved with the film?         

Kevin Kline: I read it in French.

Israel Horovitz: Oh that’s right, I gave it to you in French or somebody–

Kline: Some crazy French producer who thought I could actually speak French well enough to play it when it was done in Paris.

Horovitz: You didn’t see it in New York though?

Kline: No.

 

In that version, was Mathias French?

Kline: No, he was American. That’s what was so–they wanted me to play this American but who spoke French. In the film version, the idea that he couldn’t speak French, this was something new.

Horovitz: The play was done in, I don’t know, fifteen or twenty languages around the world but it was most popular, or very popular in France. It was done in a 1200 seat theatre and played for a couple of years.

 

Mathias is a very sort of world-weary character, was it difficult to get into that mindset?

Kline: [In hilariously World-Weary tones…] I can’t believe you’re asking me this, same old, tired old question! World-weary? I do world-weary very readily. In fact I’m sick of that question! I’m weary of all this nonsense. [Losing the weariness]… World weary? Well he’s just a mess!…I never quite understood him. Nor did I wish to. I think it’s a good thing for an actor not to–I’m always wary of actors and directors who say ‘I’ve got an idea about Hamlet, here’s the deal, here’s what his problem is’ or ‘Here’s an idea I’ve got for Lear’ Or if an actor’s saying ‘You know what I’m playing? What my subtext is?’ I don’t wanna know! No. There’s a certain point to, a degree of ignorance which I’ve maintained precisely.

 

Horovitz also spoke at length about bringing together his main cast:

Horovitz: Kevin was the first–I didn’t want to do a movie that had, I don’t want to say unknown actors, but less-than-great-actors. Because some years ago the pope came to Paris and there was a big to-do with French writers saying you must know the division between church and state. They went out to the airport with signs protesting and the pope was this little old man about to die and the first thing he said, got off the plane and there were microphones, he said, “It’s a pleasure to arrive somewhere in this life as an unambitious guest.” And I directed this movie as an unambitious guest. Because I wasn’t trying to build a big film career…I just wanted to make a beautiful movie and I settled on that story because I thought the story could be funny and it could be serious at the same time. It could be possibly the kind of movie that I would love to see if I didn’t do the movie. And we’d shoot in Paris and like, what’s wrong with that? And my daughter would be the producer and what’s wrong with that?

…And I asked Kevin who was famously “Kevin Decline” and he said YES and then I roped him in. And he did the reading and we’re both theatre rats, so we did readings at my house and really, he really knew who he was playing and helped me you know, refine it. And then Maggie said yes and I flew to London and had a lunch with her and she said “I had twenty-five scripts offered to me and I’ve chosen yours, do you want to know why?” And I thought ‘Oh my god, do I really want to know? Okay, why?’ and she said “Because I don’t have to die at the end of your movie.”

 

What was it like to work with Maggie Smith?

Horovitz: Oh, she’s lovely. She’s Maggie Smith

 

Had you worked with her before?

Kline: No, no no no no. She’s probably the first dame. No I worked with Dame Joan– actually Lady, The Lady Olivier, Jane Plowright, who’s may be one of her best friends.

Horovitz: Judi Dench is Maggie Smith’s best friend. They’re both 79 turning 80 and they’re both terrified to turn 80. They talk to each other on the phone every day of their lives.

Kline: She was great she’s ..when I stopped finally boring her, pleading with her for more theater stories, you know I wanted to hear about all of her experiences in the theater. But, oh, consummate professional. Remember the day where she had to–she faints in the movie. Even if a thirty-year old faints, they say ‘okay, there’s a mat here and you’ll fall out of frame onto a nice, soft mattress.’ This was like the first take, um, she just fell on the floor!

Horovitz: She scared the hell out of–

Kline: All of us! Could have broken a hip, but no, was fine.

Horovitz: I did three takes and she would have gone on and I thought, ‘I can’t be the man who killed Maggie Smith.’ And I said “I’m very impressed, that you could do that Maggie” and she looked at me with this kind of sexy voice and said “You’d be amazed at what I can still do.”

 

When did you first encounter the concept of a “Viager”? And what was your reaction to it?

Horovitz: Well I had fifty something of my plays translated and performed in France. I spent tons and tons of my life there and I couldn’t believe it when I first heard about it. And then I started to research it and I saw these real estate agents that specialize only in viager apartments. It’s much more complicated than I made it in the movie. Because you can buy a viager apartment that has, they say “deux tete”, two heads. And you’re buying the husband and wife and you have to outlive both of them. So at first I thought, ‘man this is the most barbaric thing I’ve ever found!’ and then I realized, you know, it’s not so bad. If somebody’s old and they have no money–

Kline: Gives them a new annuity.
Horovitz: And they don’t have kids to leave their apartment to…If somebody gives them a bunch of money and pays them to stay in the apartment, pays them a little something and then they know they’ve got a roof over their heads for the rest of their lives, it’s fine. It’s not so much a gamble for that person, it’s a real security.

Kevin Riepl talks about scoring the film “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero”

Kevin Riepl is the composer of horror films like “Silent Night”, “Contracted” and a segment from “The ABC’s of Death”. His latest film is the horror/thriller “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” directed by Kaare Andrews (Altitude and The ABCs of Death) and staring Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), Currie Graham (Pompeii, “NYPD Blue”), Ryan Donowho (Soldiers of Fortune), Mitch Ryan (“One Tree Hill”) and Jillian Murray (Bad Ass). Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about the score and working in the horror genre.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved to score the film “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero”?
Kevin Riepl: I met the director, Kaare Andrews, when we worked together on his contribution to THE ABCs OF DEATH, “V for Vagitus”. When I heard he was selected to helm CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO I was eager to have a chance to work with him again. Likewise for Kaare, so we submitted my reel to the producers and once they were on board, we were all set to go.

MG: Did you look back at the previous two films for any ideas?
KR: I refreshed myself a little bit with the first film’s score. As much as we wanted to create something new, we also wanted to carry over some of the ‘rawness’ of Nathan Barr’s score and incorporate a lot of scratching and dissonance in the string instruments.

MG: What was your biggest challenge you faced with this film and was this score unique in any way from your previous scores?
KR: I think the main challenge on the film (even though it wasn’t really a big challenge) was coming up with and deciding on the palette for the score and what style would best support the story and its setting. I do believe this score is unique from any of my previous scores and that is because this film is different from previous films I’ve scored. Yes I’ve scored a decent amount of horror and thriller, but each of those has been artistically different from each other as well. A film’s story dictates the sound and style of the score. If you look back through my previous films many of the scores are quite different and unique to the film. That’s the ultimate goal – to give each film its own sound. Of course it is a collaborative effort with the director since it’s their vision, but I try to bring ideas to the table that will help their vision stand out and be that much more unique.

MG: You have worked in the horror genre before with projects like “The ABCs of Death” and “Silent Night”; what do you love about the genre itself?
KR: It’s usually dark, gritty and fantastical. Ever since I started music at a young age I’ve always wanted to explore the darker side of music, melody and sounds. As much as I love writing all styles of music, it seems that the horror genre lets me experiment a little more when writing scores. Being a creative person, how can I pass that up?

MG: “Contracted” was a sick film BTW; tell us about your process for this film?
KR: CONTRACTED, indeed, was sick and A LOT of fun to work on. Eric England is a young director and has so much to offer the film world. It was great to work with him on this film. At the very start, Eric knew he didn’t want traditional ‘horror’ music. So we approached the score with a synthetic, almost ethereal sound to help support the main character’s innocence and naiveté, until of course things start to go south. At that point I start to include more grit and experimental sounds and rhythms to help throw the viewer off balance so they can feel as much angst as the main character does as she goes through her changes.

MG: How is it going from scoring video games to TV or film? Which is more challenging?
KR: I don’t find it to be challenging. It’s all music. Yes, there are specifics and deadlines you need to be concerned about during the process of creating for each medium, but in the end it’s still about coming up with ideas and you’re still supporting story and visuals. The most important thing and it is sometimes a challenge, is scheduling…especially when you have a video game, a TV show AND a film on your plate.

MG: What else do you have in the cards coming up next?
KR: I just recently completed the action thriller THE NIGHT CREW directed by Christian Sesma. Hopefully I will have more news concerning the release of the film and an official soundtrack. Other than that, I am currently working on Ubisoft’s and Signal Studios’ TOY SOLDIERS: WAR CHEST video game as well as a small independent feature.

Brian Kevin talks about his book “The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America”

Brian Kevin is a writer who contributes to magazines, websites travel guidebooks. He is also the associate editor at Down East magazine and the author of “The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America”. Media Mikes had the chance to chat with Brian about his journey through South America and how Hunter S. Thompson inspired it.

Mike Gencarelli: When did you first find the work of Hunter S. Thompson?
Brian Kevin: I came to Thompson via Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas back in 1998, which I think is true of a lot of people my age (I’m 34). In the book, I describe the film as kind of a dorm room standard during the late ’90s, when I was a college student, and I’ve since praised it in other forums (http://goo.gl/kL3jl2) as really one of the more faithful literary adaptations in recent cinema. So that kind of piqued my interest in Thompson’s work — who the fuck is this guy? what could this possibly look like on the page? — and I spent the next couple years catching up on the Thompson canon.

MG: Tell us what made you decided to take this yearlong journey across South America?
BK: I’d read enough to know that Thompson had spent this year abroad in the early 1960s, reporting on Cold War issues from South America, and it occurred to me this must have been a pretty pivotal time in the life of a writer I admired. But for all the unauthorized biographies and oral histories and documentaries and other materials out there about Thompson’s life and work (particularly after his death in 2005), his year as a foreign correspondent hardly warranted a mention. I was curious enough to dig through a couple of microfiche archives and unearth the articles he wrote from South America, most of which hadn’t seen the light of day for fifty years. The more I looked into it, the more I admired Thompson’s gall for just up and hitting the road, trying to will himself a writing career. I had kind of gone a safer route — some entry-level magazine jobs, then grad school — and I was feeling like it hadn’t gotten me anywhere. Around the same time I was digging up Thompson’s forgotten South American reportage, I suddenly found myself divorced, functionally unemployed, and sitting on a mountain of student loan debt. So I did the only rational thing and traded in a bunch of frequent fliers miles for a ticket to Colombia to follow the Thompson Trail.

MG: What was it like to revisit the places where HST lived and worked?
BK: A lot of people see the title of the book and kind of assume I was carousing my way across the continent in some kind of wanna-be-gonzo fog, but I actually couldn’t be less interested in that. To me, it was all fieldwork — I wanted to revisit the topics that Thompson wrote about for the National Observer fifty years ago and, in the process, get some insight into what he learned in South America that shaped him as a writer and a human being. For all his later gonzo persona, Thompson at 24 was whip smart and super disciplined about understanding the forces shaping Latin America during the Cold War. So traveling in his footsteps meant giving myself a crash course in Latin American history, culture, politics, and ecology. And yeah, that fieldwork sometimes involved drinking heavily with miners, capsizing a boat in Colombia, and patronizing a Paraguayan brothel (sort of), but it really was all in the name of education.

MG: What did you find was the most interesting find of your exploration of twenty-first-century South American culture, politics, and ecology?
BK: Well, the surprising thing was the extent to which the issues that Thompson reported on fifty years ago are still very much shaping the continent. Thompson wrote about Peru’s struggles to overcome a powerful political oligarchy, for example, and that’s still very much the story of Peruvian politics today. He wrote about Brazil as this sleeping giant shackled by inflation, and fifty years later, that’s still arguably the biggest economic story playing out in South America. He more or less predicted the rise of the FARC in Colombia and the ascendancy of cambas in eastern Bolivia and a bunch of other story lines that are still unraveling in 2014. In a nutshell, the interesting thing in country after country was how present the ghosts of the Cold War still are — and that made Thompson’s ghost feel very present as well.

MG: Do you feel that you yourself have changed after this exploration?
BK: You know, I reflect on this a little in the book, and the answer is tricky. A lot of the book ends up being about travel itself — about the reasons people give themselves for picking up stakes and about their expectations of what they’ll come home with. Often, this includes some kind of transformation. People want to come home changed in some profound way, and I’m not convinced this isn’t kind of a bullshit goalpost. My time on the Thompson Trail gave me an education, which is really what we should be after anyway.

MG: What do you think it takes to be a “gonzo journalist” in today’s world?
BK: I think this is a term that starts and ends with Thompson. I don’t think “gonzo journalism” is a form or a genre that a writer can just opt into. It’s one specific writer’s style — Thompson’s — and while it can certainly be imitated, the results are almost uniformly shitty. But I do think that the best nonfiction writers working today approach their subjects with the same fearlessness and unorthodoxy and humor and personal investment that were all critical components of “gonzo.”

MG: Do you have a follow up planned for “The Footloose American”?
BK: Yeah, there are a couple of projects in the hopper. One is a deep profile of this globetrotting, nineteenth-century Forrest Gump-type character who destroyed everything he touched, and the other is a sort of a combination road trip tale and education expose. I realize both of these sound a bit weird and cryptic, but you’ll just have to take my word that they’re fun and interesting, and I’ll be all for saying more when they’re a little farther along.

Kevin Kliesch talks about composing the score for Disney Junior’s “Sofia the First”

Kevin Kliesch is a composer that recently earned his first Emmy nomination for his work on the hit Disney Junior series “Sofia The First”. He has worked as a composer and orchestrator on over 100 feature films spanning the past seventeen years, including “Frozen”, “The Hangover” and “Tangled”. He also received his first Annie Award nomination for his work on the “Thundercats” series in 2012. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about his work both composing and orchestrating.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got started composing for the Disney Junior series “Sofia the First”?
Kevin Kliesch: I had worked as an orchestrator on “Tangled” in 2010 and became friends with the film’s editor. After hearing my mockups and orchestrations from Alan Menken’s score, he happened to recommend me to the head of music at the Disney Channel since they were looking for a composer to score their new series “Sofia the First.” I met with the Sofia team and they liked my background, so I got the job.

MG: Congrats on your first Emmy nomination for your work on the show; what do you enjoy most about composing for this show?
KK: Thanks! The best thing about writing for Sofia is that I get to write the traditional Disney-style music that we all grew up with. The producers wanted to stay away from typical cartoon music and instead draw on the lush sound of past Disney films, which I am honored to have been a part of, having worked as an orchestrator on “Enchanted,” “The Muppets” and “Tangled.”

MG: How is it going from a show like “Sofia the First” to working with DC Comics’ animated movies like “Superman: Unbound” and “Justice League: War”?
KK: The two are musically about as far apart as you can get! I really enjoy scoring the DC films because it gives me a chance to write in a completely different genre than the Disney style. I’ve always been a fan of action scores, so it’s great to be able to call up a different palette of sounds and get my superhero vibe going.

MG: “Frozen” and Tangled” are two of my favorite newer Disney films; tell us about your involvement with these films?
KK: I was the orchestrator on both of those films. On “Tangled,” I worked with the legendary Alan Menken on bringing his score to life. He would send me complete piano sketches and I would have to take those and make complete orchestra scores from those sketches. I also had to do computer mockups of all of the music so the directors and producers could hear what the score was going to sound like before we went to record it with a live orchestra. On “Frozen,” I didn’t have to do any of the mockups since the composer Christophe Beck did his own mockups, but I did wind up orchestrating about two thirds of the score from his sketches.

MG: Switching roles from orchestrator to composer; what do you enjoy most and why?
KK: As an orchestrator, I get to work on someone else’s vision of how the score should support the film’s narrative. As a composer, I get to create that vision myself – which is eminently enjoyable. Being able to translate emotion into music is both very challenging and rewarding.

MG: How does it differ doing a score for a film than it does for a television series?
KK: There’s not much difference in terms of how I approach the story. Both genres require that the music support the drama and the characters; I always strive to give emotional weight to what’s happening on screen. There’s also not much difference in the time I have to do each project. While a DC film might have 70 minutes of music, I’m usually given a few weeks to complete it. On my television series, I usually wind up writing 20 minutes per episode, and I get anywhere from 7-14 days to do that. Both genres require that I write about 3 minutes a day to reach my deadline.

MG: I have a two year old daughter, who loves “Sofia the First”; with you also having a young daughter, does it only making working on a show like this 100% better?
KK: Absolutely! My 6-year-old comes into my studio every day and asks me what episode I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll play the whole episode for her, which she loves because she gets to watch it before anyone else! I also really enjoy watching the episodes with her when they air on tv.

MG: Being a fan of the series; I have to ask was it a daunting task to redo the theme song for the reboot series of “Thundercats”?
KK: It was daunting only for the fact that the producers wanted to compress the 2-minute original theme song down into 10 seconds, so I had to figure out how not to make the die-hard fans angry!

MG: What else do you have in the cards for the rest of 2014 and onwards?
KK: “Sofia the First” has been renewed for a third season, so that will keep me busy well into 2015. I’ve also been approached to orchestrate a new ABC/Disney television series called “Galavant” which will have original songs written by Alan Menken and an original score by Christopher Lennertz. So I’m super-excited to be working with the Disney team again!

Kevin Sorbo talks about new films “God’s Not Dead” & “Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider”

Kevin Sorbo is know best for his roles in “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”, “Andromeda” and “Kull the Conqueror”. Media Mikes had a chance to ask Kevin a few questions about his upcoming films “God’s Not Dead” and “Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider”.

Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to this film, “God’s Not Dead”?
Kevin Sorbo: It’s always the story. Great script, wonderful characters, fantastic message!

MG: How did you prepare to play a character like Professor Radisson?
KS: I have atheist friends. I have many conversations with them about my faith, their non belief. I have had college professors like him and have met with other college students who have had the same experience.

MG: In the film you push your students to admit god is dead; did that clash with your religious beliefs?
KS: Not at all. I’m acting. There are certain things I would be uncomfortable with as an actor and wouldn’t do, but the message here is great and needs to be brought to the light.

MG: Big “Duck Dynasty” fan, did you get a chance to meet The Robertsons during filming?
KS: They were brought in a year after we finished shooting, so we never met.

MG: You are currently shooting “Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider”, tell us what we can expect?
KS: A whacky ride into a post apocalyptic world where mad max meets the final chapter of the bible. Just had a fun, crazy character to play. No redeeming qualities in him really, but that remains to be seen with hints he may be back for other “Revelation Road” movies.

MG: Lastly tell us about your current Kickstarter campaign for the film “Survivor”?
KS: Sci-fi movie where I play the captain of a ship that had to leave earth decades ago when world war destroyed it. We answer the distress beacon of another planet and all hell breaks loose upon our arrival. Movie is shot and is looking for more money to wrap up post production.

Kevin Smith talks “Clerks III” and “Tusk” during 2013 New York Comic Con

Media Mikes had the pleasure of attending the AMC “Comic Book Men” panel held during this year’s Comic Con Convention in New York on Oct. 10-13. The panel featured show creator Kevin Smith along with cast members Brian Johnson, Walter Flanningan, Ming Chen and Michael Zapcic. Though the panel was originally meant to discuss season 2 of the hit AMC show the audience quickly turned it into their opportunity to grill Smith about a few of his other upcoming projects, namely “Clerks III” which Kevin had this to say.

Kevin Smith: “Clerks III” is currently going well enough to where the script is done and we are just waiting on finding our money. In an effort to keep my mind off of worrying about finding money for that movie I wrote this film titled “Tusk”. That is what I am going to be doing next. In a few weeks I will be heading to North Carolina to start filming. The film stars Justin Long and Michael Parks and it’s basically about a kid trying to turn another kid into a walrus. The film is based off of a UK add on a Gumtree website where there was actually a guy who made up this hoax about a person looking for someone to wear a walrus costume they made. The hoax was done by a guy named Chris Parkinson who we reached out to and actually made a producer on the film. Without his dopey idea I wouldn’t have come up with this. So while waiting on the money for “Clerks III” which I wanted to take to Sundance as it will be the 20th anniversary of the first “Clerks” films things were looking less and less likely so I wrote this stupid walrus movie. I wrote it in about 20 days under the mindset of not really wanting to make a movie but if I had to what would I want to see. I loved Michael Parks in “Red State” so I just built this around him with the idea that it would make it easy for me to sit on set for weeks and weeks as I would get to watch Michael work. When I got the script done it was like pornography and Michael Parks. (Laughs) We just pushed the ideas we had and thanks to some really good weed we said “fuck it” and tried pretty much everything. Over the next couple of months this film started to become more real than “Clerks III”. This is a much smaller scaled film that is easier to get in and out of. “Tusk” has now taken the place of “Clerks III” at Sundance this year as I thought fans would want to see something different rather than just more “Clerks”. We will still be doing “Clerks III” however not until March or April of 2014. I hope to have it done for the 20th anniversary as the original film came out in October of 1994. All of the crew from “Comic Book Men” will be in this film as could most of the people here in this room. “Clerks III” is going to be a massive fucking movie! I say that without a hint of irony.

Blu-ray Review “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”

Starring: Kevin Hart, Harry Ratchford, Will ‘Spank’ Horton, Joey Wells
Directed by: Leslie Small, Tim Story
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Summit/Lionsgate
DVD Release Date: October 15, 2013
Running Time: 75 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Kevin Hart is easily one of the funniest comedians in the business today. I am a big fan of his TV show on BET called “Real Husbands of Hollywood” and his roles in films like “Think Like A Man” are great. He also is co-starring in this Fall’s “Grudge Match” with Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, which looks amazing. He only seems to be getting more popular each year and I can’t wait to see what he does next. This film came after Hart scored a major hit grossing over $15 million from his first theatrical comedy show “Laugh At My Pain”, which also became one of the year’s top-selling comedy tours. I feel like he is bringing back the stand-up comedy films again since there was a recent drought.

When you watch “Let Me Explain”, I couldn’t help but compare to “Eddie Murphy: Raw”. Hart has that same kind of energy and really commands the audience with his presence. This show was filmed live in New York City at two sold-out performances at Madison Square Garden and it focuses on Hart’s unique view on the world. If you enjoy his comedy, then you will be holding your stomach in pain and probably shedding a few tears from laughing so hard. I am not a huge stand-up comedy fan but I couldn’t I literally almost fell off the couch with this one.

Summit delivered a nice combo pack for this release including Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy. The 1080p transfer is impressive and works for what is needed to cover this stage show. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works well with Hart’s jokes and sounds good. In terms of special features there are only two featurettes including “No, No, No, Let US Explain” and “Backstage Pass”. There are also three music videos including Let Me Explain Theme Song video “The Narcissist” featuring American Antagon1st and another with Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Erick Sermon and RL and “Pop Off” music videoby Doeshun featuring Ray Ray & Ruck.

Kevin Sean Michaels talks about indie film “Supernaturalz: Weird, Creepy & Random”

Imagine an indie horror movie with a big Bollywood ending.  I thought I’d seen it all until I watched, Supernaturalz: Weird, Creepy & Random on Amazon Streaming, a web hit. The movie goes where few movies have gone before. It is no surprise, then, that it comes from the mind of a former Troma Studios alumni, director Kevin Sean Michaels, who worked with Troma President Lloyd Kaufman on Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.  He also directed two documentaries, Vampira: The Movie and The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels, which in fact was narrated by none other than John Waters himself. I caught up with the director to ask him why he made Supernaturalz: Weird, Creepy & Random.

Mike Gencarelli: What inspired Supernaturalz: Weird, Creepy & Random? Seems pretty bizarre!
Kevin Sean Michaels: It is! I grew up watching a lot of sitcoms, where for no reason there would be a serious episode.  Then back to comedy. The worst was Family Ties, where Alex Keaton (Michael J. Fox) actually lost his virginity at 17 and has to talk to his Dad about it.  Anyway, I thought it would be entertaining to mix horror and comedy like that.  But we decided not to put a laugh track.  As a result, no one is cued to laugh, they just do.

MG: What has been the reception?
KSM: Very intense because the movie plays like a practical joke, similar to the movie, “The Room” by Tommy Wiseau.  It’s like—how can this be a real movie? Are they serious? But the movie is like one of Ed Wood’s—it reads like a stage play gone wrong, but in this case the train-wreck is part of its charm. And totally planned out.  People seem to really connect with it on its level. And on its terms.

MG: I know you directed “Vampira: The Movie”.  Are you a fan of Ed Wood?
KSM: Of course! When I did Vampira: The Movie I was able to talk to some of the original actors like Conrad Brooks. He said Ed really put heart and soul into his films and that they were supposed to be funny.  Like the imperfections was the perfection. That’s why I look up to Ed Wood, too.  I read recently that Bobcat Goldthwait got a tattoo from Kat Von D, stating just that—Ed Wood was inspiration to filmmaking independence.

MG: What was the inspiration for the characters in Supernaturalz: Weird, Creepy & Random?
KSM: The Garter Snakes gang was funny.  I love the idea of a gang of girls, like in the biker movies.  Basically, for them to act like old Bowery Boys, Three Stooges with a dash of Happy Days.  There is love in the group, even if they all insult each other.  If Fonzie tells Potsie to “sit on it” he doesn’t mean “fuck you. “  And when the characters start dying in Supernaturalz: Weird, Creepy & Random, it comes down to how the gang reacts.  But it is goofy cartoon fun in the end.

MG: Some pretty harsh things happen to the gang…
KSM: (laughs) That’s the point.  It’s got an unreality to it.  It’s like the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.  Freddy can laugh at all of it and the audience is with him somehow.  Our villain is also our main character.  She goes through changes, but it’s the force of evil that is the real villain.  I’ve seen a few audience members jump out of their seats at some parts of the movie.

MG: Any advice for filmmakers doing their own special effects on a budget?
KSM: Yes, never put soap in your mixture for fake blood.  People slip on it.  That’s why I have never done it.

MG: What about the nudity in Supernaturalz: Weird, Creepy & Random? Especially the snake scene…
KSM: Yes, the snake scene is a stand-out.  I was always amazed by reading about the stir caused by the snake scene in The Devil in Miss Jones.  They cut the scene out so many times that it’s now legend.  Our scene is a homage to that.  The other thing is to play with nudity where it’s sexy but yet scary or weird at the same time.

MG: And the Paris Hilton scene?
KSM: Well, it’s not really Paris Hilton (laughs).  I like the idea that someone would be cruel enough to steal someone’s clothes as well as their car just to humiliate them, but also to follow their sexual fantasy.  In this case, Patti’s fantasy.  To strip the rich is sexy.  Our gang member Patti is a shoplifter and can’t seem to stop herself from going too far.  So our Paris Hilton-character is stranded like in Castaway, talking to her fuzzy handbag instead of a little dog.  People seem to really like the scene.

MG: Why the strong emphasis on Indian mythology and Bollywood dancers?
KSM: Something I haven’t seen in a movie like this and people don’t expect it. It really challenged us, too.  It’s very panoramic on the screen.  Indian mythology is very interesting and there is so much to it.   Even our character, The Mighty Sardar, isn’t mighty enough to handle it all.  He has to rely on his assistant.  The phallic symbols are a part of Hindu temples, so we have that as well. When you see the movie, we really made it twisted, so I hope there is no bad mojo because of it (laughs).

MG: Is horror and comedy a trend?
KSM: It’s always been there.  Comedy is always part of horror.  You can’t have dark without light.  I’d rather be in the light.

Like the movie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/supernaturalzthemovie

Website: http://www.supernaturalzthemovie.com/

Check it out on Amazon Streaming or DVD: http://tinyurl.com/mtwsagv

Kevin J. Anderson talks about books "Hellhole Awakening", "Mentats of Dune" and working with Rush's Neil Peart on "Clockwork Angels"

Kevin J. Anderson is the known best for his work in the “Dune” universe working with co-author Brian Herbert. He also co-authored the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel” with Neil Peart from the band Rush. He is releasing his latest novel, “Hellhole Awakening” this month and working on the next “Dune” novel, “Mentats of Dune”, due next year. Kevin took out some to time to chat with Media Mikes before he hits the road to promote his new novels discuss them and also what else he has in the cards for 2013.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your latest novel “Hellhole Awakening”?
Kevin J. Anderson: Brian Herbert and I have written about a dozen other books together in Frank Herbert’s “Dune” universe. They are all international best sellers and we love diving into that universe. But after doing all those books together we decided to take a crack at our own universe. It is trilogy. “Hellhole” is the first one, which came out two years ago. And now “Hellhole Awakening” is part two and comes out at the end of March. Hellhole is a planet that is struck by an asteroid. Due to that, there are volcanoes, earthquakes, storms and most of the native life forms are extinct. Then you have a bunch of misfits that are trying to colonize it, led by an exiled rebel general. So, these desperate colonists are trying to make a new life for themselves on a very hellish place. We have a lot of various storylines with aliens, disasters, terrific space battles and some other really cool stuff. We are very excited about the trilogy. It is really epic. The story just keeps building after what the first book has set up. (I know I should have a good one-liner to describe it—HELLHOLE is about a colony trying to survive in a place where nobody would want to live.

MG: Tell us about how this collaboration with Brian Herbert compares than your other books?
KJA:  We have been doing this since the mid-1990’s and every single year we have a new book out. We have spent most of the time in the “Dune” universe, and we really know how the other person thinks. We play upon each other’s strengths and are able to describe things and tell a story we find engaging. The “Hellhole” books gave us a chance to strut our own stuff instead of using what Frank Herbert developed in the “Dune” universe. It is nice to play with your own toys sometimes.

MG: Also with Brian, How is your progress coming along for “Mentats of Dune”?
KJA:  MENTATS is the second book (after SISTERHOOD OF DUNE) in a new trilogy set about 10,000 years before the original novel “Dune”. It is about the formation of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood and the Mentats School. “Mentats of Dune” will be out next spring. Actually when the phone rang for this interview, I was editing page 100 out of page 651. Brian and I are in our fifth draft, and we will probably go through ten drafts or so until we get it all finalized. We do a book every year, kind of like clockwork… which leads me into my other recent book “Clockwork Angels,” the steampunk fantasy adventure based on the new Rush concept album.

MG: I was just going to ask actually, tell us about the “Clockwork Angels: The Watchmaker’s Edition”?
KJA:  The Watchmakers Edition is the audiobook version of the novel. Not your typical audio book. It is unabridged and read by Neil Peart (the drummer from Rush, with whom I cowrote the novel). Neil has a gorgeous voice and he wanted to do this. This novel is very close to him and me as well. And what could be better than having Neil Peart read it himself? The novel and the audiobook itself were released last September. “The Watchmaker’s Edition” is a very snazzy special edition, with a modeled clock tower with a working clock inside. It has beautiful artwork all around it by Hugh Syme, the cover and album artist. (He’s done all of the artwork for Rush’s albums dating the way back to “2112”. ) It also has a nice poster inside with a timeline for the “Clockwork Angels” project for Rush and my work as well. Any die-hard Rush fan should have this.

MG: Let’s go back, tell us about origin about how this collaboration came about with Rush’s Neil Peart?
KJA:  “Clockwork Angels” is Rush’s latest concept album, like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” or The Beatles’ “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. It is a steampunk fantasy adventure about a Big Brother figure called The Watchmaker and a crazy anarchist who wants to destroy everything—who meet up with a naive dreamer, someone who grew up in a small town. He wants to visit the big city where the Clockwork Angels are. The world has zeppelins, pirates, steampunk carnivals, and the lost seven cities of gold. Neil and I have known each other for about 25 years. He’s already read my books and I have always been a Rush fan. We’ve worked together a few times. Before CLOCKWORK ANGELS, we did a short story called “Drumbeats.” and Neil wrote an introduction to a collection of short stories I did. When he was developing the story for the”Clockwork Angels” album, I started brainstorming with him just because it was fun. At some point along the way, Neil suggested that this could be a novel also. This novel is something I’ve been waiting my entire career to do. Rush’s music has inspired many of my stories. During their “Time Machine” tour, they came to Colorado (where I live) and on a day off, Neil and I climbed a 14,000 foot mountain—because what else do you do on your day off? During the hike up, we plotted the story and came up with the characters. So while Rush was writing the album, I was putting together the story in my head. I was able to put in little references to Rush lyrics—not just “Clockwork Angels” but the entire library of songs. If you are a die-hard Rush fan, you will catch them, but otherwise the story flows just fine.

MG:What/when can we expect from the third Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. novel, “Hair Raising”?
KJA: HAIR RAISING is the third installment after DEATH WARMED OVER and UNNATURAL ACTS, and will be out in May. I’ve also done an original story, “Stakeout at the Vampire Circus” (available in all eBook formats), and I’ll have another new one, “Road Kill,” out in about a month. This series is a humorous horror series which follows Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., set in a world where all the monsters come back and live in a part of the city called the “Unnatural Quarter”. In HAIR RAISING, somebody is stalking werewolves and scalping them.
If you can’t tell, I have so much fun with my job. I love telling these stories. I don’t have enough time in the day to put down all the words in my head.

MG: Tell us about your upcoming tour to support these?
KJA: I am about to start a US tour for HELLHOLE AWAKENING (San Diego, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta, Dayton, Richmond VA, and Colorado Springs)—full tour schedule at http://kjablog.com. Unlike a rock concert tour, I will be there meeting with the fans face to face, give a little talk about working with Brian and Neil, and there’ll be a Q&A, door prizes, lots of cool stuff. I look forward to getting out there and meeting the fans.

Loren Hoskins & Kevin Hendrickson talks about making music for Disney Junior's "Jake and the Never Land Pirates"

Loren Hoskins & Kevin Hendrickson are the musical duo responsible for the fun pirate rock on Disney Junior’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”. Besides the music, the duo are also characters in the show, Sharkey and Bones, Captain Hook’s henchmen. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the Loren and Kevin about their work on the show.

Mike Gencarelli: You guys are no stranger to pirate-rock. How do you feel you have changed from Captain Bogg and Salty to The Never Land Pirate Band?
Loren Hoskins: We inherited a universe. It was one we knew fairly well with it being Never Land. We got to play all these iconic characters in a number of different situations. On top of that we got to really test the fabric of pirate rock. We were able to write song for a number of different shows. I feel like this has broadened our outlook a little bit and given us more toys to play with.
Kevin Hendrickson: I think it has also given us a lot more songs to write. We used to write about 10 songs a year but now I think we write about 10 times that amount. This is more of a full time job now.

MG: With music being a very integral part of the show do you ever feel any pressure related to writing the music?
LH: I don’t know about pressure but I suppose I do now that you brought it up [laughs]. What blew our minds when we got started with this is that we were just offered an opportunity to try and write a theme song. To have it snowball in to working on the underscore and a bunch of other little songs which then led to us being both animated and live action characters has been a real gift. I am probably more excited about things than anxious.
KH: I have a little bit different take as I do feel a certain amount of pressure but it’s exciting. The scripts and writers are really great so from the beginning I felt a lot of pressure to really up the game and write great songs. In a way it’s been a positive thing to be surrounded by such a great team.
LH: I agree with that. We were stepping in a new world as we had never done an underscore before. We had to learn a whole new vocabulary. We had to learn a new way to tell a story and we wanted to reward everyone’s faith in us.

MG: What would you say is your favorite song to perform with the group?
LH: We did a performance run at Walt Disney World that was 30 shows in 10 days. It was incredible. There were 700 people or more showing up to see us perform for each of the 3 shows. We closed each set with the song “Never Land Pirate Band”. The kids know that song very well. So to perform that live and see kids at their first rock concert jumping around and singing along is a great feeling.

MG: Loren, you voice Sharky as well as Sandy the Starfish; how do you feel about going from singing to voicing characters on the show?
LH: When I was a kid I didn’t want to be pirate when I grew up. I wanted to be Mel Blanc and be able to do all those amazing voices. So to do voices on the show is a total blessing for me. It is something I really love.

MG: What can we expect to see during season 3 of the show?
KH: There are going to be some fun spring themed episodes as well as one titled “Tiki Tree Luau”.
LH: That is going to be a great episode. These episodes are just so great as the characters are doing some really funny stuff. In one episode titled, “Captain Who?”, Captain Hook forgets who he is, which is just a great story line.

MG: Does it blow your mind how popular your character have become, even including puppet versions in “Disney Junior Live” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
KH: Absolutely! Everyday is just stunning and it has yet to wear off. To hear our music in the parks and see it on television and then knowing that’s it’s going out all over the world is thrilling.
LH: When we got the chance to meet the puppeteers at Disney we were both equally excited to meet each other. It was really cool to be behind the scenes of a big Disney show.

MG: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job and entertaining children?
KH: Every time we get the opportunity to perform live in front of an audience and share our music is something that has really struck me. It’s a great privileged to be able to do that.

MG: Are there any plans to do more live shows in the parks?
LH: We haven’t heard anything yet. We never know as there is always some grand adventure being planned. Right now we are really focusing on season 3. We have been recording lots of songs for the new end sequences and focusing on a new round of pirate rock.

MG: Speaking of new music, will we be seeing a new album in the near future?
LH: I sure hope so! (Laughs) They have a beautiful way of rolling things out that runs tandem with the new episodes. We have heard of lots of cool things that will be happening in the near future. We don’t know when but there should be a new album soon.

Kevin J. Anderson talks about working with the band Rush on the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”

Kevin J. Anderson is the co-author of the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”, which is based on the band Rush’s latest album. The novelization is co-written with Neil Peart, who is the drummer and lyricist for the band. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about this collaboration and his work with Rush.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up collaborating with Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart on “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”?
Kevin J. Anderson: Neil and I have been friends since around 1990; I’ve always been a Rush fan, and he reads my novels. My first novel, Resurrection, Inc., was inspired by the Rush album Grace Under Pressure. Over the years we’ve toyed with the idea of doing a novel/album crossover project, but the stories and the schedules never synched up. As Clockwork Angels began to take shape, though, it had that right set of ingredients. As he developed the story for the songs, he suggested that I do the novel.

MG: Since Neil wrote “Clockwork Angels” as a concept album, did that make the adapting process easier?
KJA: He’s always given me props for my worldbuilding skills, and when he started putting the songs and the story together, he turned me loose to let me develop the world, to see how the pieces fit together (like “Clockwork,” naturally!). Neil had most of the framework for the story, which is set out in the songs, but I helped connect the dots, added extra characters, fleshed out the scenes. But I didn’t change anything in the album or the songs—Neil wrote what he wanted to write, and I developed a story that captured it as best I could.

MG: What was your inspiration for the dystopian fiction featured in the story?
KJA: Oddly, we consider this a “nice” sort of dystopia. Yes, the Watchmaker controls a lot of people’s lives, which is a bad thing if you’re a square peg and the rest of the world is made of round holes, but for the vast majority of the population, this really is an idyllic sort of world. But our character is a dreamer and wants something more.

MG: How did you end up merging this story with the steampunk subgenre?
I’ve been writing steampunk since 1989 (before the term was ever invented, I think), and Neil liked that aspect. He had the idea of a steampunk motif from the very beginning, and it was always part of the canvas as the story and music took shape.

MG: Tell us about your work with artist Hugh Syme?
KJA: Hugh had already done some of the paintings for the CD booklet before I started writing. I used his artwork for details and inspiration, and he read the drafts of some scenes as I delivered them. Hugh had an uncanny knack for taking a detail or a metaphor at the core of the story (something even I didn’t realize) and pulling it to the surface, which would send me back to the draft to emphasize that part and add new scenes. We worked closely together for the illustrated booklet that accompanies the unabridged audiobook (which Neil Peart narrates), Hugh and I getting the finished content, design, and layout done for Brilliance Audio in only a few days!

MG: I think that this novel would make a great movie…(Hint Hint)!
I certainly wouldn’t disagree with you, but it doesn’t matter what I think. Some movie producer has to get that idea in his or her head!

MG: Do you feel that there will ever been another additional chapter to this story?
KJA: Not as an endless series of book after book. But Neil and I love the world and the characters, and we feel that some of the side tales might be worth exploring. Not in the immediate future, though. I have two massive books I’m writing, and Rush has this tour thing they’re on…

MG: What is your favorite song on the album “Clockwork Angels”?
KJA: It often changes as I keep listening to the album. Right now, the one that seems closest to my heart is “Headlong Flight,” which means so much to the story and means so much to me about my life.

MG: What do you have planned next? Any plans to work with Rush again?
KJA: Right now I am editing MENTATS OF DUNE with Brian Herbert, my next major novel in that series, and I am beginning a new trilogy in my gigantic “Seven Suns” universe, THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS. It’ll probably be a thousand pages long, and as of today I hit the halfway point! And I have two other novels ready to be cued up in the new year. It’s too soon to think about doing anything else with Rush —they’ll be touring for quite some time yet.

Kevin Shinick talks “MAD”, “Robot Chicken” and “The Avenging Spider-Man”

Kevin Shinick is the known best for being the showrunner/writer/main voice talent/voice director on the animated TV series “MAD”, as well as the writer/voice actor/creative director on “Robot Chicken”. He has been nominated for an Emmy on this work for two shows. He also recently co-produced and narrated the “Robot Chicken DC Comics Special”. Kevin took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about those two roles and also what else he has planned like releasing this first issue of “The Avenging Spider-Man” with Marvel.

Mike Gencarelli: How does it feel to be nominated two years in a row for the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program Short-format, last year for Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken and this year MAD?
Kevin Shinick: I couldn’t be more excited. Especially since this is our first Emmy nomination for MAD and I know how hard we all work on the show to keep it funny and topical. It’s also surreal, because the last time I won it was for working with my friends on Robot Chicken and this year I’m up against them. But to prove how familial it all is, Seth is actually the main voice in the MAD episode that’s nominated for the Emmy and I just got finished doing more voices for them for their next season. So there’s good blood all around. Although that being said, please vote for MAD.

MG: Out of all the hats you where on “Robot Chicken”, as a writer/voice actor/creative director, what is your biggest challenge?
KS: Being Creative Director over at Robot Chicken meant following a sketch from its inception all the way until you saw it on TV. This meant making sure the costumes, sets and designs all matched what we were thinking about in the writer’s room, so that was the most time consuming, but it also prepared me for running my own show over at MAD. There I’m a producer, writer, director and voice talent and everything in between. In the end I’d say the writing is still the most fun, although also the most demanding. And doing voices is always a blast no matter what show I’m on.

MG: Tell us about working on “Robot Chicken DC Comics Special” on Adult Swim, where you are the co-producer and voice the Narrator and other characters?
KS: As I mentioned before, the Robot Chicken guys and I are really like family so despite the fact that I’ve left to create my own show, I always keep at least one foot in that world. And because my schedule is so tight with MAD it doesn’t leave me time to work on the actual series, but I do make time for the RC specials. And in this case, it was even more rewarding because it also meant working with another great friend of mine, Geoff Johns. It was his idea to do an all DC Comics special and so when we all came back together it was like the perfect storm. And I think you’ll definitely get a sense of the fun we had doing it when it airs tonight. Also, the chance to play the narrator which was originally played by the great comedian/actor Ted Knight was a dream come true.

MG: How do your tasks of showrunner/writer/main voice talent/voice director on “MAD” differ than your work on “Robot Chicken”
KS: It’s very similar, but the tone is different. Essentially the network was looking for a show like Robot Chicken that wasn’t so dark and could air during prime time hours. So right off the bat we’re aiming for a younger demographic. Second, Robot Chicken has a great time focusing on retro things like He-Man and such while MAD tries to stay topical and poke fun at things that are out there currently.

MG: Tell us about MAD’s upcoming Halloween & Christmas Specials and what are we in store for?
KS: Last year’s MAD’s Halloween special is the episode that is nominated for an Emmy this year and it was definitely an awesome episode. So this year I wanted to top it. So far I’m really excited with the bits we came up. Starting off of course with our movie parody, FrankenWINNIE. A spoof of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, only Christopher Robin has to reanimate his beloved Pooh after a horrible accident had destroyed him. It’s coming out great and is some of the finest stop motion I’ve seen.

MG: Not only animated cartoons, tell us about your comic work as well with releasing your first Avenging Spider-Man #12 comic for Marvel?
KS: Again, it seems to be a superhero September for me. Yes, my Avenging Spider-Man #12 comes out this Wednesday, September 12th. I’m incredibly excited for this because I think it’s something that’s going to blow your mind. Not only is Spidey teamed up with everyone’s favorite mercenary, Deadpool, but you’ll also see Spider-Ham and a few other crazy characters from Spidey’s past who will probably not lend the help the webhead is hoping for.

MG: Tell us how you ended up guest staring on NBC’s Grimm and tell us about your experience?
KS: I’ve always been an actor as well, but with so much going on in my writing world there’s not always time to do both. But lately I’ve tried to make time for each because I’m equally passionate about my acting. The Grimm episode was just an audition I got, but when I read the role and saw that this guy was secretly a Porcupine Man I thought, “I have GOT to get this role.” Luckily the universe felt the same. And the cast and the crew were really great so it was a fantastic experience from top to bottom.

MG: You are also planned to guest star with Alfred Molina, Ving Rhames and Jamie Bamber on David E Kelly’s medical drama pilot for TBS, “Monday Mornings”, tell us about that?
KS: I can’t talk too much about that now, but it will air in January and it’s a great medical drama from the wonderful mind of David E. Kelly.

MG: Lastly, what’s the deal about this date with Angelina Jolie?
KS: Ha! This is one of those things that’s surreal in hindsight, but at the time was just a lovely evening. I was performing on Broadway in a production of The Seagull with Jon Voight ages ago and he and I had become close, so when he said to me, “My daughters coming to town. How would you feel about taking her to dinner?” I said, “Sure.” Not knowing this was the same woman who would later become People Magazine’s Sexiest Woman Alive, let alone a great actress. So the moral is, never say no to Jon Voight 🙂

Kevin Heffernan talks about Broken Lizard, “Super Troopers 2” and “The Babymakers”

Kevin Heffernan is a member of the comedy group Broken Lizard.  He co-stars in the new film  “The Babymakers” along with fellow Broken Lizard member Jay Chandrasekhar, who also directed.  Kevin is currently touring the stand-up comedy circuit with fellow Broken Lizard member Steve Lemme.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about Broken Lizard, “Super Troopers 2″ and “The Babymakers”.

Mike Gencarelli: How was it working with Jay Chandrasekhar solo compared to a Broken Lizard production?
Kevin Heffernan: He is a total dick…no he’s good. It was great. It was a project we put together a while back. It was closed and then fell apart and then closed then fell apart. So it was great to finally do it. It wasn’t that different from shooting a Broken Lizard film. We used a lot of the same crew and it is sort of like family. I’ve worked with Jay a lot so it was really smooth. Smooth sailing.

MG: Tell us what you enjoyed most about playing Wade?
KH: It is kind of funny since that with some of the early reviews, it has been said that it is a bit of a departure from our Broken Lizard work and features more mature material. But the fact of the matter is that I got to play the “Broken Lizard” asshole character. So it was fun for me. I got to be a jerk and a dumb guy. It ended up not being too far away for us. We dealt with issues with having kids and stuff but I was still running around with my pants down.

MG: What was your favorite experience from “The Babymakers”?
KH: Jay and I haven’t worked on something together since “The Slamming Salmon”. So it was fun to get back into that. You kind of realize the more movies you do the more comfort you have. There is a lot of improv on this. We got to come up with a lot of funny stuff. The other nice thing was working with a guy like Paul Schneider. I didn’t know Paul before but he has a lot of indie film cred. He is a real actor [laughs]. Unlike us, you know. To spend time on a set with a guy who is that talented was different than hanging out with my college buddies.

MG: What do you like most about working in comedy genre?
KH: I think it is just the sensibility of it. Being on set is fun, the atmosphere is just very fun. It is the base instinct of trying to make people laugh. I guess I could do drama but I really don’t seek any of that stuff out. I just love doing comedy.

MG: After “The Slamming Salmon”, you plan to direct again?
KH: Yeah, I would love to do more directing. We got a lot of irons in the fire currently. We had a couple of movies that have come close in the last year and one of those I was going to direct for Broken Lizard. So I still want to do that. You just gotta ride the wave a little bit. We made this movie. Then Steve Lemme and I got the stand-up tour also, which we actually just shot for a special last month. So we are editing that together right now. I like doing multiple things, that way you don’t get bored but I hope to direct again soon.

MG: Tell us about your stand-up tour with Steve Lemme?
Steve told me you and him are working on a new Broken Lizard script, any details?
KH: We got a couple of things we were working on right now. One we really like where we (Broken Lizard) all play minor league umpires. So it is funny kind of “Bull Durham” movie…but with umpires [laughs]. That is kind of secondary though. The big push is really for “Super Troopers 2”. The hold up is just a negotiation with Fox right now. They own the first one and the rights to the second one. So its moving along just slowly.

MG: You guys also have a TV pilot in the works, any update?
KH: Steve and I actually just pitched a new idea to a few places including NBC. They seem to really be into a few of the new ideas we have, so I think we should have something moving forward soon hopefully.