Special Edition Vinyl Review: King Diamond “Conspiracy,Them, Abigail, Fatal Portrait”

“Conspiracy, Them, Abigail, Fatal Portrait”
King Diamond
Metal Blade Records
Special Edition Vinyl Picture Discs

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

With the reintroduction of Vinyl back in to the mainstream many labels have starting re-releasing their back catalogs on titles which either were never available on vinyl or have been long since out of print. Metal Blade Records has been a big proprietor of this practice and their most recent re-releases come from the one and only King Diamond. Media Mikes had the chance to check out four of these releases (“Them, Fatal Portrait, Conspiracy, Abigail”) and needless to say we quite please with the listening experience.

Right out the box before even starting up my turn table I could tell that these four records were going to be something special. All of the albums are pressed on 180 gram vinyl and adorned with beautiful album artwork and photos on both the A and B sides. Probably my favorite of the lot was the photo of a growling King which graces side A of the “Conspiracy” LP. Another thing I notice about the artwork was that all the colors were very vibrant making the art work pop quite nice. Probably the best example of this is that of the seductive woman cloaked in fire on the “Fatal Portrait” album. Not only were these four albums great to look at the sound quality was top notch and consistent across each of the reviewed editions. Classis songs like “Welcome Home”, “Abigail”, “Halloween” and “Victimized” will tear through your speakers as the Kings signature falsetto screams shriek to new levels while the shred-tastic instrumentation blows your mind on an entirely different level.

Metal Blade spared no expense in the re-release of these four albums. The high quality vinyl makes for a tremendous sonic experience while the bold double sided art work provides a nice visual aspect as well. Both fans of the band and vinyl collectors will want surely want to check these out as they are some of the nicer re-releases I have encountered. Another cool thing is that some of these releases will be limited to only 2,000 prints making the collector factor quite high. If you’re into adding some true classic metal to your record collection or want to get these to display merely for the amazing art act fast as these surely won’t be around long.

“Conspiracy” Track Listing:
Side A
1.) At the Gates
2.) Sleepless Nights
3.) Lies
4.) A Visit from the Dead
Side B
5.) The Wedding Dream
6.)” Amon” Belongs to “Them”
7.) Something Weird
8.) Victimized
9.) Let It Be Done
10.) Cremation

“Them” Track Listing:
Side A
1.) Out from the Asylum
2.) Welcome Home
3.) The Invisible Guests
4.) Tea
5.) Mother’s Getting Weaker
Side B
6.) Bye, Bye, Missy
7.) A Broken Spell
8.) The Accusation Chair
9.) Them
10.) Twilight Symphony
11.) Coming Home

“Abigail” Track Listing:
Side A
1.) Funeral
2.) Arrival
3.) A Mansion in Darkness
4.) The Family Ghost
5.) The 7th Day of July
Side B
6.) Omens
7.) The Possession
8.) Abigail
9.) Black Horseman

“Fatal Portrait” Track Listing:
Side A
1.) The Candle
2.) The Jonah
3.) The Portrait
4.) Dressed in White
Side B
5.) Charon
6.) Lurking in the Dark
7.) Halloween
8.) Voices from the Past
9.) Haunted

Film Review: “King Cohen”

KING COHEN

Starring:  Larry Cohen, J.J. Abrams and Michael Moriarty

Directed by:  Steve Mitchell

Rated:  Not Rated

Running time:  1 hour 49 mins

Darkstar Pictures

 

As a teenager there were two film trailers shown on television that not only scared the hell out of me, but that I still remember vividly to this day.  One was for the film “Magic,” featuring Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margaret and a dummy named Fats, who would look into the camera and recite, “Hocus, pocus…we take her to bed.  “Magic” is fun.  YOU’RE DEAD!”  The other one began like this:  “There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis baby.  IT’S ALIVE!”

 

“King Cohen” is an excellent documentary about filmmaker Larry Cohen, whose films, including “It’s Alive!,” “The Stuff”  and “Q” have a devoted following of fans, including such successful directors as J.J Abrams, John Landis and Martin Scorcese.  All three of these men face the camera and expound on the effect Cohen has had on their own projects.  Abrams recalls a time when he was fifteen years old and running into Cohen on a Los Angeles street.  Cohen was lost and the young man pointed him in the right direction.  Decades later, when the two meet again, Cohen remembers Abrams as the kid who gave him directions.

 

Cohen grew up like many people in show business…wanting to be in show business.  He broke into television in the 1960s, writing for such shows as “Surfside Six,” “The Fugitive” and “Branded.”  Occasionally Cohen was ahead of the times.  A script he wrote for the show “Naked City” was turned down for being to “rough” for the times.  30 years later, Cohen sold the script to “N.Y.P.D. Blue.”

 

The film looks at the various films in Cohen’s career, with Cohen and others talking about his filmmaking process.  Cohen was often a true guerilla filmmaker, often putting a cameraman up on a fire escape and filming the passerby’s reactions.  For one film, he required a parade of 5,000 New York City.  To get the shot, he dressed Andy Kaufman up as a cop and had him join the rest of the boys in blue in marching across the city.  While filming a film dealing with J. Edgar Hoover in Washington D.C., Cohen learns the address where the former F.B.I. director lived and films a few scenes on the front lawn.

 

This film covers pretty much Cohen’s filmography, focusing more on the most popular films, especially “Q” and “The Stuff.”  Interviews with fellow filmmakers, crew members and actors such as Michael Moriarty and Eric Roberts gives the viewer every possible look at Cohen’s process.

 

All in all, “King Cohen” is one of the best documentaries about Hollywood to come down the pike in a very long time.  Now, if I could only get that Davis baby out of my head!

Theatre Review: “The King and I” – Kansas City

‘The King and I”

Starlight Theater – Kansas City, Missouri

June 14, 2018

 

I can imagine it’s pretty hard to write a Broadway musical.

In 1943, a couple of guys named Richard and Oscar took a popular novel and turned it into one of the most popular musicals of all time; “Oklahoma!”  They followed it up with “Carousel,” “State Fair” and ‘South Pacific.”  Four hits in a row.  What would Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Hammerstein come up with for their next show?

Our story begins with Anna Leonowens (Elena Shaddow) aboard a boat with her son, Louis (Ryan Stout).  They have traveled from England to visit the court of the King of Siam, where Anna has been employed as the new teacher for the King’s wives and children.  Both mother and son are taken by the pageantry that accompanies their journey to the palace, as well as the exuberance of the King (Jose Llana) himself.  The King wishes to have his country adapt more modernist attitudes, and he hopes this English teacher can help him change.  And help him she does.

“The King and I” is a show I’ve been dying to see performed live since I first saw the film in the early 1970s.  The closest I ever got was a touring production, starring Yul Brynner, that came through Baltimore in the mid 1980s.  Sadly, I didn’t get to see the show, but I later did eat in the same Chines restaurant made popular by the fact that, when Brynner visited for dinner, somebody stole his shoes.   And, while it would have been amazing to see Brynner in his career-defining role, this new tour is equally every bit its equal.

Elena Shaddow and Jose Llana in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I.” Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Both leads give amazing, energized performances and I would be remiss if I did not point out that Mr. Llana makes the role of the King his own.  The supporting cast is just as good and the music….well, it’s Rodgers and Hammerstein, for God’s sake!  What’s amazing is that Rodgers and Hammerstein still had “Cinderella” (a perennial favorite on television), “Flower Drum Song” and “The Sound of Music” to follow.  Filled with familiar songs like “Hello Young Lovers,” “Getting to Know You” and “Shall We Dance,” the show is easily one of the best productions I’ve seen at Starlight in a long time.

The show plays in Kansas City through June 17th.  For tickets to a performance, either in Kansas City or later in the tour, click HERE.

Theater Review: “The Lion King” in Kansas City

Disney’s “The Lion King”

Music Hall – Kansas City, Missouri

May 10, 2018

 

AMAZING!  That is the first word that popped into my head as “The Lion King” began.  While being mesmerized by the animated and musical Rafiki (Makelisiwe Goga), we were treated by a parade of animals down the aisle, from the rear of the theater to the stage.  Birds.  Gazelles.  Elephants.  They strode past in their proud majesty and filled the stage.  And for the next two and half hours, the excitement never died.

“Rafiki” in THE LION KING North American Tour. ©Disney. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Based on the 1994 animated film of the same name, the story of “The Lion King” is much as it was in the film.  Some of the characters are fleshed out more and there are more songs, also written by Elton John and Tim Rice.  The characters are familiar and are portrayed in an amazing way.  While the majority of the lions just wear lion heads, other characters are portrayed by actors holding/wearing puppets.  The effect is jaw-dropping.  Even the lovable duo of Timon and Pumba are portrayed this way, a way that is not distracting in the least.

The original show, which is now the third longest running show in Broadway history, was nominated for an amazing eleven Tony Awards, winning six, including Best Musical.  I’ve been attending shows, both on Broadway and off, since 1980, and I would easily put “The Lion King” in my top 10 of best shows ever.

“The Lion King” runs in Kansas City at the Music Hall through May 27th.  For ticket information, or to see where the tour is heading next, click HERE.

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Theatre Review “The Lion King” @ Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts – Orlando, FL

The Lion King
Show dates: February 14–March 11, 2018
Walt Disney Theater at @ Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
445 South Magnolia Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
Tickets: start at $35.25

I remember like it was yesterday when “The Lion King” opened up on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater in October of 1997. I saw it that year and was mesmerized by the outfits and the set, just beautiful! Years later I had a chance to see it again in Las Vegas in 2009 and again I experienced that wonderful same feeling. Last night, I experienced that same feeling again. From the moment the lights went down, I immediately got the chills! The music came on and the cast come flooded through the seating area in full costume, singing at full volume. This was magic!

The Walt Disney Theater at @ Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a wonderful spot to enjoy theatre. Coming from Broadway, this theatre easily rivals the experience for me personally. The sound is fantastic. The seating is so comfortable much better than a ton of the old Broadway theaters, I can recall. They even utilized two of the box seating areas and had musicians playing living music throughout, which really added a nice 3D sound. I have to admit though, they seemed a little distracting during the song, “Be Prepared” since it seemed a little out of sync.

Buyi Zama has played Rafiki in the stage production of “The Lion King” since day one and it was such an amazing experience to get to see her again in this role, now for the third time. She doesn’t miss a beat and she is on point from seeing her over 20 years ago! Coming off the last ‘Gazelle’ National tour, Mark Campbell, returned a Scar and easily commanded the stage. Besides a little technical difficulty with his mask, was on par if not better than John Vickery in the Broadway production! Literally gave me chills when he spoke!

Buyi Zama as “Rafiki” in THE LION KINGNorth American Tour. ©Disney. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Having seen “The Lion King” live on Broadway and in Las Vegas, this easily one of my most enjoyable to see how it came to life. This felt like a full Broadway production. Even after the show, we got a chance to go backstage and got to view how everything is stored and all the costumes and how the set works. It was amazing. I also got some insight from Mark Campbell, who describes some difference in how the sets move in and out of place and how climbs up the set pieces during the herd sequence, so it really just showed how much goes in behind-the-scenes.

The ensemble cast should also get a shout out here because they were just amazing, when we were backstage we saw how easy of the ensemble cast has 10-15 outfit changes per show. It was simply extraordinary. “The Lion King” started its nearly one month run on February 14 and runs till March 11, 2018, so if you can catch a show I would highly recommend it. Tickets can be purchased here!

Disney’s THE LION KING Performances Begin on Wednesday, February 14 and Play for Four Weeks Through Sunday, March 11 at Dr. Phillips Center

Buyi Zama as “Rafiki” in THE LION KINGNorth American Tour. ©Disney. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Orlando, FL, January 29, 2018 – Casting has been announced for the Orlando return engagement of Disney’s The Lion King. The show’s first appearance in the Walt Disney Theater at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and it’s third time to Orlando, the four-week engagement runs from February 14 through March 11.

The production features Mark Campbell as “Scar,” Gerald Ramsey as “Mufasa,” Buyi Zama as “Rafiki,” Nick Cordileone as “Timon,” Greg Jackson as “Zazu,” Ben Lipitz as “Pumbaa,” Gerald Caesar as “Simba,” Nia Holloway as “Nala,” Keith Bennett as “Banzai,” Martina Sykes as “Shenzi” and Robbie Swift as “Ed.”

The role of “Young Simba” is alternated between Joziyah Jean-Felix and Ramon Reed and the role of “Young Nala” is alternated between Danielle W. Jalade and Gloria Manning.

Rounding out the cast are Derek Adams, Kayla Rose Aimable, Andrew Arrington, William John Austin, Eric Bean, Jr., Kolin Jerron, Thabani Buthelezi, Sasha Caicedo, Kyle Robert Carter, Thembelihle Cele, Erynn Marie Dickerson, Tony Freeman, Mukelisiwe Goba, Deidrea Halley, Jalen Harris, William James Jr., Jane King, Gregory Manning II, Christopher L. Mc Kenzie, Jr., Nhlanhla Ndlovu, Aaron Nelson, Selloane Nkhela, Phylicia Pearl, Christopher Sams, Jordan Samuels, Mpume Sikakane, Sadé Simmons, Kimber Sprawl, Kevin Tate, Jennifer Theriot, Courtney Thomas, Shacura Wade, Zola Williams and Krystal Worrell.

Coming to Orlando as part of the 2017 – 2018 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando season tickets start at $35.25 and may be purchased online at drphillipscenter.org, by calling 844.513.2014 or by visiting the Dr. Phillips Center Box Office at 445 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. Online and phone ticket purchases are subject to handling fees. For groups of 10 or more please contact Group Sales at Groups@drphillipscenter.org or calling 407.455.5550.

Ticket buyers are reminded that Dr. Phillips Center is the only official retail ticket outlets for all performances. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that Dr. Phillips Center is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

The North American touring productions of The Lion King have been seen by more than 19 million theatergoers. Having already played more than 70 cities across North America, The Lion King now proudly returns to Orlando to make its debut in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Shows, dates, times, prices, and artists are subject to change.

Dashaun Young as “Simba” in THE LION KINGNorth American Tour. ©Disney. Photo by Joan Marcus.

ABOUT THE LION KING

In its 20th year, THE LION KING continues ascendant as one of the most popular stage musicals in the world.  Since its Broadway premiere on November 13, 1997, 24 global productions have been seen by more than 90 million people.  Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), THE LION KING is the only show in history to generate six productions worldwide running 15 or more years.  Performed in eight different languages (Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese), productions of THE LION KING can currently be seen on Broadway, London’s West End, Hamburg, Tokyo and Sapporo, Madrid, Scheveningen, Holland, and on tour across North America, for a total of eight productions running concurrently across the globe.  Having played over 100 cities in 19 countries on every continent except Antarctica, THE LION KING’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.          

THE LION KING won six 1998 Tony Awards®:  Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical.  THE LION KING has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design. 

The show’s director, costume designer and mask co-designer Julie Taymor continues to play an integral part in the show’s ongoing success.  The first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical, Taymor has in recent years supervised new productions of the show around the world.

The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from “Rhythm of the Pride Lands,” an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer.  The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, ranging from the Academy Award®-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” to the haunting ballad “Shadowland.” 

The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed The Lion King animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay.  Other members of the creative team include:  Michael Curry, who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor, Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), John Stefaniuk (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), Clement Ishmael (music supervisor) and Doc Zorthian (production supervisor). Anne Quart serves as co-producer.

For more information worldwide, visit LionKing.com.

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About the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization operating the state-of-the-art performing arts center in downtown Orlando, Florida. With its opening in November 2014, the performing arts center launched its vision of Arts for Every Life by being a gathering place for creativity and discovery; a vibrant urban destination where artists, audiences and students come to experience, explore and learn. The two-block community destination features the 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater, 300-seat Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater, Seneff Arts Plaza, Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts, the DeVos Family Room, and other event rental spaces. Future expansion includes Steinmetz Hall, a 1,700-seat acoustical theater, along with rehearsal, classroom, office space and commercial development spaces. Dr. Phillips Center is a private non-profit collaborating with the City of Orlando, Orange County, the City of Winter Park, the State of Florida and generous donors.

FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando is presented in partnership with Broadway Across America and Florida Theatrical Association. FTA is a non-profit civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality touring Broadway productions and the promotion of arts education throughout the state of Florida. For more information, visit FloridaTheatrical.org .

Broadway Across America (BAA) is part of The John Gore Organization family of companies, which includes LionKing.com and The Broadway Channel.  Led by 11-time Tony-winning producer John Gore (Owner & CEO), BAA is the foremost presenter of first-class touring productions in North America, operating in 44 markets with over 400,000 subscribers. Current and past productions include Beautiful, Cats, Chicago, Dear Evan Hansen, Groundhog Day, Hairspray, Hello, Dolly!, Million Dollar Quartet, On Your Feet!, The Producers, School of Rock and Waitress. LionKing.com is the premier theater website for news, exclusive content and ticket sales. For more information please visit LionKing.com and Broadway.com.

 

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Film Review: “Kong: Skull Island”

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and John C. Reilly
Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 2 hrs
Warner Bros

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

There are two funny stories attributed to the late producer Dino De Laurentiis, who produced the 1976 remake of “King Kong.” The first is that, every time his film was compared with “Jaws” he would comment on how “nobody cry when the Jaws die”…and that audiences would be weeping at the end of his film. The other is when he first met producer John Peters, who was not only dating Barbra Streisand at the time but had produced her film “A Star Is Born.” Both movies opened on December 17, 1976 and Peters congratulated Dino on “Kong” out grossing “A Star Is Born.” “I’m not surprised,” De Laurentiis is said to have commented. “My monkey can act!”

1973. As the war in Vietnam winds down, a group of soldiers, led by Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) is chosen to accompany a group to a recently discovered island on a trip funded by the United States government. Finding the island surrounded by horrible weather and storms, the group takes a few helicopters out to make the journey from ship to land. On the way they encounter a big problem. A problem named Kong.

Though it seems like the big ape has been around forever, this is only the eighth film to feature him and the first since Peter Jackson’s remake of the original 1931 classic over a decade ago. Some people didn’t like Jackson’s version but I thought it was well made and really made Kong a sympathetic character. The same holds true here. We learn that Kong is really less of a bully and more of a protector of the indigenous people living on Skull Island. There are lots of creatures roaming around, from lizard-like monsters to giant octopi. But nothing is as big of a threat to the big beast than Colonel Packard, who takes Kong’s protective attack on his choppers as a declaration of war.

Though you really don’t go to a movie like this to see the actors, the cast here is quite good, including a rather dashing looking Hiddleston, strong-willed photographer Larson and World War II vet Reilly, who is truly the heart of the film. Reilly’s former soldier has been on the island since the end of World War II and it’s fun to watch him learn about the world ahead of him while he tries to save the one he’s involved in. Ironically the weakest part of the cast is Jackson, who here plays…Samuel L. Jackson. Clever comments, like “bitch, please” roll from his lips as he continues to plan Kong’s demise. And while Kong isn’t all over the film he appears enough to remind you who’s King. The action is intense and the special effects are well done.

What’s next? Stay through the end credits and find out!

Chantel Riley Talks About Broadway’s “The Lion King” and Her Role in the New Film “Race”

Born in Toronto, Chantel Riley’s path to stardom began when she realized she wasn’t doing what she truly wanted in her life. She is now. Since 2012 she has starred as Nala in the Broadway musical “The Lion King” and last year was able to take time off from the show to begin her movie career with a pivotal role in the new Jesse Owens bio-film RACE.

During a break in her busy schedule, Ms. Riley took the time to speak with me about the physicality of “The Lion King,” her role in RACE and why one day she hopes to be able to “ease on down the road!”

MIKE SMITH: Tell us a little bit about your background? How did you end up on Broadway?
CHANTEL RILEY: I’m originally from Toronto and I went to University in Toronto. After school I pretty much got a 9-5 job but after about a year and a half I realized it definitely wasn’t my thing. (laughs) Because I was a performer. I had taken dance lessons and I had grown up singing in my church. I just had an idea that something else was out there for me. I had no idea what it was but I knew I needed a change. A friend of mine told me about an open casting call they were having in Toronto for “The Lion King.” I had never auditioned for anything before in my life. This was my first time doing anything like this. So I went to the audition and got a few callbacks, which was very exciting. I had a couple well extended lunch breaks…I kept having to go downtown for these callbacks. A couple months later I got a call from my agent and they wanted me to audition to be part of the cast of “The Lion King” in Germany. So I flew to Germany, did the audition and booked the job on the spot. I did the show there for about a year and then I auditioned again for Julie Taymor, who directed “The Lion King” on Broadway, and was offered the role of Nala in New York on the Broadway stage. And here I am!

MS: So basically you’re just like Shirley Jones…you just show up and you’re on Broadway!
CR: (laughing) Exactly!

MS: You’ve portrayed Nala for quite a while now. Do you have to prepare anything special for yourself to keep the performance fresh? I can imagine doing the same thing 8 shows a week for a couple of years might get boring after awhile.
CR: Yes I do. I keep occupied by taking classes and making short films. These things keep me thinking outside the box. I also use what I learn from the classes and the films and bring it with me on the stage. It gives me a new sense at how I look at each performance every night. And this also gives me the chance to try something new. Every night we have a new audience. So it’s a great way for me to try new techniques and to find different ways of performing.

MS: I’ve never seen the show on Broadway but I’ve seen photos and the occasional video clip. It’s a lot more than just standing on a stage and singing. Is the show more difficult physically as opposed to musically?
CR: The show is very physical. We’re constantly on stage and we play lions and zebras and other animals. My role has me constantly running around. If Nala isn’t jumping on-stage she’s jumping off-stage. There’s a lot of activity. AND singing. I sing two songs in the show. We sing live and the dancers are moving non-stop. So it is a very physical show.

MS: You have an important role in the upcoming film RACE. What is your character’s relationship to Jesse Owens in the film?
CR: Quincella Nickerson was someone who was very close to Jesse Owens. She was not only his friend but a huge fan of his. She was a socialite whose father owned a huge insurance company in California. At that time that was pretty huge…that an African-American could be that affluent. She spent a lot of time with Jesse…attending parties and things. There were rumors going around that she and Jesse were engaged to be married. They spent a lot of time together. So we see a lot of that in the film…a lot of her in the film.

MS: If you could play one role on Broadway, either current or a show from the past, what would it be?
CR: Definitely Dorothy from “The Wiz.” I think that would be such a fun role. It would be so exciting. And it’s such fun music. That would be so much fun!

MS: What do you have coming up next?
CR: I’m working on a new short film with James Brown-Orleans, a fellow cast member from “The Lion King.” We’ve done a lot of short films together. Our most recent film, “Teacher’s Nightmare,” just won the Wendy’s International Short Film Award for Best Drama. That’s pretty cool.

Blu-ray Review “A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King”

“A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King”
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Shout! Factory
Run Time: +/-60 min
Format: Blu-Ray and DVD

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

On January 24th, 2014 Carole King was honored as the 2014 MusiCares Person of the Year. During the event King along with a long list of super star guests performed some of Kings most celebrated songs from a career spanning decades. “A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King” is the film presentation of those performances which in include appearance by LeAnn Rimes, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor and Lady Gaga just to name a few. Proceeds from the sale of this disc will provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures that music professionals have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need.

“A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King” is the latest MusiCares release from Shout! Factory who has previously released tribute concerts dedicated to Paul McCartney, Barbara Streisand and Neil Young. Much like previous releases in the MusiCares series the concert is made up of a number of guest’s performances all paying tribute to the selected artist for that year. King is certainly more than deserving of the award and you can certainly tell the impact she has had on all music simply by looking at those who appear in her honor. Songs like “You’ve Got a Friend” performed by Lady Gaga and “Natural Woman” performed by Alicia Keys are definitely worth checking out as is my own personal favorite “Beautiful” performed by Sara Bareilles, Zac Brown, Jason Mraz and Raining Jane.

All in all a pretty entertaining release however if you’re looking for something a little bit more such as bonus content or interviews you won’t find it here. What you do get its 60 minutes worth of star studded entertainment which at times outweighs the lack of those missing special features.

Track Listing:
1.) Hi De Ho (That Old Sweet Roll-) LeAnn Rimes and Steven Tyler
2.) So Far Away- P!nk and Paul Mirkovich
3.) I Feel the Earth Move- Train
4.) Its Too Late- Gloria Estefan
5.) Love Makes the World/Where is the Love?- will.i.am and Leah McFall
6.) Beautiful- Sara Bareilles, Zac Brown, Jason Mraz and Raining Jane
7.) Way Over Yonder- Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill and Darlene Love
8.) Where You Lead- Jesse & Jay
9.) Crying in the Rain- Miguel and Kacey Musgraves
10.) Natural Woman- Alicia Keys
11.) Been to Canaan- Jennifer Nettles
12.) I’m Into Something Good- Amy Grant
13.) It Might As Well Rain Until September- Miranda Lambert
14.) One Fine Day- Martina McBride
15.) Up On the Roof- James Taylor
16.) Home Again- Carol King, Moez Dawad and Ahmad A. El Haggar
17.) Sweet Seasons- Carol King and James Taylor
18.) Hey Girl- Carol King and James Taylor
19.) Will You Love Me Tomorrow- Carole King and James Taylor
20.) Jazzman- Carole King and Tom Scott
21.) I Feel the Earth Move- Carol King and Cast Ensemble

Blu-ray Review “The Possession of Michael King”

Actors: Shane Johnson, Julie McNiven, Ella Anderson, Cara Pifko, Dale Dickey
Directors: David Jung
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Run Time: 83 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

Found footage meets Exorcism, sounds good but has been done before, with “The Last Exorcism” coming to mind.  Surprisingly, “The Possession of Michael King” is a decent entry. Not groundbreaking or genre changing but overall decent. It comes from the producers of “White Noise” and “The Haunting in Connecticut”, so that is a plus in its corner. The film fails with its narrative and wide open ending that answers basically nothing but it definitely had some solid scares and kept my attention the whole film. Plus it run just over 80 minutes, so that works in its favor as well. Shane Johnson is a good lead and has solid co-stars including Dale Dickey (“Iron Man 3”), Tomas Arana (“Gladiator”), and Julie McNiven (“Mad Men”). Worth a rent if you got nothing else to do this week.

Official Premise: Michael King (Shane Johnson) doesn’t believe in God or The Devil. Following the sudden death of his wife, the documentary filmmaker decides to make his next film about the search for the existence of the supernatural. Michael decides to make himself the center of the experiment – allowing demonologists, necromancers, and various practitioners of the occult to try the deepest and darkest spells and rituals they can find on him – in the hopes that when they fail, he’ll once and for all have proof that religion, spiritualism, and the paranormal are nothing more than myth. But something does happen. An evil and horrifying force has taken over Michael King. And it will not let him go.

Anchor Bay is releasing this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet HD Digital copy included. Honestly, it is really rare for Anchor Bay to be releasing digital copies for it’s smaller releases, so this is a real treat. Not that I loved the film enough to watch it again but it hopefully means going they are going to do so. The 1080p transfer is what it is since we are working with found footage here. The picture is clear and the dark scenes are balanced well. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track sound solid and works well the film scares for sure. There are no special features at all included on this release, which is definitely a let down.

 

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Disney Begins Production on “The Lion Guard,” an Animated Disney Junior TV Movie and Series Inspired by “The Lion King”

Disney

Disney Television Animation has begun production on “The Lion Guard,” an animated television movie and series that continues the story introduced 20 years ago in the acclaimed Disney animated film “The Lion King.” Geared towards kids age 2-7 and their families, “The Lion Guard” television movie will premiere in Fall 2015, and the subsequent series will debut in early 2016 on Disney Junior and Disney Channel.

The wildlife education experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park will serve as consultants on “The Lion Guard” stories, which will incorporate themes of conservation, family and community while also highlighting problem-solving, creative thinking and diversity. Author and Swahili expert Sarah Mirza is the language and cultural advisor.

Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, said, “The story of ‘The Lion King’ has deeply touched families around the world since its original theatrical release 20 years ago. We look forward to introducing a whole new generation of kids to both the Disney legacy characters and to new friends and heroes.”

“The Lion Guard” begins as Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, assumes the role of leader of the Lion Guard, a group of the bravest and brightest tasked with preserving the Pride Lands. Instead of assembling a team of young lions to serve with him, Kion challenges tradition by calling upon friends he believes are the best choices – Bunga, a fearless honey badger; Fuli, a confident cheetah; Beshte, a happy-go-lucky hippo; and Ono, an intellectual egret. Stories will include special appearances by Mufasa, Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Zazu and Kion’s older sister, Kiara, the future Queen of the Pride Lands.

Disney

“The Lion Guard” movie and series were developed by Ford Riley (“Special Agent Oso”), who also serves as executive producer. Howy Parkins (“Jake and the Never Land Pirates”) is director. Christopher Willis (“Mickey Mouse”) is the composer.

Originally released in June 1994, the Academy Award-winning animated film “The Lion King” is a Disney story with long-lasting appeal and creative interpretations across multiple Disney businesses.

The lifetime global box office total for “The Lion King” is $987.4 million; its 2011 3D re-release was #1 for its first two weeks; its Grammy Award-winning soundtrack sold over 14 million units; a Tony Award-winning musical, now in its 17th year on Broadway and with 10 productions in eight languages currently running worldwide, has been seen by over 70 million people around the globe and is the highest-grossing Broadway production in history. The North American tour and the Broadway show each surpassed $1 billion in ticket sales while global ticket sales surpassed $5 billion worldwide (from 22 productions). The Lion King is one of the biggest home entertainment titles of all time, and the direct-to-video release of “Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride” is one of the best-selling direct-to-video releases of all time. “The Lion King” franchise also includes 85 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning animated television series “The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa” andpopular attractions at Disney Parks and Resorts. Twenty years since the film’s release, “The Lion King” also continues to resonate with millions of fans who connect with the enduring story and timeless characters through a wide range of products, including nursery décor, bedding and junior fashion.

Marking the animated film’s 20th anniversary, a special edition of the soundtrack exploring the stories behind the songs will be released June 24 as part of Walt Disney Records’ Legacy Collection. An electronic dance music version of “Circle of Life,” by music producer/composer/DJ Mat Zo, is on the recently released DCONSTRUCTED, a collection of EDM remixes of classic Disney songs.

Blu-ray Review “In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission”

Starring: Dominic Purcell
Director: Uwe Boll
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: March 11, 2014
Run Time: 86 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

I love Uwe Boll’s films. I always have ever since “House of the Dead”. His films are definitely not for everyone, he has a specific group that he aims to please and definitely does it again with this latest installment in this series. I think that the first “In the Name of the King” was underrated. I thought the second film with Dolph Lundgren was actually better than the first. Dominic Purcell is great in this film and has worked with Uwe on numerous films in the last few years. If you like this series and looking for a fun no-brainer fantasy action flick, then check this out! If we can only convince someone to make him make another “Bloodrayne” movie!

Official Premise: Looper meets Clash of the Titans in the next chapter of the video game-inspired non-stop fantasy action adventure where Hazen Kaine (Dominic Purcell), an American hitman, skeptically enters into what he hopes is his final contract with corrupt European crime lords. When Hazen realizes he’s been tasked with an impossible mission involving the countries royal family, the stakes change and his mission turns into an all-out fight for survival that takes him spiraling back to medieval times. Now completely out of his element, he must evade a vile medieval army and reclaim a stolen kingdom.

Fox delivered this third and last film in the series with a Blu-ray combo pack including a Digital HD Ultraviolet copy as well. Even though the film was low-budget, film does pack some quality as does all Boll’s films. He is a resourceful guy and his films look like they are budgeted much higher than they look. The 1080p transfer is solid and works well with the visual effects. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which is great for the action scenes. The only main downfall for me was in the special features, which only includes “The Making of In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission”, which runs just under 15 minutes.

Anton King talks about directing his feature debut “Lust for Love”

Anton King is an Australian writer-director, who made his started in the business by premiering short films to the film festival circuit. One of those short films, “Lust for Love”, was just turned into a feature film which packs a fantastic cast including Fran Kranz (“Dollhouse”) and Dichen Lachman (“Dollhouse”) and Beau Garrett (“Tron Legacy”). Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Anton about the film and how fans can see it.

Mike Gencarelli: “Lust for Love” was originally a short film you did back in 2007; what made you turn it into a feature?
Anton King: The “Lust for Love” short was one of the first films I made, it’s a sex comedy that played at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival a long time ago. I just always liked the title so I decided to reuse it.

MG: Tell us about how you financed the entire film from your Kickstarter campaign?
AK: We were blessed with the support of our Kickstarter backers and many volunteers who contributed to the production, however like most independent films Lust for Love took longer and cost more than anticipated. After shooting the film we obtained other investment necessary to complete and deliver it, although we’re still very proud of what we were able to achieve given our limited budget.

MG: Tell us how you got Fran Kranz and Dichen Lachman and many others from the “Whedonverse” involved with the film including Enver Gjokaj, Miracle Laurie, Maurissa Tancharoen and Felicia Day?
AK: I think the performances in Lust for Love are definitely one of its best attributes, and we were certainly lucky to get such a great cast. I’ve known Dichen and Caitlin since they played sisters together on the Australian show “Neighbours”, and I got to know the “Dollhouse” cast through Dichen. I was even fortunate enough to shadow the director Félix Alcalá for one of the episodes of “Dollhouse”. Maurissa asked me if I wanted to direct the music video for her song “Remains” and we cast Fran in that too. When Dichen and I were casting “Lust for Love” we just chose great actors we knew that were available, so the cast is a mix of people she’d worked with on “Dollhouse”, and some Australian actors we knew. We also cast Karim Saleh who’s just an endlessly entertaining close friend of ours and Beau Garrett who Fran recommended.

MG: Honestly, I am not a big romantic comedy fan but you blend the two so well; tell us about this achievement?
AK: With both I just tried to keep it organic and not to overplay anything, but of course it’s difficult when you’re working in a genre that has no real darkness. It’s no coincidence that two of the most respected romantic comedies “Annie Hall” and “(500) Days of Summer” are actually about couples that aren’t supposed to be together and that don’t end up together. I also think that Lust for Love is helped by the fact that it’s about one guy chasing lots of girls rather than just one girl.

MG: Love the music in the film for example Jed Whedon and Jack Savoretti; tell us about that aspect of the film?
AK: The music supervisor Brienne Rose and I worked really hard to find the right songs for the film and Dichen came up with quite a number of selections too. While our composer Darren Morze created many wonderful pieces. It was a long process of trial and error, but for a film like this the music’s really important. Jed and his wife Maurissa were really supportive of the film and let us use both “Tricks On Me” and “Heat Of A Match” which are two of my favorites from Jed’s album “History of Forgotten Things”. We were also contacted through Kickstarter by Ryan Darton who allowed us to use songs from his album “I Am A Moth”.

MG: You juggled quite a few hats with this film; what was your biggest challenge?
AK: Perhaps the biggest challenge in making “Lust for Love” has been dealing with the sheer volume of work and the fact that it continues for so long. With such a small team and budget there’s been a lot we’ve had to do ourselves. Creatively, screenwriting is of course endlessly challenging, and we spent quite a bit of time in the edit making sure the non-linear narrative was clear.

Tell us how and where can fans see this film and what do you have planned next?
AK: “Lust for Love” is available on VOD and iTunes from Feb 7 in the US and Canada with DVD and foreign releases coming soon.

Blu-ray Review “Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway – The Movie”

Voices of: David Bedella, Jonathan Forbes, Teresa Gallagher, Bob Golding
Directed by: David Baas
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Lyons / Hit Ent.
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Run Time: 62 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

It’s been a while since the last time I watched this series. In fact it was back in with the theatrical film “Thomas and the Magic Railroad”, which I actually saw in theaters. But now having a 15 month old child of my own, I have been reintroduced into the world of “Thomas & Friends”. “Thomas & Friends” is currently the number one preschool toy license in the US and only getting more popular! “Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway” is an all-new CG animated epic movie adventure that is sure to have fans of all ages yelling “ALL ABOARD!” Fans of the show will also be excited for the introduction of four new engines and one new destination on the Island of Sodor. This film is not only entertaining but it also very educational. A must for all “Thomas & Friends” fans!

Official Premise: Join Thomas & Friends as they embark on a legendary movie adventure! The steam team’s quest begins when a special guest arrives on Sodor with a big surprise and important jobs for Thomas, Percy and James. The engines meet new friends and discover suits of armor; coats of arms and legends of long-ago heroes. Then their bravery is put to the test when their new friend Stephen goes missing. Will Thomas find him in time? Will the engines discover the truth about the Island of Sodor’s biggest mystery? It’s a crusade of knightly proportions for Thomas & Friends in this epic movie!

“Thomas & Friends: King of the Railway” pulls into the station in a very cool Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. The 1080p transfer is very crisp for this CGI animated film. The DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 track works very well with the film’s music, which will have kids singing along. The colors in the film are vibrant and very warm. The kids are going to love this and the series has never looked better. In terms of special features, I was pretty impressed since there is a bunch of fun extras for the kiddies. We have two interactive games including “The Search for the Lost Crown” and “Guess Who? Puzzles. There are also three Karaoke Music Videos included for the following songs: “It’s Gonna Be a Great Day”, “Searching Everywhere” and “Working Together!”

Book Review “The Dark Man: An Illustrated Poem” by Stephen King

Author: Stephen King
Illustrated: Glenn Chadbourne
Hardcover: 88 pages
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Release Date: July 30, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“The Dark Man” is not a new release for Stephen King. He wrote this poem back when he was in college and it was published in Ubris in 1969. This release is King’s poem, “The Dark Man”, re-released over 40 years with a new life than to the amazing illustrations of Glenn Chadbourne. There are over 70 beautiful full-page illustrations from Chadbourne (“The Secretary of Dreams”). Let me tell you one thing, this book is creepy as hell and if you let yourself go into its world it will linger within you and haunt your dreams. It is not the first time that I have read this poem but with the new illustrations, I felt like it was an entirely new experience. Highly recommended!

Official Premise: Stephen King first wrote about the Dark Man in college after he envisioned a faceless man in cowboy boots and jeans and a denim jacket forever walking the roads. Later this dark man would come to be known around the world as one of King’s greatest villains, Randall Flagg, but at the time King only had simple questions on his mind: Where was this man going? What had he seen and done? What terrible things…?

Cemetery Dance Publications is the publisher behind this new hardcover release. They really scored for sure, as Stephen King’s fans should go crazy over this updated release to his poem. Glenn Chadbourne images really works well with King’s words and blend together. The actual black and white illustrations are very unique and the color factor adds a lot of extra terror. Within King’s story there are twists and turns and within the illustrations there are added hidden details every page. There are many layers to this book and even though it is just 88 pages, it is jam-packed and very entertaining.