Josh Duhamel Narrates “Planet Ocean” On Blu-Ray and DVD on April 9th





Universal City, California – Directed by highly acclaimed photographer, filmmaker and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand (Home) and narrated by actor Josh Duhamel (Transformers, Life As We Know It), Planet Ocean is a cinematic adventure that invites viewers of all ages to change the way they look at the ocean and appreciate its greatest natural mystery. Planet Ocean will be available on Blu-ray™ and DVD on April 9, 2013 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Through dazzling aerial and underwater imagery captured in extreme geographical conditions worldwide, Planet Ocean delivers an unprecedented journey into the least known regions of our planet. The stunning documentary aims to captivate as well as provide understanding of humankind’s relationship to the ocean and stress the urgency of making sustainable change. Brought to life with dynamic and relatable narration, this groundbreaking film can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Planet Ocean will be available on Blu-ray™ and DVD.

Blu-ray™ disc unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring perfect hi-def picture and perfect hi-def sound.

DVD offers the flexibility and convenience of playing the movie in more places, both at home and while away.

· IN THE SKIES ABOVE RIO: Breathtaking images of Rio de Janeiro’s magnificent shores will inspire you with wonder and delight.
· UNDERWATER: Uncover the natural mysteries of marine life with Planet Ocean’s team of underwater cinematographers.
· SHANGHAI: Extraordinary aerial photography of Shanghai’s busy harbor underscores the significance of ocean commerce.

Street Date: April 9, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Selection Number: 61126490 / 61126510 (CDN)
Running time: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
Layers: BD-50
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Rating: Not Rated
Languages/Subtitles: English, Italian, Castilian Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Latin American Spanish, Norwegian, Russian, and Swedish
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Complimentary Passes to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex screening of “Forbidden Planet” [ENDED]

For your chance to receive event passes, log on to
Saturday October 13, 2012,
Kennedy Space Center, FL
Passes are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Turner Classic Movies and DIRECTV are bringing the Road to Hollywood tour to Florida in celebration of the TCM Classic Film Festival next April in Hollywood. Join TCM host Ben Mankiewicz for a free screening of FORBIDDEN PLANET on Saturday, October 13 at 7:30PM at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Come for a night under the stars – Enjoy free parking, popcorn & soda!


Related Content

Linda Harrison reflects on her role in 1968’s “Planet of the Apes”

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with actress Linda Harrison. Ms. Harrison is best known in the Pop Culture world for her work in the first two Planet of the Apes films as well as Ron Howard’s Cocoon and its sequel. She is also a fountain of behind-the-scenes knowledge thanks to her marriage to Oscar-winning producer Richard Zanuck. Ms. Harrison was also originally slated to play the role of the police chief’s wife in Jaws. As Mr. Zanuck relates on the extended behind-the-scenes version found on the Jaws boxed laser disc set, Ms. Harrison was offered the role. However, Universal Studios president Sid Shienberg had offered the part to his wife, actress Lorraine Gary. According to Mr. Zanuck, to smooth things out, Shienberg picked up the telephone and called the producer of the upcoming film Airport 1975, William Frye. “Bill,” Shienberg said, “you’ve got another passenger on your airplane.”

Born in Maryland, Ms. Harrison was the first runner-up in the 1965 Miss USA pageant. In November of that year, she signed a seven year deal with 20th Century Fox. Her television debut came in back-to-back episodes of Batman in 1966. She was then cast as Nova in Planet of the Apes and its sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes. She has also appeared in the above-mentioned Airport 1975 (she is billed as “Augusta Summerland”), Cocoon, Cocoon: the Return, and had a cameo in Tim Burton’s updated version of Planet of the Apes.

Now divorced from Zanuck, she is the proud mother of two sons, Harrison Zanuck and DeanZanuck, who both work in the film industry. Interested fans are encouraged to check out her web site, Still as strikingly beautiful in person, Ms. Harrison sat down with me at the recent Planet Comicon in Kansas City.

Mike Smith: It’s been our four decades since the original Planet of the Apes was released. Did you ever think while filming that you were creating something that would be, and still is, regarded as a true classic?
Linda Harrison: I think somewhere in my mind I may have thought that. I saw it as an unusual film and went on from there to do other things.

MS: Including the recent Apes film, in which both you and Charlton Heston have a cameo, you’ve appeared in 6 major films. Heston is in 4 of them. Coincidence?
LH: I know. It’s just incredible how much I’ve worked with him. Things just seem to fall that way.

MS: If Beneath the Planet of the Apes had ended on a happy note, with everyone alive, who do you think Nova would have ended up with: Taylor (Heston) or Brent (James Franciscus)?
LH: Taylor! (laughs) No hesitation!

MS: Are there any outtakes of you laughing hysterically when Heston goes into his “you maniacs!” speech at the end of Planet of the Apes?
LH: (laughs) No, I don’t think I laughed hysterically. It was a pretty, I won’t say somber set, but we were dealing in new territory that had never been done on film. So everybody was really at attention, wondering what the next shot was going to be. It was pretty unusual to be sitting there with apes!

MS: My favorite film is Jaws. I was so taken by the film and the performances that I ended up starting Roy Scheider’s official fan club and helped run Richard Dreyfuss’s. Had Sid Sheinberg not outranked Dick Zanuck, you would have been bombarded with mail from me YEARS ago! Did you know from reading the script that Jaws wasgoing to be special?
LH: I remember when Dick was reading the galleys (which is basically the book before it’s published) that he had a really great instinct that this would be a great picture. He knew it would be tough trying to make a 25 foot shark, but he pulled it off. It’s that really classic horror film that still surprises and scares you (mimics a shriek) when you’re not expecting it.

MS: Please tell me that had you done Jaws you would have passed on Jaws: the Revenge?
LH: Oh, sure!

MS: So, what are you doing now?
LH: Actually I’m now what they call a convention celebrity. I try to do one show a month, some do more. I’m also concentrating on my web site.

MS: Are the fans very receptive?
LH: Very. More then I ever imagined.


Related Content

Tribeca Film Festival Review “Journey to Planet X”

Directed by: Josh Khoury and Myles Kane
Producer: Trisa Barkman
Featuring: Troy Brenier, Eric Swain
Tribeca Film Featival
Running time: 78 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Josh Koury & Myles Kane’s documentary on two friends making DIY sci-fi films in Florida has the great fortune to be debuting at Tribeca at the same time as Chris Keneally’s Side by Side (read my review here.) The latter bringing home the point that the digital revolution in filmmaking is democratizing who can get movies made while the former is a case study in exactly that.

Eric and Troy are the two men behind these films, ones that could not have existed without the advent of the consumer level video cameras as seen in Keneally’s doc. Armed with a blue screen-painted space and local talent, they churn out films under the impossibly titled Ginnungagap Filmwerks banner. Eric sees it as a fun hobby while Troy in this upcoming project’s case, is striving for something more.

The film’s central tension between the two men is Troy’s pushing on Eric to take their weekend moviemaking as seriously as he does. Such improvements include their blue screen being painted green (easier to work with on video) and Eric replacing his seven year old PC with a new iMac.

It’s an interesting documentary insofar as Troy’s ambitions for his movies to be taken more seriously does not, for better or worse, go to the extremes of say, the delusions of the men in 1999’s American Movie. Nor does the pair’s film budget pose as much of a problem. There’s one mention of Eric footing a lot of the Home Depot bills, but it’s not a make or break point of the process. The fun in watching this documentary is in Koury and Kane’s unironic, nonjudgemental approach to documenting people enjoying making something together. Despite the friends and family screening of Planet X garnering unexpected–to Troy at least–laughter, the filmmakers are pleased to bring enjoyment to any audience. At 78 minutes, it’s a nice, lightweight look into amateur movie making.

Upcoming TFF Screenings of Journey to Planet X:
Mon. 4/23 – 8:00pm, Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 4
Sat. 4/28 – 1:00pm, AMC Loews Village 7-2

Planet Comicon 2012 a Huge Success!

Edward James Olmos and MediaMikes' Mike Smith

After two days of packed panels and costumed fans, Kansas City’s Planet Comicon 2012 came to a close this past Sunday.

Not even unseasonably warm weather or the fact that the University of Kansas’ basketball team was playing for a spot in the Final Four (they made it) could keep fans away from the Overland Park Trade Center in Overland Park, Kansas, just outside of Kansas City.

Drawn to the show by such celebrity guests as Edward James Olmos, Billy Dee Williams and a trio of stars from “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” Planet Comicon 2012 may have been the best attended show in the history of the convention.

Buck Rogers himself, Gil Gerard, remarked to me, “this is the busiest Sunday I’ve ever seen at one of these events.” Gerard and fellow “Buck Rogers” actors Erin Gray and Felix Silla spent the weekend meeting and greeting their fans. Other guests included Robin Thorsen and Amy Okuda from “The Guild,” graphic artists like Bernie Wrightson and Blair Butler, star of G4’s “Attack of the Show.”

Shane DeMink took home the prize for Best Costume. His Captain Jack Sparrow was spot on, right down to the accent.

Planet Comicon 2012 This Weekend in Kansas City

Planet Comicon, one of the largest pop culture and comic book conventions in the Midwest, opens it’s 2012 edition this weekend, March 24 and 25, at the Overland Park International Trade Center in Overland Park, Kansas. The show runs from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday the 24th and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday the 25th.

As usual, actors and artists from every area of pop culture will be appearing live to meet and greet their fans. Major attendees at Planet Comicon 2012 include Oscar nominated actor Edward James Olmos (“Stand and Deliver,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Miami Vice”) and Billy Dee Williams (“The Empire Strikes Back,” “Batman,” “Brian’s Song”).

Other guests appearing include Jake Lloyd (young Anikan Skywalker in “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace”), Gil Gerard, Erin Grey and Felix Silla from “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” and Amy Okuda and Robin Thorsen from “The Guild.”

There will also be a plethora of comic book artists as well as a jam packed dealers room. Admission is $20 for an Adult Weekend Pass, $15 for a one day Adult Pass and $5 for kids ages 7-14. Kids under 7 are admitted free.

For more information head to

Blu-Ray Review “Planet Earth: Special Edition”

Narrated by David Attenborough
Directors: Alastair Fothergill
Number of discs: 6
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC
Run Time: 550 minutes

Special Edition: 5 out of 5 stars

When “Planet Earth” premiered in 2007, it changed the meaning of what to expect from a wild-life/nature series.  The show was the most expensive series ever created by the BBC to date and took five years to be filmed.  Back in then it was also the first to be filmed in high definition, which was really just getting popular.  The first time I saw the shark attack the seal on the program using ultra high-speed cameras, it changed my life.  This show prides itself on provided rare captured shot from the most impossible locations with our planet’s wildest and most elusive creatures.  Many good shows have followed this one like “Life” but this series still reigns supreme.

This special edition release takes advance of new features released in high definition technology since the original release. The 6-disc Blu-ray box sets contains over three hours of new bonus materials. Alastair Fothergill who created this series, also created and works on Disneynature films like “Earth” and the recent “African Cats”.  Click here to read our interview with the man himself, Alastair Fothergill.

Let’s get down to some of the new special features included in this release.  First off we get a sneak peak at Alastair’s upcoming project “Frozen Planet”.  If you are fan of commentary it is available on select episodes.  Even though the show is narrated, I really enjoy the commentary because it tells the perspective from the person there in the trenches not just a script being read.Greatest Planet Earth Moments” is a summation of the best moments from this series and some interesting behind the scenes tips on how the moments were captured.  We go behind the scenes with the BBC Natural History Unit on two features, the first called “Snow Leopard: Beyond the Myth“, which  takes us on a exploration through a cave deep in the mountains of Pakistan to find out about the raising habits of  snow leopards. The second is called “Secrets of the Maya Underworld”  which dives us into freshwater pools in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula that the Mayans believed to be portals to the Underworld.  “Elephant Nomads of the Namib Desert” tells the story of survival for two female elephants and their young vs. the harshest climates on Earth. Overall the features are so fantastic and contain some really phenomenal footage. That is one of the thing that I have loved very much about “Planet Earth” is that the episodes are never boring and are always packed with quality information and visuals.

If you thought that all of that was great wait there is still more prior to this release their was bonus feature only available with the DVD release. With this new Blu-ray section edition, we not get 110 minutes of high definition behind the scenes footage from each episode. Lastly “Planet Earth – The Future”, which is a three talks ultimately about the future for endangered animals, habitats and us.  Fans of nature series that do not own this yet…here is your reason to take the plunge.  This set is worth every penny.

Synopsis: The new, 6-disc Planet Earth Special Edition is also available in this special, limited, numbered collector?s edition globe package! All six discs, plus a set of 4 exclusive art cards featuring some of the most stunning images from the series are housed in a sturdy, weighted globe, numbered for greater collectability. Available with both the DVD and Blu-ray. Planet Earth took the world by storm when it originally aired. It garnered uniformly glowing reviews, won four Emmy Awards, including Best Nonfiction Series and Best Cinematography, and its longevity on the best-seller list is legend. Now, with the addition of all new commentary and new bonus programs, and this totally unique collectible package, you can relive this incredible experience all over again! In this truly special, limited collector?s edition, prepare to be overwhelmed again by the beauty and majesty of Planet Earth.

Official Site:

Planet Earth Play List:

CD Review: Elephant Mountain “The Last Days of Planet Earth”

Elephant Mountain
“The Last Days of Planet Earth”
Producer: Brian Azzoto, Jeff Moleski
Tracks: 9

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“The Last Days of Planet Earth” is the first release by the Syracuse NY, based band Elephant Mountain. The band consisting of Joe Altier – Vocals, Brian “Slider” Azzoto – Guitars, Lewk Detor – Drums, John Hanus – Guitars, Dave Hoyt – Bass and Lou Segreti – B3 Organ. Elephant Mountain is the newest band to feature former Century Media artist Brand New Sin members Joe Altier and Brian “Slider “Azzoto.

Being a huge fan of Brand New Sin I was really excited to hear that Joe and Slider were back together in a new band Elephant Mountain. Since receiving this news I have been waiting to hear what kind of tunes they would come up with but, mainly how were the new songs going to compare to their previous Brand New Sin songs/albums. Well first off “The Last Days of Planet Earth” was well worth the wait! Songs like the albums opener “North of Nowhere” and “I’m Done” are spot on.  “The Last Days of Planet Earth” is one of those albums you can throw in your player and just listen to it over and over and not get bored.

Elephant Mountain’s “The Last Days of Planet Earth” is a great blend of Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Led Zeppelin infused tunes. “The Last Days of Planet Earth” really has something for everyone be it straight forward rock tunes to scaled back soulful ballads. Hands down “The Last Days of Planet Earth” is a great album!

Track Listing:
1.)    North of Nowhere
2.)    No Other
3.)    Pray
4.)    Out of my Head
5.)    Heaven’s Bleed
6.)    Words With Friends
7.)    Missin’ You
8.)    I’m Done
9.)    The Last Days of Planet Earth

Film Review #2 “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Starring: James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Andy Serkis
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When I first heard about this movie I was thinking why!  Then I thought about it and wondered what could have happened to cause the Apes in today’s times to take over and mankind to be slaves.  Well this movie does just that and does it very well, that it is very believable.

The film begins with of course the capturing of chimpanzee’s to bring back to the lab for experiments.  Dr. Will Rodman (James Franco) is on the verge of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and other ailments that attack the brain.  Not only would this cure it but make you smarter.  But with no side effects?  Of course things go wrong and that leads to the developing story line to the rise of the apes.

The special effects are absolutely amazing.  Watching Caesar grow and evolve in the movie is definitely worth it.  You can see him thinking and feeling very clearly, which you can also tell that he will eventually be up to no good….you would too if you went through what he did. The facial expressions of Caesar are very lifelike. This is due to the amazing work of WETA and performance capture from Andy Serkis. Also watching Caesar rally the troops and climb to the top is well done.  I do not want to say too much otherwise it would ruin the movie for you.  You will just have to go and see it.

The movie does start off slow but that is made up for the great storyline and character development.  There is not a lot of action but don’t let that stop you from seeing this movie.  I feel that this movie was very well done and the story line was great despite the lack of action.  Also when the movie is over don’t just get up and leave!


Film Review “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Starring: James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Andy Serkis
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

CLICK HERE for our interview with the film’s writers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa.

What can I say about the “Planet of the Apes” films? As a child of the late 60’s and early 70’s, nothing beat a film about talking monkeys! There were five original films in all (the last one, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” released when “Rise” director Rupert Wyatt is one year old). There followed an animated series as well as a weekly television show. And of course, back in the days before home video, there was that rare day each summer when the local theatre would hold an “APE-a-thon,” and my friends and I would spend most of a day in the darkness, watching each film. Tim Burton “re-imagined” “Planet of the Apes” in 2001, though he confused a lot of people with the ending (which was based on the ending in Pierre Boulle’s original novel). The two things I remember most about the Burton version is that Helena Bonham Carter really looked a lot like Michael Jackson and that, in what I thought was pretty ironic, NRA President (and original “Planet of the Apes” visitor) Charlton Heston was the only character that had a gun! With four decades of “Ape” enjoyment under my belt, I was a little skeptical when I learned of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Happily, I needn’t have worried.

Modern day San Francisco. In a large, foreboding research facility, an ape nicknamed “Bright Eyes” is working a puzzle. Her skills impress those watching her. Bright Eyes is part of an experimental drug program. The goal: develop a way to reverse and cure Alzheimer’s Disease in humans. The cause is very close to head researcher Will Rodman’s (Franco) heart…his father (John Lithgow) is suffering from the disease. When an apparent successful demonstration of the drug goes terribly wrong, Will’s research is put on hold. On his way out the door he takes a newborn chimp with him. Not one to take “no” for an answer, Will continues his work, using his dad as a guinea pig. As for the chimp…well there wouldn’t be a movie if not for him.

Full of some fine tips of the hat to the original series (a list of some of them follow this review), “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a smartly directed film that sits squarely on the shoulders of Andy Serkis. Serkis, whose performance as Golum in the “Lord of the Rings” films should have earned him an Oscar nomination or two (or three…he was ruled ineligible because the onscreen character was computer generated) is Caesar, the baby chimp all grown up. With a rapidly growing IQ but with the innocence of a child, Serkis gives Caesar, and the film, its soul. After spending many years living with Will, Caesar is discovered and sent to live in a primate house, overseen by a bureaucratic Brian Cox. There he is mistreated by both the handlers and the other apes, who do not easily accept a clothes-wearing ape. As Caesar battles with his kind Will must do the same, hoping to find a vaccine that will return his father back to him. The similarities between Will and his dad, and Caesar and Will, become more and more highlighted as the film progresses. Caesar considers Will his father and cannot understand the changes in his life. Ditto for Will and HIS dad.

Wyatt, who also directed 2008’s “The Escapist,” which also starred Brian Cox, stages the film well, most notably when the film centers itself on the Golden Gate Bridge. You may have heard of gorillas in the mist…try dealing with gorillas in the fog!

Click here to read another favorable review from our guest writer Angelo Casciorizzo Jr.


“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” recalls previous films.

SPOILER ALERT: As mentioned above, there are several references to the early series of “Ape” films. Here are a few that I noticed:


The first ape we meet is Bright Eyes. Bright Eyes was the name given to Colonel Taylor (Heston) in the first film by the ape scientists.

An orangutan in the film is named Maurice. Maurice Evans played Dr. Zaius, an orangutan, in the original film.

To control him, Caesar’s handlers use a fire hose. The same thing was done to Taylor.

In one scene the apes in the primate house become very noisy, causing one of the handlers to yell “It’s a Madhouse!” Taylor thought the same thing.

Early in the film Caesar plays with a model of the Statue of Liberty. The Statue plays an important role in the original film.

One of the characters is named Dr. Cornelia. One of the ape scientists in the first film was Dr. Cornelius, played by Roddy McDowall.

After an altercation one of the ape handlers utters the classic line, “take your paws off of me you damn, dirty ape!.” Once again, courtesy of Colonel Taylor in the original.

All Star Voice Cast Lines Up for Animated Family Feature “Escape from Planet Earth”

Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Rob Corddry, James Gandolfini and Craig Robinson Provide The Character Voices In This Fun-Filled Alien Break-Out Tale

NEW YORK, NY August 2, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) and Rainmaker Entertainment announced today the all-star voice cast for ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH which includes Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Rob Corddry, James Gandolfini and Craig Robinson. The 3D animated family comedy is currently in full production.

The announcement was made today by Donna Gigliotti, TWC’s President of Production, and Catherine Winder, President and Executive Producer, Rainmaker Entertainment. Both Gigliotti and Winder serve as producers on the animated feature film.

ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH is directed by Cal Brunker, best known for his work on the animated feature films DESPICABLE ME, 9 and HORTON HEARS A WHO! Producers Gigliotti and Winder are joined by Rainmaker’s Luke Carroll as a producer on the film. TWC Co-Chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein are executive producers. The film was written by Cal Brunker and Bob Barlen based on an original screenplay by Tony Leech and Cory Edwards.

“ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH has got it all… explosions, romance and a cast of hilarious aliens….what more could you ask for?” said Brunker. “We are having a great time making it which is coming across on the screen. It will ultimately provide a ton of fun for both kids and their parents.”

“We’re excited to have such a talented group of actors bringing this action-packed comedic tale to life,” said Gigliotti. “I’m also very pleased to be working with Catherine and the Rainmaker team. Their outstanding artistry, storytelling and techniques in CGI animation add a new dimension to this film and ensure a fun movie going experience for the entire family.”

Winder added, “A successful animated movie starts with an imaginative story and appealing characters. The addition of such high caliber voice talent is a crucial layer to the mix. With the amazing array of talented artists and creatives from both The Weinstein Company and Rainmaker collaborating on this production, we have all the right ingredients to make ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH a highly entertaining and successful film.”

The 3D animated family comedy ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH catapults movie goers to planet Baab where admired astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy, by-the-rules brother, Gary (Rob Corddry), head of mission control at BASA. When BASA’s no-nonsense chief Lena (Jessica Alba) informs the brothers of an SOS from a notoriously dangerous planet, Scorch rejects Gary’s warnings and bounds off for yet another exciting mission. But when Scorch finds himself caught in a fiendish trap set by the evil Shanker (James Gandolfini), it’s up to scrawny, risk-adverse Gary to do the real rescuing. As the interplanetary stakes rise to new heights, Gary is left to save his brother, his planet, his beloved wife Kira (Sarah Jessica Parker) and their adventure hungry son Kip!

A film from The Weinstein Company, ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH is produced in association with Rainmaker Entertainment and will be released in the U.S. in 2012.

Interview with Ashley Eckstein

Ashley Eckstein is best known for voicing the role of Ahsoka Tano in the TV series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”.  The show is hitting warp speed and it enters its fourth season this Fall.  Ashley is also the celebrity host, along with James Arnold Taylor, this year at Walt Disney World’s “Star Wars” Weekend.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat about “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” with Ashley as well as her hosting for “Star Wars” Weekend and even her own clothing line “Her Universe” which is also inspired by “Star Wars”.

Check back this weekend for an exclusive giveaway of an autographed shirt from Ashley’s ‘Her Universe’ clothing line

Mike Gencarelli: So lets start at the beginning, any idea you will be where you are today when you took the role of Ahsoka Tano in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”?
Ashley Eckstein: [laughs] No, actually I had no idea. I would have called myself more of a casual “Star Wars” fan before I got the “Clone Wars” job. I watched the movies when I was a little kid but it didn’t really go beyond that. I did understand the power of “Star Wars”. I thought knew just how iconic it was. But when I once I was cast on the show. I guess I didn’t quite comprehend JUST how powerful it was and how popular it was worldwide. So, obviously after working on the show and working with Dave Filoni you just become just a hardcore fan. We really have to understand “Star Wars” to be able to do the show. I think in order really to perform our roles to the best we can. Dave really helps us with that. Dave is such a huge “Star Wars” fan. He really knows it all and we get to learn from him. We have been working on the show now close to six year and have really become much more knowledgeable and passionate fans due to that. So I definitely never imagined the position I would be in today and how “Star Wars” has also affected my life and what it means to me. It really has changed my life.

MG: What do you like most about playing Ahsoka ?
AE: I think my favorite part of playing Ahsoka is how powerful of a character she is and a role model for young girls. That has really been a dream come true for me. I worked a lot of the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon before “Clone Wars”, mostly on-camera work. I really fell in love with children and family programming. First hand I saw the impact you can have on a child’s life by doing a children/family show. So, I really tried to gear my career in that direction. “The Clone Wars” came along and I wasn’t even trying for it. Literally, my agent got a call and I was asked to come in and read. So to get the role of Ahsoka who is such a strong and powerful character for young girls to look up to to and to even be a part of it is just such an honor for me. I am not one of these actresses that say I don’t want to be a role model or I never asked for this. I do feel that a child’s role model should be somebody that is in their life on a daily basis. But I also understand that by default as someone in the public eye you are going to be a role model whether you life it or not. So it is something I take very seriously. I want to be a positive influence and through Ahsoka I can do that. I am very honored to be given the opportunity to do that.

MG: Having this character really opened up the “Star Wars” franchise to a more female audience, can you reflect on that for us?
AE: When I was growing up, I was a bit of a tom-boy. The only girl on the baseball team. I didn’t want to wear a dress. Had my hat on backwards [laughs]. Having a character like Ahsoka, I wish I would have had Ahsoka to look up to. Not every girl wants to be a princess or wear a dress. Some girls want to carry a lightsaber and pretend to be a jedi. I think it is really cool to have her character. “The Clone Wars” has kind of become the watercooler show for kids on the playground. Whether you like “Star Wars” or not, it is the show that everyone talks about. Even the girls are starting to watch it just so they are in the know. Now when the kids play it on the playground, the girls have someone they can be. They do not have to pretend to be Anakin, Captain Rex or Obi-Wan. I have so many little girls coming up to be saying “Yeah I am Ahsoka and my brother is Anakin and we play “Clone Wars” all the time”. I think that is so cool that their is a character that the girls can be. Not even just Ahsoka, there is Asajj Ventress, Padmé Amidala, Sha’ak Ti and just so many powerful females in “The Clone Wars”.

MG: What has been your favorite part of hosting Star Wars Weekend in Walt Disney Resort this year?
AE: I think it is the ability to interact with the fans, especially the kids. “The Clone Wars” sort of introduced “Star Wars” to a new generation. It is funny because “Star Wars” is the “The Clone Wars” to many kids today. Many kids haven’t seen the other movies yet. They have only seen “The Clone Wars. To have that impact on a new generation of kids to me…I can’t even fantom it. To see some of the expressions from their faces and I get a chance to meet them. It has really been an honor [laughs], I really don’t have another word for it.

MG: Tell us about your show you are hosting “Behind the Force”?
AE: Of course, I think it is a fun show. “Behind the Force” takes you on a behind the scenes look at our job as voice over artists and recording the show. The first part of the show we have a special guest, in our upcoming last weekend we have Tom Kane, who is the voice of Yoda, the narrator of the show and many others from the show. So we introduce our audience to him and I ask him a couple of questions and then our audience get a chance to ask him some questions as well. Then we go into a live demonstration of us going into the studio recording an episode. Then we audition people from our audience to be an honorary cast member of “The Clone Wars”. The person that is chosen gets to come up on stage and do a scene live with us on stage. It is really exciting and puts the audience in the studio with us and get a chance to see what it is like.

MG: How many times have you rode the new “Star Tours” this month since its opening?
AE: That is a great question [laughing]. I think I have rode it eight or nine times…I think nine times by now. It is such an amazing ride. They did such a fantastic job on it and it is almost like a completely new ride. They revamped the entire thing. I also got to do a series of videos with Disney showing the behind the scenes look on the making of Star Tours. It just awesome. If you ride with me the chances are you will get Hoth [laughs], that is the one planet I keep getting over and over. I have only gotten Naboo twice and to me that is definitely my favorite. I even got picked as the secret spy one time, which was fun.

MG: Tell us about your “Star Wars” inspired clothing line, Her Universe?
AE: Thanks for asking about that. I created Her Universe and we launched about a year ago this June. It is the first “Star Wars” / sci-fi line JUST for women. We are only for the female fans. Close to half of all sci-fi and “Star Wars” fans are women. “Star Wars” is the story of hope and that transcends gender. I got the idea a little over three year ago. Actually when I first got cast for “Clone Wars”, I did a search for merchandise for women because I wanted to buy stuff. But I really came up empty handed. I was able to find one shirt and the rest was either on backorder or sold out. There was very little for women and NOTHING for little girls. It just didn’t make sense to me. I go to all the events and “Star Wars” weekends and there are women everywhere. I was thinking “Why are you giving us nothing to buy when 85% of the consumer market is women?” I have to give LucasFilm credit because they were the first company to give me a shot. They really want to recognize their female fans. They gave me the license and trusted me [laughs]. I have always been into fashion decision, so they trusted me to design clothes and accessories for the female fans. So I am really excited about that. Disney, again, I have to give them credit that they gave us the opportunity to sell it during “Star Wars” Weekends and we have been selling five different shirts in the merchandise tent, Jabba’s Hut. I have been doing signings there also every day. It has been great. One more thing, I have to thank SyFy because we just closed a deal with them and starting in July we are coming out with SyFy merchandise for the brand and also its properties. We are starting with “Battlestar Galactica” and “Warehouse 13”.

MG: What can we expect from season 4 in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” this Fall?
AE: Sure, I can definitely tell you it is actually called Season 4: Battle Lines. It is going to take you right into the heart of the battles of the Clone Wars. They have been going on for over two years now. The war is really taking its toll on its characters. There are going to be epic battles that are going to be bigger than anything we have seen to date on the series. There is also the return of some classic characters from the “Star Wars” movies including some bad guys but also some good guys. So also look for that trend to continue and look for some really epic battles. They are really raising the bar.

Interview with Ahmed Ahmed

Ahmed Ahmed is a standup comedian who has also appeared in several films and television shows. His newest project is titled “Just Like Us” and documents Ahmed and several other comedians’ tour across the Middle East. Ahmed took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Movie Mikes about his new project.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your film “Just Like Us”
Ahmed Ahmed: “Just Like Us” is a documentary film that I came up with after doing comedy shows around the Middle East. Around 2007 I toured the Middle East with a group we put together called “The Axis of Evil Tour” which was filmed and shown on television over there. In 2008 we toured there again but not as a group and we didn’t film anything. In 2009 we had a tour that lined up with the International cast and that’s when we actually decided to shoot it.

AL: So the idea came about after touring over there a few different times?
AA: I had started a company with my business partner called Cross Cultural Entertainment and under that umbrella we created Cross Cultural Productions. This would be the portion that would physically produce and put on projects. After doing this my partner asked me what my next plan was. I told him I was going to go to the Middle East and he said I had to shoot it. The timing was great and the topic was relevant so that was part of it. A couple years prior I had done a comedy tour with Vince Vaughn called “The Wild West Comedy Show” which was also turned into a documentary film. From that I sort of had an idea of how to make a documentary. Another thing that kind of brought me to making this project was when I would come back from the Middle East a lot of my friends would ask what I was doing over there. I would tell them comedy shows and they would ask which military base. I would tell them we played theaters for Arabs in English and they get it. The film came out really great and I think people will enjoy it.

AL: What was it like touring and filming at the same time?
AA: I kind of bit off more than I could chew! At first I was going to just be the host for the shows however the promoters started asking me to bring comedians. I in a way started to become a talent booker as well as being relied on to do press. I didn’t have to set up the shows but I did a lot of the grass roots work in setting everything else up and promoting. When we started to shoot that’s where I started to turn into the producer/director (Laughs) It was literally 4 days prior to leaving for the tour that my partner said we should shoot it. I didn’t think we had enough time but he was very adamant about finding camera operators which we did. Once we got back to New York we started almost immediately in post production. We set up an office, purchased the editing equipment, hired two editors and began transcribing everything. We had about 200 hours of footage that we cut down to about 72 minutes. I didn’t really know what I was getting into at the beginning but the film has unfolded into this beautiful project that has taken on a life of its own.

AL: When is the film going to be released?
AA: We did a deal with Lion’s Gate Entertainment and the film is going to be available as a digital download through places like Netflix. My company is also going to release the film independently in select theaters. We hope to get the film into about 10 cities. If it catches wind in its sails we will add more cities. We want as many people as possible to see the film.

AL: Do you have any funny stories from working with Vince Vaughn?
AA: Everyday on that tour was a funny day. It went by so fast that we didn’t have a lot of time in each city but just being a part of that tour was really inspirational and eye opening. That tour really prodded me to make my own film. There were just so many funny things that happened. I can’t think of one that really sticks out.

AL: Had you known Vince previously?
AA: I have been friends with Vince for over 20 years. He had come to a lot of the comedy shows I was involved in which exposed him to the other comedians. He then just had this idea to take it on the road and film it. It was great to be a part of that and we are actually doing some follow up shows in June.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
AA: The film has opened up a lot of doors. I was actually invited to attend a dinner at the White House last year because of this film and that opened up some doors for us which took us to Palestine, Syria and a few other places to do some shows. During this time we accidentally shot a sequel and we will probably start going through that material in the fall. Releases for “Just Like Us” are going to be spaced out from city to city and that will probably take us through July. I travel quite regular and have had a lot of inquiries to go to a lot of different countries that have recently opened up.

Interview with Danielle Nicolet

Danielle Nicolet co-stars in Syfy’s latest film “Red Faction: Origins”, playing the character Tess DeLaVega.  She is also co-starring with Cuba Gooding Jr. in the upcoming film, “Ticking Clock”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Danielle about her roles in both her films recent films.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role in “Red Faction: Origins”, playing Tess DeLaVega.
Danielle Nicolet: Tess is a very special combination of Princess Lea and C-3P0 [laughs].  She is Jack Mason’s unintentional side-kick.  She believes herself to be the smartest person in the room all the time, better much because she is. Jake, our hero, kind of can’t save the day without Tess, but Tess goes along kicking and screaming at absolutely every moment.  She doesn’t do so good out of the office.

MG: Where you familiar with the video game franchise?
DN: I have to say I am a HUGE gamer.  I am a big first person shooter player.  I have even voiced a couple of characters in different video games.  So, I am pretty involved with video games.  I have not played “Red Faction”.  I have not played “Guerilla” until after we started shooting the movie, which was kind of good for me.  When I got the script, I read it and I didn’t have any preconceived notions.  Also Tess, my character, is the only one in the movie that doesn’t have any previous connection to the past games.  My character is though connected to “Armageddon”.  It was really confirming not to have all that in my head before I got the job.  Once I got it I went out and played the games.

MG: How was it working with Robert Patrick and Brian J. Smith?
DN: [laughs] Ok, number one: Brian Smith is the nicest person I have ever known in my life.  I love him.  Number two: Robert Patrick is the funniest person I have ever known in my life and I love him.  Robert is hysterical.  He is from two towns over from where I live in Ohio. We spent pretty much the entire time in Europe together fighting over who was better: the Steelers or the Browns.  He thinks I am terrible person because I am a Steelers fan and I think he is sad and sorely mistaken to care about the Browns [laughs].  Robert is just a blast.  We have breakfast together every morning.  He is just the most salt of the earth completely grounded superstar that you will ever known.  It is like he has no idea he is ridiculously famous.  With Brian, I can say he has no idea he is ridiculously cute and that every girl checks him out no matter where we go.  He is incredibly humble and just really loves being an actor.  It was incredible for me to work with him since we are in every scene together.  We were both so committed to our characters and to this job that we were able to be real supportive of each other.  He will forever be family.

MG: What was the most difficult part of working on the film?
DN: I am sure every single actor from this movie would have the same answer.  The most difficult part was shooting this shooting this movie in Eastern Europe in the dead of winter.  The physical conditions of this movie was the hardest I have ever been in my life.  They were also though the most necessary.  The movie takes place on Mars.  Mars is not a comfortable place to live in “Red Faction”.  It has been terraformed, so you can breath the air but just because it is breathable doesn’t mean it is warmer. We shot in a place that was like the temperature that Mars is.  Our day average about 3 degrees fahrenheit.  At nighttime, it was between 10-14 below.  So we did a lot of huddling up together to try and keep warm.  All of the exterior we did in the movie were not shot in front of a green screen.  We shot all of the exteriors in this incredible cave system just outside of the Romanian boarder.  It is totally remote and a 2 1/2 drive from the nearest hotel.  It literally looks like Mars.  It has red ground, rocky and exactly like the Martian landscape.  The cave system is totally protected from nature.  So when you watch the movie, the only thing that isn’t real is if we are ever outside the sky.  The digitally took out the ceiling of the cave and put in the Martian sky.  But that is why we were freezing the whole time because our director really wanted the exteriors to be real.  He didn’t want it to seem like an entirely CGI generated film.

MG: Tell us about working with Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the sci-fi thriller, “Ticking Clock”?
DN: Working with Cuba was a dream come true.  How many times in your life to you get to ask somebody where do they keep their Oscar [laughs]. “Ticking Clock” is like a psychological thriller but once you get 10 minutes into the film you see it is science fiction.  Cuba’s character is a writer and the murder mystery he is solving in his book starts coming to life.  I play his wife, who has a real problem with what is going on with him.  I believe that he is having the issues he is having because he is drinking too much.  He can’t quite tell the difference between his reality.  I won’t give away the ending but we will find out what is real and what isn’t.  It is a really fun movie and I love my science fiction.  So I was really excited to do that.

MG: You are both equally skilled with drama and comedy, do you have a preference?
DN: I don’t want to sound like a fence-walker but seriously the thing I love to do the most of all is like the character I played in “The Starter Wife” and “Red Faction”, which is a funny character that is in the middle of a serious situation.  That is the most fun for me.  I enjoy playing that character that brings a little of levity to a very serious scenario.  So playing Tess was like being a kid in a candy store for me as an actor.  I got to spend five weeks delivering fantastic one liners and screaming when guns come around [laughs].

MG: What other projects do you have upcoming?
DN: Right now, “Ticking Clock” is obviously coming up. “Marry Me”, the mini series I did with Lucy Lu comes out on DVD in a few weeks.  I know they are also going to air it again in it entirety really soon.  So I got that coming up.  Also just also keeping my fingers crossed that there will be more “Red Faction” movies.

Interview with Tinsel Korey

Tinsel Korey continues her portrayal of Emily Young in the upcoming release of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”. Tinsel also recently released her first single currently available on ITunes. Tinsel took time out of her busy schedule to talk with Movie Mikes to discuss “Breaking Dawn” and her venture into music.

Adam Lawton: What made you decide to get into acting?
Tinsel Korey: Growing up I was one of those kids that was always putting on sketches. I was also very artistic so it was my way of expressing myself. It all just became very natural for me. I don’t think there was ever a moment where I didn’t want to be an actor or entertainer. I was just something I knew I wanted to do since I was very young. I actually just performed live with the Acme Comedy Troop and it brought me back to my child hood when I was doing a lot of the same type of funny characters and such.

AL: Can you tell us about the process of becoming involved with the “Twilight” series?
TK: The process was fairly easy I guess from what I was told. I guess some of the other cast members had to do a bunch of call backs and auditions but mine was fairly quick. Rene Haynes the casting director for “New Moon” was familiar with me from my previous work so I only ended up having one audition in front of Chris Weitz. A couple days later I was short listed for the project. I got really lucky that it went so fast.

AL: I had read you were selected for the role out of 800 other actresses. Correct?
TK: The casting directors had told me that over 800 girls had auditioned for that role. I had no idea that so many people had tried out for the part. I think if I had known that prior to the audition it may have thrown me off a little. I just went into the audition taking it seriously.

AL: Were you familiar with the previous film and the book series prior to reading for the part?
TK: I actually didn’t know anything about “Twilight”. My younger sister is a fan of the series but I had no idea what so ever. Rene Haynes had kept me in mind for that role so she was the one who brought it to my attention. Knowing my sister was a fan I really wanted to get the movie more for her than for myself. I actually took her to the premier which was really exciting.

TK: What was your first experience like on the “New Moon” set?
AL: It was interesting because I didn’t really know the guys. I had known Bronson Pelletier from his work on “”. We had to find chemistry together which we were able to do after spending a little more time with each other. I think we really captured that family element which is present in the movie and it actually carried over off screen as well. I knew the film was a big production but at the time we were shooting “Twilight” wasn’t yet really at the caliber it’s at today. It was big just not as big. After the premier of “New Moon” the series just took off!

AL: What can we expect in the next film “Breaking Dawn”?
TK: I am probably most excited for the wedding scene and getting to see the wedding dress. I am still getting asked if I am for Team Edward or Team Jacob. It’s pretty much over! (Laughs) She picks Edward. There is a lot more action in this next film and the director was fantastic. I really hope to get to work with him again. His vision for the film was really great.

AL: Any great behind the scenes stories you can tell us?
TK: During the past shoots we had a little bit more time to Joke around but I do remember a prank we played on Kiowa Gordon. He had ordered a hot chocolate one day and then left it unattended with Bronson and I. The two of us are probably the biggest prankster on set. So Kiowa comes back and gets ready to drink his hot chocolate and I ask him if he was sure he really wanted to do that? (Laughs) He kept asking what we did to his drink so Bronson and I really milked it. After he had finished we started asking him if he was feeling anything. It was pretty funny. To this day we still haven’t told him that we really didn’t do anything to his drink.

AL: You also are a musician. Can you tell us about your first single?
TK: I just released my first single titled “Letter” which is available on ITunes and Amazon. It has kind of a bluesy Jazz Rock sound to it. People have compared my voice to Nora Jones and Jewel. Music is really my focus right now. Acting has always been in the foreground of my life and I really want music to have that chance as well. If a great acting role comes along I am totally up for it but I am not actively search for film roles as my music is the main focus for me right now. Music allows me to use my own words and music compared to when I am acting and performing someone else’s work. I think music is way more personal for me.

AL: Is there a release date for the full album?
TK: I am doing the album independently so I am currently focused on the single and finding time to shoot a video for it. I am hoping by the end of the year. The process of doing a record on your own is very different than when you have the help of a record label. I have a producer who I want to work with and I have some really great musicians involved also. On “Letter” I had help from Marcos Curiel of P.O.D. and Mark Schulman who is the drummer for Pink. Right now it comes down to finding the time to get everything done.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
TK: I have been doing a lot of live musical performances lately trying to fine tune my craft. I have a film called “Avarice” coming out which stars Kevin Sorbo and Jason London. The film is a Sci-Fi thriller which should be released this year. The director Matt Schilling is a visual effects genius. What we shot and how the end product looked were completely different. It was amazing. The film is getting some good buzz. I also have a movie called “Black Forest” which will be appearing on the Sci-Fi channel as well around the fall of this year.