President of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc, James J. Sullos Jr. & Archivist Cathy Wilbanks talk about the film “John Carter”

James J. Sullos Jr. is the President of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Cathy Wilbanks is the Archivist of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. They took out some time to chat with Media Mikes to discuss Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic novel “A Princess of Mars” – the first novel in Burroughs’ Barsoom series and Disney’s film “John Carter”. Both James & Cathy also helped create the bonus feature on the “John Carter” Blu-ray called “100 Years In The Making.”

Mike Gencarelli: What`s the best part of working on Mr. Burroughs’s Legacy?
Jim Sullos: Mr. Burroughs wrote over 70 novels and 40 short stories. There is no end to the literary content that he created. I continually read material that has not been published for quite a few years and yet the storyline are still exciting. That why his legacy is never ending.
Cathy Wilbanks: I really enjoy working with the archives because every day is an opportunity to find treasures. The archives are filled with amazing artifacts from the past and I have the pleasure of discovering each and every one.

MG: What do you think Burroughs would have thought of this adaptation of “John Carter”?
JS: Burroughs would have been pleased that the movie accurately portrayed much of what was in his first novel “A Princess of Mars”. And he would have been amazed that current technology could finally do justice to his vivid imagination which was not possible until CGI was developed.

MG: What scene did you most enjoy in “John Carter”?
JS: It is very difficult to select just one scene that I most enjoyed because the whole movie was an incredible joy to see. Andrew Stanton was a genius in bringing visualization to the entire storyline that had never been seen before. As I watched the movie I could feel the passion he devoted to each segment of the film. Picking one scene would not be fair to so many successful portrayals of this timeless story.
CW: My favorite scene in the movie would have to be when John Carter saves Dejah during the marriage ceremony. My favorite character would have to be John Carter, but Woola is a close second!

MG: This big adaption of “John Carter” was 100 Years In The Making, what was the biggest challenge to get it right?
CW: The biggest challenge was finding an actor to portray Edgar Rice Burroughs. We were able to talk John Burroughs, ERB’s grandson, into taking on the part. When I saw the film for the first time, I was amazed to watch John interact in the background because he resembles ERB so much. It was like ERB was back with us again.

MG: How do you feel that the film “John Carter” interpreted the novel “A Princess of Mars?
JS: I think Andrew Stanton, the fabulous Director, who read all of the 11 Mars books as a youngster gave Dejah Thoris an added dimension as both a scientist and an accomplished fighter, greatly expanding her role with positive effects.

MG: What do you think makes the book “A Princess of Mars” so unique?
JS: At the time this book was written in 1911-1912, the scientific knowledge of planet Mars was limited and scientists had to guess as to the makeup of the surface of the planet. Mr. Burroughs novel gave a vivid description in detail of Mars that persisted for decades as the imaginary life that might exist on any planet in the universe.

MG: What were Burroughs’ sentiments toward filming his works in general?
CW: Edgar Rice Burroughs moved from Chicago to the San Fernando Valley in 1919 so he could be closer to the Hollywood scene. He was very excited and realized that he wanted to move in that direction. However, once filming started, he realized that he had to give up some of the control of how his characters were portrayed. Burroughs was mostly frustrated with the portrayal of Tarzan. He wanted his TARZAN to be portrayed as an intelligent, insightful heroand did not like the line “Me Tarzan, You Jane.”

MG: Can you give us some examples of the artifacts you worked with in the treasure trove of ERB material?
CW: The archives at Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. are filled with historical treasures. I have had the pleasure of holding in my hands many first edition books, a huge variety of comic books, toys, merchandise from around the world, movie props like a pterodactyl, and of course, original art. But some of the most meaningful artifacts include the handwritten TARZAN Of THE APES manuscript as well as the A PRINCESS OF MARS manuscript and personal letters signed by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself.

MG: Despite being a hundred years old, the characters of ‘John Carter’ and the Barsoom series are still relevant and don’t feel the least bit dated. Why do you think that is?
CW: Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the story focusing on human conditions such as love and conflict. He understood that to have a successful story, he must include factors that would have a wide appeal. The ‘John Carter’ character was developed with characteristics like humor, intelligence, emotion and strength. John Carter (Taylor Kitch) is very ‘relate-able’ which makes the story current in today’s world.

MG: We wouldn’t have Star Wars if it wasn’t for Princess of Mars, do you think pop culture gives Burroughs the credit he deserves for being such an influence?
CW: No, I don’t believe pop culture gives Edgar Rice Burroughs enough credit. He was a gifted, prolific writer and unfortunately has not been recognized for his contributions.

MG: Do you think there should be a sequel to John Carter movie? If you had to choose another adaption of Burroughs to be made into a feature, which would it be?
JS: I definitely think a sequel should follow. First, I would hope that the planned sequels will be produced because they will show the path that John Carter took to become the “Warlord of Mars”. There are 11 ‘Mars’ books that can be drawn on to create several more exciting movies. But in addition Mr. Burroughs wrote many other science fiction novels and particularly intriguing is the Venus series which portrays the hero Carson Napier who planned to fly his spaceship to Mars but miscalibrated and ended up on Venus to discover an unknown world.

MG: Will there other movies on the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs?
JS: At the present time Warner Bros. has in development a Tarzan live-action. And Constantin films will release its first Tarzan 3D animated film in 2013. We are currently in discussion with several producers who are looking at other Burroughs novels for potential new films.

Interview with Brett Rice

Brett Rice co-starring in this year’s hit “Super 8”. He is also co-starring in this Fall’s remake of “Footloose”. Besides movies, Brett also appears on TV series “The Glades” and “Magic City”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brett about his various movie and TV roles.

Mike Gencarelli:  Tell us about your experience working on “Super 8.”
Brett Rice:  Working on “Super 8” was incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  I actually started filming in early December of last year.  I dropped for a little bit to do a pilot I was shooting.  The day after the pilot was finished I was back on “Super 8.”  We sometimes worked 16 hour days.  J.J. Abrams is a lovely man.  And a genius.  I’ll give you an example.  There’s a scene in the film where I, as the sheriff of the town, go into the gas station and talk to the young man behind the counter.  When I come out all of these weird things start happening and a pack of dogs comes running across.  That was not originally in the scene.  It’s two o’clock in the morning and J.J. at the last minute thought “wouldn’t it be funny if these dogs went running by?”  So he had the wranglers go out and an hour later we had a pack of trained dogs to run in front of me.  That’s the power of J.J. and the studio.  It was a brilliant idea that kind of made the scene.

MG:  Tell us about your character in the film, Sheriff Pruitt.
BR:  He’s the sheriff of a small town where a bad train accident happens.  He doesn’t know much about it.  The deputy sheriff comes in and starts talking about these weird boxes…cubes…and I just blow him off.  “Go home and hug your kid,” I tell him.  And the next thing I know I’m out in the middle of nowhere at a gas station and I get abducted.  The creature has taken several people and he does what he does with them.  I mean it’s really no secret that he eats them.  My character survives and I help lead the kids out of a maze.  But, as often turns out in these wonderful films, the kids know more than the adults.  SPOILER ALERT:  So I get taken away at the end and killed.  The kids survive.

MG:  The film is said to have a very Amblin feel to it.  Did you think that during the production?
BR:  Oh yes.  Once we went to the secret lair where the creature was you had that feeling of “E.T.” or several of Spielberg’s other films.  The way J.J. shot it…once you saw it on screen…you automatically had a feeling of Amblin Entertainment.  Like E.T. going across the moon, the film is dark.  The lair is somewhat lit but it’s still dark.  It’s just a great combination of great cinematography and direction.

MG:  What can you recall from working with Tim Burton on “Edward Scissorhands”?
BR:  He’s a wild man (laughs).  He’s a mad genius.  I worked with him one day and he probably spoke to me three or four times.  He had this long, frizzy hair…skinny guy.  At first I didn’t know who he was.  Someone told me he was Tim Burton but I didn’t know anything about him at that time.  During my off time I go into the house and here comes Johnny Depp in full regalia.  Scissors and everything.  I’m looking at the strange creature and I’m curious because I’d only been given two pages of the script to read.  I look at Johnny Depp and I think to myself “what in the hell have I gotten myself into?”  I look up and down the street and I see all of these houses painted in pastel colors with the lawns manicured perfectly and I’m thinking “what in the hell is this movie all about?”  But Tim was great to work with.  He knew what he wanted.  He never had to raise his voice.  He was kind.  And of course, you see what he’s created over the last 25 years…he has earned the nickname “Mad Genius” of entertainment.

MG:  You currently appear on the TV show, “The Glades.”  Tell us about that?
BR:  The star, Matt Passmore, is Australian but what an amazing American accent he’s developed.  When I met him I didn’t know he was Australian until we sat down and talked between scenes.  I said, “you’re not from around these parts, are you?”  My wife Candy was the costumer on the pilot and she was telling me about how nice the crew was.  So when I got on the shoot about a month ago I was really, really impressed.  It’s a first class operation.  Working in the heat of Miami…when I got there Matt said “welcome to hell.”  You’re shooting in the heat and humidity of the summer in Miami…he was right on that account!  But they’re a group of lovely people.  I’ve had great fun with Matt.  About a month before that I had gone to Portland, Oregon to shoot “Leverage.”  I had sent a tape off and they booked me off the tape.  So they flew me to Portland, which is a great city.  Sixty seven degrees…it was drizzling all the time.  But perfect weather for me because I like it a little chilly.  I got to work again with Timothy Hutton, who I had worked with in “Sunshine State.”  He’s a lovely man.  I’ve been so lucky in that on all of my projects the cast and crew, including the directors, have been so friendly and so giving.

MG:  Tell us about your recurring role on the upcoming Starz television show “Magic City”?
BR:  I’ll tell you what I know…we’re on the second episode right now and we’re doing, I believe, thirteen.  It takes place in 1959 Miami.  Paramutual gambling has already been well established with the government.  Horse tracks. Dog tracks.  Jai Alai.  One of the local Mafia groups has built a hotel and they’re trying to get a casino….which is what the hotels there are still trying to do today.  This has been going on for over 50 years down there.  This group is trying to get casino gambling approved in the state of Florida.  My character is a conservative Republican senator…very right wing…from Tallahassee who gets in bed with the paramutual gambling and does not want to help the hotels get casinos.  I can’t really give away too much more about it but that’s the gist of what is going on.  Casino gambling wants to come to Florida in 1959.  It’s the year of the Rat Pack…Sinatra and Dean Martin.  It’s going to be outstanding visually as well.  From what I’ve read it’s going to be a very intriguing story.  Very seductive.

MG:  Tell us about your role in the remake of “Footloose”?
BR:  I just attended a special screening of it and I was mesmerized by it.  It’s going to be a huge hit.   It opens in October and it’s going to be a hit with my generation, the ones that grew up with the original film.  The music has been contemporized.  This film is about 65% of the original film, though like the songs some of the dialogue has been contemporized.  The tractor “chicken” scene is a little different…there’s a different kind of vibe to it.  It’s going to be thrilling to watch.  The dancing is modern and the music is incredible.  Very contemporary.  From hip hop to rock and roll.  My character is the principal of the high school as well as the president of the city council.  I’m one of the instigators of the law that forbids dancing in town.  I suggest that anyone that’s thinking of seeing the film to do so and prepare to be amazed.  And the kid that plays Willard, who was so memorably played by Chris Penn in the original, is going to steal the show.  His name is Miles Teller and he is one hell of an actor.  Miles is the up and coming next big star.  I’ll tell you that right now.


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DVD Review “Rice Field of Dreams”

Director: Daron Ker
Starring: Joe Cook, Phil Beaudoin and Mike Griffin
Water Buffalo Pictures
Runtime: 74 minutes

Our score: 3.5 out 5 stars

“Rice Field of Dreams” written and directed by Daron Ker is a documentary about Joe Cook and a team of 22 Cambodian Baseball players brought together as one team to play and compete as the first ever Cambodian National Baseball team. With the help of Major League baseball and several coaches from North America the team prepares for its first attempt at bringing baseball glory home to Cambodia. The bottom line is take 74 minutes out of your schedule and check out this film.

“Rice Field of Dreams” was a great film that not only showcased the triumphs and struggles of the first ever Cambodian National Baseball team but it also showed some of the past struggles for people who lived in Cambodia. Director Daron Ker a native of Cambodia really made a great film which as he puts it in the start of the film is not a typical “feel good” story instead the film is a straight forward documentary which shows the positives and the negatives of those in the film. Throughout the film you get to hear both players and coaches reactions to certain events and what they hope to get out of the experience. Though the film is centered on the baseball team you don’t have to be a fan or have an understanding of the game to appreciate this film.


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