Film Review: “Finding Steve McQueen”

FINDING STEVE McQUEEN

Starring:  Travis Fimmell, Rachael Taylor and Willian Fichtner

Directed by:  Mark Steven Johnson

Rated: R

Running time:  1 hr 31 mins

Momentum Pictures

1980.  In a small California town, Harry Barber (Fimmell) has something to confess to Holly (Taylor), his girlfriend of seven years.  Holly thinks a break-up is coming but it’s more like a stick-up.  You see, Harry is a bank robber.

Based on a true story, “Finding Steve McQueen” is one of the smaller films that often get overshadowed by the latest offerings from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Through flashbacks we find Harry back in 1972 (who Molly knows as John) working in his Uncle Enzo’s factory, along with his younger brother, Tommy (Jake Weary).  The factory is a front for Enzo (played by the always fun to watch Fichtner), who is, for lack of a better word, the “boss” of Youngstown, Ohio.  Enzo has learned from a friend that President Richard Nixon, who Enzo is definitely not a fan of, has squirreled away $30 million in campaign funds in a bank not far from San Clemente (the Western White House).  Eager for a big score, and the chance to stick it to the President, Enzo and his team, including Harry and Tommy, journey west to pull off what Enzo believes will be the perfect crime.  After all, if someone steals the President’s dirty money, who can he call?

The film is both clever and, if you’re a fan of the 1970s, nostalgic.  The script, by Ken Hixon and Keith Sharon, moves sharply through the decade, taking time to introduce things like hot tubs and historic characters.  When the F.B.I. bureau chief (Oscar winner Forest Whitaker) gets a visit from his boss, Mark Felt (John Finn), you can’t help but smile when Felt tells him to read an article in the Washington Post written by “a couple reporters named Woodward and Bernstein.”  For those who don’t remember their history, Felt was the infamous “Deep Throat” who led Woodward and Bernstein to their Pulitzer Prize.

Director Johnson keeps the story moving and kudos as well to whoever picked the songs that accompany the on-screen action.  They helped set a perfect tone for a film that doesn’t need someone in Spandex to make it entertaining.

Guitarist Steve Dadaian Discusses His New Album “Follow the Light”

Steve Dadaian is an Armenian-American fusion guitarist based in the Tri-State NY,NJ,PA area. Steve’s latest album “Follow the Light” is a theatrical, symphonic soundscape packed full of razor-sharp guitar work that will leave listeners slack-jawed. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Steve fresh off his appearance at this year’s Winter NAMM convention where we discussed the albums creation, his work System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid.

Adam Lawton: What was it that first got you started with music?

Steve Dadaian: I grew up in New Jersey and where I went to school they made you take a mandatory guitar class. That was really my first exposure to the instrument. I listened to a lot of classic rock artists like Jimi Hendrix and Randy Rhoads. Listening to music like that you get drawn to the guitar and as I got older I started listening to more progressive stuff like Rush and Dream Theater. Listening to all those bands helped me build my technique and was the foundation for where my playing is today.

AL: Your new album “Follow the Light” is a shift from your previous work. Can you tell us about that progression?

SD: With this record aside from one song there really aren’t any vocals. In order to fill that space I had to think about how I was going to write each piece and what I wanted to use on each track. With symphonic music there are so many different ways you can go. This was a lot of fun because I could use different chord structures and voicing’s that a traditional vocalist might not be able to do. As a guitar player I was really able to open up which I enjoyed.

AL: Where did you start when writing these pieces?

SD: That’s something I struggle with quite a bit. Sometimes I will come up with a melody other times it will be just a riff. For the title track of the album I started with the opening riff and then everything came after that. Generally the symphonic stuff comes last. The guitar is my base line as that is what I do. The chords, leads and riffs are the bulk of the song so once I have those I will go back and fill in the space to help each section sound more epic. Aside from that my process always seems to vary.

AL: Did you provide all the instrumentation on the album or did you work with other musicians?

SD: On three of the tracks I collaborated with other artists. I worked with Claudio Pietronik from Italy who does a lot of stuff for Jam Track Central. He is a great player with a lot of knowledge about cinematic music. We were able to collaborate on two tracks and another we co-wrote. For the most part the instrumentation all comes from me. I do love working with other artists but when you have a technical riff it can be hard to add things in order to make it sound bigger. I have a good sense of where I want things to be so for a majority of the album it’s just me.

AL: The track “Soul Connection” has a great back story behind it. Can you tell us about that?

SD: That was the only song on the album with vocals. I like to hear a track with vocals from time to time so I included “Soul Connection”. This was a song I originally wrote for a writing competition put on by Serj Tankian from System of a Down. This song meant a lot to me and I actually ended up being a finalist in the competition. I wanted to do more with the track and the chance to work with Bjorn Strid from Soilwork presented itself. I had told him the story of the song and it resonated with him the same way it had with me so I sent it to him and about three days later it came back perfect. Bjorn gave a brilliant performance. What’s really cool is the first seven notes of the song are the ones Serj came up with through what I submitted to the contest. I feel this song is a pivotal point in the concept record. One other thing that is really great about this song is that all proceeds from it are being donated to the Creative Armenia Foundation. They are an initiative to help fund artists world-wide who might not have resources available to them. They work with musicians, film makers and of other artistic formats. It’s a great cause that I am glad to help out with.

AL: Are there any plans in place to tour in support of the release?

SD: I just came back from a performance at NAMM which was really great. I currently have some guitar clinics lined up around the Tri-State area for this year and I have also been talking with some New York City venues about putting on a few different things. As the demand increases we will certainly look at expanding things. I just had a request to perform in Miami so there are quite a few things that are being put together

For more info on Steve you can follow him on Instagram @SteveDadaian and on Facebook at Stevedadaianguitar

Steve Lukather to Release First Ever Memoir “The Gospel According To Luke”

STEVE LUKATHER TO RELEASE FIRST EVER MEMOIR
“THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE” ON SEPTEMBER 18th

Founding Toto Member, Respected Studio Musician & Ringo Starr Band Member To Share Stories From His 40+ Years Of Making Music

Pre-Order The Book Here: http://getbook.at/stevelukather

To know Steve Lukather AKA: “Luke” is to love him, and readers of his upcoming memoir are about to get a no-holds barred uncensored look at Luke’s 40+ years of making records with his band TOTO along with the countless legendary sessions he’s been a part of.

Written by Luke along with acclaimed author Paul Rees, The Gospel According To Luke will be released worldwide on September 18th via Post Hill Press (North America) and Little Brown (UK). Luke will also be narrating the audiobook, which will be available via Audible. The book takes the reader behind the VIP curtain of rock and pop stardom recounting the vibrant and frequently lurid history of a vanquished golden age of the music business.

Few ensembles in the history of recorded music have individually or collectively left a larger imprint on pop culture than the members of TOTO. The band has sold over 40 million albums and have over half a billion streams worldwide as of 2018. They continue to be a worldwide arena draw staging standing-room-only events across the globe. They are pop culture, and are one of the few ’70s bands to have endured the changing trends and styles.

Running parallel to this, and as stellar session players, Lukather and band-mates David Paich, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro, David Hungate and Mike Porcaro were also the creative linchpins on some of the most successful, influential and enduring records of all time, including Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

“How many bands collectively (all members past to present) can say that they have played on 5,000 albums, had around 225 Grammy nominations, and were pretty much the house band on the biggest album in history?” writes Lukather.

TOTO are currently in the middle of a major resurgence around the world. The band’s brand new Greatest Hits package titled 40 Trips Around The Sun (Legacy Recordings – Sony) debuted in the top of the charts in multiple countries. Their European tour earlier this year saw them performing to packed houses every night including sold-out stops at the 17,000 seat Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam to Royal Albert Hall in London and everything else in-between. Most recently, Weezer’s covers of the classic TOTO hits “Rosanna” and “Africa” have attracted a ton of media attention along with over six million streams of the tracks combined.

This fall TOTO will also be releasing their definitive box set: All In via Legacy Recordings (a division of Sony Music). This limited edition release is available for pre-order here: http://SMARTURL.IT/TOTO40TRIPSBOXSET

TOTO begins their North American tour on July 30th in Vancouver with dates running into November of this year. The 40 Tours Around The Sun tour will continue into 2019 with more dates and countries to be added shortly. Luke is currently on tour with Ringo Starr as a member of Ringo’s current “All Starr Band” lineup which he has been in for the past six years.

Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt & Tosin Abasi to Stage Second Generation Axe Tour.

STEVE VAI, ZAKK WYLDE, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, NUNO BETTENCOURT & TOSIN ABASI
TO STAGE SECOND NORTH AMERICAN GENERATION AXE TOUR

32-Date Run Begins November 7 At The Fox Theater in Oakland, CA
and Wraps December 18 At The Wiltern in Los Angeles, CA – General On-Sale Begins July 13

Los Angeles, CA — The term “supergroup” gets thrown around on a regular basis these days, however, GENERATION AXE undisputedly brings together some of the greatest guitarists of all time. Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt, and Tosin Abisi once again will join together to tour North America to stage 32 appearances across the country. Beginning on November 7 at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA, the run will return to markets where the inaugural tour was celebrated and hit several new cities for the first time. The general on-sale goes live July 13.

Steve Vai offers, “The Generation Axe show is a unique performance of five fiercely talented guitar players coming together to create a 6-string extravaganza that is sure to amaze and delight.” Each tour stop will include a variety of collaborations by the five players, including everyone performing together as one cohesive band with a rhythm section including Pete Griffin (Dweezil Zappa, Stanley Clarke, Edgar Winter) on bass, Nick Marinovich (Yngwie Malmsteen) on keys, and JP Bouvet on drums. Vai, Wylde, Malmsteen, Bettencourt and Abasi will perform songs from their various catalogs and join forces on some well-known songs (as well as probably a few unexpected, unearthed gems). Vai shares, “The Generation Axe experience goes way beyond simply gathering five guitar greats on one stage to jam. The idea was to create a seamless show with one backing band and 5 completely accomplished and astonishing guitarists that take to the stage in various configurations, performing some of their solo music and merging together as cohesive co-creators of lushly orchestrated guitar extravaganzas. Guitar Jams like this can get really messy when there is no organization and my idea was to create parts for everybody to play in harmony and off each other so it’s not a mess of noise. This worked out remarkably well. There are places where everyone is playing together in wild harmony.”

Making this rare tour experience even more special, Generation Axe VIP packages will be offered, giving fans access to these guitars masters and exclusive one-of-a-kind memorabilia. A front row package (including a meet & greet), a meet & greet package, and a VIP tour package will be available. For more information, visit www.generationaxe.com.

Many artists fit easily into a single category, while Steve Vai remains unclassifiable. He is a virtuoso guitarist, visionary composer, and consummate audio producer who sculpts musical sound with infinite creativity and technical mastery. He is one of the most in-demand, versatile, eloquent and soulful guitarists in the business. The GRAMMY Award-winner has sold over 15 million albums and toured the world as a solo artist, a member of G3, and with Frank Zappa, Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake. Vai launched his successful solo career with the release of Flex-Able in 1984 and has written, produced, and engineered all of his solo albums. He has appeared as a guest artist on more than 40 albums and created music for blockbuster films, best-selling video games, national sports franchises, and corporate brand initiatives. Vai has earned honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and Musicians Institute. For more info, visit: www.vai.com.

GRAMMY Award-winner Zakk Wylde’s legendary career includes a lengthy tenure with Ozzy Osbourne in which Wylde co-wrote and recorded several albums, including the multiplatinum No More Tears, Osbourne’s largest selling solo album featuring the classic hit single, “Mama, I’m Coming Home” and the bulk of the double platinum 2002 set, Ozzmosis. With Osbourne, Wylde has played on countless world tours and television appearances, with his signature bullseye Les Paul in tow. Wylde has his mitts imprinted on Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame; guest-starred alongside Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston in the movie “Rockstar”; and even momentarily joined Axl, Slash and Duff in Guns N’ Roses. But nothing offers the pure expression of Zakk Wylde’s animalistic “id” like Black Label Society, the stomping, heavy, bluesy, recklessly unhinged hard-rock-metal quartet who are quick to rip up a solo as to dip into a piano-fueled anthemic ballad. For more info, visit: www.zakkwylde.com.

When Yngwie J. Malmsteen hit the scene in the early 80s, he turned the entire guitar world upside down. Never before was guitar playing like his ever heard. Drawing inspiration from his love for Baroque and Romantic classical music, Malmsteen employs classical violin techniques such as four and five octave arpeggios, pedal notes, and harmonic minor, diminished and Phrygian scales, flawlessly delivered at mind-boggling levels of speed and clarity. In doing so, he has singlehandedly created a brand-new style of guitar playing and composing that is still derived from today. In addition to having written and produced 35+ neoclassical rock albums, Malmsteen composed and orchestrated the “Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra,” which he recorded with the prestigious Czech Philharmonic in Prague, conducted by Yoel Levy of Atlanta Symphony fame. Malmsteen subsequently performed the piece live with the New Japan Philharmonic and the Taipei Symphony, among others. Malmsteen has received numerous Grammy nominations, hundreds of magazine covers, dozens of Reader’s Poll and Composer of the Year Awards, a plaque on the Rock Walk of Fame, signature model guitars, amps, pickups, strings, picks, pedals, microphones, and more. TIME Magazine placed him as one of the top ten guitarists of all time. Some 35 years and 25 million+ album sales later, Yngwie shows no signs of slowing down. For more info, visit: www.yngwiemalmsteen.com.

Guitar virtuoso, singer-songwriter, and record producer, Nuno Bettencourt rose to international prominence as a guitar player with the GRAMMY-nominated, Boston-area band EXTREME, one of the most successful rock acts of the early to mid-1990s selling over 10 million records worldwide. Musically, EXTREME is dominated by Bettencourt’s blistering guitar riffs, often with funky, syncopated timing, and incendiary, high-speed rock/metal solos. Bettencourt penned the acoustic ballad “More Than Words” that went to #1 on the Billboard charts and “Hole Hearted” that reached #4. He has released multiple solo albums as well as with bands he founded including Mourning Widows Population 1, Dramagods and Satellite Party. Bettencourt has written, produced and performed with many legendary artists including Rihanna, Steven Tyler, Paul McCartney, Janet Jackson and many others. For more info: www.nunobettencourt.com.

Oluwatosin Ayoyinka Olumide Abasi, better known as Tosin Abasi, is a Nigerian American guitarist known as the guitar player and founder of the instrumental progressive metal band, Animals as Leaders. Abasi’s compositions of intricate music have garnered critical acclaim in a few short years. Abasi is part of the breed of new contemporary players who are raising the bar on the concept of electric guitar virtuosity. His approach to the guitar stems from a passion for advanced techniques and harmony. Using 7-, 8-, and 9-string guitars have allowed Abasi to create a highly unique and individual sound. For more info, visit: www.facebook.com/ animalsasleaders

Generation Axe – A Night of Guitars is produced by Copeland International Arts and is booked by CAA. For additional information visit: www.generationaxe.com.

Confirmed appearances include:
11/07 Oakland, CA Fox Theater
11/08 Anaheim, CA City National Grove
11/09 Las Vegas, NV The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
11/10 Tempe, AZ Marquee Theatre #
11/11 Albuquerque, NM El Rey Theater
11/13 Denver, CO Paramount Theatre – Denver
11/15 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theatre
11/16 Salina, KS The Stiefel Theatre
11/17 Tulsa, OK Brady Theater
11/18 Des Moines, IA Hoyt Sherman Theatre
11/19 Cincinnati, OH Taft Theatre
11/20 Grand Rapids, MI 20 Monroe Live
11/21 Detroit, MI Fillmore Detroit
11/23 Medford, MA The Chevalier Theater
11/24 Niagara Falls, NY The Rapids Theatre
11/25 Kitchener, ON Centre in the Square
11/27 Bethlehem, PA Sands Bethlehem Event Center
11/28 Port Chester, NY Capitol Theatre
11/29 Albany, NY The Palace Theatre
11/30 Atlantic City, NJ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City – The Theater
12/01 Rochester, NY Kodak Center
12/03 Greensburg, PA The Palace Theatre
12/04 Westbury, NY NYCB Theatre at Westbury
12/05 Richmond, VA The National
12/08 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
12/09 Orlando, FL Hard Rock Live
12/10 Davie, FL Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
12/11 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
12/13 Austin, TX The Moody Theater
12/14 Dallas, TX The Bomb Factory
12/16 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex – Rockwell
12/18 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
# – Nuno Bettencourt not appearing

 

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Anvil’s Steve “Lips” Kudlow talks about the album “Anvil is Anvil”

Steve “Lips” Kudlow is the lead singer and guitar player for the band Anvil. After a period of mainstream obscurity the band was thrust back into the spotlight due to the award winning documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”. The group’s 16th and latest studio album “Anvil is Anvil” comes out at the end of February and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Lips recently about the album’s release.

Adam Lawton: Tell us about the new albums opening track “Daggers and Rum”

Steve Kudlow: I got a call from this guy to be a pirate in a play he was putting together. I thought it sounded like fun so I said sure. He cast me in the role of Captain Snarls and also asked if I could write a song to go along with the play. I ended up becoming super inspired and started writing. I had the music already and was trying to come up with a title. At first I was thinking “Swords and Tequila” (laughs). I knew that wasn’t going to work so I started to think about what I associated with pirates. The first thing I thought was rum, and then I thought about what they used as weapons. That’s sort of how the title came about. I did some more research on pirate music and what are called “shanties” which originated from musical plays. It was sort of mind blowing that I was being asked to make up my own shanty for this play. It was all pretty cool. The song really sounds like it came from a musical play.

AL: Was this one of the first songs you ended up writing for the album?

SK: Yes it actually was. It was the first song I had lyrics for. I had probably written a couple others at the same time and musically this was I think number 3 or 4. In the studio we called all the songs by their numbers and this one was done really early. Despite it being 3rd musically it was the first completed. Interesting enough song 2 as it was known as was actually one of the last ones to be finished.

AL: The album has 12 tracks listed but a 13th track is included as a bonus on some versions. Can you tell us about that?

SK: Truth be told there is no such thing as bonus tracks. We recorded 13 tracks and all 13 tracks are going to be released eventually. Considering 99% of people listen to music free on the internet these days there is really no such thing as bonus tracks because no matter what version of an album you may get it ends up out on the web for everyone. The “bonus” tracks were just additional tracks that needed to be separated for distribution purposes. We did one version of the album for people who pledged money towards its being made which of course is different from the one found in stores. By doing that we also were able to give the fans in Japan that additional pledge track. The Japan version of the album ended up being the pledge version and easily the most obscure.

AL: Do you guys have any special packaging or limited edition versions of the album planned for release?

SK: Most everything is going to be done in digi-packs. We also are going to be releasing the album in a clear double vinyl format which is going to be really cool. What’s great about the vinyl is it will also come with a digital version of the album so fans can put the vinyl away as a collector’s piece.

AL: Being 16 albums in your career as a band how do you go about keeping things fresh and new from album to album?

SK: I don’t think that is something you consciously do. I don’t really think about it in those types of terms. For me it not about wondering how am I going to come up with something but more so how am I NOT going to come up with something. (Laughs) Every time I get to express myself it’s exciting. It’s a hell of a lot of fun to make new songs. You have to make it that way because if it’s not then the end result isn’t probably going to turn out very well. Just have to have fun with and not waste time. Working with Rob (Reiner) he always wants the next part and to be able to keep going so that’s what I mean by not wasting time.

AL: Do you and Rob have the same relationship now as you did when you first started the group in the late 70’s?

SK: Absolutely! Our relationship is actually the most magical aspect of all this. You end up meeting someone and you find out they think the same way as you. I compare it to when people finish each other’s sentences. With Rob and I we finish each other’s riffs. We grew up together and have listened to the same music our entire lives so we have the same mind set on things. We are very in-tune with one another.

AL: How has the addition of Chris Robertson on bass helped the bands dynamics?

SK: Chris has been with band for about 2 years now however this is his first time actually recording with us. We are really blessed to have Chris and things just fell into place with him. At the time when we needed a new bass player we weren’t really out there searching for someone. We had a tour coming up in 3 weeks and we needed someone pretty quick. We had our friend Sal Italiano come on board for the tour and after worked with him and Jon another friend of ours through the “Hope in Hell” album. When it came time to find someone again I asked my friend Jon if he knew any one. He suggested this guy Chris as he was the guy who taught Jon how to play all of our songs. Chris came in and just blew us away. Sal did another tour with us and we had Chris along as part of the road crew. When the tour ended we had a one off show in Germany that we still had to do so I called Sal to confirm everything. While we were talking Sal stated he wasn’t going to be going. There wasn’t much I could say other than ok. Chris joined the band and here we are. Chris has a great sound and style and along with being a killer bass player he is a great back up vocalist. Chris is really great to work with and is honored to be part of Anvil.

AL: What type of tour plans are in place and has there been any more discussions about another Anvil film?

SK: We are currently out on the road in Europe with Udo Dirkschneider. We will be overseas until early April supporting Udo and then after that we will be starting a headlining tour in the U.S. in mid April. That tour is set to run through mid June. As for another film we have about 40 minutes or so of usable footage and it’s something we continue to work on as the band continues to progress.

Steve ‘N’ Seagulls’ Puikkonen talks about debut album “Farm Machine”

Puikkonen is the drummer for the Finnish bluegrass/rock/metal band Steve ‘N’ Seagulls. The group is set to release their debut album title “Farm Machine” which is made up of bluegrass renditions of songs like Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” and Guns n’ Roses “Paradise City” to Led Zeppelins “Black Dog”. The group which also consists of Irwin Remmel, Pukki Kaalinen, Hermann and Wild Till Hiltunen will be performing on stages across Europe this summer and will soon be coming to the U.S. Media Mikes spoke with Puikkonen recently about the group’s creation, the new album and the group’s unique name.

Adam Lawton:  How did the band come together and what is the story behind the group’s name?
Puikkonen: At the beginning there was this desire of changing the routine. Most of us had been working as professional musicians for years in party/dance bands and needed to do something different and new. First we started to work on this country/western theme but over the years it took shape of something with a strong bluegrass influence but still wasn’t labeled in any specific genre. The name of this group was invented by the girlfriend of our banjo player Herman. If I remember it right they were waiting at a traffic light in Jyväskylä, Finland trying to come up with a decent name for the group.

AL: Was the idea to cover popular rock/metal songs something that was talked about from the start?
Puikkonen: At the beginning the main idea was to cover popular songs in spite of just one specific genre of music. Actually the very first arrangement we ever did was Lady Gaga’s song “Pokerface”. Rock/metal songs came along a little bit later when we realized that it was more fun and challenging to play. We had played some of the songs during our live shows and audiences really enjoyed it so we wanted to concentrate on doing a whole set of rock/metal arrangements.

AL: How did you go about picking the songs that make up “Farm Machine”?
Puikkonen: The schedule of making the album was quite busy so the decision was easy to make. We picked just picked out the songs that we thought had the best arrangements.

AL: Were there any songs that were recording which did not make the albums final cut?
Puikkonen: There were actually two. I’m not sure if they are going to be released as bonus material but you can sometimes hear them in our live sets.

AL: What type of tour plans do you have in place and do they include the United States?
Puikkonen: This summer we are going to be playing all over Europe. Next fall we are putting together the plans to come to the U.S. We actually have one confirmed gig so far however we can’t announce it just yet. As soon as we have everything put together for the U.S. run we will be sure to let everyone know.

Win a Blu-ray of Steve Coogan’s “Alan Partridge” [ENDED]


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

Steve Coogan reprises his most popular role, as the iconic Alan Partridge, the famous local radio DJ and one time talk show host. Alan finds himself at the center of a siege, when a disgruntled fellow DJ (Colm Meaney) decides to hold their station hostage after learning that he’s getting sacked by the new management.

 

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Blu-ray Review “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (The Criterion Collection)”

Actors: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe
Directors: Wes Anderson
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Criterion
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Run Time: 118 minutes

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

“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” is a rather strange film. But at the same time it is also a quite outstanding film. I think this can really be said for all of Wes Anderson’s films. They are all on another level of filmmaking. Some people get it and some do not but they are all brilliant. Criterion has been a big proprietor of Anderson’s films on Blu-ray. I recently had a chance to check out “Fantastic Mr. Fox” on Criterion Collection and was just blown away. Now just a few months later, we are getting “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” and this is guaranteed to make fans of the film very happy. Criterion never disappoints and delivers a flawless technical presentation and a ridiculous amount of special features. I am sure that a Criterion release of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is not to far behind either.

Official Premise: Internationally famous oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his crew-Team Zissou-set sail on an expedition to hunt down the mysterious, elusive, possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark that killed Zissou’s partner during the documentary filming of their latest adventure. They are joined on their voyage by a young airline copilot (Owen Wilson); a pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett); and Zissou’s estranged wife, Eleanor (Anjelica Huston). Wes Anderson (Rushmore) has assembled an all-star cast that also includes Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, Seu Jorge, and Bud Cort for this wildly original adventure comedy.

When it comes to Criterion, you can always expect the best audio/video presentation. In fact, I am just going to quote what the leaflet inside the case says about this amazing Blu-ray release: “Supervised by director Wes Anderson, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Sony Colorworks in Culver City, California. Thousands of instances of dirt and debris were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was for small dirt, warps, and jitter. The original 5.1 soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit from the original magnetic track using Pro Tools HD.” The transfer is absolutely flawless, especially the underwater footage. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which is just perfect. This is the best release to date for this amazing film.

This release comes with some oustanding special features. Kicking off, there is an audio commentary with director Wes Anderson and cowriter Noah Baumbach, which was recorded exclusively for Criterion in New York City in February 2005. There is a “Making of” featurette with raw footage from the production with coments from Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, and director of photography of Robert D. Yeoman, amongst others. There is focus on the “Designs” and “Photos” with a collection of drawings, sketches, and photographs. “Intern Video Journal” is a behind the scenes documentary shot and edited by Matthew Gray Gubler. “Seu Jorge Performs David Bowie” includes ten performances of David Bowie songs in Portuguese by Brazilian recording artist and actor Seu Jorge.

Mark Mothersbaugh, composer and Devo member discusses the amazing soundtrack for the film, which was conducted for Criterion in 2004. There are seven sets of cast and crew interviews including Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson and many more. “Mondo Monda” is a Italian talk show hosted by Antonio Monda who interviews Wes Anderson and cowriter Noah Baumbach. “This is an Adventure” is a documentary from Albert Maysles, Antonio Ferrera, and Matthew Prinzing that was shot during the shooting of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in Italy in 2003. Lastly, there is a the original theatrical trailer and nine deleted scenes included.

 

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Book Review “Steven Spielberg and Duel: The Making of a Career” by Steven Awalt

Author: Steven Awalt
Hardcover/354 Pages
Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
Publishing date: March 26, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

On November 22, 1963, while playing golf with a friend, author Richard Matheson learned of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Upset by the news, the duo quit playing and headed home. As they began driving through a narrow pass they heard the sound of a large truck coming up behind them at great speed. The truck continued to bear down on them as they accelerated. No matter how fast they went, the truck seemed to be coming faster. After several terrifying minutes the road finally widened and they pulled over as the truck hurtled down the road past them. Sounds like the makings of a great story, doesn’t it?

“Steven Spielberg and ‘Duel’: The Making of a Career” IS that great story. It’s an in-depth look into the workings of a young 24 year old director who went on to become, arguably, the most successful filmmaker of all time. The book details Spielberg’s early days, from his Super 8 home movies (at age 17 he created a two hour and twenty minute science fiction film entitled “Firelight” that he “premiered” at a local theatre) through his college days at CSU Long Beach and his initial work as a contract director for Universal, where he began hi s professional career directing such television programs as “Night Gallery” and “Columbo.” Impressed with his work the studio gives Spielberg a chance to direct a film to be featured as a “Movie of the Weekend,” based on a short story by Richard Matheson that recently appeared in “Playboy” magazine. The name of the story: “Duel.”

Author Steven Awalt is no stranger to the career of Steven Spielberg, having created and run the extremely popular web site SpielbergFilms.com . It is through this web site that Awalt shared his admiration for all things Spielberg. Here he takes that admiration and shares it with the reader. In an incredibly precise step by step process he guides the reader through the process of making a major motion picture (buoyed by its success and critical acclaim, Universal later released “Duel” in theatres both in the states and internationally). Thanks to recent, in depth interviews with many people involved in the production, including Matheson, Universal executive Sid Sheinberg, composer Billy Goldenberg and, most importantly, Spielberg himself, the book puts you on the set and involves you in almost every aspect of the production. It is because of this attention to detail that Awalt has created one of the best “making of” books in recent years.

Steve Lukather talks about Toto’s 30th Anniversary Tour

Steve Lukather is a multi Grammy award winning guitarist and producer best known for his work with Toto. Outside of Toto, Steve has worked with Michael Jackson, been a member of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band and also released several solo albums with the most recent one “Transition” being released in January of this year. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Steve recently about his latest release as well as the Toto 30th Anniversary tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your most recent solo work titled “Transition”?
Steve Lukather: I have been doing solo albums since 1989. My first solo release was more of a vanity project. I had all of my friends come help me get my sea legs and we had a lot of fun. Each one of these solo albums that I put out has gotten a little more serious. The last three in particular are where I think I found my voice as a solo artist. I really enjoy making over the top records from a production stand point. I am not trying to write the next hit single that will play after Rihanna or Jay-Z. No offense to what those people do as they are great but that’s not my audience. I am making songs that I like and that I think fans of my previous work will like. I love melody with a few twist and turns.

AL: “Transition” is a much darker album than in the past. Was it hard revisiting some of those feelings or places?
SL: It’s a very personal album as I write about what I live. I am the type of guy who writes journals not poetry or something like that. I am trying to write about things that I have lived or seen. I have gone through losing people close to me, drugs, divorce and alcohol. I try and retell those experiences in my own way and learn from those experiences.

AL: You just had signature guitar pickups released from Dimarzio baring the “Transition”
name. Can you tell us about that partnership?
SL: I just fell in love with these pickups. When it was time to come up with a name I figured we could use the album name. It also is like a transition from my old sound to my new sound. Transition is a great world that can mean a lot of different things. I started working with Dimarzio about a year ago and the combination of those pickups and my signature guitar is just great. I have really changed my view on everything from performing live to life in general.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming Toto 35th anniversary tour?
SL: I am looking forward to being back with most of my high school friends to help out another friend and former band mate Mike Porcaro who has ALS. That was the reasoning behind the band initially getting back together. We wanted help him and his family by raising money for his medical expenses. We had such a great time doing it that we decided to do something for the bands anniversary. I’m now back with my high school brothers having a blast. I think the band is sound better than ever. Most of the dates right now are overseas but U.S. dates have begun trickling in. Between those I will also be doing some solo shows as well as some shows with Peter Frampton and then heading back out with Ringo Starr.

AL: What do you enjoy most about being back out on the road with Toto?
SL: Our band’s songs are the soundtrack to people’s lives. Being recognized on shows like “Family Guy” and “South Park” has exposed our music to a whole new generation of fans. We are a classic rock band and that’s a title I will gladly accept. I love that. Even some disgruntled hipster rock critic who gets drunk at a party and know all the lyrics to “Africa” (Laughs)

AL: Are there plans to record any of the shows from the reunion tour?
SL: That is something we are trying to get together. We have to find the right venue to shoot in and we also have to get some litigation out of the way with a few ex-managers. We are just about through that and once we are we would be foolish not to document this. There have been a number of tries in the past all of which have had dramatic stops put to them. One film was in a car accident where the film burnt up, and then there was a nasty law suit over another.

AL: Having played with a number of amazing artists is there one that sticks out as a personal favorite?
SL: Playing with Ringo Starr has been a highlight of my career. I am looking forward to doing that again. I am honored to have Ringo as a friend. I have a really cool life. I have started writing a book and just looking back on my career has been amazing. The book is still a ways from being completed however over my 35/36 year career I am just amazed at what I have accomplished. It has been a great run and I am currently booked up till 2015 without even trying. I am truly blessed. “This is a new world and there is no time to sit around with a thumb up your ass” (Laughs)

DVD Review “Steve Jobs The Lost Interview”

Actors: Steve Jobs, Robert X. Cringely
Directors: Paul Sen
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 23, 2012
Run Time: 72 minutes

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

Steve Jobs is a man like Walt Disney.  He is a visionary that left us way too early. Like Disney himself, I am sure people said “I could only have imagined the things he would have thought up”.  Luckily, Jobs’ legacy will live on like Disney’s himself.  “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview” is a 70 minute intimate chat with the man behind so many great things like Apple and Pixar.  What is most interesting about this is that it was conducted way before he took over Apple and made it what it is today.  It is fascinating to listen to Jobs talk about the future, knowing what how it turned out.  This was lost for 17 years and now thanks to Magnolia Home Entertainment we get a chance to behind-the-scenes to the early days with the late and great Steve Jobs.

Official Premise: In this candid, in-depth interview with the late visionary filmed in 1995, Steve Jobs discusses at length his early days, career battles, and vision for the future. Small portions of the piece were used for a television series at the time, but the vast majority was shelved and for 17 years thought to be lost. Resurfacing, it is being presented in its entirety, providing a fascinating look at Jobs at a particularly interesting moment in his career, two years before he would go on to retake control of Apple

The special features included on this DVD are quite impressive for a lost documentary.  This is not a memorial on his life, it is justlost interview.  So if you are looking for a life-story, then you are looking in the wrong place.  On the topic of the interview, there is a wonderful additional hour long interview with Andy Hertzfeld, the original Macintosh programmer at Apple.  It is a must-watch! There is an audio only interview with writer/presenter Robert X. Cringley, which is conducted by producer of this film, John Gau.  Lastly there is a commentary track also included over the interview with Robert X. Cringley and director/producer Paul Sen.  Each feature is better than the next and will leave you 100% satisfied.

DVD Review “Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule: Season 1 & 2”

Actors: John C. Reilly, Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Carol Kraft, Doug Foster
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Cartoon Network
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Run Time: 132 minutes

Series: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

I am a fun fan of anything that comes out of the mind of the comedy duo Tim and Eric from “Tom Goes to the Mayor” to “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”.  So I understand their rare brand of comedy and obviously this is not for everyone.  John C. Reilly is total gold playing Dr. Steve Brule.  “Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule” is a fantastic spin-off from the madness that was created by Tim and Eric.  The show itself is even more awkward that its predecessors but it works…oh so well.  I recommend this show very highly…for your health! Where’s season three Adult Swim?

“Check It Out” Season 1 and 2 includes all 12 episodes from the series. It is a parody of a local market’s news magazine show starring Oscar-nominee John C. Reilly as Dr. Steve Brule. Each week our host Dr. Brule will introduce his audiences to local celebrities and interesting things around town as well as providing health and lifestyle tips. Produced by John C. Reilly ands Absolutely Productions.

I was hoping for some great special features here but they are most M.I.A. The only present extras are some deleted and extended scenes.  They are a nice continuous of the show but I feel like they could have done so much more.  I would have loved to seen some commentary tracks from Dr. Steve Brule and maybe even Jan and Wayne Skylar all in character.  But nonetheless, this DVD is a must purchase for all fans of Tim and Eric’s work and those looking to see Reilly in one of his most zaniest and funniest performances.

Steve Byrne talks about creating new TBS’ series “Sullivan & Son”

Steve Byrne is the creator, along with Rob Long (“Cheers”), and star of the new TBS’ comedy series “Sullivan & Son”. Steve is known best for performing stand-up. The show is executive produced by Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley. The show also co-stars Dan Lauria, Jodi Long, Owen Benjamin, Brian Doyle-Murray, Christine Ebersole and Valerie Azlynn. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Steve about the new show and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: Being a creator of “Sullivan & Son”, tell us about its origin?
Steve Byrne: It all starts and ends with Vince Vaughn. He has been such a great friend of mine for many years. He told me one day “Why don’t you develop something for yourself”. My focus was always on stand-up. I never wrote anything before and I told him that. He told me “Well you can do it” and that is kind of how the conversation went. He just said “You can do it”. So I went out and bought a bunch of books on script writing and studied for few months. Then I spent another few months writing the inital pilot. I turned it into him and Peter Billingsley and they liked it and suggested with meet with some writers. So we met with Rob Long and we just hit it off right off the bat. Originally the show was suppose to take place in a diner and Rob said “You should make this a bar show”. Well I said “If you sign on, you did one of the best bar shows ever, if you want to do it then hell yeah! Let’s do it!”. So that is how the whole thing came about.

MG: Going from stand-up to sitcom, what do you enjoy most?
SB: What I love about sitcom is that I am not by myself. Stand-up is a lonely profession. It’s a few weeks a year living out of suitcase and constantly being by yourself. You are the life of the party for two hours a night but then you just go back to the hotel room by yourself [laughs]. So it can be a pretty depressing. But being with this great ensemble cast, there is such a genuine chemistry we all have. When we brake for lunch, nobody goes off into their own dressing room. We all sit down and eat lunch together. We got some real good veterans on the show like Dan Lauria, Brian Doyle-Murray, Christine Ebersole and Jodi Long. Everyone has been tremendous to work with. It has been the highlight of my career.

MG: Does it still feel like stand-up due to the live-audience aspect?
SB: I think the only element to stand-up that could be parlayed to doing it in front of a live studio audience is us comics feel more comfortable. I never get nervous. You can put 200 people in front of me or put 5,000 people in front of me. I feel very comfortable and I’ve been doing it for 14 years of my life. The only thing I have a problem with people saying with have a laugh track on our show. We don’t. We earn the laughs that we get. We don’t tamper with them. It’s not our fault that the audience is enjoying themselves at the taping [laughs].

MG: Working with your friends, you find it hard to keep it serious? or is that the magic of the show?
SB: [laughs] There has been times when we try not to goof off too much. I think towards the end of shooting it started to feel like summer vacation. We knew the end was near and people got giddy and had fun. But when push came to shove and they said action, everyone delivered and always tried their best. Hopefully people enjoy the show.

MG: What do you have planned next? Stand-up tour? Season two?
SB: Hopefully we keep the numbers we have and get to come back for another season. Ultimately my primary motivation is to drive people back to my live performances and stand-up. Hopefully the show goes well and I get to do it for many more seasons to come with my pals. I also had a third one-hour special in the can that I was getting ready to film, before the show got picked up. So at some time, I would like to film that.

Steve Lemme talks Broken Lizard, new film “I Heart Shakey” and comedy tour with Kevin Heffernan

Steve Lemme is known best for being a member of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard.  He has co-star in “Super Troopers”, “Beerfest” and “Club Dread”.  He is taking the lead role in the upcoming 3D family film “I Heart Shakey”.  Steve is also currently touring comedy clubs with Broken Lizard co-member Kevin Heffernan.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Steve about his new film and also his current comedy tour.

Mike Gencarelli: “I Heart Shakey” looks like sweet family film and a sharp right turn from your work with Broken Lizard, what did you enjoy most about it?
Steve Lemme: Actually, I can honestly say it was the best acting experience I have had. When we made the Broken Lizard films, it’s been an ensemble. Right off the bat, we got to the set and I got to rehearsals and realized I had 90 pages of disalogue to learn. Suddenly I had a much greater responsible because I was “the guy”. It then became aware to me that I would be acting with only a 9-year old girl and a dog. The conversation I had with the director was that I was going to have to be pillar of strength and experience here. In someway, I think I grew up a little bit. With the Broken Lizard movies, you always have to be improving and acting on your toes. I think you have to be more so with this film. You find yourself right in the middle of your lines and all of the sudden the dog pulls you off in a different direction. You have to put a greater amount of focus into this. It is also harder not to do comedy certain times. Overall it was just a great experience.

MG: As a new parent yourself, did that contribute to your playing J.T. O’Neil?
SL: The truth is we did the movie before my baby was born or my wife was pregnant. So some people have said that this experience gave me the desire to be a dad…and I wouldn’t deny it. The girl that play my daughter in the film, Riley, after a week or two I became very naturally protective of her. We were spending 14 hours a day together and we bonded. So the running joke is she made me want to be a dad.

MG: You’ve known director Kevin Cooper since college and collaborated with Broken Lizard, how was it reuniting?
SL: We met when he was in NYU film school and Broken Lizard has just started. I acted in his first two student films. He went to Hollywood then and worked for Michael Bay and Jim Cameron. He then moved back to Chicago and became a professor of film production at Columbia College. When we were kids we always talked about making our careers about working together and makings tons of movies together. We just bonded in that way. He called me up a few years ago and sent me the script for “Shakey” and asked me to play the lead. It is a kids movie and so far from the stuff I have done. Overall it was a great experience for me and also a challenge. It was a low-budget feature being shot in 3D and with a dog.

MG: How was it shooting your first film in 3D?
SL: I had mixed feeling about it honestly. In terms of the distribution of the film, since 3Dmovies are so popular right now. But what we are finding it is actually hindering our distribution. Then people are thinking to themselves it was going to cost much more to market and cost the audience more as well. You are then going to be competing with the Pixar movies for 3D screens and be bumped in a heartbeat. On a shoestring budget, shooting 3D is such a time constraint. You are really at the mercy of the 3D cameras.

MG: Was it exciting to work 80’s legends Steven Guttenberg and Beverly D’Angelo?
SL: Well I only got to work with Beverly for one day. In the film her character and my character don’t get along, she doesn’t like me. So I think she was a method actor…so in between takes she would just sort of glare at me [laughs]. So I didn’t enjoy my day with Beverly very much. But Guttenberg and I, we had a great time shooting together. We are both very immature guys. He was in “Police Academy” movies and I was in “Super Troopers”. We really had a blast working together.

MG: You also reunite in this film with Philippe Brenninkmeyer from “Super Troopers”; planned or not?
SL: They were looking for local German actor, who has a good sense of humor. I told them I knew a guy but they were going to have to bring him down from Los Angeles. He showed up on set and just nailed it. He is one of the best characters in the movie. Of course awesome to work with again.

MG: Tell us about your currently comedy tour with Kevin Heffernan?
SL: Broken Lizard started off as a stand-up comedy group. We wanted to do more of that with sketches and that culminated a few years ago with a Comedy Central special. Kevin and I decided afterwards that we liked it so much that we wanted to do more. The problem with the Broken Lizard tour is that we each only got like ten minutes of time. I felt I had a lot more to say and Kevin felt the same. Jay wanted to get back to directing TV. Paul was going off to direct a script he did. Eric was focusing on doing motivation speaking. Kevin and I decided to put together this show and have been touring for the last year and a half. We are going to shooting this show as well for a special during our stop in San Francisco. We are having a blast.

MG: What do you have planned next either solo or with Broken Lizard?
SL: Kevin and I have been writing a lot together. We just sold a show to NBC for us to act/write in. On the side, when the group is not together, Kevin and I have taken it up to write a new Broken Lizard script. Our agent is telling us we are going to hit every comedy club in the country. So after a year and a half, we still haven’t been to the same place twice. So we are just building our stand up reputation and really enjoying it.

Steve Alten reports his novel “Domain” is being turned into movie before December 2012!

According to author Steve Alten in his May newsletter, he is reporting that his “Domain” series is being turned into a film set for release in November 2012, just in time for the ‘end’ on December 21, 2012.

Here is what Steve reported below:
“Three years ago I optioned the DOMAIN dramatic rights to a film company out of Columbia that has done a few low budget, hi-octane features. DOMAIN would be a big fish for them, but they do quality work. According to their lead producer, they’d film in June and release in November (English, no subtitles). Fingers crossed, updates in June.”

Here is the premise for Steve Alten’s “Domain”:
Archaeologist Julius Gabriel has devoted his life to studying the Mayan calendar, a 2,500-year-old enigma that ends abruptly on December 21, 2012. Many believe this foretells the end of the world. Julius is convinced it’s one of many pieces to a puzzle that could lead to the salvation of our species. He has passed on his knowledge to the only person who ever believed his theories—his son Mick.

It is now the fall of 2012 and Mick is still haunted by his father’s predictions. He’s been committed to a Miami asylum for paranoid schizophrenia, and the dawn of his most feared prophecies is upon him. When inquisitive psychologist Dominique Vazquez joins the team at the South Florida Treatment Center, Mick finds a new listener for his warnings of the coming Apocalypse. What Dominique doesn’t realize is that she is his last hope of saving humanity.