NFL New England Patriots’ Bret Lockett talks about his new single “Get It All”

Bret Lockett is a football safety for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. He also recently released a single called “Get It All”. Media Mikes got a chance to chat with Bret about his new single and his transition from football to music.

Adam Lawton: What made you want to get in to music?
Bret Lockett: I’m an extremely creative person and love art. Music is a huge passion of mine and has been ever since a very young age. I was in the percussion section in band my 6th and 7th grade years and was in choir my 8th grade year. It’s a part of me as well as in my genes from my late cousin Etta James to my Uncle Vernon Green.

AL: Can you tell us about your single “Get It All”?
BL: My newest single “Get It All” is a collaboration with ex MJJ star Prince Syc and the very talented Dejaun Turrentine. We came together to inspire people to literally get it all, not through greed or haphazardly dreaming but through dedication, hard work, and perseverance. We also started a campaign with the same message called the “Get It All Campaign”. You can find more about the campaign by going to www.GetItAllCampaign.com

AL: Do you plan on releasing anymore tracks?
BL: Yes I will be releasing my mix tape called “Inception” later on this year. It has 18 classics on it which I put my blood, sweat, and tears into.

AL: What do thinks is harder writing/performing or NFL training camp?
BL: They are both a challenge because they are so different but one in the same. Writing requires creativity, cleverness, and emotion while performing on the field requires emotion, relentless effort, and reaction. Furthermore, to do both at the highest level take an unwavering commitment and a persistant drive to want to be the best and win.

AL: Other upcoming plans or projects?
BL: My team and I always have a few different plans going on so stay tuned because you never know what’s next!

 

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Los Angeles based rock band Attaloss talk about their first EP

The Los Angeles based rock band Attaloss released their first EP earlier this year titled “Attaloss”. The band is currently out on tour in support of the release and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with the band about the formation of the group and the making of the EP.

Adam Lawton:  What led to you guys starting the band?
Chris Johansen: The band started about two years ago. We had all came from other projects and each of us knew what we did and didn’t want to do. We really took our time and made sure we had great people who were in it for the right reasons. We took about 6 months getting it all together as we all came from different cities. When we all finally met each other in person we knew we had the right group.

AL: How would you describe the band’s sound? And what makes Attaloss stand out from other bands?
Matt: I would probably put us in the modern rock category. We have a very popular sound (Laughs). Other than our live show which I think is what really sets us apart, I would say our music is fresh and it keeps your attention.

AL: How would you describe the band’s latest release?
Danny Aguiluz: We are extremely excited about this album. We have been on tour now since before its release in March. We have gotten a lot of really great feedback from people who have bought the album which has been cool. We are very proud of how it turned out.

AL: What was the recording process like for the album?
Dakota Clark: We wrote as many songs together as a band as we could. I think we had 30 verse/choruses written. After that we got a hold of our producer and just rapid fired the songs at him. He would tell us what songs he thought would work and which ones didn’t. We would then take the remaining songs and work them really hard. We started out with 5 songs which we worked on for about 2 months in the studio. Once we had those done we thought it would be cool to just do a full length album. We wanted to show people that not only could we play rock music but we could also play acoustic.

AL: Did you find performing the acoustic versions of the songs to be any harder than the electric versions?
CJ: The songs were all originally written on an acoustic guitar. It was almost like taking them back to their birth. During this time we were still a four piece until Matt Geronimo joined us. He added a whole other layer of harmonies and vocals. Those added things really changed how the songs sounded. When we went back to playing them acoustically it opened up an entire new world of sound which we were really excited about.

AL: Are there plans to release a video for any of the songs?
CJ: We have  a video for our first single “Open Door”. We had also planned on doing another single/video release however the director who we worked with on “Open Door” got called out to shoot in China. This guys works all over the world and we had him locked in for about two weeks but then he got called out. Hopefully when we are done with this tour we will be able to work on the video.

AL: How much longer will you be out touring? And what other plans does the band have?
Zo Perea: We are actually going to be out for a couple more months. When we get back we plan to take 6 months off from touring to do some songwriting and hopefully release a new EP.
CJ: This whole year has been about being on the road. We will have been on the road for more than half the year when this tour wraps up. This has been about just getting out there and building up our fan base. We have been lucky enough to get on 27 different radio stations and made our way out to those places that have supported us. We now know a lot more about who we are as a band and I think our next release will be a true 12-14 song album.

Michael Biehn & Jennifer Blanc-Biehn talk about working together on “The Victim”

Michael Biehn & Jennifer Blanc-Biehn are husband/wife team who made the horror/thriller “The Victim”.  The duo took on numerous role with Jennifer acting and producing, while Michael acted as well as written and directed the film.  The film is set to be released in theaters August 24th then will head to Blu-ray and DVD shortly after.  I highly recommend this film.  It is a real labor of love from the two of them and it really shows.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Michael and Jennifer about their experience from making the film to getting it released.

Mike Gencarelli: Michael, since this is your directoral debut with “The Victim”; what is the main thing you have taken away from this experience?
Michael Biehn: It was a lot more work then I expected it to be and was also a lot more time consuming. After I directed it then went into post-production, but my job didn’t end there. I thought my job was over, maybe I would have be right if I was working for a studio. But at that point then I had to get out and get people to see this movie. I spent just about a year then traveling with it.  We went to Los Angeles, Kansas City, San Francisco, Texas, Louisville and all over Canada. As we were showing the movie, it started getting some good reviews and some buzz among the distributors. Finally Anchor Bay picked it up and I have been happy with working with them.

MG: How was it working together as a team on this project?
Jennifer Blanc-Biehn: Well we worked together before over the years but we never worked together in this capacity before where I was producing and starring opposite him and he was directing and writing. Then we added our production company into the mix, so it is a whole new world. We are both intense, passionate and volatile people anyway. This project was intense and volatile but at the same time really fun and collaborative. As passionate as we get, I always trust Michael and I have his back. Overall, it was a really great experience.
MB: Jennifer is really a born producer. It never would have gotten made without her. She found the money and the source material. The movie was original based on another screenplay, but it was a page one rewrite. Jennifer handled everything from the beginning. She pushed everything through and worked very hard for this film.

MG: The film itself is quite intense, what was each of yours biggest challenge?
JBB: I think for me trying to stay calm was a big challenge. My character didn’t need to stay calm, so it was probably ok.
MB: Well, the biggest challenge for me was obviously time. I shot the movie in 12 days. I had never worked on a project before that time in any less than 24 days. I always feel like if you have $100,000 dollars and 6 weeks to build a house, you can probably build a pretty nice house. If you got $10,000 dollars and a week to build a house, its going to be a different kind of house. We were doing like 45 setups a day. Also when I found out we were going to make this movie, we had to actually start filming right away. I had to finish the script and do pre-production at the same time. Any filmmakers will tell you is not the ideal way to do it. Basically our pre-production was crewing up, casting, location scouting and dealing with the Screen Actors Guild. When you have that little time, I told the people that brought the money to the table that I would do this but I would have to have all the creative control, production control and all the decision making. It was a lot of responsibility but also fun and exsilerating at the same time to finally be the boss. It’s like I had the Jim Cameron contract on a Roger Corman movie.

MG: Jennifer, what do you enjoy most about producing aspect of the film?
JBB: I think what I enjoy the most is not the logistics of producing, which is dealing with the crews etc. That is more of a line producer. I am better at championing a film, sifting out material that excites me, getting other people excited and finding investors. I like the more social aspect of producing. I am also good at nagging people with emails [laughs]. I can find a role for myself instead of having other people dictate what I do. I started off as an actress and only an actress. So it has been fun to be able to find a role I like and possibly find a way to make it work. Lastly, I like the idea of bringing stuff to Michael and getting him excited about it.

MG: So how/when can people get a chance to see “The Victim”?
JBB: We open a theater in NY on August 24th at the Quad Cinema. On that same day we also premiere at FrightFest UK at the Empire Cinema. We play a week in NY, then we play for a week in Los Angeles at Quentin Taratino’s theater, the New Beverly Cinema on September 7th. Then on September 18th, we go to Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, Amazon streaming, Netflix, iTunes, Redbox…the whole deal.

MG: What do you guys have planned next together?
JBB: We are going to start a remake at the beginning of next year it is called “Hidden in the Woods”. We found this movie at Fantastia International Film Festival and both of us just fell in love with this filmmaker. It is directed by a guy named Patricio Valladares and he is just unbelievable and up-and-coming.
MB: He is just a great young filmmaker and only like 22 years old. I happen to be on the jury at the festival and got to see his film early. I have never been a fan of the “Saw” and “Hostel” series, but this one even though it has a lot of violence it doesn’t feel gratuitous. So we are looking forward to this project quite a bit.

Chris Butler & Sam Fell talk about directing “ParaNorman” and working with stop-motion animation

Chris Butler & Sam Fell are the co-directors of Laika Animation’s latest stop-motion animation film “ParaNorman”.  The film is the first stop-motion film to utilize a 3D color printer to create replacement faces for its puppets and breaks all the boundaries which past stop-motion films have faced.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the directors about working in the horror genre and blending it with stop-motion animation.

Mike Gencarelli: I am a big stop-motion fan but I see a trend with “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, Coraline” and “ParaNorman” all tend to have creepy aspects, why and do you you feel this aspect relates to stop motion?
Chris Butler: I think is the tradition of the medium. If you trace it back to its early days, in the 1890’s the very first efforts in stop-motion were creepy. “The Dancing Skeleton” was one of the first back in 1897. I think what it comes down to is they feature inanimate objects moving on their own accord, which in itself is something like black magic going on there. If you look at the pioneers of this medium, there was a certain creepiness to them. There has always been that slightly unsettling side of it. I believe it is entirely to do with it being real objects moving. When Tim Burton comes along and re-invents with with “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, he is playing on that and having fun with that slightly dark sense of humor. I don’t think it should be the limitation of the medium by any means. “ParaNorman” is kind of spooky but I think there shouldn’t be any real limits to the kind of stories you can tell with stop-motion.

MG: This is the first stop-motion film to utilize a 3D color printer to create replacement faces for its puppets, tell us about about that decision?
Sam Fell: Obviously these things aren’t designed for stop-motion animation. You are always taking a chance. We wanted to do something different on this film. They got a color printer in the studio and we did some experiments with it initially with the character Neil, who is covered in  freckles. When we saw it on the tested it big screen it just looked so promising. It was one of those spine-tingling moments, when you see something you’ve never seen before. We didn’t know if it was going to work on all the characters or if it would literally last over a two year production. We took a risk and went for it but it really turned out so well. When you see how the light fall on those faces or comes through them. I think the characters look less like dolls and are even more tangible and believable.

MG: I read that Norman alone has about 8,000 faces, how does that compare from other stop-motion films?
SF: I think with the numbers of faces, it has increased exponentially. I think Norman had a possible 1.5 million expressions at hand. We would never even use all of them since I don’t even think the human face can use that many expression. But that was at our finger tips. So pretty much whatever we wanted to do with this character we were able to do. It was really freeing because in the past stop-motion has had it limitations. There was replacement heads as far back as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” but they had to be hand-sculpted, so they were limited. Pretty much every limitation has been blown up on this movie. The boundaries in place of previous stop-motion movies, we broke them all. That was how we felt going into this. We thought let’s push this as far as we can and see what we can achieve. Everything we tried to do…it worked.

MG: The film is animated for a younger audience but is quite scary for some kids, how can you reflect?
SF: I think we wanted to make a family movie more than a kids movie. Something aimed at the teens or actually “tweens”. It is about an 11 year old boy and reflects their lives on screen. We wanted laughs, as well as scares and in a way it is like designing a roller coaster ride. We actually think that kids like scares. It is firstly entertaining and it also adds in a dramatic story. The hero, in this case a kid, has real challenges. You take them through it and show the darkness can be defeated. I think it makes for a great ride. We didn’t want to wimp out on the scares. We may loose the toddlers or the preschoolers but that is the risk you take. It is very hard to make a film for everybody…without being bland.
CB: We were specifically referencing an era of movie making that I think was a little braver. The movie that I grew up watching like “The Goonies” and “Ghostbusters”. They weren’t afraid to have scares and show an imperfect world. But they did it with humor and style. I miss those movies and I feel that they are also sorely missed by many people. So it was nice to play in that era again. Even though it was a contemporary movie, it was very much referenced by the films of the 80’s.

MG: I loved the Easter eggs for horror fans like the hockey mask and ringtone, any other hidden gems?
CB: The movie is so dripped with references that I don’t even known where to start. It is not just stuff that was in the script. I wrote in the bar in touch is called the Bargento, in reference to the old Italian movies. The name of Neil’s dead dog is Bub, which is the name of the tamed zombie in “Day of the Dead”. Most of the characters surnames are either horror movie directors or writers, even if they do not appear in the movie. On top of that we have a whole crew of movie fanatics, who were responsible for making the props and locations. They stick all kinds of stuff in there as well. It is difficult to even pin-point how much there is actually in there. Sam’s name even ended up on the old tramps underpants [laughs].
SF: I didn’t ask for that by the way [laughs].

 

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Pentatonix’s Avi Kaplan & Scott Hoying talk about NBC’s “The Sing Off”

Scott Hoying and Avi Kaplan are members of the Arlington, Texas based a cappella group Pentatonix. The group burst on to the scene last fall after winning season 3 of NBC’s “The Sing Off” Media Mikes talked recently with Scott and Avi about the group’s formation as well as their new hit single “Starships”.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how the group came together?
Scott Hoying: We started out as a trio. Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado and I all grew up together. Later when I move to Los Angeles to go to school I decided I wanted to try out for “The Sing Off”. I talked to my friend and he told me I was going to need a really awesome beat boxer and bass if I wanted to have a chance at the show. We found Avi through a friend as he had a really great reputation for singing bass in the Los Angeles area. We later found our beat boxer Kevin Olusola through a viral video of him playingcello and beat boxing. We sent him an email and after a phone call or two he was interested and he came out. We actually all met the day before the audition. Everything just clicked and the audition went really well. Now we are all best friends and it’s a happy go lucky story.

AL: What was it like competing on the show while you were still getting to know each other as a group?
SH: It was an interesting thing. On the show we were developing both as a group and as friends. If you watched the show you could actually see how we interacted with each other. We were also finding out how to work with each other as we didn’t really have a leader. We sort of sat in a circle and just talked. It was super hard to do at first because we were all different people and liked different music. We eventually clicked and ever since things just keep getting better and better.

AL: Was it hard working with the cameras around?
SH: Not really. I expected it to be hard but literally after one day you forget that they are there. You just go on your way and do what you have to do.

AL: What have been your thoughts about the success of your EP and its first single“Starships”?
SH: It been overwhelmingly exciting. We never thought a year ago when we were trying out for the show that anything would become of it. To be able to do what we love and are passionate about is really great. When we made the EP we worked so hard on it and the scary thing is people don’t really buy albums anymore. We were afraid it wasn’t going to do well.  People have been really intense about supporting us and we really appreciate that. Things are going better than we have ever hoped. We are still celebrating.
Avi Kaplan: The whole thing for me has been a dream comes true. It’s an amazing experience. This is just something that I have always wanted to do. I never thought this type of music would be my profession. I am getting to live my dream everyday and it is just so amazing.

AL: What made you choose “Starships” as the first single?
AK: When we were arranging all of the songs “Starships” was one of the last songs we arranged. The song just stuck out and we were very proud of the arrangement. We thought that this song would be a great spring board for our album.

AL: What were the writing/recording sessions like for the EP?
AK: It was definitely a collective process as we all have different styles. We appreciate all types of music so things were very collective.

AL: What are the group’s plans for the rest of this year?
AK: We really want to start recording our next EP or LP. We also want to start working on our Christmas Album. Besides touring those are the two things on our plate right now. We have a few different shows already scheduled and will be announcing more as the dates become available.
SH: We are going to be touring in a lot of different places. Even though were not doing an official tour nationwide. We plan to do a number of shows in different areas where it will feel like a tour.

Ghoul’s Digestor talks about new album and touring with Gwar

Digestor is the guitarist/vocalist for the thrash metal band Ghoul. The band hails from Creepsylvania by way of Oakland, California and recently released their 5th full-length studio album titled “Transmission Zero”. Media Mikes had that chance to talk with Digestor briefly about the band and their plans for the coming months.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how the concept for the band came about?
Digestor: It seemed natural. We are hooded cannibals with limited musical ability who lived beneath a fog-enshrouded graveyard.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands line-up
Digestor: I, Digestor, play guitar and sing, Cremator plays bass and sings, Dissector plays guitar and sings, and Fermentor plays drums. We are also joined by Killbot, Mr. Fang, Baron Samedi, Destructor, and our loyal and idiotic Numbskull. Each of these guys spend most of their time tripping over our cables and unplugging us while spurting various liquids into the slack jawed faces of our fans.

AL: How would you describe the band’s sound?
Digestor: Splatterthrash!

AL: What are the plans for the next Ghoul album?
Digestor: We just put the newest album out about six months ago! Hold your horses, buddy!

AL: The band just finished up a tour run with Gwar and Municipal Waste. What are the bands plans for the rest of the year?
Digestor: At the end of May we will be in Maryland playing the Maryland Death Fest and after that we go to Texas for Chaos in Tejas. We also have a few select dates with Occultist and then Toxic Holocaust!

 

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Breckin Meyer & Mark-Paul Gosselaar talk about Season 2 on TNT’s “Franklin & Bash”

Breckin Meyer & Mark-Paul Gosselaar are the stars of TNT’s hit law drama “Franklin & Bash”. The show returns June 5th for its second second. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the guys about working on the show and what we can expect from season two.

Mike Gencarelli: What should we expect from your characters in the second season?
Breckin Meyer: I think with the second season, when we jump off, we start with Franklin & Bash becoming equity partners in the firm which, for them, is a great thing because, I mean, it’s more money for toys. But on the bad side, it is a lot more responsibility and also a lot more repercussions for their actions. It’s no longer just the chance of them getting thrown in jail for contempt or getting fired. Now they got 500 employees behind them and they can really cause some damage, and also them representing – if they have to make rain. They have to sign corporate companies and these are guys that are used to fighting against. So how do you stay true to your values when you’re working for them instead of fighting them.

MG: Were you surprised at how well people received Franklin & Bash that first season?
Mark-Paul Goselaar: Oh, see, I have to go really quickly because Breckin took up so much time [laughs]. Yes, we were actually pretty surprised that we had such a big audience.
BM: I’m sorry, Mark-Paul, that’s all the time we have.
MPG: But, you know, I think Breckin and I are huge fans of our own show and so it was just a pleasurable surprise to find that people liked it as much as we did.

MG: So let’s talk about relationships, though. I mean, you guys got any love interests coming in the cards this season? Mark-Paul?
MPG: Yes, there are about two episodes worth of a relationship for Bash. One of the things that we try to do is not have anything come in between the two boys. So – because relationships don’t last all that long. They just sort of give you a glimpse of a different side of the two characters.  I think for me -I don’t know about how Breckin feels about it, but I like when the guys are together so it’s hard for us to bring in another relationship that isn’t Franklin or Bash. But we did do a bit of it over the course of the season. I had a girlfriend and Breckin’s character had a girlfriend as well.

MG: This show kind of stands out from other law shows out there.  Can you describe why you thought the show is so unique?
BM: I think from the get-go what Mark-Paul and I can both respond to is the fact that even though there is a case of a (weak atmosphere) that you have in normal procedurals, with this show, we go home with the characters. It really is – the cases are more of a backdrop. What the show’s really about is the relationship between the two lifelong friends and their kind of dysfunctional family of a law firm.

MG: Now I hear you didn’t really know each other that well before Franklin & Bash started. Have you developed a real-life friendship? And does that translate to having even more fun on screen do you think?
MPG: Well, I knew Breckin. I just wasn’t a fan of his work.
BM: Yes, that’s accurate.
MPG: Yes, that’s pretty accurate. But go ahead, Breckin.
BM: I was hoping that they would get literally anybody but Mark-Paul Goselaar. And then once they got him, it really was just – the money was green so what am I supposed to do, you know, at that point. But no, I think I can honestly it’s by far my favorite day job I’ve ever had. And I think it shows up on screen. The show lives or dies by whether or not you believe these guys are lifelong friends.
MPG: And by daytime job he means by post hole digging and drawing cars as his – car lot, so. This ranks right up there with one of his favorite jobs.
BM: It ranks right up there will pulling weeds.

MG: You guys have a really great list of guest stars for season two. Is there anyone that you are particularly excited about working with?
BM: I was really happy to have Seth Green come on because he’s a buddy and Mark Paul has been on Robot Chicken and we kind of thought he owed us. He has to return the favor. Who else? We have – Shawn Aston was a lot of fun. Rick Fox. Kevin Nealon was great. Chris Klein came on. We’ve had a lot of fun with our guys because, I mean, what you’re offering as actor is basically a week to come and play, you know, to come and have a really good time and our set is a fun set. It’s a fun time. It’s not super serious with no egos. And you get to come play for a week so we had Beau Bridges come back. Jane Seymour comes on as Peter’s mom so we meet Mama Bash.
MPG: I just echo what Breckin just said, but we had Sherry Appleby come on and play your girlfriend and Kat Foster came on and played my girlfriend and, boy, we just had a lot of fun, it just is a testament to our show and the word around sort of the industry is that it’s a great set to be a part of and come have fun and enjoy yourself.

MG: Do you have a lot of room available for improv?
BM: They give us the script. We always make sure we get a take completely on book. And then once we’ve got it definitely in the can, we kind of take our leash off and they say we can – we riff a little bit just as kind of the (buttons), the ins and outs of scenes, we may riff a little bit and it’s more for us. It’s more just to help us kind of solidify these guy’s friendships in our mind, that these guys are real friends who riff and goof off. So luckily enough we all kind of get these characters enough. Sometimes some of that stuff ends up in the show. But I mean, it’s fun to be able to riff like that. It just keeps us alive while we’re having long days.

MG: The first season kind of pushed the envelope when they portrayed Franklin and Bash’s private lives. Is season two going to be pushing the envelope even further?
MPG: I hope so.
BM: We start off full frontal this year.
MPG: We not only go to their private lives but we go to their private parts.
BM: Yes.

MG: Well, besides your private parts, it is different for a legal drama to see their private lives? I mean you guys are party animals.
BM: Yes, I like that we go home with the guys. I mean, I like that we follow their relationship. It’s not just about what happens behind the doors of the courtroom. It’s about what happened in these guy’s lives and how it leads over into the courtroom. But really, it’s about these characters.
MPG: But I also think that they’re less party animals and they really just enjoy the fruits of their labor. I don’t think that they’re the guys that like to sip out of red cups and, you know, and throw a party just to throw a party. They really enjoy having people around them and using their money and having a good time. But they’re not fraternal in that way, right. I don’t think it’s like they’re a party – I mean, we’ve always fought that. We’ve always said you can’t make these guys just party animals because that’s not fun for everyone. You’ve got to have an element – these guys have to have a level of maturity and I think there’s a fine balance to that I think that we’ve created on this show. And, again, with this year, giving them more responsibilities, making them equity partners and (Intel Daniels), having them take on harder cases with bigger clients. And representing people that in the past that they fought against will create for the audience as well as for the characters, the maturity of that that I think you need to have to make this show work. It can’t just all be fun and, you know, parties.
BM: It’s just that’s their approach. There’s more drama – and I think that’s why this season is better than last season, is because there’s more drama and the way that these guys deal with drama is by being more liked and being fun and that allows the audience to not even realize that they’re watching a legal drama in that sense.

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.

Hector Jimenez and Kevin Farley talk about co-starring in “Cellmates”

Hector Jimenez and Kevin Farley star in the upcoming film “Cellmates”, which was written and directed by Jesse Baget. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with both Kevin and Hector about the film and what it was like working with Tom Sizemore and Stacey Keach.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the film?
Kevin Farley: It is a film about Leroy Lowe which is a character played by Tom Sizemore. Leroy grew up in the south during the 70’s and is a member of the Klu Klux Clan. Leroy ends up in prison with my character Bubba who also is a member of the clan. Over the course of the movie as Leroy becomes involved with Hector’s character Emilio he starts to have a change of heart.

AL: Can you each describe your characters in the film?
Hector Jimenez: I play the chatty Emilio Ortiz who ends up in jail after trying to start a migrant work riot.
KF: I play Bubba who is a lifelong member of the Klu Klux Clan. I first meet Tom in our prison cell and we are like brothers. Our characters get along really well.My character really likes potatoes and doesn’t mind being in jail. I am kind of a lethargic,simple guy.

AL: How did you both become attached to the project?
KF: I knew the script was going around and Jesse had me read for the role of Bubba. I guess he ended up liking what he saw.
HJ: The role of Emilio was one that was written specifically for me.

AL: What was it like working with Tom Sizemore and Stacy Keach?
HJ: It was a great experience working with such good actors. It was really great to just be able to watch them work. They are legends.
KF: I totally agree with that. For me it was such an honor just to be on set.

AL: Do you guys have any funny behind the scenes stories?
KF: (Laughs) everyone pretty much behaved. The scene where I choke on the potato, I have to say really hurt. Tom has a lot of great Hollywood stories. He would spend most of his down time telling all these different stories. I think he is actually coming out with a book which will have a bunch of things in there.

AL: Can you tell us what the release plans are for the film?
KF: The film is premiering in New York and Los Angeles on June 1st. Things are still being working out for further release plans.

AL: What other projects are you guys currently working on?

HJ: I am set to start shooting a film in Porte Vallarta.
KF: I am going to be starting work on a film starring Hayley Duff titled “A Love/Like Ours”. I also am going to be working on another film with Jesse Baget.

Dave and Dave A Go Talk: An Interview with Dave Wakeling of the English Beat

Ska /skä/ (noun) – A style of fast popular music having a strong offbeat and originating in Jamaica in the 1960s, a forerunner of reggae.

If you’ve ever listened to music by the likes of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Madness, Fishbone or The Specials – as well as bands that infuse elements of ska into their music like No Doubt and Reel Big Fish – you know that the genre’s intense energy makes it almost impossible not to get out of your seat and start to move your feet to the rockinest, rock-steady rhythm around. The Beat – known in the US as The English Beat – was one of the bands at the forefront of ska’s second revival (or “wave”) and one of its best.  With hits like “Save it for Later” and “Mirror in the Bathroom”, the English Beat had the ability to propel audience members into a skankin’ dance frenzy.

And they still do.

Dave Wakeling, the lead singer and guitarist of the English Beat, and the entourage of musicians that round out the current iteration of the band extensively tour the United States and feed audiences a steady dose of high-energy music that often manages to weave in politically-astute and cutting lyrics.  The crowd sweats, the band sweats and, by night’s end, both are all the better for it.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dave about the driving force that powers the English Beat’s seemingly non-stop touring, a great soundtrack album that never happened, how a cup of kindness can occasionally have a very bitter taste and why he might cause quite a ruckus when visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Dave Picton: The English Beat tours VERY extensively.  How do you maintain such a rigorous schedule given that your shows are intensely energetic?
Dave Wakeling: Well, we’ve got a decent balance.  Every other month we go on tour for about three weeks and we do about 15 or 17 shows in 21 days.  The other five weeks we’re here at home and we just work Fridays and Saturdays in California normally driving up and down the coast depending.  That way, although we’re doing an enormous amount of work, we’re all getting time off in those weeks so it all works out very well.  We never stay on the road more than three weeks because you start scraping the barrel.  It’s always nice to be able to have fresh real emotions to do the songs.  We can do our memory muscle emotion but it’s not the same. It doesn’t connect as well. It’s kind of dissatisfying.  But if I do a show right under the right circumstances, I feel fresher at the end of the show than I did at the start.  So it’s sort of nurturing to me at this point.

DP: I went to one of your shows about a year ago and it was the first time I had seen you guys.  It was certainly the most fun I’ve ever had at a concert.
DW: Thanks! Where was it?

DP: In Fairfield, Connecticut at FTC’s Stage One.
DW: Right, the train spot.

DP: Yep, that’s the one.  Everyone in the crowd danced throughout the entire show and I’d never really seen that happen before to that level of intensity, but I’m guessing that’s something you’re quite accustomed to.
DW: You know, sometimes people are surprised the first time we get to a venue and they’re not expecting it.  Now, at Fairfield, we’ve been a good few times and people come with an anxious anticipation of having a good dance, I think. It’s all the more benefit, Dave, I think because times are times are really tight. Our social lives and our work lives particularly can be quite tense and the world, at least according to the TV news, is a scary place.  So it’s nice to be able to go someplace with a peer group and throw all caution to the wind and feel at one with yourself and your memories and everybody else in the room.  It’s a rare occasion and the people tell us that they’re really grateful of it and that it can see them through until the next Wednesday.

DP: That certainly was the case for me.  In fact, the show spawned probably the most justified concert t-shirt purchase I’ve ever made because, by the end of your first set, I was absolutely drenched with sweat.  So I bought the shirt, went into the bathroom and changed out of my wet towel of a shirt in favor of my newly-bought English Beat shirt.  Sure enough, by the end of the show, that one was drenched too.
DW:  Ah yes!  Bless your heart.  That’s the ticket.  I end up soaking wet at the end of the shows too, but I don’t really notice it, even though you might start to get tired heading into the second hour of the show after about the one-hour mark. After about an hour and fifteen minutes, you’re back up there again with the energy from the audience. So it’s kind of like what the band does in the first half, the audience holds us back up with in the second half.

DP: I’m curious to know about how the band came together in 1978.
DW: What was most remarkable about it that it was the first person we met played a particular instrument ended up playing that instrument in the band. There weren’t any auditions or “what about this guy” or “what about that guy” and so it was very much like what you might see in a movie script about putting a band together.  Everything all came together so wonderfully easy that, right at the beginning, you had a sense that it wasn’t going to last for very long. [laughs] It had a certain magical charm to it that this group of people were put together for a certain purpose.  And it turned out that it was, you know.  We managed to combine dance music with a gentle social commentary or a subtle gentle prodding. So we wanted to combine both types of prodding, the sexual and the social. [laughs] And it worked perfectly.  Even now, I’m getting messages from people at Occupy Wall Street saying that the Beat album is being played, that the songs “Big Shot” and “Stand Down Margaret” are deemed particularly appropriate for the times.  One of the huge benefits is that if you’re lucky enough to get a chance to be in the moment fully, then it never really goes away.  Once you’ve made that connection – even though sometimes the waves of ska take seven years in between high tides – it always flows back and all of a sudden lyrics become pertinent again.

DP: Any chance you’d put together some new material and release a new studio album that might include songs in which the lyrics deal with current issues and socio-political topics?
DW: We’re in the process of doing that now, actually. I’ve got just over 20 songs started and some of them are my favorite songs that I’ve ever done.  I always feel that, though.  But, interestingly, I was just going though them and initially I hadn’t really thought about them in terms of an album.  But then I started trying to figure out what songs would I put on an album this week and it sort of changed a little bit.  It was a bit more romantic of a mood a few months ago but now the streets are filling up with people and some of the other songs are starting to become very timely and appropriate.  The English Beat and the General Public catalog are both being re-licensed and re-released at the beginning of next year and so I’m hoping to take a jolly good slipstream off the back of some of that and introduce my new songs. I’ve been playing them out live.  We played a few of them in Fairfield over the past couple of years.  Just as we get a song ready, we might play it at somewhere that is friendly to us.  They’re going down really great.  I’ve been battling with how to get the songs out sort of algebraically correct as everything’s done with computers nowadays and still manage to retain the live groove and excitement of the live concert and, after much exploration, we finally found a way to do it.  Once we got our technique down, we banged out a lot of the songs with full spirit and they sound tremendous.  I’m really pleased.

DP:  The English Beat is currently a tale of two bands: The English Beat fronted by you here in the States and The Beat that includes two of your original band mates from the early 80’s.  How does that work – especially if you want to perform shows or tour in the UK?
DW: Well, it was fine.  Now it’s causing enormous trouble.  I wish I had never suggested it in the first place. You know, your kindness can come back and bite you in the ass, can’t it? Now it’s difficult for me to find a gig in England because they can’t call me “The Beat” because [Ranking] Roger’s used that name so much and they can’t call me “The English Beat” because they’ll think that everybody will think that’s a cover band covering the Beat’s songs.  I find myself with the irony of trying to arrange a song in my hometown and finding it more difficult than I expected! [laughs]  It’s the troubles of ska, Dave.  I tell you it’s not as easy as it looks, mate! It looks like one knees-up party but – oh no! – the Machiavellian things that go on in the background. [laughs]

DP: So where do you see the future of ska going?
DW: I think it’s got a rosy future. It’s always been a music of happy protest and I think there’s going to be much of a taste for that in the upcoming months and year.  We found during the punk times or during the 90’s that if you protest too much, it starts to sound like whining and you actually wind up distancing yourself more from the people that you want to reach.  Ska – and reggae I suppose – has always had that ability to sound like a party from a distance and then as you dig into the lyrics, you hear that there singing about starving children but it’s acceptable because it’s been put to you in such a delicious way with the beat and it hits your spirit way before it tries to stretch your mind.  I think we’re going to start to see a lot of that especially as there aren’t really a lot of record companies that are telling artists “don’t do this” or “don’t do that” to try to modify them for the charts.  I think you’re going to see a lot more people just singing straight from their heart and straight into the computer.  I dare say there will be a renaissance.  I don’t know what wave of ska we’re on now.  I think maybe the fifth wave is about to come, I’m not sure.  But I imagine that we shall see one and I’ll be there trying to flagrantly take best advantage of it as soon as it happens you can be rest assured of that! [laughs]

DP:  In addition to being a fan of your music, I’ve always been a fan of UB40, a band that started in Birmingham and got together the same year that the Beat did, 1978. Why do you think was there such a massive ska and reggae movement in your hometown?
DW: The guys in UB40 and I grew up within a mile of one another as kids.  It’s remarkable.  There were also the Selector and the Specials in Coventry and Dexy’s Midnight Runners in Birmingham at the same time. I think more than anything else it was a post-punk reaction where punk hadn’t really been a huge deal in Birmingham.  Most of the people who had made any name of it in that genre had gone off to London to do it, as is traditional in Birmingham.  But immediately post-punk, for reasons I’ve never really fully understood, a terrific scene developed that we weren’t even aware of, frankly, because who was to know that UB40 was going to become the biggest-selling reggae band in the world or that Dexy’s Midnight Runners were going to be lauded as poets for decades?  Nobody had that idea of that at the time, really.  We were just three local pub bands trying to be sarcastic about each other behind each other’s backs! [laughs]

DP: Your song “March of the Swivelheads”, an instrumental version that you released of “Rotating Head”, was used extremely effectively in the ending chase sequence in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.
DW: It was, wasn’t it?

DP: Definitely. And it’s probably the song that’s most associated with the movie – with the possible exception of Yello’s “Oh Yeah”.  Yet, despite the degree to which music was at the core of the movie and how successful the film was at the box office, no soundtrack album was ever released.  Do you know why this was the case?
DW:  I never really fully understood why.  I think what was happening at that time was that John Hughes was starting to develop his own company, John Hughes Music, and all of a sudden trying to license tracks three ways rather than two became thoroughly complicated.  I think that was what happened because we were fully anticipating a soundtrack at the time and, of course, it was going to be a fairly great one.

DP: And probably a big seller, too based on the fact that soundtrack albums to his movies usually moved lots of copies because kids dug the music and, in order to relive the movie experience, bought the soundtrack album or cassette given that, at the time, you couldn’t go out and buy a videotape of the film or download it.  I know a lot of soundtracks from John Hughes movies wound up in my record collection for that very reason.
DW:  Right. You know, they’re making a documentary about that film now. I’ve been invited to speak on the DVD of that documentary but I haven’t really decided yet.  I’m not really sure, to be honest.

DP: While we’re on the topic of soundtracks and collections of songs by various artists, if I snagged you iPod, turned it on and pressed “random”, what would I hear?
DW: Well, you’d be very lucky if you managed to snag my iPod, because I don’t have one and I never will.  I don’t think they sound any good.  My son, a few years ago, came running up all disappointed like “Oh, dad! My iPod’s broken!”  And I said “Good!” [laughs]  You know, the instruments in a classical orchestra were effectively designed around human’s emotional points –  chakras is what I call them – and analog recording was designed around those same parameters.  But when you switch the whole thing to digital, one of the things that happens is that the instruments don’t resonate at the same places they used to.  So the old people who say the “album” vinyl version of Led Zeppelin I sounds warmer than when they listen to it on their iPods are absolutely correct.

DP:  I noticed that on the English Beat’s facebook page that you had posted a picture of your hallmark teardrop-shaped guitar that had made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  How did that come to happen?
DW: Yes, I just put the photographs of it up yesterday on my facebook as well as that, recently in my hometown local newspaper, the Birmingham Evening Mail, printed out what they thought were their all-time top 10 bands to come out of Birmingham and we came fifth after Black Sabbath, the Moody Blues, Duran Duran and ELO.  So to be able to post both of those things in the same week was stunning to me.  I first met the people associated with the Hall of Fame when we opened for Devo in Cleveland and they started coming to a few shows.  They gave us a tour of the museum and we got to go back behind the scenes. You have to have a coat on and a pair of gloves sort of like a doctor to go back in this spot. You’re not allowed to touch anything.   We saw one of Bob Marley’s dreadlocks in a box covered in paper tissue.  They opened another box and there was a longish envelope that had been slit open and on the inside in John Lennon’s handwriting was an early draft of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” with all of these crossings-out and changes.  You could see where he was playing with the words and the rhymes.  Absolutely stunning.  I had a fantastic time.  I got to meet the guy that runs it and it turned out that in 1980 he’d been a college radio guy in Ann Arbor and, unbeknownst to me, I’d been his first interview ever on the air and I was really kind to him, I guess and helped him through and now he’s the head honcho at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! [laughs] So on my way out, they asked me if I enjoyed myself and I said that it was fantastic.  The only placed that had ever moved me more, really, was the Motown Museum I have to visit every time I go to Detroit.  So they said, “OK…well when do we get your guitar?” and I was like “WHAT?!?” [laughs] It was sad though, to be honest, because I played that particular guitar at every gig for 27 years.  So it came the morning to hand it in and I had a little play on it in the hotel room, talked to it a bit and shed a couple of tears.  They fell on the guitar so I polished the guitar with tears, put it in the box and took it in.  I still feel kind of guilty because I know it doesn’t know what’s going on.  It thinks it’s just waiting between the sound check and the gig, you know? “No, no…Dave will be here in a minute. Long break before the show tonight isn’t it?” [laughs]  So I have to talk to it whenever I go back and look at it in the case and try to explain the situation, but then I start gathering crowds of tourists looking at me. “Oh look, daddy!  That old man is talking to a guitar!” I’ll have to stop, let the crowd disburse and then go back and have another chat.

DP:  So if the Hall of Fame gets broken into and that guitar is the only thing missing as a result, I think I’ll be able to tell the authorities who their main suspect should be, right?

DW:Yeah! Either that or it probably walked and came back! [laughs] One day, I may have to use it at a show in Cleveland.  The paperwork is extensive because it’s now not a musical instrument.  It’s insured as an artifact.  In fact, nobody’s allowed to touch it without white gloves – including myself.  A lot of people said it sounded like I played it with gloves on anyway, so it’ll all work out! [laughs]

 For more information about the English Beat and tour dates visit:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EnglishBeatFans
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/englishbeatfans
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/officialbeatspace
Dave’s official web page: http://www.davewakeling.com/home.asp

Interview with Cris D’Annunzio

Cris D’Annunzio recently starred in the acclaimed short film “Clemency”, which showed at the 2010 Sundance Festival and won several awards from other film festivals. He wrote and co-starred in the Ray Liotta and Rory Culkin film “Chasing 3000”, which follows the real-life story of two brothers driving across country to see Baseball Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente get his 3,000 hit with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While the film was made in 2008, it will get its official release in Summer 2010. Movie Mikes had the chance to talk to Cris to discuss “Chasing 3000” and his flourishing career.

Click here to purchase “Chasing 3000” DVD

Mike Gencarelli: It has not been an easy road for “Chasing 3000.” How do you feel now that it is finally hitting the big screen?
Cris D’Annunzio: It’s interesting. Obviously I’m very excited that it’s finally coming out and hitting the big screen. And yet there’s also…I don’t know how to describe it, it’s not disappointing…I just feel a little bad that it’s taken the film so long to get out there because it’s a really sweet film. I mean, it premiered three years ago at the Tribeca Film Festival. I judge certain things by my wife and my kids’ reaction and they just loved it. I think it’s a nice family, kid oriented film. It’s too bad that it had to take the route it took to get here but, with that being said, I’m really thrilled that it’s going to get a release. Hopefully it will pick up some steam after people see it and it should do real well on home video.

Mike Gencarelli: You co-wrote the screenplay with Bill Mikita. How was that experience?
Cris D’Annunzio: Any creative/artistic endeavor has it’s challenges. Ultimately the story really came to me through Bill. It’s loosely based on his life and growing up with his brother, who is the oldest surviving person IN THE WORLD with MS. The story really touched me when he first told it to me and my experiences with my own sister who, unfortunately, passed away a year and a half ago…she had a disease called Lupus…the experiences that I had growing up. My parents divorced and my mom basically took my sister and I and left. It’s a lot like the story in “Chasing 3000.” Oddly enough, what brought my sister and I closer together was baseball. We both shared a fondness for baseball. The Mets were our favorite team. The experience of writing it with Bill…with both of us bringing our personal situations and our personal histories into it…it’s interesting that we’re talking about this over the 4th of July weekend. It was nine years ago, over the 4th of July weekend, that we locked ourselves in an office at Warner Brothers and wrote the script over a long three day weekend. It’s kind of interesting when you have two grown men sitting in a room crying a lot and writing. It was a good experience.

Mike Gencarelli: You play Principal Motley in the film. Tell us about your character?
Cris D’Annunzio: What happens in the film is that the two boys, played by Trevor Morgan and Rory Culkin, move with their mom to California. They grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to California primarily because the younger brother has this disease and the warmer weather is better for his lungs. Of course the older brother becomes despondent and misses his friends and has a lot of teen angst. He starts to not do well in school and get in trouble and I’m kind of the principal who…not necessarily sets him on the right course but…disciplines him, puts an ultimatum to him. He kind of makes him realize that California is not the place he needs to be in at this moment. So he and his brother “borrow” their mother’s car and head across the country to see Roberto Clemente get his 3000th hit. Hopefully you’ll see it…hopefully a lot of people will see it. The casting director did a fantastic job of assembling a pretty well known cast. It has Ray Liotta and Lauren Holly and Ricardo Chivara from “Desperate Housewives.” The story, I think, touched a lot of people and that really touches me. I think that’s why a lot of people got involved in this project.

MG: Tell us about your one man play “Digging Up Dad”? Any plans to return to the stage?
CD: I just completed the run about a month ago…we ran for about three months. The play was an autobiographical solo show about my relationship with my father and his mysterious death at an early age…he died when he was 48 under very mysterious circumstances. The story is really about me trying to come to terms with that and also the fact that my mother left him when I was 12. At that age I was still developing my knowledge and my opinions about my father and it wasn’t until after he passed
that a lot of his life and what he did and was involved with…it wasn’t until then that I became aware of them. I grew up with it and I was aware of it. And I’ll use the word “mafia” but today I can’t whole heartedly tell you or anybody with any certainty that there is such a thing as the mafia, at least not in the way we think it should be based on what we see on television and in the movies. Maybe that was what my father was involved in but my father certainly wasn’t John Gotti. If anything he was…I would liken him to Paulie Walnuts from “The Sopranos” which was about the level of involvement that he was at.

MG: Your short film, “Clemency” has been hitting the festival circuit. Tell us about it?
CD: It’s a little project that I’m very excited about. It’s an interesting piece. It’s been playing the festival circuit but it’s kind of been categorized as a horror film but it’s really more of a mystery/suspense thriller. The way it’s shot and edited is a lot like the film “Se7en.” It’s about a sociopath in the mountains of West Virginia that abducts and murders some girls. One sister actually escapes and comes back many years later. The guy has spent many years in prison on death row and right before he’s scheduled to be executed he receives clemency from the governor who rules him insane. The sister who survived comes back and poses as a reporter. She gets in to interview him and ends up killing him. I play the murderer, which is a 180 degree turn from the character I play in “Chasing 3000.”

MG: Tell us about your upcoming web series, “Vampire Mob”?
CD: The first episode aired this past week and it runs six episodes. It’s done by some people I got involved with when I did my one man show, the Ruskin Group Theater. Every month they do what they call a “cafe” play. Five writers come in on Friday morning and they’re given a theme and two head shots and are told to write a ten minute play based on the theme and based on the two actors they’ve been given the pictures of. They write the play in the morning, give the play to the actors at noon. They rehearse it from noon until six and then they have the opening night performance at seven and the closing night performance at nine that evening. One of the writers, Joe Wilson, had written a play loosely based on a vampire hit man for the mob and that gave him the idea to do the web series. It’s about a mob hit man who gets shot and makes a deal with the devil not to die. But in choosing to live forever he also has to choose to be a vampire. He figures that since most of the work he does is at night anyway this would be perfect for him!

Click here to purchase “Chasing 3000” DVD

Interview with Paris Themmen

Paris Themmen played Mike TeeVee in 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. Paris took time out on his birthday to talk to Movie Mikes and discuss how it was working on the film, what he has done since and how he is hoping for a 40th anniversary cast reunion.

Click here to purchase “Willy Wonka” merchandise

Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally get the role of Mike TeeVee in “Willy Wonka”?
Paris Themmen: I started acting when I was six.  My mother brought me into an agent and I went up for a commercial.  The first commercial I ever went up for was for Jiff Peanut Butter where I had to sit on top of a mountain of peanuts.  Of course it was just an angled chicken wire creation.  I hooked the first commercial I went up for and then the second commercial was for a product called “Crazy Bubbles.”  I was the only six year old who could say “Crazy Bubbles Bubble Blowing Bubble Bath.”  I could say it three times fast so they hired me.  In those days there weren’t many child actors in New York.  So I kept doing commercials.  Eventually I booked a Broadway show called “Mame” with Ann Miller as Auntie Mame.  So I was doing a lot of commercials and theater in New York…I did Circle in the Square…and when I was around eleven years old I auditioned for the film.  As I recall there was at least one call back…not a lot.  As I said, there weren’t really a million child actors in New York…maybe me and a few others.  I had a call back and I remember being in a phone booth with my mother and getting the news and both of us being very excited that we were both going to go to Munich, Germany to film the movie.

Mike Gencarelli: What was your most memorable moment on the set of “Willy Wonka”
Paris Themmen: My most fondest memory was the chocolate room.  Unlike Julie who didn’t like it because, strangely, she doesn’t like chocolate, I loved the Pure Imagination room.  As you may have heard elsewhere, the reaction shot that they took of us from the top of the stairs was a true reaction shot.  It was a closed set and we had never seen the room before.  So when they opened the doors…unlike today where they digitize things or build them in portions…it was all laid out for us.  We were probably 30 or 40 feet above it looking down at the whole room…the river flowing, the waterfall flowing, the boat moving.  I think that was the first day we saw the Oompa Loompas.  It was such an amazing feeling to be looking down at what the crew had been laboring on.  To see the fruits of their labors was amazing.  That was probably my favorite moment on shooting the film.

Mike Gencarelli: Do you still keep in touch with the cast and crew?
Paris Themmen: Mostly by email, but yes.  Here are the people I’ve seen in the last 20 years:  I’ve seen each of the four other kids, I’ve seen Diana Sole, who played Charlie’s mom. I’ve seen Rusty Goff, who played the lead Oompa Loompa.  I’ve seen Mel Stuart, who directed the film.  I’ve seen Frawley Becker, who was the script consultant.  I think for people that were directly associated with the movie…that’s it.  No wait!  I saw Leonard Stone one day.  I was doing commercial counseling sessions and he came in as a commercial actor for me.  And that’s it.  I know a lot of them have passed…like Jack Albertson.   Oh, and I did see Gene (Wilder) once.  I saw him about a year ago at a Barnes and Noble signing for his book.  And the thing about being Gene is…I was eleven, the other kids were thirteen.  People ask me who was nice and who was mean.  Julie, surprisingly, was a very well mannered, well behaved British young woman.  Peter, true to form, was a very gentle and well behaved young man.  Michael didn’t speak a lot of English and Denise was a lot like me…sort of a hardened child actor.  But I was two years younger…and I was trouble.  I was rambunctious and precocious everywhere on the set and Gene remembered this.  He tells a story about being asked about a part in the additional footage on the DVD when someone asks “what about me” and he replies “oh, he was definitely a brat.”  Then he pauses, looks into the camera and says, “But Paris…You know I love you now,” in a very Gene Wilder sort of way.  And another one that I love…Gene was asked what he thought about working with the kids and he said, “four of them are great and one of them I’m going to kill tomorrow!”  Wait a minute, my girlfriend is correcting me.  He says “Four of them are fantastic, one of them I’m going to shoot in the head tomorrow!”  (laughs).  So years later I go to this book signing and I say, “Hi Gene, I’m Paris, I played Mike TeeVee” and he says, sure as rain, “Oh…you grew a brat.”  So that’s his recollection of me. And I told him that I’d like to think I’ve had time to change and he said, “yes, of course…I’m sure you have.”  But like I say I was sorta precocious…much like my character.

MG: After “Willy Wonka”,  you didn’t do a lot of other films.  Why?
PT: The real question is, “Paris, what have you done since?”  There are a couple of answers.  One:  After the film I went back to Broadway in a play called “The Rothchilds.”  I also did the first national tour of the show.  I did a couple more commercials.  I basically worked from six to sixteen.  Then I got my degree in theater at NYU and they didn’t want you to work at that time.  They wanted you to be process oriented, not results oriented.  So they really didn’t want you to work.  Then I got out of college, got distracted and discovered other things.  I did a few commercials in my thirties and I was in the background of some films, mostly because I was working in film production.  The other side of that question is what have I done NOT as an actor and…that is a lot.  I’ve travelled all over the world…I backpacked through sixty different countries on six continents.  Particularly in some very exotic locations like Borneo, the Sahara Desert, the Amazon, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal.  Just try to imagine the cool adventurous things you’d want to do in your life…I’ve done many of them.  Swimming with sharks…piranhas.  I’ve done some sky diving.  I’ve also had some great business experiences…managing money with Smith-Barney…being a real estate broker…film production, like I said.  I worked in casting for awhile.  I was what they call a Walt Disney Imagineer, during when they were building Euro Disney.  I’ve started two or three businesses.  So I haven’t been just sitting in my room contemplating my navel.  I’ve been out doing things.  In terms of major motion pictures that people will remember…that’s it…one film, “Willy Wonka”.  One good film.

MG: With next year being the 40th anniversary of the film, how do you feel about its impact over the years?
PT: I agree with you that the film has had a life of its own.  And it’s been passed down from parents to children throughout the years.  The script that Roald Dahl wrote appeals not only to children but also to adults, with many adult references, so the parents don’t mind watching it with the kids.  And they are in fact excited about bestowing it upon their children.  And as the film has grown there are very old Wonka fans now and there are very young Wonka fans now.  So in terms of my reaction to that I think it’s great.  I think it deserves to be where it is.  Obviously at the time none of us expected that it would be that way.  But watching the film I understand its enduring popularity.

MG: Ok, the dreaded question, have you seen the remake from 2005? Your feelings?
PT: Here’s my experience with the new film…there was a time right after it came out when people would ask me “what do you think of the new film” and I would say, “Oh, I think it’s great!”  I don’t remember exactly what I said but I know I was positive.  But as the years go by and I speak to fans who tell me that they prefer the old one I feel more and more comfortable expressing my opinion which is that the new one had some things about it that I liked…things like the squirrels.  And by that I mean Veruca getting eaten by squirrels, which was true to the book.  I liked the pink Seahorse boat.  I thought the chocolate looked more authentic in the river then ours.  But I thought that there were many ways that they missed in the new one.  Chief among them is the relationship between Wonka and Charlie.  I felt that, although the new movie is called “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the focus in fact was more on Willy Wonka, while the old movie was called “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” but the emphasis was more on Charlie.  In terms of the relationship with Wonka, I think that one of the key moments in the old film was in the end when Gene says “My boy you’ve won,” and there’s this great moment that happens between him and Charlie.  To me that’s the heart of the problem in the center of the film.  The choices Johnny Depp made, and far be it from me to judge Johnny Depp…he’s one of our finest actors…created such a neurotic persona so that there was no relationship between Wonka and Charlie.  I thought that was the biggest problem.

MG: Do you ever think we will see another cast reunion any time soon? Perhaps for the 40th anniversary?
PT: There is some talk of doing something but I really can’t give specifics until things are nailed down.  But, yes, we’re definitely talking about doing that, either at the end of this year, which technically be 40 years since we shot the film or in 2011.

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Interview with Sarah Clarke

Sarah Clarke is known for her role as Bella Swan’s mom, Renee, in “The Twilight Saga”. She also co-stars in TNT’s new dramady “Men of a Certain Age” and will return for Season 2 this Fall. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Sarah to discuss the “Twilight” craze that is currently overtaking the world.

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Mike Gencarelli: How do you feel about being a part of the “Twilight Saga”?
Sarah Clarke: Well it is mind blowing. You just kind of go and do your work though. I am fortunate that because I do have a family and I feel like I am in my own little world with that. But every once in a while I peek out and to be a part of something like this, it is fun. But I enjoy being able to switch back and forth.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role in “Eclipse”?
Sarah Clarke: They obviously want to focus on the vampire love affair going on. The mom, poor thing, is down in Florida trying to wrestle everything that is going on. I really like what they have established with our relationship. I felt like our scene in “Eclipse” really gave us something to work with.

Mike Gencarelli: Your fans have some devotion to these films, I haven’t seen this type of fan craze since like “Star Wars”.
Sarah Clarke: I know! I think what it is, is that people are excited because they have these books in their mind for so long. They have read them over and over and are getting to see it come to life. It’s great.

MG: Were you a fan of the book series before you became involved?
SC: No I didn’t know about the books. I feel the books started it but the movies have definitely made this a bigger phenomenon. Fans have really come to this franchise in droves. You don’t even have to be a fan of the books as much any more. You get people from all sides and it is great how things can grow exponentially and make it even bigger.

MG: Have you actually watched the movies so far and do you have a favorite?
SC: They are all great in the way that the story is built. I still hold the first one to be the most fascinating because its when everyone is introduced. What I liked about “Eclipse” is you are given a glimpse into their back story. Like Emmett and Rosalie. You get that in the first book though a little bit. It is really rich for cinematic experience though.

MG: How was it working with the the cast on both films?
SC: It was great. Mostly all the stuff I’ve done is with Kristen (Stewart) and Rob (Pattinson). The first movie, I am on the phone and then I go to the hospital with them. In “Eclipse”, they visit me in Florida. So my main experience has been with Kristen. I feel that she is such a strong actress. So grounded in the face of everything that is going on. It was really easy to feel maternal towards her [laughs]. She is such a lovely person.

MG: For us non-readers, what should we expect from your character in the next chapter, “Breaking Dawn, Part 1”?
SC: I can’t give you anything. It is never the same [laughing]. Whatever my character is doing in the book, they could change it for the movie. I do known they get married. We all know that from the book. Mothers are always involved when there is a marriage.

MG: You worked on one of my favorite new shows of 2009, “Men of a Certain Age”, tell us about working on that?
SC: It was fantastic. I am going to be coming back next season as well. Ray (Romano), Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher are phenomenal. I worked mainly with Ray. He is just so much fun. They gave me such fun stuff to do. I can only hope the same fun will continue this coming season.

MG: You played Nina Myers in “24”, with the show finally seeing its end, how do you feel?
SC: I did. It was like an end of an era to see the show end. When I went to the finale party it was great to see so much of the crew that was still involved. The fact they they were able to keep it such a viable show for eight seasons is great. We didn’t think it was going to get past second two.

MG: What do you have planned next?
SC: “Men of a Certain Age” and the next “Twilight” are what I have going on for the rest of this year. I want to get my new born daughter pretty established before I embark on anything too time consuming. If something comes around I can’t pass it up, I will do that. But otherwise I am set for the year.

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