Robert Wuhl talks about Tim Burton’s Batman and the legacy of HBO’s Arli$$

Robert Wuhl is best known as the creator and star of the television comedy series Arli$$ (1996–2002) and for his portrayal of newspaper reporter Alexander Knox in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about working with Tim Burton on Batman, his appearance in Supergirl and the legacy of Arli$$.

Diane Franklin talks about Better Off Dead, Terrorvision and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Diane Franklin is an icon from the 80’s having starred in “The Last American Virgin”, “Amityville II: The Possession”, “Better Off Dead”, “Terrorvision” and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”.

She is also an author with her latest book titled “Diane Franklin: The Excellent Curls of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s”.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Diane to discuss her rise to fame and also her current work in “The Amityville Murders”.

Dan Shor talks about TRON, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Star Trek

Dan Shor is know best for playing the supporting character Ram, in the movie, TRON. He also played the character Roy Kleinberg in the TRON: The Next Day epilogue to TRON: Legacy, a role that was reprised from TRON in which the character was listed as “Popcorn Co-Worker”. Besides being a veteran actor, he is also a director, writer and teacher with a career spanning 28 years.

Dan is also known for playing Billy the Kid in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. He also appeared “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek Voyager” playing Dr. Arridor.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Dan about these roles and reflect on the legacy of TRON.

Lia Beldam aka The Women from Room 237 talks about her role in “The Shining” and reflects on the films 40th Anniversary

You may not know Lia Beldam by name but she is forever the Woman from Room 237 in “The Shining” and also recently reprised in “Ready Player One”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Lia about her role and the legacy of the film celebrating it’s 40th anniversary.

Also be sure to check out our first interview with Lia back in 2013 – https://mediamikes.com/2013/04/lia-beldam-reflects-on-her-role-as-room-237s-guest-in-stanley-kubricks-the-shining/

Le Matos talks about scoring EXODE web series and movies TURBO KID and SUMMER OF ’84

Analog synths are the unstoppable weapons of the french canadian electronic band from Montreal, Le Matos. Its musical imprint is a powerful dancemachine, mix of pop melodies and melancholic sounds inspired by 80’s movie soundtrack composers such as Vangelis, John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, Shuki Levy and Goblin.

The band scored films like “Turbo Kid”, “Summer of ’84” and the recently released “EXODE”, the haunting sci-fi web series. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the men behind the band, Jean-Philippe Bernier and Jean Nicolas Leupi to discuss their music, how they got their band name and what is it was like working on these films/web series.

D.J. MacHale talks about “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” TV series and “Pendragon” Book Series

D.J. MacHale is a writer, director, executive producer and creator of several popular television series, including Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”.  As an author, his ten-volume book series:  Pendragon:  Journal of an Adventure Through Time and Space became a New York Times #1 bestseller.

Other notable television writing credits include the ABC Afterschool Specials, the pilot for the long-running PBS/CBS series Ghostwriter; and the HBO series Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective for which he received a CableAce nomination for writing.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with D.J. about “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, “Ghostwriter” and “Pendragon” via Zoom and the video is posted below! Please enjoy and leave comments below of your favorite episodes of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”.

Charles Bronson Look-alike Robert Bronzi talks about new film “Cry Havoc”

If you passed Robert Bronzi on the street you would definitely do a double take thinking that you have just passed the late actor Charles Bronson. Bronzi has taken Hollywood by storm recently and has starred in films like “Death Kiss”, Once Upon a Time in Deadwood” and most recently the horror film “Cry Havoc”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the Bronson doppelganger to discuss his films and likeness to Charles Bronson.

Mike Gencarelli: How does it feel to be called “The Hungarian Charles Bronson”?

Robert Bronzi: In my home town people know me as Robert or Bronzi because that is my stage name. Also, when I’m traveling in the country a lot of people want to take a photo with me, they congratulate me and wish me luck. I have to say it’s a very good feeling.

MG: When did you first get confronted about your likeness to Charles Bronson?

RB: As young man, pretty much  my whole life. So I cut my hair and moustache like Bronson. Many years ago in Hungary I worked as a horse breeder and horse trainer. At the horse breeding center we had a lot of   visitors every day, people told me “hey boy ! you know you look like Charles Bronson? ” I worked with my very good friend Peter, he would always say that I looked like him and he began  to call me Bronzi. So he gave me my nick name . After that everyone called me Bronzi and it became my artist name.

MG: Give us some background on your life before you started making movies in Hollywood?

RB: I’m an actor, musician and stuntman. I have done a lot of different and interesting things in my life. I worked in Hungary as a horse breeder and horse trainer. I performed at western shows in Hungary and Spain in different pieces. I’m an accordionist, I played music in bars, at festivals, weddings and private parties.

MG: Tell us what was it like filming in Western Leone, near Almeria, Spain, which was the site of much of the filming of the famous Sergio Leone/Charles Bronson western ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST?

RB: Well, I really enjoyed filming in Almeria as I worked there for quite a few years in the western village of TEXAS HOLLYWOOD TABERNAS as a stunt performer. There I met some of my acquaintances, my old colleagues, and a few of them are also featured in the film, and my acting partners are also wonderful and talented people. Every time I go to Almeria I feel like if I am going home. I really like that place and Spain too.

MG: How was it going from a revenge western to a horror movie like CRY HAVOC?

RB: My first western style movie was shot some years ago, also with Rene Perez . The name of the film was From Hell To The Wild West .This is a western movie with horror elements. CRY HAVOC is a horror and action movie without western elements. For me that was a new challenge, a new role what I tried to do with my best ability as an actor.

MG: You have worked with director Rene Perez on four films now; tell us about how this collaboration started?

RB: Rene Perez saw my photo on the Saloon wall in Spain in the western village where I worked as a stunt performer. He thought it was a photo of Charles Bronson years  ago hand asked the owner about the photo. When Rene found out it wasn’t Bronson, it was me, he told the owner, “I want to meet this guy”.

MG: I read you train in judo and Muay Thai; tell us about how you keep in shape?

RB: I work hard to keep my body in shape. In Hungary I have some good friends that help me get ready for the movies. They teach me martial arts such as judo and Thai boxing, and three times a week I visit the gym.

MG: What do you do when you are not acting?

RB: I have got some preferred hobbies. For example: Riding, archery, fishing, playing on my accordion and walking in the forest. I would also like to mention that I ‘m a member of a traditional preservation team in Hungary. When I have time I go with them to attend the traditional festivals where I use my sword, my replica firearms and of course my bow in the live show. Also I have different costumes from the very old times.

MG: What films do you have planned upcoming after CRY HAVOC?

RB: Currently I’m working on a few new projects. I can’t say much but in the near future you will see a lot of Bronzi action films .

Take Two guitarist Adam Lawton talks about the bands latest release “We Aren’t Big”

Take Two have been performing in and around the Tri-State area since the groups formation in 2012. The four piece band who lists Corning, NY as their home-base bring a unique mix of sounds and styles to the pop-punk genre which they associate themselves with. The group’s latest release “We Aren’t Big” is set for release on March 13th and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with bands guitarist Adam Lawton about the band, the new release and making the transition to a heavier sound.     

Ryan Albro: What can you tell us about Take Two?

Adam Lawton: The band is made up of Josh Cavaluzzi, AJ Kish, Nick Murray and I. The original line up of the band formed in 2012 while some the guys were going to college together in Upstate New York. After a short time they were looking for new guitarist and that’s when I joined the band. We put out our self-titled debut shortly after.  Around that same time we got hooked up with the Cold Cock Whiskey artist program which allowed us to connect with a bunch of other bands and play some new places around NY, NJ and PA. After a couple more lineup changes including Josh moving from drums to vocals and downsizing to a four piece we released two EP’s (Weekend Warriors and Natures Chicken) Through the release of those and connections we made we joined the Dirtbag Clothing Artist program and also started working with ACE Products Group both of which have been amazing! Because of them we were able attend our first winter and summer NAMM shows which took us to Los Angeles and Nashville. Now on March 13th we are set to release a brand new album titled “We Aren’t Big”   

RA: Can you give us some background on the new album We Aren’t Big?

AL: “We Aren’t Big” is the bands 4th studio release. It consists of 9 tracks four of which are brand new. The other five come from two previously released EP’s (Weekend Warriors and Natures Chicken). We re-recorded those with the current lineup of the band

RA: What was the inspiration for the album’s title?

AL: (Laughs) that started out as a joke between the guys in the band. We were on our way to a show one day and we stopped for some food. A couple of us had already ordered when the cashier asked our singer Josh if we were in a band. He replied “Yes, but we aren’t big”. Of course we all lost it and we were like “what do you mean we aren’t big!?” We are huge in our own minds. (Laughs) So since that day we all would joke with each other about being a band but it’s not big. When it came time to decide on an album name that one liner came up and it instantly stuck.

RA: Which songs are you most proud of from We Aren’t Big?

AL: We worked hard on all the songs so to pick just one or two is kind of tough. When you are putting these things together you get really attached to certain parts as you spend a lot of time playing them over and over to get them just right. For instance the breakdown in “Fall”, the verses of “Burner” and the solo of “Lock Up” are ones that stick out for me and fun to play.   

RA: What were your inspirations to blend metal and punk on the album?

AL: That was something that happened organically over time. Each time there was a lineup change we tweaked our sound a little bit. We have had this same line up now for quite some time and we are all into various forms of heavy music along with punk. One of the first new songs we had was “Burner” and being that song is fairly aggressive we figured that the other new songs we were going to include with it should follow suit.

RA: What are your thoughts on current influences in the punk genre?

AL: I think if you look at punk over the years it’s a genre that is always evolving and expanding. “Punk” is such a broad term now and there are just so many sub-genres of punk like Folk-Punk, Afro-Punk, Celtic-Punk you name it. I think punk is more of an idea or thought process in that you are doing something different than what is considered the “norm” at that time. You can be “punk” without looking or sounding any one specific way and that’s really cool.   

RA: What are Take Two’s upcoming touring plans and what’s next for the band?

AL: Coming up on March 14th we will be playing in Buffalo, NY with a bunch of great acts from up there. Being it’s the day after the record comes out we have decided to stream our set via facebook.com/official.taketwo starting at 8:30pme EST. We thought that would be cool way for more people to be able to check out the show and hear the new music in a live setting. From there we will be appearing at this year’s Launch Music Conference in Lancaster, PA. We will be making the rounds that weekend and promoting a song of ours that is featured on the Conference compilation record which they put out each year. Another cool thing we have coming out is we got hooked up with Phameless Records from Philadelphia and have a song appearing on a compilation they have put together so that’s going to be really cool as well. Aside from all of that we have shows booked through the fall around NY and PA and are always looking to add more whenever we can.

For more information on TAKE TWO and to get a copy of “We Aren’t Big” visit the bands official web page at www.officialtaketwo.com

Skillet’s John Cooper talks about the bands debut graphic novel “Eden”

John Cooper is the vocalist/bassist for the Platinum selling rock group Skillet. The band recently partnered with Z2 Comics to release their first graphic novel titled “Eden”. Media Mikes caught up with John and the band at New York Comic Con to discuss the creation of the book, its similarities to the group’s music and if there will be books to come in the future.    

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the bands new comic “Eden”?

John Cooper: I love comics and they are something I grew up with. I have always looked at Skillet as sort of a theatrical band. When I say theatrical I am meaning more from an operatic feel than that of a visual feel like Kiss or Alice Cooper. I had always envisioned doing a comic book as I see us all as characters. I had sort of put it off because if it’s not done right it can become terribly cheesy. On social media I am always posting about comics and I ended up getting a call from Z2 Comics asking if I would be interested in doing a graphic novel. I told them yes and that I had some story ideas but I wasn’t sure where to begin. They said that’s ok as they had some ideas of their own. I wanted to do something that was more science fiction as opposed to hero driven. I was looking for something with a post-apocalyptic feel but with a message of hope. That’s something you don’t see a lot. The book has sci-fi and super-natural elements mixed in with some religious undertones. In my view I think all great science-fiction have religious elements. When I say “religious” I’m not necessarily meaning Christianity but just religious. Films like “Dune”, “Blade Runner” and “Battlestar Galactica” are solid examples of that.

AL: How much collaboration went into the book?

JC: I brought the theme of a dying world filled with people all having the same dream which is leading them to paradise. I worked with some really great writers who helped me put together all the different ideas I had. Sadly the idea of the glowing eyes was not my idea but one I really liked as it was sort of an homage to “Dune” which is one of my all time favorite books.

Ian Lawton: What did the rest of the band think about the comic?

JC: The band loves the comic. At first I think they weren’t too sure what to expect. My wife Corey knew what I was going for as she knows me really well. I think it’s hard for people to understand what’s in your head when you are creating something. Once the book was done I think they were a little shocked as to how good it was and how emotional it is.

AL: Did the writing for “Eden” happen at the same time you were writing the band’s latest album “Victorious”?   

JC: Yes, I was writing for both things at the same time. It was a very crazy and busy two years. While these two things were going on I also released a side project EP titled “Fight the Fury” along with our drummer Jen’s side project “Ledger”. All of these things were basically written and released in two and half years. Writing for the comic was making me really want to write music so all of these things had me firing on all pistons. Each project worked off of one another.

IM: Was writing the book similar to writing music?

JC: I didn’t notice this until after the book was done and I had read it. I know that may sound sort of silly but, sometimes when you are writing you don’t always notice things others might as you are just going with what is coming out. After I read the book I felt as thou it was very similar to our music. The book is a little dark but it is meaningful. That’s what people say about Skillet songs and I think “Eden” has that same feel.

IM: Can you tell us about the special hardcover edition that will be available?

JC: That’s something that I am still waiting to see myself. I have seen parts of what are going to be in it and I am very excited for the finished version to be available. It’s going to have this really cool axe on it which is my weapon in the book. With this beard I sort of feel like a lumberjack and thought that an axe would be a perfect weapon as opposed to some of the other more futuristic weapons you see in the book.

AL: Is this just a one off book or are there plans to do others?

JC: The band is going to be out on the road until mid December so that’s going to have me tied up for a few months. We have started to talk a little about the possibility of more books but nothing is definite. I think it would be great to do a second one.

To order a copy “Eden” click here and to order Skillets latest album “Victorious” click here   

Oscar Winning Film Editor Paul Hirsch Talks About His Career and His New Book

Oscar winning film editor Paul Hirsch has been fortunate in that he has worked numerous times with two of Hollywood’s best known filmmakers, Brian DePalma and John Hughes.  He also won an Academy Award for his work (along with Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew) on one of the most popular films of all time, “Star Wars.”  With a book highlighting his career about to be released, Mr. Hirsch took the time to answer some questions about his lengthy career.

 

MIKE SMITH:  What drew you to become a film editor?

 

PAUL HIRSCH:  A number of things.  I was fascinated when I first saw a Moviola.  I was blown away by a festival of Orson Welles films.  I liked working with my hands, and was drawn to the tools.  I loved movies.

 

MS:  Other film editors I’ve interviewed had mentors they admired.  I recently spoke with Arthur Schmidt and he told me that he learned under Dede Allen and Neil Travis.  Did you have someone whose work you admired and/or who took you under their wing?

 

PH:  Brian DePalma was my mentor.  He encouraged me, empowered me, validated my work and deeply influenced me.  I was cutting his films from the age of 23, and so never worked under a professional feature film editor.  I learned by doing and studying how films I admired were cut.  I was sort of like the art students you see in museums, copying the masters.

 

MS:   How did you come to edit “Hi Mom” for Brian DePalma?

 

I had cut the trailer for “Greetings,” thanks to my brother.  When they got the money to do a sequel, titled “Son of Greetings,” Brian hired me to cut it.

 

MS:   Five or your first six films were with DePalma.  He is well known – and often criticized – for his use of split-screen (the prom from “Carrie” being a great example).  Was that something you discussed in the editing room or was that his original vision?

An example of the split screen process used in “Carrie”

PH:  Split screen is Brian’s thing.  I can’t take credit for it, but I do love and appreciate the tension that can result from juxtaposing images on the screen, even if, or rather, especially if, the screen isn’t actually split.  I’m referring to deep focus shots, which have become a lost art, where you have a near object on one side, and a distant one on the other.  Brian did that a lot, using split diopters, with tremendous success.

 

MS:   A lot of the young filmmakers in the 70s (DePalma, Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas) were very close with each other.  Is that how you were hired for “Star Wars?”

 

PH:  Yes.  Brian screened the final cut of “Carrie” for George and Marcia Lucas on their return from principal photography on”Star Wars” in England.  They needed help, and turned to me.

 

MS:  How difficult was it editing a film where you sometimes had to wait months for a finished special effects shot?

 

PH:  We had ways around that.  We would cut in place-holders or a piece of leader that we estimated was the right length.

 

MS:  You, along with Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew, received the Academy Award for your work on “Star Wars.”  Where do you keep your Oscar?

Richard Chew, Marcia Lucas and Paul Hirsch hoist their Oscars with presenter Farrah Fawcett

PH:  It’s on a bookshelf in my office.

 

MS:  You’ve done eleven films with DePalma but, surprisingly, not ‘The Untouchables.”  Was there a reason you didn’t cut that picture?

 

PH: I moved to the West Coast after “Blow Out.”  I didn’t cut a picture for Brian in the ensuing ten years.  We next worked together on “Raising Cain,” when he was living in California.

 

MS:  You also worked a lot with John Hughes.  How was he to work with and were there any major differences in the way he and DePalma approached a film?

 

PH:  John was a lot of fun to work with until he wasn’t.  He was a brilliant artist, but had mercurial moods.  But I had a great time working with him.  John was a writer, primarily, and his medium was words, by and large. Brian is a great visualist.  His ideas are primarily graphic, both in terms of camera movement, which no one does better, and in terms of visual story-telling, that is to say, how scenes can be constructed in the editing room.

 

MS:   Hal Ashby was a great film editor who went on to become a fine director.  Have you ever wanted to direct?

 

PH:  I did want to for a while, and then the fever broke.  I like working all the time, and editing afforded me that.  To me, directing was like perpetually running for office.  I’m more of an introvert, and editing suits me just fine.

 

MS:   Your most recent film was the Tom Cruise version of “The Mummy.”  What is the biggest difference between cutting a film now and forty-plus years ago?

 

PH:  There’s a lot more reliance on vfx now, which consumes a lot of time and energy.  And when I started out, directors were given much more discretion.  The director was the key creative figure in the package, often with final cut.  That happens less these days.  If a director had a hit back then, the studio would ask, “What do you want to do next?”  Today, the projects are developed by the studio, and the director is “cast” the same way you would choose an actor for a role.  Producers and studio executives are much more involved in the editing process these days.

 

MS:  What can you tell us about your new book?

Mr. Hirsch’s book will be released on November 1st and is currently available to order now on Amazon.com and other sites.

PH:  It’s an account of my adventures in Movie-land, my experiences of the last fifty years and what I learned during that time.  I write about the various projects I worked on, and the fascinating people I encountered.  I share some of the insights I picked up along the way as I made my way into the industry.  It’s not a how-to book, which I consider boring.  And it’s not a gossipy tell-all where I get revenge on the jerks I met along the way, which really weren’t that many when I think about it.  The people I got along with are much more interesting.  I meant it to be entertaining above all.  I hope people will read it for pleasure. I’ve had a number of friends read it.  Editors in particular seem to like it, but I think anyone who is curious about what goes on behind the scenes in our business will find it fun to read.

 

MS:  Are you working on anything new?

 

PH:  I’ve been working on the book for many years, first writing it, and then editing it.  I only just recently finished going over the page proofs.  I’m going to take my time now, reading scripts, and will see if anything pings my interest.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Horror Icon, Lin Shaye talks about her new film “Gothic Harvest”

Lin Shaye might be known best for her role of Elise Rainier in the “Insidious” franchise. Lin got started in horror back with “A Nightmare on Elm Street” through the recent “Ouija”, and its prequel “Ouija: Origin of Evil”. Shaye is also known for her comedic roles with the Farrelly brothers, including Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Lin about her new film “Gothic Harvest”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got involved with “Gothic Harvest”?
Lin Shaye: I got involved with the film because of Chris Kobin, who is the writer and one of the producers. I have worked with Chris before, we did the “2001 Maniacs” movies together. Bill Moseley, my co-star for this film also starred in “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams” taking over the lead from Robert Englund, so we have worked together before also. It was an interesting story for me. I have high regard for Chris. He is a smart guy and a very loyal person. He approached me and asked if I wanted to be apart of it, so that’s how I got involved.

MG: Speaking of being trapped, what was it like being restricted to a wheelchair in the movie?
LS: It actually helps with the character in many regards. Being stuck anywhere, especially mobility, it takes a lot of muscle power to move you around. It takes a lot of real muscle to move. We had a really old wheelchair. Nowadays, wheelchairs are made with ball bearings and they spin and do wheelies and they maneuver amazingly. Not back then, you really needed to push to get them through doorways. You have to use your whole body to move them forward, not just your arms. It was a little bit jaunting and gave me totally new respect for disabled people that need to negotiate that in order to get anywhere. It was very difficult. To try and get somewhere it created emotionally a sense of frustration, which was perfect for the character.

MG: You’ve been in horror films from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” all the way through to the “Insidious” franchise; did you ever think you would have become such a horror icon?
LS: NEVER [laughs]. I am just grateful that I am getting to continue to work on such exciting projects. All of the things I have done leading up to this, I don’t really think in terms of genre. I think in terms of storytelling and character. Those are the determining factors for me in order to do a film. I love comedy also. I don’t gravitate to one genre over another. With acting, you making a real impact on people and I feel a real responsibility to looking for material that is about something important. Not education, per se, but reminding people of what is important in life. I just feel very privileged. Especially Elise in “Insidious”, people have asked me why I think she is popular and that is because she is a giver not a taker. I honestly believe people feel safe with her and that is part of her popularity.

MG: Do you have a personal favorite horror film?
LS: I thought “Hush” was great, out of the new horror films. I thought that was a really scary film with such a simple premise…but my favorite horror film is “The Shining”. I don’t think anyone has made a film that is quite as terrifying as that was and that still holds up today.

MG: Any more plans for the “Insidious” franchise?
LS: There is a rumor but I haven’t seen anything specific. I kind of know what they are thinking and I know the line that they are looking into but I don’t know when it would be because Blumhouse has so much going on right now. The “Insidious” franchise really exploded for them as a company as well as the “Purge” films. I don’t know anything definite but there is a rumor that there will be more.

MG: You’ve also done comedy like “Dumb and Dumber”, “Kingpin”, and “There’s Something About Mary”; how’s it like switching between genres?
LS: The lines all blur in terms of genre. It is really about what is the core of the character. What’s fun for me and even when I was a little kid, I remember loving the idea of being able to step into someone else’s life and disappearing. As an actor you have the luxury of being your buried feelings up in the forefront. It is a very exciting experience. I just feel lucky fortunate of not drawing lines in terms of genre but just finding the truth of the person I am playing.

MG: What do you have upcoming next?
LS: There was a little film I did called “Room for Rent” that is one Amazon Prime. I want everyone to see it. It is some of the best work that I have ever done. It is not a horror film but more of a psychology thriller about a woman’s decline into insanity really. I am very proud of it. Also I am doing the new “Penny Dreadful” series called “City of Angels” for Showtime. I have never done a TV series and it is big machinery. It has a fantastic cast and fantastic scripts. There are ten episodes and I will be in six of them. I play a fabulous character. Nathan Lane and I sort of play sidekicks. John Logan is the creator and he is exceptional. I am very excited for this project and I just hope I do a good job at the end of the day.

Author Matt Brady talks about his new book “The Science of Rick and Morty”

Matt Brady is a high school science teacher and pop culture writer based in North Carolina. Prior to working in education, Brady co-founded and was editor-in-chief of Newsarama, which received the first Eisner Award for Best Comics-related Journalism. Brady is also the founder of The Science Of…, a website that uses pop culture to help us better understand science. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Matt about his new book “The Science of Rick and Morty”.

Mike Gencarelli: When did you first encounter Cartoon Network’s Rick and Morty and why did it spark your interest?
Matt Brady: I think I found it like a lot of its audience – through the word of mouth of the internet – memes, clips and jokes. I got into it shortly after season 1 had wrapped so I inhaled that, and was waiting and then watching along with everyone else for season 2 and 3.

I dug it from the start due to the characters. I guess it’s probably not the best thing to say that every now and then, Rick would have a line or a comeback I wish I had – or rather, could – use with someone, and I love it. The dynamic between all the characters was something new, and went in directions that I hadn’t seen before – which made it even better.

The science was honestly, at the start, gravy. I really liked the call outs and the references to larger concepts with scientific footing, but yeah – it was the characters that hooked me, and the science that helped to keep me.

MG: Being a high school science teacher, tell us how and why you use pop culture, like Rick and Morty, in your classroom?
MB: After I left Newsarama.com ten years or so ago, I went straight into teaching at a Title 1 high school. “Title 1” has nothing to do with athletics or honestly, anything that…braggy. It’s just a classification that schools are in when a set percentage of their students qualify for free and reduced lunch. In simpler words, it’s an index of poverty.

So there I was, a middle-aged white dude in a class of minority students who were giving me nothing but the side-eye. I figured out fast that I needed some kind of middle ground where we could all meet, and that was pop culture. I was still steeped in it, so I tried it out with my students…I think my first foray was a Flash problem set about velocity. Looking back on it, it was pretty rough, but hey – there was a sheet with a picture of The Flash on it, and some science stuff that they recognized.

Using pop culture helps to engage my kids with the material, and gives them a sense of “ownership” – they feel that they, in a way, “own” say, the CW’s Flash or Arrow (at that time, they were huge with my kids), so their attraction would pull them along. Moving on, I found The Fast and the Furious, Deadpool, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and loads more references that helped to engage my kids.

I mean, when you think about it – pop culture has no native language…it’s just cool. With some judicious picking of samples that are appropriate for your students and aligned to the science standard you’re teaching, you can have kids eating out of your hand. And on top of that, my kids started seeing me as a person, rather than “that white guy,” or just a “teacher,” something just a little bit better than a robot.

Bringing pop culture in was and has been one of the most rewarding things about teaching in my career to date.

MG: Which of Rick’s experiments were you most shocked about being able to becoming a reality?
MB: Easy – altering memories. Memories are largely structure – the connections between various neurons in the brain that make a pathway. Once that pathway is laid down, you’ve got a memory. Want to remember something? That pathway lights up again, either directly “p comes before t in the alphabet,” or indirectly like when you have to sing the alphabet song to find that piece of information. You’re coming in a side door to that particular memory.

But – the thing is, when those memories are being recalled – remembered – they’re vulnerable. They’re open to re-forming their pathways if you repeat the information that made them, but those pathways can re-form in different ways if new information is added in or swapped out for some of the original information. Do it subtly enough, and you can change people’s memories. I mean – not like to the point you’re remembering Hamurai or Cousin Nick who’ve always been around and part of the family, but in pretty insidious ways.

There’s evidence that some “repressed” memories that have put people in jail were memories that had been altered – innocently – by therapists in this fashion. Also, there was a study that was being conducted where the researchers were testing their ability to change the long-held memories of people, and they did it so well, they had to cancel the study, and assure the subjects that their original memories, which they were now questioning, were in fact, real.

It’s fun stuff when it shows up on Rick and Morty, but in real life…yikes.

MG: What do you think makes this show so popular?
MB: The characters and their relationships. They’re so rich, and have grown over the three seasons, and we still have no idea how much deeper they go.

Don’t get me wrong – the science is great, but if the characters weren’t who they are, no one would even tune in to hear about “concentrated dark matter” or uplifting Snowflake into a hyper-intelligent dog.

This show has such an expansive and complicated universe surrounding it. Did you ever this you would be discussing turning yourself into a pickle in the same sentence as dark matter and energy and intelligence hacking?

Well, honestly there were some things I did skip that were just waaaay too out there to consider – like turning yourself into a pickle. But yeah – dark matter and intelligence hacking are in there.

But all in all, I never thought I would end up covering such a wide swath of science, no. But that’s the show for you – anything’s possible, and whenever they can, Justin Roiland, Dan Harmon and the writers like to tag some real science mention to it that gives fans a hint of the real deal that gave the idea in the show its inspiration.

MG: What was your biggest challenge in writing The Science of Rick and Morty?
MB: Leaving stuff behind was one. You mentioned turning into a pickle. Given enough time, I could’ve probably finished thinking of a way to throw some science at it…maybe he placed just a replica of his brain in there, and then…hmmm…

Also – just getting what I got in there in the first place. A lot of the science in the show that I did pull into the book is at the fringes of what we think we might…someday be able to do with it, but that meant going to those fringes, talking to researchers there and turning what they said and what I read into something I could wrap my head around. There were days, after talking to some folks that literally felt like I was stoned, and maybe started to question reality a little too much.

MG: You are the founder of TheScienceOf.org website. How did your idea for the site come about and what can readers learn from the site?
MB: The site is something that my wife and I started (she’s a science teacher too) when we realized that we could use it to reach other teachers who wanted to use methods similar to what we do, and also as a place where I could just write about pop culture meeting science. In all the articles there, I’m always careful to approach the subject so as not to rain on anyone’s parade. I’m not interested in telling people that Superman can’t fly, or Iron Man’s suit is impossible. That’s just not cool.

I want the science in pop culture to do for others what it did for me – inspire. I’m old enough to have watched Star Trek after school when I was young, and – along with a lot of other folks who went on to NASA, JPL and a lot of other places, dreamed about a world where communicators were real things, and we could visit other planets. I firmly believe that we imagine our collective future, and science fiction and pop culture is one of our most important guides. Why would I ever want to throw the door closed on someone who’s thinking that a world with Iron Man suits would be really cool, and is starting to play with their school’s 3D printer and some cardboard, along with some circuit boards and LEDs? I want that kid to build that suit, not have a dream crushed because someone smacked their hero with science. So yeah – please come on by and check out some of the articles. It’s not updated as frequently as I’d like, but hey…that classroom keeps me pretty busy, too.

MG: What can we expect next from you?
MB: More on the site – I hope…and hopefully, another book. Still working out some details now, but there is something definitely on that back burner that’s moving up to the front. I’ve also written science columns in Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle’s “The Wrong Earth” and have more coming up in the Dragonfly Man miniseries this fall. Bits and pieces of science and pop culture all over.

Matt will be signing copies of “The Science of Rick and Morty” at the Simon & Schuster booth at NYCC on 10/5 at 10:30 AM

And also be sure to follow him on social media:
Twitter: @Scienceof_org
FB: @thesciof

 

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Actor/Comedian Jason Stuart Talks About His New Book and Latest Projects

With almost 150 film and television credits to his name, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen Jason Stuart on screen.  From small screen appearances on shows like “The Drew Carey Show,” “My Wife and Kids” and “Will & Grace” to his acclaimed performance in – in this writer’s humble opinion – the Best Film of 2016, “The Birth of a Nation,” he continues to add to his ever growing resume’.   He recently added a new chapter to his career story – author – with the release of his book “Shut Up, I’m Talking!”  The book details his career as well as the challenges he faced

I recently spoke with Jason about his new book and about how coming out in 1993 effected both his life and his career.

Photo Credit: Kimo Lauder

MIKE SMITH:  What prompted you to write the book?

 

JASON STUART:  I had a very good friend who worked with me on a comedy radio show I did in the Midwest.    His name was Dan Duffy and he had written a book called “The Half Book,”  He called me and told me I needed to read his book.  I bought the book and read it.  It was about him getting cancer and how he recovered, how he survived with the love of his family.  It was funny and it was touching and I was so moved by it that I told him “I need someone like you to help me write my book.”  And he said he’d love to do it.  So that was it.  I always think when something is put in front of you it’s meant to be.

 

MS:  Any reactions from your friends who may not have known you story?

 

JS:  That’s a great question.  Tons of people.  When I decided to write it I thought about it as a way to get my story out, to let people see me in a different way…to help my career and to possibly get some publicity.  Maybe I’ll make a little money.  But then I realized, “OH!  People are also going to be reading this book.  They’re going to hear all of these things I said about my personal life.  And they’re going to have opinions about it.”  I totally forget about that part.  People have been really candid.  People have stopped me on the street or called me…it’s been a lot of really positive energy.  Much more than I ever thought.

Photo credit: Sean Black

 

MS:  Do you think there is still a stigma in Hollywood that prevents gay actors from getting certain roles?

 

JS:  It’s certainly not what it was 26 years ago, but I still think that when somebody sees you a certain way it’s very hard for them to see that you would be right for certain roles.  Hollywood doesn’t seem to want actors, they seem to want “be-ers.”  My favorite actor growing up was Dustin Hoffman.  He still is.  He played Lenny Bruce.  He played Benjamin in “The Graduate.”  He played the father in “Kramer vs Kramer,” he was Captain Hook.  He was Willy Loman.  He did all sorts of roles.  You don’t really get to do that as much, but I’ve been able to make a career out of doing that.  When something comes along and they tell me I’m perfect for it, it’s not always clear to me.  We don’t always see ourselves as others see us.  Being a gay man over 50 – there are very few “gay men” parts over 50.  They don’t write them.  That role doesn’t exist very much.  So I wind up playing villains…managers…all these kind of characters.  What I want to do is play dads…because everybody has a dad.

MS:  If I can ask my question more directly, do you ever think because they know that you’re gay that you’re easily dismissed for certain roles?

 

JS:  I think so.  People are like that somewhat.  I’d have to say it’s natural.  People have to “see it.”  See you do the work.  Which is why I’ve created several demo reels.  They have to see that you can do it.  You have to be able to prove it to them.  You have to be able to get someone to represent you that is open enough to do that for you.

 

MS; You’ve done both television and film.  Do you have a preference?

 

JS:  Not any more.  Today there is no difference.  It’s about the quality of work.  I ask you a question back:  what is a television show and what is a film?

 

MS:  I think, to me, the difference is that in television, or on stage in a successful show, you have the opportunity to keep developing the character as the series or show progresses.  With a film, you’re only dealing with the role for a few months.  Does that make sense?

 

JS; Yes it does.

 

MS:  What are you working on now?

 

JS:  I have a new film called “Hank” which is now out all over the country.  It’s a short film about a guy in a relationship whose partner decides he wants an open relationship and I don’t.  It’s gotten some of the best reviews I’ve received since “The Birth of a Nation.”  And then I’m in a film called “Immortal” which is opening at the Scream Film Festival.  It’s a thriller and it’s opening on the 16th of October.  I’m also doing stand-up at the Icehouse Comedy Club in Pasadena.  I also just completed a web-series I wrote, produced and appeared in called “Smothered” with Mitch Hara.  I’m also being considered for a recurring role in a big series – I can’t say which one – as well as a national commercial.

MS:  It’s good to be busy.

 

JS:  It is.  I feel very blessed.

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN ORDERING MR. STUART’S BOOK, YOU CAN FIND IT ON AMAZON.COM, BARNESandNOBLE.COM OR YOU CAN ORDER IT FROM THE PUBLISHER HERE.

Bill Moseley talks about his role in “3 From Hell”

Bill Moseley is a legend in the horror business. He is known best for playing Chop Top from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and also Otis in “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Devil Rejects”. He is reprising the role of Otis in Rob Zombie’s latest film “3 From Hell”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Bill to discuss his new film and stepping back into the character.

**Tickets for the September 16th/17th/18th nationwide release of 3 FROM HELL are available at FathomEvents.com/3FromHell**

Mike Gencarelli: It’s been nearly 15 years since “The Devil’s Rejects”, what was it like picking up this character again after all these years?
Bill Moseley: It seemed liked it was going to be a pretty daunting task to try that but once we got to the set and got costumes and makeup – and with that good script under our wings – everything worked out pretty smoothly.

MG: Gotta respect the beard man, how long that take to grow out?
BM: That beard was at least 16 months. My wife was very excited when I finally got “beard release”. She followed me to the barbershop, here in Los Angeles, and they cut it all off and put it in a plastic bag.

MG: After working with Rob Zombie now on a few films; did you feel you had freedom with this character?
BM: Most of it was in the script. Sometimes with creative freedom to come up with new lines and moves for the character is because the scripts need a little help. But with Rob’s scripts they are so good you really don’t need to do more than follow the printed page.

MG: After the ending of “The Devil’s Rejects”, some would have thought that was the end but, I like things turned out in “3 From Hell”…
BM: With “3 From Hell”, I am glad the way Rob brought us back due to the poor shooting of the Rudgesville Sheriff Department. A lot of fans certainly wanted more after “The Devil’s Rejects”. I remember at different horror conventions fans coming up and giving scenarios. The worst was with someone waking up and saying “Wow, what a dream I had”, that is the lamest device in Hollywood. One that I thought was really cool is that we did actually die, went to hell and the devil rejected us making us truly the devil’s rejects…but of course then if you do that then we are supernatural and that’s a different universe. This way makes sense cause the sheriff’s department looked like a real motley crew even with us driving right at them.

MG: Where was the Mexico scenes shot?
BM: Right outside LA. It was a cool movie ranch. I think it was in the same vicinity as the spawn ranch scenes from “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”. I don’t think it was exact location but there are still movie ranches dived around the hills in LA.

MG: What was your biggest challenge working on this film?
BM: The biggest challenge was getting back into Otis’ skin after 14 years. Also to do Otis from “The Devil’s Rejects” justice and to take him to a new level and that is a big challenge. I was a little nervous at first, day 1/day 2 on the set, I had mini monologue to deliver and I remember flubbing the lines, so I took a time out after a couple of takes. I remember a voice in my head saying “Get out of the way Bill, I got this!” It was Otis and after that everything just went very smoothly.

MG: Would you consider this the end for Otis and the gang or could you see yourself stepping into this role again?
BM: I don’t necessarily see an end. I still have a kid in college, so I hope there will be three or four more of them. And BTW they are really fun to do. It is hard work making movies, there are a lot of moving parts and pressure but working with these guys makes it worth it.

Actor Ian Shaw talks about portraying his father in his new “Jaws”-inspired play.

As many of you readers know, both myself and Mike Gencarelli (your favorite “Mikes”) appear in the brilliant “Jaws” documentary entitled “The Shark is Still Working.”  The film tells the story of the making and the impact of the 1975 blockbuster.  But there are stories still to be told.  Ian Shaw, whose father Robert portrayed Quint in “Jaws,” has written a play, based on stories his father told him about the production, entitled “The Shark is Broken.”

Like his parents (his mother was the brilliant actress Mary Ure), Shaw is an accomplished actor with many film and television credits to his name.  In what I call a stroke of irony, Ian portrayed Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot who dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in the television film “Hiroshima.”  “Jaws” fans will remember that Quint was a sailor on board the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the ship that carried the bomb to the island of Tinian, where Tibbets began his mission.  

Mr. Shaw took some time out recently to speak with Media Mikes about his latest project.

Mike Smith:  What can you tell us about “The Shark is Broken?”

Ian Shaw:  It’s 1974. Martha’s Vineyard. Three iconic actors are confined together during the tortuous filming of what will one day be regarded as the greatest blockbuster movie of all time  Forced into close proximity by studio politics, endless delays and foul weather, the three must deal with violent outbursts, squabbles, rampant egos, petty rivalries and the fact that the mechanical shark keeps breaking down.  This causes their insecurities to run riot. Is this film going to ruin their careers? Who is going to want to see a film about sharks with hardly any shark in it? And who is the star of the movie anyway? 

MS:  What inspired you to take on this project?

IS:  Like so many people, I’ve always loved the film, except of course I have the personal connection of being Robert Shaw’s son.  The film is a rare combination of elements combining to maximum effect: the performances, the music, the design, the writing, the direction, the cinematography and editing all combine to create a fantastic amount of tension and emotional reaction from the audience.  That’s really hard to do. When I was a little older, I read Carl Gottlieb’s spellbinding account of how they managed to achieve it, The Jaws Log.  What particularly fascinated me were the problems they had with “Bruce”, the nickname for the shark, named after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer.  Then there’s the sheer audaciousness of filming at sea, the relationships with the locals, and the tensions between my father and Richard Dreyfuss.  Both of whom I admire hugely, I might add.

Ian Shaw sneaks a peek at “Bruce” while visiting his father on the set of “Jaws” in 1974. (Photo used with the kind permission of Ian Shaw)

MS:  You started your professional acting career in your mid-20s.  Was there any reticence on your part to pursue the profession, being th son of two very distinguished actors?

IS:  No.  I had a wonderful drama teacher at my school, Michael Walsh.  From the age of eight, I was performing in school plays, and I fell in love with the process.  And I think if your parents are actors, you think it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. Later on I discovered how hard it was for other actors from different backgrounds to make the leap.  I just made a promise to myself one day that I would pursue the path of an actor. I can remember the exact moment, as if it was yesterday. I was standing outside the school gym, where we used to put on plays. Even though I was very confident, probably with the arrogance of youth, I told myself it might take a long time to become successful! So there was never any question about what I would do. You can’t break a promise to an eight year old!  

Your older brother, Colin, portrayed your father’s character as a young boy in “The Deep.”  You bear a striking resemblance to your father.  Would you consider portraying him in a project?

IS:  Well, here we go – I’m playing him in The Shark Is Broken.  Wish me luck…

MS:  What else are you working on?

IS:  I’m also performing with the actors Duncan Henderson and David Mounfield in our adaptation of three Damon Runyon stories – the show is called Broadway Stories, and it will alternate nightly with The Shark Is Broken at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival, Venue – Assembly Festival, George Square.  Damon Runyon is best known for being the source material for the musical “Guys and Dolls.”  His short stories, which centered around the world of New York’s Broadway, took in what might be seen as the seedier side of life; a place of gamblers, molls, hustlers, dames and gangsters. With an utterly distinctive vernacular he described this hard, and often illicit world, but without the usual judgement or dismissal.   The first story is about a woman who murders her husbands for the life insurance.  The second is a study of the relationship between a half blind cat and a mobster holed out in a derelict hideout. The last is a comedy about an eating contest. 

NOTE:  Readers interested in helping get THE SHARK IS BROKEN to the sage can click HERE

Information about the upcoming performances of THE SHARK IS BROKEN and BROADWAY STORIES will soon be available HEREh

 

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