Film Review: “A Shot Through the Wall”

Starring: Kenny Leu, Ciara Renee and Clifton Davis
Directed by: Aimee Long
Rated: NR
Running Time: 89 minutes
Vertical Entertainment

There are plenty of days where I feel like nuance is missing. I say that because we have so much content at our fingertips now, it’s hard to really dive into the meat of something. We need to get to the next piece of content to devour, so we look at the headline or photo and move on. Without diving too deep into the realm of politics “A Shot Through the Wall” still manages to do a very impressive job of reminding us that not everything is black and white.

Mike Tan (Leu), the son of two Chinese immigrants, is a fresh-faced street cop in New York City. Unfortunately for him, his white and also fresh-faced partner looks for trouble where it isn’t, spotting a few young African-American teens who “should be in school.” One of those teens flees, for reasons we don’t know and soon won’t care about. Tan, just a dozen steps behind the teen, ends up in an apartment complex, unholsters his gun, but accidentally fires off a shot under pressure. That one accidental gunshot enters an apartment, killing an African-American man and setting off a chain of events.

“A Shot Through the Wall” plays with a lot of unfortunate things that happen during officer-involved shootings. We see the immediate outrage from the public, even when all the facts aren’t in yet. We also see the cellphone footage that’s released of Officer Tan attempting to revive the man he accidentally shot. What the cellphone doesn’t capture, is everything that led up to that shooting, as well as everything after. Nonetheless, the cellphone footage captures only one part of the incident which still paints Officer Tan in a negative light. We also see accusations of racism and conspiratorial thinking along the lines of police cover-ups, as well as the threat of vigilantes looking for their own brand of justice. On the flip side, we do see how police attempt to smooth things over, through potential plea deals and PR campaigns. While all of this is interesting, that’s not what makes “A Shot Through the Wall” unique, because we’ve seen this before in other movies.

“A Shot Through the Wall” takes us through the emotional toll this takes on Tan, his family, his African-American fiancée and others. The movie does make a critical mistake in not showing us the emotional pain the actual victims family and friends are going through, but that may also be a creative choice on the end of Aimee Long in her first written and directed film. She’s not shy about showing some unmentionable truths, like the fact that Tan isn’t racist at all, but his parents are. Or the fact that Tan goes back and forth on whether or not to put his relationship on the line by publicly proclaiming, “I have a black girlfriend, so I can’t be a racist who shot an unarmed black man.”

In the end though, and throughout the movie, the audience has to wonder: Is Officer Tan innocent? It’s a tough call and the movie, to it’s credits, opts to let Officer Tan say if he is or isn’t himself before the credits roll. “A Shot Through the Wall” isn’t about red vs. blue, Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter, or any of the usual nonsense that’s associated with officer-involved shootings nowadays. It’s about the pain of it all. For that, I’m grateful I watched “A Shot Through the Wall” because we sometimes need a reminder that we’re all humans on this random spinning globe and the only way to confront pain is head-on.

Book Review: “Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses” by Mick Wall

“Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses”
Author: Mick Wall
Lesser Gods
Hardcover: 432 pages

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Guns N’ Roses exploded during the 80’s glam metal scene and boldly redefined rock ’n’ roll for a new era. Mick Wall met Guns N’ Roses when the band members lived together in Los Angeles and became a part of their inner circle. Thanks to Wall’s longtime friendship and connections with Guns N’ Roses, he conducted exclusive interviews with all the original members and, for the first time, their original managers, who were in the trenches with Guns N’ Roses (from 1986 to 2004). They share all-new revelations about the band’s rock-star debauchery in the studio, on tour and behind the scenes. “Last of the Giants” is a celebration of Guns N’ Roses: the last of the extraordinary, excessive, not-giving-a-shit rock stars.

Imagine you are a fly on the wall during some of the most pivotal and monumental moments during Guns N’ Roses career. Arguably one of the most legendary rock and roll band in the last 3 decades “Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses” is the account of that such fly (Mick Wall). Told through third person accounts and candid interviews with members and associates pass and present “Last of the Giants” is brimming over with behind the scenes stories and fresh interviews which shine new light on the bands fame and persona. Probably my favorite part of the book was amidst the chapters were 28 pages of full color photos highlighting the band at various points. These photos are not the same old reprints we have seen time and time again but new fresh photos that helped accentuate the text before and after each section.

“Last of the Giants” gives readers the inside track via behind the scenes firsthand accounts and through newly conducted interviews with those directly involved in some of the most important moments of the bands career. You get all the details and more in the latest offering from Mick Wall. I think I would have been more in to the book if this was an official release from the band however after reading this book you may understand why something of that nature hasn’t come to fruition. That aside no matter how intense of a G N’R fan you might be “Last of the Giants” is worth checking out.

Product Review “Cracker Barrel: Snowman Wood Sleigh Wall”

I am sure you are thinking that how much can I saw about a wooden sleigh, right? Well, what I can do is tell a story. When my wife set eyes on this sleigh, she literally said “Wow, I love it”. When you get a response like that you know that you certainly have something special. The craftsmanship of this product is high quality. I love the detail and the design. The colors are so vibrant. There is even nice touches like fake snow and glitter throughout. This is going to have a prominent place on my wall this Holiday season.

Official Product Description: Hang our charming Snowman Wood Sleigh Wall decor anywhere in your home for an instant splash of holiday spirit and Christmas cheer! This 17 x 6 Cracker Barrel exclusive features fun, collage-style painted snowman art, bright red color and a dusting of artificial snow for the perfect winter touch. This indoor wall decoration is sure to create a jolly look all season long!

Blu-ray Review “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, PJ Byrne, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau and Jean Dujardin
Directors: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014
Run Time: 179 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is definitely not a film for everyone. It is controversial, edgey and 1 minute shy of three hours in length. In fact, the film has also set the all-time record for the use of the f-word in a film, clocking in at 506 times. This is the fifth collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio and these guys just keep making gold. Leo is supported by a fantastic supporting cast including Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, PJ Byrne, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau and Jean Dujardin…whew, what a cast. I really had a blast with this film. It is vulgar and sometimes (or a lot) offensive but it is quite the ride and it brought me back to watching Scorsese’s equally epic “Casino” on double VHS tapes…that’s right kiddies back when a three hour movie couldn’t find on one Blu-ray. So love it or hate it but this film is a blast and I sugguest you take it like that and not literally like they are trying to support these characters behavior but point out how fucked up that business was in the 90’s (and probably still is).

Official Premise: Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Money. Power. Women. Drugs. Temptations were for the taking and the threat of authority was irrelevant. For Jordan and his wolf pack, modesty was quickly deemed overrated and more was never enough.

Paramount delivered “The Wolf of Wall Street in a combo pack including Blu-ray + DVD + HD Digital Ultraviolet copy. The 1080p transfer is absolutely amazing. You can see Scorsese’s vision the way this film was shot and it just looks great. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works so well with the film’s madness and amazing music heard through this film. The soundtrack is actually a favorite of mine as well from the year. The biggest downfall personally for me is the special features. There is literally only one extra included called “The Wolf Pack” It is the basic behind-the-scenes look with interviews from Scorsese, Dicaprio, Hill and a few other cast and crew. This extra is also only on the Blu-ray. The DVD comes bare bones. I would have loved to see a commentary track from any other the amazing cast or director from this film. This release is the case of the film being rushed out on Blu-ray to make it for post-award season.

PJ Byrne reflects on his role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and his new show on CBS “Intelligence”

PJ Byrne is known best for his scene stealing roles in films like “Final Destination 5”, “Horrible Bosses” and most recently in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”. He is also the voice of Bolin in Nickelodeon’s hit animated show “The Legend of Korra”. PJ is not only a great actor but also a great personal friend and Media Mikes got to chat with him about about his role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and his new show on CBS “Intelligence”, which premieres on January 7th.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved with “The Wolf of Wall Street”?
PJ Byrne: Having gone to Boston College as finance major, this was one of those movies that I had been tracking for a while. I wanted to make sure that I got an audition for this film. Mr. Scorsese wasn’t going to be at the auditions and they would be held in New York not Los Angeles, so I decided to put myself on tape and improvise my own monologue. So I came up with this monologue with me calling up a guy and finding out that he passed away from his wife and I end up selling her like $100,000 dollars’ worth of stock, just to show how manipulative these guys where. Mr. Scorsese saw it, loved it and asked me to come out to New York to audition. So I went there and was freaking out but he is just the coolest guy there is man. He put me at ease, I improvised some more and next thing I know I am in the movie and for the part I wanted, which was even better.

MG: What was it like working a legendary director like Martin Scorsese?
PJB: It was a really special experience. He is this great iconic director that if you are lucky you get to work with as an actor. The thing with these iconic directors is that they are also great communicators. They give you the confidence to go out and do anything you want but at the same time they also prepare you so well during that process. At the end of the day, he realized that he wasn’t in from of the camera we were and he just let us do our thing. That was the greatest gift that he could give. The trust he gave me and confidence he gave me to sort of unleash because a lot of the things I did was improvised, which is a scary world in its own but I have been doing it for a while now. It is also scary in the sense that these guys are extremely unethical and crazy guys, so I have to leave PJ at the door and go in and become this character.

MG: How can you address the reactions about people saying that the film is glorifying these characters?
PJB: You want people in America to know how bad these guys are, so you want really get into these characters and portray them correctly. So if anyone ever calls you on the phone, be aware since these people are out to get your money. This is a great way to tell people to be very aware and to raise your radar and in this film, we do it in an interesting way. Removing the fact that this is an artistic movie, we really break down what these guys are doing and how they are taught to sell. Not saying that all guys that sell you stocks are bad but this movie is aimed to raise your awareness to watch and realize who is handling your money. If I learned anything in college is that, first, there is no such thing as a free lunch and second, no one cares more about your money than you do. I think it is important for people to watch this movie so it is seared into their brain.

MG: How does it feel to be called a “scene stealer” in your films?
PJB: I guess it is flattering to be called that but I do not go into a scene thinking that I am going to steal this scene. I think it is a lot of preparation, especially when you are improvising. I did all my work and I know my character. If you wanted me to sell a cupcake, I was so prepared for this guy and I could have sold anything in that moment, using “Wolf” as an example. So that is one thing, the other is coming armed with not necessarily jokes but different approaches to the role. Let’s say I prepared like twenty things and I only use two, I am still fully armed and ready. The third piece of preparing is being ready to roll with it and see where any of it goes. What you prepared might not be useful at all since the director and actors might be thinking about something else. But since you know the character so well, you are ready to go any which way. In the film, there is a bunch of stuff that I prepared for and then there are other parts we just went with. I had no idea that Jonah (Hill) was going to do the part of “Don’t look him in the eyes” and we ended up just riffing off that. I had that horrible line the first time that we see Margo (Robbie) and the line that came out of my mouth even scared me, which was “She is so hot, I would let her give me AIDS”. As horrible as that line is that is exactly who these guys were though. It is inappropriate because the time period is inappropriate with AIDS but is something that is going to stick in your head. This goes back to the idea of glorifying them; this was there to show that these are bad dudes and to be wary of them. So it is not just about scene stealer, it is about being prepared when going into a role.

MG: Let’s talk about your new TV show on CBS called “Intelligence”, tell us what we can expect?
PJB: After doing “The Wolf of Wall Street” and I have done a lot of comedies, you can’t plan this but I have always thought in the back of my head that I would love to do a drama. This came along and everything worked out and I feel just blessed to be a part of it. Everyone involved is really cool and I love the premise. This show is great mixture of “Homeland” meets “The Bourne Identity”. Being a guy that loved watching James Bond as a kid and in this I get to be the Q character a bit was very appealing. I also have this family relationship since Josh’s character who is considered a brother to me and having that conflict there was also interesting.

MG: Can you give us a run down about your character, Nelson Cassidy?
PJB: I am a computer genius in the show. I can do anything that Josh’s character can do on the computer…except he can do it 1.6 billion times faster because he has a microchip in his brain. So that is very annoying to me. My father created this chip and Josh’s character and he looks to him as his own son as he is a brother to me…except Josh is incredibly handsome and I am not as good looking, so that is a point of contention. I can get into fights but he is a trained Delta Force guy, so he can kick ass better than me…and that is annoying. So there is a lot of that brotherly jealously going on if you will [laughs]. But he is my brother and I have his back and we are always there for each other and that is a cool part of the show. When you have that family aspect when working on a show and you play a scene with a person you know or a co-worker you have to be more delicate. But when it involves your brother you can go from 0 to 10 right away and to me that is much more interesting. Another aspect of the character that I love is that I am not just behind a computer; I actually get to be put into the field. I had to shoot guns, save people and pull bombs out of bodies, so it is awesome from that perspective. The last aspect that I loved about the show is that I am like the person at home watching being thrown into this world where Josh’s character is the complete opposite and trained to be in this world. Meghan Ory’s character Riley is Secret Service, so she is also trained to be in this world. Same goes for the character Lillian, who is played by Marg Helgenberger. I just happen to be this super genius and by default I was just thrown into this world. So I do not know how to be a “super-agent” and I had to slowly transition into it and I found that to be a lot of fun to play out.

MG: What else do you have going on for 2014?
PJB: I’ve got this show right now. So this is the first time that I haven’t had to do pilot season, which is a little scary but still comforting. I get to go off now and go into the movie world. I got something brewing but I can’t say officially yet. I have a little window now to shoot something because if the show gets picked up then we go back to work in June. Then I still have “The Legend of Korra”, which is coming back for its third season and let me tell you…it is awesome! We are currently doing ADR and I have seen it all and fans are going to freak out since it’s that good. I am so proud to be a part of that show. So for now be sure to tune in to “Intelligence” on CBS and watch out for some other great projects in the works this year.

Film Review “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hours 59 mins

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Earlier this month Paramount Pictures announced to film exhibitors that “The Wolf of Wall Street” would be the last film they will release on 35 mm. The digital age is here and from now on film is no more. My only thoughts is that they saved the best for last.

Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) is a man on his way up. He has gotten caught up in the Wall Street boom of the mid 1980s and taken a job at a firm where he soon hopes to be making big bank. He is taken to lunch by, and under the wing of, the firm’s owner (McConaughey) and it is here that he learns the important part of Wall Street: you’re not making THEM money, you’re making YOURSELF money! When the Market crashes on Black Monday, Jordan finds himself out of work and searching the want ads. He applies to a firm that he learns is located in a strip mall. The main staple being sold are penny stocks…companies on the way up (allegedly) that consumers can get for pennies a share. Learning that his commission is 50% of what he sells, Jordan follows his mentors advice and makes himself $3000 on his first deal. Soon he decides to form his own firm, taking a few of his co-workers with him. Among them is Donnie Azoff (Hill, once again back in Oscar territory). Together they start a company where the money rolls in, the drugs roll out and Dwarf tossing is a competitive sport!

Based on the memoirs of the real-life Belfort, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a humorous, depraved and intriguing look at the excess of the 1990s and the effect it had on people. When we first meet Jordan, his voice over tells us that he made $49 million last year. But he’s not proud of that fact, he’s annoyed. Another $3 mill and he could have said that he made a million dollars a week. Poor guy! As portrayed by DiCaprio, Belfort is a fun loving guy who is more than happy to share the wealth…and drugs…and hookers. His firm becomes so successful that competitions are held between prospective employees before they are even seen for an interview. DiCaprio has done his best work with Scorsese (this is their 5th collaboration) and he knocks it out of the park here. If a fourth Academy Award nomination (and first Award) aren’t forthcoming the Academy and I are going to have a stern conversation. From emotional highs to dramatic lows to some incredible physical comedy, DiCaprio gives Belfort something he probably didn’t have in real life: a soul. Hill is excellent as the nebbish Azoff. Also turning in great supporting work is Kyle Chandler, as an FBI agent on Jordan’s trail, Jean DuJardin as Jordan’s Swiss compatriot and, in a rare on screen appearance, Rob Reiner, who plays Jordan’s father.

Technically, this is Scorsese at his best. Is there a better storyteller working today? Armed with his usual sidekicks, including film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese has fashioned another masterpiece, just in time for the holidays. In my humble opinion, this is the best film of 2013.

Uwe Boll talks about “Assault on Wall Street” and “In the Name of the King III”

Uwe Boll is the director of films like “House of the Dead”, “Postal, “In the Name of the King” series and “Bloodrayne” series. Uwe is releasing his most personal and impressive film to date called “Assault on Wall Street”. The film stars Dominic Purcell, known best for TV role in “Prison Break”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Uwe again about his upcoming films and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got attached to “Assault on Wall Street” aka “Bailout: The Age of Greed”?
Uwe Boll: I developed it also as a producer. I was basically very pissed with the bailouts that the banks got away with. The movies that were made about the financial crisis where not showing the other side of the story. None of them were focusing on the people that actually lost everything. I wanted to also turn it into more of a revenge thriller, sort of a mix of “Falling Down” and “Death Wish”. Everything came together and I felt that it ended up being a very strong movie.

MG: Did you face any issues shooting an anti-Wall Street film in NYC?
UB: The problem was that when I went into casting a lot of the actor’s agents I asked had problems with the role. They were concerned with the fact if someone then actually went out and shoot up bankers for real then I would have been setting their character as a role model. I told them that it was only a movie and you have to take risks in your life otherwise you will never do anything. I thought it was a story that was worth telling. I have to say though we ended up with the perfect guy, Dominic Purcell. This is his best movie. He carried the movie very well as the lead actor.

MG: The film is one of your most mature and focused film; how does it compare for you to your past films?
UB: I do compare it to one of my other recent films “Rampage”, for example. A lot of my other movies are cold and this one sticks out since I spent a lot of time with the drama. The main character and his wife in the film have a great relationship. [SPOLIER ALERT] I don’t know one person who has watched the movie that wasn’t almost crying when she commits suicide. I think this is the first movie I did where the emotion part actually exists in a way. My video game based movies are more genre films. The other movies are more violent at times and let’s say more clinical. This one is more touching and emotional.

MG: You also reunite with Dominic Purcell in “In the Name of the King III”, tell us about that production?
UB: We went and shot the movie in Bulgaria. We focused it again on time travel but taking place mostly in medieval times. I like working with him so much and I want to continue working with him. At first he wasn’t a big fan of the fantasy aspect of the film. Then when we shot it, we brought in a lot of dry humor and made it fun. I think you will really be surprised how well that it turned out. But it is not done yet though, we are currently working on the CGI phase of the film.

MG: Did you ever think that you would be making a third film, after the first?
UB: No, not at all. Like with “Bloodrayne”, we did three films and with “King” I think now after this it will be the end of it. I do not see a need to really precede with this series after this film. I think it is a good ending and brings the films together. For me I just love shooting movies. If I am able to shoot a film like “In the Name of the King” then I do it. I am not the kind of the director that waits three years for his passion project. I try to make a passion projects like “Assault on Wall Street” but in between I take advantage of other opportunities if I can get funding together.

MG: Speaking of sequels, are you done with the “Bloodrayne” series or can we expect a fourth film?
UB: We developed a fourth one taking place in the present time. But Majesco Games pulled the plug saying that they do not want anymore movies. I couldn’t believe it because the games were never as popular and I feel that our movies were much bigger. Before I got into a lawsuit with Majesco, I dropped the ball and decided to not make it. I would like to do another though to finish the “Bloodrayne” story. Maybe Majesco will change their minds in the future. A lot of the times video game companies change management and maybe we can reactivate our relationship one day.

MG: How did you get attached to produce “Legend of the Red Reaper”?
UB: With “Legend of the Red Reaper”, I am only working with the film during post-production. I wasn’t involved with the shoot. Tara Cardinal, the producer,  actress, director, she did everything on this film. I saw a rough cut of the movie, which was about two and half hours. Inside that cut, I saw a movie and said that we would have to cut it out of it. So now we are in the finishing process now.

MG: Tell us about what we can expect from the anthology film, “The Profane Exhibit”?
UB: The producer David Bond contacted me and showed me the first segment from the film, which was so violent. He asked me if I wanted to act as the sales company to assist in selling the film but also at the same time shoot a segment myself for the film. There are twelve segments from different directors. My segment was based on the Fritzl case, which happened in Austria a few years ago. Basically a guy was keeping his own daughter locked up in the basement for like 20 years. For my segment, I focused on one day in his life of that guy. It is very creepy. The movie should be finished in August/September and we already have invitations from over 25 film festivals around the world. People are really excited and want to see what we came up with this film.

MG: Next up you are directing “Suddenly” again reuniting with Ray Liotta, Dominic Purcell and Michael Paré; tell us about what we can expect?
UB: We shot this already. Yes, it is funny because I worked with Dominic Purcell and Ray Liotta again. I love working with the same actors because I know them already and we are able to get the job done quickly. This is a remake of the Frank Sinatra film of the same title from the 50’s. In the original, Sterling Hayden was the Sheriff and Frank Sinatra was the bad guy. In this film Dominic is the bad guy and Ray Liotta is the sheriff. It is about the assassination of the president and takes place in one day. We shot in Vancouver, Canada in the snow. I even hired an Obama double to play the President, so we almost get to shoot the real Obama [laughs]. It is is post-production now and is almost finished.

Robbie Wyckoff talks about touring with Roger Waters and "The Wall Live"

Robbie Wyckoff is Los Angeles based session vocalist and recording artist whose voice can be heard on numerous films, television shows, hit records and national jingles. Robbie has recorded and performed with artists like Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion and Clint Black. He has been touring with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters for the on-going “The Wall Live” tour since 2010 and starts up again this July. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robbie about touring with the legendary Roger Waters and what is planned next for the tour.

Mike Gencarelli: I know it is a typical question but I have to ask, what is it like working with a legend like Roger Waters?
Robbie Wyckoff: For me it is like a dream come true. Growing up I always listened to Pink Floyd, especially “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall”. I am thrilled to think that I get to sing with Roger now, since I was and am such a fan. It is pretty amazing.

MG: Can you take us through your first meeting with him?
RW: First of all I have to give a big thank you to Jon Joyce referring me to Roger. But after round 2 of the auditioning process at James Guthrie’s studio, I got a call back from James and he said that “Roger really loves your vocals and wants you to fly to New York to meet him and record “Mother.”He was at one of the studios in NYC where they had been working on the visuals for the Wall projections. I walked into the studio and there he was working away. It was very surreal. I shook his hand and told him that it was an honor and a pleasure to meet him and thanked him for everything. Then he said “Let’s show Robbie what we have been working on.”

MG: After over 200 performances touring with “The Wall Live”, what drives you for each performance?
RW: Well first it is just the music – the songs, they just never get old. I have been in several bands and sometimes you have to sing certain songs and you dread it. With this the music is so timeless and classic and the melodies are so beautiful. For me it never gets old, it is a treat to be able to sing them. Also just being up on top of the wall and getting that wonderful 360 degree view is just spectacular. I would love to get a chance to film a little up there to show what it is like. It is just absolutely amazing.

MG: Having been touring with this show since 2010 pretty consistently, how does that weigh on you?
RW: Roger treats us very well. He makes it very comfortable. I have so many people says to me “You’ve been touring for the last two years, it must be so grueling…” and I just say “No, it is really not”. We stay in the best hotels and fly in private jets, so it is a really comfortable tour.

MG: You are taking over vocals for David Gilmour; do you consider that a daunting task?
RW: No not really, I am a big fan of Gilmour and I have a lot of respect for him and his talent. I feel like this is a custom fit gig for me because my vocal range is very similar to David’s. But when we found out that David was going to show up sometime during the first leg of the tour, it did make me a little nervous. He ended up coming to a couple of our London shows in 2010. The first night he watched the show and the second night he sat in with us and sang the chorus’ of “Comfortably Numb.” He also joined us on the final song “Outside The Wall,” along with Nick Mason who played tambourine. Man, it was such a thrill to be on stage that night standing next to the surviving members of Pink Floyd: Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour. After the show David paid me a nice complement and said “you sound great and I thought that was me up there singing.”

MG: I have always wanted to know when the wall goes up; what is like performing behind it?
RW: If people could only see what we are doing behind the wall, there is some pretty funny stuff going on. We have to put this safety net over the band, to protect the us from falling bricks at the end of the show when the wall comes down. The net is probably about 12 inches over my head. On this particular night there was some static electricity going on and little did I know that my hair was sticking straight up like a unicorn. So there I am totally focused on singing “Hey You” and the whole band is laughing around me and Roger is pointing at me laughing. [laughs] I thought I was doing something wrong. Finally someone took a photo and showed me what they were laughing at. Too funny! It’s stuff like that and maybe a few other practical jokes that the background singers are famous for. We have a blast at every concert.

MG: In July 2013, you start the wave of the tour in Europe. Where are you looking forward to going most?
RW: Just being back in Europe firstly and getting to hit some of the markets that we didn’t before. We’ll be going to Turkey, Rome, Vienna and several other European cities. You can check the tour schedule at I’m really looking forward to playing Wembley Stadium. That is going to be amazing! I have family in London so it will be good to see them.

MG: Can we expect a Blu-ray release of the concert in the near future?
RW: There have been talks of Roger doing a DVD release of “The Wall Live”. But I’m not sure when it will be released. When we were in Athens, Greece, we did three days of filming of the live shows and then three more days of close-ups. They hired a large movie crew and there were about 20 plus cameras. Not to mention that when we were in Buenos Aries, we sold out nine shows over there and they documented and filmed every aspect of those nine shows as well. From backstage to the show days and everything in between.

MG: Can you give a plug for your upcoming album, “Steppin Out”?
RW: My new album “Steppin’ Out” is a Big Band/Jazz Standards album and I’m very happy with it. I’ve always loved to sing that style of music and was just finishing it up before I got the tour with Roger Waters. I had all of the vocals recorded and all the tracks recorded but had to put it on hold until we finished our first U.S. tour. I just recently signed a co-publishing agreement for that album which I’m very excited about. It was produced by Willie Murillo and he also did several of the arrangements. I’m very privileged to have some of the world’s finest musicians playing on it and I’m very thankful to each and everyone of them. I have five original songs on the album. Three written by Tony Hayes and another one written by Jennifer Paige and one I wrote with Willie Murillo called “Kiss Me Again.” There are also some other great classic cover tunes by Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., Nat King Cole, Fred Astaire and others. Now that the deal is in place, we are working on a marketing plan and should have a release scheduled later this year.

All photos courtesy of Michael Becker, Todd Tyler, Robbie Wyckoff

SIGNED Book Giveaway for Gerald Scarfe’s “The Making of Pink Floyd: The Wall” [ENDED]


Gerald Scarfe is a satirical political cartoonist and is known best for working with the band Pink Floyd on two of their albums “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here”. He also created the animation used in the film “Pink Floyd: The Wall” and worked with Roger Water on his new tour of “The Wall”. Media Mikes got the chance to chat with Gerald about his work and reflect on its impact with fans. Read the interview here!

To accompany our recent interview with Gerald, he was kind enough to send us TWO SIGNED copies of his book “The Making of Pink Floyd: The Wall”. If you would like to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite Pink Floyd song. This giveaway will be open until Friday October 26th at Noon, Eastern Time, open to readers WORLDWIDE. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Media Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Gerald Scarfe talks about working with Pink Floyd on “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here”

Gerald Scarfe is a satirical political cartoonist and is known best for working with the band Pink Floyd on two of their albums “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here”. He also created the animation used in the film “Pink Floyd: The Wall” and worked with Roger Water on his new tour of “The Wall”. Media Mikes got the chance to chat with Gerald about his work and reflect on its impact with fans.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your revisiting the wall with your book “The Making of Pink Floyd: The Wall”?
Gerald Scarfe: What I think think the weird thing about going through the diary of one’s life is that first of all you forget things and misplace the dates. It was like unraveling a piece of memory or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. But overall it was a fantastic experience looking back working on this project, which was some 30 years ago. I really didn’t feel at the time that it was going to be anything really exceptionable. I knew that Pink Floyd were extremely well known at the time. I worked with them for about five years to produce this thing. People have asked me in the past and asked if working on “The Wall” changed my life but for me then it was just another a job that I did. They have said “Well it has definitely changed my life”. So I think it really did strike a nerve in the public at that time. The young of those days are the older generation today and they are still fans and write to me. There is a guy who recently contacted me to tell me that his entire left arm is being tattooed with my illustrations. So it is still relevant today.

MG: Tell us about revisiting “The Wall” after almost 30 years ago with Roger Water’s new tour? What was your involvement?
GS: It was a fantastic experience. Now it is back up and running again. Roger contacted me about two years ago and said he was going to do the show again and would need new material. I re-designed some new things like the puppets and some bits of film here and there. I also did various lettering and writing for the program, which was projected on the wall. What has changed from when we originally did it is that things were not computerized. Where we were using three projectors on the wall back then now there are seven or eight projecting. They can literally pin point an individual brick on the wall using the computer. Even when we first did it I thought it felt like a Roman circus and was just so spectacular.

MG: How do you compare going from working on “Wish You were Here” to “The Wall”?
GS: When they first approached me, they were touring at the time and I did little pieces of animation here and there. I wasn’t really sure what was needed or wanted of me at the time. I was known in Britain and parts of America for being a satirical artist, making fun of society and poking fun at politicians. I think that is why Roger (Waters) and Nick (Mason) needed from me at the time. I didn’t quite get that and I started to make them these surreal images of men tumbling through the stratosphere and crashing through the sky. They were all rather surreal. I think what they were expecting from me was probably something a little more actual about the world itself in a more precise way. I actually started the flowers (from “The Wall”), way back then in the early days of “Wish You Were Here”. The flowers have some much work in them. I think in some places there are about 24 drawings per second in them, in order to most very slowly. Each one of those drawings probably takes 1-2 days and there are thousands of them. It was very labor intensive and expensive also. So that is how it all began. Later when we came to do “The Wall”, we cannibalized some of these pieces for “Wish You Were Here” and used them like the flowers and so forth.

MG: Your animation in “The Wall” was used to portray Waters’ political expression throughout the songs, did you consider that when creating them?
GS: It was Nick that approached me first in the very beginning.Then Roger got more and more involved. Roger came forward bit by bit and I ended up dealing with him primarily. I felt a little awkward at first working with Waters since I felt like I was denying Nick, he is still a very good friend and I had dinner with him just recently. Roger is very insistent and precise. Roger said to me and this is true “When you hire an artist, you don’t interfere with what that artist does or try and push him your way. You get what you get”. So Roger was very happy for me to interpret his lyrics since we were on the same page. I was able to visualize the whole thing for him. He has not only given “The Wall” an audio personality but I’ve given it also a visual personality. We met many times and drank a lot of a special brew of Carlsberg beer, which is very strong, and luckily we have the same dark wit. That developed into a strong relationship that we have today.

MG: Where did you draw inspiration from for the marching hammers, The Judge and the “Empty Spaces” sequence?
GS: First of all my experiences of judges are that the ministry of the law is a tricky business and they always make mistakes, so to me the law was an asshole, so that was that [laughs]. The hammers were suppose to be the forces of repression. What can you think of that is more cruel and relentlessly mindless than a hammer as it smashes down. That is the kind of way I think. When it came to “Empty Spaces”, I believe that was a stream of consciousness. I made a film prior to this where I just rolled from one image to another, which is actually how I ended up meeting Nick and Roger, it was called “A Long Draw Out Trip”, which I made for the BBC. That was really everything about America that I could think of at the time. I had Mickey Mouse, Playboy, Black Power, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra, which were all morphing one into the other. I took that idea when I came to “Empty Spaces”. Interestingly enough, “Empty Spaces” starts with the flowers, which began like we said from “Wish You Were Here”. Then I just kept adding to it all the time. The flowers end up making love and then I thought well what happens when people fall in love, sometimes they hate one another. So then the female ends up devouring the male and flies away. It grew and grew and was unraveling. It was much of a journey for me, adding a page a day to this unrolling adventure.

MG: I’ve read you saw The Wall back in 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, NY, how do you compare “The Wall” from then to today?
GS: It is difficult really since it was in fact a long time ago and one’s memory has blunted. I remember being very excited. I never worked on theater in this size at all. I remember Roger telling me one night, “You know that you are a rock ‘n roll artist now, right?”. I looked and there were thousands of people applauding my flowers and work. I realized that I was pleasing the audience and that was a terrific feeling for me. Being an artist can be a lonely job. You work alone and don’t see the people who are looking at your pictures generally. So to be in an auditorium like that where they are cheering at your work, it is a really great feeling. Over the years, I have grown used to that feeling having done a lot of opera, theatre and my work with Disney on “Hercules”. It is still a thrill though. I went to Madison Square Garden last year to see the show and I had the same kind of thrill still. The guy who wrote to me and told me about him getting the tattoos on his arm said that he was a Gulf War veteran and told me how much my work has helped him through his difficult periods. It is hard for me to imagine that it actually helps people. I guess the music becomes very personal to some people and it stay with them through their life.

MG: Due to the diminishing role of physical packaging due to digital downloads, what do you see for the role of art playing in the world of music in the future?
GS: Well, I don’t see why animation still cannot be used. In my other job, I am the political cartoonist for the London Sunday Times, where I’ve been for like 45 years, I can see a point where newspapers will be phased out. People will be getting the news online, which is much quicker. I personally am not tremendously computer literate but I have people that help me. All of my work is now electronically sent around the world, once it is scanned in. Going back to music, I don’t see why these images cannot be downloaded with the music. It is exactly the same.


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