Tom Green talks about working on TBS’ “Who Get’s the Last Laugh”

Tom Green first broke in to mainstream media with his wildly popular television show “The Tom Green Show” which aired on MTV in the late 1990’s. Tom has also appeared in a number of films such as “Charlie’s Angels” “Stealing Harvard” and “Road Trip”. On May 28th the TBS show “Who Get’s the Last Laugh” will feature a prank orchestrated by Tom as he competes against two other comedians in an effort to earn money for their prospective charities. Media Mikes had the pleasure to talk with Tom about the upcoming appearance and what he likes most about performing standup.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your upcoming appearance on “Who Get’s the Last Laugh”?
Tom Green: I had a lot of fun doing that show. I was a huge fan of “Punked” so when I was asked if I wanted to do it I was really excited. I thought it would be fun to be able to punk someone myself. Having done a lot of pranks when I was younger I felt like this would be a good opportunity to maybe win some money for the Cancer charity I was playing for. It was hilarious working on the skit and we had a really great time doing it.

AL: Can you give us any hints about the prank you set up?
TG: There are three comedians on the show and we each get to pull a prank. The show is set up very similar to “Punked” in that I was in a booth directing the actors. Our skit is based around needing a babysitter. When the babysitter shows up they realize that they are looking after a full grown adult who turns out to be a little bit nuts. I essentially direct the actor who is playing the adult. I talk to him over an ear piece telling him what I want him to do. The situation gets pretty crazy.

AL: How much of the prank was improvised?
TG: That was the fun part for me. We shot it several times with different people so there was quite a bit of room to improvise. We were cracking ourselves up in the control booth as the stuff was just hilarious. There was a lot of improv in there even though the situation and camera angles are all pre-determined. We just worked within the boundaries of that.

AL: How does this show stand out above other hidden camera shows?
TG: This show is fun in the sense that your bringing in three comedians that do comedy for a living to guest star. They get to compete for their various charities which that alone is quite a bit different. It’s interesting because I had never done a prank like that myself. I think it’s a fun thing to see people out of their elements.

AL: What do you prefer? Directing the prank or being park of the prank?
TG: I directed and performed all the pranks on my show so I have a lot of experience doing those things. This was sort of different because I was able to just come in and have fun with things. There was really no pressure which made the experience very enjoyable.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other projects you have going on?
TG: I am currently out on tour performing stand up all over the country. Standup is something that I have really been throwing myself into within the past 4 or 5 years. I am really enjoying it. My first stand up special “Tom Green: Live” which was shot for Showtime is currently available on Netflix. I have a new podcast called “Tom Green Radio” that people can check out on iTunes and at www.tomgreen.com. I interview tons of hilarious comedians and interesting people. I also just started really getting into my new YouTube channel which is www.youtube/tomgreen. You are going to be able to go there and see a lot of my classic pranks. If people are in to that stuff they surely will want go and check that out.

AL: What do you like most about being out on the road and performing live?
TG: I have been going at it pretty hard in the last 4/5 years playing hundreds of shows. It’s something that I love to do. I started doing it when I was a kid and have done it intermittently over the years. It has been great being out on the road and seeing a lot of cool places. I have been all over from New Zealand to London and the shows have been getting great reviews. This has been a new chapter in my comedy career and it’s been nice being able to go out there night after night and get good responses. It’s a great feeling and something I want to keep doing for a long time.

Robert Trachtenberg talks about working on American Masters’ “Mel Brooks: Make A Noise”

Robert Trachtenberg is the Writer, director, producer and editor on the latest American Masters special “Mel Brooks: Make A Noise”. Robert has made several films for “American Masters” including specials on Cary Grant, Gene Kelly & George Cukor. He is a bestselling author (“When I Knew”) and award-winning photographer. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about his work with Mel Brooks and his love for photography.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up working on “Mel Brooks: Make A Noise” for American Masters?
Robert Trachtenberg: Susan Lacy, who is executive producer of the series, had secured Mel. She thought my sense of humor would pair up nicely with his, so she called and asked ifI’d like to direct the film.

MG: What is it like working with a legend like Mel Brooks?
RT: The old saying, “comedy is serious business” is true: he’s very professional, actually very “Old Hollywood” in the way he runs things. We’d meet once a month, film for as long as he could stand, and then do it again the following month.

MG: How much footage was shot to make up this 1 1/2 hour special?
RT: We shot about thirty hours of interviews just with Mel alone over a four month period.

What is your favorite Mel Brooks film?
RT: Probably YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN – I think it’s the most fully realized of all his films.

MG: How long did it take to get that excellent shot of Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks?
RT: They gave me ten minutes! Guys who cut their teeth in live television have zero patience for an entire shoot – they expect everything to happen fast.

MG: How does this compare from your American Masters specials for Gene Kelly and Cary Grant?
RT: This time my subject was alive so that made a big difference. It’s impossible to compare in that Mel required a completely different approach – I knew if I asked the questions correctly, I wouldn’t need to rely on critics and academics in the interviews, for example. I really wanted Mel to tell his own story, firsthand. If I did my job right, he would be honest and candid about what worked and what didn’t in his career.

MG: I am a big fan of your photography; what does it take to get the perfect shot?
RT: I think the ability to work on your feet – you go in with one idea, and then it can quickly morph into something completely different due to a variety of factors. And you have to be malleable to that.

MG: I have to ask what was it like photographing Larry Hagman?
RT: Perfect example – for some reason I thought he’d be serious, and he couldn’t have been more of a lovable goofball.

MG: Do you have plans to write and direct more in the future?
RT: Definitely. I love that Director’s Guild health insurance!

 

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Tippi Hedren reflects on working with Alfred Hitchcock and the 50th Anniversary of “The Birds”

Tippi Hedren is known best for her roles in the Alfred Hitchcock films, “The Birds” and “Marnie”. This year “The Birds” is celebrating its 50th anniversary, yet the film is as popular as ever and still very relevant. Besides acting, Tippi also works with animal rescue at the Shambala Preserve, which is a 73-acre wildlife habitat which she founded in 1983. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Tippi about working with Hitchcock, his films and her work on the Shambala Preserve.

Mike Gencarelli: With “The Birds” celebrating its 50th anniversary, what is your most memorable experience with this film?
Tippi Hedren: There were so many of them, since it was such an overwhelming experience for me. “The Birds” was my first film. So not only having Alfred Hitchcock discover me in a commercial that I had done, but he took me under his wing – you might say. He put me under contract before I had even met him just based on my commercial and photo work. It was a very exciting time for me.

MG: Can you reflect on the film with about today’s audience and why the film is still relevant?
TH: “The Birds” really seems to have a life of its own. So many people are really enchanted with it. The fact that this film was even able to have been done is amazing. Year after year, the film gets introduced to a younger generation. When you watch it with the audience of today, when you see the telephones 50 years ago they start laughing. It is interesting for me. But on the other hand the film holds up so well. Fortunately Hitchcock always had his leading women dressing in very traditional clothes. I could wear that green suit right now and be perfectly in style, which I actually still have six of them today.

MG: I recently saw the HBO film “The Girl”, which was based on the making of “The Birds”; how accurate was the film to what happened?
TH: Yes the film was totally accurate. In fact, the writer Gwyneth Hughes came out to my Shambala Preserve, where I live and she spent an afternoon with me talking about my years with Hitchcock. So, yeah the film is absolutely accurate. Also at the time that she was writing she would also call me and discuss any issues or concerns.

MG: What are your feelings on seeing Sienna Miller playing yourself in the film?
TH: I thought she was wonderful. Sienna also came out to the preserve and I got to spend an afternoon with her as well. She called me several times during the filming, which was done in South America. There was a close comradery between all of us.

MG: In the final attack scene of the film; how many times did you have to shoot that?
TH: When I opened the door to that room and all those birds came flying at me and I was under attack for a full week from Monday to Friday. It was unbelievable and also very exhausting.

MG: How would you compare Hitchcock’s style to other director’s you’ve worked it?
TH: The thing that impressed me so much was that he was always so well prepared. He literally worked 9-5pm. At 5 o’clock, we had the martini shots…every day. Most directors will go into very late at night or tremendously long hours, which is actually the norm. With Hitchcock, he always kept to a schedule. That was pretty amazing.

MG: How did the production of “The Birds” and “Marnie” compare?
TH: They are two entirely different films. In “The Birds” you have the added problem of working with live animals, which is always a difficult situation. They do not care about being in a movie. So there is a great deal of difference. I loved doing “Marnie” since it was such a psychological piece and entirely different.

MG: My site partner told me that if I didn’t ask you about working with Sean Connery that he will quit, so tell us about working with him in “Marnie”?
TH: I was very fortunate having Rod Taylor as my leading man in “The Birds”. I was working with all  consummate actors including Jessica Tandy and Suzanne Pleshette. They were all great. So, it was kind of a surprise for me when they told me I was going to play Marnie. I play a compulsive thief that is so frigid that she screams every time a man comes near her. So when I was asked who would be playing Mark Rutland in the film, Hitchcock told me that it would be Sean Connery. I said “Sean Connery? The Sean Connery that just got out of ‘Dr. No’? Sean Connery, who could melt the iciest of blondes? Mr. Hitchcock, do you remember that Marnie is so frigid that she screams everything a man comes near her? How am I supposed to handle that?” He simply told me “It’s called acting my dear”. And that was the end of that [laughs].

MG: How was it being the topic of the season and guest starring on the season finale of “Cougar Town”?
TH: It was great fun. It was such a short piece. The whole season was about how can they find Tippi Hedren, so then at the very end is when I appeared. I wish it would have been a little longer but it was still a lot of fun.

MG: Tell us about the inspiration behind the film “Roar”?
TH: Well it goes back to 41 years ago when I started rescuing lions and tigers. I had just done two films in Africa. During those years, environmentalists all over the world were saying that if we didn’t do anything right then, which was 1969-70, to save the animals in the wild then by the year 2000 they would be gone. So my then husband (Noel Marshall) and I decided to do a film about the animals in the wild. We choose the great cat, because people are either enchanted with them, scared to death of them or think they should be admired from afar. We had seen an abandoned house while on a photo Safari in Mozambique. The owner had moved out since it flooded during the rainy season. So when he moved out a tide of lions moved in. It was the largest pride in all of Africa. We couldn’t count me but there was somewhere between 25-30 lions of all sizes that were living in this house. We thought that this was incredible. They were sitting in the windows looking like great portraits. There were going in and out of the doors. They were napping on the verandas. So we decided to use these animals as our stars. We then went back to California and got the script written. When we gave the script to the trainers of these Hollywood animals and they all came back to us laughing that this film could not be made. They told me to get my own animals for the movie. All of the sudden I had little lions and cubs all over my house. It was quite an experience and we learned right then and there that they are definitely not pets.

MG: Tell us about continued your work today with the Shambala Preserve?
TH: The preserve is 73-acres and it is very beautiful. We keep the animals that we rescue for the remainder of their lives. We give them huge areas in which to life, many of which are over an acre. It is so expensive though. I have to raise over a million dollars a year, which is quite difficult. I would appreciate if your readers can visit our website, http://www.shambala.org/ and see what we have to do in order to keep this going each year. I am doing everything I can and any help is appreciated since this place is so beautiful and necessary. I am also working on federal bill which will be introduced this month, which will stop the breeding of lions and tigers to be sold as a pets. So please look that up as well.

Kevin J. Anderson talks about books "Hellhole Awakening", "Mentats of Dune" and working with Rush’s Neil Peart on "Clockwork Angels"

Kevin J. Anderson is the known best for his work in the “Dune” universe working with co-author Brian Herbert. He also co-authored the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel” with Neil Peart from the band Rush. He is releasing his latest novel, “Hellhole Awakening” this month and working on the next “Dune” novel, “Mentats of Dune”, due next year. Kevin took out some to time to chat with Media Mikes before he hits the road to promote his new novels discuss them and also what else he has in the cards for 2013.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your latest novel “Hellhole Awakening”?
Kevin J. Anderson: Brian Herbert and I have written about a dozen other books together in Frank Herbert’s “Dune” universe. They are all international best sellers and we love diving into that universe. But after doing all those books together we decided to take a crack at our own universe. It is trilogy. “Hellhole” is the first one, which came out two years ago. And now “Hellhole Awakening” is part two and comes out at the end of March. Hellhole is a planet that is struck by an asteroid. Due to that, there are volcanoes, earthquakes, storms and most of the native life forms are extinct. Then you have a bunch of misfits that are trying to colonize it, led by an exiled rebel general. So, these desperate colonists are trying to make a new life for themselves on a very hellish place. We have a lot of various storylines with aliens, disasters, terrific space battles and some other really cool stuff. We are very excited about the trilogy. It is really epic. The story just keeps building after what the first book has set up. (I know I should have a good one-liner to describe it—HELLHOLE is about a colony trying to survive in a place where nobody would want to live.

MG: Tell us about how this collaboration with Brian Herbert compares than your other books?
KJA:  We have been doing this since the mid-1990’s and every single year we have a new book out. We have spent most of the time in the “Dune” universe, and we really know how the other person thinks. We play upon each other’s strengths and are able to describe things and tell a story we find engaging. The “Hellhole” books gave us a chance to strut our own stuff instead of using what Frank Herbert developed in the “Dune” universe. It is nice to play with your own toys sometimes.

MG: Also with Brian, How is your progress coming along for “Mentats of Dune”?
KJA:  MENTATS is the second book (after SISTERHOOD OF DUNE) in a new trilogy set about 10,000 years before the original novel “Dune”. It is about the formation of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood and the Mentats School. “Mentats of Dune” will be out next spring. Actually when the phone rang for this interview, I was editing page 100 out of page 651. Brian and I are in our fifth draft, and we will probably go through ten drafts or so until we get it all finalized. We do a book every year, kind of like clockwork… which leads me into my other recent book “Clockwork Angels,” the steampunk fantasy adventure based on the new Rush concept album.

MG: I was just going to ask actually, tell us about the “Clockwork Angels: The Watchmaker’s Edition”?
KJA:  The Watchmakers Edition is the audiobook version of the novel. Not your typical audio book. It is unabridged and read by Neil Peart (the drummer from Rush, with whom I cowrote the novel). Neil has a gorgeous voice and he wanted to do this. This novel is very close to him and me as well. And what could be better than having Neil Peart read it himself? The novel and the audiobook itself were released last September. “The Watchmaker’s Edition” is a very snazzy special edition, with a modeled clock tower with a working clock inside. It has beautiful artwork all around it by Hugh Syme, the cover and album artist. (He’s done all of the artwork for Rush’s albums dating the way back to “2112”. ) It also has a nice poster inside with a timeline for the “Clockwork Angels” project for Rush and my work as well. Any die-hard Rush fan should have this.

MG: Let’s go back, tell us about origin about how this collaboration came about with Rush’s Neil Peart?
KJA:  “Clockwork Angels” is Rush’s latest concept album, like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” or The Beatles’ “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. It is a steampunk fantasy adventure about a Big Brother figure called The Watchmaker and a crazy anarchist who wants to destroy everything—who meet up with a naive dreamer, someone who grew up in a small town. He wants to visit the big city where the Clockwork Angels are. The world has zeppelins, pirates, steampunk carnivals, and the lost seven cities of gold. Neil and I have known each other for about 25 years. He’s already read my books and I have always been a Rush fan. We’ve worked together a few times. Before CLOCKWORK ANGELS, we did a short story called “Drumbeats.” and Neil wrote an introduction to a collection of short stories I did. When he was developing the story for the”Clockwork Angels” album, I started brainstorming with him just because it was fun. At some point along the way, Neil suggested that this could be a novel also. This novel is something I’ve been waiting my entire career to do. Rush’s music has inspired many of my stories. During their “Time Machine” tour, they came to Colorado (where I live) and on a day off, Neil and I climbed a 14,000 foot mountain—because what else do you do on your day off? During the hike up, we plotted the story and came up with the characters. So while Rush was writing the album, I was putting together the story in my head. I was able to put in little references to Rush lyrics—not just “Clockwork Angels” but the entire library of songs. If you are a die-hard Rush fan, you will catch them, but otherwise the story flows just fine.

MG:What/when can we expect from the third Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. novel, “Hair Raising”?
KJA: HAIR RAISING is the third installment after DEATH WARMED OVER and UNNATURAL ACTS, and will be out in May. I’ve also done an original story, “Stakeout at the Vampire Circus” (available in all eBook formats), and I’ll have another new one, “Road Kill,” out in about a month. This series is a humorous horror series which follows Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., set in a world where all the monsters come back and live in a part of the city called the “Unnatural Quarter”. In HAIR RAISING, somebody is stalking werewolves and scalping them.
If you can’t tell, I have so much fun with my job. I love telling these stories. I don’t have enough time in the day to put down all the words in my head

MG: Tell us about your upcoming tour to support these?
KJA: I am about to start a US tour for HELLHOLE AWAKENING (San Diego, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta, Dayton, Richmond VA, and Colorado Springs)—full tour schedule at http://kjablog.com. Unlike a rock concert tour, I will be there meeting with the fans face to face, give a little talk about working with Brian and Neil, and there’ll be a Q&A, door prizes, lots of cool stuff. I look forward to getting out there and meeting the fans.

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Musician Graham Parker talks about working with Judd Apatow on "This is 40"

“This is 40?”  How about This is 62.  While most people his age are thinking about retirement musician Graham Parker is still going strong.

Inspired by his home country’s  Beatles, Parker and some friends formed their first band when he was 13.  After traveling around Europe and playing the occasional gig between jobs he returned to England and began work as a session musician.  In 1975 he formed the band he is most associated with, the Rumour.  Five years later the band broke up but Parker continued as a solo artist, becoming one of the most influential singer/songwriters of his generation.  In 2012 he reunited with the Rumour to produce the album “Three Chords Good.”  The album is classic Parker…great melodies and even greater lyrics (personal favorite:  “Snake Oil Capital of the World”).  In 2012 Parker also added “actor” to his resume’ when he appeared as himself in Judd Apatow’s comedy “This is 40.”  While promoting the upcoming DVD release of the film Parker took time out to speak with Media Mikes about his music, his inspirations and being back with the Rumour.

MIKE SMITH:  How did you become involved with “This is 40?”
GRAHAM PARKER:  Judd (Apatow) came looking for me, actually.  The timing of it….I had just reformed with my first band, the Rumor, to do an album.  We hadn’t recorded it yet but we had it arranged and it wasn’t more than a week or so later that Judd got a hold of my people, as it were, my publishing company people.  I met with him very quickly after that in New York City.  And he talked to me about this part of the plot line about an independent record label…that I would be the kind of act that would get signed to this label.  He elaborated a little bit on that idea…not a great deal…I think he was checking me out, you know?  And a week later he was back on the phone saying “Let’s do all this stuff, man.  I want you in it.”  He brought the Rumor in and we did a two-day shoot with them and then a few days with me doing various things.

MS:  Were you a fan of his films before he contacted you?
GP:  Back in 2001 I heard that one of my songs was going to be used on a television show called “Undeclared.” (NOTE:  the show was created by Apatow)  I entirely missed out on watching it when it aired so I watched the episode.  And I thought “that is a really good show…it’s a great show.”  So I watched a few more episodes on DVD.  Then someone told me I had to see “Freaks and Geeks.”  So I watched that.  And both of those productions were absolutely fabulous.  And from then on Judd was on the map.  I’ve seen most of his films.  “Knocked Up” and “40 Year Old Virgin” stood out…they were such blockbusters you couldn’t get away from them.  But I could tell he was a class filmmaker doing unique kinds of stuff.

MS:  I gave a re-listen to “Three Chords Good” yesterday to prepare for our talk.  After almost forty years of music you continue to be one of the most brilliant lyricists.  Is there anything special that inspires your music?
GP:  It’s hard to tell anymore (laughs).  I still seem to have this drive to cover up my last lot of mistakes as it were.  About six months after I do an album I start thinking back and thinking “I’ve got to do better  than that!”  And I start itching to write songs and clear the deck again.  Clear the deck…do it again…get back on the horse.  Do it all differently.  It just kicks in.  More that than really just having a great deal to say.  I think you have the most to say when you’re under thirty…when all of those interesting synapses are firing, you know?  Things are different now.  I’m not trying to destroy the world or blow people’s minds.  I’m just trying to make very interesting songs and just keep that ball rolling.  And for whatever reason that feeling hasn’t worn off yet, which is just a lucky accident I think.  Unfortunately I’m driven.  The stuff keeps coming.  As soon as we finished the new album I wrote a song and I thought “this is a good start.”  But then I had to stop myself because the album had to be held up for so long…obviously it was a no-brainer to tie it in with the movie’s release.  It was held up for a year.  And in that time I could have written another whole album but I stopped myself because I knew I would not be too excited about promoting THIS record if I’ve got a whole album’s worth of songs in the bag.  I stopped but now I’m back at it.  I’m putting together a few songs and again preparing to do a little tour with the Rumor to coincide with the DVD release.

MS:  With all of the technology available today pretty much anyone can have a recording studio in their home.  Do you think that’s a plus for the music industry…the ability to get so many different sounds out there?
GP:  The days of acts thinking they’re going to sell enough music to make a living are gone, really.  Very few break through into that area….a lot of hard copy sales or download sales.  I do think it’s good that people that might only have a modest chance can do it themselves at home for cheap.  I’m not a techie…I don’t have a lot of studio gear.  I have an Mp3 player that I record on.  I’ve got Garage Band on my computer but I don’t use it.  I’m lucky enough to always be able to get a gig (laughs).  But I do think it’s good that everybody can get a chance to make music.

MS:  After more than three decades you’re back on the road with the Rumor.  Was there any rust when you first got together or was it as if you’d never parted?
GP:  I can’t say there was any rust at all.  We just got right back into it.  It was very heartwarming and encouraging, really, because so much time had passed.  Once we started playing…there’s a symbiosis between us that just locks in.  To illustrate that, there are three of us playing guitar.  I don’t need to play guitar when I’ve got two great guitarists.  There are some songs where I stop playing, thinking I can do it without playing the guitar, and they tell me that my guitar is intracal to it.  And it is.  There are some songs where the three of us just lock in.  It’s a pretty amazing thing.  That just happened instantly.  We recorded the record in nine days.  It was basically done except for a few overdubs and backing vocals.  So that shows you the kind of form we were in.

 

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Matthew Modine reflects on working with Stanley Kubrick in "Full Metal Jacket" and Christopher Nolan in "The Dark Knight Rises"

Matthew Modine is probably known best for playing Pvt. Joker in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” and Louden Swain in “Vision Quest”. He recently appeared as Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley in “The Dark Knight Rises” and will be appearing later this year as John Sculley in upcoming “jOBS”. Matthew also is set to produce and voice act in Ralph Bakshi’s latest film “Last Days of Coney Island”, which is currently trying to become funded via Kickstarter. Matthew took out some time to reflect working with Stanley Kubrick in “Full Metal Jacket”, Christopher Nolan in “The Dark Knight Rises” and his role in “jOBS”. Check out the first part of our interview with him, here.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you believe that it has been 25 years since “Full Metal Jacket” and here we are still discussing it all these years later?
Matthew Modine: It is amazing. It is a testament to Stanley Kubrick and his genius. He didn’t make movies that are disposable. They continue to have relevance long after they have been released, whether it is “Paths of Glory”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “2001: A Space Odyseey” or “A Clockwork Orange”. They are just films that continue to speak to audiences. I always remember something that Stanley said “A film should be like a good piece of music. Something that you can listen to over and over again and have relevance long after it is written”. I think he tried to approach film with that mentality like a great piece of music.

MG: Tell us about the origin of your book “Full Metal Diary”?
MM: I had a tremendous experience working with Kubrick and I kept this diary while I was working on the film. He also allowed me to take photographs on the set. I had this 2 1/4 x 2 1/4-inch Rolleiflex camera that I tucked inside my jacket when we were in Vietnam and then kept in my foot locker when we were filming the boot camp. It was very rare that he allowed me to take photographs on the set because he was such a secretive and private filmmaker, but he almost encouraged it. I don’t know why but I am very grateful that he did and gave the opportunity to be able to share what that looked like. The thing about keeping my diary is that Kubrick often asked me to read my diary out loud to everyone on the set. The thing that it encouraged me to do was tot hen keep a very good diary with accurate notes. The thing that I love about the diary is that it is the voice of a young man that is in a situation that he really doesn’t understand. It is not a reflection is my point. It is not somebody looking back at a time working with Stanley Kubrick, as a recollection. What you experience when you reach it is this naive person about a circumstance that he doesn’t understand and I think that makes it quite unique.

MG: How did your diary go from book to the new iPad app?
MM: I was approach by Adam Rackoff. He used to work for Apple. He was one of the geniuses that worked for them. Steve Jobs was his boss. He was responsible for opening stores, advertising and more. I had done a presentation at the Apple Store in Soho talking about how the book was made on a Mac. He really just loved the book and knew that their were only 20,000 copies of the books made each with a serial number. So years later, the iPad come out with these amazing apps. He told me that he thought it would be an perfect iPad app. He said he would have me record the story in my own voice, do characterizations for the people talked about in the stories, have someone do original score along with sound effects and create this amazing and deeply immersible experience for people to enjoy with iPads. The final thing that sealed the deal for me is that he said that it would be something that Stanley Kubrick would be proud of. So with us holding the bar that high for Stanley Kubrick, that was the criteria for this…was it good enough for Stanley? In the end, I think we created something that he would definitely be impressed with.

MG: Last year you played Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley in “The Dark Knight Rises”, tell us about that experience?
MM: The thing that was amazing about that film is that people are always comparing Christopher Nolan to Stanley Kubrick. As big as that film was, as large as the cast was, the budget…everything – when you came on the set of “The Dark Knight Rises” it felt like an intimate independent film. Nolan creates an environment on the set that makes it feel very intimate. He doesn’t have a video village. He has this little monitor he wears around his neck. He is not one of those directors that is hiding behind a bunch of monitors and away from the set. He stands on the set and is with his actors and his crew. He is curious about what his technicians are going and what the actors are thinking and saying. I think that may not sound like what a director is suppose to do but you will be surprised at how many filmmakers are not that involved. There is so much chaos on a film set that you don’t know who is directing the movie. Is it the producers? Is it the writer? The crew? The director of photography Nolan is really the the captain of his ship. His wife is his producing partner and his brother is his writing partner. It is just a very tight and intimate environment. I mean how often does anyone have such a great character arc in that kind of a film. I just hope I get the opportunity to work with him again.

MG: You mentioned Apple and later this year you also have your role of John Sculley in “jOBS” coming, what can we expect?
MM: I haven’t seen the finished film but it was extraordinary to work on. I think that Ashton Kutcher did an amazing job from the work I saw. He was really fully committed to doing Steve Jobs justice. It is amazing to see how much he began to look and sound like him. I am looking forward to see it. I know it closed the Sundance Film Festival, was received positively and received a distribution deal. So all the signs are that it will be an entertaining film.

Joel Murray talks about working with Bobcat Goldthwait on "God Bless America" and Disney/Pixar’s "Monsters University"

Joel Murray is the youngest in his family of actors including Bill Murray and Brian-Doyle Murray. He is the star of Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest film “God Bless America” and he is voicing the character Don Carlson in Disney/Pixar’s upcoming “Monsters University”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Joel about growing up in the business and his work on the films above.

Mike Gencarelli: What did you think about “God Bless America” upon your first reading?
Joel Murray: You heard the story from Bobcat (Goldthwait), right? He was having back surgery, so I brought him over dinner and the first three seasons of “Mad Men”. Middle way through season two his wife said “You know, Joel could play Frank”. So he sent me the script but didn’t say a part or anything. I read it and told him it was great and I really liked it. I told him that I liked what he has to say and that it was time for a film like this. Then I asked him, “Who are you thinking about, you want me for the guy in the office?” He said “No Frank…the Guy!” I jumped at the thought of having the lead role in the movie, which doesn’t happen too often. Actually it has just happened once, really [laughs]. My first thought was hell ya! But then I had a couple of moments thinking that there could be some repercussions from this. I agree with about 95% about what he says in the movie. So I just thought “Why not?” My only fear was that seven Westboro Baptists would come visit me at my house. [laughs] But other than that I wasn’t too worried. What I love about his work is that all of his movies having something to say. So many comedies today are just like an extended shit joke.

MG: You’ve worked with Bobcat Goldthwait going back to “Shakes the Clown”; how was it with him behind the director’s chair again?
JM: When I worked with him on “Shakes”, it was his first movie and he was in clown makeup the whole time. You didn’t really think about him as an auteur, he was playing a drunken clown running around in make-up. On this film though, I was able to work hand-and-hand with him the whole time. I directed some stuff in the past and he was open to anything that I had to say and add. It was a fun relationship. It is awkward having your buddy give you a role that you didn’t audition for.  He didn’t give me a lot of notes or anything. All I kept getting from him was “Yeah, you really got this guy down!”

MG: How did you prepare for a character like Frank?
JM: I thought Bob has written it for himself. So I was kind of playing Bob in a way [laughs] but with his normal voice. I had a friend shoot himself in the mouth about 6-8 months before this came up. So when we started shooting, a couple of the scenes we did first was me with a gun in my mouth. That really takes you to a real interesting spot as an actor…a real depressing spot for that matter. So starting from there, I found a dark place to begin with and had a gradual upswing from there. His is never really that happy or excited though in the film. But starting from the darker corner was a good way to go as an actor.

MG: Was it challenging to blend the satirical comedy with the violent action?
JM: How do you blend it? Well, anyone that takes the violence in this film too seriously doesn’t get it. They also may be part of the problem that we are trying to kill. When you have a car montage in the middle of the film dancing around on the map of America, you know it is not taking itself that seriously. To do some serious acting on this, the comedy of it brought something to it. I grew up doing comedy and I have been fortunate enough to get into some serious roles as well in “Mad Men” and “Shameless”. So I’ve got to do some straight acting. It has been interesting to try and I have also learned a lot from my peers and my brothers. I watched my brother Billy (Murray) in “Broken Flowers” and I thought to myself “He’s seeing if he can do absolutely nothing and if it would work” [laughs]. Also in “Lost in Translation”, he was so introspective. So I just didn’t want to overplay it and keep it kind of close. I have a very expressive face, so I don’t need to be too over the top. But Bob was consistently giving me the thumbs up. So I guess it worked.

MG:  Speaking of your family, how was it growing up as the youngest in a family of actors? Do you feel that comedy comes easy?
JM: It was natural at home. Everyone was funny around the dining room table and that is where some of the comedy started in our house. You learn from them. I had some of the funniest people in America in my room growing up. There was also a high standard with them. I did plays throughout high school and college and when I got into improv, it wasn’t that easy but I had my background to draw from. I remember one of the first times my brother Billy came to see me at the Improv Olympic. I remember riding home with him and it was one heck of a quiet car ride, like I just struck out to win the World Series [laughs]. So they are a tough group to impress but we all created our own funny. There is stuff you saw on “Saturday Night Live” and from movies where you think that you grew up with that. I had more noogies on my head then anybody being the youngest [laughs].

MG:  Lastly, tell us about your role Don Carlson in “Monsters University”?
JM: The first trailers didn’t really show any new characters. In the new trailers, I am the guy with the mustache in the cloak that is evoking the initiation rites. Don Carlson is a student in his 40’s that has been laid off and decided to go back to college and learn the computers. So he is in this lame frat with the other guys but he is 20 years older than them all. He was a fun character. He is a little bit Minnesota-ent and sounds a little bit like my brother Brian-Doyle Murray but not exactly, I swear [laughs]. I didn’t go there!

 

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David Mazouz talks about working with Kiefer Sutherland on the TV series "Touch"

David Mazouz stars opposite of Kiefer Sutherland on Fox television show “Touch” where he plays the character of Jake Bohm an emotional disturbed 11 year old with the ability to predict the future. The show is set to start airing its second season at the end of February and Media Mikes was fortunate enough to be able to talk with David about how he first got cast in the role and what it has been like working alongside Kiefer Sutherland.

Adam Lawton: What was it that interested you in wanting to become an actor?
David Mazouz: I was actually only about 6 years old when I started taking classes. I don’t think I knew what I wanted but I loved the class and I went for 3 hours a week for a year before my commercial agent saw me and asked my Mom if we could meet. When I started going on auditions for commercials, I loved that too and the more I auditioned and began booking things, the more I loved it.

AL: Can you tell us about the process you went through to get the role of Jake Bohm?
DM: It was a 6 audition process over the course of about 6 months. It was put on hold after my first call back because Kiefer was in New York doing a play on Broadway. I knew the Casting Directors because they hired me for a television movie before. For the fourth audition, they flew me out to New York to read with Kiefer. The last 2 were in Los Angeles. There were times where I really didn’t know if it would go any further so every time I got to go to the next step I was really excited because I loved this character and the script. When I eventually found out I got the role, I was on vacation in Palm Springs for a holiday. I was in the recreation room with my best friend and we were playing a game and his Brother came in to get us and take us back to the room where there were other friends of mine and my Sisters and they all watched while I took the call from my Agents. I was in shock and so happy that I screamed.

AL: Has it been difficult for you playing a character that for the most part doesn’t speak?
DM: Actually I do speak in the voice over’s but, I think it was easier to not speak in the first season because everything was so new and I was really getting into the physical character of Jake; how he walks and behaves. I do love speaking in general and people tell me I talk a lot. I don’t want to spoil Season 2 for the audience but I’ll just say that Season 2 is different in many ways than Season 1. It’s easier in some ways to not speak because I don’t have to learn lines. But more difficult because I have to show what I’m thinking and feeling through my facial expressions and actions and behind my eyes. I have to make the audience understand what I’m thinking and feeling just visually. So when I’m acting I usually just try to feel the things Jake feels so that I can show that to the audience and they can understand me.

AL: What’s has it been like working with Kiefer Sutherland?
DM: In one word, it’s Awesome! I really love working with Kiefer. I feel so fortunate to be working with someone who’s had so much experience in film and in television and who also started acting when he was young. I knew from the first time I met him, that he was someone who I could learn so much from. Kiefer is a very hard worker and he’s very smart too. He can tell what works and doesn’t and he is very natural. I am lucky because he’s always been willing to teach me things and he’s been patient and kind. In that way he’s a lot like a father to me because he really leads me to learn the lessons I have needed to learn on the set, not just about acting but about how conscientious he is and prepared before he gets there. He’s also encouraged me musically because he’s a musician and knows so much about that. He actually bought me my first guitar for my 11th birthday. Even though our show and our characters are serious and intense, he’s always cracking a joke right before we start so he’s always made me feel very comfortable. The other thing that is special about working with Kiefer on “Touch” is that he’s not just the lead but also an Executive Producer. I’ve learned a lot about what it looks like to have the responsibility of those two jobs together. I have a lot of respect for Kiefer and working with him has been a fantastic experience for me.

AL: What has been your favorite part thus far about working on the show?
DM: That’s an easy question! I love the crew, the other cast members and my Studio Teacher. Everyone I have been working with from the Directors and assistant directors, writers, producers to wardrobe and make up to sound and lighting, props and of course my teacher who I spend all day with have been so much fun. Everyone is really good at what they do. I am lucky because I have been able to learn about each person’s job and how each job is important to what the show ends up looking like. Because I do the voice over’s, I’ve also learned about that with the people responsible for post production. It’s all so interesting and we have all become like a family. I really do love coming to work every day so I can say hi to everyone. You get to know people pretty well when you spend that much time with them. I feel like if they aren’t really good and happy about being there it could be very different and not something you look forward to. We’ve celebrated birthdays and holidays and have private jokes and handshakes. For me all those new relationships and learning from them have been the best part of my job.

AL: Do you have any other projects coming out that we can be watching for?
DM: I did a horror film that is in some film festivals right now but that was over the summer between Season 1 and 2. There is also another film in the works that doesn’t have a start date yet. I haven’t had a lot of time to do anything else because of the commitment I have to “Touch”. I have been auditioning for some things that I can’t talk about right now and some things are possibilities that I’m hoping will work out if the timing is right. I love working and hope that I just keep getting to do interesting roles like this one.

Todd Tucker talks about working make-up effects for "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and The Smurfs 2"

Todd Tucker is the owner of special make-up effects studio, Illusion Industries. He has worked on films like “Hannibal”, “Pirates of the Caribbean  The Curse of the Black Pearl” to TV shows like “Soutland” and “Hannah Montana”. 2013 is a very busy year for him with seven projects aiming to be released including “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and The Smurfs 2″.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Todd about these projects and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: Let’s breakdown your projects for 2013, first let’s chat about your role working on “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”?
Todd Tucker: Unfortunately with this film, I can’t tell you exactly what we did yet but I can describe our experience. What I can say about “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is that I think the fans are really going to dig what we did on this one. We did a number of different aspects including character looks etc. The first film was cool but it felt a little too much like a video game. It was very CG heavy. Jon Chu, the director, really made this film look like it was happening. Everything is very practical and it feels like you are really experiencing what you are seeing, as oppose to playing a game. The actors are really good at locking in their characters and not making it cheesy. I think this film is going to be very cool and also visually off-the-charts.

MG: Tell us about your work on “The Smurfs 2” and how does it compare from the first film?
TT: It cool since right when I started Illusion Industries, we got called to work on “The Smurfs” and we designed and created the look for Hank Azaria. We made all the appliances. He has a fake nose, dentures, ears, eyebrows and hair. So he looks pretty different. For the first movie, I wasn’t able to be on set. We created everything, did the make-up tests and then handed it off to somebody else. For “The Smurfs 2”, I got to go to Montreal and worked on Hank Azaria’s make-up for the whole show. It was interesting since we started to used the same nose and ears from the first film but Hank had lost some weight and was a little more buffed out. So we had to go in and re-sculpt the nose and downscale it a little bit to adjust for the look. For that point on, we had to just maintain him daily. He is just such a great actor and perfect for the role. He really brought it to life for sure.

MG: We go from action to animation to drama, tell us about your role in “The Iceman”?
TT: Originally we were going to do all sorts of character age make-ups for this film but then we found out it was not going to help the film. We then created all these period looks. We made all the wigs, mustaches and hairpieces. We did a few things on the lead actor, Michael Shannon, for the film. I can tell you this, I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival and I am not a big mafia movie fan but this movie is intense and the performances are great. I was very proud to have my name at the end of this movie.

MG: If you had to choose out of these three films above, which was the biggest challenge?
TT: The most challenging was “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”. We have our main studio here in Burbank but I also have another in New Orleans. The only problem is for “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”, the build was kind of big and they wanted us to relocate everyone to our Burbank studio to there. So we had to all relocate and move into a haunted house for three months [laughs]. So that was a fun but also a challenge. But it was a really cool project to work.

MG: Can you give us an idea about your work on “Fright Night 2”?
TT: The DP on the film I co-wrote and directed “Monster Mutt” is also the DP on “Fright Night 2”. They were filming the movie in Bulgaria around Christmas time last year. They were going through some changes and need us to come up with a creature design for the finale scene. So two of my guys here put it together very quickly and traveled it down. I think it is going to be very cool.

MG: With the films mentioned above and TV shows like “Southland”; do you enjoy the variety of genres?
TT: The thing that is cool is that all different movies and TV shows that we have coming out this year are ranging all across the board. We have family, horror, action, drama and TV shows. We occasionally work on “Sons of Anarchy” and do a lot for the Disney Channel. We are also working currently on Conan O’Brien’s show doing these zombie skits. So yeah, we really like to dapple in all the different genres.

MG: Tell us what else you got planned for 2013?
TT: This year alone in 2013, we have seven films coming out. We got “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “The Smurfs 2”. We just finished “Fright Night 2”. we did a movie called “Deadlock Pass”, which was shot in Russia by Renny Harlin. Just did a film called “The East”, which I saw at Sundance and it was a really great flick. Also did a movie called “Fort Bliss”, which is a drama. We are still also doing some TV with Disney Channel. We also have an in-house production company that we produce, direct and come up with in-house projects. We did a family film that I mentioned called “Monster Mutt”, which just came out on DirecTV, iTunes and Vudu this month. It is also available on Walmart.com, Target.com and Amazon.com. So that is doing pretty well. We also have two in-house projects that I am directing this year. One of them is an action/horror film and the other is a very dark fantasy. We are looking forward to that.

Composer Marco Beltrami talks about recent scores and working with Jerry Goldsmith

A fan of both film and music, Marco Beltrami decided to incorporate both loves while attending the Yale School of Music.  An internship at USC with Oscar-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith started him on the illustrious path he has found himself traveling down.  His more popular scores include “Scream,” “I, Robot,” “Hellboy,” “The Flight of the Phoenix,” and “The Woman in Black.”  He earned Academy Award nominations for his scores for “3:10 to Yuma” and the Oscar winning Best Picture “The Hurt Locker.”  This year he scored no less then five films, including “The Sessions” and “Trouble with the Curve” and his music will be heard in 2013 in such anticipated films as “Carrie,” “World War Z,” “A Good Day to Die Hard” and “The Wolverine.”  Mr. Beltrami took a few rare moments away from his work to talk with Media Mikes about Jerry Goldsmith’s advice, his favorite film genre’s and his very busy 2013.

Mike Smith: What led to you pursue a career in composing?
Marco Beldrami: A moment of madness, I guess (laughs). Since I was very young I’ve always been into music. When I was younger I remember watching the early “Spaghetti” Westerns and being very influenced by both the films and the scores. How they related to each other. I went to school and I actually got a liberal arts degree in geology and then in urban planning but I later realized that music was what I wanted to do. I went to the Yale School of Music and that’s when I realized that some of the most exciting things that were happening in music were happening in film. Film music doesn’t really have any limits on it. It embraces the new technology as well as the classical orchestra. To me there is something powerful about putting music to image. I became hooked. I came out to California to do an internship with Jerry Goldsmith at USC and from that point on I was hooked. (NOTE: Readers, Jerry Goldsmith was one of the greatest film composers EVER. Popular scores of his include the original “Planet of the Apes,” “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and the original version of “The Omen,” for which he won his only Academy Award).

MS: When you’re hired to score a film do you begin to draw ideas by reading the script or do you wait until you have actual footage to look at?
MB: To me the script is a horrible way to start working on a film’s score because it can be deceiving. You really need the image. A script can be treated in so many different ways and the music is all about nuance.

MS: You mentioned that your mentor was the great Jerry Goldsmith. What’s the best piece of advice he ever gave you?
MB: To be as economical as possible…to say as much as possible in as few notes as possible. To write as simply as possible for the orchestra. Coming from the background I came in there was a pride in being able to embrace simplicity, which is one of the most important things I learned from Jerry.

MS: Jerry Goldsmith won his only Oscar for his score for “The Omen.” How important of an assignment was it to you when you were picked to score the 2006 remake? (NOTE: Readers, Jerry Goldsmith was nominated 18 times for an Academy Award, not only for the scores mentioned above but others including “Chinatown,” “Poltergeist,” “Hoosiers” and “L.A. Confidential.” Next to John Williams he is my favorite composer).
MB: I found it to be a great honor and also quite daunting. Speaking of simplicity, Jerry’s score to “The Omen” pretty much consisted of three notes that everything branches off from. And I tried to keep that spirit of a minimalist state…not a minimalist style but a minimalist state…of writing in my score. I was very aware of his presence.

MS: You’ve done a few scores of film remakes – “Flight of the Phoenix,” “3:10 to Yuma” – as well as some film sequels. When working on those films do you feel an obligation to work in some of the original film’s score in your score as a nod to fans of the original film?
MB: Usually no, unless there’s a reason to in the picture. In the case of the new “Die Hard” I am trying to keep the flavor because I am very much aware of the fans of the films. It’s different then on a film like “3:10 to Yuma,” which just stands on its own and isn’t part of a franchise.

MS: Do you have a favorite film genre’ to compose to?
MB: Not really. The only thing I’m not real keen on, and that’s probably because I’m not excited about them, is romantic comedies. I don’t have much desire from them. They’re just not interesting to me musically.

MS: Clint Eastwood fancies himself a composer occasionally. Did he offer you any tips for your score on “Trouble With the Curve?”
MB: (laughs) No, he left that job up to the director.

MS: You have no less than six films being released in 2013. Do you often work on several different scores simultaneously?
MB: It sometimes seems that way. The film industry is in a constant state of flux so sometimes projects often overlap. It sometimes works out as a nice change of pace to go right from one film to another. Sometimes it can get a little hectic but that’s the nature of the business.

MS: The last film on your schedule is “The Wolverine.” Anything planned after that?
MB: I have a new Tommy Lee Jones picture called “The Homesman” which will begin filming this spring.

MS: Is there a fellow composer working today whose work you really enjoy?
MB: There are quite a few people. The most recent score I really liked a lot was Fernando Velazquez’s score for “The Impossible.” He did a great job on that score.

MS: Has there ever been a film you would have liked to have written the score for? And have you ever just sat down and written music for a film that’s already been released –not an entire score but maybe a theme or two?
MB: That happens quite often. You see a film and you say, “oh shoot, I wish I had done that!”

Philippe Brenninkmeyer talks about working with Broken Lizard

Philippe Brenninkmeyer is best known for his work with Broken Lizard on their films like “Super Trooers” and “Beerfest”. He has also worked with the guys indivdually on projects like “I Heart Shakey” with Steve Lemme, “Dark Circles” with Paul Soter” and “The Babymakers” with Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Philippe about his films and his love for comedy.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you met up with the troupe Broken Lizard?
Philippe Brenninkmeyer: It happened quite simply. I went out for an audition for the part in “Super Troopers”. When I went in they were all there in the room. Normally you audition for just a director and casting director. There were five of them there, so it was pretty fun. After my audition, I was pretty upset because I didn’t think I did a good job. I didn’t feel that I was that present. Then a few months later they called my agent and said I got the job. I had already forgotten about it. So that’s the way it happened.

MG: Your role in “Super Troopers” is so great; can you reflect on that experience?
PB: The great thing about the Broken Lizard guys is that they do all their own writing. They are really good comedy/script writers. They stick close to the script, even though they may improvise here and there. The scenes were so well-written you didn’t need to do much to deliver the lines. So, the first scene – the famous scene – with the feather and all, they were doing car chase scenes all day, which took a very long time. Just before the light was going down, I was waiting and waiting all day – then they came about and shot it very quickly. The light was very low but you can do a lot with film to fix it up. But from what I remember it was a very quick shot.

MG: With “Super Troopers 2” in the works, did they give you any hint about being involved?
PB: No they haven’t yet. They are such wonderful and loyal guys. They are really professional in the sense that they don’t want to promise anything that might not happen at the end of the day. So far they have taken care of me very much in their films. They wait until they have the greenlight and then give you a call…hopefully.

MG: “I Heart Shakey” was a cute film, how was it playing Mattias Ober?
PB: The characters that they cast me in aren’t too much of a stretch for me. It comes to me easily. They are close to me in real-life. I am kind of that crazy guy. I would say the character in “Super Troopers” was a bit more difficult, but he was still a laid back German swinger. Mr. Ober in “I Heart Shakey” was the kind of character that I relish in. It was great, great fun. Lemme was amazing in this film. It was great playing off him, since he is so subtle and real. You only do something if it really affects him and that is when the truth comes out. The truth is the most believable thing to watch on film.

MG: I loved how that film included the song, “Bidibodi Bidibu”, which the same song you had playing in your Porsche in “Super Troopers”, was that your doing?
PB: What is really funny is that I wasn’t even aware of that. But that is really awesome, I love it.

MG: What do you enjoy most about doing comedy?
PB: In the drama based films, I feel like it is more difficult. The script would need to be really good. In a comedy if the script is good but there is dialogue issues, I have the means to make up for that. In comedy, I just have a comedic head. I can also detect straight away if something is wrong in comedy very easily. In drama, I can do the same but I usually need more time to figure it out. People say that comedy is so difficult but I find it comes natural for me, since it is just so much fun.

MG: Switches gears from comedy but sticking with Lizard, was it working with Paul Soter directing on “Dark Circles”?
PB: That was really great also. There is something about the horror genre that responds to me because it is so out of this world. A horror film is something that you think would never happen, so there is an element in there that is crazy. That is what really responds to inside of me. It is a bit out there like a comedy is out there. I like stuff that is sort of filtering on the edge. It was great fun working with Paul.

MG: What projects do you have planned next?
PB: I am trying to get into producing now. I’ve got two scripts going right now and one is with Paul, actually. Paul is an absolutely amazing writer. He has gotten to a point where he is pretty prolific. He is writing all sorts of projects, like dramas as well. This one is actually a drama/thriller. I work a lot in Germany, so I am trying to produce that there. So that is really it. Acting-wise, there is nothing right now but who knows…maybe tomorrow. You never know.

Don Felder talks about working with The Eagles and his new solo album

Don Felder is probably best known for his lead guitar work with The Eagles. Felder was inducted with the group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 however left the group shortly their after. He has recently released a new solo album titled “Road to Forever” which is his first solo release in 30 years. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with Don recently about the album, his autobiography and his plans for 2013.

Adam Lawton: With your last solo album being released 30 years ago what prompted you to now release an album of new material?
Don Felder: When you are in The Eagles you eat, breath and sleep Eagles business. You are either on the road, writing songs, doing interviews or performing. It is something that is all consuming and a monster of a machine. When I left the band in 2001 I really went through a period of self reflection. I started meditating between 30 and 40 minutes a day where I would look back at my life. I was trying to get a handle on what had happened to me and how I had changed. I would come out of these sessions and write down my recollections. My fiancé had read them and told me she thought it would make a great book. I told her that I was the world’s worst English student in high school and I actually had to go to summer school because I failed English. The next thing I know I am on a plane to New York with a literary agent. We ended up coming back with 5 offers from publishing companies to publish this book. I then had to look at the daunting task of having to take all these recollections  of my life story and write it in to a book. That took some time. During that first year of separation from the Eagles I also was separating/divorcing from my wife. Everything that I knew was stripped away from me. I had to find a place where I could resolve all of that. As I was going through the book writing process there would be painful parts that I needed to work through. To help myself through those tuff times I would go in to my home studio and write a song about it. I wrote 26 song ideas at about the same time I was writing my book. This was an effort to emotionally and intellectually flush myself of these feelings. I didn’t want to carry this excess baggage with me through the remaining years of my life. After the book was published I went out on the road to promote it as well as doing shows with my solo band which I have had for about the last 8 and a half years. In between all of that I worked on this album. I took the best 16 songs from the original 26 and recorded them for this CD. At that point I really shifted myself away from book writing and promotion. There were a lot of reasons that caused this album to take so long. I definitely wasn’t at home just twiddling my thumbs. (Laughs) I had a really full plate on all levels.

AL: Did you find any similarities between writing a book and writing music?
DF: Absolutely! It was a dual cathartic experience. On one hand I was writing the text of my life while on the other I was writing the music to my life. I turned those stories and experiences in to songs. To me real art weather its film, literature, painting or music contains stuff that have a human common denominator. People can experience those things and relate to them. I felt it was important for me to take my experiences and put them in these songs.  For me that is one of the most personal things an artist can do is to expose themselves in these ways. I felt the process to be very personal on both levels.

AL: The album features an impressive lineup of guest appearances. How did you go about picking people to appear on the album?
DF: One of my top criteria was having people that I know and who are good people and friends that wanted to have fun. When I finished the song “Fall From the Grace of Love” I wanted it to have these really great harmonies in the chorus. I called my friend Steven Stills who I was in a band with when I was 15. He actually lives down the road from me and we hang out and play golf together. When I got to California the first band I was in was Crosby, Nash. I called those guys up and asked them if they would sing on the record. They came over immediately and we had a really great time. There was no drama like I was so used to with my old band. Steve Lukather is probably one of the funniest guys to be in a room with. Not only is he a great guitar player but he is a ton of laughs. He played on the song “Road to Forever”. Tommy Shaw of Styx came in and helped with a couple tracks. Randy Jackson also came in and did some bass work on a song. Everyone knows him as the “Dawg dude” on “American Idol” but, he is a monster bass player! Randy is probably one of the top players in the Los Angeles area. He just destroyed this thing. They are all just friends of mine who happened to be in or around town. We had a lot of fun and made some great music. Those sessions really wiped away the old stigma of being in the studio and having arguments and contentious feelings. There was none of that and everything was just all good. In fact I had such a good time that I will promise the next album will not take another 30 years. (Laughs)

AL: How did your song “Fall From the Grace of Love” end up being chosen to appear in an episode of Showtime’s “Homeland”?
DF: I love the show and was just as shocked as everyone else when I heard they wanted to use one of my songs. I watch that show religiously as I think it is one of the most exciting shows on television right now. I got a call a few weeks back by the people who handle my publishing company that they had received a request from the people at “Homeland” to use the song. I said absolutely and felt quite honored.

AL: Can you tell us about your tour plans for the rest of this year and in to 2013?
DF: I think my last date for 2012 is December 15th. We have had such a great response to not only the new record but also the live shows that I plan on working from early February through fall of 2013. I will probably stay out on the road until it gets too cold to be slopping around out there. I could certainly use a vacation right now. It seems the closest I get to a vacation these days is doing interviews with people like yourself.

AL: What do you think has been the biggest change in your audiences over the years?
DF: Personally I am not a fan of going to really large venues like football stadiums or hockey arenas to hear music. I think that is the wrong place to go. The sound is usually bad and most instances you are so far away from the stage that you get a better show watching the video monitor than you do from your seat. It is just not comfortable. I prefer to play the 3-5,000 seat arenas. In the summer I do like playing larger venues like State Fairs and such with bands like Reo Speedwagon and the Doobie Brothers. Those big festivals that happen during the day are really great and people love that. I think the smaller venues are much more comfortable and intimate. It also is better sounding for the artist and listener at a smaller venue. We are also able to make the ticket prices much more affordable than that of say the Eagles. About 60 percent of my shows consist of Eagles songs while the rest is covers and solo material. It’s a great evening where by the end everyone is up on their feet dancing and having a great time. There is no drama as it’s just a great group of guys playing great music and having fun.

AL: Is there anything else we can be watching for from you in the coming year?
DF: There are a lot of things in the planning stages for 2013. Those things will start to show up on the website once they become public. Right now there are a couple tours being planned. One includes going to Japan, Europe and Australia. That is going to be contingent on the routing of where we will be and when during next year. I can’t really say exactly what will happen until those are contracted. I love to be out playing music and have a very child like enthusiasm for it. When you are doing something you love to do it is a playful experience. I have been fortunate enough and been given the gift to be able to do what I love. I enjoy it for that.

Twink Caplan revisits her role in “Clueless” and working on “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”

Twink Caplan is best known for her role of Miss Geist in “Clueless”.  She also had a fun role in this year’s raunchy comedy “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Twink about her role in the film and reflect on playing Miss Geist.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working with Tim & Eric in “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”?
Twink Caplan: Working with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim in “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” was insane fun. We had met a few years earlier when I worked on “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show.” It was a huge compliment to find out the duo had me in mind while writing the role of Katie. The cast was impressive with Will Ferrell, Zack Galifianakis, John C. Reilly, Jeff Goldblum, Robert Loggia, Will Forte… I was excited to play the lead female in this glorious company of men.

MG: The duo are know for their bizarre comedy, where you aware of this before coming on board?
TC: Reading the script I couldn’t wait to start. I was in my 60’s playing the older woman girlfriend of Eric, who is in his 30’s.

MG: What was the funniest thing that happened on the production?
TC: The funniest thing that happened on the production? The sex scene …when Tim slapped a realistic suction-cup dildo to his forehead and still had the remnants of the indentation and a red rash the next day. He’s very fair skinned. That scene was so wild with escalating in-the-moment improvisation.  When you are so absorbed in the character you realize later you might have done something or you might have gone too far or you might have…oh no…its a Tim and Eric movie!!

MG: What did you enjoy most about playing Miss Geist in “Clueless” movie?
TC: I loved the 40’s fitted clothes and stunning wedding dress Mona May designed for me. The character was humble and sweet and playing opposite Wallace Shawn was the topping on the cake. Hiring Paul Rudd and watching his career blast off. Alicia was adorable and Donald was a ball of energy and Breckin and Brittany were so funny….and gorgeous Stacey…I loved working with the entire cast and we were very close. I’m working with Stacey Dash now playing her old school agent in “Stacey Dash is Normal,” for television. The best opportunity was working with Scott Rudin who is a genius and Sherry Lansing who is not only beautiful but an amazing woman.

MG: …and TV series?
TC: Paramount Studio is luscious and Amy Heckerling and I had Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin’s bungalow. It was brilliant. We continued to do the Clueless series and I was one of the Executive Producer’s as well as playing the role of Miss Geist. It was fun casting the Guest Stars and meeting new actors and its always fun to be able to be in a position to grant wishes.

MG: How did you meet Amy Heckerling and work with her on various projects?
TC: I met Amy Heckerling at Warner Brothers. She had just finished filming European Vacation. We hit it off immediately. We were yin and yang and it was a perfect match! Our working relationship continued for twenty-two years. Amy is a wonderful friend and very clever. I loved her writing and knew she was special. They say a happy set starts at the head of the fish and our sets were always calm and happy which speaks for Amy.

MG: Tell what you have planned upcoming?
TC: In January, I’m looking forward to start filming writer/director Craig Goodwill’s “Boy Toy,” a satirical fairytale adaptation of his award winning short, “Patch Town.”

 

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Regan Mizrahi talks about working with Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt on “Nature Calls”

Regan Mizrahi is cos-starring with Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt in the new film “Nature Calls”. For us parents with young kids, he is also voicing the character of Boots on “Dora the Explorer”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Regan about his new film and doing voice work.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your role in the film “Nature Calls”?
Regan Mizrahi: I play Kent, a boy way older than his years. I spend the movie trying to romance Janine (Maura Tierney). Since people tell me I’m an “old soul,” this was my chance to attempt to charm an “older lovely lady.”

AL: What was it like working with Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt?
RM: I learned a lot from working on a set with comics who do stand up. Learn your lines and prepare for chaos. No scene will go as planned. You will crack up most of the day. Your mom might not be thrilled with some of the conversations you might be privy to either, but I loved it!!!!

AL: What was your favorite experience from the shoot?
RM: There was an apt I was supposed to trash with Rob Riggle and Johnny. They told me “trash everything”- no one has ever said that to me before. They had like six of everything, so they kept resetting after each trashing. I was so tired at the end of the day, but it was so much fun!

AL: What do you like most about voicing the character of Boots on “Dora the Explorer”?
RM: One of the great things about voice overs, is that you can be in your PJ’s in the booth. It’s all about your voice and your imagination. I enjoy playing Boots because I like being a positive role model for kids. I have been voicing Boots for almost five years now, so my Nickelodeon co-stars have become like family.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
RM: I presently am the CEO of the Haribo Gummy Bear TV campaign. I have just done my fifth commercial for them. I love the perks of that job “all the gummy bears you can eat!!!” i also have a few things in the works that I am excited about, but cannot talk about just yet.

Kevin J. Anderson talks about working with the band Rush on the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”

Kevin J. Anderson is the co-author of the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”, which is based on the band Rush’s latest album. The novelization is co-written with Neil Peart, who is the drummer and lyricist for the band. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about this collaboration and his work with Rush.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up collaborating with Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart on “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”?
Kevin J. Anderson: Neil and I have been friends since around 1990; I’ve always been a Rush fan, and he reads my novels. My first novel, Resurrection, Inc., was inspired by the Rush album Grace Under Pressure. Over the years we’ve toyed with the idea of doing a novel/album crossover project, but the stories and the schedules never synched up. As Clockwork Angels began to take shape, though, it had that right set of ingredients. As he developed the story for the songs, he suggested that I do the novel.

MG: Since Neil wrote “Clockwork Angels” as a concept album, did that make the adapting process easier?
KJA: He’s always given me props for my worldbuilding skills, and when he started putting the songs and the story together, he turned me loose to let me develop the world, to see how the pieces fit together (like “Clockwork,” naturally!). Neil had most of the framework for the story, which is set out in the songs, but I helped connect the dots, added extra characters, fleshed out the scenes. But I didn’t change anything in the album or the songs—Neil wrote what he wanted to write, and I developed a story that captured it as best I could.

MG: What was your inspiration for the dystopian fiction featured in the story?
KJA: Oddly, we consider this a “nice” sort of dystopia. Yes, the Watchmaker controls a lot of people’s lives, which is a bad thing if you’re a square peg and the rest of the world is made of round holes, but for the vast majority of the population, this really is an idyllic sort of world. But our character is a dreamer and wants something more.

MG: How did you end up merging this story with the steampunk subgenre?
I’ve been writing steampunk since 1989 (before the term was ever invented, I think), and Neil liked that aspect. He had the idea of a steampunk motif from the very beginning, and it was always part of the canvas as the story and music took shape.

MG: Tell us about your work with artist Hugh Syme?
KJA: Hugh had already done some of the paintings for the CD booklet before I started writing. I used his artwork for details and inspiration, and he read the drafts of some scenes as I delivered them. Hugh had an uncanny knack for taking a detail or a metaphor at the core of the story (something even I didn’t realize) and pulling it to the surface, which would send me back to the draft to emphasize that part and add new scenes. We worked closely together for the illustrated booklet that accompanies the unabridged audiobook (which Neil Peart narrates), Hugh and I getting the finished content, design, and layout done for Brilliance Audio in only a few days!

MG: I think that this novel would make a great movie…(Hint Hint)!
I certainly wouldn’t disagree with you, but it doesn’t matter what I think. Some movie producer has to get that idea in his or her head!

MG: Do you feel that there will ever been another additional chapter to this story?
KJA: Not as an endless series of book after book. But Neil and I love the world and the characters, and we feel that some of the side tales might be worth exploring. Not in the immediate future, though. I have two massive books I’m writing, and Rush has this tour thing they’re on…

MG: What is your favorite song on the album “Clockwork Angels”?
KJA: It often changes as I keep listening to the album. Right now, the one that seems closest to my heart is “Headlong Flight,” which means so much to the story and means so much to me about my life.

MG: What do you have planned next? Any plans to work with Rush again?
KJA: Right now I am editing MENTATS OF DUNE with Brian Herbert, my next major novel in that series, and I am beginning a new trilogy in my gigantic “Seven Suns” universe, THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS. It’ll probably be a thousand pages long, and as of today I hit the halfway point! And I have two other novels ready to be cued up in the new year. It’s too soon to think about doing anything else with Rush —they’ll be touring for quite some time yet.

 

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