Joe Chrest [Interview]

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One of my favorite things about running this site is gaining the ability to at least digitally talk with some folks who have been involved in some major projects that have either influenced or entertained me over the years.  Whether it is with laughs, inspiration, or just pure and non-granulated talent, each individual that has been interviewed on this site has been someone who is very special to me for one reason or another.

And our interviewee today is no exception.  Well, maybe a slight exception, as Joe Chrest has turned out to be one of the funniest and most down to earth people I have had the honor and privilege to have a digital conversation with since, well the last person who was extremely cordial via e-mail (honestly, they’ve all be pretty cool, but Joe has been THE man!).  We also happen to share two very important commonalities.  We’ve both flown desks for the Air Force, and we absolutely LOVE the feel of brand new pair of socks.  How can you not dig a guy like that.  I guess more importantly might be that he is a very talented actor who you should recognize as Schmidt’s dad in both 21 Jump Street & 22 Jump Street.  Along with various other roles in films like Oldboy, One the Road, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, The Blind Side, Jeff Who Lives at Home, and many more.  More notably so, you may recognize him for his reoccurring role on HBO’s hit drama True Detective, that is certainly one of the finest shows on television today.  You can also see him in the upcoming and final(?) installment of The Hunger Games films in 2015.

No matter how you know him, he is a hilarious and talented son of a gun, and we are so honored to welcome him to the Trainwreck’d Society family.  With that being said, ladies and gentlemen…..Joe Chrest!

When did you first decide you wanted to become and actor? 

First got interested in acting during my senior year of high school. I was always heavy into sports (and still am) so I always needed the adrenaline rush and with my skill set, it was becoming obvious I was not going to take it to the next level in sports. I auditioned for a play and it really got the heart pounding — I was hooked, but it wasn’t until I got out of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and started sitting at a desk every morning, in a uniform that I realized I wasn’t going to be happy unless I went all in with the acting thing and see where it took me. Bummer was that I still owed Uncle Sam 4 more years. I was able to finish out my service and finish undergrad at the same time, so all was not lost, and my theatre degree was fully funded by the U.S. Government!

What were some of your earliest influences?

My early influences were all about comedy. I loved Monty Python and British humor since I was around twelve years old and I couldn’t get enough of the Cheech and Chong LP’s — my buddies and I would recite them in the locker room even though I didn’t understand half the shit — they still made me laugh (at twelve I couldn’t understand why the effeminate pirate would say “yes!” when they beat him with cat o nine tails on the yardarm, but it still broke me up). Of all the famous people I ever worked with, meeting Cheech on Nash Bridges was a true highlight. He still liked to talk about the old stuff and signed my buddy’s Los Cochinos album, “snack bar’s closed, fool…” referencing the prime parking spot from Pedro and The Man at the Drive-in.

What was your first paying gig as an actor?

My first paying gig was the same as Andy Griffith — The Lost Colony summer theatre in North Carolina. He found a wife there as well, but I quit after the first week and left wife-less (and soundly convinced by the producer that I would be black-balled forever in the industry if he didn’t see me at rehearsal that evening). Maybe that’s why I never got a Matlock gig?? I had never quit anything before, nor have I since, but suffice to say without going into detail that I felt justified enough with the circumstances to walk — even with Mr. Knowles’ black ball (balls??) hanging over my head.

Can you tell us a bit about Swine Palace?  How did this come to life?

After graduating Marshall University in my home state of West Virginia, I needed a good reason to procrastinate the big move to New York, and LSU came through with an offer of an assistantship and a full ride, so I figured what the hell and headed down to this mysterious land called Louisiana. Great move. There I met the three artists who have been the most influential on my life…John Dennis (my mentor), Steven Soderbergh (who gave me my breakout film role as Ben in King of the Hill in 1993), and Barry Kyle (Royal Shakespeare Company Director Emeritus) who after guest directing at LSU decided Louisiana was the perfect place for his new American acting company. He asked me to come down and found the company with him. It was to be called Swine Palace. Despite the odd name, I didn’t hesitate. Barry Kyle was a brilliant director, a visionary, and this was an artist’s dream…an artistic home. We had no theatre space, just a vision and a dream to turn the abandoned pig viewing pavilion (thus the name Swine Palace) on the LSU campus into the most state of the art, innovative performance space in the world. Eight years later, the doors were opened on our new multimillion dollar facility, The Reilly Theater, the dream having become a reality. The irony is that not long after the ribbon cutting, Barry Kyle was run out of town on a rail. Amazing. The man had directed a who’s who list of British super stars and it would be very difficult to argue that he was not a genius, but he could be… shall we say, “difficult.” Tough loss for Baton Rouge. The coda here is that the theatre is finally back in good hands with a great guy, Kennedy Center Fellow, George Judy.

True Detective Group

On the set of HBO’s True Detective.

In the span of your career, you seem to have portrayed several cops, or at least some form of law enforcement. Why do you think you tend to land so many of these gigs, including your reoccurring role on the hit HBO series True Detective?

Possibly the only thing longer than the arm of “Johnny Law” is my list of law enforcement roles. It’s kind of funny, but I spent the first half of my career on the other side of the law, playing just about every type of criminal found on line at Hedley Lamar’s card table in Blazing Saddles, and now all I’m pulling in are the cops, FBI, ATF, SWAT…you name it. To be honest, I really believe the reason is because when I would go to an audition in Los Angeles, I was always one of the weirdest looking guys in the room, but when I go to an audition in New Orleans, I’m always one of the most normal looking people in the room. I long for those days on the wrong side of the law — in film it’s far more interesting. Problem is, every time I get a good beard going, or a makings of a decent mullet, I get cast as a cop or lawyer or military officer and I have to break out the razor.

I noticed that you will be appearing in the next in line of the Hunger Games films.  I also noticed that you have some kids.  Are they fans of the movies, and stoked about seeing their dad in one of these films?  How about yourself?  Are you a fan as well?

5. I was a huge fan of The Hunger Games so I was stoked to find myself right there in the world with Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick going to take down Panem. The great part was that I was sucked into the world by the first two movies and the cliff hanger at the end of Catching Fire sent me running out to get my hands on Mockingjay, which I read in a day. What made it surreal was that I was so angered by President Snow at the end of Mockingjay, and then I get a call to audition to be in the “Star Squad” “Squad 451” who goes in to kick that son of a bitch’s ass! It was like being an arm chair quarterback and then waking up to find myself in the real Super Bowl. My kid’s are still a little young for The Hunger Games, but by the time MJ2 comes out, it’ll be a cool thing at school. It’s already on my 10 year old’s friends’ radar for sure. Spending the hot summer months shooting in Paris and Berlin made the whole thing about the coolest thing I’ve done in my 20 years in the business.

You have appeared as Jonah Hills father in both 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street, and were involved with some of the most hilarious scenes of both films.  How is the set life like films like these?  Is it as fun and full of laughs as it appears to be on the screen?

Everything about 21 Jump Street, AND 22JS has been a blast. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are laid back, fun to be around, and FUNNY dudes. Their attitude trickles down on the entire company as it always does with the best directors. Soderbergh’s sets are fun sets, and Francis Lawrence creates the same happy space. What makes their stuff great is that they trust their actors, and welcome anything you bring to the table. On the Jump Street sets improv was the order of the day and the only sad part about it is that so much funny stuff has to get left out. A great comedy director has to have the discipline to cut out the stuff that is hilarious, but not really needed to advance the movie. On something like that, the only hope is that the audience has as much fun watching it as you had making it.

What is your preferred genre of film to work in?

Comedy is the best. I love it all, dumb stuff like Stripes, and The Animal to high brow Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward plays to the corny stuff like Andy Griffith and Don Knotts movies. In junior high and high school, before ever wanting to act I was always voted class clown and stuff like that. I’ve always enjoyed laughing and I love making people laugh. One of the most important lessons I hope to teach my kids is to learn to laugh at themselves. Humility is a virtue. We need to lighten up as a society — laugh when it hurts! Cliches are cliches for a reason.

Dead Man Walking

On the set of Dead Man Walking, for being re-casted by Clancy Brown due to scheduling conflicts

What is the most embarrassing moment you have had on set, whether in the theatre or on a shoot?

Most embarrassing moment on set? Wow, there have been so many. We always laugh at the stuff Barry Kyle used to yell at me, like the time he stopped rehearsal when I grabbed an actress by the arm (not too roughly or anything) but we both kind of stumbled making it look worse…he yelled in front of the entire company, “Joe you and your bullshit method acting have been holding the American theatre back for years!!” I was young and green and this coming from someone I held in such high esteem was humiliating and devastating. Now it is one of my favorite laughs…man, to shoulder the blame for the entire American Theatre’s backward ways??

What was the last thing that made you smile?

9. Ha ha. I’m smiling now thinking about all those embarrassing Barry Kyle outbursts, “Joe! Cut the bit with the jacket!! It’s a TERRIBLE BORE!!!” I can hear it like it was yesterday.

Bodi: One [Single]

Bodi - OneLoyal TWS readers should not be surprised that we are once again showcasing the wonderful artist and overall beautiful human being that is Alexander Hallet a.k.a. Bodi.  He is arguably (and you best bet I would argue it!) the finest MC in the hip hop game today.  And even with these characteristics in tow, he still manages to prove himself to be an incendiary human being who obviously has the thoughts of others placed far above his own personal wants, and some times even his own needs.  Rapper, poet, photographer, philanthropist….these are the simplest definitions of this complex and obviously multi-talented human being.  And guess what Dear Readers…the man is back!

The man who is Bodi has recently returned from what he has dubbed The Volunteer Adventures, and is back in the lab(s) and seemingly perfecting his art(s) the only way he knows how: with his entire heart involved.  He is currently hard at work on a book of photography and a documentary about The Volunteer Adventures, but in between it all he is also not forgetting about what made us love him in the first place.  He is still writing songs and mastering his craft as a hip hop artist, now with a year’s worth of world traveling to influence his already beautiful storytelling that we have all come to know and love.  And I while damned if his latest single “One” isn’t a prime example of what can happen to an already talented artist when they set out on a personal voyage across the globe and comes back with an entire planet’s worth of experience with death, happiness, sadness, and exclamation.  Our man has done it once again.

Bodi - One 2“One” is a track that, in some ways, brings us back to this one dude I used to know and love called Alexipharmic.  Which was, as if you didn’t know, the portrait of a young man who would be Bodi.  The music brings us back to the bit more upbeat yet filled with struggle times of Alex’s early years, which is to say that the beat is a bit lighter than we heard on his brilliant 2013 release as Bodi, The Fall of Atlas.  But our man hasn’t exactly lightened up too much, thank goodness.  The poetry in his lyrics are still littered with beautiful sadness, especially when he spits about his “books of shadows that are way past due”, or when he mentions the “saints turned Gods” that essentially failed him.  “One” is, at the very least, a beautiful addition to the amazing songbook that he has managed to create in his short time on this earth.  And while it may be one of the jazziest and most upbeat songs we have heard from this cat as Bodi, “One” might be one of the most heart-felt and discovery driven songs we have heard from this man yet.

And even better yet, this is just one track from his forthcoming EP that is due out around mid-September.  And it would be a safe bet to say that we will be watching for this brilliant MP3 riddled canvas to drop and to tell you all about it.  Until then, be sure to head on over HERE to check out “One” which is without a single solitary doubt just the beginning of one of the finest albums of the year.  Bodi is unstoppable, Bodi is genius, Bodi is life.

Simple Steven [Artist]

Simple Steven3Here at Trainwreck’d Society, we are probably only slightly known for our support for the hip hop community.  While yours truly is a HUGE fan of hip hop music, especially the thought driven and lyrical bliss that can be accomplished in a simple 16 bars.  We’ve covered several hip hop acts, called out one artist as Person of the Year, and there is always a handful of hip hop albums on our end of year lists.  Still, it still feels like we don’t do enough.  That is exactly why I am so happy about this new feature.  I am so happy to (possibly) introduce one of the finest artist I have heard in so damn long, Simple Steven.

Somewhere in the vein of the Bodi, Sadistik, or Cas One….we shall find Simple Steven.  And this is not to say they have similar sounds, although they sort of do.  If anything they are similar in how different they are form everything you are used to hearing the hip hop world.  A Simple Steven song might be a bit less hook heavy when compared to his label mate Infidelix, and his lyrics a bit more complicated than fellow label mate Twitchy, and possibly not as dark in nature as the aforementioned Sadistik or Cas One.  So what does he sound like?  Exactly.  He sounds like Simple Steven.  He is man all on his own who has proven himself worthy of walking with the giants.  And walk he shall when he hits the road this summer in support of his new album Abandon All Anchors, which will be released August 5th, with the likes of DJ Abilities and Jake Spike.  And if the recently released music video for the album’s first single “Dormant” should act as a sign of how great this album and accompanying tour may be, you all are in for a real goddamned treat to say the least.

 

Simple Steven is, whether he knows it or not, a truly gifted lyricist by what almost seems like a birth right.  Should this brilliant young man decide to continue down a path guided by his ability to spit a flow that leaves your legs weak and mind fucking blown, he is almost guaranteed success and massive gratification.  There is little doubt in my mind that Abandon All Anchors will be a beautiful little building block that will piece together the beginnings of a very bright and definitely earned career for Simple Steven in the hip hop game.

 

Abandon All Anchors will be available on August 5th.  Check HERE for more details.  Also be sure to check out Simple Steven when he tours a city near you:

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Herschell Gordon Lewis [Interview]

HGLAnd off we go again here at Trainwreck’d Society with another round with the world of horror.  But this time, we have something exceptionally wonderful for you fine readers.  True admirers of the world of horror should know exactly what I mean when you catch the name of who we are honored enough to have featured in our digital pages today.

Back in 1963 a little film called Blood Feast was released that truly shook the world.  Horror films had ben existence for decades before, but not quite like this.  The pure shock value of this film would lead independent filmmaker Herschel Gordon Lewis to be deemed “The Godfather of Gore”, a nickname he truly deserves as set forth with other great films like Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red.  Whether through splatter horror films or sexplotation romps, Herschel Gordon Lewis has had a long and historical career of creating films that simply entertain.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just good old fashion sex, violence, and hilarity.  And what more do we really need, sometimes?  Mr. Lewis took a bit of a hiatus from the film world, but returned in 2002 to direct the anticipated sequel to Blood Feast, and actually has a grand new project that is beginning production this summer entitled BloodMania, an anthology consisting of four parts.  One segment was co-written by HGB, and he is slated to direct two of them.  It is so exciting to see The Godfather back in his element, and this damn project has success written all over it.  Learn more HERE!

After such a long hiatus, how did it feel in 2002 when you got back into the director’s chair to make the sequel to Blood Feast you had always wanted to do?  Did it feel natural or nerve-racking? 

I had phantom-directed just about every film I viewed during that hiatus. The mind-set was ready and natural.

What do you believe it is about the exploitation genre that continues to have a large cult following among film buffs?  What makes them different from more mainstream films from the 60’s and 70’s, and even beyond?

Exploitation films grab attention, roughly and mercilessly, to the action rather than to the actors. Viewers feel they’re in a back-alley, sharing a primitive creative experience.

What sorts of things were going through your head when you decided to release Living Venus, which was extremely risqué for its time.  Where you ever nervous about how the public was going to take it?  Where you targeting an audience at all?

I had determined that for a production whose values couldn’t compete with polish, we could compete by showing a limited number of brave theatergoers the kind of visual experience in which they could envision themselves being immersed. That formula still exists.

HGB2What do you think it is that keeps your hit film Blood Feast a relevant work of horror art that his hailed and praised to this very day?

Blood Feast has been criticized for every facet of production from lack of acting talent to shoddy camera work. But no other film can match its place in motion picture history: it was the first of its kind. Those who see it today sometimes say what they don’t say after viewing a hundred-million-dollar product: they got their money’s worth.

If you were given $5 million dollars in 60’s to make a film, do you think you would have gone a different route with your work?  

You bet I would. But I wouldn’t be regarded as a pioneer.

In your personal opinion, what is an “independent film”?  And do you think there is any hope in revitalizing a fearfully dead way of making films?

An independent film is produced outside the sacred gates guarded by Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild and controlled distribution. Regrettably, since fewer and fewer theatres will book this type of product, the independent has to compete in the semi-closed world of DVDs. That means aping what the major companies do.

If you were to attempt to modernize any of your films from the past, which would you like to see done?  Furthermore would you even really want to do so?

I’d rather move forward. I have scripts that haven’t been produced yet, so why should I remake movies whose history is firm enough to resist re-making?

HGB1After several decades in the horror business, how do you feel about the obvious changes that have occurred in the world of film?  Are things better?  Worse?

Production is light-years easier. Distribution is light-years more difficult.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Opening a package of Gummi-Bears.

 

Be sure to stay up to date with Bloodmania at the film’s WEBSITE.  You can also film’s page on Facebook.

Rocket 3: Burn [Album]

Rocket 3 - BurnWhat do you get when you combine saucy lyrical goodness that is thicker than Taco Bell hot sauce with a delightful jingly jangly pop/rock sound that can induce bouts of joy at any given moment?  Well, I would say you would easily have the Rocket 3’s debut album Burn in all its greatness.  I’ve covered a whole bunch of great pop rock groups from across the pond that I adore and admire, but this time I am able to display a beautiful new group right from my old stomping grounds of Portland, Oregon.  Their sound is as delightful as old Hot Hot Heat song, just a bit milder, and all the better I might add.

Burn might be a very perfect and fitting title for the speed and pleasantry this album can bring you.  The songs are quick, anthemic, and just a whole lot of fun to listen to.  By the time I made it to “Good Enough”, I knew I was going to be hooked on this wonderful threesome just as much as I have been on the Pastime Records crew over in Exeter.  The sounds are very similar, but definitely quite different.  Rocket 3 is a band that hits hard with sometimes bass heavy riffs that bring to mind some of the sort of pop punk that established itself as a mainstay in the mid 90’s.  With all of these different types of sounds being mixed together like a wonderful seafood gumbo, it seems as though it might be something very easy to screw up.  But, Rocket 3 did far from that.  With their wonderful ingenuity and obvious talent, this is a band that seems to know all the right cards to play, and have laid down a wonderful hand with their debut album Burn.

From what I have gathered, Rocket 3’s front woman, Ramune, is relatively new to the music game.  But, you would never be able to tell with the way she slams the electric guitar down with the greatest of ease, and provides a beautiful line of vocals that are just oh so damn appealing.  Rocket 3 is definitely not a band to sleep on, and I am certain the future will prove this to be a solid truth when the world gets ahold of Burn, and is sure to fall in love after just one listen.

Burn will be available for purchase November 4th.  Stay in touch with the band on their Facebook Page.  Be sure to discover where they are performing one of their magnificent live shows near you! 

Diane Franklin [Interview]

DF_070The 80’s were obviously a sort of silly time in history when it comes to the world of film and pop culture.  Of course, in retrospect doesn’t every decade have some hilarious little quips that we make fun of once time has passed?  Each decade has that band or that film or what-have-you that probably wouldn’t work in any other decade.  One great thing that the 80’s had, was some pretty stellar babes in the acting world!  And I like to think that a beautiful and talented actress is timeless!

And few actress embody this spirit as the wonderful actress Diane Franklin!  As the star of such classic 80’s films as The Last American Virgin, Better Off Dead, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, she is on par with the likes of other 80’s babes like Molly Ringwald, Jennifer Jason Lee, etc.  And even more so to me personally, as I absolutely loved this woman (well, in the 90’s, while I was watching 80’s movies) more than all the rest after I saw her in Better Off Dead.  Now that was timeless smoking hotness!!  And I am pleased to see that Diane has continued to work in one way or another, even with a bit of down time in between gigs. I was very interested in seeing what exactly she had going on these days, so I am so pleased to announce that this brilliant actress agreed to have some fun with us and answer a few questions.  So Ladies and Gentlemen….Diane Franklin!

 

I have come to understand that besides acting, you have also studied biochemistry, which is definitely a very cool and different thing to hear of an actress doing.  Tell us, what draws you to the world of biochemistry?  Do you find any similarities to the world of acting?

If you had asked me in college if there were similarities between my interest in science and acting, I probably would have said none except for the fact that one day I may play the role of a doctor. But, today? Yes! I see so many connections that, as you know at Trainwrecked, it has taken me a while to get back to you. In essence, my approach to acting has always been somewhat scientific.
When I started acting at the age of ten, industry professionals frowned upon drama training. It was thought to make kids stiff and unnatural. I still, however, had to figure out a way to memorize lines and connect. So, the first thing I needed to do was find a method (or process). Adult actors were trained at the time to work from the “inside-out.” I, of course, didn’t know this. I had to figure out something on my own. Something that made sense to me, and that I could connect with. My own method. I worked from the “outside-in”. I would look for a real person who I thought represented the role.
Which brings me to my next scientific/acting love: analysis. I have always enjoyed breaking characters. What makes this character the way she is? What does the she do? What doesn’t she do? The funny thing is, I remember thinking like this since I was little. Maybe 5. It found it fun! I would watch TV without the sound and think, ”Is this person believable? Why? Or why not?”
Then comes the actual practice or experimentation, which involves hard work, creativity and spontaneity, all of which, I really enjoy. I just love the feeling of when I am in the moment so much, that I don’t remember acting at all. That’s when I know it’s right. And of course, with every experiment, (or scene) there is the potential of a discovery. It’s so cool to bring written words to life, and then push further to perhaps create a role that goes beyond words.
Yet, with all these scientific tools, I still am drawn to human nature. My personal passion is to express human emotion, heart, energy, instincts, and share it with others. So, I guess looking back I didn’t changed my scientific interest or give up on my acting dreams. I just found a way to make them work together.

In your own recollections and opinions, what do you believe it is about pop culture in the 80’s that has kept it a relevant metaphorical being to this day and age?

Every generation gets its time to be the role model for a younger generation. Today, the 80s generation is middle-aged and now in the limelight. What does this mean?! 80s music is back! 80s celebrities are being celebrated! 80s fashion is back in style! But perhaps, the most interesting callback is the VALUE of 80s culture!! Yes, TOTALLY!! The 80s was a time of freedom, self-expression and well…fun! There was an excitement to growing up. Not panic. There were work opportunities, so you could move out of the house at 18 and support yourself. Being different was in, and holding your own was important. Assertively sexy women were admired. (OK, maybe not when they were wearing power suits and sneakers) And there was an open, (and yes tolerant attitude) towards drugs, sex and abortion, (which ironically were areas one had to be a real adult to navigate.) Today, to my surprise, things are not the same. I think economics have a lot to do with it. The 80s adult generation looks back and thinks, “What happened? Where did all the freedom go?” Well luckily, we at least have totally excellent 80s films to remind us to keep having fun;)

LAV 25What do believe it is that keeps so many of the films (i.e. The Last American Virgin, Better Off Dead, etc.)  you did during that time so relevant to this very day, as they have proven to be?

The Last American Virgin was made in the early 80s. It is the perfect example 80’s fashion, 80’s fun and 80’s realism. If you watch the film and it makes you feel uncomfortable, it should. It was not made for entertainment. It was made to speak to speak the truth of teen heartbreak. That truth is the cake of 80’s films and is what grips us today. The upbeat, colorful, fun style of 80s films is the icing. Put a candle on it and you’ll see the passion and fire that went into the filmmaking;) Better Off Dead was mid 80s, breaking the sexist mold and suddenly giving the audience an option to watch a teen film without sex in it. This word of mouth iconic hit eventually brought it’s style to television, with Danny and Savage at Nickelodeon, producing The Amanda Show, iCarly, Drake and Josh and Zoey 101. Entertainment could now make live action staged as cartoons, using double entandres that were used in all the classic cartoons. Finally, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Now in 1989, here is a film that not only homage’s the 80s, while being made in the 80’s! Bill and Ted bring the Spicoli character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High back. Teen films in the 80’s were about friends and Bill and Ted where friends you wanted to hang with. I totally get that!

You released an autobiography in 2012 entitled The Excellent Adventures of The Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80’s.  What compelled you to write this book?  Can you give us a bit of a preview if you would?

I decided to write this book off several realizations. One, Paul Newman. Famous actor or salad dressing? It all depends on the generation you grow up in. I know him as both. I realized that fame is relative to the people that know you, so I thought I better put this book out fast! Second, I originally was going to save all my memorabilla for my kids, but then I realized I will always be mom to them (as I should be!), so then I thought “OK, I better write all this down before I forget!”. Third, I wanted to make a book I could be proud of, that told the truth about my life and my experiences. I wanted it to be the kind of book a college student could use as a primary source on the 80s, and it didn’t have to be boring. And I wanted to make sure it was written in my cadence, like I was taking to you at a coffee house after having an espresso, AND that the book expressed my upbeat personality and point of view.

Another interesting venture you have gotten into is broadcasting.  Can you tell us a bit about your show Babes of the 80’s?  How did the idea for this show come around (besides being a total babe from the 80’s)?

One day I was contacted by Cult Radio A Go-Go to do an interview, and it went so well they asked me if I ever thought of hosting a show. I think they probably thought that I would only want to do one, but I had this really cool idea and I think they were kind of surprised. In the 80’s there were so many beautiful and talented teen actresses. I would generally see the same girls at each audition, but never get to know them because we would be competing for the same role. Yet, I have always had such respect for my peers because in order to be a teen actress you had to be a combination of smart, vulnerable, dedicated and hard working. There is not one actress from the 80s that did not work really hard to stay in it, and these young actresses each made very cool contributions to film and television. So I pitched them Diane Franklin: Babes of the 80s, wrote a sample script and they totally got it! I wound up doing 4 shows including such 80’s babes as Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, E.G. Daily, Betsy Russel, Claudia Wells, Jennifer Runyon, Laura Leigh Hughes and Mary Wornov and Kimmy Robertson. I even did a dude special with Curtis Armstrong, Christopher Atkins and Rex Smith. My next vision is to bring from radio to live action, but for now the shows can be heard on Sound Cloud under CRAGG.

BOD 11When you look at back on your career as an actress, what do you believe to be your overall greatest accomplishment?

There are moments as an actress, when you do something that is beyond what you think you can do. Some of the greatest acting I ever did was in screen test. I think this is because a lot was on the line and I really had to give my all. There is no better feeling as an actress to memorize your lines, know your character inside and out, and then just be in the moment. When I don’t even remember performing, because I was just being, that is the best. Reading for network executives and producers for SummerGirl was like that. I came out of the audition feeling like I knew my character so much more than anyone else in the room. It was cathartic. That feeling also happened with getting the role of Monique Junet in Better Off Dead. I knew the character of Monique so well; I could improvise being her in any situation. Of course, that still does not get you the role. You get the role when the director, producers, financiers all agree that you are what they want. So that said, I would have to say my accomplishment was GETTING the role of Monique, because convincing that many people that the role I want is what they should want is an accomplishment!

Your daughter has begun making her own way in the film world, in front of and behind the camera.  What is some advice you have given her to help guide her in her own direction?

The one thing I have always told my daughter is “trust your gut.” You know when something is right and when it is not. This goes for career, relationships, school, and friends.

What is one portrayal you have yet to do, but would absolutely love to?

For drama, I’d love to play a leader. This could be in the form of a doctor, teacher, investigator, commander, or even mom. Someone faces their fears and deals with problems using bravery and insight. I know I would bring great depth to this kind of role on the comedic side; I’d also love to play a “Mrs. Robinson” type character. Someone who brings sexuality and fun into being an older woman! AND if possible, as a celebrity, I would LOVE to host Saturday Night Live!

B&THjpegSo what does the future hold for you?  Any new projects in the work you would like to talk about?

I presently completed a role in my daughter’s newest film project, Devon Bright and the Sensitive Boys. It is a boy band parody and I play a crazy stage mom! VERY fun and she wrote a hilarious script. Olivia (DeLaurentis) writes, directs, acts and edits her films. She just turned 18 and the one to look out for! She is just…amazing. We will be submitting this film to film festivals, but in the meantime you can catch some comedy sketches she is doing with a friend on Funny or Die under Barely Legal Comedy. Other shorts and trailers she has done (and some of which I am in also) are on You Tube: Agouraphobia, My Better Half, Humanized, Lovechild, Recruiting Violations Olivia, Royal Effups, and Dad (llama), which has a baby llama in it;)

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Squished in bed with my family, cat and dog, watching Ghost Adventures. ;)

Pawns or Kings: Pomme de Terre [Album]

Pawns and Kings - Pomme de TerreAh, yes.  Americana.  A genre of music that is no stranger to us here at Trainwreck’d Society.  I mean, we are a site that is centered around a train, right?  What is more symbolic of Americana life than a train headed out to nowhere?  Well, I will tell you – the damn Ozark mountains!  Just as there may have never been real “blues” without the days down in the Delta, there may have never been true Americana/Folk music without those truly talented folks hiding out in the Ozarks and the Appalachians.  And I believe I may have just discovered one of the finest acts to pour out of those majestic midwest mountains.  Allow me to introduce the immaculately talented group Pawns or Kings, and their brilliant new album Pomme de Terre!

Pomme de Terre is an album that has been long overdue.  A series of tragedies and misfortunes kept these sweet tunes out of our grasp for quite some time, but the diligence and determination of Pawns or Kings proved to be much stronger than any sort of damnation could be.  Now we are fortunate enough to have tracks like “Names and Maps”, “Shadow of a Man”, “Late Have I Loved”, and so many more, right at our disposal when in need of some seriously amazing new age folk goodness.  Somewhere between the new age obsession with simple folk music and the glory days of simpler times on a front porch somewhere out in the Ozarks is exactly where you will find a band like Pawns and Kings.  Each song is a beautiful story.  Each song is a treasure!

With so many things obviously wrong with the land in which I came, it is so great to hear a truly gifted Americana act.  To have this brand of music associated with Americanisms is a true gift.  Especially when a band like Pawns and Kings is out there to perfect it so brilliantly.  And with Pomme de Terre, these geniuses from the back country have not only created one of the finest Americana albums of 2014, but one of the finest albums in general.

Pomme de Terre will be officially released on July 25th, but head on over to the band’s Facebook page to find out how you can listen to it right now!

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