Anthony Hickox [Interview]

 

Most of you know that we here at TWS usually go pretty hard on the horror genre in the month of October, but we are such incredible fans of this genre that we feel compelled to sprinkle in some genius interviews with horror masters during the warmer months as well. And today is no exception. Today we are fortunate enough to have some amazing words from legendary writer and filmmaker Anthony Hickox! Mr. Hickox is the brilliant mind behind classic horror films like Waxwork and Hellraiser III. Beyond the world of horror, Anthony has made a great impact on the world of action/adventure films as well, directing legendary actors like Dolph Lundgren, William Hurt, Peter Weller, Steven Seagal, Eddie Griffith, and this writer’s original on screen crush, the wonderful Vivica A. Fox….and so many more in some of amazing roles!

Hickox is a brilliant mind with a real eye for talent, whether he is directing or producing a film in any given genre, you can know that it is going to be a damn fine product. So, we are very excited that he was willing to take some time out of his schedule to chat with us a bit about his introduction and time spent in the grueling business of filmmaking. So please enjoy some words from the legendary filmmaker, Anthony Hickox!

I know you had some obvious influences in your life that may have lead you into the world of filmmaking…but, when do you believe that YOU knew this was what you wanted to do for a living?

Not to sound all Super 8, but I dont remember a time when I didnt. Of course at first you want to be an actor because thats what you see. And I was 7! But soon as I got on set and saw a director at work. That was it!

Your film Waxwork has been rightfully hailed as a classic in and out of the horror community, but exceptionally praised with the world of die hard horror fans and has adapted a massive cult following. In your opinion, what do you believe it is about the film that has stood the test of time and kept it so legendary in the horror community?

That’s too kind!!! I dont know. Never expected it for sure. But when Zach and I did the commentary we realized it still stands up. Of course now as a time machine to the 80’s! But its longevity is more than that. The film has a certain innocents that not many horror films had or have. And its really a. film that loves film. And all film lovers feel that…oh and the Marquis helped. 😂


Your contribution to the Hellraiser series with the 3rd installment is one my favorites in the series. When you were given the chance to work on the Hellraiser series, what were some things you feel like you were doing in order to keep the feel of the series in continuity with the first two films, but make it clearly your own project?

I was just so fucking exited to get the call! And then it was set in a club which was my work to pay the rent while writing! I suppose what i wanted want so much to make it mine as to make it American…because i loved American film. And knew i couldnt just make the same film. So i added the American pop culture. Which pissed off a lot of fans!!!

And what are your thoughts on the final product? It was a financial success, which is great, but it was also a wonderful film as a whole, in my opinion? What do you think of its place in the Hellraiser franchise?

Im really proud of it. Saw it at festival in Miami two weeks ago. It just works. Maybe not as a sequel exactly but as a stand alone movie writtings so good (love Pete) so are actors.

Is there a story behind how Motorhead got involved with doing the title track “Hellraiser” in Hellraiser III? Was Lemmy and company a fan of the series already? And how did you enjoy working on the music video for the track as well?

Funny! I had one meeting with Lemmy in his car. That was it! Love the band but Clive did the video!!!


It’s pretty obvious that the world of film has changed dramatically since you first started so many years ago with so many changes in technology and the way people are able to view films and television. So, in your obvious expertise, I am curious as to what you believe have been the benefit, as well as the down side, of the recent changes in the business?

Mmm…kinda long to type. But Raiders made me pack my bags and head west! I dont know if the present Blockbuster movies would have made me do the same. Might had stayed and make movies in UK. That being said Kong was great!!! But thanks to the animators more than anything!

What does the future hold for you? Any cool projects coming in the future that our readers should be on the look out for?

Yes! Its been quite amazing beginning to the year as far as writing. Ed Pressman is making my underwater treasure hunt movie Zheng’s Treasure: Blood Island. And Insurgent just came on board for my Amazon pic Black Jaguar. And yesterday i was asked to take a crack at one of the biggest Sci fi projects out there but I’m not allowed to talk about it!

Directing wise it will be my London thriller: Bad Company very fucking dark! Shoots in September.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My wife Madalina Anea.

As a bit of a reminder of his excellence, check out this trailer for Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth:

David Mickey Evans [Interview]

Today’s interviewee is the writer and director of The Sandlot. Just have to through that out there right from the damn get go for you fine readers. Yes, David Mickey Evans is the man behind one of the most iconic children’s movies of all time. Probably one of the greatest sports films of all time. Hell, one of the GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME!! At least for us 90’s kids out there, there was not better baseball legend than the one about Denis Leary’s goofy step-son joining a rag tag group of kids in the California summer of ’62 to discover the myth of the great and might Hercules hanging out in James Earl Jones’s backyard living of leather and twine as meals. Yes, it is one of those gems of a perfect film that never seems to lose its glory.

But, there is so much more to this man, and we really wanted to stress this. Of course we can’t have a talk with Mr. Evans without talking about how glorious The Sandlot is, but we wanted to touch on so much more. The man has brought us some of the greatest cinematic childhood adventures in recent history, including his own installments in the Beethoven series, one of my favorite buddy films of all time First Kid, the amazing and haunting personal journey of his known as Radio Flyer, and just so damn much more!

So with that, please sit back and enjoy an absolutely amazing conversation with our new friend David Mickey Evans! For me personally, this is a serious milestone in my life, and I am so damn happy to be sharing it with you today! Enjoy!

Why did you decide to get into the world of film? What were you watching as a youth that led to want to make motion pictures for a living?

Movies saved my life as a kid. The movie theater was both my escape and my refuge from what was not a particularly happy childhood. Vivid early movie-going memories include Born Free, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (and all the Harryhausen films for that matter), pretty much all the Disney pictures from the late 1960’s through the mid 1970’s (Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea were a big deal for me). Later movies and movie-maker influences spanned the pantheon of greats from Kubrick to Wells to Truffaut to Ford to Kurosawa to Stevens to Wyler to Malick to Allen to Spielberg and all the Master’s of the Craft – or as Dostoyevsky said about Tolstoy, “The God(s) of the Art.” But the former were the experiences and the early films in my life that instilled my great love – passion – for movies because they took me to other worlds, where, at least for a couple hours, I could leave my own behind. But the one film, the single movie-going experience, that had the biggest impact on me, the one that (and I can remember this like it was yesterday) instantly sealed my fate – made me want to make movies there and then in the theater – was Star Wars. I remember thinking, “I don’t know what that is, and I don’t know how they do it, but one day I am going to do that.”

When you kicked off your career, you were developing scripts for more action and horror related stuff, but seemed to have swiftly moved into another lane. How did this transition come about?

I went to college from 1980 to 1986 – the beginning of the VCR and VHS video rental explosion. Most of the early adopters of the rental market were low rent productions companies who flooded the shelves with cheap b-grade action and horror pictures. I figured it would be an easy sell if I wrote genre pieces – and it turned out that while in college I sold a couple and was hired to write a few. Looking back it was more of a, “I need the practice” sort of thing rather than any real interest in horror and action pictures. Combined with film school it was a great way to sharpen my skills – actually writing scripts. I never had any real passion for the material at all. That changed when I met Ray Bradbury when he came to my University to speak. I got to meet him for maybe two minutes – maybe only a minute. He gave me the two most important pieces of advice I’ve ever been given about writing, and ever needed. He said, “Writer’s write. Write what you know.” He meant, of course, that “you” the writer needs to be “in” everything you write, and I certainly wasn’t anywhere to be found in any of the horror or action pieces I’d written. That’s pretty much how I ended up turning inward (a writer’s lesson I desperately needed to learn), and the result of that was writing Radio Flyer.


When you were in the process of bringing The Sandlot to the world, could you have ever imagined the lasting effects it would have on people? In your opinion, what do you believe it is about this film that has made it a mainstay in people’s lives?

In a word, “No.” There’s never really any way to know if a film will stand the test of time or not, and it’s certainly nothing that should be on a writer or director’s mind when they’re making the film. I think the film remains evergreen because everyone identifies with the characters; you either were one of those boys, wanted to be one of those boys or knew boys like them. And the fact that it will never become anachronistic – it’s a story stuck in time, and the characters are stuck in a time and place, which if you’d ask the characters themselves to pick the one moment in time they’d like to spend eternity, they’d all have answered “The summer of 1962…” the one great summer they ever had – and all of us, no matter who we are – had at least that one great summer. At a screening once, a mom of three boys said to me, “Mr. Evans you don’t understand, The Sandlot is not just a movie to my sons, and the boys are not just characters in a movie… Benny and Scotty and all the boys in the film are my sons’ friends.” I think that’s a pretty good way to answer the question.


While The Sandlot was definitely a huge film for me as a youth during this period, I have to say that First Kid is a true gem of a kid-friendly film that I still enjoy, and have forced my children to enjoy. What was it like directing an already established comedian like Sinbad in a film of this caliber? Was the shooting experience as fun to do as it was for us to watch the final product?

Absolutely! Sinbad is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and has one of the fastest senses of humor you can imagine. He’s also a master of improv – and that’s something I value very much as a director, it was always a thrill to see what he would come up with next.


From a filmmaker’s stand point, what is it like to jump into (or at times, back into) a franchise that has already been established and has an adoring audience? 

You always feel the pressure, because, of course, you’re aware of the audience’s expectation that the sequel better be as good or better than the original. But that’s a very tall order – or to put another way, impossible – because in the Direct-To-DVD world (not the theatrical sequel world) you never have anything remotely resembling the resources you had for the original. For example I made The Sandlot 2 for one-third the budget and in less than half the time as the original The Sandlot. Critics hammered the movie, but it became and remains the most successful Direct-To-DVD live action family film ever made.

When you are writing and/or directing films that are geared for younger audiences, what would you say are your biggest concerns? What do you feel that you have to get exactly right in order for the film to work?

Both when working with young actors, and writing or directing a film for young audiences, if you talk down to them, patronize them or are in anyway disingenuous with them – you’re dead. You’ve got to be honest and authentic with the emotions. When I write an 11 year-old character I try to write them as my 11 year-old self. Younger audiences are far more savvy than most of us remember being when we were young. So the way younger characters speak is something I always strive to get just right. If a younger audience hears a character they want to identify with talking like some world weary adult you’ve lost them.

And in these types of films, you have directed some MAJOR players in the world of film. In 2012’s Smitty alone, you had a two Oscar winners, the legendary Peter Fonda, and one of the London brothers! Not to mention the dozens of others, especially professional stand up comedians like Sinbad or Julia Sweeney. Basically, what is the process like to direct such high level actors in a film that is meant for a younger audience? Is there ever a time you have to tell them to pull back a bit, or to do something entirely different?

The process – relationship is what it is really – is the same. The difference is that experienced actors generally come fully prepared. Yet, some actors need more than others respecting their characters. More communication, which is a large part of a director’s job, to discover how to speak to an individual actor in such a manner that that actor gets what they need to render their character fully authentic. So long as the director and the actor are “on the same page” with regard to the script, then the material itself (e.g. material that’s meant for a younger audience) shouldn’t be an issue.


 

Can you tell us a bit about the book you released in 2014, The King of Pacoima? What made you want to bring the legendary tale of Radio Flyer to the literary world? And what is the correlation to this book and the classic film? Have you simply had this manuscript lying around?

I wrote The King of Pacoima as a novel first (it was not published at the time), then adapted it as a screenplay. The book manuscript sat on my desk for 20 years, and in that time I received thousands upon thousands of inquiries from all over the world about the story as told in the film. Specifically “What happened to Bobby at the end of Radio Flyer?” Many people seem to think he either committed suicide or never existed in the first place and was a figment of Mike (his brother’s) imagination whom Mike created in order to mask the pain of his own abuse at the hands of The King. Well, none of that is what I intended. So I finally published the book to answer the question once and for all. In short, Bobby survived because the Radio Flyer worked. Here’s a link to an interview I did abou the question from my blog:

http://davidmickeyevansblog.blogspot.com/search?q=what+happened

Here’s two links to get the book:

https://www.createspace.com/4698231

What is next for you? Got anything coming up you would like to tell our readers about?

Sure… I wrote and am directing a movie about Coach Ed Thomas from Parkersburg, Iowa called The Sacred Acre. Just finished a Little League oriented script based on a true story called Junior Americans, about the only American Little League team ever coached by kids the same ages as the players on the team – 14 years-old. I’m doing a picture I wrote with my partner Paul Jaconi-Biery, called Hemingway’s Heroes that we wrote for Peter Fonda to star in. And trying to find a home for a television show called Pacific Coast Highway which spans 1958 to 1970 in Southern California against the background of the rise of surf culture and the American anti-establishment youth movement. And probably ten other projects all in various stages of financing or development… it’s what we do.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

** My wife. My German Shepherd Dog. Florida sunshine. 🙂

Check out the trailer for David’s 1992 classic story directed by Richard Donner, Radio Flyer here courtesy of Sony Pictures at Home UK:

Cas One [Interview]

Photo by Alexander “Bodi” Hallet of Sattva Photos. http://www.sattvaphoto.com/

At this point, Jacob “Cas One” Snider is essentially a household name around here at Trainwreck’d Society. And it is simply because he is one of the most talented individuals I have ever heard make music, and I could seriously talk about the amazing things he does at an absurd length. So getting to steal a few words from Cas One is really a fanboy moment for me, and I couldn’t be happier that he has decided to waste his time with us. A true fucking Gentleman, this guy!

If you haven’t checked out Cas One Vs. Figure’s So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us yet, I honestly don’t want to know you. So, go ahead and make that purchase, realize what you have been missing, and then come on back here and hear more from this amazing man. Seriously folks, SOEDKU is without a doubt the finest album of 2017 thus far, and I cannot force anything surpassing this type of excellence. It’s just so damn good. I wrote about it at length earlier this month, and as I said earlier, I could go on even further. But, I think I will just shut the hell up right now, and the man speak for himself. So with that, Ladies and Gentlemen….check out some great words from the amazing Cas One!

You are fresh off of the Four Horseman Tour, and from what I am hearing, it was a great success. How was the experience for you overall? What were the ups and downs, and which occurred more often? Are happy with it overall?

I don’t know that there were many downs. I really loved New York I got to hang out with some old friends of mine and Sage Francis jumped on that night which made it a little more special. I got to meet a lot of people that have been following my music for years. It was great hearing all of their stories and being able to connect face to face. I did a ton of driving but it helped me clear out my head from last year.

When you rolled back home through Evansville, still with dates to go, and the other 3 Horsemen by your side, only to sell out a Thursday night show….I have to pull a Dr. Phil here and ask, “How did that make you feel”?

It made me feel very fortunate. I can remember playing here for my ten friends or sometimes no one…literally. It blows my mind every time I play and people come out to support. I’m always a nervous wreck before thinking that it’s going to be the night that no one comes out.

Did you make it safely to that Sbarro you mentioned on Twitter while you were out there on the road? You had me a little worried there. What did you have?

I did make it safe! The people behind me…another story. They dead. I always get a cheese slice when I go somewhere for pizza. People fuck up piza with other toppings, they never make the pizza better. That’s a tip from me to you. If you must get toppings get bacon onion and green pepper. I know it’s ridiculous that I love sbarro especially after JUST going to legendary pizza spots in New York. It just has a special place in my dark little heart.


What has the fan reaction been like over all for So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us? Are people going as apeshit publicly as I have?

The response has been very strong. It’s so fun hearing what people have to say or what their favorite songs are. Hearing how many people think it’s front to back a wonderful album makes me feel like they get me as a human being. It’s wild. It’s humbling.

When you are in the midst of the song writing process, what are the elements of a track that you are always looking to include to make a track a true Cas One song? Basically, how do you try to personalize each track?

I try to paint a mood. I try to make my songs little rooms to sit in while you’re listening to them. Each one a different part of the house and I don’t feel like the albums complete until the house is built. To save myself from any jokes, “Razorblade Mark” is the bathroom.

On that note, have you been contacted by anyone who may have criminalized themselves by accusing you of writing “Razorblade Mark” about them?

I have! A guy here [in Evansville] thought it was about him. I was like man…listen to the song. It’s a fusion of 4 people I know.

I have to ask you about your contribution to the legendary (at least to me, and to TWS) track “Savior Self”, I seriously can’t tell you enough how much I love this track. What can you tell us about recording this song? Was it even done in the same room? What was that period of time like for you, as you were rolling around the country with Mike and Alex and all of them?

We had a really bad show in Phoenix that night at some bar that was part of an ice rink. We were all super tired and a little bummed too. I had a friend that moved to Phoenix to do studio work and he approached us and insisted we had to go to this studio. None of us wanted to go but gave in to his insistence. When we got there IT WAS A FUCKING PYRAMID. No joke. It had a hydraulic door and then you went underground. It housed all this crazy gear. We were like….well we have to make a song now. We all did it in the same room and Eyedea even had me sit in the booth as he rapped it… It was a moment that as it was happening I knew I wouldn’t ever forget it. I knew what it meant, ya know? Unfortunately Mikey passed so shortly after that song was recorded and it took on a whole other shape…that song breaks my heart and makes me feel so happy all at once.


Serious question for you: Have you manage to take a proverbial step back, and look at all of the shit you have accomplished in just the last year or so alone, given yourself that hypothetical pat on the back and said, “Good job, Jacob”. Assuming you might not have….why the hell not?

I try not to pat myself on the back too much….but, yes. Yes I have. I am not saying that out of a place of pride. I have grown so much. For those reading that don’t know…I was suicidal. I was depressed. I felt like my life was falling apart. I got help. I have reformatted my thinking. I am genuinely happy when I should feel happy and completely complacent otherwise. It’s crazy to be able to compartmentalise my thoughts and place them where they belong instead of letting them all stack against me. I deal with things totally differently now.

With your skills and ambition, it truly does feel like the sky is the limit with you. So, what is next for you good Sir? What should our readers be looking out for in the near future?

More touring. There’s stuff in the works. I have an idea for another project that would be a 10 inch vinyl but it hasn’t come to fruition yet. However I think I’ll leave breadcrumbs to the next album as opposed to waiting to unveil an entire album all at once. I want to give So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us the push that I think that it deserves. However. Whatever I do will be under the Strange Famous umbrella, those dudes have proven to be family.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I took my son to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. He laughed at all the jokes that I did. I got a bigger kick out of him enjoying it than I did the movie. That made me smile.

Andrea Boehlke [Interview]

 

For the last 17 years, there has been a particular CBS show that has been captivating audiences for all of the right reasons. That show is Survivor. Now on its 34th season, it is a show that has never let up and only continues to improve in quality, as well as viewership. When Survivor first became a staple in American television, it was one of a kind due to the simple fact that reality television, while not an entirely new concept, was only beginning to flourish. But, now in 2017, it has proven to be one of a kind amongst a plethora of reality television shows. It’s the sort of show that the entire family can enjoy and embrace into their living rooms. The young and old love this show, which is a very important factor that we are so happy to be able to showcase today with a wonderful interview from one of the finest players in Survivor history.

Andrea Boehlke has been a staple in the Survivor world for quite sometime. She is only the 7th person to spend over 100 days on the islands, and has performed incredibly well. And in Season 34, she was definitely a fan favorite. And on a personal level, she was a fan favorite in my own household to a certain 11 year old girl who has been following Andrea’s performances on Survivor since she first showed up back in Season 22. That 11 year old girl would my daughter, future astronaut and the beholder of a beautiful soul Ava Trembath. This is a girl who adores Andrea’s courage, ambition, and drive. And she is just one of so many young girls who can watch Andrea and realize that there strong women out there in the world who can accomplish whatever they want in this world with examples from the likes of a beast like Boehlke.

So, with the finale of Survivor commencing tonight, as well as the amazing career that Andrea has been able to proceed forward with after 100+ days on Survivor, I thought it would be amazing to be able to link up my 11 year old daughter with one of her favorite Survivor players. And that is what we did. The questions below were formulated by said 11 year old Ava Trembath who finds so much delight in watching strong women like Andrea work their asses off both physically and mentally in the game of Survivor.

After you have completed reading this damn sweet interview between Andrea and Ava, and have caught her on tonight’s season finale of Survivor, make sure you make your way over People.com to catch her on the morning show People Now. It is a brilliant bit of morning program that everyone is sure to enjoy.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Andrea Boehlke, featuring questions from Ava Trembath, age 11. Enjoy!

 

Who is your favorite Survivor player?

That’s a hard question! I would have to say Tyson is one of my all time favorites, because not only did he really perfect his Survivor game, he is one of the most hilarious people to play, in my opinion.

ÒReinventing How This Game Is PlayedÓ – Andrea Boehlke on the eleventh episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers, airing Wednesday, May 3 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Will you play Survivor again? What was your favorite season of Survivor that you were on?

After playing three seasons of Survivor, I think I might be done. It really takes a toll on you out there! My favorite season to play would have to be Survivor: Caramoan. I had an absolute blast with the people out there. Playing with Cochran was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of inside jokes that I’ll always cherish.

What was the best thing you experienced on Survivor?

Hitting my 100 day mark on Survivor was a pretty big deal. I was the 7th person to hit 100 days of playing Survivor, and shortly after that I got to see my mom on the island. It’s so incredible that I got to see my mom and dad both out on the island, and it’s extra special because it’s their favorite show.

What was the worst thing you experienced on Survivor?

I’ve had some great moments on Survivor, but the lows are especially tough. I had an epic two day meltdown after Zeke betrayed me on Survivor: Gamechangers. They never showed any of it, but I seriously thought I had lost my marbles for a bit there.

“It Is Not a High Without a LowÓ – Andrea Boehlke on the twelfth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers, airing Wednesday, May 10 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What is your favorite Survivor challenge?

I’m a big fan of the challenges I won 😉 I loved where we had to balance on this floating wood thing in the middle of the ocean on Survivor: Caramoan. I ended up winning against Brenda! I love challenges where you have to push yourself mentally and physically.

What is your least favorite Survivor challenge?

I’m not a big fan of upper body strength challenges, because I don’t think I would ever win them.

ÒReinventing How This Game Is PlayedÓ – Jeff Probst awards Andrea Boehlke the Immunity Necklace on the eleventh episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers, airing Wednesday, May 3 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was some silly joke I had with my co-host Jeremy on People Now. We host a morning show for People.com, so since I’m up every morning at 5 am, I can get a little delusional or buzzed on too much coffee. I don’t even remember what the joke is, but I remember my stomach hurt from laughing so much.

Barry Katz [Interview]


Folks, I have to preface this one by stating that we have an absolute LEGEND in the digital room today. I seriously can not stress this enough. The man you will be hearing from today is a man who has made some of the finest acts in entertainment possible, simply be being who he truly is. He is Barry Katz. He is a man with an eye for talent that is so sharp and so spot on, there seriously is no one to compare him to in his business. It is suffice to say that Barry Katz is the Barry Katz of the world of comedy and talent management.

Barry’s career isn’t the stuff that dreams are made of. Barry’s career is the stuff that hard work, dedication, and a keen eye for talent is made of. In fact, so many of the finest acts you know and love today would not be half of what they are if it weren’t for Katz. Through is representation and eye for talent, we are firmly aware of folks like Dane Cook, Jay Mohr, Bert Kreischer, Tracy Morgan, and the list goes on and on. He is a talent manager, yet he is so much more. He is the founder of the Boston Comedy Club in NYC, but he is more than that as well. He is also has a brilliant podcast that I have to say, is sort of along the lines of what we try to do here at Trainwreck’d Society, but obviously not on a Barry Katz level. It is called Industry Standard, and it is a brilliant look at some of the people who are running the (sometimes literal) show in the world of entertainment. Barry really goes behind the scenes with some of the amazingly talented producers, writers, and directors who are titans of the industry, even though they may not be household names. Of course, he is also known to have folks like Kevin Hart jump in as well, because Barry is a beloved figure like that!

Barry was so kind to support the TWS endeavor by sharing a few words with us. While we don’t feel that we have deserved the Barry Katz seal of approval or endorsement, the simple fact that he has been willing to acknowledge our presence at all is a huge fucking win for us. In is the exact sort of motivation that can make a person feel warmer inside than Bert Kreischer’s beat red, vodka-soaked face on a Friday night. We are beyond honored to have Barry Katz digitally speaking with us today. There were so many questions I wanted to get in with him, but unfortunately we had to narrow it down a bit to what I considered the essentials, as Barry is a very busy man, and we need him to keep on doing what he does in order for us to be entertained. So with that, please enjoy some great words from the legend himself, Mr. Barry Katz!

I understand you began your career as a stand up comedian in Boston before you moved to New York to focus on the business side of the comedy business. What prompted you to make the move? When did you realize that you had the talent necessary to become the success that you eventually became?

I think it was realizing that as good as I thought I was as a stand-up, I didnt feel that I had what it took as a writer to compete as well as I could as a performer…and I didn’t like being beholden to other people for my work. it was time to make the transition to the business side, which I quickly found out was much easier and came more naturally to me than writing great stand-up comedy routines.

Probably The Most important question we can ask anyone: How does what you do for a living make you happy?

Ultimately, being happy is a choice. you have to believe in yourself and your ability. The hard part comes when the things you do really well and make the most money doing, become less enjoyable…and the things that you do equally well, that make you the least amount of money become more enjoyable.


You have developed and brought to life hundreds of television shows and films in your career, and obviously, some of them aren’t going to last. And sometimes it’s just not fair, and that is why I need to ask about Action. This show was my first experience in the loss of a great show, so I finally get to ask someone behind this amazing show…..What the fuck happened?

Action was just to much ahead of its time and sometimes shows like that (see Arrested Development) just don’t get their due on the bigger networks because you are dealing with niche shows that dont appeal as much to the majority of the country. At the time it was cancelled, it was getting about 7-8 million viewers each week, which if it were today, would be a nice viewership. Back then there were no Netflix, F/X’s, IFC’s…and our only real shot at success was HBO, where it originally was supposed to be, but Columbia-Tristar couldnt come to terms with them, so Doug Herzog and his team at Fox scooped it up. True to form, Doug was a visionary…but at the time he was hoping that his network could rally the country around contrarian programming…but the country just wasn’t ready for a cast of unloveable and unhugable characters.

What inspired you to start your podcast Industry Standard? What was your initial goal when you started it, and do you feel like you have obtained that goal?

I would take meetings with studio heads, network presidents, household name producers, directors, comedian/actors—the biggest people in the entertainment business and then get in my car and realize that I was the only one in the meeting and no one got a chance to hear the pearls of wisdom and the view from behind the curtain that all of these people exhibited…that I had witnessed. Then I realized no matter how great I was as a manager on any given day—even if I helped an artist with their talent and mine to achieve a goal like SNL, I still only helped a few people—the artist, the network, the studio, the producers of the show—but I felt that the information that I was privy to and that people were willing to share with me was valuable to a larger audience…and so hence my goal to reach and assist as many people as possible. In a few short years, the show has reached the top 1/4 % of 375,000 podcasts and hopefully, will continue to inspire and help people while sharing the journey’s of my guests.


You have had conversations on Industry Standard with some of the biggest names in the world of comedy and entertainment. With that, have there been any guests that surprised you in some way? Through candor, openness, etc.? Basically, did you have any guests that turned out quite differently that you had imagine?

I know it sounds strange, but they all surprise me in some way or another with the things they say or do. People always ask me what shows I recommend, but its so hard to do, because they all relate to every business and every artist. David Copperfield isn’t just valuable to magicians, Kevin Hart isn’t important just to comedians, Ted Sarandos isnt just valuable to network presidents, Larry Moss isn’t vital to just actors and actresses, and Judd Apatow is certainly not only worthwhile for film and television producers. However, if I had to pick a few guests that surprised me with an unexpected turn in the interview…I’d say Larry Moss, Bert Kreischer, Jay Mohr (as me and as himself), Michael Madsen, the late Chris Thompson, Dionne Warwick, Reggie Hudlin, and Dr. Phil.

When you look back on your illustrious career, in so many different realms, what would you say you are most proud of?

I wish I felt that I was illustrious…but I think, at best, I’m -lustrious…or simply -trious. Regardless, I’d say my proudest moments are being able to facilitate with my talent and theirs…4 SNL cast members (Jay Mohr, Jim Breuer, Darrell Hammond, and especially Tracy Morgan) and a host that did the show twice in less than a year, including the premiere episode of one season. I think also, working with Dane Cook selling out 2 shows in one night in Boston and Madison Square Gardens—over 80,000 people in a week and producing his albums—two of which entered the Billboard 200 chart in the Top 5, which last happened once in the 70’s with Steve Martin.

If you were to put the Barry Katz stamp of approval on any emerging stand up comedians out there working today, who would it go to?

i dont think its fair to do that when there are so many talented young artists out there—but generally the artists themselves know who they are…and so do their peers. they are undeniable charismatic forces of nature who construct jokes with a flair for wordsmanship, rhythm, timing, and originality.

Listeners of Industry Standard will surely know about this by now, but can you tell new readers a bit about I Killed JFK? How did you become involved with such a strange and insightful project?

A friend of mine asked me if I would take a meeting with a guy who had some found footage that I would be fascinated by, so I took the meeting and what was described would be an understatement and it blew me away. So much so that I flew to Amsterdam to meet with the guy who shot alot of the footage and conducted the interviews to see if he would let me make my own documentary from all of his footage about the only person in history to ever admit to killing JFK. I’m a comedy guy, but I decided to take on the challenge of making this documentary…and it turned out amazing…and so I decided to see if I could get it out in there so the people all over the world could decide for themselves if they felt his story was believable. I’m happy to say I just received worldwide distribution through flame and a special theatrical release during the week of Kennedy’s 100th birthday in late May.


So what are you looking forward to the most in 2017? Anything you would like to plug here?

I’m mostly just looking forward to being able to continue what I love most—allowing the artists I represent to tell their stories and the stories of those that write for them when they dont write the words themselves…as well as telling my stories and the stories of other artists that I don’t represent and bringing them to a global audience.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My boys—I interviewed Jeanie Buss and because of her generosity, I was able to bring them to a few Lakers games where they sat close enough to smell the sweat of Luke Walton…and got to go back to the Chairman’s Club under the arena and meet a ton of players for the Lakers, the Cavs, and the Clippers—organically without pressure and hang out with three of my favorite people in comedy—Jay Mohr, Chris Tucker, and Dave Chappelle. To give your kids a gift that you never had as a child—based on the generosity of another…is one of the greatest feelings in the world…and if that doesnt make you smile…nothing on earth will.

I Killed JFK will be available in theatres for one night only on May 31st! Discover more at ikilledjfk.com.

 

Check out this haunting teaser trailer for I Killed JFK, available soon:

Joe DeRosa [Interview]


For fans of comedy, Joe DeRosa is staple to say the least. And for damn good reasons too. He is one of the funniest people in the world of stand up comedy right now. I will arguably put up his special, You Let Me Down, up against some of the most legendary comedy specials of all time. I’d be willing to digitally fight anyone who doesn’t believe it is a special that ranks up there with Chappelle’s For What It’s Worth! But, the only comparison that would be correct to make between the likes of DeRosa or Chappelle, is that they are both truly original comics in their own right. A Joe DeRosa comedy performance is always something that will be like nothing else you have ever experienced. He is the real fucking deal folks, and we are so honored that he was willing to share a few words with us as we wrap up this wonderful week of showcasing some amazing comedians.

So let me stop this hack bit of an intro, and let you all get to reading this amazing interview with comedy legend Joe DeRosa! Enjoy!

When did you first realize you were a hilarious human being, and stand up comedy was a way for you to take a natural talent and use it to earn a living?

The hilarious part I’m still trying to realize. As for stand up, I knew I was somebody who had a lot of opinions and I knew I wanted to yell them at people. Watching George Carlin let me know that you could do that. Making them funny was always–and still sometimes is–a necessary evil.

I understand you came up into the game in Philadelphia with folks like Big Jay Oakerson, also the home of the legendary Dom Irrera, a couple of decades before you. In the standing of cities for comedy, how do you believe Philly ranks? What was it like coming up around there?

Philadelphia was the best place I ever could’ve started. I was one of the only non-black comedians in an all black, urban comedy club called the Laff House. The challenge of getting on stage and commanding a room was amplified by the fact that I was so culturally different. It was an amazing experience. Comics like Turae Gordon and the Legendary Wid (my mentors) taught me the tricks of the trade that I still use to this day. I’ll never forget them or that club.

Much like your old pal Bill Burr did with Breaking Bad, you have stepped into the wild imagination of Vince Gilligan as well in the equally fascinating show Better Call Saul. How has this experience been for you, and what do believe it is about Gilligan’s writing style that leads itself to be able to have professional comedians perform in a dramatic fashion?

It’s such a thrill to work on Saul. Vince is the best! Jonathan Banks is the best! Every scene with him is a crash course in acting. Bob Odenkirk was a comedic idol of mine when I started out, so working on his show is an honer. They’re all so amazing. Vince writes completely real situations, characters, and dialogue. When Comedy is right, it’s real. So comedians appearing on that show makes a lot of sense to me.

So, I am actually a recent transplant to the UK, if you didn’t know, or care. I am planning on attending the Fringe Festival for the first time, this summer. I know you were there last year for some gigs, so what should I look for and be excited to see while I am there? What was this experience like for you working as an American comedian?

I didn’t know, but I do care. Fringe is a terrific, enlightening experience. Just dive in head first and see everything you can. The diversity is amazing. Also, you’re going to drink A TON. I had a blast over there. I was there, performing every night, for the month leading up to the taping of my special. Doing that material in front of audiences I wasn’t familiar with improved my hour in ways I never could have imagined.

What are some of the best green room snacks you have been provided in all of your years as a stand up? What are some of the best pre-game supplies that could be provided before a show?

Give me some coffee, water, beer and whiskey backstage and we’re good. Keep that goddamn deli tray. I eat before I show up to the gig.

In your obviously professional opinion, do you believe we are in a sort of golden age for comedy right now? Is there a possible over-saturation problem, or is it better that more opportunities are out there for comedians?

I think it’s a good time for comedy, but far from the Golden Age, especially since so many comics play it safe and say the same stuff as the next guy. I don’t really see multiple acts pushing the envelope like they had in the ’70s. To me, that was the Golden Age. We have tons of opportunities now, which is great. I just wish more people utilized them more interestingly.

What sort of advice would you give to the avid comedy show attendee? And what do you believe it is that makes some people unable to not just sit down and shut the fuck up? Is it only alcohol, or some sort of psychological thing?

My advice would be to have fun and shut up, which you’ve already addressed. There’s that old psychology class scenario where they discuss a person being robbed on a street, all the residents watching from their windows, yet nobody calling the police for help until someone else does it first. It’s the same thing with hecklers. They wanna be the daring hero (like the comic) but need to see someone do it first (the comic) and that then gives them the balls to attempt becoming the center of attention. It never works though, which is good. Fuck them.

So what is next for you? Anything you would like to plug to our fine reader(s)?

Always wanna plug the podcasts: We’ll See You In Hell on the Headgum Network and Emotional Hangs on Feral Audio. Also, go get my special on iTunes! It’s called You Let Me Down.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Jay Mohr, graciously per my request, doing an impression of Joe Pesci instructing on how to bake a Christmas ham. I cried. It’s on this ep of his pod if you wanna check it out: http://j.mp/2oYMQE3

 

Check out this clip from Joe’s most recent, and damned hilarious Comedy Central Special, You Let Me Down:

Henry Phillips [Interview]


It’s all about the comedy this week, good folks! And we have another amazing interview for you all today! Henry Phillips has been one of my favorite working comics for a while now. I first came across his film Punching the Clown on Netflix oh so many years ago, and knew right away that this man’s comedic styling and self-deprecating attitude was exactly what I wanted to see. And as it turned out, his stand up turned out to be even more impressive than his filmmaking.

Phillips has been pleasing audiences since the mid 90’s, and definitely has a great story to be told. He’s experiencing more of the ups and downs of the comedy world than you could even fathom. Thankfully for us, the highs have been extremely high, casting a large shadow over the lows, of which I could even name. I just love what he has done with stand up comedy, and am extremely grateful that he was willing to share a few words with us here today. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some very nice words from the amazing stand up comedian, actor, filmmaker, writer, love maker……Henry Phillips!

How old were you when you realized you wanted to be hilarious for a living? What drew you to the world of stand up comedy?

I was 24. As a teenager the dream was to become a musician for a living, but when that started looking unrealistic, I went to college and gave up on the arts. I had always been a big fan of comedy, but never even imagined myself doing it professionally. But in 1994, I had a song that my friends all used to laugh at, and I was urged to go up and try it at an open mic. It ended up being a hit, and I was so excited to have people laughing at my humor, it was addictive. That’s what I said to myself, “maybe I can do this”.

What are some of your favorite cities to perform in that are not NYC or L.A.? What places tend to surprise you with their crowds? (For example, I hear the words “Bloomington Indiana”, and I have no idea where that is, but it seems like a decent place for comedy)

Yes, Bloomington has a reputation for being one of the best comedy audiences. College towns in general are pretty good. Not necessarily because of the college students themselves, but maybe because of the cultural influence a university has on the community. Maybe more open-mindedness? Which I think is extremely important for humor. San Francisco, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Nashville, Austin, Madison, are all wonderful Comedy places. My first “road” experience was the Laff Stop in Houston Texas, which had a magic about it. The audiences used to laugh so heartily at that club, it’s a big part of the reason that I decided to stick with it. No idea why that was, just one of those things.

You’ve been going at it in the comedy world for a quite a while now. In your opinion, how has the comedy world changed since you first began doing it? And has advancements in technology elevated the comedy game, or is it hurting it?

The biggest change that’s happened since I started Comedy in the 90’s is that now there are more things that you can do to be proactive. It used to be that you would try to make your act as good as possible and hope that you were picked to be a TV or a movie star. Kind of like waiting for a winning lottery ticket or a seat on a lifeboat. Now, if the phone doesn’t ring, you can make your own TV show and put it on YouTube, or you can start your own podcast, or you can develop a personal fanbase and organize a tour and sell your tickets online, skipping the middleman. There are just so many things that can be done now that empower the individual comedian. That’s a change I welcome, and really try to take advantage of. I have 2 web series, several digitally self-released CDs, and even 2 independent films, which would’ve been nearly impossible to achieve back in the 90s.

Your film Punching the Clown has been hailed (at least by me) as a MUST WATCH for true fans of stand up comedy. And now we are fortunate enough to get a sequel with Punching Henry. For old fans of Clown, what can we expect to be different this time around? What direction are you taking our beloved Henry?

Plotwise, it’s similar, but you would replace the record label with a TV network, and replace my brother with my lesbian musician friend, played by Tig Notaro. It’s much higher production value, some really beautiful imagery, great sound and some big name cast members. The feedback I’m hearing from fans of the first one is that this one’s a little bit darker, and a little bit more desperate. There is no female love interest, and the villain in the movie is really just life itself. Ha, that definitely doesn’t sound like a winning pitch for a comedy movie, but in my opinion it really works. Not only do I feel that we really nailed the big funny scenes, but I think there is a very honest pacing throughout that lets you know that you’re watching something real.

I adore your amazing web series Henry’s Kitchen. On the surface, one might think it’s just another set of cooking videos on YouTube, but in reality it is so much more. For those who are unaware, can you tell us a bit these videos and what makes them unique? And where did the idea for your version come from?

Henry’s Kitchen was inspired in 2011 at a time when I was doing a lot of cooking by myself at home. I would go to YouTube and Google, for example “French toast recipe”, and I used to really laugh at some of the amateur chefs out there teaching how to make French toast. At one point I said to myself, “I have to do one of these”. So I made my French toast video, and it was a hip among all my friends. Then I made my video “chili for one”, and it actually went viral. I was so excited, I always wanted something like that, and I finally got it. So then I just started cranking out more and more. There are 25 now, and there have been a great outlet for me creatively. I love coming up with one liner type jokes to say while I’m cooking, and scoring the soundtrack and writing the songs has really helped me stay in touch with my musical side. They are a ton of fun, and I’m amazed at how many people out there have seen them. I’ve been recognized at several airports, and in the streets in cities from Montreal to LA, by all these people that think that I’m just a terrible cook.

I am a huge fan of the podcast Doug Loves Movies, and you are hands down one of my favorite guests to frequently appear on the program. And whenever I get the chance, I have to ask people who are fortunate/insane enough to be on the show…what is that experience like? Is it just another for of publicity, or do you really enjoy doing it?

That podcast is nothing but pure fun. At first I was intimidated to be a guest on it, because I’m insecure about my knowledge of recent movies, especially all the marvel/superhero ones. And I’m not really good at coming up with trivia answers on the spot. But the bottom line is that Doug Benson is one of the funniest people ever, and he’s a genius at making the show funny, regardless of the trivia performance of the guests. It’s really fun.

What would you consider your greatest non-artistic accomplishment? 

It might be boring, but I guess finishing my political science degree at UCLA. it was great to learn all about a field that I had previously known little about. And there was a real sense of accomplishment, especially toward the end, when I was fulfilling all of the requirements. I had to study French, learn about statistics, take random science classes, etc. I guess I consider it an accomplishment now, because looking back it’s the only real time period when I wasn’t interested or involved in the arts at all.

So what is next for you? Anything coming soon that you can tell our readers about?

Well, Punching Henry is now out on Blu-ray and on iTunes and Amazon. It will also be on Showtime in August. I’m also working with an animator on a potential animated comedy Christmas special. And I am really hoping to make a couple more episodes of my other web series You and Your Fu&king Coffee, by the end of this year. In general, I think there will be much more filmmaking for me from this point out. But I will always be a traveling comedian as well, as long as there is an audience that wants to see me.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A video I just saw. Comedian Brendon Walsh has been pranking this gossip show by appearing as a guest Skyping in from home, and he keeps getting naked dudes to walk by in the background. Pretty damn hilarious.

Henry has made more recent Henry’s Kitchen episodes since this one below, but for introductory purposes, you HAVE to check out this amazing episode: