Inés Efron [Interview]

¡Hola a todos! Hoy tenemos una entrevista absolutamente increíble con una actriz aún más increíble. ¡Es Inés Efron! Debo comenzar diciendo que desde que empecé este pequeño sitio hace casi 8 años (¡el próximo mes!), Efron ha sido alguien que siempre había soñado tener en el sitio desde el principio. Como veremos más adelante, apareció en una brillante película independiente que realmente me llamó la atención en la época en que estaba creando Trainwreck’d Society. Se llama XXY, y es una película absolutamente perfecta por muchas razones, a las que sin duda nos referiremos en esta entrevista. Y como puede adivinar, la película funciona muy bien gracias en gran parte a la actuación de Efron. Estoy muy emocionada de que esta actriz absolutamente brillante esté presente en nuestras páginas digitales.

Ah, y si no te has dado cuenta, esta es nuestra primera publicación que se hará completamente en español. Nos gusta que nuestro huésped se sienta cómodo aquí en Trainwreck’d Society, por lo que pensamos que sería genial completar esto en la lengua nativa de Efron. Tenga en cuenta que si algo suena incomprensible, es totalmente culpa mía, y no hay culpa en ella. Incluso después de vivir en el sur de España durante 3 años, todavía confío en que Google traduzca para mí. Una vez más, cualquier cosa incorrecta está en mí! ¡Así que comencemos esto! ¡Disfrutar!

 

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¿Cuándo descubriste tu pasión por el mundo de la actuación? ¿Cuándo te diste cuenta de que este era el mundo en el que querías vivir? ¿Fue una ambición muy temprana tuya?

Descubrí mi entusiasmo por la actuación en las clases de Nora Moseinco, una gran maestra Argentina de actuación. Yo tenía 16 años y esperaba ese dia de la semana para ir a las clases, ahí todo era juego e investigación en la libertad creativa. La actuación era un vehículo para tener un encuentro muy honesto con uno mismo, y poder observar todas las ideas que se generan sobre las cosas del mundo y sobre uno mismo.
En ese momento estaba por terminar la escuela y tenía que decidir qué carrera iba a estudiar, ahí fue que me inscribí en el conservatorio de arte dramática, donde no dure mucho, y luego volví a desarrollar mi formación con Nora Moseinco y algunas otras actividades que también nutrían mi formación actoral.

Ha pasado más de una década desde que le diste al mundo tu impresionante actuación como Alex en la película XXY, aclamada por la crítica, que sigue siendo una de las mejores actuaciones que he visto en mi vida. Tengo curiosidad por saber qué es exactamente lo que te atrajo a este papel? ¿Qué te hizo querer tener un personaje tan complejo?

El personaje de Alex de algún modo me era familiar, desde mi infancia siempre tuve muchos pensamientos acerca de lo femenino y lo masculino, me enojaba bastante todo lo que se daba por sentado, los estereotipos de lo que era ser niña, tenía un espíritu bastante rebelde. Y durante mi adolescencia eso se encendió con mucha fuerza, fue un momento en que realmente no sabia de que se trataba ser mujer. Como podía, trataba de correrme de los canones sociales, no quería dar nada por sentado. Por eso cuando recibi el guion de XXY, encontré que era posible para mi ponerle el cuerpo a Alex, su incomodidad con la vida era algo familiar para mi.

XXY fue verdaderamente un revolucionario y realmente tiene éxito en el tema que importa más de lo que actualmente está en el punto de mira de los cambios sociales más que en 2007. Como el cerebro detrás de darle vida al personaje de Lucia Puenzo, lo que crees personalmente es especial sobre la película ¿Y qué lo hace relevante para el clima de cambio y el progreso de hoy en día que estamos viendo (aunque lentamente) en todo el mundo?

Lo que yo creo que es interesante es que la película trae la posibilidad de abrirnos a un pensamiento que no define, que no pretende encasillar la realidad de acuerdo a las experiencias que hemos vivido y a nuestro condicionamiento cultural y de crianza. Y eso es algo que como humanos tenemos que estar siempre manteniendo latente en nuestras mentes, es una especie de atención que tenemos que tener con la realidad, que muy fácil se nos olvida. Y esto es aplicable a todas las cosas del mundo que damos por sentado, que pre juzgamos. No definir la realidad de acuerdo a nuestras creencias es un ejercicio diario que va a durar toda nuestra vida

 

 

Un par de años después de XXY, aparecerías en otra película de Puenzo titulada The Fish Child. Siempre tengo curiosidad por saber, desde una perspectiva de actuación, ¿qué hace un buen director en una película? En su opinión personal, ¿cuáles son algunos de los fundamentos más importantes que un director debe tener desde la perspectiva de un artista?

Lo mas interesante es que el director haya pasado por algún tipo de experiencia relacionada a la actuación, con esto me refiero a que hayan experimentado por si mismos lo que es actuar. Porque si no se les puede volver algo muy ajeno, algo a lo que le tienen demasiado respeto y por lo tanto se acercan al actor con solemnidad o un extremo cuidado.

Por otro lado para mi es muy importante en el rol del director estar guiando al actor con respecto a en que momento del relato sucede cada escena, entender bien que sucedía antes de casa situación. Porque si no muchas veces, por mas que el actor haga el ejercicio de recordar el guion y que parte está actuando en cada escena, el director siempre trae una mirada mas objetiva y global. Los actores solo necesitamos que las cosas no se nos pongan muy personales, ahí el director puede acompañar en el entendimiento de que es lo que se está contando en cada escena. No perder nunca de vista el relato en su totalidad.

Siempre logras elegir algunos personajes muy únicos y esclarecedores para retratar. Teniendo esto en cuenta, ¿qué es lo que normalmente buscas al decidir qué personajes quieres asumir? ¿Qué tipo de conexión con los personajes está buscando cuando elige su próximo proyecto?

Cuando elijo un personaje primero trato de identificar si realmente yo podría ponerle el cuerpo. Si el personaje atraviesa una situación que es demasiado ajena a mi vida, a veces me doy cuenta que no puedo personificar emociones que son tan desconocidas para mi. Que son cosas que por mi madurez emocional o por el entorno en el que vivo aun desconozco.

La otra cosa a la que estoy muy atenta es a que la pelcula cuente algo que no sea dañino para quien la observe. Que no sea una pelicula que traiga dolor al mundo.

¿Qué es lo que el futuro tiene para ti? ¿Algo que te gustaría conectar a nuestros lectores?

Continuo estudiando la vida y el mundo.

¿Qué fue lo último que te hizo sonreír?

Mi gato mirando la television.

Sunday Matinee: Barbie’s Kenny [Film]

 

Hello Folks! It’s Father’s Day all around the world, so we here at Trainwreck’d Society felt it was only appropriate to have our Sunday Matinee be based around a film that revolves around…a Mother! Aren’t we just so clever? You pay for the whole seat around here, but you’re only going to need the edge, as our old friend & comedian Sean Jordan used to say. In all honesty, the timing has nothing to do with why we are covering Barbie’s Kenny here on Father’s Day. I honestly forgot that that this Sunday would be any sort of mild landmark, it was honestly just my genuine excitement and time availability that made me decide today would be the day to showcase this absolutely incredible film. And when I say incredible, I feel as though that is lacking justice. Let me be absolutely clear here, Folks: Barbie’s Kenny is the best film of 2019. I know we have a lot of proverbial road to cover this year (literally half of it), and we haven’t even hit the awards season, but I seriously can not see any project topping this absolute gem of a film.

Last February, you should definitely remember an interview we did with the brilliant Everything Sucks! actor Zachary Ray Sherman. In that interview, we talked about a little film that he had worked on as his directorial debut, in which we were completely uninformed about, and relied heavily on the internet for research. Obviously always a good call, right? Either way, I was very intrigued by the film, and was hoping to check it out some day. And lo and behold, just in the last week, Zachary himself thus provides! I was expecting to throw this film in the queue and get to it eventually. But then I found myself with 20 free minutes, and I was absolutely hooked. The level of intrigue I had right from the beginning of this film  surprised even myself. But before I get to heavy into my own thoughts on this brilliant film, let’s go back to what Zachary had to say about the film last February:

This project came out of me wanting to quit thinking about directing and making a movie and actually do it. So I self financed it (savings, loans and credit) and shot it very quickly as people were working for free or next to nothing. I was elevated by my talented peers who came on and donated their time, skill and energy to the project. My director of photography (Martim Vian) is brilliant and he was an amazing catch. I didn’t think he’d be available to do it, but he read the script and he liked it and generously came on board. It was a lot of work, but I thrive on the prep, the planning, deciding what’s going to be the best for the making of the movie. I wrote, produced and directed and we shot it in ten days. The story is loosely based off of my girlfriend and her dad. A couple years ago he came to live with us and I got to know him. I dramatized the seed of the inspiration (you can equate it to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in that he took this story that took place over months, in some times years in previous versions and he ratcheted up the tension by placing the drama within days) and came up with the script by taking a microbudget online film course led by a great guy Shawn Whitney. The script came together really quickly and after shooting Everything Sucks! I began planning how to go and make my first feature and was shooting a few months later.

– Zachary Ray Sherman, February 2019

 

 

So Folks, as I stated earlier, I absolutely loved Barbie’s Kenny. Not only is it the best film of 2019, it is one of the best indie releases I have seen in quite a great while. It is films like that this that truly got me into loving cinema. And it is so inspiring to know that there are still films like this out there getting made, as well as knowing that folks like Zachary Ray Sherman are still out there to give a damn about making a classic heartfelt and inspiring film.

And what a cast! Seriously, the relationship between the two titular characters, portrayed brilliantly by Tara Bast and Shawn Hawkins, builds so brilliantly. This is of course thanks in part to a beautifully written story, but is definitely guided to perfection by these two incredible performers. And the compassion in the eyes of Bianca Lemeire, who portrays Emily, the woman who may just change Kenny’s life and help him through his turmoil, was absolutely mesmerizing.

 

 

While I can not say that I appreciated this film for any direct relation to my own life, I will say that I completely understand this film. I, and alot of other, know the character of Barb. Some people seem as though they were sent to this earth only to wonder aimlessly, maybe bringing another, better, life into the world, and leaving far earlier than most. It is a familiar concept, yet I can not say that I have ever seen a story like this displayed with so much accuracy and brilliance in the last couple of decades. The guerrilla style filmmaking, and obvious gift in storytelling, Sherman has created absolute magic with Barbie’s Kenny, and if you find yourself in the festival circuit throughout the rest of 2019, I implore you all to check it out ASAP.

 

Check out this trailer below courtesy of Zachary Ray Sherman used for the 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival:

 

Saturday Special: Terror in the Skies [Film]

 

“Journey to the heartland of the Midwest in this new documentary which offers an in-depth look at an ongoing phenomenon.  Director Seth Breedlove contacted numerous witnesses and investigators who claim to have seen massive beings in the sky as recently as last year. One of the most recent, and popular stories in recent years has been an ongoing wave of sightings of a red-eyed, shapeless creature dubbed “the Chicago Mothman”.” – Justin Cook PR

 

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Well, wasn’t this a documentary that can only be described in the most elegant way by stating it was “fun as hell”. Usually whenever I dig into a documentary, I usually have at least the slightest idea as to what the concept may be about. That is typically what draws me to docs to begin with. I mean, I knew a bit a bout the idea of a “mothman”, but not necessarily about the Chicago Mothman legend. And I certainly wasn’t aware of the terror that has been occurring every now and again in the state of Illinois. Hell, my father lives there! I’ve gone there several times, and never knew that I need to be on the lookout for some giant ass birds that are looking to carry me away and devour me, if not whole into a couple dozen pieces! But thanks to this brilliantly made documentary Terror in the Skies, I will probably never be able to visit my father again. Needless to say, Folks. I am a believer! In fact, the supernatural effect of these giant birds seems so entirely reasonable. I mean, a kid was literally picked up from the ground and flown to an alternate location rather than where he was once standing. Is that not reason enough? Something is out there Folks, and we need to be prepared.

 

 

Beyond whatever speculative content you may watch in Terror in the Skies, you can not deny that director Seth Breedlove has created an absolutely brilliant documentary. SRV Films and Santino Vitale handled VFX and the film contains original illustrations by Matt Harris and Brian Serway, and it is all absolutely incredible! Again, no matter what you choose to believe in regards to the subject matter within the film, you are going to be thoroughly entertained and impressed by the brilliance that went into making this delightful documentary that is just so damn much fun. Enjoy!

 

Small Town Monsters films released the film on Amazon Instant Video, Vimeo OnDemand, DVD and VIDI Space on June 7th.  

 

Rachel Redleaf [Interview]

Happy Friday, Folks! And welcome back to another wonderful interview to close out the week. Today we have some words from the brilliant Rachel Redleaf! Rachel is an incredible actress that I discovered on one of my favorite television series that is streaming these days, the Netflix Original Series Atypical. She has been fantastic on this program, and I was inspired to reach out and learn a bit more about her, and some of the other work that she has done. And wouldn’t you know it, she is just a damn gem of a person and gave some wonderful answers for you all today.

Next month, Rachel will actually be appearing in a film that I am so incredibly excited to check out, which is the 9th film from legendary director Quentin Tarantino entitled Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Rachel will talk about it below, but I promise you all, no spoilers! She will also appear in a new Miranda July project coming out soon that I am also very excited about.

Rachel is an amazing actress, and an even more amazing person. We are so honored to have her grace our digital pages today. So without further babbling, please enjoy some words from the wonderful Rachel Redleaf!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of the performing arts? Was it an aspiration you have had since your youth, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I’ve wanted to perform for as long as I can remember. I did my first show, Wizard of Oz, when I was 4 at Desert Stages Theater in Scottsdale, AZ and I never looked back. I got interested in film more recently and decided to study it in college and here I am:)

You have had a reoccurring role in one of my favorite series of the modern age, the Netflix Original Series Atypical. You are so wonderful on this program. I am curious to know what your experience has been like working on this project? It’s such a heartwarming and inspiring show. Have you had any sort of inspiring moments whilst working on this show that are memorable and have impacted your career thus far?

The entire cast is so amazing to work with. This show is what jumpstarted my career and it continues to impact my life, not only with fans and further auditions, but with meaning and friendships. 

I understand you are set to appear in the Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. I am also very curious to know about this experience. I know you can’t expose much about the film itself, but what was it like to work on a project of this magnitude, and working under the guise of a legend like QT?

It was like dream. I still can’t believe it’s real. Working with Quentin was so life changing. He cares so much about everyone on his sets and his passion shines through and it’s so inspiring. I’m honored to have gotten to work with him and on such an amazing film.

 

 

You also have another project coming out at some point in the near future that was directed by another legendary director, the great Miranda July. Would you be able to tell our readers a little bit about what they should expect from this film?

It’s a heist film with lots of heart and I get to play a pregnant lady with an agenda which was definitely a new and exciting experience! I also had my first onscreen kiss. 

If you were given the opportunity to portray any famous or renowned person in American history, who would it be?

Bette Midler! I’ve always been compared to her and I think it’s the biggest compliment ever because she is my hero and I would love to portray her or even CC Bloom in Beaches The Musical someday!

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like our readers to know about? And how can they stay in touch with you via the Internet?

Well I absolutely love musical theater so I hope that you can see me on Broadway one day. Check out my website for updates http://www.rachelredleaf.com or my Instagram @rachelredleaf

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

Making my graduation cap with my best friend Kennedy!

Adam Croasdell [Interview]

 

Hey there Folks! Oh, do we have a damn fine interview to share with you all today! We have a very special interview with an amazing actor of both on screen as well as a gifted voice over talent. it’s Adam Croasdell! Adam may be most recognizable as the man who portrayed the intriguing character Eccarius in the hit AMC series Preacher that I personally cannot get enough of! We have had some folks from the show on here at TWS before who were absolutely wonderful, and Adam Croasdell is definitely a continuation of that.

AND not only did Adam have a regular appearance on one of my favorite shows on television right now, he also happens to be a part of the latest installment of the video game franchise that is the absolute best available. Regular readers out there will know exactly which one I am talking about. But, for any new readers out there, I am obviously talking about the Fallout franchise! That’s right, Folks, Adam is the man who voiced the robot Modus, and other various characters as well, that we all know and love in the latest installment of the franchise, Fallout 76.

And these are just TWO of the amazing projects that Adam has worked on. He’s also held reoccurring roles in shows like Reign, Castlevania, and more. He’s also worked within other well known video game franchises like Halo, Final Fantasy, Middle-Earth, and more. Seriously Folks, the man has done it all, and we are so excited that he is with us here today!

So without further babbling, let’s just get right into it. Here are some amazing words from the brilliant Mr. Adam Croasdell!!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of acting? Was it something you were always interested in even as a youth? Or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I always wanted to be an astronaut when I was younger, but when I asked myself why, I realised it was because I had seen them in films and on TV. Then I realised that I could still be an astronaut if I became an actor. Unfortunately Matt Damon keeps getting my parts…

What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And where there any sort of lessons learned from that very first job that still affects your work today?

My first paid gig as an actor was for a well respected 4-part mini series that I shot in South Africa. I played the young lover of an older woman caught in the throes of a midlife crisis. We had a shower scene together, and the day before it was due to be shot I was pretty nervous. The actress – a consummate professional – calmly assured me that it was going to be a closed set and that it was all going to be fine. The next day, comforted by this, I arrived on set only to have her pull me aside, wild-eyed, and say, “I don’t think I can do this! I don’t think I can do this!” Sets are funny places. I’ve learnt to expect anything.

 

 

You worked on several episodes of one of my favorite shows currently on the air, which would be AMC’s Preacher. I truly enjoy this show so much. I am curious to know what drew you to this project, and how it was to work on some a truly unique program? Was there anything that set it apart from the plethora of other work that you have done?

I really enjoyed working on Preacher. I was drawn to it for many reasons. The idea of playing a vampire in New Orleans was exciting to me. I lived in the French Quarter while I was there and often walked around at night, getting a feel for the place and understanding – sometimes viscerally – what had inspired Ann Rice to pen her vampire novels there. Of course, working with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin was also a big draw. Being in a series produced by these guys was always going to be an exceptional experience. And of course, I had a lot of fun acting with Joe Gilgun. What set it apart from other work I’ve done was the immersion in the dark, humorous world of the graphic novels that it originated from. Preacher keeps very close to the source material and I got to do all kinds of cool things as a result; flying, transforming into animals, mesmerising people, as well as having some very kick-ass fights. The set was a very creative one, and we were working in a city where, fittingly, anything goes.

Beyond the world of onscreen acting, you have also had a very successful career in the world of voice over acting. Specifically, you have worked on some of the finest video games to ever be released, including several gigs in the immensly popular world of the Final Fantasy franchise. But, one franchise that you worked on is not only our favorite video game franchises, but one of the best series of ANYTHING ever, in our humbled opinion. And that would be the Fallout franchise. And you have done some work on the latest installment, Fallout 76. How did you come to work in the world of Bethesda? And somewhat similar to the previous question, what drew you to work in the Fallout world? And was there anything about it that set itself apart from the other VO work you have done?

Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some great video game franchises. My first one was the lead in Dead Island: Riptide – as the Australian mercenary, John Morgan. I’ve also voiced the dwarf, Torvin, in the Middle Earth franchise, and Ignis Scientia in Final Fantasy XV. With Fallout 76, I auditioned without knowing what it was. The project had a codename at that point. When I got the part and they told me what the franchise was, I was very excited to find out it was Fallout. It has such a great fanbase and it was great to finally be a part of Bethesda. MODUS is such a cool character to me. Who wouldn’t want to play a psychotic Artificial Intelligence bent on world domination who also has the hots for a geostationary satellite?

 

 

The Fallout fandom is a pretty specific but very obessive culture. I know this, because I am a part of that fandom. We’ve featured several folks who have done VO work in the franchise, and we always like to ask how the fan interaction is for them in regards to Fallout specifically? So how has that been for you? Any sort of interactions with FO fans since 76 was released?

The fans have been great on social media, creating GIFS of MODUS and telling me how much they enjoy the game. It’s always great seeing how much the fans enjoy these games.

If you were handed the oppurtunity to portray any legendary figure in American history, who would it be? 

I think Edgar Allan Poe and Nikola Tesla. Both were geniuses, and both tortured and misunderstood. Their contributions to the worlds of culture and science can’t be overestimated. On the subject of ‘Tesla’, I’d also like to play Elon Musk when the time comes. But his story is still being written. Three fascinating minds and personalities.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

There are several things in the works right now, but I can’t talk about them yet.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Seth Rogen wiping out down the stairs in his movie, Long Shot. It was laugh out loud funny.

Stormi Maya [Interview]

Hello Folks! And welcome to an all new week here at Trainwreck’d Society. We are kicking things off with some words from the wonderful actress, musician, producer, and our new friend Stormi Maya! Stormi is also a former Playboy Playmate, showing up in the the publication in October of 2015. Since then, she has had an amazing career, and works with so much vigor that it’s hard not to be impressed. Most recently she appeared in the brilliant sci-fi-fi film 2050 that I can not recommend enough. Maya has also been making a splash in the world of horror as well, and as you all of you regular readers know….we absolutely LOVE this here at TWS.

Stormi was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to tell us a bit about becoming a Playmate, working on 2050, what she has coming up in the future, and so much more! We are very honored to have her grace our digital pages here today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Stormi Maya!

 

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I understand you began your career in modeling, and are a former Playboy Playmate. If memory serves, you would be the first Playmate we have featured on the site. So thank you so much! I am curious as to what it was like in that world? Besides the obvious differences in wardrobes (or the lack there of, in of them) how does working for a publication like Playboy differ from other modeling experiences you have had?

Playboy was a personal goal of mine for years . I always admired how to embraced female sexual freedom and showed it in a positive light . Working with Playboy was different from other publications because of its respected brand and professionalism, even though nude , its highly respected and transfers over into more opportunities . It’s not judged negatively like other sexy magazines.

And when did your modeling career manage to meld into the wonderful career you have had as an actress and producer now? Was there any sort of knowledge or lessons learned that you took from the world to use in your career to this day?

I’m an artist and entrepreneur, so I’m always expanding into different lanes . I love being in the entertainment industry , in front of the camera and behind . I’m very aware of the limiting career a model or actress can have , so to stay busy and financially stable by having multiple hustles. I solely modeled only for a few years , I craved something more to express myself and build success – which led me to theater acting and soon tv and movies . Producing became quickly after I became an actress, a way for me to create my own opportunities and ideal roles . I’ve been on my own since a very young age , which prepares me for such a shark industry.

 

 

While it is not your primary field of work, you have produced and given some amazing performances in our favorite genre of film, the world of horror. I always love to ask people working in the world of horror what exactly it is that draws them to this world? And what do you believe it is about the world of horror that sets itself apart from the other genres that are out there? 

Horror has always been a favorite genre of mine. The reason being is that it’s so contrast to my natural mind and spirit , the realms of darkness are so different from how I live and think – which fascinates me . I’m naturally curious and anything that’s foreign to me is going to grab my attention. I also love the action , the raw emotion and art in the special effects/set design etc .

I am very intrigued by a project that you recently appeared in, entitled 2050. It seems like a very interesting sci-fi project. So, I am curious to know what drew you to this story? What was it about this project that made you want to work on it? 

2050 came out on Valentine’s Day this year and we began filming in 2016- it was my first movie . I was very drawn to the project because of the challenge of playing a non human character. It’s an awesome indie film about the human /machine connection – playing a robot was fun and very different from what you’re taught as an actor .

I’m happy for People to see the movie because you worked really hard on it, And a lot of creativity and dedication went into it. People should be excited about the amazing special effects ,genuine acting and the fact we did this amazing movie with an independent budget.

If you were given the opportunity to write and portray any renowned person in American history in a biopic, who would it be?

Angela Davis, she represents feminism, black excellence, and homosexual rights . I’m a strong black woman and I would love to represent another one. She also has some negative Misconceptions about her I would like to speak upon.

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I currently just did the film Hustlers with J. Lo, Cardi B , Lili Reinhart , Keke Palmer and producer Will Ferrell. Coming out September 13th . I also just played the lead role in this music movie called Bars. Also doing multiple Netflix shows and movies. Also have music constantly being released.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

My boyfriend Donald’s face, he’s also my manager and music producer .

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Matinee: Free Trip To Egypt [Film]

 

“Seeking to build a bridge of mutual understanding and friendship, Tarek Mounib — a Canadian-Egyptian entrepreneur of Muslim faith — travels across the U.S. to find Americans concerned about an Islamic threat and makes them an intriguing offer . . . a Free Trip to Egypt.

With initial reactions ranging from suspicion to hostility, Mounib treks from sunny California to a Trump Rally in Kentucky, a small town in the heart of Georgia, Union Square in NYC . . . and a variety of locales in between. Eventually he cobbles together a diverse group of people, including a school teacher, police officer, Marine Corps veteran, single mom, preacher and beauty pageant queen. All have preconceptions and misgivings but are open and courageous enough to embark on the adventure of a lifetime in Cairo, Egypt, where the Americans are paired with locals just as diverse as them . . . and possibly with just as many misconceptions. What happens when a retired teacher and her husband are united with a young Egyptian revolutionary? Or when a Christian missionary and a born-again, former Miss Kentucky are housed with an orthodox Muslim family where the mother wears a burqa? Or when a police officer faces off with a radical, left-leaning journalist?” – Greenleaf & Associates

 

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Folks, if you’re looking for an absolute guarantee for some heart-string pulling, you’ve come to the right place. Free Trip To Egypt is exactly the sort of awe-inspiring documentary that is going to take you on absolute whirlwind of emotion. Tarek Mounib & filmmaker Ingrid Serban have managed to create absolute magic in documenting a group of complete strangers wondering around in a strange land, learning more about the world, and as corny as it may sound….learning about themselves in the process. Sure this is a cheese-filled statement but, honestly, fuck it. It’s true. And with all the turmoil and anger that is circulating the globe these days, I feel like we need some delightful cheese at this point. We need to see American people of different backgrounds getting to understand themselves, one another, and to break down the walls of hatred (both proverbial and physical) that is being built for people simply because they don’t live the same lives as them. And Egypt is an absolutely perfect place to start this type of conversation, as this incredibly well done documentary will allow you to see.

 

And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all cheese and corny giggles occurring throughout the film. There are very real, touching, and deeply somber moments that are very important to the development of this very well crafted documentary. There are certain individuals that made up the group that accepted their free trip to the motherland that rubbed me the wrong way, but I feel that even as a viewer of a film like Free Trip To Egypt, you have to be patient and accepting of things you don’t understand. Except for when people are just acting like complete fools in a distant land, then I believe they can be free game, and was grateful to see them called on their bullshit. But, I digress from the point here.

 

 

Free Trip To Egypt is the type of film that needs to be shown not only in theatres across the globe, but in an educational setting as well. So many people around the world, but especially in the United States, could benefit from the message that Mounib and his crew have brought to the world. I hope you all take a moment check out this incredible film as soon as you can. Run, don’t walk, to see this incredible documentary.

And because I truly do not want to screw up what could be a magical event, I am going to defer back to the good people at Greenleaf & Associates to tell you about how you can check out the film, very soon:

Free Trip to Egypt will enjoy a one-night event premiere June 12 in 450+ theaters across the country (Fathom); and is also available for viewing in theaters on Cinema on Demand via Tugg.

The Wed., June 12th premiere event, live at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT and tape-delayed 7 p.m. MT, PT, HI, AK, is the highlight of a #PledgeToListen Day of Unity. Immediately following the screenings, a 30-minute panel discussion led by celebrities and thought leaders will be streamed into theaters to launch a discussion about how to listen and bring more kindness to the world — and asking everyone to take the online #PledgeToListen and to look beyond that which divides us and to bring authentic conversations to their community.

 

Saturday Special: Zilla and Zoe [Film]

 

“In the story, Zoe is determined to make a horror film. She sets her sights on an upcoming horror film contest and enlists her family, to help her with the project. As her film becomes more and more bloody, her father Oscar (Conroyd), becomes concerned and shuts down production. Now, Zoe is tasked with shooting her sister’s wedding. But, she still has plans to complete her horror film and this wedding might be the bloodiest set ever!” – Allen Film Publicity

 

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Jessica Scalise’s very funny, but also very touching, film Zilla and Zoe is at its core, a delightful treat of a film. It touches on several different elements of the human personality in a sort of serious manner, yet manages to keep the whole idea of the story very light-hearted, and dare I say just a whole lotta fun. The story is solid and follows a group of truly unique characters. One of those characters I should add, is not actually a person. It’s a particular city that is whimsical in its own right. Of course I am talking about our beloved city of roses, Portland Oregon. Regular readers know that we tout this city with great pride and admiration for what it is at its core. Unfortunately, one thing that it is at its core, and so many PDX natives refuse to admit, is that the city can be completely ripe for mockery. And Zilla and Zoe is not afraid to poke a little fun at its fare city. Scenes fit themselves into the storyline as though they were taken directly from Portlandia. The character Oscar (brilliantly portrayed by Kurt Conroyd) even passes along the old saying of “Unemployment in Portland is more like an art form”. I haven’t lived near my old stomping grounds in quite a while, so I’m not sure how much gentrification has changed much. But, I can tell you that this statement used to be very accurate. The use of Portland, while not entirely important, definitely adds a bit more hilarity that fits in beautiful with the story.

 

 

When it comes to the cast of Zilla and Zoe, the two titular characters were wonderful, although weirdly not as much of a “team” as the title may suggest. But youngster Aida Valentine gives an amazing performance as the horror movie obsessed Zoe, and Sam Kamerman is a damn saint on the screener who should be in the running for the crown jewel of the PDX film community. But, as wonderful as they both were, I have to say that Kurt Conroyd absolutely stole the show. His performance was phenomenal, and brought the perfect amount of life to what I would consider to be Scalise’s best written character in the film as the uncle who’s just sort of passing through the entire situation at hand, yet sort of feels like he might be on the edge of a nervous breakdown. A performance like Conroyd’s is something that makes me so happy that Al Gore invented the internet, so I can write this and tell you all about how wonderful he was in this brilliant film.

 

So, if you are looking for a good bit of fun in a film, I cannot recommend Zilla and Zoe enough. You’re going to laugh, you’re going to smile. You’re going to see a 10 year old girl mutilate dolls in the first two minutes. Honestly, what more could you ask for? Enjoy!

 

Zilla and Zoe will is currently available in select theaters, and will be released in VOD soon.

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/327152081″>Zilla and Zoe Trailer</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/indicanpictures”>Indican Pictures</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Dave Hackel [Interview]

 

Well Folks! What a wonderful week we have had here! I almost feel as though we have celebrated the show pretty well since last Sunday. But, it would be remiss of us to not throw in one more wonderful feature for you al….with THE GODDAMNED CREATOR OF BECKER!!!! That’s right Folks, Today’s interview subject is the one and only Dave Hackel, the man who wrote and developed our dear hero, Mr. John Becker into existence! This is pretty damn huge for us Everyone. The idea of one day having Dave featured on Trainwreck’d Society was but a pipe dream I had when I created this little site almost 9 years ago. And wouldn’t you know it, some dreams do come true!

And as we were so glad to learn, Mr. Hackel is a hell of a nice person! And, as we already knew prior to going into this interview, he has been responsible for some of the greatest television ever put out, even beyond what we consider the best show of all time. He has worked on other classic programs like Webster, Wings, Frasier, and so much more. It was such a delight to get to know a bit more about one of the people who inspired me at such a young age, and created a project that has continued to have a real impact on my life.

On a conclusive note here, I want to thank everyone for coming along on this journey in celebrating Becker as a show, and as a movement. I have never understood how some television programs have received legendary status based on almost zero merit. And some shows have a successful run, but seem to be left in a vault somewhere, adored (even moderately I suppose) at its time, yet almost forgotten over time. Becker is and will always be my favorite sitcom of all time. And with that, I am so glad that we got to have this week. And again, thank you all for coming along on this journey. And thank you to Ian Gurvitz, Michael Markowitz, Russ Woody, and today’s incredible interview subject Dave Hackel for gracing our digital pages throughout this week!.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the even more incredible Dave Hackel!

 

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When did you first decide you want to join the world of television? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I was addicted to television as a child.  The choices were few in those days, but I watched as much as I possibly could.  I found it utterly fascinating…almost magical.  During high school and college I worked in radio, but as soon as I got my degree I accepted a job at a small cable outlet in Columbus, Ohio.  At that time, the legal requirement for cable companies was that a certain number of hours of local programming had to air each day, and my job was to come up with those shows.   Our small crew wrote, directed and even ran camera for all the shows.  Occasionally, we also served as on-camera talent.  It was a great learning experience.

When I moved to Los Angeles, my goal was to work in television in some capacity.  Eventually, I found a job working for a company that provided prizes and promotional consideration on various game and talk shows.  The best thing about it was that I got to spend most of my time working at the studios where I met a lot of people who were generous with their knowledge of production.

Eventually, I met people who were producing scripted shows for the networks and was invited to submit ideas to them. I worked on both comedies and dramas and eventually found my niche writing and producing sitcoms.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of television? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that continued to affect your work in the years to come?

My very first paid writing job was on a sitcom spun off from Barney Miller, called Fish.  It starred Abe Vigoda.  At the time I was writing with a partner, Steve Hattman, and that episode of Fish was our first network sale.  The producers of the show were seasoned veterans and seeing the way they constructed their stories and hearing the types of notes they gave us throughout the process was very instructive.  I believe that the lessons learned from them served both of us well throughout our careers.

Over the years here at TWS, we have had many folks who have worked on the incredible series you created entitled Becker, which has become a staple around here. From writers who were there the entire run, to actors who only appeared in one single episode – they all say the same thing…this show was special. I know that I felt that way as a viewer in my formative years, as well. So, as the man who created it all, I am curious to know what your thoughts are on the run that was the incredible series Becker. What set this project apart from all of the projects you had worked on prior to it? 

First of all, thank you.  Your compliments are humbling.  It’s always nice to hear that the hard work we all did to make Becker was appreciated.  What made the series special to me was that Paramount, CBS and the audience allowed us to make a show that was…at the time…a little different.

By today’s standards, the character of John Becker would likely seem tame, but twenty years ago that was not the case.  He was not the type of “feel good” character that inhabited most television comedies at that time.  He was brutally honest, not very politically correct and – bottom line – a damaged soul.   Believe me, a flawed character like that is fun to write for.  The whole staff got to use Dr. Becker to work out issues of our own.   If someone cut in front of one of us in line, rather than get into a public altercation, we let Becker yell at them instead.  If one of us had an argument with our wife or girlfriend, we let Becker plead our case.  If we saw a public figure traffic in untruths, we let Becker call them out.  It was a very cathartic experience.

And while I give the entire cast and all of the writers and directors a great deal of credit, none of it would have been possible without Ted Danson playing the title role.   He brought his exceptional acting skills to the part, of course.  But Ted also gave a underlying likability to the character that kept Becker’s sometimes harsh words and attitudes from going too far.  Yes, Dr. Becker was angry…but I believe that our audience sensed that, down deep, that he was also caring.  That, I believe, was key to the show’s success.

 

 

 

Also, as the man who created this show that we know and love so damn much, I am curious to know what you think Dr. John Becker would be doing right now, 15 years since the last new episode of Becker aired? Same for any other character from the show you might like to elaborate on? What is the amazing team of characters that formed Becker doing these days?

Interesting question.  I’ve never really thought about what the characters might be doing today, but it was a fun exercise.

I honestly think that John Becker would still be practicing medicine in that same small office in the Bronx.  Over the course of the series he had a number of opportunities to leave for greener pastures, but I believe he was, in his own way, happy there.  So I think that he would still be a part of that community.  A thorn in its side, perhaps, but I doubt he’d ever have voluntarily left his patients in someone else’s care.  As for his personal life, as sad as it sounds, I think he’d still be alone.  As much as I believe he might want to be in a relationship, I’m not sure he would be capable of either the compromise or commitment that would be needed.

As people do in real life, characters pass through each other’s lives, so I’d guess that the others would have all moved on by now. Margaret would have retired by this time and would be spending her time happily volunteering at her church.  Reggie and Chris would have successful careers and personal relationships.  Jake would be married and definitely would have moved on from the newsstand – perhaps becoming a writer telling stories of all he’d “seen” in the neighborhood.  I think Bob might have taken over the diner where he’d hold court daily and spend his spare time searching Tinder.  And, Linda?  I’d like to think that she would have found a way to capitalize on her questionable work ethic – perhaps inventing some sort of time wasting smartphone app that would net her billions.

One last Becker related question, and I will keep it simple- Do you have a singular favorite episode of Becker that you are particularly fond of? Is there one that will always consider the master achievement of the series? Why or why not?

This is like asking me to choose my favorite child.  Impossible.  I liked different episodes for different reasons, but I was most proud when I believed we’d told a story in a way no other show on TV at that time could or would have.  Here are a few that come to mind.

“Man Plans, God Laughs” because it allowed John to debate religion with a priest and discuss his own faith…or lack thereof.  “P.C. World” because it gave Becker the opportunity to brilliantly and successfully take on an unfair critic in a public forum as only he could.  “Talking Points,” an episode about a patient of Becker’s who suffered from A.L.S.  (It was written by Russ Woody, and inspired by his own father’s story.)  All of our Christmas episodes because each one was more twisted than the last.  And “Subway Story” – an episode that told the story of Becker helping a woman who’d lost her son on 9/11.  “Becker” was, I believe, the only sitcom that dealt with the events of that tragic day.

I am curious to know what you are most proud of when you look back on your incredible career in the world of television? Not necessarily one particular show (although it could be, if you so choose), but looking back at your career as a whole, what are you the most pleased to know you accomplished?

When I was a child, I used to fantasize about being a part of show business.  From where my journey began, it was a goal that seemed completely unattainable.  So what pleases me the most is that, with hard work and twice as much luck, it eventually happened.   And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how proud I am of my friends and colleagues with whom, even on the most difficult days, made me laugh out loud.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I retired from day-to-day television production almost fifteen years ago, so I have no new shows to promote.  But I’ve heard it said that being a writer is like having homework every day for the rest of your life, so I plan to keep writing.  Currently I’m working on a new screenplay.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Neal Brennan’s special on Netflix entitled “Three Mics.”  It’s very funny and quite thoughtful, too.

 

 

Russ Woody [Interview]

 

 

Hello Folks! Welcome back to another wonderful edition to our “Week of Becker” coming to you live on the unusual Thursday. Usually we leave this day blank (a day of rest, if you will) but how the hell could we do that when we have such an incredible week with some incredible writers and producers to share with you all? Today we are hearing from the absolutely brilliant man himself, Mr. Russ Woody!

Just as our previous guests had, Russ was around for the vast majority of the run of this program that we love so very much. He was a major contributing factor to the show as well, and we are delighted that he wanted to share some words with us. Russ also brought an entirely new element into the story behind my favorite sitcom of all time, one that would literally bring tears of joy as well as sadness to my eyes. And that element would be in the form of Russ’s father. Honestly Folks, when I was reaching out to the idea of making a Becker themed week happen, or just to talk with anyone who happened to worked on the series at all, I wasn’t planning on being just so damn moved by some behind the scenes stories that occurred during the making of Becker. I honestly can not thank Mr. Woody enough for sharing his and his amazing father’s story here with us today. What is the story? Well, keep reading you (albeit beautiful) animals!

Beyond the world of Becker, Russ Woody is an Emmy and Golden Globe winning writer and producer who has worked on other incredible shows like Murphy Brown, The Drew Carey Show (the one that took him away, haha. Also happens to feature our dear friend John Carrol Lynch!), a new favorite of mine known as Haters Back Off, Mad About You, and so many more. He has done some absolutely incredible work, and also happens to give one hell of a great interview. He’s an absolutely hilarious human being by nature, and we are so excited that he is here!

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the amazing Russ Woody!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of writing? Was the idea of being a  writer something you had aspired to be since you were a child, or did you  just find yourself in this world one day? 

I’ve always admired writers, always looked at them with awe, always assumed they were the smartest people on earth. Though I’ve since found that to be untrue – in some instances, laughingly so – the epithet has always inspired me. That my efforts as a writer tend to dribble out as comedy (or at least attempts at), was inevitable from the 5th grade. On my way to school in Red Bluff, California, I used to sit at the back of the bus with a bunch of 7th graders who were wildly funny and sharp and sarcastic and caustic and I wanted desperately to be one of them. So I struggled valiantly to hone my humor skills, which then started a life- long quest to figure out this whole comedy/humor thing. I came to realize, many years later that the concept of “figuring comedy out” is a fools errand (both the medieval one and the modern day fool). What I have found was that any time I think I’ve got the rules figured out, they change. Comedy is a complex and vaporous miasma that denies formula. It is (to me) so much more interesting than drama or informational writing, as they can be ultimately “figured out.” If you write that someone’s dog died, you can pretty much get to “why” it is a sad story. But try to turn the same story into something funny (it can be done), and it’s much more complicated. 

Anyway, I did my share of getting in classroom trouble for things said/done, etc. In college I was drafted from a public speaking class into the debate team, where I competed in After Dinner Speaking (humorous speeches). I did well, but was forever disappointed to find there were never any “dinners” before the “after dinner” speeches. After college, I moved to Los Angeles and managed to get a couple of production assistant jobs on sitcoms: Benson, Bosom Buddies and Family Ties. It was a wonderful experience that I highly recommend for any neophyte (though the jobs are hard hard to get) because you can often sit in on the comedy-writing process and see that it’s not magic. In fact, it’s so much not magic that, after 35 years of it, I began to ease my way out of it. 

Do you remember the first time you saw your name appear in the credits of a series? Do you remember where you were when you first saw it? 

Yeah. It was a nightmare. (I’ve never liked watching my own stuff anyway.) It was an episode of Benson. It came on the air while I was in Oregon with my then- girlfriend and her family. So everyone gathered around the TV, all very excited. The episode had been totally rewritten and (like everyone just talked to everyone else throughout the whole thing). I just sat there and ate my liver. But the rewriting thing happens all the time in television. After a while you get used to it, or you try to get used to it, or you don’t get used to it, but you get used to eating your liver. 

No, now that I think of it, the very first time I saw my name in credits was when I was a production assistant on Bosom Buddies (Tom Hanks/Peter Scolari). THAT thrilled me. Another cool experience was many years later, when I was writing Murphy Brown (the original). I’d gone up to Chico, California (my alma mater) and dropped into the restaurant where I used to work. I was sitting at the bar, drinking, bullshitting with a couple of friends. There was an attractive woman that I didn’t know sitting nearby. Murphy came on the overhead TV, and one of my friends turned to the woman and pointed out my name in the opening sequence. He said, that’s this guy right here. She thought he was full of shit, and producing my driver’s license would’ve made me look like an asshole. But still, it was cool. 

You have worked on so many of the most iconic television series of all time for nearly 40 years. I have loved so many of them, but regular readers here at TWS know that my favorite sitcom of all time is one you spent quite a bit of time on, which was Becker. We have spoken with a few people about their time on the show. With that, I am curious to know how you enjoyed your time working on this project? Was there anything about this specific project that set itself apart from the plethora of other projects you have worked on? 

Actually, I’m surprised to hear it was your favorite show. Becker always seemed to fly so far under the general public’s radar. I was there for 5 of its 5 1⁄2 years (I left when we didn’t know if the show would be renewed and Drew Carey sent a money-filled truck to my house—yes, okay, that’s essentially prostitution, but let’s not think TV is above that classification). Mostly, I suppose, I was there for so long because Ted (Danson) was such a great guy to work with. And Dave Hackel, the show runner, though he could be a little gruff at times, ran a well- organized show and reasonable schedule—often an anomaly in sitcoms. 

But what made the show so uniquely endearing to me was the part in the middle of my tenure, the year-and-a-half that followed one particular week when my mother died suddenly and my dad was diagnosed with ALS. I got him a house in Studio City (L.A.) and he began coming to filmings of the show every Tuesday night. In the months to follow, I was astonished to see how much, and how wholeheartedly, the writers, the crew, the cast, especially Ted Danson, adopted him. We ended up doing an episode of Becker about him, with Tom Poston playing “an old man with ALS, who could no longer speak,” so Dr. Becker gets him a small computer that will speak for him. The episode was given an award by the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills at a black tie event with the Becker producers and the cast. My dad wore a tux for the first time, rode in a limousine for the first time and found himself sitting in the audience of 800 supporters as Ted Danson stood on the stage and told him how special he’d made the year for everyone at Becker, and how my dad made him (Ted) “miss my daddy.” As well, he ended up becoming friends with my friends, half of whom are gay—an eye-opening experience for an older man (a Republican [when they were reasonable]) and a former marine who fought in the Second World War. He ended up becoming pro-gay, to the point I told him he’ll be sitting atop a float in the West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade. 

 

 

So much happened that, yes heartbreaking but fulfilling, year and a half. (If you’ll indulge me.) He had Thanksgiving dinner at my friend’s house in New Mexico with Shirley MacLaine and Marsha Mason. All of which paled in comparison to the time he was able to spend with his two young grandsons Henry and Joe (6 and 4 respectively). After he bought bunk beds for the spare room of his house, the boys spent most weekends over there, where they woke to the smell of bacon and pancakes wafting in from the kitchen. While he still had strength in his arms and legs, he built the boys a huge fort in the backyard. It sat on of 4×4 stilts, with a ladder leading up to its trapdoor entrance. It had a shingled roof and, after a trip to the junkyard where we picked up some used bucket seats and a steering wheel, it became an intergalactic spaceship. Then one day he called me into his living room and said we had to move or get rid of the furniture. Odd. Then he showed me two huge plywood tables he’d built, that we moved into the living room. After a trip to the miniature train store where he bought slot cars and a few hundred dollars worth of slot car track that was installed on the tables along with artificial grass, mountains made from insulation foam and lakes made from mirrors, his living room had been transformed into a giant race track. The boys were thrilled, and as they raced and mostly blasted the cars into the back wall, I turned to my dad and said, “You never built anything like this for me.” He took his talking computer out and typed: “TOUGH.” 

In August of this year (2019) Wyatt-MacKenzie is publishing my book about that amazing year and a half. It’ll be called Tuesdays with Ted (a tongue-in-cheek salute to Mitch Albom’sTuesdays with Morrie). It was a book I had to write, mostly for my sons. They were too young at the time to really understand what was going on with their dad and grandpa, so I hope this will be something they can refer to for a full perspective. As well, I wrote the book because that year and  a half was the most meaningful of my life. To spend cherished, though limited time, with my dad, to see the generosity and kindness of my friends and co- workers at Becker, Even if I wasn’t in it, I’d think it was an amazing story. 

 

 

Another amazing project you worked on was the classic known as Murphy Brown. You actually worked on the original run of the series, and then came back to it during its reincarnation 20 years after it went off the air. I’m always curious to know what that must be like. So, what was it like to jump back into a world 20 years after you leave it? And with everything that has changed in the world since Murphy Brown went off the air, what was it like to dive back into that world after so much time has passed? 

It was a little surreal. Actually it was almost 30 years ago. I was there the first couple of years of the original run. Could be I was younger then. The amazing part of the show was how the original group of writers all stayed very close over the years. Korby Siamis, Gary Dontzig, Steve Peterman, Norm Gunzenhauser, Tom Seeley, Tom Palmer… we never lost contact with each other and see each other frequently. That made it a wonderful experience and a bonus. It was, as well, fun to see the show originally becoming successful. Candice was a blast to work with, bottom of the barrel sense of humor. Grant Shaud (Miles Silverberg) and I are still close. 

 

Russ Woody & Diane English (1980’s)

 

Going back after all that time was kind of fun, especially since I didn’t have to take it seriously. It was great to sit in that room with those guys. Diane (English) too. I didn’t move back to New York with them though, which, this time, is where they shot the show. Burbank, in the original version. But I did go out there to see one of the filmings and the actors and the rest. Was pretty cool. I’m, not by any stretch, a New York person like a lot of them are. That city always freaked me out. I said to Dontzig that it seemed like there were a lot of people in that city. And I never got the layout of the city. Never could find my way around. So the New Yorkers amongst the writing staff mother-henned me, made sure I understood the difference between “uptown” and “downtown,” never knew there was a difference—opened up a whole new world for me. As long as I stayed on one train that went from uptown to downtown, and vice versa, I was reasonably certain I might see my loved ones again. 

The writing of the new version was fine for me, ‘cause I only had one script to write. Weird though, sitting at a computer writing out those character names. It didn’t really take long to start hearing their voices again (along with all the other voices I hear – hah-hah). 

 

Russ Woody & Dian English (2018)

 

After so many years working in the world of television, and the immense amount of changes that have occurred in this world, I am curious to know what your thoughts are on the current state of television. With so many ways to consume television and so many more opportunities to work within that world, are things better for television? Or is the business becoming oversaturated these days? 

No, I see a wonderful world opening up for those looking to get into the business. The need for material is only going to grow with so many outlets now. Back when we were writing the original Murphy (on stone tablets, hah-hah again), there were only a few sources. The money was pretty good, but the chances of getting in were probably more limited. The current field is expanding now and, though the audiences are getting smaller, the content is getting more interesting. Especially in some of the more innovative cable and streaming networks. The three original networks (my own opinion here) are dinosaurs, stuck still thirty years behind the rest. 

So it’s there. It’ll be there. I taught television writing at USC for a while and told the students, if you want to write sitcoms or dramas, study the craft. Work at it. Learn. ‘Cause it is a craft that takes time to get better at. It’s not magic. And though (I contend) you never really “master” the craft, you do get better at it, you do learn how to put forth a professional script. Lotta newbies make the mistake of thinking, if only they can make the contacts, go to the parties, meet the right people, they’ll do okay. And when they do make those contacts, they hand (say) an agent their work, before they’ve really got a hang of what they’re doing. Then, once the agent has read an unpolished, unprofessional, well let’s just say it, shitty script, they aren’t inclined to read the next thing you write. And they are seldom, if ever, nurturing, understanding, patient people. (I mean, I think they’re people.) So write, learn, get better, then jump in. 

Something we always like to ask our statue holding friends this one particular question: Where do you physically keep your Emmy and Golden Globe today? And does that physical location have any sort of significance?  

They’re on a shelf in my office next to a cigar box with my dad’s ashes in it. (Well, you asked.) Winning that stuff was fun, but I pity the people who take it too seriously (of which I’ve been guilty of). If that’s the thing that validates you, you’re probably gonna be miserable most of the time. I think (think) these days, I’ve learned to appreciate the work itself. If you can get to that point, I feel, you’ve got the system beat, ‘cause you provide your own happiness. You’re not hanging on the opinions of a bunch of disinterested people. (I’m kind of a big talker here – it still stings when someone tells me my script is a piece of shit, words to that effect.) These days, I so look forward to a day without interruptions, just writing. Well, writing and yoga. Okay, writing, yoga and there’s this coffee shop I go to to hang out, to write, to sit around with a bunch of other writers, who are pretty funny. In fact, they’re so funny I frequently don’t get much work done. Which, now that I’m giving it some thought, they really piss me off. 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

The future? Well, I think once our president finally makes this country great again, everyone is going to be very very happy. All the time. Happy all the time. (That’s a joke, in case your sphincter just slammed shut – not really a Trump fan here.) 

I’ve written a couple of novels and hope to do more. One I’m currently working on is a new type of writing for me. I got intrigued a few years ago by a short funny magazine article about Abraham Lincoln’s (first) vice president: Hannibal Hamlin. He was Lincoln’s second throughout the Civil War, but nobody knows who he was. Anyway, the article explained that he hated the job, had no responsibilities, Lincoln ignored him, Mary Lincoln hated him and he was bored to tears presiding over the senate, casting the tie-breaking vote only once in a blue moon—so he went off and joined the army. While he was sitting vice president. Swear to God. He became a private, was issued a uniform and gun, marched with the other grunts and ended up working in a mess hall kitchen at fort up in Maine. I thought it was hysterical. So I took about 10 or 11 months, just reading, noting, researching him and Lincoln, trying to find an underbelly to the story. Meanwhile the stuff I read about Lincoln was fascinating—he was a funny guy. Wicked sense of humor. And I was (am) fascinated by the small stuff. He hated the name Abe, Mary got pissed at him because he always tried to feed the cats under the dinner table with the nice silverware, when he got tired of listening to some blowhard, he’d start in with a joke that didn’t make sense and, while the blowhard was trying to figure out what the hell the joke meant, Lincoln would wish them a good day and escape. Love stuff like that. Anyway, the story that began to emerge for me was that Hamlin was forever a staunch anti-slavery guy, while Lincoln… not so much. Lincoln didn’t like slavery, to be sure, but ending it wasn’t a priority to him. Yet he has gone down in history as “The Great Emancipator,” while Hamlin is forgotten. That’s the way I’m going with the story. That’s our past, and my future. For now. After that, I’ll probably just write a couple of other things and then die. I don’t have a specific schedule on this particular itinerary, but that’s probably the general path I’ll follow. 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

The muscles around my mouth. No, sorry about that one (the jokes can’t all be gold). The last thing that made me smile? It’s hard to think about that right now because the dog just 20 seconds ago threw up on the carpet in my office. So now I gotta get up and clean it. And… from the looks of it (the puke), she was eating the artificial plant again… you know how dogs eat grass and such to help their digestive system? Well, that’s what she does, only she’s fooled by plastic foliage. I mean, it’s a level of stupid that’s hard to fathom. Okay, back to the question—smiling? There was something yesterday. Oh, grocery store parking lot, this dick cuts in front of me to get to a parking space but, while he’s at it he ran into another car. It was one of those heartwarming moments that hints at a higher entity, a moment that makes one smile. 

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Russ Woody was kind enough to share some absolutely mesmerizing photos, and a quick video, showcasing the events he previously spoke of in the interview above in regards to his father on the set of Becker. We wanted to you to see all of them. So here you go: