Cheryl Chase [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Today we have another wonderful interview to share with you all. We have the absolutely legendary voice over & on screen actress Cheryl Chase with us! Chase has famously provided the voice of a young woman who may have very well defined a generation. Yes, for a lot of us 90’s kids (and beyond) Cheryl’s voice over work as Angelica Pickles in Rugrats has been as haunting and respectable to our ears as they come. She’s been mean, compassionate, adorable, and frankly misunderstood over the years. You knew she was good at heart, but you could always rely on her to do some very messed up things as the overboss type character in the series. At times you loved to hate her, others you learned to love her so much. Of course all of this is reflective on the character of Angelica themself, and not of Chase personally. But, when you are one of the most obvious voices of a generation, it has to become a part of you in some way, right?

Cheryl has had an incredible career in the world of film and television that extends far beyond the world of Rugrats, which will be discussed in her wonderful answers below. She is a damn fine human being and has some incredible insight to share with the world. She is also a children’s book author which is not only fitting but exciting! We are so excited to follow along with her career as it continues to flourish and impress the world, and we hope that you will do the same.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the wildly talented and incredibly cool Cheryl Chase! Enjoy!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

My grandmother, Julia was an actress on the stage and she and my grandfather used to run a small hotel that housed Vaudevillians when they’d come to perform in their town of Hazleton, PA. My father was a musician in a traveling orchestra where he played the trombone. I guess its in my blood to perform. As a child I always tried to make people laugh and mimic funny voices and perform and put on little plays with my friends so yes, I guess it’s in my blood.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any lessons learned from the experience that still affects your work to date?

I don’t remember off hand what my first gig was, but I remember in the early days one gig was where I was the voice for the baby in Baby Boom with Diane Keaton. Also, I played a Martian girl opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall. Lessons learned…just do the best you can and be ready for anything that comes your way.

You have famously voiced the wonderful Angelica Pickles, and more, in the legendary animated series Rugrats, and you, are incredible at it. I am curious to know what it is like to be a part of something so notoriously popular and has so much longevity? What have fan interactions been over the years?

It has been a major blessing to be a part of such a global phenomenon. To make such an imprint on so many people. It is such a privilege to meet the now grown up fans who say that I was “their childhood.”

 

 

Another series that you worked on is one that is near and dear to my heart. And that series was Ren and Stimpy. I still hold this amazing series in high regard. With that, how was your experience in working on this delightfully silly series? And what are your thoughts on the legacy that it has left behind?

I was part of the production team besides doing voice work. I was a receptionist then later promoted to casting coordinator. I remember auditioning Tom Kenny (Sponge Bob) for Ren. During the production, before it premiered I also remember that we were sitting on something special. I knew this before the general public knew and it was kinda cool.

If you were handed the opportunity to star in the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

Helen Kane, the original Boop Boop A Doop Girl. In the 20’s, she was successful in Vaudeville that led her to be a promising musical comedy star at Paramount Studios. Her career was cut short by the success of Fleischer’s Betty Boop animated series. I used to perform as Helen Kane in a 20’s orchestra back in the 90’s. It would be fun to do it in film.

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

I love doing my voice over work, but, also I am a children’s picture book author. I have my first book being published and coming out next year.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My little bunny rabbit, Sophie…when she yawns, it always make me smile.

Don FauntLeRoy [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Today’s guest here at Trainwreck’d Society is nothing less than an absolute legend in the world of filmmaking. For over 40 years, Dan FauntLeRoy has been showing us the world through cameras in the most delightful ways. From his early work as a cameraman on legendary films such as Raging Bull, The Goonies, or T2: Judgement Day, right up to his more recent ventures as the leading director of photography on films such as the Jeepers Creepers trilogy. And, as one tends to do, Dan has managed to make his way into the director’s chair, including two Steven Seagal classics, Today You Die and Urban Justice.

And there seems to be no slowing down for Dan, even as the world seems to be slowing down around him. He has some wonderful projects in the can, which he will discuss below, and when the world allows him to strike, you can guarantee you will be seeing his name in those opening credits.

So Folks, it’s been a wonderful first week back, and I hope you will come back around next week! And with that, please enjoy some fine words from the brilliant Dan FauntLeRoy!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

Growing up all I did was play sports, never drew, painted, actually nothing artistic. When I was in the 11th grade I took a course called Radio Speech Television. Our assignment was to write a script, storyboard it, do a shot list, film, edit, and turn it in. When I picked up a camera I saw the world as I had never seen it. I could compose, create, paint and tell a story. I was hooked. In the 12th grade I did another film to help raise funds for a school of mongoloid children.  George Putnum, a KTLA  news anchor, opened his program showing my film.

It was then my father, an optical cameraman, and grandfather, a still photographer, told me to stay away from the business and go on to college, I did and playing baseball became injured and went to work form my father getting in the International Photographers Union at 19, the beginning of my career.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

My first job was driving for my fathers company who taught me very good work ethic and it has stayed with me through out my career.

While it is far from the only genre you have worked in, you have done some incredible work in the world of horror, which is one of our favorite genres around here. With that, I am curious to know how you enjoy shooting horror films? Is there anything about this genre that sets itself apart from other genres you have worked on?

I love shooting horror. But it not just the filming it is the post where the film and story become alive. The editing, sound design, music and final finished film delivered, each process one is re-making the film to become better and better.

In 2005 you directed the action-packed Steven Seagal fronted film Today You Die. I am curious to know what drew you to this project? What made you decide that you wanted to bring this story to life?

In 2004 I was hired to photograph Into The Sun staring Steven. Half way through the film Steven and his producer Binh Dang started talking to me about directing his next film Today You Die. I went on to direct and shoot Steven in four more films. I was just asked to direct another one but the pandemic has shut all production down.

 

 

If you were handed the opportunity to create the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

Pete Rose. I feel Baseball has treated him unfairly and his story needs to be told.  Also I believe he is one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

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

Gates of Darkness came out [April 3rd  2020] starring Tobin Bell. Later this year I have a Hallmark film coming out at Christmas, A Ring For Christmas and I just finished a directing a thriller Awaken which I am editing at the moment.

I have two wonderful films ready to go when the industry goes back to work.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My beautiful wife Lesley-Anne Down whom I met on North and South in 1984 leaving Goonies and Steven Spielberg to meet her. Best decision of my life.

Tracy Newman [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! And once again, it is so great to be back and sharing some wonderful words with you all. Today we have an absolutely wonderful guest gracing our digital pages. It’s Tracy Newman! I was initially intrigued to have Tracy on the site based on my love for comedy and comedy writers specifically. I was previously aware of Newman’s work as an acclaimed writer in the world of television. Emmy Award winning, and with an obvious eye for proper good entertainment, I happened to notice that one day it just…..stopped. I was intrigued to say the least. Her credits dissipated over ten years ago. How could this be? What happened to the co-founder of the beloved Groundlings Improv Theatre? Well, what I would learn was not astonishing at all, it was actually insanely exciting.

Turns out, Tracy is even more talented and multi-faceted than I previously knew! It turns out, she did not simply dissipate into thin air. Not by a long shot. Tracy returned to her original passion….music. And let me tell you folks, she is damn good. Seriously, I have listened to her second album with the Reinforcements, I Just See You front to back more times than just about anything in recent months. It’s incredible.

And as time progresses, Newman only continues to thrive. It certainly appears that there isn’t much in the world of arts and entertainment that this insanely powerful can’t NOT do. And that is just one of the reasons that we are so excited that she decided to take some time out of her life to answer a few questions with us here today. So with that, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Tracy Newman!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I’m not sure I ever thought about it. When I was about 8 years old, I liked to sit in a rocking chair and sing along to Judy Garland and various Broadway show albums. When I sang with Judy, I’m sure I was shouting, but I loved it. At 14 I started learning chords on guitar… I had cousins who were in the 1950s folk scene in LA. We had hoots in my garage… my parents weren’t into it, but they were generous with the space. After high school, I went to the U of A and met a lot of folk singers, like Bud & Travis, and a guy named Michael Cooney. I really learned a lot more guitar and songs hanging around them. I did radio shows and busked on street corners in Tucson. I got good. When I came back to LA, I hung around The Troubadour a lot, and got to know everyone. I don’t know when I decided I wanted to perform.

I just drifted into it. People would ask me to play somewhere, and I never said no. I was not a great singer or guitar player, and not a particularly great entertainer, but I was completely myself and comfortable on stage, which appealed to audiences. I was given a lot of opportunities to succeed in show business, which I consistently screwed up. After I started singing in coffee houses and small clubs and traveling with Hootenanny ’63 (we played every major concert hall in the country, twice, that year, including Carnegie Hall,) I think I was officially hooked.  I went to New York in late 1964 to become a “star.”

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

I guess Hootenanny ’63 was my first real paid gig. Like a salary and traveling expenses and a per diem. Also, I played clubs like The Golden Bear and made a bit there, too. And at one point, Barry McGuire and I were a duo and played a Mexican restaurant in Westwood, called El Toril. (This was before the Christy Minstrels and Barry’s big hit record, “Eve of Destruction”.) I think we got paid, but I don’t really remember. In New York, I actually worked for money all the time. I played The Bitter End a lot, and a midtown bar/restaurant called Tobo’s, for about 6 months, 6 nights a week. I was paid there. I got $30 a night, plus tips from customers. Also, I did a PBS show for children on an existing series called What’s New. I don’t think I got paid, but the shows did well. You can find those on YouTube in black and white.

I learned so much during my 2 years in New York. Especially from doing that PBS series, I really learned the show biz edict “the show must go on.” Each show was half an hour and I had to memorize the whole thing, plus camera cues. The director didn’t want to do any edits, (Brooklyn College TV class,) so if I made a mistake 25 minutes into the show, we started over! That only happened once.

Many other exciting things happened during my time in New York, but that’s it for now. I’ll just say that many things had to do with the following: Ed McMahon and the Tonight Show, Bert Knapp, David Fisher, Tim Rose, Rodney Dangerfield, The Improv on 44th and 9th, etc.

 

 

In doing a bit of research for this interview, I managed to check out your album A Place in the Sun, and I have to tell you that it is FANTASTIC. You can now consider me a fan of the songs of Tracy Newman. With that, I noticed that you went full on into the world of music while According to Jim was becoming a hit series. So what primed the drastic change? What made you decide it was time to follow your original dream?

First of all, thank you for your comments about my first CD! As for leaving TV to do music – My partner John Stark and I had been writing TV from about 1989 to 2002 and I was burned out. We had had a great run, but it was time for me to move on. John is 10 years younger than me, so he still had a lot of energy for it, but I really missed playing guitar, writing songs and performing. After we created According to Jim, and it got picked up, John knew I wanted to quit TV writing, so we decided I would wait until the show went into syndication, so my future might be financially secure for a good deal of time. I knew I wouldn’t make any money doing music. I was 62. But it felt so good to get on stage at the Kulak’s Woodshed Open Mic, in front of 10 people and a dog, and sing my little heart out for no money. It was a relief. I was scared to death to perform, but at least I was risking something and felt very alive. I hope I’m making sense here.

If you were to create a new dramatic series about the founding of the Groundlings Improv Theatre, who would you cast as the key figures?

I wouldn’t do it, but  I guess the key figures would be Gary Austin, Tom Maxwell and me. Plus my sister Laraine, Archie Hahn, Phyllis Katz… oh my God, a whole slew of brilliant improv people. I don’t know. I would just be overwhelmed! The current members of The Groundlings main company are so amazing. I’m sure I could cast most of the show with them. I’m so proud of my part in the creation of The Groundlings. I love being a “founding member!”

 

 

We always like to ask our statue holding friends this one particular question: Where do you keep your Emmy? And does its physical location have any sort of symbolism or purpose?

I have bookshelves on each side of my downstairs TV. I keep the Emmy (and my Peabody Award) and a few pix of my daughter and now my grandson, to the right of my TV. I’m not sure about symbolism, but it seems like the right place.

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

Tracy: I have a company called Run Along Home which is about music for children. So far, I have released three CDs – I Can Swing Forever, Shoebox Town and Sing with Me. My producer is Edward Auslender, and the COO is Leanne Summers. The CDs are available on all major platforms. You can say “Alexa, play Tracy Newman songs,” and you’ll get all of my songs for kids. For my adult songs, you have to ask for Tracy Newman and the Reinforcements. I love Alexa! And Siri, too!

Ron: What was the last thing that made you smile?

My grandson. During this COVID-19 self-quarantine time, I haven’t always been able to see him. He’s two-and-a-half. So, the other day, I got to hang out with him at his house all afternoon. At one point he came running to me yelling “I’m so happy! My Nana is at my house!” That made me smile, to say the least.

 

 

Check out more music and other works from Tracy Newman from her WEBSITE.

 

 

Joe List [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! As most of you know this is just our second outing since our previous hiatus that started last May. But, if I am being completely honest, I truly feel as though I (Ron) could end this whole damn thing right now. This is because I feel like today’s interview subject is as close to the pinnacle we could ever reach here at Trainwreck’d Society. Most of my heroes are dead. Hemingway, Kerouac, Chef Boyardee. All dead as fuck. With obvious exceptions, just about everything I love in the world of art and entertainment, I have been able to share some words from people associated with specific projects. Hunter S. Thompson killed himself? Maybe I should expand my idealism? I don’t know. But, I feel like the web has been casted so hard that Kirsten Dunst very well might consider kissing me upside down. Or not. Who knows. But, I’ve gotten Ralph Steadman on here. I don’t have Steadman tattooed on my back, but I have one of his drawings of HST there, so that feels like something, right?

Alas, I digress (once again). Today’s interview subject is the absolutely hilarious comedian Joe List. We have so many interviews with comedians on this little site of ours that it’s almost hard to keep count, but the list of the fine folks I have seen do their comedy live and in person in a very compact “theatre” is very limited. I saw Joe List at the Soho Theatre in London just this past summer. Remember when that was a reasonable thing to do? I have often thought about the fact that I bought two tickets, and everyone who said they could go with me, including my wife of 17 years, said they had to bail, ended up leaving at least 3 feet of space to the east of me. Did I know something about what the future held? No. No I didn’t. My wife just couldn’t make it.

Joe List is an exceptional comedian, definitely one of the best in the current game. His exceptional insight and 20 years worth of experience has made him one of the modern day giants. I’ve been wanting to have him on the site for years now. His wife (Sarah Tollemache) and his podcasting partner/probable lover in disguise (Mark Normand) have been on the site, but the man himself has eluded us for years. Maybe he hates me? It’s possible. It’s always possible I suppose. But mostly, I think he finally had something exciting to promote that happens to be free to everyone, so he understandably is willing to promote any damn way he can, even if it means a quick baker’s dozen of views from our little site.

Nevertheless, I am so damn happy to have Joe on the site today. His new special, I Hate Myself, will premiere tomorrow (August 6th) on YouTube via Comedy Central’s page. I hear he will even be on Maron’s podcast tomorrow, which is pretty cool. Sorry to beat you to it Marc, but you know, show bizness.

So Folks, I shall refrain from further babbling and let you all get right to the fine words that Mr. List was kind enough to share with us all. He’s a great guy, whether he realizes it or not, and we are so honored have him grace our digital pages today. So Folks, please enjoy some great words from the illustrious and ever brilliant Joe List!

 

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I understand that you got into the comedy game at a very young age. What was it about comedy at that point in your life that made you realize that it was the path you wanted to follow?

I had wanted to be in comedy from a very young age. I grew up during the big comedy boom of the last 80s and early 90s and I just thought it was so cool. I always wanted to be a part of it. It just seemed like so much fun and it also felt like a great way to get the attention I had been craving when I was young. I loved it and still do.

 

What was your very first paid gig in the world of comedy? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this gig that still affect your work to date?

The first paid gig I ever did was at a bar called the Emerald Isle in Dorchester, Massachusetts. My friend Ed Regal ran comedy shows in the back of his bar. I did the show without knowing that I would get paid for it. After my set he handed me probably $50 or $100 I can’t remember. At first I refused it. I said ‘oh no, you don’t have to do that’. He told me to take it and to never turn down money for working. It was a good lesson for me. If someone wants to pay you to do comedy, you let them. I’m grateful for him.

 

We always like to ask comedians who work the road most of the time, back when that was a thing, this question: What are some cities that are wonderful to perform comedy in that people outside of the business may not realize are great comedy towns?

The city I most enjoy performing in is Madison, Wisconsin. The club there is called Comedy On State. It’s just the best to me. The audiences are so nice and giving. The club is run so well, it’s just the best. That is number one for me. I also really love St Louis and Tampa audiences. I just always have a great time on stage in those cities.

 

 

I’ve been a big Tuesgay for close to 4 years now, even had Mark on the site a while ago. It is an absolute must listen to each week. I am curious to know what it is about your partnership with Mark that just seems to mesh so well? What made you realize that the two of you could spin proverbial podcast gold with your podcast Tuesdays with Stories? 

I think the thing that makes the professional relationship with Mark work is our mutual love for the TV shows Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Those two shows are by far the biggest influence on both of us comedically. It’s like we both went to the same college and studied the same subjects. I think we also both have similar desperation to entertain. And at this point we’ve been doing the show for so long that we just work really well together. We have a sense for when the other has a good line or is about to finish talking and we manage to give each other the space to do what they need to do.

 

You’re most recent podcast, Mindful Metal Jacket, is also a must listen in my rotation. Probably a super basic question here, but given the content of the show, I am curious to know what inspired you to set out on the spiritual venture that is MMJ?

I started doing Mindful Metal Jacket because I felt like I have finally gained some wisdom on how to deal with anxiety, panic, and hypochondria and I felt like maybe I could help some people by having conversations about that kind of stuff. I really enjoy talking about anything related to mental health so I thought why not do it and record it. I’ve gotten a lot of really nice messages from folks saying the podcast has really helped them out. It’s been very satisfying. I’m proud of it.

 

 

 

Can you tell us a bit about your latest special, I Hate Myself? What can old fans of yours expect from this special? Also for the new fans who may check this out as their first intake of your comedy, who then go back and check out your old work, what do you believe they will find quite different from your old stuff?

I think with this new special I hope fans can expect more of the same but improved. I feel like this is the strongest stand up I’ve put out. It’s just a regular old stand up show. I wanted it to feel like any week night at the Comedy Cellar. That’s what I was going for. It’s a ‘special’ but I didn’t want it to feel overly special. Just bare bones stand up comedy in a basement. As far as material wise, I just feel like this stuff is stronger. I’m more confident as a person and there for as a comedian and performer. I hope that new fans and old fans will both find it enjoyable and hopefully hilarious. We’ll see. (Gulp)

 

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

For right now the special I Hate Myself and my two podcasts Tuesdays with Stories & Mindful Metal Jacket is pretty much it. Eventually I hope to be back out on the road but we’ll see I guess. Fingers crossed for a vaccine and perhaps some better leadership so we can get back to work.

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was recording my podcast with Mark Normand. We just finished recording and I was laughing very hard. Comedy is fun.

 

Be sure to check out Joe’s special tomorrow night. Check out the trailer below, as well as some fun content that Joe made for you all that is absolutely free. 

And with that in mind, if you find yourself just loving what Joe puts out into the universe, consider the Tuesdays with Stories Patreon for additional awesome content. Or don’t. Just don’t yell at him on line. That’s rude.

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Denman [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! I know that for many of you it may seem like it has been quite some time since Trainwreck’d Society has existed, and that’s probably because it has been a while since I had anything to say. Being so uninspired by the the world around me, and feeling helpless and lost was an insane feeling. But, as we creep on forward towards the future, I am starting to feel a bit more hopeful. Not much, but enough to decide to get back to work and share some words & work from folks far inspiring than I. So how about we just get right back into it?

My first guest to grace our digital pages since May is the brilliant actor Tony Denman. Tony may be most recognizable to some from his role as Scotty Lundegaard in one of the greatest stories ever put to screen, the film Fargo. Thankfully his career has extended far beyond this singular, albeit wonderfully done, role as William H. Macy’s son. Denman actually happens to be a figure that appeared in a string of films that could be categorizable as “sex romps” in the early 2000’s, which was just around the time that I was looking for them, and loved them so much. From Barely Legal, directed by our old pal David Mikey Evans, to the Dorm Daze series spin-off of the famed Van Wilder series, to Poor White Trash, co-written & directed by another old pal, Michael Addis…you really couldn’t go swing a loose bathing suit top without catching Tony in a wonderful role around this time.

And with that, Tony has continued to act his ass off in several projects over the years and has moved over into other roles of production as well. He has written & produced a string of short films, and in 2020 he appeared in the drama For The Love of Jessee, alongside our dear friend Adrienne Barbeau, that looks absolutely incredible and should be enjoyed by all.

Tony has been an amazing talent over the years, and I am so excited to have him kick off the TWS comeback. It’s good to be back, Enjoy!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of performance? I understand you got into the business at a very young age, but when did you first realize that this was what you wanted to do for a living?

It was probably my desperate need for attention and yes, I was young, age 6. I started doing stand-up comedy at my elementary school talent show. It was a very competitive racket… Worst/best jokes ever… My opening line was “Hi, I’m Tony Denman and you’re not…” It obviously brought the house down. But many years later, I’m drawn to dark comedy and very personal stories. My inspiration now comes from my innate desire to create. Both my parents are wonderful creators. My mom is an incredibly talented interior designer, upholsterer, and seamstress. My dad is an architect and president of a home building company in Minnesota, where I grew up. My perspective and understanding comes from performing, but I think I simply love to express, it’s in my blood… On any and all levels, no matter how small or large the audience.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

I think it was a combination of the lead in a play at a well-respected theater in Minneapolis, by night. And then, dressing up as a Loon (yes, the MN state bird) at an up-scale shopping mall by day, both during the holiday season. All around age 10 and both paid. So, I learned the idea of moonlighting very early on…also shamelessness was an important concept to take away from that time. Anything for a laugh.

I couldn’t tell you how much I earned!  But enough to buy comics and baseball cards. I was a happy boy.

The play was December Mornings by Truman Capote. An adaptation from his memoirs about his troubled yet curious youth. I was lucky in that it taught me about an unbelievably talented writer early on in my career. The dress up gig was playing a baby Loon with a couple of the cast members. We’d walk around the mall and let people take pics with us and (pretend to) have fun and get up to mischief. These were interesting for me because they taught me about hard work and staying in character.

In 1996, you appeared in one of the most brilliant crime dramas to ever be released, which would be the classic film Fargo, along with our old friend John Carroll Lynch. This was a pretty dark tale, which made it only that much more delightful. With that, I am curious to know how your experience was working on this amazing project? Were there any tricks to sort of keep the set happy whilst creating something so dark?

What a lucky break it was! I feel that even more so now looking back on it all. I was too young at the time (14) to really understand the incredible talent of the Coen Brothers and just how much this movie would mean to the history of cinema and the effect it would have on people. I mean I don’t think anyone could have predicted it.

I just remember auditioning for it and then getting a call back and getting put on tape, and then not hearing anything for like 6 months. I guess they did a nationwide search for a blonde boy, without any luck, lucky for me, and came back to Minnesota. I got a call to come and meet the Coen Brothers. I did. It was quick and easy. Then after that I got another call asking if I would consider lightening my hair to look like William H Macy.

I loved them (the Coen Bros) from the moment I met them. At such a young age all I really knew is that they were weird directors. But I liked them because they just reminded me of cool camp counselors.

I think the thing I most remember about being on set at a young age was the endless supply of gummy bears. I think they knew that was the way to Scotty’s heart!

I think the adults on set must have had such a better understanding of the awesomeness of the project because they seemed always happy and excited to get back to work between takes.

My dad did tell me years later that when he initially read the script, he thought it was awful. Obviously, he didn’t understand it, because it went on to win Best Original Screenplay that year. Thank God I didn’t take acting advice from him!

 

 

A few years later, you appeared in a film that I simply could not get enough of in high school, a film directed by our old friend David Mickey Evans entitled Barely Legal. This one couldn’t be much further from the likes of Fargo, haha. So same sort of question in a way: how was your experience working on this fun and quirky teen comedy? Any fun antidotes from your time working on this film?

I LOVED this movie! For the obvious reasons, but for other reasons too. I mean from the moment I read the script, I was signed up. I just had to convince everyone else.

This movie really changed my life in a lot of ways. Because it was the first time I had a sequel negotiated into my contract. That seemed huge. It was all right around the time American Pie came out so we thought it was going to go the same distance. Sadly, it didn’t. There was major creative difference that came out of the back end and I think that’s when I realized – Damn, the business takes all the fun out of this!

The most important things I took away from that film are fun, good friendship, and learning nothing lasts.

I had the time of my life. The cast and crew were incredible. DME was a dream. He let us kids do and say what we thought was cool and used a lot of our improv. I even met my oldest son’s mother on that movie. So, it’s an important memory for me.

If you were handed the opportunity to star in the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

That’s too hard to pick just one…. Robin Williams, Bob Dylan, and Buster Keaton are my favorite people in the world for obvious reasons so those would be an absolute honor!

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

I just had a movie released on Amazon, Google play and iTunes called for The Love of Jessee.

(Doctor Luke Matthew’s world comes crashing down when he loses the love of his life and becomes a father in the same night. When he hires Sage as the new nanny, they both begin to realize that the best form of medicine is letting go.)

I produced an indie film a couple year back called – Madhouse Mecca. It’s free on Amazon.

(When an underwhelmed housewife meets a mischievous exotic dancer with a taste for trouble, an unlikely friendship is formed that will change their lives forever.)

I have a ton of fun making an absurdist comedy web series at the moment called As a Matter of Fact. We post our short form video’s on YouTube and on Instagram @springbreakdonnie. Check it out.

Also I have 3 kids and a wonderful wife that keep me grounded, sane and happy and I try to keep writing as much as possible.

My goals are to create and sell content. On many different levels. Comedy is at my core, but home renovation is right there on the cusp of things I’ve been working on so watch this space for many different reasons.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I just got off the phone with my 16 yr. old son Buster who is there quarantining with his mother in England and it was just his birthday and I just told him I bought him some brand new Nike Jordan’s and he went mental. It made me smile and cry at how happy he was!

 

Check out this trailer for Madhouse Mecca, available now on Amazon.

 

Lindsay Anne Williams [Interview]

 

 

Hello Folks! We are back with another wonderful interview with an absolutely incredible actress. It’s Lindsay Anne Williams, Everyone! Lindsay has done some amazing work, especially in the world of horror, both on and off screen alongside the likes of filmmaker Miles Doleac. Her latest venture would be a film that we discussed earlier this week with actress Alli Hart, which is the incredible film The Dinner Party. Her past work includes films we have covered here at TWS in the past such as Hallowed Ground and Demons. Both are incredible, and obviously amplified by her inclusion.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Lindsay Anne Williams!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t interested in performing arts of some kind.  It began with my desire to be a dancer, but we couldn’t afford dance classes so that didn’t really come about until I went to an arts high school and was able to study dance for free. But as a little kid, my dad was the principal and teacher of a small parochial school, and he was a very ambitious educator, so he had us doing plays all the time.  My first role was as a Dancing Bear in The Greatest Show on Earth (I don’t even know if that’s a real show or if my Dad just made some shit up).  I had stopped acting and was focusing on dance and trying to figure out my career path when I met Miles, and he introduced me to the New Orleans acting scene.  So I guess it’s a little bit of both, I did want to do something akin to this for my whole life, but circumstances also kind of landed me here.

 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

First paid gig, ever?  I can’t even remember.  But I would say that my first paid gig as an adult actor would probably be the Historia Films production of The Historian, for which I served as Costume Designer and played a character called Dawne. It was Miles’ first film as a director and we both learned a great deal. My lessons from that first re-entry into the world of entertainment were many, but the one I think is most important is to stick up for myself and to claim my space not just as an artist, but as a human being. It’s amazing how much more fun you have and how much more creative you can be when you’re not worried about proving you belong there.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing your incredible performance in the film The Dinner Party. It’s a truly brilliant piece of horror. Can you tell us a bit about this project? Why should people be excited to check this one out?

Thank you for saying that. A lot of work went into this and all our films, so it’s nice when they land, when someone “gets” it. The Dinner Party is a horror/black comedy film, wherein a playwright and his wife are invited to the home of a wealthy and influential doctor with the hopes that they’ll impress him and his friends enough to bankroll his next project to Broadway.  The characters, are rich (both stylistically and literally quite wealthy) and twisted.  Everyone has their own psychoses that come to light throughout the course of this ill-fated dinner party.  I play Sadie Nichols, a woman who doesn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of the group.  She’s obviously wealthy and eccentric, but we know very little of her back story and what brings her to the table, something she shares in common with the lead, Haley Duncan, the young, seemingly innocent and out-of-her-depth wife of the playwright Jeffrey. The stories, backgrounds and hidden demons of each character at the table come to the fore and intertwine in unexpected and sometimes sinister ways.

 

 

While it’s not the only genre you have worked in, you have managed to turn out some wonderful performances in one of our favorite genres of film, which would the world of horror. I am curious to know what you enjoy the most about the world of horror? What is it that sets this genre apart from others you have worked on?

Horror allows me to participate in one of my truly favorite activities: screaming at the top of my lungs. Sadie doesn’t quite have cause to scream as loudly as I would prefer, but I got some cathartic screaming off-screen done, don’t you doubt it.  I love the flexibility horror has, it can be serious or funny.  It can be surface and cheeky, or you can couch a real, even profound, message within the story.  And who doesn’t love to play in blood and fake guts?  You get to play like a kid every day on set.

If you were handed the opportunity to star in the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

I am great lover of history, and have a couple of degrees in it, actually.  My particular brand of history, however, is that of the ancient and early medieval variety (I’d totally want to be Honoria, the sister of Roman Emperor Valentinian III who wrote and “proposed” to Attila the Hun in order to free herself from her brother’s clutches and a disappointing engagement, thereby inviting him to come and invade Italy).

I’m not very passionate about any particular figure in American History, though I do think Carry Nation (1846-1911) is a pretty interesting character.  She was an activist and staunch supporter of the temperance movement (a movement I don’t subscribe to myself) and used to raze bars with a hatchet. She’d go in and flip tables and hack open kegs, upend cash registers and basically create total mayhem in an effort to save people from alcohol. What a trip!

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

I’ve been taking a bit of a breather lately.  I realize many people are staying home, reflecting on a lot of things right now, big and small. And I’m doing just that and working in the house and yard, being grateful for my health, my husband, and our brood of vicious dogs. I had been the president of a community theater for several years and had just resigned my post when we began filming The Dinner Party. During this time of quarantine, Miles and I are completing the music video for “Ash Wednesday,” a song from the film that he co-wrote with our amazing composer, Clifton Hyde.  Other than that, I don’t have anything in the pipeline, but rest assured, neither Miles nor I can remain quiet for long, so we’ll undoubtedly begin writing many more projects!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I have five dogs.  They are the biggest goofballs in the world and they all have such beautiful infectious smiles.  They love their parents a whole lot and it’s pretty hard not to smile when a 75-lb Pitbull or a 16-lb Powderpuff Chinese Crested mutt comes running to give you a kiss.

Alli Hart [Interview]

 

Today we have some wonderful words from a brilliant up and coming actress that you all should be on the look out for in the coming future, should that still be a thing we are able to look forward to in these trying times. It’s the brilliant Allie Hart! Alli recently appeared in one of my favorite films of 2020 thus far, the wonderful film The Dinner Party that is truly incredible and just so damn much fun!

Alli was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to tell us a bit about The Dinner Party, why she got into the world of performance, and much more. And we are eternally grateful for her to do so.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Allie Hart!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

Growing up in a small town in Texas, I’ve always been the weird extroverted creative one who discovered so much of my passion in theatre and entertainment. It was a place I felt not only a calling to but a belonging. I had always felt misunderstood or that I was too hyper, too much or too big-so characters and creativity was a way to escape and transform those feelings in a vibrant way that was very cathartic for me. I was a slave to this passion from the time I was in middle school. Wishing on every star and working every little job to graduate and move to Los Angeles to truly pursue it.

Ha. I wish I woke up in this world. I had to work (still am) incredibly hard for many many years to be where I am. Nothing about my Journey has been easy… and maybe that’s the point. To have this arsenal of experiences that make my colors deeper and richer to paint with as I portray another human being.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

Oh wow. Probably My Haunted Mansion where I played a ghost girl.

I wouldn’t say that it affects my work but definitely something that bled into my audition process. I had so much fun in the room and committed 1000% to a character that was screaming and crying and banging her head into a wall. That was the point where I realized “I am going to make fearless decisions as an actress in that room. I am going to disturb them with truth.”

I recently had the pleasure of seeing your incredible performance in the film The Dinner Party. It’s a truly brilliant piece of horror. Can you tell us a bit about this project? Why should people be excited to check this one out?

Thank you so much! That project was such a special one for me. It was my first on location film and also my first lead in a feature… so it definitely has its own space in my heart and I think it always will.

The Dinner Party was shot in Mississippi on one location. We shot through the night for 3-4 weeks. We’d go to set at 5PM or so and come home at 6 or 7 am. During that time I was so present with the journey of it, I had felt like I instantly adapted to where I was staying and who I was spending time with like I had been there for a year haha. Everyone became family on this intimate project.

The director, Miles Doleac, got me a combat trainer in Los Angeles to train with for about a month or so before filming. The fight scenes were some of my favorite scenes to shoot. Though I woke up covered in bruises! Haha.

This film was shot oh so beautifully and the talent is absolutely incredible and riveting. The storyline takes me back to good ole horror that I loved growing up with, like Rosemary’s Baby -but to cut to the heart of it the performances in this movie really are something else. I love experiencing each character. They are all so unique and different and I’m just in awe watching them come alive with their barrage of complexities and eccentricities.

 

 

While it’s not the only genre you have worked in, you have managed to turn out some wonderful performances in one of our favorite genres of film, which would the world of horror. I am curious to know what you enjoy the most about the world of horror? What is it that sets this genre apart from others you have worked on?

Ah! I love that recognition haha.

I have been a horror fan all my life. I wasn’t allowed to watch it in my house as a little girl so maybe I got addicted to the act of rebelling and sneaking a scary movie at 2 or 3 in the morning when my mom was asleep haha. Started with It by Stephen King.. then all the Screams, Chucky, Freddy Kruegar, Jason, Texas Chainsaw, etc.. 🙂

So maybe I like it because I wasn’t aloud to like it but I also always felt that I could be scarier than anyone in the movies and I love to test that. (You should see me in a haunted house, you’d think I was at Disneyland)

To put it simply, I resonate with FREAK and CREEP. Ha!

I want you to feel in my movies – “is she going to kiss me or kill me?” Maybe I should put that on a shirt haha.

If you were handed the opportunity to star in the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

Oh why do you gotta do this to me hahah!

Honestly, without thinking, Angelina Jolie, and I think anyone close to me would tell you the same thing. Since I’m a girl and it can’t be Jim Carrey. Two people who influenced my work since the beginning.

I have always connected to her and identified with her intensity. Her fire. Her sexuality. Her ability to make people uncomfortable with just how damn honest she is. She was misunderstood, too. I’ve always seen that. But, her evolution throughout time is extraordinary. She became so much softer after becoming a mom, much like myself. After I had my daughter, I had no longer a desire to self-destruct and I stopped romanticizing pain. Plus, we both like to keep blood in vials 😉 I imagine we love deeper than most. Which is synonymous to a lot of other things.

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

I know what I want. And that’s to continue creating wildly beautiful stories with wildly beautiful humans. With my daughter and my family right along with me. I’m willing to be surprised by life. Show me what you got.  Make it interesting 😉

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Your last question. The future makes me excited!

 

 

 

Sunday Matinee: American Trial [Film]

 

“AMERICAN TRIAL: The Eric Garner Story is an unscripted, hybrid fiction-documentary about the case that never happened. A mock trial with the real players (with the exception of the actor who plays Pantaleo), the film depicts the trial that would have followed Garner’s death had Pantaleo been indicted. In the pursuit of accuracy, balance and unbiased accountability, the film uses former New York State prosecutors, real attorneys and actual witnesses, all to present to the jury – in this case, the audience – the facts necessary to determine Pantaleo’s guilt or innocence. No script. Only real people and real testimonies in a courtroom setting through a cinematic lens.  In a unique, interactive experience, viewers will then be asked to vote on the charges at the end of the film via an embedded ballot.” – Passion River Films

 

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Folks, I would dare say that we have one of the most original films we have ever had on the history of this site. The description above tells you exactly how it works, but it simply cannot convey the surrealism and emotional journey that the film takes you on. I know it probably goes without saying, but it’s just so damn REAL. If there is any biasness to be had, it’s only in the fact that the film was even made. But, the evidence brought forth on both sides of the courtroom is jarring and has such a very realistic feel to it, that thoughts of biasness should really be taken off the table. As I stated before, this is truly one of the most original ways of filmmaking that I have ever seen. A full on dramatic depiction of the events surround the tragic death of Eric Gardner could have been done, but I believe in my heart of hearts that this was the exact way to get a very troubling and very serious point across.

I know it can sound corny to say, but American Trial is absolutely more of an experience than a film. The film guides you through what exactly might have happened if the justice system in our country had prevailed and did the god damn job, if I’m to be brash. And I’m not trying to give any spoilers here, but I simply must admit that the inclusion of Garner’s widow, Esaw Snipes Garner, was just about the most heartbreaking and brave things I have ever seen a person do. She is a commendable human being, and I cannot convey just proud of a person who I have never met. The courage she showed was incredible. And I also feel the need to add that filmmaker Roee Messinger may already be one of the most original minds of this generation. And this is their first feature film!

I can say with all honesty and sincerity that American Trial: The Eric Garner Story is my favorite film of 2020 thus far. And that it is going to take a lot to move the film out of the number one spot by the end of the year.

 

AMERICAN TRIAL: The Eric Garner Story opens virtually in theaters May 18-21. A live-streamed Q&A with director Roee Messinger and Eric Garner’s wife, Esaw Snipes Garner, will take place on May 21, where the audience jury verdict will be announced.

Please visit the AMERICAN TRIAL website for more information on theaters, tickets and the Q&A: www.passionriver.com/AmericanTrial

 

 

Annie Gaybis [Interview]

 

Today we have some amazing words from an absolutely legendary actress. It’s Annie Gaybis, Everyone! She is a renowned performer of stage and screen, as well as an accomplished dancer for close to 50 years. She has was so kind to tell us a bit about her career leading up to today’s time, and we are so excited to share what she has to say.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Annie Gaybis!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you aspired to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day? 

I was inspired by a woman who was as close to being “Auntie Mane” as one could get. Her name was Debbie London who immediately sensed something in me and brought me into her world of show business. She ran a dance studio that morphed into a Creative Arts Workshop where many went onto professional careers on Broadway and as Dancers/Choreographers themselves.  My Aunt brought me there after my mother passed. I was very young not more than seven.

I was (so I’ve been told) shy and a bit withdrawn from the bewildering experience of losing my mother. My Aunt brought me there to watch her daughter dance in an in-house recital.. Well, when I saw my very own cousin make magic with her dancing….and besotted by Miss Debbie with her flaming red hair and artsy ways…who had a talented daughter exactly my age who became one of my best friends. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the whole wide world and I wanted to part of all of it. All of it. She introduced me to many things outside the studio. Art festivals, concerts…She brought in movies like The Red Shoes where we sat on the dance floor in one of the studios and watched in awe. Guest teachers like the renowned dance artistes Dave Harris and Jack Pottigher who luckily noticed how much trouble I was having at pointe work . He had me take off my shoes one day and saw my feet were not meant for pointe work and immediately after that when the ballet class went to put their toes shoes on I went off to a private tap class and probably that was the greatest thing for me for tap has provided me with many opts.

She had such a great staff including a theater director Ed Golden who said I had the worst regional accent…. he was from Boston and he was going to save me from proceeding with it as I continued in life and I am so grateful for that. So it started from there and morphed into getting my AEA (Actors Equity) card as a child performing in children’s roles or small ingénue roles in a Union Rep Company…Center Stage….and being the youngest in a semi-professional dance company The Wally Saunders Dancers. Wally Saunders was another of those dynamic personalities who had trained many including his most famous dancer Goldie Hawn who performed with his company for years.  When I entered his studio and saw photos of Goldie and saw the caliber of dance I entered and having Wally Saunders encourage and mold me I went into a whirlwind of performances from half-time games to local television, operettas to full-scale productions. And I was so young I was often driven home by both he and his mother Irene who was the perennial receptionist and looked out for me.  It was amazing I had time to do my homework.  It was always the dynamics of the individuals that I met that cultivated my interest because they were so interesting to me…and I felts lucky that they wanted me included into their exciting whirl. I was thrilled.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from it that still affect your work to date?

Really cannot remember.

You appeared in one of my favorite films of all time, the Dolly Parton-fronted film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this now cult-classic of a film? Was it as entertaining to work on as it has been for me to go back and watch every now and again?

Well, Whorehouse was already filming in Texas. I happened by a casting agent whose name escapes me on Hollywood Blvd for an appt. I found myself sitting with two other dancers. All three of us being interviewed at the same time. We hadn’t been sitting there that long when his phone rang, [and he] forget about us. Maybe this was a “work” call for someone. Well talk about being in the right place at the right time. He took the call, put his hand over the mouthpiece and said, “You all three dance, right?” We nodded.  He said, “They need three dancers on the set of Whorehouse. Three walked out when they found out that they had to do nudity. I can get you double scale and then some. What’d you say?”. Well, two days later there we were. The agent had never even seen us dance. We landed in Austin and went right into rehearsals with the wonderful Tony Stephens ….now some of the other female dancers didn’t take kindly to us because we replaced their pals. But Colin Higins the director came over to where we were frantically rehearsing to catch up that first couple of days and was so kind to us and when we were on the set and doing the small very small amount of nudity he made us all feel very relaxed and eventually the other “femme” dancers got to ease up on us when they saw the director going out of his way so by the time we got to the backlot of Universal everything was better.

I do remember the first day I saw Dolly Parton. We had not filmed anything with her as yet.  She was on the set early one morning and it was exciting to see her. There were several of us on set but …she walked directly over “to me” and said just as sweet as can be “I saw the dallies last night. Your the girl with the pretty titties.”

That was my introduction to Dolly Parton.

 

 

You have done some incredible work in what is one of our favorite genres of film, which would be the world of horror. I am curious to know how you enjoy working in the world of horror? What do you believe sets it apart from the other genres you have worked in? 

Let me tell you a little story about one of the films I did. There was a film released in the 70’s with “‘the Orson Welles” in the lead.  It was called Necromacy.” It didn’t do too well from what I understand.  So in the early 80’s they were going to cut it up add scenes add characters in other words re-edit the whole thing and re-release it as The Witching.

I had gotten the role of “The Spirit.”  I was excited. An Orson Welles film. Soooooo, I remember I was at a home in the Valley which in LA talk means over Laurel or Coldwater Canyon….being wardrobed and made up  and then doing some test shots with the cameraman who had worked with Orson many times…..They had to clear all this with Orson …the reshooting…the re-editing …since it was in his contract I guess for any changes…….so since this man…I am sorry I do not remember his name was going over the hill….if you lived in “the Valley” thats what you called going into Hollywood and beyond…he was going to meet him at Trader Vic’s for dinner….I too lived “over the hill” in West Hollywood and he asked me “Would you like to come along and meet Orson Welles? Would I?  Plus having dinner with no strings attached at Trader Vics which was this restaurant that was in a very prestigious Bev Hills Hotel that was an in spot that looked well how do I describe it, like a luau had blown up and landed. Tacky chic.  We both take our cars and give them to valet and walk into the entrance of Trader Vics. He tells them he is having dinner with Orson Welles. The maitre-d tells him “Mr. Welles is already seated.” And we join him at his table. Orson Welles was an immense figure with his own aura. After we sat, Orson said, “Lets order.” This was like the first thing out of his mouth. So, fine with me, we ordered. They talked for a couple of hours. I ate and had an exotic drink or two, hoped we had their famous Poo-poo platter, smiled, spoke a bit about my role and myself.

I have to say he had very kind eyes and I wish I could say more. I held back my fascination at meeting him, at least I hoped I did.  It was a business dinner about percentages and stuff I cannot even remember in regards to the film and then he took the papers to sign, bid us “A Good Evening” I remember him saying that he wished me luck with my role, and left.  Soon after the film editor asked for the check. I was sitting across from him. I sort of noticed his eyes bulge out of his head. I thought, “Gawd how much was those Mai-Thais I had” He said to me “I think they brought me the wrong check.”  He called the waiter in his Tommy Bahamas wardrobe (before there was a Tommy Bahamas) and showed him the check.

The waiter calmly said “No Mr.- this is the correct amount. Mr. Welles ordered a full dinner with a bottle of wine before you both came to join him.” So Mr. Welles had eaten and drank a full meal before he ordered with us. And he ate and drank heartily with us, and consumed an entire  second bottle of wine ….I’m sure that bill was a horror to the production company that was operating on a limited budget.

I still am very impressed how Orson Welles managed to pull that off in one smooth maneuver.

Sing “Smooth Operator.”

In your very impressive career, you have managed to do some great work both on the big screen as well as the silver, and on Broadway and stages across the country. With that, I am curious to know what your favorite way to perform? Between film, television, stage, etc., what is your favorite setting to be in as a performer? 

I LOVE ALL OF IT!!!  I guess what I as well as any actor/performer yearns for is an appreciative audience. A nod from them is so fulfilling. In a theater role, where you have to be new and fresh and discover you character and reaction nightly, no matter what has happened to you emotionally that day. Whether your fatigued or feel like you’re fighting off getting something, you realize that there is an audience out there paying good money to see you perform and take them into another world away from their daily thoughts and jobs. A listening audience. Ahhhhhh!!!!!

Performing in Cabaret, corporate dates are wonderful because it’s for one night, your far and away from the audience, and usually have a full back up. Now, more intimate cabaret work, sometimes, and just that odd sometimes, there is someone in the audience who has had too much of “whatever” trying to have a little of the spotlight on them by thinking they are being funny but “not”. They can annoy you by putting their feet on the rim of the stage [which is] very uncomfortable for the audience and as a performer singing and dancing it messes up the rhythm and focus  that you have tried to create with what you bring onstage.

On a movie set sometimes I have to say you almost feel like your self-directing your role and your character because the director just expects you to do your best but shooting a film out of sequence sometimes is hard to realize where your character is at because if the ending of your role happens to be on the location that they scored for that day you can start off shooting your ending before you even get to your beginning. It’s the location that sets up the movie sequences not the script.  When you’re on location or on a studio lot since when you are shooting a film and your presence or a TV show you are required to be there for many consecutive days, weeks or months….so the crew and actors become one tight family and it’s a wonderful feeling

Everything comes with a price but there is nothing that compares to doing something you love and manage to make it a career.

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

I am looking forward to the release of a movie I co-starred in called D.O.A. 

If that sounds familiar to you because it’s an adapted remake. An adapted complete remake of the original film that is a cult favorite that starred Edmond O’Brien.

It’s a horror story if ever there was one. The lead played by the actor John Doe who was wonderful to work against. He is a private investigator and I play his client Mrs. Phillips kind of a Gena Rowlands type of character circa 1949. In the storyline our lead gets poisoned and has a week to live. He does not know why he is poisoned and tries in that week to find out the answers and gets himself into some heavy scenarios. I am as evil as they come.  It was directed by Kurt St. Thomas. Shot in bxw, Film Noir style. The original location was San Francisco. They replicated it in St Augustine.  From what I understand it is now being edited so I have no idea when and how it will be coming out. It was such a great role….and some fabulous location shooting and wardrobe with the period hats and gloves….and hey…no nudity.

On stage I will be doing later this year the role of Maxine in The Night of the Iguana for City Repertory Theatre.  This is exciting for me because I was lucky enough to be mentored by the Academy Award Winning Actress Shelly Winters who originated the role on Broadway. And the original director ,Frank Cosaro, who for many years headed the legendary Actors Studio. I was lucky enough to be directed by him in Faust at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Big shoes to fill and looking forward to it.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

I just read the final draft of my husband’s memoirs. Its called Five Minutes…Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter. My husband, John Byner is an American comedian/ actor/ impressionist and I, who love bios, laughed out loud at some of his many stories working  the clubs, television and film with everyone from Henry Fonda to Barbara Streissand to Fred Astaire. Highly recomend. And not just because he’s my husband.

 

 

Daniel Zirilli [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Today’s interview subject is with the brilliant filmmaker, writer, & producer Daniel Zirilli. Dan broke out onto the creative scene directing some of the finest hip hop videos you know and love.His work included videos for artists such as Montell Jordan & Skee Lo, and he continued on into the world of film in many different genres, with a strong footing in the world of action with films like Asian Connection and Hollow Point, the latter being co-written by our old friend Chad Law. He’s a sweet, sweet man, and you are going to love this.

So Folks, please enjoy some words from the great Daniel Zirilli!

 

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When did you first realize that you wanted to work in the world of entertainment? Was it something you have wanted to do since your youth, or was it something that you just sort of fell into?

Growing up in La Jolla California I never thought the film biz was viable. I thought I was going to be a lawyer, and went to Pepperdine University in Malibu. I started taking screenwriting courses, and worked my way up from the bottom.

 What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

While I was at Pepperdine, I took an internship with a “producer” in Malibu Colony. She talked a lot about herself and had me taking out her dry-cleaning and other nonsense. I learned how not to treat people from her. The first paying work was in production of Music Videos. I eventually represented other music video directors. After a couple years I realized I was doing all the work and someone else was taking the money and credit. So I started my own company, directing music videos. I have many stories, but always learn what NOT to do as what TO DO in this business. One of the key elements if finding people with good character and talent. Not just stepping on people on the way up. I still get stepped on, but never give up.

 

Early in your career, you directed several wonderful music videos for some of my favorite artists of the time. One specific video is absolutely to me, and that would be Montell Jordan’s remix for “Somethin’ 4 da Honeyz” featuring Redman. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this project? And how was your experience working on it?

Thank you. Interestingly enough Montell and I lived in the same dorm at Pepperdine for a semester before he was famous (from “This is How We Do it” onwards). At Pepperdine, it’s required to take two classes on religion, and Montell used to break down the Parables in the bible for me and a hilarious “street” way… he was fun to study with and very smart.  So cut to a few years later and I was directing a bunch of Hip Hop/Rap music videos, many #1 on MTV, The Box,  etc. and Montell’s record company reached out to me after we both had some success. It was great reconnecting.

 

 

In 2016 you worked on the action-packed film Asian Connection, featuring the legend himself Steven Seagal. I am again curious as to what drove you to bring this story to film? And now that it is out there in the zeitgeist, what are your thoughts on the final project?

Thats a long story…. Actor Tom Sizemore and I wanted to work together, and he was always talking about this idea he had called “Two Americans” that he said he and his buddy Thomas Jane wanted to make, about crossing the boarder into Mexico and robbing banks, so that Toms character could run away with his girlfriend and retire. After his partner is killed, he and his GF become sort of a Bonnie & Clyde. I encouraged him to write it, but after years of not doing that, I finally put him with my longtime co-writer, Glase Lomond, and had him just videotape Tom for an hour taking down his ideas. From there we developed the script into “The Mexican Connection”… and later a distributor wanted to make the movie, but in Thailand with Steven Seagal, to open up the Asian market more, and call it The Asian Connection. The timing did not work out to have Tom in it, but I called him and explained we can “get the movie made and we will buy you out, or I’ll turn it down and wait for you”. He said, and I quote, “Fuck you Danny I love you, I’ll take the cash!”.

The good news is I was able to get the rights to sequels and remakes, so I will be making the original Mexican Connection at some point, hopefully with Tom and I’d love to work with Thomas Jane, so we shall see. Seagal and I worked well together, though I want to do a film with him in a bigger true leading role, and make it great. I also was an Executive Producer on End of a Gun with Seagal, and we are talking about more films together.

If you were handed the opportunity to create the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

ERNEST HEMINGWAY. My 100% greatest literary influence and the standard for me that all else follows. He was an adventurer and fisherman, (like me) who wrote and lived much of his life on an Island, and was born in Oak Park, Chicago, as I was too. His advice is legendary, including “in order to write about life, first you must live it”. I’m not comparing my work to Hemingway, but I am indeed living an adventurous life, and using that for my stories. I do NOT think he has been portrayed well in film At All at this point. Even that Woody Allen film had him all wrong in my opinion spouting his own quotes in a silly manner.  Hemingway always said just to “write one true sentence”. I don’t feel Hemingway has been portrayed in a TRUE way on film yet… though some amazing actors and directors have tried.

Also I like ZANE GREY, though not as solid as Hemingway, but Zane made a million bucks, bought a huge Yacht and fished around the world sending in stories from each port. JACK LONDON did the same before him. Made money, hit the ocean. So there are three actually I’d like to make movies about. I have chased down these three authors around the world in places they worked, lived and fished. I have a Hemingway related project I’ve been working towards for 20 years, and I used to represent the Zane Grey Estate, so I know much about these subjects and they are amazing.

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

My films- Hollow Point is out now, and Invincible will be released later in the year. I have a few new films on the horizon such asInternational Waters, The Gunrunner, and Combat Medic and others in the works I can’t disclose yet. BUT I hope I am given a chance to make the films I really want to make. That takes a bit bigger budgets and certain actors / actresses I want to work with…   but I’m always writing and developing and I encourage everyone to do the same. Write.

Also- PLEASE follow me on  INSTAGRAM @DanielZirilli   I’m just getting started spending time on Insta with very few followers, and will answer most questions there, and post updates.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I smiled watching my son play electric guitar on FaceTime, then went down to the beach and walked with my pack out wild dogs I take care of. Crazy dogs bring a smile to my face, and of course my children always.