The Voices of Fallout 4: Claudia Christian [Interview]

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Hello old friends, and hopefully some new friends I may have picked up while I spent the weekend digitally shoving this feature in everyone’s face….Welcome! It is Day 1 here of The Voices of Fallout 4 Showcase. And we are not pulling any god damned punches to be perfectly honest with you. We are jumping right out the gate with an amazing interview with a woman who has been rocking all different genres of art and entertainment for such a long time.

Claudia Christian shot to fame for her starring role in the hit science fiction series Babylon 5. And since then she has starred in dozens of films and even more television. She is an author, a philanthropist, and, yes, a voice over actress (not an “actor”, thank you Claudia for this great inside joke!). And as you could guess, it is that last credit that has her here today. If you were not already aware, Claudia Christian is the genius talent who literally breathed life into a pivotal character in the world of Fallout 4, The Railroad’s own fearless leader, Desdemona. Which, first of all, is a really bad ass name, and one of my favorites of any series of any kind, ever!

I seriously could not think of a better person to kick of this series. I felt it would be an amazing chance to feature one of the finest actresses of our time who also happens to be a very important figure in Fallout 4. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some very nice words from the amazing Claudia Christian!

 

When did you decide you wanted to be an actor? Was it from an early age, or just a coincidence?

I decided to become an actress ( why do people say “actor” for a woman?” 😁) when I did my first plat at the age of around 6. I loved being on stage and the response of the audience, ironically now I dislike doing theatre immensly.

What was the first paying gig you remember getting? Was it nerve-racking at all?

My first paying gigs were modeling gigs and I was only nervous because like most 14 year old girls, I was insecure and thought I was not pretty enough or thin enough…when I look at the photos now I realize that I was a fool….a very pretty , very thin fool. Insecurity is for the young and it’s not fun. I appreciate that about being older now…..the confidence and security in oneself is invaluable.

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You played a pivotal role in the massive hit television show Babylon 5. As a veteran of this world, what do you personally believe makes B5 stand out against other science fiction projects? What makes it unique from the others?

The writing and the cast and the visual effects. We had a very tight knit group of like minded people who genuinely enjoyed each tower’s company, many of us are still close and I believe you can see that chemistry and love on screen.

How does it feel to be a part of one of the biggest selling video game franchises of all time with Fallout 4?

I wish I would get residuals from games….then I would be thrilled to be in these mega hits. As it stands I enjoy the work and appreciate it but there’s always that little niggle in the back of my brain saying: ” if I just got 5 cents per game…….” 🙂


You’ve been involved with other video game projects in the past as well. Can you tell us a bit about what that process is like? How do you get yourself into character for a gig like this? And are you really in your pajamas as the old fables say?

I have a respect for any job so I might not wear makeup to a VO gig but I would never wear PJs, call me old fashioned. You really do not have time to prep as they rarely tell you what you are doing prior to being in the booth. I am very good at improvising so that helps.


Do you ever get the “you sound like Desdemona” from local baristas, check out clerks, etc.?

Not yet 🙂 But I have been recognized from Sky Rim.

Claudia Christian is Desdemona

Claudia Christian is Desdemona

When you look back on your illustrious career in acting, voice over work, and so much more, what would you say you are most proud of? 

My work as CEO/Founder of http://www.cthreefoundation.org my non profit that advocates The Sinclair Method for people suffering from AUD.

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

My documentary about The Sinclair Method is on Amazon and http://www.onelittlepillmovie.com and can help many people with AUD, so is my TEDx talk. My book Wolf’s Empire is on Audible and in hard copy as well and has terrific reviews.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My mother’s Valentine’s email.

Check out Claudia at work in this YouTube video courtesy of The Virtual Car Driver:

The Voices of Fallout 4: A Showcase [Exclusive!]

Original art by Martin Gao

Since the tail end of 2015, I will admit that the majority of my “me time”, that hasn’t involved work, family, Trainwreck’d, vacations, etc., has been spent in the ruins of the area that the future would know to be called The Commonwealth. I have spent so many hours roaming the ruin streets of this city, that I feel like it is almost a second home. A dangerous, filthy, and bloody violent second home. And the truth is, I’ve never even been to present day Boston. Hell, I’ve never stepped foot in the state of Massachusetts! In fact, I have become engrossed with this version of the Commonwealth, I feel like I would be highly disappointed if I actually went into Fenway Park, and realized I was going to run into Travis Miles down in the Dugout chatting about his new found self esteem with his crazy buddy Vadim. I wouldn’t want a damn hotdog or Cracker Jacks, I would want some delicious Mirelurk meat from Polly near the first base line hand, and pretend that I didn’t break into her apartment once and read her weird poetry. Yes, this would be my Fenway Park, my Diamond City.  The whole city would be like this for me. I could yammer on with more examples, but I know deep in my heart that true fans of the Fallout series, especially Fallout 4, will understand exactly what I am talking about here.

What is worth getting into further detail is the people of the Commonwealth. While Fallout 4 is visually stunning in all of its amazing details, the thing I have always found the most fascinating is the people. The character development of so many different individuals in one setting is absolutely incredible. This is likely due to the fact that Fallout 4 is so beautifully written, with an amazing interactive story to be told. And as cliche and ridiculous as it may sound, the characters of this story truly take on a life of there own. You almost start to feel for these characters as if they are own friends, maybe even family. Great friends and family….some of which you would murder in cold mood at a moment’s notice for the mere idea of a great reward.

Original concept art courtesy of Bethesda.

So, with that, I decided I wanted to try to honor some of the characters of the Commonwealth, by getting to know some of the fine people who helped bring them to life….the voices of Fallout 4. The people that obsessed individuals such as myself have been “talking” to for the better part of the last 16 months. And before the “Internet Hero” in some of you starts to jump directly down to the comment section….I know this has been done before. It had to have been done, because it is a fascinating idea, and I would never lay claim to having many truly original and fascinating ideas. Long time readers of Trainwreck’d Society could certainly attest to this! We simply like to take concepts of the old and put our twist on them.

And what is the twist here? Well, it isn’t really that complicated. While we were busting at the proverbial seems to ask the talent behind the voices of Fallout 4 all about the world of the game, we wanted to scale it back a bit. We wanted to ask things like: Who are these people? Where else have I heard them? Why has it taken by Dad 23 years to come back from grabbing a pack of smokes?

Alright, we didn’t ask that last one, but you get the point. We really wanted to get to know the people behind the characters, rather than simply throwing a plethora of questions about one subject at them.  And I have to tell you folks, through this concept, I personally feel like I have met some of the most fascinating individuals in the world of acting, voice over, and overall entertainment, and built some great relationships along the way.

Original concept art by Ray Lederer

What else did we do to make this a bit more interesting, you are surely asking? Well, I am glad you asked! We also desperately attempted to dig a bit deeper into the character well here. As I mentioned before, there is an incredible (our orange leader might say “HUGE”) amount of very interesting characters in the world of Fallout 4. And I wanted to talk to every single damn one of them. Of course, we didn’t quite do that, but we did reach out to many of the voice over actors behind some of our favorite characters that may not get nearly enough credit (i.e. the aforementioned Travis Miles and Vadim). And with that, I tended to notice that several of the actors tended to voice characters that were actually susceptible to death, which I was likely to have obliged them with during my “darker” runs throughout the Commonwealth. Am I making amends here? Am I trying to bring back the dead in a way? Am I rambling? Absolutely.

So, here is what is going to happen folks! Starting tomorrow (Monday, March 13th 2017), every single one of regular posting days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for all of the new reader(s) out there) is going to feature a great interview with a voice over actor from Fallout 4 throughout the month of March.  Right to the end of this very long month! If you don’t feel like doing the math, that is 9 of them! 9 amazing actors, covering over 20 different characters from the world of Fallout 4 that you know and love. Who will these characters be? Well, I gave you two of them already, why would I ruin more of the surprise? You are just going to have to come back around each day to find out what amazing talent we will be talking with on each day!

I am seriously very excited to get this showcase going. It is something I have been wanting to do for a very long time, and I finally decided it was time to pull the trigger on this concept. And I am very proud of what we here at Trainwreck’d Society have managed to pull off, and will be eternally grateful for the brilliant voice over artists who were kind enough to share a few words with us to tell us a bit about their lives, their work, and what they thought about their work on one of the finest art projects of all time, Fallout 4.

So please enjoy the Showcase everyone, keep on coming back here to find out who we are talking with today. I hope you are excited to pull up our terminals each week to find out who provided the hard work and voice behind some of your favorite people from another world.

 

E. Thompson [Interview]


Photo by Walid Azami


Today’s interviewee is a very interesting cat that I am so excited to have featured on the site. In short, he is a very successful film producer out there in Hollywood Land. He’s worked on some rather large projects during his tenure with companies like Maverick and Outlier Productions. But, Thompson was the first to admit, that he never had ambitions to really do anything in Hollywood. He may not technically be considered an artist, yet what he does in the world of film is an art form all in itself, whether he wants to admit it or not. He makes the films you know and love actually happen. Without the likes of a man like this, most of the things you know and love simply can not happen.

I will always be happy to feature folks on TWS who simply have an eye for great work, and who are willing to put in the time and effort (and money, lots of god damn money!) into making a project they believe in come to life. And we are certainly happy to be able to feature one of the best of the best here today. So without further ado, please enjoy some fine words from the amazing E. Thompson.

What was it that initially drew you to the world of entertainment? Did you have different aspirations prior to becoming to a film producer?

This is always an interesting question. I grew up in a very small town in North Carolina. I was in a few school productions. I played the Captain of the Pinafore in fifth grade. I won a few writing contests. I loved to use my imagination. The problem was, I never knew there was a vocation for using it. There was never a discussion of doing anything creative as a career. It didn’t exist there. I ended up going towards sports in high school, but privately I was still looking for a creative outlet. The path I took to entertainment was a bit of a strange one. I was asked to come to Los Angeles by a friend to do some body guard work because of the body guard work was I was doing on the East Coast. Once I came to Los Angeles, I never left. I worked for some of the most prominent rappers at the time. That led to me working very closely with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Madonna. When Madonna and Guy decided to scale up the film company, I was hired to be an executive there because they trusted me. Also, in case one of Madonna’s world class stalkers showed up.


When did your work with Maverick begin? And how was this experience for you?

I started at Maverick in the very beginning when Guy and Madonna decided to rebrand MadGuy Films into Maverick Films. I had a previous working relationship with them as I mentioned before. It was an invaluable experience that cannot be replicated. It was a moment in time we will never see again. It was toward the end of the spec market and the beginning of the usable internet. Coupled with emergence of digital filmmaking. It was like being present for the Big Bang. It was the convergence that gave birth to the new media and ever-changing platforms we see today. It was a great time in the history of filmed entertainment.

And when and how did Outlier begin? What encouraged you to create this company?

After Maverick Films ran its course, I was putting together independent films. I was beginning to miss the team atmosphere we had at Maverick. I had recently just worked with Mark Morgan (former CEO of Maverick) again on an independent film he put together. He has a great eye for material and brilliant at development. We decided to team up and put together some youth driven content for film and TV.


When you are either researching or seeking out a project, what would you say are your initial wants and/or concerns? What are the aspects that, to you, make up a great film?

Genre’s differ, but most of it comes down the story told. A good comedy or drama should have key story notes that you relate to. Feelings that you have felt, or new feelings you didn’t know were possible. You are taking a ride and ride has to keep you engaged. We often talk about something that “takes us out” of a story. This means a misstep or a lull that disengages you from the ride. When this happens, it is almost impossible to get the audience back. It’s flawless story telling that makes a great film. That’s why what you don’t see on the screen is just as important as what you do see. I also look for high content films. You can make the most mundane subject matter high content if you have a good twist or a new and compelling perspective on it.

According to my very intense research, meaning I looked on IMDb Pro, I understand that you portrayed one of the illustrious Foot Soldiers in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film back in 1990. Can you tell us a bit more about this experience? What was required of you as a Foot Soldier?

Well, there is that. I started in martial arts when I was ten years old. When they started shooting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a few towns over in Wilmington, NC, it was a huge deal. It seemed liked a fun creative outlet that I could take part in because of my martial arts experience. I remember everyone thought this was their big break. I didn’t think anything of it. Hollywood could have been on Mars for all I knew. I just did it because it seemed cool. I wish I had Hollywood aspirations back then. I would have done a flying side kick through the window of the Producer’s trailer and gave the battle cry, “Make me a star!”

When the rapture/apocalypse finally takes most of us out, what will you be happy that you left behind thus far? What would you like to have added to history before people like you and I surely perish?

My son, he’s my immortality. Other than that, I am never satisfied with anything I do and always want to do better. So what I want to leave behind hasn’t happened yet. I’ll know it when I see it, and I hope I see it.

So, what does the future hold for you? Any projects coming up that you would like our readers to know about?

Yes, I am teaming up with an already established film company outside of the United States to head up their office here. We haven’t announced yet, so I can’t give all the details. I am also very excited about a thriller remake we are developing from Brazil.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I just told my son that I was doing an online interview and he looked up from watching YouTube on his iPad and said, “What evs.”

Sean Stone [Interview]

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Sometimes you can get the feeling that some people are just born to be influential in their own ways. It can sometimes feel like some people have a hereditary disposition that leads them to do great things. Others it may simply be influence and the lifestyle in which they are brought being positive and enlightening. Or it’s neither, and nowhere close to either of these things. Who really knows? We are all individuals in our own right, and we all create our own destiny in the long run. But, it seems to be far too much of a coincidence that sometimes the spawns of great people are able to create even better versions of themselves. Individuals developing individuals. For better or for worse, this really does seem to be the often times very confusing state of things.

Sean Stone has been appearing in legendary films before he can even rightfully remember. And as he grew older, his acting ability never faltered, but it has been behind the camera, and amongst the world of news media, that he has really came out into his own. Shocking at times, but always informative and intelligent, Stone manages to bring real and genuine stories to life that not only must be told, they are stories that NEED to be told. His beautifully developed A Century at War is the sort of film that needs to not only be watched, but taught in an academic setting. It is not only informative, it is absolutely compelling. With a film like this, and his work on the show Buzzsaw, Sean is consistently bringing the world into a different light, one in which we should have always known, but often times just refused to notice.

So, we are very excited that Sean was able to take some time out of his busy life to answer a few questions for us here at Trainwreck’d Society. We discuss his childhood memories on set, the strangeness and joy of working with the likes of the great Rodney Dangerfield in a surreal setting, and how he is attempting to change the world for the better, whether he notices it or not. So please enjoy so great words from the amazing actor, writer, director, and so much more, Sean Stone!

When did you make the decision that you wanted to join the world of acting and filmmaking? I know you may have had an obvious influence, but when did YOU decide that this was going to be the world you wanted to live in?

Well, I was ‘acting’ before I understand the concept, as a child in films like Wall Street, The Doors and JFK. After JFK I auditioned for Searching for Bobby Fisher and quickly realized memorizing dialogue was not my forte at 8 years old. I didn’t particularly enjoy being in the spotlight, so I was happy that I didn’t get the part. Ultimately, I’d say being on set at a young age didn’t get to my head; I maintained a normal childhood, with school and friends, away from Hollywood. I think that was the greatest blessing of my childhood, that I didn’t become enamored with the celebrity lifestyle, instead focusing on school and going to a good college. But even in my teens, I did love to write scripts during the summer; creative writing was always a means of expression for me, that I believed would ultimately lead me to making movies. I just wasn’t sure how long it would take to be able to have that opportunity because it’s one thing to write a script, or many scripts, and it’s a much tougher endeavor to actually get that script produced and made.

So, you have been making appearances in in film’s since before you could even walk, but what was your earliest experience on a film set or location? And what was it like being around that kind of setting at such a young age?

Even though I was 6 months old in Salvador, my first memories would have been on the set of Wall Street when I was 2. I just remember this massive sound stage, and all that candy on the catering truck was certainly appealing. But there was this larger than life feeling to a movie set – and especially considering my dad was making war films like Platoon and Born on the 4th of July – you had this sense of awe at the toy guns and fake blood, and what seemed like hundreds of people all moving in an organized chaos toward that moment when they said, “all quiet on set.” It was a saner version of All Quiet on the Western Front.

You were a part of one of the most bizarre movie sequences in film history, in my opinion, as Kevin in Natural Born Killer alongside the likes of Juliette Lewis and Rodney Dangerfield…and you were like 9 (10?) years old! That HAD to have been insane? What was that like for you at that age? And how much therapy was require for you to recover from it?

Well that’s a funny scene because it was obviously super camp, with the KISS make-up and the shoe in the soup. But it was not done in a way that a 9/10 year old would understand the undertones of the sexual abuse by the father. I think Rodney was more concerned about the dialogue than I was; it’s like the kid who doesn’t know what sex means so he laughs along with everyone else to not look like a fool, when really, he has no idea what you’re talking about. The most interesting take-away from that scene, though, was this dialogue with my dad after Mickey and Mallory have killed our parents; my dad and I were brainstorming [about] what happens to Kevin? Should he pop up with them later in the story, like he came along on the killing spree!?

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And being a huge comedy fan, and knowing I will never have the chance to meet him, I have to ask….How was Rodney? Was his stage persona similar to his real life one?

He was very sweet and funny in my recollection. I only spent a few hours with him, but I know my dad had a great time with him, so that’s a good indicator.

How did you find yourself working on your spectacular news program Buzzsaw? What inspired you to go down this road?

Buzzsaw was the spawn of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. I had been approached by Mel Gibson’s son Will who was producing for this online channel The Lip TV, and they were looking for content. Ultimately Tyrel Ventura, Jesse’s son and my co-host on Conspiracy Theory, came on with me and his co-host Tabetha Wallace to create Buzzsaw as an alt-news channel. Buzzsaw was essentially picked up by RT America to become Watching the Hawks, where we continue to do news commentary. And then Buzzsaw now lives on Gaia.com, where I continue to probe fascinating interviews, a la Conspiracy Theory, into questions that I have, in topics ranging from the occult and esoteric to conspiratorial and extraterrestrial.

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Would you mind telling our readers, who may not be familiar, about A Century at War? And why do you think it is important that people see it? 

A Century of War is a documentary produced and released by RT on our Watching the Hawks show. I created and directed the documentary because I was curious to investigate the forces that had led to America’s de-industrialization and infrastructure decay. I felt that we had sacrificed our physical economy for the financial economy typified by Wall Street and the bail-outs of 2009, which turned these already monolithic international banks into structures that are now too big to fail, too big to jail. But in order to understand the financialization of what used to be a science and technology driven industrial economy, we have to look at the emphasis America has placed on permanent militarization to defend its access to resources abroad, particularly oil, which has created the petrodollar economy. And all of this history is important, because it justifies Trump’s platform to ‘make America great.’ The point is, there are legitimate grievances and problems with the structure of the US economy, even if the mainstream media will never admit it, because they’re owned by the same corporations that profit from making the world purely globalized at the expense of the national middle and working class economy.

If you were handed the rights to create the biopic of any world dictator in history, who would it be? 

Ha. I’ve never been that interested by dictators. I’m much more interested in the occult ‘powers behind the scenes’. I’d be more interested in a true story about the Rothschilds than Napoleon, for example.

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

People should keep an eye out for the martial arts comedy Enter the Fist. We’re working on distribution, so I’m not sure which platform it’ll be released on, but it’s an outrageous satire of the ’80s action hero film. And given the polarization of left and right, and the media’s emphasis on political correctness, I guarantee this film will offend everyone, but make you laugh…

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was that I [initially] missed this question, so I had to laugh and smile at my mistake 🙂

Juliette Goglia [Interview]

 

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Today’s interview is with a fine young actress that you either already know well, or are definitely going to be hearing about in the future. Juliette Goglia came to my attention a couple of years ago on the sitcom that was cut way too short, The Michael J. Fox Show. And I will say with all honesty that it was Juliette’s portrayl on the show that made me love it so much. And when the show didn’t come back around, I kept the warm feeling that I knew I would see more of Goglia in the future because of what this amazing show could do for her career. And I feel like I have been correct thus far.

Juliette Goglia has continued to stun audiences since the show ended, as she did before hand. At a very young age, she was God. Well, not literally, but she brilliantly portrayed a character that would called Little Girl God in the critically acclaimed series Joan of Arcadia at the astonished young age of 7, but played with the grace of an adult. Not to mention brilliant roles in films like Easy A and Cheaper By The Dozen 2. Juliette is definitely a child star turned actress to look out for in the future. With such raw talent and passion, she is a wonderful addition to the gathering of young Hollywood actresses that we are fortunate to get on our humble site at times (i.e. Shanley Caswell and Tara Lynne Barr).

So with that, please enjoy a few words with the amazing actress, Juliette Goglia!

You started in the world of acting at a very young age, so what is earliest memory as an actress? And how did you find yourself interested in the business?

I started acting when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I grew up in a very artistic family: my dad is a painter, my mother is an actor, my sister acts and sings as well, and my brother is a musician, so when I decided I wanted to go into film and television it was no big surprise. Luckily, I grew up in California, so my parents were able to support me in my dream and I started auditioning. While I don’t remember many things from my early childhood, I feel like I remember almost every experience I’ve had on set with crystal clarity. One of my earliest memories was playing Little Girl God on the critically acclaimed CBS drama, Joan of Arcadia. Jason Ritter was filming the scene before me, and his character had to be smoking cigarettes. At seven years old, I had the BIGGEST crush on Jason. He talked to me just like I was an adult, he didn’t belittle me or ignore me because I was a little kid. I remember sitting next to him in our cast chairs and him telling me how disgusting cigarettes were. He told me he never smokes and hated that he had to for the scene. Looking back I think it’s so cool that he imparted such great advice to a seven year old girl. It stuck with me too.

Your role as Little Girl God in Joan of Arcadia was a pretty heavy role to take on at such a young age. What was this performance like for you? How did you process such a situation at such a young age?

Having my first television role be playing “God” was pretty hilarious. Everyone always asked, “So where do you go from there?” Originally, the role was written for a 10 year old, but my manager got me in the room anyway. Growing up, I always got along better with adults and was constantly told I had an “old soul.” Furthermore, it seemed that all roles for 7 year olds were written rather blandly. They would just be a kid eating cereal, with no intellect, or a bratty kid. When I saw the incredible writing by Barbara Hall, the audition was a breath of fresh air. It was written so beautifully and with such complexity, that it felt like the perfect fit in a weird way. And although I was three years too young for the role, I think the creative team really liked the dichotomy of such sage advice coming out of a 7 year old’s mouth. So while it was the most difficult dialogue I’d had to memorize at that age, it was an exciting challenge and to this day it’s one of my favorite roles I’ve ever had the privilege of playing.

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And when was it that you decided you wanted to make the business of acting a lifestyle and career? 

Since I started so young, most people always wonder if my parents “pushed me into the business.” However, it was always my choice. When times were tough going through rejection or struggling balancing work and school, my mom always said to me, “The second you want to stop, just stop.” I never wanted to stop. There was never a moment in my life where I made the decision to make this my career because in my head, there was never any uncertainty. I have always loved performing, whether it be acting, singing, or dancing. Although it’s a difficult field, nothing makes me happier than being on set and getting to do what I love. And when I’m not working on a project, I’m always in class, continuing to work on my craft and making it my lifestyle.

I absolutely adored The Michael J. Fox Show during its short run, the family dynamics worked so well for me. How was the experience for you? 

Thank you so much! That makes me so happy. Working on The Michael J. Fox Show was literally my dream come true. First of all, it’s Michael J. Fox… come on. It was always surreal to be working with such a legend and truthfully the kindest man I’ve ever met. I loved the project because it mixed amazing wit with real heart. The pilot was unlike anything I had ever read. I understood and loved the character “Eve.” Upon booking my dream role, I had to finish high school early (missing my graduation and prom!) and move to NYC! Although all 22 episodes didn’t air, filming them was a work out. The hours were insane and the pace was lightning speed. But Michael really helped create a familial environment on set. Betsy Brandt, Katie Finneran, Wendell Pierce, and the entire cast and creative team were honestly the best. And I loved getting to play this quirky, intelligent girl who was figuring out who she was while having a famous dad struggling with a nasty disease. It was an honor to be a part of telling a story that needed to be told. So many people who have family members affected by Parkinson’s Disease continue to tell me how important the show was to them. That part of the job is the most rewarding. Being able to move people and make them laugh… nothing’s better than that.

THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW -- Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Juliette Goglia as Eve Henry, Michael J. Fox as Mike Henry, Betsy Brandt as Annie Henry -- (Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC)

THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW — Pilot — Pictured: (l-r) Juliette Goglia as Eve Henry, Michael J. Fox as Mike Henry, Betsy Brandt as Annie Henry — (Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC)

While you are killing it in the world of acting, have you had any aspirations to getting behind the camera in the world of directing or writing?

Thank you! I definitely have interest in writing, directing, and producing. Everyone is creating their own content these days, so I have been dabbling in screenwriting. I took a course at USC which I loved, and my sister and I have been toying around with the idea of writing a series of our own. Directing would be such a dream… The ideal world would be to be on a successful television series for a while and then progress into directing some episodes. There are more and more women directors in film and television today, and I hope in the future to continue that trend.

What is the role you are most yearning for? What do you feel will be your pinnacle moment of accomplishment as an actress?

Truthfully, I don’t think I will ever be fully satisfied with my career or accomplishments, and I think that’s a good thing. I always want to be doing more. With that said, I would love to be on a series on HBO or Netflix or the likes of that. It would be amazing to incorporate my singing with my acting as well. With movies like La La Land, I feel musicals are gaining in popularity. Being able to portray strong, competent, funny women is always the goal and hopefully I can touch viewers and inspire young women to pursue their goals.

 

What is one of your more recent memorable and meaningful roles and why?

In the past year, I filmed a role on a legal drama that was extremely important to me. The episode centered around on-campus sexual assault and my character was a rape victim. This was one of the first times in my career that I felt like my acting could make a difference, firsthand. My character testified in court and had to relive her rape. It was one of the most difficult roles I ever played but thusly, one of the most important. I believe it is the responsibility of art and artists to tell the difficult stories and to shine light to things that are too often left in the dark. I felt it was my duty to give a voice to all the women across the world who have experienced sexual assault and I hope that I did them justice.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

So, my boyfriend doesn’t watch much TV. He and I watched the first episode of The People vs. O.J. Simpson the other night. The next day, he helped me go apartment hunting and we viewed one where the TV was on. After we left he goes, “Babe, I think the guy who plays Robert Kardashian was on that TV show in there acting with Jennifer Aniston.” #friends #friendsdontletfriendsnotwatchfriends

Steve Skrovan [Interview]

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Okay people, I know we have a said this before, but we really have a good one for you all today. Today, we have an absolute legend feature here on these humble digital pages. Today we have some words from a man who has behind some of the greatest comedic gifts ever given to the world. Today we are featuring the amazing comedian and comedy writer Steve Skrovan.

Steve Skrovan is a guy who obviously knows what the hell it means to be funny. He has written for some of the greatest sitcoms of all time. Notably, you will definitely know (or read about for the first time in this article, maybe? Not sure that’s possible) shows he has worked on like Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond. But, there is so much more to this man than you can even begin to comprehend. Personally, I knew why I wanted to talk to this cat. Obviously he has worked on some of the finest shows that we all know and love, but he also worked on one of my favorite sitcoms that just didn’t quite make it, War At Home. The idea that he was working on this show alone is what drew me to his work in itself.

And as we always hope, he is an amazingly charismatic dude who was so kind to actually take some time and answer our questions honestly and with so damn much class. I seriously can not say enough good shit about this guy. So how about I stop rambling on, and let you get into the actual words from this genius. Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy this amazing interview with the legend in his own right, Steve Skrovan!

When did you initially get drawn to the world of comedy? What were some of your earliest influences?

After college, I was living at home in the small town I grew up outside of Cleveland, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, hanging out in my parent’s basement. I had been a football player and an English major at Yale. I wasn’t good enough to go pro and had no interest in graduate school or working in a “real” job. I had moved through my school years pretty easily, but now for the first time in my life felt lost, not knowing what the next move was. I had some notion about being a writer of some sort but had no idea how one went about that. Almost a year after I graduated I came upon an ad in the Cleveland paper advertising “The Cleveland Comedy Club.” I had never heard of such a thing. This was in the first months of 1980 when downtown Cleveland looked post-apocalyptic. There was not much down there but some dingy strip clubs and this old Greek restaurant that these four young guys had turned into a comedy club. I started going down there as a patron and seeing guys (mostly guys) around my age, (Bob Saget, Jimmy Alleck) even some a little younger (Dave Coulier, Mike Binder) doing stand-up. I was enthralled. Loved it. Was a great laugher. Then I noticed they had an amateur night on Sundays, so I signed up. The idea was to bring a bunch of your friends, because the winner of the fifty-dollar prize was voted on by the audience. I wrote some material, brought a handful of friends and was terrible. But everyone else was worse, so I won the fifty bucks. More importantly, I caught the bug. Couldn’t stop thinking about jokes and what might be funny. I came back two weeks later. Did much better. But some other guy brought more people, so he won the fifty bucks. After that second time, though, one of the owners of the club, Dino Vince, offered me a job as an emcee, Wednesday through Sunday for thirty-five dollars. I took it. Just loved the whole creative process, the audiences, the atmosphere, the collegiality, the way comedians observed and interpreted the world. It turned out to be the very embryonic phase of what became known as the Comedy Boom of the ‘80s. After six months, I moved to New York City, where my girlfriend (now my wife) was living to pursue it as a full-time career. Where the Cleveland Comedy Club formerly stood is now second base at Progressive Field where the Indians play.

Only in retrospect did becoming a comedian make any sense. Because when I look back on my childhood, a lot of my most enduring memories had to do with entertaining people, whether it was putting together a funny story using that week’s spelling words in fifth grade and reading it in front of the class, or singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in the living room for my aunts and uncles, or even being an altar boy lector when it was my classes’ turn to do the Stations of the Cross. Growing up in what was essentially farm country in the Midwest, I had no idea people could actually do this for a living. And up until just recently, when someone would ask me about my influences, I would name the usual suspects, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby. But when I really think about it, I have to say my biggest comedy influence was my dad, Clarence Skrovan. He was a businessman – a salesman and a plant manager – very outgoing guy, good with people, not afraid to speak in front of a crowd. And he was always asked to emcee the church’s fall fundraiser or the local town festival. I watched him up on stage doing that. I memorized jokes from the joke books he would buy in preparation for those events. I absorbed how he told stories at neighborhood picnics. He had a booming voice and a hearty laugh. So, after all these years, it finally occurred to me that all this time I’ve been doing my dad.
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You were a program consultant during the prime times of Seinfeld, back in the early 90’s, which was a show that definitely changed the way we watch television today. So, what were those early days like? Were you aware that you were molding the future? And most importantly, were you have a good time?

I had known Larry David from comedy days in New York. Before season 4 (the year they did the show about the show), he offered me and three other comics he knew from that time, Jon Hayman, Bob Shaw and Bill Masters a job. Our job was not to write scripts per se, but to be a “think tank” for Larry, come up with premises that he could turn into scripts. I have to say, I wasn’t so much a writer on that show as someone who was auditing a master class. Most of my contributions were by mistake, saying something dumb in the writer’s room like mispronouncing the word “Svengali” and finding that Larry had put it into a script. Or one time, Bill Masters and I were pitching to Larry at his house, because he had taken ill. In the middle of our pitch, he excused himself to go to the bathroom. Bill and I turn to each other, thinking that it’s going pretty well until we hear Larry very loudly throwing up in the toilet for what seemed like fucking forever. When he comes out of the bathroom, he says, “I don’t know about your story, but this scene is pretty funny.” And sure enough our idea never saw the light of day, but that vomit scene made it into the episode where George and Jerry are pitching their pilot to the NBC exec played by Bob Balaban. So, I can take absolutely no credit for “molding the future” of TV comedy then or any other time. I was more of an accidental tourist, a spectator to a very exciting time when the show went from cult hit to top ten “Must See TV.” The only thing I will take credit for is blurting out “Mulva,” when we were pitching on potential names that rhymed with a female body part. I have Larry to thank for giving me my first writing job and teaching me so much in that season I spent on Seinfeld.

As a viewer, the reasons behind the great success of Everybody Loves Raymond are very obvious. It was basically the perfect sitcom. But, as a man on the inside, who was there for the whole damn run, what is it that you believed made this show such an amazing success? Basically, what were some things that the common viewer may not have realized that were making this show so great?

Phil Rosenthal, another writing mentor, albeit younger than me, was a television savant. And he always insisted that the episodes “be about something.” He always wanted to do a show like his favorites, The Dick Van Dyck Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family. Like those shows, every episode we did was based on some real story or actual relationship issue that had occurred in the life of the writer. In fact, during the run of the show and for sometime afterwards, we would get booked to do “Inside The Writer’s Room” panels. We would sit on stage in front of an audience, pick an episode, tell the audience the story of the real event or conflict that inspired the episode, then show a clip of the show. The greatest compliment we could get was when someone would say, “You must have had a camera in our house. That exact thing happened to us.” That’s why the show always rang so true. That, and the fact that we were too lazy to make shit up.

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Watching your amazing doc, An Unreasonable Man, about Ralph Nader, feels like more of an experience to be had rather than just a film, especially in these new trying times. How did the idea for this film come about? What drew you to create a film about Mr. Nader?

It started as a sitcom idea. My friend, Henriette Mantel, a comedienne from ‘80s New York comedy days had worked for Ralph as an office manager in the late ‘70s early ‘80s. In the bar at Catch a Rising Star she would tell me stories about working for Ralph. I told her at the time that maybe there was a show in that, a public interest office where anyone could come in and start a story. I wasn’t even a writer back then, still just performing. Flash forward fifteen years later, I’m in the middle of the Raymond run and have a development deal. They don’t like the first idea I pitch, and I don’t want to tell them I don’t have a second idea. A couple of weeks later, I happen to run into Hen, who I hadn’t seen in years. By this time, most of my New York comedian friends had migrated to LA. That’s one of the pleasantly quirky things about this career. One by one, most of your friends end up moving across the country with you. I asked her if she had ever done anything with her Ralph experience, and she started telling me more stories and introducing me to people she knew from that time, who would also try to relate the funny human stories about working for Ralph. In the meantime, I started reading about him. I had been aware of him growing up but really didn’t know much about his history. I had voted for Al Gore in 2000. Ralph was nowhere on my radar. The more I read, though, the more I was amazed at all he had accomplished and intrigued by the fact that everyone was now so mad at him. This is three years after that 2000 election. I thought that was an interesting arc. How does someone go from folk hero to pariah? This is one of the most influential men in American history and no one has really told this story. Here I was with access to him through Henriette. He trusted her. So, I put the sitcom in my pocket, and we set out to make a documentary, which of course I had no idea how to do. Less than three years after that encounter with Henriette, we were at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was then shortlisted for Academy Award consideration, given a nationwide theatrical release, shown on PBS’ Independent Lens and is still available as a two-disc DVD and for streaming. Completely changed my life in terms of how I view history and the current political landscape. And now every week, I co-host a radio/show podcast with Ralph called “The Ralph Nader Radio Hour.” Every week for the past three years, I get to talk to this living legend about what is going on in the world. Turns out I went to graduate school after all. Nothing ever happened with the sitcom idea, but my favorite part of the movie is still the part in the middle when we take a break from all of the issue oriented stuff and interview the people who tell the funny, human stories about what it was like to work for Ralph.

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I absolutely adored the far too short run of The War At Home. It was downright hilarious in my opinion. Can you tell us what your role was in this now cult classic program? And did you enjoy your time working on it?

I did enjoy my time on that show and really liked the other writers. It was a short time, though. I came on in the second season and was about to be let go after thirteen episodes when Brad Garret called me to come over to the new show he was doing called Til Death. Fortunately, I didn’t lose a day of work and actually got a bit of a raise, so it all worked out. That’s one of the things that most people don’t realize. Even someone who has had a relatively “successful” career as I have been fortunate enough to have is not immune to being fired. That’s the fate of many “successful” writers. Most of us are either getting fired or our shows are getting cancelled. They say that the business is 99% rejection. But even when you’re successful, it’s still about 90% rejection. You’re getting fired. You’re getting cancelled. No one buys your script. Or if they do buy your script, they don’t make it a pilot. Or if they do make it a pilot, they don’t pick it up to series. To thrive in this business you not only have to accept that, a big part of you has to be excited about living on that edge, that edge of possibility that more than likely results in failure.
In your personal opinion, what would you say is the ultimate highlight of your job? What is it about your work that truly makes you feel wonderful?

I think it all comes down to laughing. That’s the basic unit of measurement. Either making someone else laugh or someone making you laugh. So, if you’re lucky, your day is punctuated by lot of those little highlights.
I have had and expressed my opinions that stand up comedians and comedy writers are the true philosophers of our current times. I have theories, but I am just coming from the side of a fan. So in your professional opinion, why do you think it is that people take the wisdom of funny people to heart?

I think the ability to make people laugh is a very powerful skill. Because, a laugh in a lot of ways is a mating call. It is a point of crystallization, a clear moment of understanding. You can’t laugh if you are confused, if what is being said is unclear or out of rhythm. I have met some powerful people in my life, politicians, presidents of universities, captains of industry and they are fascinated by what I do. They all want to be able to do it. What could be more heady than walking into a room full of strangers and demanding their attention in a situation where you do all (or most) of the talking? You are conducting this orchestra of laughter. And each wave of laughter is telling you that they “get it.” They understand what you are saying. You are getting through to them. That’s a super power.

Not all funny people are wise. And we aren’t all philosophers. The good ones are good at boiling things down to their essence and putting it in terms you understand. That doesn’t always make for good philosophy, which is often more complex and ambiguous than can be communicated in a joke or even an hour long routine. If we are good at anything, we should be good at saying the things that you dare only think and in so doing remind you that you are not alone.

One question we have to ask any of our interviewees who happen to have some shiny things in their resume is this….Where do you keep your Emmys? And does their place have any significant meaning?

My Emmys are on a shelf in my office at home, which used to be my daughter’s bedroom. They sit near pictures of my mom and dad, who without their love and support, I wouldn’t be where I am in life.
So, what does the future hold for you good Sir? Anything you would like to promote here?

In the spirit of my eclectic career (some might say “checkered”) I would encourage you (especially if you have kids) to watch the Nickelodeon show I write for now called School of Rock. And also listen to “The Ralph Nader Radio Hour,” which you can download on iTunes, Stitcher or anywhere fine podcasts are given away for free. Or go to ralphnaderradiohour.com.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Just now after reflecting on my career and then looking up at my Emmys when you asked that question and seeing the pictures of my mom and dad, Toni and Clarence.

Rachael O’Brien [Interview]

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As you may have noticed in the last few months, we have become obsessed with the world of stand up comedy. And even more, we are thrilled by the idea that there are more and more amazingly talented female comedians popping up these days. And today, we have a brilliant interview with a woman who is exactly that. Rachael O’Brien is a brilliant young comic who has a lot to say on and off stage. She has a great podcast called Be Here For A While… that is an intriguing look at what it means to be young and living in the L.A. scene. for those of us so far removed from that scene, her podcast is as informative as it is hilarious.

So, please enjoy a few words with the amazing comedian, Rachael O’Brien as she schools all of our old asses here at TWS on what it means to be young and talented in today’s society. Enjoy!

 

When did you decide you wanted to join the world of stand up comedy? Was this the job you always wanted to do? And what keeps you doing it?

I think I always knew I wanted to be in comedy from a young age, but initially I thought it would just be comedic acting. I was obsessed with SNL as a kid and dreamed of moving to New York and doing that when I got older. Obviously SNL is still a dream, but stand-up has become my main focus. I decided to join the world of standup in my early 20’s. I had gone to a grad program at UCLA for screenwriting and immediately fell in love with writing comedy and I wanted to test my jokes out on stage so I tried stand-up. From my first open mic I knew instantly that it was something I needed to do for the rest of my life. I think that’s how you know you’re meant to be a standup comic. If you get on stage and it gets under your skin right away, and you feel almost uncomfortable when you’re not on that stage, then you’re meant to be a comic. If you try it and you can go several months without doing it again, then you’re probably not meant for it. It’s not the easiest business so you almost have to be addicted to it.

What is the comedy world like for a young person like yourself these days? More specifically, a young female in comedy today? Does it sometimes feel like an “Old Boy’s Club”, as I have heard it occasionally called?

There definitely is that part to it, and sometimes it can be discouraging, but only if you let it be. I try not to pay too much attention to that part of it because it’s up to me to create my own future. Plus, I’ve always had a lot of male friends so I enjoy the energy of being around both woman and men and cracking jokes and hanging out at the comedy clubs.

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Just to dig a big deeper, for those of us who are completely out of the loop, what is the atmosphere of L.A. like for young and up and coming comedians? Is it a bloodthirsty and competitive environment? Or are most of you all out there to help one another do well?

It’s competitive, there’s no doubt about that, but every industry can be. The one thing I’ll say about comedians is that we do often help each other out and bring each other up, it’s sort of how it works. A more successful comic brings a younger comic on the road to open for them, which is an amazing opportunity. Plus we all know what it’s like to bomb on stage so when we see each other at the clubs, we share the same highs and lows and, for the most part, I would say we want the best for each other because we know what it feels like to have an off night.

I have thoroughly enjoyed your podcast Be Here For A While…, especially your conversation with our old friend Nemr. How has the experience of doing a podcast been for you? What do you believe you are doing in order to make it original and unique amongst the plethora of podcasts out there right now?

Thank you so much. I love doing my podcast. It has been a great way to create an hour of new content every week. It’s a challenge and actually more work than I thought it was going to be but I absolutely love it. It’s also so fun to get to talk to your friends about the industry we both love. In terms of making mine unique, I think that I do a good job of finding guests with interesting stories and then also letting them tell those stories. Of course, it’s my podcast and I need to be the main voice of it, but I do think I know when to listen and ask the right questions.

I noticed that you recently completed a massive 3 week tour through Europe for military members, which is always cool to hear as I have attended a few of them. So how was this experience for you? Were the service members receptive to your style of comedy?

It was the best experience of my life. To be able to travel Europe and do comedy with some of my best friends for the most appreciative audience in the world was priceless. They were so receptive and so welcoming and on most bases we got to hang out with the service members afterwards and hear their amazing stories and get to know their life in the military first hand. I would do a 100 more of those tours if I could.

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When you’re not writing or doing spots around L.A., what would we find you doing for just a bit of “me” time?

I love trying new restaurants and I’m a huge classic rock music fan. So you will either find me eating, or listening to music in my apartment.

So what does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug here?

I’m currently writing a new pilot to hopefully sell, produce, and be in. I’m also planning to put together my first comedy special in the next year. I just want to do more and more standup, acting and podcasting. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve made it. It will all be a long journey, but I really do love every step of the way.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

An email from one of my podcast listeners.