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Catching up with Mackenzie Astin
February 7th, 2012 under Interviews. [ Comments: none ]

Many of us first got to know Mackenzie Astin when he played Andy Moffet on The Facts of Life and we followed his career as he starred in movies like Iron Will, Garbage Pail Kids and In Love and War. Recently the actor was seen on Lost playing a pivotal role in Kate’s life and also appearing on a campy episode of Psych as childhood friend of Sean and Gus. He started off this TV season on Grey’s Anatomy as a husband who has to do something unthinkable to save his wife’s life and tonight he is guest starring on the 200th episode of NCIS. When I read he was going to be on the milestone episode, I wanted to see what is up with this extremely talented actor who has been acting for three decades. In fact he is filming a movie right now and graciously took a few minutes to answer my questions.

Seriously? OMG! WTF? – Tell me about your role on the 200th episode of NCIS?
Makenzie Astin – Without giving too much away before the episode airs, it’s safe to say that I play a gentleman who finds himself in way over his head.

SOW – What was your mother’s (Patty Duke) reaction when she heard you were going to be on such monumental episode of the show? You know since she is married to an ex-military man?
MA – I called her immediately after I found out I got the part, she responded with a shriek of joy, and I’ve yet to regain hearing in my right ear. Mom and her husband Michael (the former Sergeant First Class in the United States Army) have been fans of the show since well before its 100th episode, so to say that they were excited to hear about my appearance would be quite an understatement.

SOW – You have been on two huge episodes this season. First was the two-part season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy and now the 200th episode of NCIS. Do you only insist on doing the milestone episodes? LOL
MA – That’s exactly right, my representatives have been instructed to ignore any auditions that aren’t for important episodes. (#sarcasm)
The truth is, I’ve been fortunate recently to be the right guy for the part in the eyes of some successful executives. (#humblebrag)

SOW – Almost a year ago you took on the biggest role of your life, how is married life treating you? How did you meet? And all of that jazz?
MA – I’m blessed, plain and simple. Jennifer and I are best friends and we make each other laugh all the time. Add to this the fact that we find each other terribly attractive and it’s a recipe for success. We met about five years ago on a Monday afternoon in Baltimore. I was sitting at a café bar with two seats open to my left, she came in and asked if the one next to me was taken. We struck up a conversation that continues to this day. (Every word of which is jazz.)

SOW – You are currently working on a movie called Elf-Man, can you tell me about that movie? Do you know when it is coming out and such?
MA – Elf-Man is underway here in Frederick, Maryland and it’s shaping up to be a whole bunch of family fun. We should be finished by the end of the month and we’re aiming for a Christmas 2012 release. The story follows Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna as one of Santa’s Elves discovering his greatest strengths as he rescues a family from peril on Christmas Eve. (Jason is amazing, both on-screen and off.)

SOW – What else do you have anything else coming up?
MA – Well, pilot season has begun in Los Angeles so to paraphrase Bug Bunny: I’m hunting pilots. Things should really be heating up by the time I get back to L.A., and I’m looking forward to giving myself the opportunity to go to work on something people enjoy.

Even though Mackenzie is a Hollywood legacy, being the son of John Astin and Patty Duke, it is nice to see that he has remained humbled. His answers sincerely made me chuckle and I hope they did the same for you.
If you missed him on tonight’s important NCIS, you can watch the full episode on CBS.
Hopefully he will land a pilot and that show gets picked up, so we can have back on TV really soon.
Thank you so very much to Mackenzie Astin for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions and thank you to Jennifer Astin for setting it up.


Betty White talks about TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland!
July 14th, 2010 under Interviews, TV Land. [ Comments: 2 ]

When you walk on to the set of Hot in Cleveland, you realize you have walked in to a very special place. That is because TV Land’s first scripted show stars Miss Betty White. When it comes to who is the hottest person in Hollywood these days, everyone knows it is her but when you meet her she is so humble about it. Here is a woman who has been in the business for over 60 years and has received several well deserved accolades like Emmys, Golden Globes, the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award to name a few, and yet is so grateful and polite to everyone she meets and talks to. In fact anyone who talks to her, she makes sure to give you her big beautiful smile and it just makes you feel good and it is so nice to see her so happy. And all of those feelings mutual on the set, everyone from the cast to the crew treat her with respect. Her co-stars Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves and Valerie Bertinelli all praised her and told me they enjoy working with her and you can tell they all feel honored to work with her. I mean how can you not be, there is no one like her and that is a good thing!
On Monday I had the honor talking to the woman who is not only Hot in Cleveland, but hot around the world and I got to talk to her about her hit sitcom and her role as Elka on it. When I asked her about being on a show again, she said, “It’s fun, well with these girls how can it not be fun! Wendie Mallick, Valerie Bertinelli and Janes Leeves are such pros, but they are also so delightful gals, that it is a joy!” Seeing her interact with three women again reminded me of another show she did and that is The Golden Girls, not because of that premise but because of the writing and chemistry between the cast. When I asked her that she told me, “You never expect to get that lucky again, but the writing that’s the bottom line. I mean actors can take all the credit in the world they want to, but if it isn’t on that page we can’t do it. And it is such a joy to have people like Susan Martin and the whole writing staff doing it for all of us!” You see what I mean, she is sincerely humble. I am sure every cast member and writer who works with her feels privileged to work with her and here she is telling me that it is such a joy to work them.
Now moving on I had to ask the 88 year old actress about the men that they have cast to play her boyfriends. So far she has been paired with The Dick Van Dyke Show’s Carl Reiner and The Carol Burnett Show’s Tim Conway. She then shared with me what she thought about working with them, “You can’t ask for much better than Carl Reiner and Tim Conway. You can ask for an easier person to work with than Tim Conway because I can’t keep a straight face when I am around him. But both of them are a delight. I hope they come back! And Elka my character hopes they come back!” Even though Tim’s episode hasn’t aired yet, I too can’t wait for them to come back. Because it is not many people that can make Betty White lose her straight face, and I want to see the bloopers as he succeeds by doing that! After that answer I then I had to know who would be her ultimate boyfriend, and you have to watch the above interview to find out.
As we know the last few years have been amazing for her, and I wanted to know what have been some of the highlights for her. She responded by saying, “Well I can’t believe at this age, and at this point and after 63 years in this wonderful business that I am still working, not only regularly but I’m having such a delightful time….And we just got picked up for 20 more episodes, that was a thrill.” And it is such a thrill that with everything she has going on that we will get to enjoy her for at least 20 more Wednesdays on TV Land starting in January.
My final question with her was about her wit and her brilliance and she concluded the interview being just as humble as when it started. She said, “Oh. it’s not brilliant, believe me. It’s I guess because I grew up an only child and my mom and dad thought and we had a wonderful time together. So it is hard for me to play things straight for too long. You know because you hear something and you just got to say it or your skin breaks out. So it’s a joy to be with the rest of these girls who all work the same way!”
I cannot begin to tell you what a joy and honor it was to interview a woman whose career I have loved since I saw her on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and continued to adore her on The Golden Girls and now on Hot in Cleveland plus everything between those three shows. So when I walked on that set, I like everyone else in the world just loved her and after meeting her and interviewing her I didn’t think it was possible but I love her even more. She is as nice and as sweet as she seems. Can you believe she thanked me several times for interviewing her about the show? I was so grateful to interview one of the very few people I have truly adored and admired since I was a very young child.
Now enough about me gushing about her, you need to watch her on TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland tonight and every Wednesday because just as she says it is a joy to be part of the show…it is a joy to watch her being part of the show!!!


Patrick Cavanuagh talks about Transylmania
December 4th, 2009 under Interviews. [ Comments: 2 ]

Patrick Cavanaugh plays Pete in the laugh riot movie Trasylmania that is out in theaters now. Pete is a stoner who is dating twins and by the end of the movie one of the twins will have her head screwed on a little tighter than the other one, but you will have to see the film to find out what that means. One of the funniest scenes in this movie is at the beginning when we meet Pete and his stoner buddy Wang and they are trying to hide their pot from customs so they stick it where the sun don’t shine. This is one of the many scenes that had me squirming and laughing at the same time, and that is really a good thing.
Transylmania is a horror spoof movie like the films done by Mel Brooks and it is refreshing to have that on the big screen again. The movie is about a group of college students who go to Transylvania to spend a semester abroad because of their friend Rusty and they get a lesson in the legends of the famed land. One of the legends they deal with is Radu’s. His lover’s soul was stolen and placed in music box that has been missing for several centuries, that was until now. When the college students accidentally come across the music box, one of them will transform into the dormant Vampire who can’t wait to be back with her lover and his feeling is mutual. So how did Rusty get his friends to travel to Transylvania? Well he met his true love on the internet and he convinces them that they have to go there so he can be with her. When he gets there, he learns that asking for a full body photo is an important thing. The girl’s father, who is also the Dean at RU, wants to help his daughter find her one true love and will do anything for her and what he does will effect Wang, Peter and his twin girlfriends. There are a lot of plot twists in this movie that all stitch together at the end of the movie and you will enjoy every one of them.
Now back to Patrick Cavanaugh, his scenes had me laughing hysterically throughout the whole movie. This is not the first time he has had us hysterical, he is sort of reprising his role Pete from the National Lampoon Dorm Daze movies. Plus we have also seen him smoking pot before as Smitty in Mad Men. His performance as Pete in Transylmania had me wanting to know more about him and some of the stuff he has to do for the movie and I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to talk to him about it all.

Seriously? OMG! WTF?
– How did you get this role?
Patrick Cavanaugh – I’d already done a couple of movies with the Hillenbrands, the Dorm Daze movies, which these characters pop up in. They decided to do a new movie using some of the same characters and I was lucky enough to get picked for this film and got to go to Romania.

SOW – Tell my readers about your character Pete and the movie?
PC -Hey readers!! Pete, I think is a typical college dude. He’d rather spend time out of the classroom, drinking and getting stoned, for sure. I think that’s part of the fun of Pete and Wang, that they’re the ones outside of the castle, out in the world and partying in Romania.

SOW – What was it like filming in Romania? How did the locals react to the premise of Transylmania?
PC -Amazing! Getting to make a movie, in the first place, is already a blast. But then to actually get paid to travel to this exotic world that I would probably not have been able to otherwise at this point in my life… It was great to get to be in the middle of it all. There’s a really fun, young energy to Bucharest, where we filmed part of the time. The rest of the time, we stayed in these smaller towns, and it was a different world. Like when we first arrived, they picked us up on a bus, and as they were driving us into town, we actually passed a horse and cart on the street. It reminded me that even though technology has spread across the world, there are places where the way of life is still much simpler. That being said, there was a McDonald’s in the little city that we were staying in, which I thought was massively hilarious.
The locals were really nice. They just seemed to enjoy that there was a group of American kids running around their town. I never got the sense that they were annoyed by us being there. In fact, one of the towns that we stayed in, Deva in Hunedoara County, made us feel very welcome. We were the entire group staying in this one hotel and ended up staying there during Thanksgiving. The chef went out of his way to serve us a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that night, which was great, when you’re far from home, to be able to still enjoy Thanksgiving with each other.

SOW – Do you believe in Vampires more now, now that you have been there?
PC – (laughs) Uh, not necessarily. In fact, some of the Romanian people just roll their eyes at all the Vampire talk, but they also seemed to appreciate that it brings in tourism.

SOW – Have you ever hid anything your butt like you did in the movie?
PC -Nothing too big.

SOW – Have you ever dated twins before? After this movie would you?
PC – Uh, I have not dated twins before. But I have dated several women with split personalities. Does that count? No, I wouldn’t want to date twins. One woman at a time is enough for me.

SOW – How was it filming the throw up scene and what did they use for the effect?
PC – It was a lot of fun, but it was really hard not to laugh. It was also hard not to throw up, because to get that sound, you really do have to retch a little. They used a soupier, watered down oatmeal. It made oatmeal much harder to eat after that!

SOW – What did you think was the funniest scene in the movie? What scene didn’t make it that you wish did?
PC = When Cliff, played by James DeBello, shoots himself in the leg with a cross bow, just because of the way he plays it. It makes me laugh hard every time I see it. Just the way it all plays out is pretty phenomenal. I can’t think of any scenes that were left out.

SOW – What was your funnest moment filming the movie?
PC – In the movie, my character rides a motorcycle with a sidecar. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle, so the stunt coordinator, Tom Ficke, had to teach me while we were in Romania. There was also a local guy helping to train me, but he didn’t speak very much English, which made it hard. To make it worse, he was pretty obviously drunk.
He kept trying to get me to go faster, but I was still learning. Tom made sure that I was being safe and going slowly at first, but this other guy kept shouting at me to go faster. I couldn’t understand most of what he was saying or if he was mad at me. I wasn’t ready to go faster, but I couldn’t explain it to him because of the language barrier. And to be honest, I think there was a sobriety barrier there as well.

SOW – Tell me a secret about the filming of the movie that you haven’t told anyone yet?
PC – Sorry, I don’t keep secrets.

SOW – What do you want to tell my readers about the movie?
PC – That I think it’s a fun movie that is a new take on the whole vampire world and a different spin on this whole craze, and that it’s just fun. Also, I think they should go see it with a lot of their friends.

SOW – Do you think you will return to Mad Men as Smitty
PC – I’m actually coming back as Don Draper next season. Kidding! I really, truly hope I will return, but I honestly don’t know. I can say that whenever my phone rings, I sure do hope it’s someone telling me I’m doing another episode, because it’s been incredible getting to play Smitty and be a part of it. I do find it pretty funny that whether I’m playing someone in the ‘60s or a college kid visiting Romania, I’m cast as a pot-head. I’m like Ferris Bueller goes herbal! I don’t know what my deal is.

SOW – What else do you have coming up?
PC – I just wrapped an indie comedy BRAND DEAD. I also have a couple of animation pilots, which will hopefully get picked up. I won’t find out until next year.

Thank you so much to Patrick Cavanaugh for taking the time to answer my questions. So please support him and go with all of your friends to see Transylmania in theaters now! I promise this hilarious movie will have you in stitches like it did me!!!


The mystery continues on Fringe and Lance Reddick told me about it!
September 17th, 2009 under Fox, Interviews. [ Comments: none ]

Fringe is back for its second season on Fox tonight at 9p and there are going to be some changes for the show and Lance Reddick who plays Agent Phillip Broyles told me about some of them.
On the season premiere of Fringe, it starts with a bang and Olivia Dunham making an entrance that you will be talking about tomorrow and things are not looking good for her. But she is not the only one things are not looking good for because Agent Broyles is in DC trying to save Fringe because the government wants to shut it down. Lance Reddick told me we are going to learn more about the history between Fringe and the government in the upcoming episodes and the conflict between the two. He also told me we are learn about the history of Fringe and what it was like before Olivia, Peter and Walter joined them and that we are going to meet his ex-wife. For those of you who watched Fringe, you know the show is all about unexplained phenomena that they try to solve, so I had to ask him if he is changed his outlook on things. You have to check out the interview above to see his answer to the question because it is a really interesting response, just like the show itself. And on that note, I am looking forward to this season and how getting the government involved is going to change things up. Plus they have added at least one new cast member and her appearance on the season premiere has already made a difference. One thing that hasn’t changed is the unique father/son relationship between Walter and Peter. In tonight’s episode Walter insists on making Peter a birthday custard even though Peter tells him he hates custard. Walter’s need to make his son’s birthday so special is so sweet and such a unique aspect to a show about solving the unsolvable! So check out Fringe on Fox tonight and every Thursday at 9p for a show that leaves you guessing every week!
Now back to Lance Reddick when I asked him what he has coming up he told me is marketing a jazz CD he has been working on for years called Contemplations and Remembrances. You can listen to the album on Lance Reddick’s site and download it for a really good price. Let me tell you guys, I was blown away by how smooth his voice is. I am not a jazz fan and I am in love with his music! You should totally listen to it while you wait to watch the season premiere of Fringe tonight on Fox at 9p!


Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent are Inglourious Basterds!!!
August 17th, 2009 under Inglourious Basterds, Interviews. [ Comments: 2 ]

Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent are the two leading ladies in Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece Inglourious Basterds that is out this Friday, August 21st. Although both women never have a scene together in the brilliant movie, both of their characters have the same objective to off the Third Reich.
The reason why Diane Kruger’s character’s Bridget von Hammersmark, a German actress who works as a double agent for Britain wants to bring them down is not clear to us, but according to what she told us at The Weinstein Company roundtable day is that QT gave her a 20 year backstory of why she turned on her country. Maybe that is something we will get in the much-wanted prequel! When the German native was asked what her response was to doing a movie that changed the history of her homeland, here is what she told us.

That’s why I wanted to do it. You can imagine as someone born in Germany, I get offered World War II movies once a week. And I never wanted to do it. Because why should I associate myself with that just because I’m German. So this came along, and I was like, that is cool. I will be able through Bridget von Hammersmark to bring down the Third Reich. I like it, let’s do it!

She told us that when the movie screened in Berlin a few weeks ago the reaction was 3X that of what they got in Cannes and there they got a 15 minute standing ovation there. So it just goes to show you how impactful this WWII epic is. She also told us how one of her scenes might’ve been impactful on the director himself…

Was it honor for you to be the foot fetish?
A: [LAUGHS] It was funny thing because I guess, I was lazy, I didn’t know about that. And then I was interviewed by a journalist as I just got the job. And he said, “So, ah, have you heard about this?” And I said, no. And he said, “Really, you don’t have a foot scene?” And actually, I do! And he filled me in. And then the day comes and I’m like, “Quentin, are you excited?! It’s the first day!” And he was like, “No, it’s not true. It’s all made up. Journalists made it up.” And I was like, Okay. Six close-ups later on my foot and not on my face, and I thought, maybe there is some truth to it. I don’t know!
It was your foot?
A: Oh yeah. It never looked better, are you kidding? The pedicure lasted forever.

She joked that maybe QT wasn’t exactly happy with her foot because he stepped in for Christoph Waltz in a very critical scene.

What was it like filming the fight scene with Christoph, the cast and being throttled out of your chair, looked a little rough and tumble?
A: It was rough, yeah. A really funny anecdote about that is that it is actually Quentin who was strangling me. I know it’s like, “ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING?” “DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG?” It was my last day, and he came into my trailer and he said, “Christoph is just an actor. He’s going to squeeze too hard or too little and we’re going to do it over and over. I just know exactly what we need, so I think I should just strangle you.” He trapped me, right? Sure thing, Quentin. And then, we see Christoph and Quentin is about two heads taller than him. So none of his costumes would fit him. So they had to make strap on and fake SS sleeves, that are strapped to the back of my collar. And here is this huge man on top of me – squeezing. He really was a lot less strong than Christoph, and I couldn’t tell him, “Oh yeah, no-no [feign coughing], we can do one more.” He’s so sweet, you know.

You will have to see the movie on Friday to see if she survives that scene. According to a lot of reports out there this probably won’t be the last time we see her in a QT movie because they are saying she is his new It girl. She really earned that title because she really held her own as the only woman in the almost all-male scenes. Her scene with Brad Pitt gave me the heebie jeebies, I am still squirming just thinking about it. Let’s just say you have to see it to understand why I am saying that and she played it so realistically, I can still feel her pain. Sincerely this model-turned-actress won me over in her role of Bridget von Hammersmark in Inglourious Basterds!

From Diane Kruger to Melanie Laurent, the character who has a reason to bring down the Third Reich in the history changing movie Inglourious Basterds. Laurent plays the Jewish girl Shosanna Dreyfus, a woman whose family is gunned down next to her as they hid under the floorboards of man who had taken them in. The man responsible for their deaths is The Jew Hunter played by the scary Christoph Waltz. Fast forward a few years, Shoshana is now running movie theater in Paris and has caught the eye of one of the most famous Nazis in the world, Fredrick Zoller played by the gorgeous Daniel Bruhl. When he decides the film about the actions that made him the star that he is, needs to be screened at her movie theater, she puts into action a plan that will bring down the Third Reich as revenge for what they did to her family. In one meeting where they discuss bringing premiere to her theater, The Jew Hunter is a surprise guest and their interaction is one of the most well-acted, chilling scenes I have seen in a while and you can really feel her tension as she prays he doesn’t recognize her. Lucky for her and us he doesn’t and her plan is put into motion. In her final scene she had to have a diabolical laugh that would last for 5 minutes and she told us she dreaded that scene most.

I did not know how to do that for the life of me. For months, I was like, (gasp) “How am I going to do that?” Because in the script it was like, “She’s laughing like the evil, during 5 minutes.” I’m like—“What? What? During 5 minutes? I’m gonna be like—huh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hunh ha ha—it’s gonna be a nightmare!” And I remember that day, I was like, “Ok Quentin, you know what, I’m so stressed out. I really don’t know what I’m going to do. ‘Cause I never took some theater lessons, for example. I just made movies. So I have very—and I’m French. We are lazy! You don’t work on that laughter in 6 months. You just like, “Oh my god, it’s tomorrow! My laugh is tomorrow!” You know? Well maybe, just for me. So, and I was like, oh my god, how am I going to do that. And so I said, “I’m stressed out! Because it’s so important. Ok I’m stressed out more now.” So he says, “Ok, ok. You know what. I’m gonna fire everybody!” So he just asked people to get out. And I was like, oh my god, is this a sick scene? Because usually when—“Can I have the script please?! I just want to check something!” And he was like, “Ok. We are 5 here.” In a huge set. You can imagine. It was funny because the set was like—in the stairs—but in the very corner on a huge, huge set. So we were just 5 people, just for the camera and me, and and he said—and he took my hand and he said, “You know what? I just trust you. You’re gonna be great. You’re gonna give me a great evil laugh.” “Ok! [She clears throat] Action!” And I just did something. You know. First day. And he was like, “Ok. You can do it. Ok, let’s work.” He just wanted to know if I could just forget everything. And it remembers me a little bit of like the scene in Kill Bill 2, where she just finally goes—find Bill. And she’s on a car, and she’s like front of camera, black and white, and she says, “And I’m gonna Kill Bill!” And we’re like, ok, why are you saying like this. And it’s because, it’s completely unreal. And at the end you just love that sort of scene. Because it’s just completely creative. And on your imaginary end—it’s just like—and he’s so stressed out for you—because he knows it’s going to be hard to find the right way to say it, but at the end he just—here—takes your hand and say “You know what, I trust you.” And you’re like, “Ok cool! You are the only one.

You will have to see Inglourious Basterds on Friday to see how hauntingly she pulled off that laugh. That and you have to see how this 26 year old actress who barely spoke English before this film stole the movie. She is just so tremendous in the movie, I forsee a lot of interest in this little French girl who was a huge part of Inglourious Basterds.

Come back tomorrow to hear what two of the Basterds, BJ Novak and Michael Fassbender told us about their pivotal roles in Inglourious Basterds.
Huge thanks to The Weinstein Company for inviting me to cover the junket for Inglourious Basterds!!!


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