Amy Sherman-Palladino is best known for her work on the “Gilmore Girls” and “Roseanne”.
Sutton Foster is best known for her Broadway musical work in “Young Frankenstein” and “Reno Sweeney”.
And together, both are part of what makes ABC Family’s hit series “Bunheads” so entertaining!
The series revolves around the character Michelle Simms (as portrayed by Tony-award winning actress Sutton Foster), a Las Vegas showgirl who quickly marries a man and moves to his coastal hometown where she works alongside his mother-in-law at her dance school.
The dance school was modeled after a dance studio which Sherman-Palladino attended as a child. And to create the authenticity of the ballet dancing of the series, real dancers who can act were cast for the show.
Recently, executive producer and actress Sutton Foster took part in a media Q&A for the promotion of ABC Family’s second half of season one for “Bunheads”. Here is a transcript from the Q&A:
Moderator Amy, tell us, how many episodes is this second batch, and what are the odds at this point, how does it look for having a second season?
A. Palladino There are eight episodes right now, and I have no freaking idea.
A. Palladino The world of ABC Family is different, they have a whole different show schedule with Seasons 1, 1a, 1b, 1c. Some of their other shows, I think they’re on Season 1/25.
Moderator That’s good.
A. Palladino I think they’ve done about 4 ,000 shows and they’re not on Season 2 yet, so I don’t really know how it works on ABC Family. It’s a new kind of family. But as far as what we discussed with what I promised ABC Family in terms of where I’m going with the girls and the dance and blah, blah, blah, I haven’t lied to them and they seem a little happy at the moment, so I will take that as a positive sign. How’s that?
Moderator Sutton, I see your brother’s going to be on several episodes this year, so if you could just step back and tell us for a minute, this is real unusual for a family to produce two Broadway stars. What is unusual about your family or Troy, or you or them or anything that kind of created this situation?
S. Foster I have no idea. Both of my parents, neither one of them are in the business, no one in our family, and Hunter and I, we were never the singing Foster’s. We just like to perform and do stuff for fun. And the fact that we both have chosen to make careers in this business, I don’t know, I have no idea why or how it happened, but it’s been awesome and it’s been really, really, really special to have him on the show and to be able to work with him. This is our first time working together as actors and so it’s been really, really fun to have this opportunity.
Moderator Sutton, what do you do to prepare mentally and/or physically for your role?
S. Foster Oh goodness, mentally and physically, well, getting to play a role like this and having the honor and the challenge of undertaking Amy’s dialogue, it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever had. As an actor you hope that you have good material to work with, but I have great material to work with. Most of the time right now is really trying to honor what has been written and honor the page, and I feel so lucky because we have great writers who take such good care of us and our characters. And a lot of the work’s already done for me, because it’s on the page, so it’s just exciting. I just try to prepare as much as I can and be open and willing to give my best and work hard.
Moderator Amy, I just wanted to know, will we be seeing, I can’t remember his name, the actor who plays the dead husband, at all in these episodes coming up?
A. Palladino You will. Alan Ruck has said to me, “… you’re going to have to let me go now. I don’t know how many other ways you can bring me back.” And I’ve said to him, do not underestimate me, young man, because I will figure it out, because he shows up and the whole world is a little cheerier. He’s just so great.
And I want to say one thing about Sutton Foster’s preparation, she’s making it seem like all she does is get handed a great script. This broad, she works 16 hour days, and then she comes in for dance classes ahead of time. She takes classes on the side. I mean, I’ve never met in my life anyone more dedicated or a harder worker than her. I don’t know where she gets it from. But the commitment and the intensity that she puts into this, you can’t write scripts for people who won’t dig deep and make it better, and she ups the ante every single week, and I don’t know, she’s an other-worldly creature. She’s like from The Hobbit. I don’t know where she’s from. She’s not of this earth. There’s literally nobody more dedicated or that works harder on every aspect than this broad. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.
Moderator Amy- You’ve created some wonderful television shows like Gilmore Girls and now of course Bunheads, where do you get your inspiration to make shows with such great plots and interesting characters?
A. Palladino Well, I don’t know, just a lack of therapy, perhaps, no time to work it out on a couch with a man and an iPad. I love family interaction, and in a weird way Gilmore, obviously was family, but this show is a new kind of family, I’ll keep saying that, because it’s my favorite tagline ever, but it is about people who, you know, somebody once told me, “You just created your own family.” I don’t care what, if your family isn’t exactly what you need it to be, then go out and create it, find it. And that’s what this show is about. It’s about creating your own family, finding your own support system.
And I just enjoy that because you never run out of stories, because you’re never not mad at your family, it never ends, I mean, even if you have a nice family, it’s all over. So it’s a little bit of that. And this is a little bit based on my experiences. I was supposed to be a dancer, so I spent a lot of time in ballet class, and the interactions between girls in an intense environment like that, it’s always been a very interesting world to me, and that ballet dressing room, that’s where a lot of stuff goes down, so I’ve got an opportunity to be able to explore a world that I love. I love dance. I just love it. I love watching it. I love watching other people do it.
And when I was handed the delicious Sutton Foster, when you’ve got somebody who can do anything in the world, it opens up an avenue of anything you ever wanted to do, suddenly you can do it, you can drive down the street and you see an AT&T store, and somebody screaming outside of an AT&T store, and you’re like, wow, that would be funny. I would enjoy watching Sutton scream at someone – I just passed an AT&T store, by the way, so there you go, there’s my inspiration. It really just comes from that, it comes from real life experience, it comes from the people around you, and it comes from working with the best.
Moderator Speaking of working with the best, you’ve worked with some great actors in Gilmore Girls and you have a tendency to put actors from previously successful shows into new shows like Bunheads. Are you trying to maybe recreate the magic that made Gilmore Girls successful with Bunheads?
A. Palladino Yes, exactly. Do you know what it is, my particular style of writing, love it or hate it, it is very specific and when I find a particular person who can knock it out of the ballpark, it’s like Orson Welles and his group of mad actors that he would use in everything – not that I’m Orson Welles, although I wouldn’t mind being Orson Welles someday – but the idea that you’re lucky enough in your career to collect people who are particularly good at the stuff that you like to write, and when you find them you want to write for them.
I find myself longing to write for Liza Weil, or longing to write for Sean Gunn, or longing to write for Todd Lowe, or Rose Abdoo, and when you have a jones to write for certain people because they’re so good, I understand the whole concept of you’re trying to build a whole new reality, but the reality of show business is when you find people that are great, you’ve got to work with them and you’ve got to latch on to them, because there’s not billions of people out there who are special. And if you find a merry band of madmen who will come and make things wonderful, I will write for those people forever.
Moderator Amy, following up on what we were just talking about, were you at all concerned about the comparisons between Bunheads and Gilmore Girls, especially in casting Kelly Bishop?
A. Palladino Well, it comes into your head, and the thing about Kelly Bishop is when I was casting that role I did not go to Kelly. I did not go to Kelly mostly because Kelly lived in Jersey and her life is in Jersey, and I knew the show had to shoot out here, and that’s not something Kelly was keen to do, and also, yes, because of the comparisons. And then I found myself in the auditions, after these lovely women would read and work and leave, I would turn to the casting director and I would say, yes, but they’re not Kelly Bishop. And after three weeks of saying “They’re not Kelly Bishop,” I had to just go get Kelly Bishop, because it was like, what the hell was I doing? There’s nobody who could have done this part but Kelly Bishop. It was Kelly Bishop. I wrote it for Kelly Bishop. And I got crazy, I’m hoping some other Kelly Bishop’s going to walk in the door, and so there was a lot of conning and negotiating and finagling to try and make it work with her lifestyle.
But at some point to me the work is the work, and yes, sure, some people can take swipes at me for Gilmore, or comparisons or whatever, but it’s not Gilmore, it’s different relationships, they’re playing different characters, Sutton Foster is not Lorelai at all, and I just feel like, again, you’ve got to get the best person. You can’t shy from what someone says about you, because I’m free game, when I put things on the air, I get “This is what we get, the Gilmore Girls, really? Thanks a lot, lady.” You can’t make your creative decisions based on, boy, somebody may not like it, or somebody thinks I’m going to try and recreate something that I’ve already done. If you’ve got the vision. That’s what I’m trying to do.
Moderator In the pilot we saw a lot about the ocean, there was a lot about the window looking out over the ocean, and it seems like as the season went on the ocean kind of disappeared. Are we going to see that again, how close they are to the beach?
A. Palladino Well, here’s the funny stuff, oceans, they cost money to go there, and the thing about ABC Family, as delightful as they are as people and supportive as they are of the show, they don’t have unlimited money to go anyplace. So moving away from the ocean was not necessarily a creative gesture, it was more – this is a show that is unlike shows that have big budgets, and a lot of figuring out how to handle the finances of the dance, which is quite a lot because of rehearsal, music, of bodies, of choreography, and so when you’re allocating your money I can either put a great dance in there or I can drive us out to the ocean, and the ocean tends to lose.
I hope to go back there, because what the ocean represented to Michelle in the pilot was a sense of openness, a sense of freedom, a sense of not being trapped in a crap apartment off the Strip in a depressing sort of environment. So we’ve tried to keep that alive with her wonderful Topanga Canyon-y feeling house that still has lots of windows, lots of air, lots of space. We try to keep the elements that drew her here alive, and we try to do it on our budget. And hopefully we will get to do more there, but story trumps locations many, many times, the nuts and bolts of actual production money.
Moderator Amy, what was your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of that first batch of episodes, and how did you incorporate that evaluation into these new episodes?
A. Palladino Well, one thing we learned from the first episodes is there’s been a lot of money talk. I’ve gotten a lot more knowledgeable about money. I’ve never talked so much about money in my entire life, it’s a very weird process for me, and how to be smart and get all the production value on screen. But I would say what you really learn, one of the biggest things was Sutton Foster can do anything which is a weapon I’ve got in my arsenal, because it just means I’m going to throw more stuff at her. But the other thing is the way we could incorporate guests organically into the show, because one thing I was very nervous about is that we were going to get a lot of requests to just throw a dance number in there and I didn’t want it to be a performing show in terms of it wasn’t about that.
One thing that we really learned was that dance was very, very, very integral to this show. Shows that we did that did not visit the venue or did not have the flavor of dance in it, we always wound up going back and putting a dance in it, because it was just something that made it special and specific to our world.
The other thing is we had to adjust to, on a practical level, our page count was too low because we were coming in very, very, very short and I was trying to keep the page count low because we had a day less to shoot than we had on Gilmore, but the pace of the show goes so fast that that became a big problem for us. So now we’ve got the page count correct.
And I think we also, the first ten, the learning curve for us was what can these four young girls do? They were all kind of new. They were all kind of green. Who can talk? Who can turn a joke? Who is great with long speeches? Who is not great with long speeches? It was a lot of that. And who was going to be able to, was anybody going to fall out, or were all these girls going to get stronger?
That’s the scariest thing going into a new show is you go in with the big storylines and then a character that you had planned on doing something either can’t do it, or it’s not in their wheelhouse and then suddenly the best laid plans are all gone. We got very, very lucky because these girls all just really rose to the challenge and it made it more important for us to work with their families, with their parents, get them involved in romances. They weren’t going to be peripheral characters anymore. They needed to really be whole, dimensional, flesh-and-blood, as much as Michelle and as much as the dance.
Moderator In terms of the show title, was that something that you came up with, was that a title you pushed? It seems like the show had some trouble getting traction with viewers, and I wonder if people were confused by the title.
A. Palladino Well, bunheads is a term that I grew up with, because they call you a bunhead when you’re in ballet class, at least they did when I was in ballet class, because you wear a bun. So the title for me was just that. It’s within that world, and it was a title that means something. And I base most of my life decisions on what is ridiculous and insane. And as far as people now – yes, I guess that maybe some people didn’t quite get it or understand it, and part of the reason when we did an opening sequence we shots buns on heads, so the people were like, “Oh, there are buns on heads. I get it.”
And I think also, though, the learning curve for this show is just it doesn’t really fit into a particular category. It’s not truly a teen show. It’s not truly about a 35-year-old woman. It’s not truly about a 65-year-old woman. It’s an amalgam of women basically and coming of age at many stages of your life. So I think that it’s also been a challenge for us and for ABC Family and everyone to figure out how to make people understand that there’s actually a little something for everybody in here. It’s a delightful grab bag of craziness.
Moderator Sutton, it was interesting when Amy was talking about Kelly being an east coaster and having to move out to the west, because I think you lived in New York, hadn’t you, for years and years before you came for the show. Tell us the whole thing of how that went down, because as I was looking at it, it looks like you were on Broadway right up until about three months before Bunheads started on TV. So how did that whole transition go for you?
S. Foster I was doing a revival of Anything Goes on Broadway when all of this came up. I actually took a few weeks off from the show to shoot the pilot and then left the show to come start shooting the series, and I honestlywasn’t really looking to do a television show. I had been living in New York for 15 years and I had never really actively pursued a TV career at all, I was pretty much set on doing theater, but I always told myself that if the right project came along that I would go for it. And one of my favorite shows was Gilmore, I mean of all time, and Amy’s one of my favorite writers, and we took a meeting and I basically fan-girled all over her, and then a couple of weeks later they called and were talking to me about this pilot.
And it was just the right time and the right script, and the transition’s actually been really great. I was living in New York for about 15 years and I came out here to film the series, and actually really love it out here. It’s been a really nice change for me. It’s been a great experience.
Moderator So what was that like, the Flight of the Conchords experience?
S. Foster Flight of the Conchords was awesome. It was my very first TV experience, and they were so great. And neither one of the guys had seen a Broadway show, but what I loved about it is that I got cast just for me and not because, I don’t know, because I had a name or whatever. They were like, oh, we want that girl. And so it was great to be able to say, oh yes, my night job is Broadway. And neither one of them had seen a Broadway show and I was doing The Drowsy Chaperone at the time in New York, and so I got them both tickets to come see a show. And they both came and they were like, what? They didn’t understand. But it was awesome. My whole experience was so awesome. I’m such a huge fan of theirs and that was a great first experience for me for the TV world.
Moderator So much of the first season was about the character of Michelle struggling to adjust to life in Paradise, but when she returns are we going to see more of the same sort of fish out of water issues, or is she going to get more settled in?
A. Palladino I don’t think Michelle necessarily is a fish out of water. I felt more like it’s a person struggling with what is the next aspect of my life, more than, hey, these people are all weird. Michelle’s struggle and a lot of people’s life struggles, which sometimes they’re never quite resolved, is what do I do when all of the plans that I’ve made and all of the things I thought were going to happen I suddenly realize, oh, that’s actually not going to happen. I need a new plan. And that to me that’s what Michelle’s journey was in the first ten, and frankly, it may be her journey for the rest of her life to figure out, I was supposed to be a dancer and those years are slipping away and now where am I, what am I, can I fall in love, can I have a relationship, will I ever be married, will I stay here forever, will I leave in a month? Again, I go back to Michelle’s a girl with a lot of armor, and it takes a lot to cross through that armor sometimes. So I actually think a lot of the journey is her trying to focus not so much on wow, I’m in this new environment, but I need a road map. I need a life road map. That’s the way I view it.
Moderator The first batch of episodes ended with her leaving Fanny and the girls, so how did Michelle’s departure affect all the people she left behind?
A. Palladino I think Michelle’s biggest surprise is the hole that her departure actually left for people, because I think Michelle’s a girl who thinks: I don’t get attached, I don’t latch on, I don’t fall in love, I never have, out of sight, out of mind, and it’s a new experience with someone like her that she would come back and realize she’s been missed, she’s been needed, she’s left a hole in lives of young girls who aren’t her girls. It’s like, you’re not my kids, why do they care whether I’m here or not. I’m not their mom. But you know what, any influence on young girls comes from many, many areas and sometimes it’s not their mom. Sometimes it is that teacher. Sometimes it is that babysitter or that person, or the unusual, from left field advice that you get from a crazy librarian who hands you a book that changes your life. You can’t anticipate what sort of thing is going to impact, and I think Michelle, who probably doesn’t really think much of herself in the grand scheme of things, is very surprised that she means a lot to people.
Moderator As you said, you lived in New York for so many years, what was your favorite part about getting to live there?
S. Foster I grew up in small towns, I lived in Georgia, I lived in Michigan, and New York is the greatest city in the world and it’s also the hub of everything that I wanted. I wanted to be in theater. I wanted to perform on stage. And that was where it all happened. I love the idea that things are open until 4 a.m. and you can walk everywhere and there’s this sense of life. The minute you walk out your apartment building it’s like there’s this energy that you can’t describe. It can be a negative, but most of the time it’s such a positive because you just feel like, oh my God, and you go into this incredibly alive world and city. But it’s an amazing city. It’s interesting being out in California because it’s so different and it’s such a different lifestyle. Hopefully my life will be full of both.
Moderator Amy, what exactly is a bunhead to you?
A. Palladino What is a bunhead? It’s a little girl, or it doesn’t have to be so little, it can be tall, I don’t care, I’m not against height, it’s someone who’s really immersed themselves in the world of ballet. And they’re really a bunhead, whether or not they even become a ballet dancer. It’s just a very interesting world to be a part of, especially when you’re growing up and learning how to be a person, and how to deal with pressure, and competition, and your body, and goals, and friends, and enemies, and rivals, and dedication, and lack of dedication, and that to me is a bunhead. There you go.
Moderator Sutton, the recent additions to the cast, Jeanine Mason from Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance, as well as Niko Pepaj, great dancers, great performers, but what’s it like working with two other relatively new actors and actresses in the show? Do you or Amy, are you able to pass on a little bit of some of your knowledge from your experience in the business?
S. Foster Well, I have to say that I am a huge So You Think You Can Dance fan, and Amy told me that they were casting a new dancer and her name was Jeanine, and I was like, “Is it Jeanine Mason?” And she was like, “Yes.” And I was like, “Oh my God, she’s my favorite dancer from So You Think You Can Dance.” And she’s the most lovely, the most wonderful woman, and she’s the most exquisite dancer, and it’s just been awesome to have her on set. I don’t know, I don’t ever think of myself as having lots of wisdom to pass on to people, but Jeanine has just been a joy to work with, as well as Niko, Niko’s been really great, great additions to the company and yes, it’s just awesome to be able to watch her dance and to work with.
Moderator Amy, what kind of words have you been able to impart in order to help your young cast?
A. Palladino I’m very Spencer Tracy in my, “Say the words and don’t bump into the furniture.” But the thing that this show imparts organically to young actors is a sense of you’ve got to be on your” A Game” 24 hours a day. You’ve got to come prepared. You have to know your dialogue. There is no room for, “Oh, I’m late today. I don’t really know my script.” There’s just no room for that here. It’s a very disciplined environment because of the amount of work we have to do and the short amount of time we have to do it.
What I do think that Sutton Foster does not realize that she imparts organically to anybody who comes on the show is an incredible sense of work ethics, of discipline, of respect to other actors. I want this show to take these four actors and send them out in the community with an unbelievable respect for the process. Our actors, they are there for off camera dialogue for other actors. That is a gracious thing. That is gracious acting. There is no understanding in their reading off a script, which is sometimes a very common practice and something that I find ridiculous, because actors need to act off of other actors. Actors need to be on time. They need to know their stuff. They need to really be on top of their game so that they don’t ruin something for somebody else, as well as stunt their own growth. And what I believe I see on this show is kids rising to all sorts of levels of preparedness, working hard, good attitudes, not complaining when the hours are long or when we do a lot of takes, or just sort of that youthful enthusiasm of this is exciting and it’s fun, and what a great job I have.
And that’s something you learn from the top. When your star walks in with that sort of attitude, you can’t help but rise to that challenge. And whether or not Sutton takes them aside and says, “Listen, kid, this is how you do it,” it’s teaching by example, and it’s an unbelievable gift that she’s giving these kids because these girls are going to go out into the world and they’re going to go out and do other jobs and other directors and other producers are going to be like, holy cow these aren’t real prima donnas. These are girls who are coming to work. They’re coming to play. They’re bringing “A Game”. I think that’s going to last them a really, really long time.
Moderator Hi, again, ladies. My question goes to Sutton. We know that you’ve won two Tony Awards for your roles on Broadway, what is it like for you to be recognized as a Tony Award winning actress, what does that mean for you?
S. Foster My goodness, I grew up, as a kid I would practice my Tony speech in front of my mirror with my hair brush and you would dream of what that would be or how that would feel like. And it’s interesting, because I have two Tonys in my house and they’re sitting on my shelf, and sometimes I look at them and say, oh my God, that happened. I still feel like that 15-year-old kid in front of the mirror, and so much of my life is really about moving forward and trying to keep expanding creatively, and so it is an honor to be known as a two-time Tony Award winner. Sometimes people say that, and I’m like, what? It doesn’t quite permeate. I think my perception of myself is different from what other people think. I just see myself as someone trying to do the best work she can do and be a good person and move forward in life, so I don’t walk around with my Tonys as earrings, but it is an absolute honor of course.
A. Palladino They would make great earrings.
Moderator So you don’t measure your success by the awards that you win? Do you have another standard that you use to measure your own success?
S. Foster Actually, yes, because awards, there’s a lot that goes into awards. If you measure your success on awards, or popularity, or celebrity, those can be incredibly superficial goals, I think. But if you measure yourself on whether or not you are respected by others, or whether or not people want to work with you, or whether or not you have a full, illustrious, long career, those are the types of goals that I’m here for. I’m in it for the long haul. I don’t want to retire. I want to work forever. And I want to challenge myself as an artist, I want to keep growing, yes, I guess I don’t measure my success on anything other than just hoping I never stop.
Moderator Sutton, you had a lot of interesting co-stars in the beginning of the season, tell me about your most difficult one, what was it like acting with a possum?
S. Foster Well, the first thing they told me about the possum is they said, “He bites,” and I was like, oh, wonderful. And I had to have my feet under him, and they were like, “When he gets nervous he’ll bite the blanket.” So I’m like fantastic, wonderful, and so they had all these blankets to protect my feet. And sure thing, as soon as I put my feet in, he started biting the blankets. It was hilarious.
He had two handlers, so I was on the bed and then there were two people on either side of him, so if he lunged and attacked my face or something I think they would have grabbed him. But he was a very nice possum. I’d never been that close to a possum before. But that was definitely one of those moments that you write in the record book for posterity, but that was great. I think my favorite co-star of all is Kelly Bishop … .
Moderator Oh, why’s that?
S. Foster Because she’s, I don’t know it’s hard to explain. It’s easy when we’re together, it’s easy to work. We have a really wonderful rapport off screen and on screen. It’s like one of those things you don’t want to talk about too much because you don’t want to break the spell. But then also you want to bottle it up forever because you want to be able to have that type of rapport with everyone that you work with. But she’s just a joy to work with, I just think the world of her, and we have a really great time together on screen.
Moderator Sutton, just a little bit more about when you talked about New York City being the center of everything that you wanted and so forth. Tell us two phases, first, when you first got there what did it feel like then, were there any misgivings, were there any bad points when you first got to New York? And then second of all, just reflect on that phase where you did Thoroughly Modern Millie and all of a sudden everybody was talking about you and you were the center of New York all of a sudden, what does that feel like for a kid when that happens? But first tell me when you first got there.
S. Foster I was always the kid who would leap into the pool but didn’t know how to swim or have a floatie, so I would gleefully jump and then drown. That’s sort of my motto in life. And so when I first moved to New York I was like, “Whee, I’m going to take over the city,” and I was in line at every open call I could go to, I made an idiot out of myself in hundreds of auditions, but I was very ballsy and very brave and every time I fell down I would brush off all the bruises and get back up and try again, but I was a totally gypsy. I literally would get up at 5 a.m. and stand in line at open calls in the freezing cold and go to cast calls and I climbed the ladder, and I did tons of ensemble work, and my motto really starting out was take every opportunity except for porn, to say yes to everything and it didn’t matter what the script, I just wanted to learn. I just felt like I needed to learn. And I just wanted to work with people and watch, but I was an ensemble girl, an understudy.
And then when Millie happened I was 26-years-old and my entire career changed. Again, I think my naiveté and my greenness served me well, because I really didn’t know what was going on, other than “Oh, now I’m the star of a big show.” I didn’t realize there was $10 million riding on it and that everyone was going to look at me and write about me, and I think my greenness really served me well, because I was just plowing forward.
But yes, my whole world changed, and it was hard. I have to say, some of my hardest days were doing that show, because all of a sudden people are writing about you and they’re writing good things and they’re writing bad things and they’re scrutinizing you, and I was like, I should be on top of the world and suddenly I feel like I’ve let people down, or I’m less than. It was really, really hard and I had to readjust my whole thought process about reading reviews and listening to what was written, and I kind of stopped all of that because it was taking away my experience and taking away my joy. You know, you dream your whole life to star in a Broadway show, and then you’re like, oh my God, I’m so depressed and you cry. So it was definitely a big life lesson.
Moderator Sutton, we know that you have a love of music and you have recorded an album. Can you tell us just a little bit about that side of your career?
S. Foster Yes, I’ve actually done two albums. One is a live album from the Café Carlyle, and the other’s a studio recording. My music director and collaborator from Thoroughly Modern Millie, Michael Rafter and I have been working on collaborating music for ten years now and it’s just an awesome passion of mine. I always dreamed of having an album, a solo album of my own artistic expression, and we’re actually working on a new album right now and we’re scouring and looking at hundreds of songs and really trying to pick the right repertoire of what we want to express right now. It’s just a great way to have some sense of your own creative control in a business where you feel like you don’t often have creative control, so it’s wonderful to be able to produce something that is a direct expression of myself. So, yes, we’re hoping to record a new album in the spring.
Moderator Have you been able to use your musical talents on Bunheads, or would want to?
S. Foster A little bit so far, yes, and hopefully some more in the future. The show and Amy, it’s already afforded me to be able to sing, I think I’ve sung three times on the show, and hopefully I’ll do some more in the future.
Winter Premiere of Bunheads begins on January 7, 9/8c
Images courtesy of ABC Family
“Pretty Little Liars” continues to be one of ABC Family’s top-rated series! The American teen mystery thriller that is based on a series of novels by Sara Shepard continues to captivate audiences since its premiere back in June 2010.
With a fourth season being planned and the second half of the third season set to air on Tuesday, January 8th (8/7 p.m. central time), ABC Family recently held a press Q&A conference call with “Pretty Little Liars” executive producer and writer, Marlene King.
In this Q&A, Marlene discusses what plans they have for the second half of the third season of “Pretty Liars”, upcoming guest appearances but also a little insight of what will be happening to several characters.
Here is the complete transcript from the press Q&A conference call with Marlene King.
Moderator How have you been so successful leveraging social media to support PLL? How much of that do you attribute to your online presence, which is very strong; and how much to the structure or the content or in other words, just the nature of the show that you created?
M. King I think it’s probably equal to both. I think the fact that the Pretty Little Liars started tweeting and social media’ing about the show when we were even at pilot phase sort of started this real grass roots, I would say, almost family, this social media family where from pilot stage our fans felt like they were a part of this Pretty Little Liars family.
Moderator What would you say would be your advice to other show writers who want to get more out of the Internet?
M. King Just to utilize it and have fun with it. We don’t tweet or Facebook unless we’re having a good time with it so it’s really organic to our process. I would say have fun with it and tweet and Facebook and don’t be afraid to reach out to your fans.
Moderator Which couple will be the most drama-free in the second half of the season.
M. King The most drama-free I’d say no couples are drama-free in the second half of the season.
Moderator Which has the least drama?
M. King Which has the least drama? I think it’s equal drama for everyone. No one escapes the drama in Season 3B.
Moderator What you can say about Emily and Paige this season because it seems like it’s Emily’s first sort of stable relationship? What kind of drama will she be seeing with Paige and will they ever catch a break?
M. King I think they have some great sort of very grounded drama just sort of what it’s like to be a couple and learning to trust and really sort of because their relationship in some part based on original missteps. They just have sort of real drama and issues to overcome that are just natural to sort of any kind of new relationship like that.
Moderator Speaking of relationships I’d love to hear a little bit about what we’re going to see between Mona and Jason this season.
M. King Mona and Jason I think that we will—well, the fun of this premier, which is entitled “She’s Better Now” and we will see Mona outside of Radley. She will need some guardianship back in sort of the Rosewood world, and we might find that Jason takes her under his wing a little bit.
Moderator As a follow up with the Paige and Emily storyline, so many people were huge fans of Emily and Maya together, and I think a little bit of the fan base is still trying to get over Maya’s death. How much feedback or how much intake do you take from fans that were huge Maya fans?
M. King Well, we really respect all the fans, and I understand how tragic that loss was to a big group of our fan base, but what I found is that a lot of those people have really embraced now the Emily/Paige storyline. Paige has earned their trust and I’m really proud of that part of our show.
Moderator Since we were just talking about Maya there have been a number of deaths on Pretty Little Liars at this point. Who for you and the writers was the hardest person to kill off?
M. King Maya was; it was just tragic for us, and so I think that was definitely a very difficult decision to make and really hard to film those scenes too. When the character of Emily realizes that Maya is dead that was just—it was such a powerful evening on set for Shay Mitchell and for Leslie Glatter who was directing that episode (who did the pilot) and for myself. We were all just in tears that day so that was tough.
Moderator And I know you probably won’t answer this definitively but is there a risk of more death coming up this season?
M. King Well, maybe.
Moderator Lucas has always been a bit more of a complex character to me so I was wondering if his puzzle may come together at all in Season 3B.
M. King We find out some interesting things about Lucas in 3B, and we finally get to see his bedroom so that’s kind of fun.
Moderator Caleb wasn’t in the book series yet to me he fits flawlessly in the show. Was it hard to achieve that?
M. King You know every once in a while an actor will just bring something to a role that we really embrace, and we find that character then becomes so organic to what we’re doing. It’s sort of was like the character of Toby too. We didn’t originally set out for him to be so involved in the show but we just loved the work, and we loved watching him so much that he became so much more integral. The same thing has happened with Tyler; what Tyler brings to the role of Caleb. We just had a lot of fun watching this character grow with us, and it’s really easy to write to that.
Moderator Well, we’ve talked a little bit about social media and how so many people just love the show, and the girls do such great appearances with Ustream and events. A lot of them have talked about possibly doing like a convention for fans. Is that something that you might have envisioned or think about maybe participating in?
M. King We would love to participate in stuff like that. We’re always working so much that it’s difficult, and I’ve seen online there is some—it’s not some official thing that we’re doing but there’s definitely a PLL convention in France this year. I’m not sure who is going from our show but yeah it feels like the fans love to come together. They come together online so any chance that we can get the fans together in the flesh would be such a great time for everyone and so much fun.
Moderator Are there any plans in the works maybe to do a book with just decoding the answers or possibly integrating that in to the show as well?
M. King There is a book out there which I just stumbled upon. It’s a book store that talks about Seasons 1 and 2 but it doesn’t really decode the answers. It just kind of breaks down every episode, but I would love to do that. I think when the series comes to an end is when we would eventually do that because we still have stones that we’ve yet to uncover and mystery beads that we planted have not paid off yet. Our show is so mystery intensive that we could easily go back to something that we saw in Season 1 and make it relevant again in Seasons 4 and 5. No, no secret keys to the mysteries until we’re all done I think.
Moderator How will the fact that now Ezra has a child be present in his relationship with Aria this season?
M. King I love the Ezra story in Season 3B coming up. It’s really heartfelt and emotional, and we get to see a side of Ezra that we haven’t seen before, and also I think a side of Aria. I think we really get to watch them go through some real life drama and real life emotion, and they really sort of dig deep in regards to how soulful their connections is.
Moderator Are you going to see Spencer change a bit once she finds out about Toby?
M. King Yes. In fact, I directed my first episode this coming season and it’s the third episode, and there’s a lot of just deep, deep emotion that begins with that episode, and then it just carries all throughout the rest of the season. It’s just so powerful and so gut wrenching and Troian Bellisario did such an amazing job for us this year. We’re really excited to share her storyline with the fans.
Moderator Speaking of keeping secrets, how much is Aria’s father going to be part of what’s coming up?
M. King Oh there’s some real—you know in the Halloween episode, which is the last upset our fans got to see, the character of Garrett reveals on the night that Allison died that he saw Allison arguing with Aria’s dad Byron, and we definitely don’t drop the ball on that. We come back and explore whether or not he was telling the truth and what it means for Aria and what it means for the Pretty Little Liars.
Moderator Speaking of Garrett – obviously he’s dead so we won’t be seeing him alive again but we will be possibly seeing Garrett again in flashbacks this season?
M. King We don’t see him again in 3B but that does not mean we won’t see him at some point in time in the show.
Moderator Ezra’s brother Wesley has been very popular among the fans, at least on our site. I know he’s coming back. Can you give us a little like tease about what he’s going to be doing this season?
M. King He has the same parents that Ezra has and there’s a lot of drama in that family, and he brings some of that drama to Rosewood with him. I think that we definitely get to learn more about the Fitzgerald family dynamic, and he’s a lot of fun. He’s a great young actor, and we’re really happy to have him in Rosewood.
Moderator With the mystery elements of the show, how much of that was planned beforehand and how much is that sort of organically developed as you see how certain characters or actors are gelling in their roles?
M. King A great deal of the mystery is planned beforehand. We found that if we don’t know sort of what the end of the mystery story is we don’t do as good a job with the beginning and the middle part. We really try to know where we’re going in addition to like the big overall mystery of the show, who are they and who killed Allison, which are the two mysteries we all—when we have these little sort of mini arcs of mysteries we always know the beginning and the middle and the end before we start. But every once and a while a character will surprise us by bringing something special to that storyline, and we may stretch it out or weave a little bit. Yeah and I think it’s mostly well thought out but every once in a while we have a fantastic surprise of an actor bringing something special to the story, and we’ll integrate that in to the plan.
Moderator How popular was the Spencer/Toby relationship? Did you have any second thoughts before revealing that Toby was actually a part of the ‘A’ team?
M. King I wouldn’t say second thoughts but I did have concern about how the fans would react to it, and actually I think the reaction was much more positive than I thought it was going to be. I was afraid there was going to be some backlash of people being devastated, and some people are. But I think the majority of our fans were so thrilled to be completely surprised by that reveal that they allowed us to turn that character dark and get away with it.
Moderator Are we going to find out a little bit more about Toby’s motivations in this upcoming season?
M. King Yes we will. We left you with a big reveal there when we found out that Toby was the guy in the black hoodie talking to Mona. We will definitely pick up that story where we left it in the last finale, and I think our fans are really going to have fun with it.
Moderator Could you give us a hint of any of the guest stars that will be coming up in the next season?
M. King We have the wonderful Betty Buckley coming back playing Hannah’s grandmother. We are also really thrilled to have—I believe she’s five time gold medalist—Missy Franklin; the swimmer from the London Olympics will be making an appearance
Moderator If you could have any guest stars to make an appearance who would some of your top guest stars be?
M. King I think we would love to have some just like fun mystery people on the show. We’ve always thought it would be really fun to have Steven King arrive in Rosewood, and I think that it would definitely be sort of more dark and mysterious people like that.
Moderator What made you want to make an ‘A’ team rather than just one person because I’ve always wondered about that?
M. King Well, it just felt like as ‘A’ became more devious and was accomplishing these huge sort of feats that there’s no way just one person could be achieving everything we needed to achieve in terms of how menacing ‘A’ was to the Pretty Little Liars.
Moderator Did Toby ever really have a part of him that cared for Spencer or even his friendship with Emily for that matter?
M. King Well, I really want to let the fans discover the answer to that question themselves, which you will learn the truth of that in Season 3B.
Moderator I’m going to ask the gay question because so much is about Emily on this show, which is fantastic. Where are the gay guys in Rosewood?
M. King Where are the gay guys in Rosewood? It’s a good question. We actually have been talking about revealing that a character we’ve already established on the show might be questioning his sexuality so it’s possible that you’ll be seeing that.
Moderator In interviewing the actors of the show I’ve noticed that they like to mention that there’s this incredible attention to detail in the script and possible future plot elements. You don’t know that they’re significant at the time. What’s your process like for planning something like that out, and when you started out (you created the show) how far in the future did you have that mapped out?
M. King I certainly didn’t have the future mapped out for B but we did know what the end game of the series was going to be. What the ultimate reveal will be in the final episode so it’s been really fun just being on this path and this journey to get to that place.
I will give a big shout out to our props department. Chris, who is our prop master does such an amazing job with detail in the show. There are so many props in the show that end up being everything from an ink pen that says, “Doherty’s Landing” and that’s how the girls find out Ali’s clue. Like those things I try to keep as many of those props as I can. My office started to look like a Pretty Little Liars museum, but there is so much detail in the show and we have so much fun. The table reads, too like even lines of dialog whenever there’s something—there might be something that, for example there’s something Spencer says in the pilot, and then she says again in the Season 3B finale, and they raise their hand and they scream, “Call back!” They know. They remember all those details too.
Moderator Since Pretty Little Liars is kind of a juggernaut could you describe any sort of series or projects that you have in the works now for the future?
M. King I’ve been developing a show with ABC Family based on a movie that I wrote called Now and Then, and so we’re really excited down the line to get in to that too.
Moderator We’ve talked a little bit about Toby, and we’ve pretty much seen family for the majority of the cast for the show and characters, and I wanted to find out if there is a plan to see some of Toby and Jenna’s family?
M. King Yeah. We don’t see Toby’s family in Season 3B but in our very first Halloween episode we learned that Toby’s mother, not his stepmother, but his mother passed away when he was a younger boy. We’re going to learn more about his mother in this upcoming season. It’s really exciting to sort of start that storyline.
Moderator When you have family and friends watching the show how do you feel watching them kind of connect the dots with like specific items or different hidden clues like bobble heads and the boots and things like that? Do you take a little bit of pleasure in kind of twisting the knife for them as well?
M. King Oh yeah. I do. I have so many friends who are just dying to know who ‘A’ is and my family as well. My mom watches every episode, and I love to get her feedback, and my children who are a little young to be watching the show (ten and eight) watch every episode too, and they give me the most honest feedback of anyone I know. It’s a lot of fun, and they’ve known some plot twists ahead of our fans and they make friends very quickly with their high school peers who they meet at camp and things like that.
Moderator About Pretty Dirty Secrets, how is that coupling in with the show coming back as well?
M. King Definitely. There’s a character we meet in Pretty Dirty Secrets that plays a significant part of 3B. I’ll wait and let you discover who that is once we come back, and there are clues and definitely plot points that we’re seeing in Pretty Dirty Secrets that pay off in Season 3B. If you haven’t seen it yet you should make sure to watch it before the show starts. It is still available on ABCFamily.com.
Yeah people should really tune in if they haven’t like seen all those episodes yet. You don’t have to watch it before we premier but it’s really fun to get that extra sort of bonus flavor before the show premiers.
Moderator Everybody loves these juicy love triangles so do you think that we might see a love triangle between Aria, and Ezra and his brother, Wesley?
M. King Well, I think that you definitely should watch and decide for yourself if Aria and Wesley have a connection. I think it’s going to be fun for our fans let that unfold as Season 3 progresses.
Moderator Could you share a little tidbit from Mortal Instrument?
M. King I did some work on that script and it looks amazing. I’m excited about that cast, and I can’t wait to see the movie along with the fans.
Images are courtesy of ABC Family
The Winter Premiere of Pretty Little Liars, airs on Tuesday, January 8 at 8/7c!
Visit the Pretty Little Liars Official Website
We have one last special feature before the new year! This one is our J!-ENT SPECIAL FEATURE ON PACIFIC MEDIA EXPO 2012.
We have been covering Pacific Media Expo (PMX), the Asian pop culture event in Los Angeles since its first event held back in 2003. And over the years, we have seen the event mature, evolve and while known for its concerts, now the convention is also being recognized for its fashion show.
Pacific Media Expo 2012 was held in November at the LAX Hilton in Los Angeles and J!-ENT photographer Nergene Arquelada was there to cover the event. As we have covered the musical aspect and the guests of PMX each year, we wanted to showcase different aspects of the event.
In 2011, we showcased the cosplay at PMX. For 2012, this time we are going to feature the concerts (photography of performances by MOON STREAM, PSYCHO BANDO and Stephanie Yanez) but primarily focus on the fashion show for DAY 1 and DAY 3.
We hope you enjoy this special feature! Have an awesome 2013!
Pacific Media Expo 2012 Special Feature! (PDF/15MB)
Pacific Media Expo 2012 concluded on Sunday at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton. The final day of the annual Asian pop culture convention still had a wide range of programming for attendees to enjoy.
For the past several years, this convention has hosted a Filipino martial arts tournament on it’s final day. This year included a Brazilian jiu jitsu tournament for the first time.
Gourmet food trucks once again were included as part of this convention. On Sunday, attendees could get a bite to eat from Truck Norris, a gourmet food truck specializing in Hawaiian and Filipino food.
Guest of honor and industry guest panels continued throughout the morning and early afternoon. Sunday’s programming included panels by anime guest of honor, Momoru Yokota. Panels by industry guests included a panel with some cast members of Power Rangers Samurai and another panel featured some of the US voice actors from the series Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Actor Dante Basco turned out to be the most popular guest at this year’s convention. His panel was the only guest panel to be hosted in the convention’s main events hall and it was completely full.
The Pacific Media Expo fashion show is traditionally on the final day of the convention. This year’s fashion show featured designs from several brands including dolldelight, h.NAOTO, and Baby the Stars Shine Bright. Tomo and Satsuki, music guests of honor from the band Moon Stream, also participated in the show by modelling designs from the Alice and the Pirates line.
The convention ended with closing ceremonies with guests of honor Masumi Kanoh, Mamoru Yokota, and Moon Stream in attendance. The daruma was completed with Mamoru Yokota filling in the left eye, signifying a successful convention for 2012.
Pacific Media Expo returns to the Los Angeles Airport Hilton for next year’s convention, which will run November 8-10.
Pacific Media Expo 2012 is now underway at the LAX Hilton in Los Angeles. This is the ninth year for this annual Asian pop-culture convention. This convention has a very diverse array of programming including music, Asian film and Korean drama screenings, a large martial arts tournament, Japanese fashion, video games and contests, and cosplay. Festivities began Friday afternoon with opening ceremonies. Many of this year’s guests of honor were in attendance, with the exception of Z8, fashion designer from the GRAMM line of the h.NAOTO brand, who had to cancel her appearance because of a health issue.
Other guests of honor for this year include Masumi Kanoh, designer for the brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright! and anime guest of honor, Mamoru Yokota, a character designer, producer, and animation director who has worked on such titles as Macross Frontier, Death Note, Kanon, and the movie, Air. Music guests of honor for this year are the band, Moon Stream. Vocalist, Satsuki, and guitarist, Tomo, appeared at Friday’s opening ceremonies along with their support band members. The honor of filling in the right eye of the traditional daruma was given to Masumi Kanoh. With that, the convention was officially declared open.
The big event for the first night of Pacific Media Expo was the concert featuring winner of AX Idol 2004, Stephanie Yanez, local band, Psycho Bando, and guests of honor, Moon Stream. Pacific Media Expo continues through Sunday. Saturday’s programming includes guest of honor panels for Mamoru Yokota and Masumi Kanoh, Cosfest (the convention’s cosplay competition), a Vocaloid concert, and another concert by Moon Stream with opening act, Lolita Dark. The band hinted at Friday night’s show that Saturday night’s concert will be more of a rock ‘n’ roll show, without the VK fashion and makeup, and a different setlist.
GLAY’s original 4-hour live performance took place on July 28th and 29th and was adapted into the special 3-hour concert film, depicting the best moments of the legendary performance on July 29th and featuring many of the band’s greatest hits. Additional information on this special event can be found at: http://www.liveviewing.jp/glay-screenings/.
Since their debut in 1994, GLAY has led the music scene in Japan to become one of the best-selling rock acts in the country and has also garnered a substantial worldwide following. To-date, the 4-piece band has released an astounding 45 singles and has sold more than 40 million albums in Japan alone.
The band name “GLAY” is a deliberate misspelling of the word “gray”, which represents the style of music the members wanted to play; a mixture between rock (black) and pop (white). Takuro, the band’s founder and leader, writes most of Glay’s songs and music and is an ardent Beatles fan and the group’s music is heavily influenced by English as well as American rock fans. Although GLAY primarily composes songs in the rock genre, they have also written songs in styles ranging from reggae to gospel. Due to their musical diversity, beautiful lyrics and wonderful melodies, the band has emerged as one of the most successful and well known bands in Japan, and most of Asia. The members of GLAY are also heavily involved in a variety of social and charitable causes.
Having been a fan of GLAY’s for more than ten years, listening to their music and attending their concerts in Japan and also on their North American tours, I was excited to hear that there will be a screening event presented by Live Viewing Japan of the band’s summer concert “GLAY STADIUM LIVE 2012 THE SUITE ROOM in OSAKA NAGAI STADIUM” at the Big Cinemas Manhattan Theater in New York on October 12th.
To those who are not familiar with “Live Viewing”, it has gotten increasing popular in these few years for concerts and other events to be streamed live to cinemas in Japan. Thus fans who are not able to get tickets to the event itself or are unable to travel to attend are able to participate and enjoy a live broadcast experience, and the event can also reach a wider audience this way.
While this New York presentation of GLAY’s concert from back in July is obviously not being broadcasted live, the opportunity to watch the concert on the big screen with other GLAY fans is still an extremely enjoyable one!
The concerts took place over two days on July 28th and 29th under the titles “7.28 Super Welcome Party” and “7.29 Big Surprise Party”, and the show that was screened is the latter from the 29th. After an heartfelt introduction from Takuro and then a funny opening video featuring the whole band, the concert launched into an exciting and feverish start with “SHUTTER SPEED no Theme” and continued with “Kanojo no Modern”. Also included are favorites such as “Ikiteku Tsuyosa” and “Beloved” as well as newer numbers such as “Route 5 Bayshore Line” and “Bible”, rounding out a set list of sixteen songs and four medleys — one medley each for the songs written by each of the four band members.
The concert was played live before a 50,000 strong audience. GLAY is a band that is known for staging many large scale outdoor concerts, most notably the GLAY EXPO in 2004 with a 100,000 audience, and they are very creative in making such shows a spectacular, memorable, and above all fun event for all their fans.
The theme of the concert, “Hotel GLAY”, is a reprise from their 15th anniversary concerts in 2009, and playing to this, there is a giant hotel facade on the main stage with all the “windows” of the hotel and the middle tower constructed of video screens that are utilized to fantastic effect during the show in addition to the large video screens on either sides of the stage. There is a smaller sub-stage at the far end of the arena, and joining the main stage and sub-stage is a specially built oval track encircling the arena seats thus providing a circular 360-degree stage space that brings the band closer to the audience in the entire stadium wherever they might be.
Playing a concert in a huge stadium is one thing, but the care and thought that goes into really trying to make it a show for each member of the whole audience does not come naturally to all artists, and in this one can really get a sense of how much GLAY truly makes an active effort to reach out to every one of their fans. And it is not only in concept of the staging, but it also requires preparation and determination on the part of the artists too.
In one of his MCs, Teru said that in order to prepare for these concerts, he had put the songs from the set list on his iPod and went for 10 km runs (a bit more than 6 miles) playing the songs because it would take physical training to run the length of the tracks from the main to the sub-stage and be able to sing at the same time.
“(The distance) is far, but we will run as much as our strength will allow!” he declared, and immediately proceeded to run around the entire length of the track during the aptly named number “RUN.” Honestly, in all of the band’s MCs I lost count of how many times the various members of the band said the word “love” -– unabashedly shouting from the bottom of their hearts “I/We love you!” over and over, to “Lets love one another!” “We want your love!”, they are doing all they can to show how much they care and to connect.
And the fans answered them in spades. In any shot of the audience one can see all walks of life, from young women and boys, to mothers with their toddlers and men in their fifties, all of them completely devoted and enjoying every moment. This sense of inclusion also extends to having the lyrics displayed on the video screens so fans will be able to follow along at any point and sing and shout and not have to worry about forgetting the words at key moments (though of course many of them already have the lyrics memorized!).
The concert was also live streamed to seventy-one theaters around Japan and also to theaters in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, so fans far away from Osaka can also participate real time. “We are all joined by our hearts and our love.” they said, and that is indeed the kind of band GLAY strives to be.
While watching a summer concert three months later on an unseasonably cold fall night in New York did take the immediacy out of the experience somewhat, the passion of the band and the audience more than made up for it in the three hour screening.
My only complaint would be the few sudden cuts to black in the footage when the band was moving between the main and sub stages, and also before the encore. While I appreciate the time saved, a softer fade in and out would have helped to not abruptly pull viewers out of the concert.
In the end it is really up to the live viewing audience as to what experience they will have in the darkened theater, and I was very glad to see people clapping and calling out and participating and enjoying themselves as they would in a live concert. I would definitely recommend GLAY fans in Los Angeles and San Francisco to catch the screenings in November if they can!
Alongside Mad Max and Walkabout, WAKE IN FRIGHT is widely acknowledged as one of the seminal films in the development of modern Australian cinema. Directed by Ted Kotcheff (Rambo: First Blood) and starring Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay and Jack Thompson, the film tells the story of a British schoolteacher’s descent into personal demoralization at the hands of drunken, deranged derelicts while stranded in a small town in outback Australia. Virtually unseen in the United States and renowned in its home country after years of neglect, WAKE IN FRIGHT is ripe for rediscovery and returns to cinemas, including this Nuart engagement.
WAKE IN FRIGHT originally made its debut at Cannes in 1971, where it earned a Palme D’Or nomination. The film made its return to the festival in 2009 courtesy of guest-curator Martin Scorsese, following the completion of a comprehensive restoration. It was there where WAKE IN FRIGHT held the honor of being one of two films to have been shown twice in the history of the festival. The film is lauded for its stark and uncompromising vision by champions such as Roger Ebert who said WAKE IN FRIGHT is “powerful, genuinely shocking and rather amazing,” and celebrated musician/songwriter/screenwriter Nick Cave, who said the film is “the best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence.”
Believed to be lost for many years, WAKE IN FRIGHT was restored after an exhaustive decade-long search for original film elements. Fortuitously, the negative was unearthed in Pittsburgh, PA, in canisters marked for destruction just one week away from its impending incineration. The materials were then restored frame-by-frame at Sydney’s At Lab Deluxe with the aid of the National Film and Sound Archives of Australia.
The Australian Landmark Thriller by Ted Kotcheff
WAKE IN FRIGHT
Lost 1971 Australian thriller now fully restored
Theatrical Release Date: New York, October 5, 2012 at Film Forum;
Los Angeles, October 19, 2012 Landmark NuArt Theatre; Nationally Oct/Nov 2012
Running time: 116 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Directed by Ted Kotcheff
Written by Kenneth Cook (Novel), Evan Jones
Produced by George Willoughby
Executive Producers: Howard G. Barnes, Bill Harmon
Music by John Scott
Cinematography by Brian West
Edited by Anthony Buckley
Production Design by Dennis Gentle
Costume Design by Ron Williams
Donald Pleasence as ‘Doc’ Tydon
Gary Bond as John Grant
Chips Rafferty as Jock Crawford
Sylvia Kay as Janette
Jack Thompson as Dick
Peter Whittle as Joe
Al Thomas as Tim Hynes
“Have a drink, mate?”
“Wake in Fright” is a horror film, but probably not like any you’ve seen before. There are no monsters or serial killers out to get you. No, just some very friendly people who insist you have a drink with them. Doesn’t sound too scary, right? John Grant (Gary Bond) probably thought that too. But somehow, by the end of the movie, he has a rifle pointed at his head with a single round left and is trying to figure out what he wants to do with it. Most horror movies are scary because there is usually at least one physically scary thing to be scared of. Deranged killers, sudden loud noises, elements of the paranormal, etc. However, we can dismiss these things in our brain as not being real if we wanted to. ”Wake in Fright” has none of these elements, yet is probably more frightening than any recent horror movie. Why? Because the five-day downward spiral you see Grant go through is something that you can actually see happening in real-life.
John Grant (Gary Bond) is a bonded school teacher in a tiny town in Australia. At the beginning of summer vacation, he plans to head to Sydney to see his girlfriend, but stops in a place called Bundunyabba, or “the Yabba”, first. He plans to just stay one night and fly off to Sydney in the morning. He decides to check out the nightlife and goes to a local bar, where he meets a policeman named Jock Crawford (Chips Rafferty), who offers to buy him some drinks. After they both consume a ridiculous amount of drinks, Crawford introduces Grant to the gambling game called “two-up”. Once he understands the game, Grant participates in a few rounds and wins big. He goes back to his hotel, but decides he’ll try his luck again and goes back. Sadly, this time he loses it all. Now depressed, broke and stuck in the area, he’s offered more drinks and some food.
He eventually meets Doc (Donald Pleasence) that night, another man who was not from the Yabba but had stayed. The next morning, Grant misses his flight and is still broke. He then runs into Tim Hynes (Al Thomas) and is once again, offered some drinks. Tim takes him back to his house to stay and well, they drink more. Grant also encounters Tim’s daughter, Janette (Sylvia Kay) and his friends, Dick (Jack Thompson) and Joe (Peter Whittle) while he’s at the house. He is also reunited with Doc there and what do they do? Drink. A lot!
The one day that Grant was supposed to spend in the Yabba, has now become five. During those five days, Grant goes through various disturbing encounters and events and by the end of it, is pointing a rifle at his head.
This movie is quite brilliant. There are no demons, no ghosts, no crazy people (well, other than the fact that the people of the Yabba love to drink their alcohol) but this movie is eerie. The viewer is left uncomfortable watching the movie the whole time (at least I was…). Nothing disturbing is happening, but at the same time you feel disturbed. Another reason it’s creepy, is it feels like it can happen to almost anyone (unless you don’t drink alcohol, but that would offend the people of the Yabba and then who knows what might happen).
Nothing too overly violent (however there is a disturbing hunting scene) and no excessive nudity (although there is some), but it’s creepier than most horror movies loaded with either of those things. Pretty much, this movie comes down to a guy who drinks entirely too much and everything goes wrong. Terribly wrong. But it’s believable. You are left creeped out more than a slasher flick would leave you. This is indeed a psychological thriller and one of the best of its kind that I’ve seen. Ted Kotcheff (who also directed “First Blood” and “Weekend at Bernies”) did a great job with using practical light to make certain scenes even creepier.
Usually, when people drink a lot of alcohol in movies, there are usually funny and sometimes unfortunate consequences that follow. John Grant apparently has horrible luck and one terrible thing happens one thing after another in his five days in the Yabba. None of the things that happen are meant for humor. Everything that goes wrong for John Grant are all examples of some dark aspect of human nature.
So this film doesn’t have excessive blood or violence, and no vengeful spirits or demons. But I would classify it as a horror movie and a very effective one. It may not scare you, but it is disturbing and creepy to watch and I still feel a bit creeped out by it. Sometimes simplicity really is best, and this movie is proof.
If you like horror movies or thrillers and are looking for something a little different than the usual slasher film or vengeful demon film, check this movie out! (4 STARS)
“Dead or Alive 5″ is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far! It improves in every category including gameplay, controls, stunning graphics and even delivers an entertaining and comprehensible storyline this time around! As a long time fan of the series, “Dead or Alive 5″ is a must-own fighting game for fans of the series and even those who have never played a DOA game before. “Dead or Alive 5″ is recommended!
Images courtesy of © 2012 TECMO. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO GAME TITLE: Dead or Alive 5
TYPE OF GAME: Fighting
PLATFORM: Sony PS3 and XBOX 360
PSN DOWNLOAD SIZE: 5.6GB
DEVELOPER: Team Ninja
RATED: M for MATURE
RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2012
DEAD OR ALIVE 5 marries the signature fighting style of the popular DOA series with stunning new graphics, new online features, and new martial arts techniques to create a strong new direction for the franchise.
It has been over 15-years since the release of “Dead or Alive” and now, “Dead or Alive 5″ for the PS3 and XBOX 360 is now here! Featuring a more coherent storyline, excellent gameplay and wonderful graphics, suffice to say, “Dead or Alive 5″ is the best game in the DOA series thus far!
DEAD OR ALIVE HISTORY
Dead or Alive, the 3D fighting video game flagship title from Tecmo and developers Team Ninja has continued to go strong since its introduction back in 1996 when it was first introduced in the arcades and on consoles such as the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.
Inspired with fighting gameplay similar to AM2′s “Virtua Fighter”, the games would emphasize on fighting mechanics, combos, air-juggles and most importantly, it’s countering system.
During the first game’s initial release, “Dead or Alive” was best known for its characters including Ryu Hayabusa from Tecmo’s “Ninja Gaiden” video game series, the series would also be known for its sexy female fighters and their bouncing breasts. While controversial at the time (note: There were other Japanese fighting games that incorporated the bouncing breasts), it would become the trademark of the series and to be less offensive, “Dead or Alive” would have a clever setting in the options to set an age of a person in order to give less or more bounce. The game would lead to a remixed version and allowed people to open up many unlockable costumes for the characters including remixed stage design and new characters.
“Dead or Alive” would introduce people to Kasumi and her half-sister Ayane, both are rivals. And for Ayane, she despises Kasumi for becoming a traitor to her own clan. While Kasumi, harbors no ill feelings towards her sister. The game would also introduce players to professional wrestler Bass Armstrong and his strict upbringing of his daughter Tina, who would follow in his footsteps.
The original plot of “Dead or Alive” would revolve around the first Dead or Alive Tournament and its main protagonist would be Raidou, Ayane’s biological father and the uncle to Kasumi. It is revealed that Raidou raped Kasumi’s mother Ayame, and Ayane was the daughter from the rape. In the first “Dead or Alive”, Kasumi was the winner of the tournament as she killed her father. It was revealed that Bayman would kill DOATEC chairmen, Fame Douglas and that Bayman was working for Donovan.
By 2000, with the release of “Dead or Alive 2″, Tecmo would introduce interactive stages and also showcase tag team mode. Released for the Sega Dreamcast and Sony PlayStation 2, another remake of the game titled “DOA2: Hardcore” was released and would be an update over its more inferior Dreamcast version and the game . But the second game would receive one more tweak in 2004 along with the Sega Saturn version of the first game which was released on the XBOX with the title “Dead or Alive Ultimate” featuring a new character named Hitomi and also online mode.
The plot for “Dead or Alive 2″ would feature a storyline of the chaos that had taken place in the world since the death of Fame Douglas, the sponsor of the “Dead or Alive” World Combat Championship. And now a new person who is corrupt and evil has announced the “Dead or Alive Championship 2″ tournament.
The main antagonist would be Dr. Victor Donovan who is responsible for the death of Fame Douglas. As the later of DOATEC’s anti-Douglas faction and head of the Development Department, he created a state-of-the-art military fortress where Project Alpha and Omegas were developed. For Project Alpha, he created a Kasumi Clone (who would be one of the bosses) known as Kasumi Alpha. But also featured is the evil Tengu who has escaped from the Tengu World into the human world to create chaos and rule the world.
In 2003, the third “Dead or Alive 3″ would be released as an XBOX exclusive was a minor update from “Dead or Alive 2″ but featured longer counters and less emphasis on juggling combos. The game would also introduced four new characters.
The plot of “Dead or Alive 3″ features the aftermath of Ryu Hayabusa stopping Tengu, but the Tengu of Destruction lead to a dense cloud covering the whole planet in darkness. The corporation known as DOATEC has lead to the development of Omega Project: Project Alpha and Project Epsilon, courtesy of Dr. Victor Donovan.
Victor plans to create a superhuman known as Omega, based on Genra, leader of the Hajin Mon ninja clan and foster father of Ayane. Meanwhile, Dr. Donovan kidnaps Fame Douglas’ daughter, Helena (who would inherit the position to become DOATEC’s new chairperson). Helena is challenged by Donovan to win the third DOA tournament in order to gain her freedom. Bayman seeks revenge for Donovan for using him to assassinate Fame Douglas. It is also revealed that Hayate, brother of Kasumi and Ayane was subjected to experiments by Donovan for his Project Epsilon and that Project Omega, was an augmentation of Ayane’s foster father Genra into becoming the ultimate DOA fighter known as Omega.
In 2005, “Dead or Alive 4″ was released for the XBOX 360. The game would feature 22 characters (including new characters Kokoro, Eliot and Lisa plus an unlockable character, “SPARTAN-458″ from the “HALO” series) and feature six game modes including “DOA Online”. All moves were updated and tweaked and also become the first main series game to be rated M for Mature.
The game would feature Helena becoming the new DOATEC chairperson, while Donovan was working Kasumi clones for DOATEC as part of Project Alpha, a project to create the perfect fighter. The original Kasumi clone known as Kasumi Alpha has now been turned into the evil Alpha-152, the ultimate DOA fighter.
Which now leads us to…
DEAD OR ALIVE 5
“Dead or Alive 5″ is the first DOA game to be released via multi-platform since the second game back in 1999. Developed by Team Ninja minus “Dead or Alive” creator Tomonobu Itagaki, the new game would be directed by Yohei Shmbori.
The fighting game would feature 25 characters. 18 characters from the “Dead or Alive” universe and would introduce new characters Rig and Mila but also feature Gen Fu and Alpha 152 as unlockable characters. The video game will also feature three major characters from AM2′s popular “Virtua Fighter” fighting video game series, Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant and Pai Chan.
The story of “Dead or Alive 5″ takes place two years since the last “Dead or Alive 4″ tournament. Despite the destruction of the DOATEC TriTower HQ, despite the dissoution of the DOATEC Biotechnology Division and the Projects Alpha, Epsilon and Omega that Dr. Victor Donovan had control of and most importantly despite Helena now being the chairperson of DOATEC, it appears that someone is still working on those projects. Who are these individuals?
Meanwhile, Helena plans to hold the fifth Dead or Alive tournament, hosted by Zack, in honor of the rebuilding of a new DOATEC.
Gameplay modes are a slightly different this time around for “Dead or Alive 5″.
Story mode is no longer playing a single player for their storyline. Now, it features a chronicle story mode that features every character and duration of this storymode takes about 4 hours. In the beginning, you can select two types of modes for casual gamers or those who are very good at fighting games.
As for the story, while the main story focuses on the Dead or Alive 5 tournament, there is also an underlying story of someone continuing the project of Donovan. Other storylines revolve around one wanting to win the tournament or wanting to find someone and fight them.
While each character’s storyline tend to have a connection with others. Story mode features anywhere around three matches or more with each character. There are missions that optionally can be played that requires you to pull of a move 1-3 times (which gets more difficult as you progress). Missions include, throwing someone while in crouch mode three times or blocking a hit three times.
ARCADE MODE: Arcade is a mode where you can play a character and take on other characters. By beating the game with that character, you unlock new costumes and titles.
VERSUS MODE: You choose who you want to fight.
TIME ATTACK MODE: How many characters can you beat in the shortest amount of time.
SURVIVAL MODE: Fight as many characters per stage (10 characters per stage). If you lose, game over.
TRAINING MODE: With a lot of moves, you can utilize the training mode to not only learn moves but open achievements.
ONLINE MODE: You can fight against anyone around the world via a simple match which you can start fighting immediately, a ranked match, lobby match and enable spectator mode to chat with other players. Including an Online Dojo where you can practice and train with other characters. Watch Mode allows you to watch replays of your match and take pictures. During my test of online mode, I personally didn’t notice any lag during matches. If you are competing in arcade mode and non-online mode, you will be notified if one challenges you in a match.
Controls are similar to previous “Dead or Alive” games. One button to hit, grab or throw a character. The game does include a power attack if you are under 50% health and knock them out of a danger zone (and fall to another part of the stage). But there is a cliffhanger event, in which a character grabs on to an object on the stage before falling out and use it to activate an action sequence.
The game also utilizes a new critical system, such as critical stuns, critical combos and critical bursts. Which definitely affects gameplay and one needing to think quickly of how they would counter if a critical move is performed.
Overall, controls for a character in “Dead or Alive 5″, control quite smoothly during gameplay. I was pretty impressed of how responsive the characters were. The more difficult holds takes a while to get down especially the critical system, but the tutorial mode will help you through that.
The graphics for “Dead or Alive 5″ is fantastic! There is a lot of detail in the character models. This is the best I have ever seen of Kasumi, Ayane, Hayate, Tina, Zack and others. When you fight, the characters get grimy and dirty, they also sweat and you can easily see the drips of sweat through their skin or falling towards the floor.
The stage design is also excellent and pleasing to look at. I felt that previous games including “Dead or Alive 4″ felt too repetitive when it came to the arenas. But this time around, with the interactivity of an area and how detail many stages loo, I was very impressed!
If I have to be nitpicky when it comes to graphics, it would be for some of the text in story mode. Even playing on a 51″, the grunge typeface used for the text was a bit difficult to read. But I figure, this may be subjective.
For the most part, “Dead or Alive 5″ sounds great. Audio is crystal clear and you can easily change the audio to Japanese or English. Dialogue is easily understandable and while I am used to the Japanese voicework, which is awesome! The English is very good. So, fore those wondering if Tecmo provides both vocal soundtracks, they do!
As for sound effects and ambiance, I would have loved the audio to be much more immersive and surround channels to be used much more. But for the most part, dialogue, music and sound effects are crystal clear and are front-channel driven.
“Dead or Alive” games are known for replay value, due to the amount of costumes given for each character. For completionists, not only will they be playing “Dead or Alive 5″ for long periods of time to get all clothing or titles but even the trophies/achievements require one to play up to a 1,000 matches.
I’m going to come out and say it… “Dead or Alive 5″ is the best “Dead or Alive” game created so far!
As a long time fan of the series, one who has put a ton of hours into this series since the game has first came out, “Dead or Alive 5″ is fantastic in every category I can think of. From the look of the characters, how smooth they play and the learning curve to learn other critical moves is impressive!
The amount of moves these characters have are quite impressive. As a big Helene, Ayane and Kasumi fan, I simply love the gameplay and how I was able to to chain combos and after getting beat after a string of hits, being able to counter right back and just barely win. And it’s one thing to be able to be excited about how smooth the game plays during offline mode, but then going online and taking on many people and seeing how smooth gameplay was online with these characters, I was very pleased!
And on the topic of characters, I also was shocked that three major “Virtua Fighter” characters were added to the roster. Sure, “Dead or Alive 4″ may have seemed cool for “HALO” fans with the addition of SPARTAN-458, but for me, the character really had no place in the DOA timeline. Because I knew that “Dead or Alive” was inspired by “Virtua Fighter” (and also “Tekken”), I was very impressed that three top tier “Virtua Fighter” characters were included. As a fighting video game fan, Akira, Sarah and Pai is not only a big surprise but just the ultimate nod to fighting game fans, and I’m sure in Japan, fans greeted the addition of these three characters with amazing enthusiasm as well!
And let’s discuss the stages. When “Dead or Alive 3″ was released, it definitely broke new ground with the multiple level within a level scenery and with “Dead or Alive 4″, while the scenes looked amazingly beautiful on the XBOX 360, for me, the stages were very good and improved in graphics tremendously. But with “Dead or Alive 5″, I love how different the interactive arena’s were. Some levels could take a good amount of beating or certain move to really knock someone out to another level. Nothing is too easy, you need to learn those stages where as previous games, you pretty much knew that if you can sidestep and knock a character to a certain direction, they were going to fall.
But this time around, you really need to figure out the arenas and how to take advantage of the surrounds. But overall, I love the detail of the stages and how the lighting effects were done. I felt the arena’s in tandem with the beautiful character designs really made “Dead or Alive 5″ such a visually stunning game.
And as the game is visually stunning and gameplay is the best so far in a DOA game, for those who did care about the story of the series, Team Ninja, went all out in crafting a storyline that is much more easier to understand and makes sense than prior games.
To tell you the truth, past “Dead or Alive” games were getting near “King of Fighters” status in terms of storyline forgetfulness. But this time around, because of how the story mode was presented, you know what is going down with each character. And there are some twists and turns in the storyline that make you wonder who is truly “dead or alive”.
And for those critics who say the game is not a big step from “Dead or Alive 4″, that surprises me because “Dead or Alive 5″ improves in every category from it’s fighting mechanics, graphics and overall gameplay. I have to say that the fighting experience this time around compared to the last game is quite significant. I simply love this game!
Sure, If I had to be the most pickiest fighting gamer and what I wished was included in “Dead or Alive 5″, more characters and customization. “Dead or Alive 5″ does have many characters at 25 including the added “Virtua Fighter” characters but in terms of original characters, there are only two, Rig and Mila (excluding Alpha-152). For a newer game, you tend to expect anywhere between four to six new characters. But once again, that’s me being nitpicky.
And in this day and age of modern fighting video games, customization is becoming a necessity for many gamers. “Virtua Fighter” has been able to achieve part of its efficacy through it’s engaging faux tournament battles but also the game’s ability to purchase items and utilize these items to customize and change the appearance of your character. And other fighting games started to incorporate that element. “Dead or Alive 5″ would be one game, because of its many characters, that would have been perfect for item customization for its characters and also the ability to change a character’s appearance. I do feel that if “Dead or Alive 5″ incorporated that element, it would have made this game close to being perfect!
Overall, “Dead or Alive 5″ is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far!
It improves in every category including gameplay, controls, stunning graphics and even delivers an entertaining and comprehensible storyline this time around! As a long time fan of the series, “Dead or Alive 5″ is a must-own fighting game for fans of the series and even those who have never played a DOA game before.
“Dead or Alive 5″ is recommended!
As we cover a lot of pop culture worldwide, especially mainstream pop culture, we still support other industries. Industries which J!-ENT actually originally started from. From covering Asian cinema, Japanese animation, comic books, video games, we covered them since 1993. And while we may not be a website that specializes solely on Asian cinema, anime, manga, video games, etc. We still try to cover it the best we can. And one a year, we try to show our love by creating a special feature dedicated to anime, manga, cosplay, video games and J-Pop.
And in 2012, we have created our largest annual special feature on those topics for you, FOR FREE.
You can download the following PDF and view it on your iPad, Table or computer. It’s about 280-pages and about 62MB. We will consider a hi-res version of this annual feature if people request it but, we present to you our J!-ENT annual “Anime/Manga/Cosplay/Video Games/J-Pop” (wow…that was long!) special feature. And it showcases our recent interviews with cosplayers, our coverage from various events this past summer including E3, San Diego Comic-Con 2012, Ani-Jam and so much more! Enjoy!
J!-ENT ANNUAL SPECIAL FEATURE 2012: Anime/Manga/Cosplay/Video Games/J-Pop (66MB PDF): DOWNLOAD HERE!
Actor Greg Grunberg is one of the well-known actor on television.
Having appeared on hit series such as “LOST”, “Heroes” but also in movies such as “Mission: Impossible III” and “Star Trek”, as well as video games such as “L.A. Noir” and “Gears of War 3″, not only is he well-known, he is one of the busiest actors today.
Grungberg recently starred in the series “Love Bites” and appeared on TV series such as “Hawaii Five-0″, “Psych” and “The Client List”. But one type of series you don’t see him appear often are in sitcoms. And surprisingly, Greg recently appeared in the ABC Family TV series “Baby Daddy”.
“Baby Daddy” stars Jean-Luc Bilodeau as Ben, a man who’s ex-girlfriend left a baby girl on his door step. Now Ben, the surprised and inexperienced new father, must raise the baby with the help of his mother Bonnie (as portrayed by Melissa Peterman), his brother Danny (as portrayed by Derek Theler), his best friend Tucker (as portrayed by Tahj Mowry) and his close female friend Riley (as portrayed by Chelsea Kane), which he doesn’t know that she has a secret crush on him.
In an upcoming Christmas episode, Grunberg played the role of Ray Wheeler, the father of Ben and Danny and ex-husband of Bonnie. Grunberg finds out that he is a grandfather and comes to visit and see the baby and take part in a Christmas family photo.
To help promote his appearance on the show, Greg Grunberg recently took part in a media Q&A talking about his role on “Baby Daddy” but also his previous work on television and video games.
Here is the transcript from the Q&A:
Moderator Can you tell us a little bit about how you started working on the show, how you got the part?
G. Grunberg Sure. My agent called me up and said well your dreams have come true. No, that’s not true. No, my agent said, listen I think there’s a really cool show that you’re going to love and your kids can finally watch something that you’re doing.
I’ve been very, very fortunate and had a, what I think is a really nice career so far. Unfortunately all the things I’ve done from Felicity to Alias to Heroes, even Hawaii Five-O, or the other show that I did called Love Bites; they’re all just kind of inappropriate for my kids in one way or another. I’ve been looking to do something, certainly multi-cam and comedy driven, and also it would be great if my kids could watch it.
This show, let me tell you something, I don’t know if you’ve seen the show, I’m sure you have, it’s so funny and its smart; the actors are fantastic, especially with the way my character comes in. They’ve been talking about him so much and he’s such an integral part of this family, it’s just such a fun, kind of cameo and hopefully it will develop into more, who knows, but I’ve had so much fun working on it. So it was really just a fortuitous thing, and again this cast is fantastic, I had a blast.
Moderator Is your character going to come back again, do you know?
G. Grunberg I don’t know, that would be up to you, blog your head off. I have a lot of friends on the show; I made a lot of friends and also Michael Lembeck who’s just brilliant. He and I worked together many, many years ago at the beginning of my career and then, actually a few times, and he is one of the producers and director of that episode.
So he told me, and then a lot of the— everybody at ABC Family has been so supportive during that process of making the show. So it wouldn’t surprise me if I came back, I would love to come back in any way possible. I had a really good time.
Moderator What can you tell us about your character as Ray Wheeler?
G. Grunberg Ray Wheeler is the kind of the much talked about father of the two boys and now grandfather and ex-husband. You know Melissa and I, we had this relationship and it’s hard not to love Melissa, so it was kind of challenging because we were kind of at each other’s throats in a really funny way when I first get introduced on the show.
There are some major surprises to my character, there are a lot of unknowns when I come in, so they’re talking about me like, oh you know it’s dad and their whole reason why my character comes back at this point is because they’re trying to reenact this Christmas card, this tradition that they’ve had on the show, the family has had, of taking a family Christmas picture.
It’s a shock to Melissa and to the family and to our friends, that they’re saying, oh, he’s coming back, he’s back? It’s great to have this kind of mystery behind it and then my character comes in at the very beginning of the episode, so it’s fun. What I loved is the whole holiday aspect of it and the family aspect of it and also working with everybody, they were great.
Moderator What was your favorite part about playing Ray?
G. Grunberg That there were so many sides to him. That he’s kind of an unexpected character with what he does for a living and like there’s this stuff, because he’s been out of the family for so long, so when he comes back it’s kind of like, well dad, so what’s been going on and what are you into?
One of my favorite things is there’s always that tension between a husband and wife that we’re married, they raise these great kids and she is such a funny, she’s so brilliant and she’s so funny, Melissa is, so it was great. You’ll see; I mean they’re all hoping that everything will work out, that we will kind of rekindle our love and how that plays out it’s just really, it’s just done in a funny way. The writers are brilliant and they really came up with something funny.
Moderator Pretty good, glad you were able to call in today.
G. Grunberg Yes, I know; I’m excited. I’m also doing a live, I’m going to be on my Twitter stream taking questions live during the East Coast feed tonight at 8:30, so I wanted, if I could just put that out there @GregGrunberg on Twitter, you can go back and forth while the show is on, which is going to be cool, and that’s tonight.
Moderator I was a big fan of Alias, Heroes, and you’re very short stint on Lost. Comparing them to like Baby Daddy, very different shows, did you have any experience with comedy previously to Baby Daddy?
G. Grunberg I did, I did a show called Love Bites, which was on a different network and it was really funny and then I got to work with Constance Zimmer, who I’ve always been a huge fan of, but that wasn’t multi-cam comedy. You know multi-cam is in front of a live audience, so you really get a direct response from the audience and it’s theater, which is a blast, and especially when your working with actors that can really kind of adjust and if something comes up and it’s really spontaneous and funny, you want to be able to go toe-to-toe with somebody who can give it right back to you; I mean in the little ways.
I mean this show is a very, very well written and the jokes are funny and the situations are great and characters are great, but it was just really a dream. I had such a good time on the show, and like I said before, my kids can see the show, which is great. I’ve done pilots before and I did a sitcom with Michael Lembeck, the director and producer on this many, many years ago called Flying Blind and that was also a comedy.
So I kind of started off— and everything, like on Felicity I always tried to infuse comedy into it. Alias, you know everybody would walk into the room with a gun, I would have a calzone; I tried to be funny, but it usually ended up on the cutting room floor. So this is funny, it’s a good way to be able to do comedy, but also in a way that’s written real.
If you watch the show it’s a sitcom, no question, but the characters are real and the relationships are real. So it’s relatable and it’s not off-putting; you don’t kind of go, no one talks like that, everybody in the show talks like that, they’re real people. So that’s what attracted me to it.
Moderator After Baby Daddy do you prefer a single cam or a multi-cam?
G. Grunberg Both actually, I really just want to do comedy, I really, really want to that, I keep getting drawn into dramas and sci-fi stuff because of the success of Heroes, and I’m never going to turn down reading a script or something that’s just wows me and it’s just incredible.
I’m definitely going to consider it and I would love to, I just love to work and I love to work with a lot of people, but single camera; there was a show on Stars years ago called Head Case. If you haven’t seen that, that’s something to look up, that was sort of loosely scripted in kind of a Curb Your Enthusiasm way and that was a single camera and I loved doing that.
But there’s just really nothing better than, to me, multi-cam where you’re with a group of people that all can hold their own and are great actors and it’s like my band, Band From TV. You know I play in this band, I’m the drummer, if I make a mistake everybody knows it, and there’s something very exciting about that. When you’re in front of a live audience you can play to that and you get more takes and you can fix mistakes, but it’s just a blast. It’s so much fun; it’s the dream job for an actor, especially with a group of people like this. So I had a great time.
Moderator Actually I saw you guys play at Griffith Park a few years back.
G. Grunberg Oh yes, for Netflix. That was awesome, thanks for coming out of that. Did you have a good time?
Moderator It was a great time.
G. Grunberg That was a crazy gig because we had so many celebrities, that was like, Hayden, and Hugh Laurie, and Terri Hatcher, and Jorge Garcia. That was a crazy one, I loved that gig.
Moderator How was it playing a dad of these two young men?
G. Grunberg Well, first of all, they’re awesome. They’re just so great, and then I’m like a kid. I really am, so the fun part about it was that I could let that side of me out. It’s written that way. It was he’s really down there with his kids having fun, even in the first moment I walk in the door. It’s like hey, you know, he’s that kind of dad and hopefully you just love to him right up front.
Then I think hopefully the audience will like Melissa’s character, she kind of breaks and goes, you know what, he’s a great guy I want see. So hopefully the audience will want to see us get together again, and then they’ll love the outcome and the surprises and the stuff that’s revealed about my character, but I just had such a blast.
The weirdest thing for me was getting the script and going wait a minute I’m a grandpa? Hold it, hold it, what? I’m looking for gray hairs on my head, I’m like this is crazy, but there are a lot of people— I got married young and it completely makes sense. I think it works. These two guys, you know I’m 46, so I could definitely play their father and I would not want my 16-year-old to have a baby right now, but it’s possible.
It was great being able to be the dad, being able to have romance stuff going on with that you’re dealing with, and also all the emotional stuff of seeing your granddaughter for the first time. It was really fun.
Moderator Did you get to work with an actual baby, and how was that?
G. Grunberg Yes, they have twins on the show and these babies are great, but they’re not both great at the same time; they’re babies. I worked with babies on Heroes, I had a son, my character had a son on the show and I tell you the weirdest thing is when a baby is on set and he’s more professional than any other actors on set. It’s like when you say action—
Moderator No crying, huh?
G. Grunberg Yes, it doesn’t cry, action and they’re in that robot mode, that’s weird, that’s really weird. You go, wait a minute what is going on, they’re like cyber baby. But that wasn’t the case on this, and it’s a challenge because there’s a live audience. I don’t know how they do it every week, but the kids are great and they pre-shoot also, so you know without the audience we’ll pre-shoot.
But there’s a big difference when that energy of the audience is there, so they’re really brave in the fact that they do shoot with the real kids, with the real baby in front of a live audience and it just works. You know there’s a lot of a chorus of awwww, because the baby’s the cutest baby in the world.
Moderator Spending more time on the whole live audience aspect, how was your experience with that?
G. Grunberg I loved it. It was really cool. The one thing that I, my reveal, like when I come in the door you don’t know who the dad is so, you know, they talk about him, talk about him, talk about him, and then I walk in and as soon as I walked in I had this entrance they’ve shown on the promos where I walk in, I’m like Ben, Ben. I had this big kind of dad’s home kind of moment and it scared the baby when I first walked in, so not only is there the live audience to deal with, but there’s the baby and the whole thing, but it was a blast.
I’ve got to tell you, the idea of— and it’s a lot like this, I have got to say, you know like tonight I’m going to be live Tweeting during the episode on the East Coast at 8:30. There’s this direct response where you see the reaction of the audience and you can actually interact with people and see their direct response.
I mean for 20 years I’ve been acting basically in a vacuum and I have to wait months till I get a call from my aunt that goes, “I don’t understand what just happened on Heroes, can you explain it?” This is like a direct response from the audience and they’re laughing and they’re enjoying and you feed off that, so I loved it.
Moderator As a father yourself, were you able to steer the character in any way, do you provide input on how he should act in this situation or something like that?
G. Grunberg I would have if it wasn’t so well written. There are a lot of parents that are part of the writing staff and Michael Lembeck is a brilliant director and show runner kind of producer/director guy, and I’ve known him forever. There is something that goes along with, I try to bring part of me as much as I— you know, I’m not getting all philosophical, but as a dad you just, it’s more taking stuff off and not playing the dad.
I’ve always tried to be friends with my kids so that they’ll open up to me and tell me stuff, to a limit, I mean you want to be a dad, this was written exactly that way. I mean I wouldn’t have changed anything. It was interesting coming back after; imagine you haven’t seen your dad, your dad left the family a while ago and then he comes back into your life and they really dealt with all that stuff in a great way.
Moderator Actors start out pretty much as young kids or in their teens. You started a little later than that; what were you doing prior to acting and what led you to start?
G. Grunberg Throughout school, throughout elementary school, junior high school, high school, I always dabbled in theater. I did the school plays and stuff but I never considered it a career, it’s a really tough road. I grew up in LA and everyone around me was doing it and my best friend, who was J.J. Abrams, and if you look back on his super eight movies when he was a kid, I star in all of them.
It’s like we were making those movies back then and he was becoming successful and I thought I just have to try this. But before that I was very business minded, too. My character on Felicity was kind of modeled after me. I’ve always had a bunch of different businesses.
Right now I’ve got an app and the number one mobile coupon app on the market called Yowza, and I created that and I’ve always had that kind of entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve applied it to my website, talk about it to help people with epilepsy; talkaboutit.org, and also my band, Band From TV, which is all a charity band with other actors. I have to have an outlet for that. So I would have been in business or I would have been acting and I just gave acting a shot and luckily I’ve had some very successful friends and I learned working with them.
Felicity was kind of my college acting school, I really kind of got my chops on that show and the acting on that show was just incredible; I had great actors all around me, and obviously Alias was just a natural progression after that. But I’ve always wanted to do it and things worked out luckily.
Moderator You just mentioned the person I was going to ask you about in my next question. J.J. Abrams, you guys met when?
G. Grunberg When we were four; four years old. We’ve been friends forever, and by the way, what’s interesting about Baby Daddy is that it’s a sitcom, I’ve always wanted to do a sitcom and J.J.’s—believe it or not—he’s one of the funniest guys you can imagine, he’s just brilliant in every way, but he’s really funny and we have always talked about doing a sitcom together. So now this is my opportunity to kind of go okay, I really want to do it.
That’s why, hopefully tonight everyone will really enjoy the episode and see, if you haven’t seen me do comedy, you’ll see a different side of my acting that hopefully people will like. I mean I try to be as real as possible and stay true to that, but I love the response from the audience and I loved working with all the cast and crew.
Moderator My question is about L.A. Noire; I know you’re in that videogame. Can you tell us a little bit of what your experience was when they captured your face and voice for the videogame?
G. Grunberg Yes, absolutely. I was just playing this last night with my son. I love this videogame. L.A. Noire, as you know it’s a 1930s, 40s detective game set in Los Angeles and it’s very accurate. The thing that I loved about it, I’ve done a bunch of voices for games from Halo to Condemned to Need for Speed, a bunch of things, and this was very different.
This was about 45 to 50 cameras video capturing my face as I was acting, so there is no separation between voice and animation and it just renders kind of an avatar, a moving, acting avatar of me and it’s me. So I remember the best compliment I got was the director— and by the way a lot of great actors on that game from Mad Men and other places from; I forgot the other show, but some great, great actors on there, and you really get a sense of the emotion without any separation.
There have been times when I’ve done voices and suddenly I’m like oh, that guy doesn’t look like me and yet he’s really stiff in his movements and this was just as fluid and especially when you’re interrogating somebody and you want to see subtle clues as to whether they’re guilty or innocent. It was just awesome, it was a great process.
Moderator That’s awesome. Now, have you gotten a chance to play the game with your kids?
G. Grunberg Yes, like I said I was playing it last night and my favorite thing is though, my kid’s friends are like, I’m interrogating you right now Hugo Moller, you’re going down, you’re guilty. And I’m like okay, keep going because I know secrets they don’t know, which is really funny. By the way, there are some secrets in tonight’s episode too, speaking of secrets. So watch Baby Daddy tonight and I’m telling you you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at what you think is the obvious is not; it’s just really, really cool the way they wrote it.
Moderator I want to ask you if you can give me a one liner update like a Tweet on your different projects; I mean Band From TV, Yowza and all, and how on earth can do you manage to find time to join Baby Daddy?
G. Grunberg Well you know, my first and foremost is my acting career and then keeping that going and I put feelers out that I really want to do something good, something funny and a live audience sitcom and something else that my kids could watch. So I did a pilot that did not get picked up, but I had the most incredible people behind it and it was disappointing that it didn’t get picked up, but it just kind of established my love for this medium, and I really wanted to do a sitcom and then this came along and it was perfect.
It was with people I’ve worked before; Michael Lembeck, who’s a genius, and then the cast of the show, they are just stellar, they’re just great. So I had a blast, I just kind of fit in. I only did one episode, I’m hoping that I get to do more; it would be so much fun. It’s just really a great group of people, the network is just growing by leaps and bounds and I think this show is going to be one of those huge hits that’s going to go on for years and years.
There are so many really great characters that they can write for and I hope to be one of them. I do have a lot going on, I have two movies coming out that they’re doing special effects on; one is called Mega Spider and the other’s called End of the World for Sci-Fi Network. Then I’ve got the band, Band from TV, and we’re still raising a lot of money for charity, and my app, Yowza, is doing really well.
So I’ve got a bunch of things cooking, but when the perfect storm hits that’s when it’s really tough, like when I have to go out of town for a meeting. Like right now we’re doing a huge promotion on Yowza so I’ve got to get the word out about that, at the same time I’m talking about Baby Daddy, so it just balances. I make it work and it’s a lot of fun.
Moderator Baby Daddy just got renewed for a second season, any plans there?
G. Grunberg Who knows, I’m hoping that they’re thinking about me right now. My plan is to watch the show, that’s for sure, and hopefully I’ll be watching myself in more episodes. But yes, I don’t think, in my mind there wasn’t a question. After I worked on the show I was like, if an audience sees this show, and ABC Family has a great audience, if they see the show, it’s going to work. It’s funny, it’s relatable, it’s silly at times, but they deal with the real thing, they have a baby to raise.
I loved Raising Hope, it’s another friend of mines show, Greg Garcia’s show and the idea, it just makes it real important when you’re talking about children and babies, and so there’s that level of realism that you can’t get away from and they deal with it on this show.
One of the episodes I loved this year so far was when they thought that someone was supposed to be watching the baby at all times and one thought that the other was watching, and those consequences, the stakes are real high; it’s a baby. So it’s funny, but then it’s a very serious, and that’s what makes for, I think, a really interesting show.
Moderator Could you just talk a tiny bit about working on Lost and the experience since you worked with J.J. and everything?
G. Grunberg Yes, I mean J.J.’s one of my oldest friends. Working with J.J. was working with someone that we have a great shorthand with so there’s no kind of beating around the bush. If first take he didn’t like it, he came up to me and he was like okay that was literally the worst thing I’ve ever seen, let’s go again.
It’s not like how do I tell the actor—you know, we’re best friends and it’s always been like that working with him and Matt Reeves and Bryan Burk and all those guys over there, but it was incredible. I mean I didn’t know on that show Jack was supposed to die, it was the original plan; that character’s supposed to die and I remember talking to J.J. about that in the script and going I don’t think you should do that because he such a great character, and he’s the doctor, and he can help people.
Then Victor Garber, I think, was supposed to play the pilot— was Victor supposed to do it, someone supposed to do it and then J.J. was just trying to figure out what he would have me do in the pilot, just a cameo. That came up and he said, get your butt to Hawaii, let’s shoot this scene and it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I did and it turned out to be a really memorable cameo, and then I did a few flashback episodes and it was just great, it was great. I was so lucky that he—I’m always lucky when somebody that I’ve worked with in the past wants to work with me again, especially my best friend; it was great.
Moderator Who is your favorite Disney character?
G. Grunberg My favorite Disney character is Goofy.
Moderator Disney park?
G. Grunberg Favorite Disney park right now, you’ve got to go with California Adventure. You can’t beat the new cars, you cannot beat California Adventure right now.
Moderator Favorite ride?
G. Grunberg Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m going to go with the new cars ride.
Moderator The new one; that’s great.
G. Grunberg Or actually Soaring Over California. I don’t know, there’s something therapeutic about that ride.
Moderator That is good; we’ve got the same thing out here.
G. Grunberg It’s just incredible. That’s one of those where you go, I mean the Matterhorn is where I pull my celebrity thing and I go, can I go again without getting off and they never let me do it. Can’t get enough of that ride, but Soaring Over California is just awesome, smelling the oranges, come on.
Moderator Well since you’re there, how about your favorite Disney food?
G. Grunberg Favorite Disney food. Well, you know the Country Bear Jamboree; they used to have a barbecue place. I don’t know if they still have that place, but I have to say I’ve eaten at this private thing they have at Disneyland called Club 33 and it’s just awesome. When you find something at Disneyland that you know—you’re so cared for at Disneyland in ways that you don’t even know.
My son had a seizure at Disneyland; they took care of us, and he was fine, but it just was like, there were so many people around looking out for your best interest and making sure you have a great time. It really is just a special place.
Moderator You favorite Disney movie; old or new?
G. Grunberg Wow. My favorite Disney movie was. I mean I would have to say it’s one of the animated movies it’ll either be Up or Finding Nemo. I mean Up is just like, are you kidding me? It makes you cry in the first five minutes and then you’re on this ride. I just loved it.
Moderator You were talking about that you had a lot of friendships on the set of Baby Daddy. Is there anyone you didn’t know that you walked away knowing a little better?
G. Grunberg Most of them I didn’t know. I walked into that situation and it’s always weird too when, because I didn’t audition for it and they were kind enough to ask me to do it and so there is an expectation. They don’t really know what I do comedy-wise except for Michael Lembeck, I’m sure vouched for me because I had worked with him before doing comedy.
Then you’ve got such strong comedy actors, especially Melissa, I mean she is just amazing. So walking into that situation and hoping that she’s going to be a kind of, not a selfish actor and allow me to be funny as well, and that’s exactly what she does. There’s a balance, and all of them do. I mean Jean-Luc, he’s just amazing. They’re really, really good, they know their strengths and they play to them, and it’s in a way that’s like— and they were so welcoming, all of them are so welcoming.
I bring a lot of baggage, and it’s good baggage I hope, but it’s, I have people who know who I am, not in a huge way, but they know who I am, I’ve done other shows and stuff and they couldn’t have been more with their arms open wide saying, hey let’s have fun. All week it just got better, and better, and better and then tape date was a blast. I did want to leave. I was literally like, can I please stay, and luckily my character is a family member, so hopefully they’ll want to bring me back.
Moderator Do you have any plans to work with any of the actors and actresses on any other projects in the future?
G. Grunberg Who knows, I mean you never know. I’m about to start a movie that I’m writing and I’m going to star in and produce so yes, I’m always looking for people that I’ve worked with in the past to— you never want to take— I mean it’s nice to take chances and discover new people, but it’s also great to take somebody up a show like this and kind of say hey, I have something that no one’s ever seen you do, and it could be funny, but also scary and that’s kind of work what I’m working on.
So yes I’m definitely, I always pull from the people in the past that I’ve worked with that I know can nail it. I hate the audition process. I would much rather, and after 25 years of acting I have a lot of people that I’ve loved working with in the past and I always call them up and go hey, let’s do this thing and if they’re available sometimes it’s worked out.
Moderator Any projects in which you can join forces again with Constance Zimmer?
G. Grunberg Oh I hope so. You know right now I’m getting, this time of year there are a lot of pilots that are being developed and sold and I have a lot of people that I’ve work with in the past out there, so I’m getting calls from people going, hey would you be interested in doing this and that and every opportunity that I get I’m always—you know I’m on another show right now called The Client List, the Jennifer Love Hewitt show. There’s an actress that plays my wife over there, so I’ve got two wives on TV right now, man what a blast working with Constance Zimmer. She is one-of-a-kind. She is absolutely brilliant and the two of us together, she’s like this petite beautiful and I’m this big guy, and it’s very funny.
I hope one day that I get to work with her again, and hopefully it will be sooner than later. I just think there’s kind of a magic that happens between the two of us and so we’ll see. She’s constantly looking out for me and I’m looking out for you her when it’s a husband-and-wife thing that we’re getting cast in, so if it works out it’d be great.
Moderator What’s a dream show for you to get start, sort of your bucket list show?
G. Grunberg I really want to play the dad on a sitcom to be perfectly honest. I just had a meeting with my agents about that and I said that is what I want to do or get on a great sitcom that would have an ensemble that I’m part of. I don’t have to carry a show. You know I don’t have to be the lead in the show; I really love the idea of being a character.
I mean if you look at some of the greatest characters like from Seinfeld or even from Felicity, when you say who’s your favorite character from Seinfeld you never say Jerry Seinfeld; he was just the rock. He was so great on that show, but there are these great characters around him that you go, oh George was amazing. That’s what I would love to do. I’d love to be on a show for a long time, like Baby Daddy.
There’s another show that I’ve done called, that’s a competing show, so I shouldn’t mention it but, How to Rock I think it’s called and I play the principal on that show. It’s fun to be that kind of character that kind of pop in. Hopefully tonight people will really love my character on this show, it’s that kind of thing. They’re such solid characters and actors on the show; it’s fun to pop in and do something unexpected.
Moderator Is there anybody you just talked about kind of your dream role, but is there anybody that you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
G. Grunberg Yes, I mean, there are a couple of people. I would love to work with Vince Vaughn, I Tweeted out the other day about that and I just think he’s amazing; he’s really funny and brilliant. I would love to work with Tom Hanks. I did a movie that we were both in, but I didn’t get to actually work with him and he’s just something special. I mean, he’s just so great, he’s so honest.
Then on the silly side who I think is a good actress, really good is, there’s a bunch of them, I mean I could go on and on, but Jim Carrey I think is incredible. You know I have these people that I really want to work with and it’s just as an actor it’s really tough, it’s tough because it’s got to be the right role. They could want to work with you.
I see them, I get surprised sometimes, people, I’ll see a basketball player, a baseball player, another actor and I’m such a fan of theirs and they come up to me and say, oh my God I watched you all the time on this and it’s like what, because people watch TV, you know, and occasionally they’ll say let’s work together, but it has to be the right role, you’ve got to fit that role, so it’s tough. I have a list, but there’s only so much I could do as far as making that happen.
Baby Daddy is seen on Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC Family