Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Sit Down Interview with Dave Franco

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

“You’re now one of my Top 5 BFF’s!”

Dave Franco@LIMACHER78

David Limacher: I wanted to thank you for taking time out of your day to spend a few minutes talking with me.

Dave Franco: It’s my pleasure, and you’re my last interview of the day; I hope you make it a good one!

DL: Well, I’m not on H.F.S., so I believe everything will be fine.

DF: I Love IT! That is a great reference point there to start off this interview.

DL: Thank You! 21 Jumpstreet was one of the biggest surprises for me last year, and also one of the funniest movies that were released last year as well.

DF: That’s awesome, and it’s great to hear how much you enjoyed it.

DL: Well, I should thank you! You’re still relatively new in the “Hollywood Scene”, yet you’ve made some great choices. I mean, you were Greg the Soccer Player in Superbad!

DF: Wow, I’m glad you remember me in that! The fact people still come up to me on the street and say “Why don’t you go piss your pants, again?” shows the popularity and staying power of that movie.

DL: It was a great movie! And, earlier this year you were in Warm Bodies, as well. I actually interviewed your co-stars Theresa Palmer and Nicholas Hoult, and they had nothing but the nicest things to say about you.

DF: Yeah, it was a smaller role; but it was quite a large amount of fun on that set. I’m glad they had nice things to say about me.

DL: Well, enough with the past; you’re new movie is Now You See Me. You play a character named Jack Wilder, and you’re a member of the newly formed Four Horsemen.

DF: That is correct, and it’s nice to be a member of the “main” faction that the movie is based around.

DL: Since you play a magician in the movie, I was curious to know if you actually learned any magic, or were all the tricks done using CGI.

DF: Actually, since I played a Street Magician, I learned a few card tricks. The thing that I took the most time to craft was throwing cards. I learned how to throw cards with such increased speeds, and I don’t know if this is a big deal, but I can throw a card and cut through a banana.

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Pain & Gain in South Beach

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Pain & Gain PressConference Miami
Click the image above for all the World Premiere South Beach images

Pain & Gain, in theaters nationwide this Friday stars Mark Wahlberg, Tony Shaloub, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and Anthony Mackie in the third Michael Bay feature set in the Sunshine State.  They recently sat down for a press conference at the prestigious Mandarin Oriental in South Beach to discuss their roles and the challenges in portraying actual infamous people who committed a series of really unbelievable crimes in the mid-nineties in South Florida.

Wahlberg commented on the similarities between his Daniel Lugo character and Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights, “I got to play a really outrageous character set in a very interesting and different kind of world.”  Lugo “was an interesting guy.  He still believed until the end that he was going to get away with it; that he was right.  Those are the kinds of characters I enjoy playing.”

Mildly annoyed with his iced knuckle from a sting at a party the night before, Wahlberg answered questions about working out and the physical requirements for the role . . . never missing a chance to rip on his co-stars, Mackie and Johnson.

“Dwayne will tell you about some injuries, he had some muscles ripped off his pelvis or something, but that’s no big deal.  You could all have it right now but you wouldn’t know it . . . cause it wouldn’t hurt.

The Rock interjected, “I can’t ice my pelvis.”

When asked what attracted him to the movie, the former Calvin Klein model said playing such an outrageous character, within the world of body-building fascinated him.  Everything about the role really appealed to him.

But when he prepared for this role, for an actual person, not just an imagined character, he only got the information necessary to become Lugo.  He never met him.  With The Fighter, he worked every day on set with Mickey Ward, picking up his mannerisms, the way he walked and talked.  He didn’t have such luxury with Lugo . . . which you’ll understand after seeing the film.

Wahlberg admitted that, like many people who have heard the story, he couldn’t believe it was a “true story,” because the events are just so insanely bizarre.  I’ll admit, the things these clowns did to make money borders on the comic-book level of credibility . . . as in, if a comic writer penned this stuff he’d be shunned for coming up with such ludicrous scenarios as convenient writing.

CLICK THE BELOW LINKS FOR THE RAW AUDIO WITH ALL THE TALENT:

MARK WAHLBERG; THE ROCK; ANTHONY MACKIE; MICHAEL BAY

TONY SHALOUB; KEN JEONG; BAR PALY; DONALD DE LINE; CHRISTOPHER MARCUS; STEPHEN MCFEELY

 

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South Beach sit-down with Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco – Directors of The Croods

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Madison Chris Kirk
We shared our interview on NerdSpan.com as well, check it out!

It was a chilly day in South Beach, unseasonably so, when Madison Monroe and a few other local journalists and I sat down with Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco, co-directors of The Croods, starring the voice talents of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Clark Duke, Catherine Keener, Ryan Reynolds and Cloris Leachman (the mother-in-law with a tail).

The interview was for their work on The Croods, so we resisted the urge to ask Chris about being the voice of Stitch.  Madison was pretty thrilled to be meeting one of her favorite Disney characters.  But, I have a feeling after families check out The Croods, more kids will want to have their very own Belt.  Chris Sanders voiced Belt, the world’s first pet.

After some pleasantries and caffeine pouring, the questions began.

Where did you guys get the idea to make a movie like The Croods?

Kirk De Micco: I originally started writing the story with John Cleese in 2004, and it was going to be a different movie, it was going to be stop-motion and was called Crude Awakenings at the time.

It still has that same concept of the fear of change, and John was really into it at that time, because he has a deathly fear of technology.  And in 2007 I started talking to Chris about it and Grug and what it was, the fear of change, and from that it evolved into a story of a family.  And what’s really relatable is the fear of the change going on inside your own family.  And for a father the most scary change is when his daughter starts to fall in love with a boy.  So that’s the arc of the evolution.

What message do you hope that people take from this film?

Chris Sanders:  The message of this film, there are many different levels that are going on at the same time in this film.  One of the ones I like to talk about is just the idea of change and risk.  At the beginning of this film, Grug the dad, is trying to keep everyone together inside this cave.  Just hide them away from danger, and he’s also trying to hide them away from change.  Nothing frightens The Croods like something new.

Anything new is bad, right, it can’t be good, because new is risk and new is bad.  But change finds them, their cave is destroyed, and it’s nothing that they could have ever stopped.  And the interesting thing about this film is that the villain in this film is really change itself.  In this film it’s a collapsing continent that pursues The Croods through the entire film.  The idea that Grug is going to have to accept is that if this family is going to survive is that change is going to happen and they’re going to have to accept some level of risk and that’s the lesson that Grug learns at the end of the film . . . that, life is risk.

Rick Swift:  What are some of the biggest risks that you have personally taken, Kirk and Chris?  

CS:  Career wise?

RS:  Yea, nothing personal, just what you had to risk to make The Croods.

KD:  One thing I think is relatable, you know, everyone has that fear of change, choosing a new school or getting a new job, or deciding you are going to go into a relationship.  There’s always that fear that something is going to go wrong.  But if you don’t try anything, it’s, you know . . . I don’t know if there’s any one personal one that I have; I live in constant fear – “Never not be afraid” is kinda my model as much as the line.  I don’t know where to start with that, you’d probably be with me in therapy for many many years.

Madison Monroe:  I wanted to talk about one of the voices from the movie, Emma Stone, she has a very distinctive voice, kinda raspy, but it’s really nice, so why did you think it would be good for the voice of Eep?

CS:  You know, Kirk and I, she was our very first choice for the voice of Eep.  And, a lot of the different things you’re looking for, one of them is that they inhabit their voice . . . very fully.  I think it was the overall quality that Emma Stone had that drew us to her, we thought she was very very appealing.  She inhabits that voice.  Uhm, we do shoot the videos of the recordings so we can bring them to the animators later so that they can capture a little facial expression, gesture, timing, things like that, but most of what we come away with is a recording.  And everything needs to be in that recording.  So, uhm, there’s a warmth, there’s appeal, there’s a quirkiness.

KD:  The quirkiness is what, you know, we actually, you know, kinda fell in love with her watching House Bunny.  That was before we started, before like, everything, Easy A, But, you know how that character was . . .

MM:   Natallllieee

KD:  Exactly, yea, that’s what we wanted.  We both felt like that was something we wanted.  You know, Eep needs to have a bit of awkwardness, she’s a cave girl, she’s not so polished off, you know, and that’s what she does so well, and her timing is so impeccable.

Which characters were you most drawn to?

CS:  Well, I have my human favorites and I have my animal favorites.  My animal favorite is the giant tiger.  I think that’s one of my very favorite characters I’ve ever worked on.  The human characters, I think Eep, because that scene in the very beginning when she’s seeking light, and the idea that she passes that thing on to her dad, I think is one of my favorite things in the film.

KD:  Well mine is Grug, obviously, because that’s like I said, I live in fear, and for animals . . . it’s kinda a toss up, but I grew over time to be falling in love with Douglas.  Because I’m a dog guy, and I just felt like that, that, there’s the one shot where Grug is running for his life and he sees Douglas and Douglas is sitting there with this look on his face, and he’s just a sweet dog, you know.

What was the hardest part of making this movie?

CS:  This has a very unusual story, it’s a road trip, and so for this movie the changes in the characters are internal, so because of that the physical journey the characters take in that was variable.  We, again, we didn’t have a traditional villain that was going to pop out and confront the characters.  So really all these changes are internal changes, and that was probably the hardest thing about this film.

Writing it and story-boarding it to finding the actual path that they took. We made a lot of changes, they went to a lot of places that you’ll never see in this film.  But, it’s all about triggering the correct responses inside the characters.  That was the quest.

KD:  Another one I think was the, you know, it’s completely a fantasy world. There’s nothing that we could rely on.  You go, oh well, that’s a building, we could just make a building.  We know how to make that.  Oh, they walk into a room, ok, that’s got four . . . . you have something to start with.  Here we had nothing to start with, so all the artists at DreamWorks were like . . . WOW, we can do anything we want . . . and after about six months they’re like, uh, where do we start?  So everything you see there is from their imaginations, you know, it’s their fantasy world.

Rick Swift:  Whose decision was it to cross a Macaw and a Sabretooth?  I know you said that was your favorite character, so.

CS:  Yes, I did design that one character.  We were trying to do combination animals, it was an idea that one of our developing artists came up with, named Shane Prigmore, and very early on in the design process, he did a single drawing of an animal that was a combination of two different creatures that we know.  And we thought, that’s a great way to go.  So we imagined if you rolled backwards in time that maybe all these animals that we know today may have been fused together and they separated at some point.  And the tiger was an interesting one, because he’s a staple. 

I felt very strongly that we should have a couple of staples of our prehistoric world that we are all very familiar with.  So we have a mammoth and we have a Sabre-tooth tiger, he’s our sabre-tooth tiger.  So, the best combination we could think of was maybe the coloration.  He has a green macaw coloration to him that I think is just stunning.

RS:  It really is visually exciting, yea.

Did you learn anything new about yourselves during the filming?

CS:  That’s a good question, that’s a very good question.  I think for myself, and it’s coming for Kirk, . . . it’s coming.  I have a daughter, and she’s seven now, and the dad daughter relationship in the film was something that was very new, because I’ve been on this film for about five years.  And that was a very new relationship for me when I began the film, so I think that just learning about that type of relationship while I was home and then bringing that to work and putting some of that into the movie I think was probably the thing that was evolving as we were making this film.

KD:  I would say pretty much the same, because I started this like in 2004, and writing about a father for about eight/nine years and now I just had twins last week, so, there we have it.  I don’t know if it’s life imitating art or art imitating life.

What did you take from How to Train Your Dragon to use in The Croods?

CS:  In Croods we pushed the 3D harder, Croods is a different type of film, it’s a different tone, it has a much broader tone, we have bigger action, almost like cartoony, if you will.   Especially the opening sequence.  It allowed us, in the moments that were appropriate, to push it literally to the breaking point.  We have moments where things come out into the audience and you can’t bring them out further.  The technology just will stop.

KD:  Your eyeballs will go in, there’s nowhere left.

CS:  For me with How to Train Your Dragon, that was my crash course in all things, CG.  And I took every little bit of the knowledge I gained from How to Train Your Dragon and brought that all to Croods and there were big changes on Croods when I came back, because I better understood what this CG thing could achieve.  So when I came back, both Kirk and I started pushing things on the Croods a lot harder visually to be more believable, in a sense of having things be more realistic and things.  Just because this film is about consequences of decisions.  So you need to believe in the world the Croods are in, so a lot of the stuff is broader.

We wanted to ask probably about a thousand more questions of each of them, but they had to be a million other places and in no time.  You don’t think about the amount of hard work that goes into a film when you sit back and just demand to be entertained.  It is nice to meet people so passionate about their work, and it translates incredibly well in their overall product.  I can’t wait for everyone to see The Croods, to meet them and understand their own families a little better perhaps.

We hope Chris and Kirk keep making great films, and we look forward to meeting them again.  Plus, it was a miracle I kept Madison from stealing that Belt prop at the Mandarin Oriental!  I’m not gonna lie, I wanted it to, for my son, yea, for my son.

Limacher Low Down: Teresa Palmer & Nicholas Hoult of Warm Bodies

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Warm Bodies in a Windy City

Maybe you’ve heard of Teresa Palmer from her role in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and maybe you know Nicholas Hoult as a young Beast in X:Men: First Class, but after you see Warm Bodies, you’ll certainly never forget them as Julie and R, respectively.R and Julie

I met with the two leads for Warm Bodies last week in Downtown Chicago.  There were a few spoilers from our chat, but nothing that will take away from your enjoyment of the movie.

David Limacher: Thank You both for taking the time today to talk with me about Warm Bodies.

Teresa Palmer: You’re VERY Welcome.

Nicholas Hoult: You’re Welcome.

DL: Warm Bodies takes place after the Zombie Apocalypse. This is something that has recently exploded and become HUGE in our culture.

TP: VERY HUGE!

DL: Now Warm Bodies offers something new to the viewers with the fact there is aspects of Horror, Comedy, Action, and a Love Story that’s the center of the movie. Warm Bodies actually gives Zombies a heart and a soul; is that something that intrigued you about the script and making this movie?

TP: I think you answered the question already! (Laughs)

NH: Yeah, I loved the short story, and I fell in love with the character of R from the beginning. This was something that intrigued me from the beginning that I knew I had to be a part of it. It doesn’t parody and make fun of the culture and it is something fabulous to be a part of in whole.

TP: Actually, yeah. There was something fresh and unique about this script that was so brilliant that I was happy to be a part of it. This was something different for those Zombie Die Hard Fans, and I hope they enjoy it! Now are you one of those Hardcore Zombie Fans?

DL: Actually, yes I am! I’ve followed the culture for many years. Read every issue of The Walking Dead, watched every episode, and grew up watching George Romero’s movies as well. I believe the fine people from Zombie Apocalypse Defense Force, or ZADF.org trust me to speak for them that I am as well.

TP: Oh WOW! Yeah, that definitely makes you a Hardcore Zombie Fan! You’re the MOST Hardcore Zombie Fan we’ve talked with yet, and this is just AWESOME!

NH: Yeah! So, would you suggest Warm Bodies to your friends and fans of the Web sites that you work for?

DL: Most Definitely! There is such a new and fresh take on the Zombie Apocalypse in this movie, which I believe most people will take something away from it and thoroughly enjoy the ride they were taken on. I also enjoyed how they explain some of the rather unanswered questions about Zombies as well. The first thing that comes to mind is why Zombies eat Brains.

NH: YEAH! That was way cool to read and be a part of for me! The fact we get to understand that the brains are the most delicious part of the human to a zombie, but also the fact the Zombie that eats a person’s brain inherits those people’s memories. It helps the zombies to gain understanding of the person and gives them memories that can possibly replace their own. I also enjoy how the whole eating of the brains helped to establish the relationship between R and Julie as well.

DL: Nicholas, can I ask what did you do to research being a zombie?

NH: I actually watched every single movie I could get my hands on with “Dead” in the title. Not only that, but I watched movies like “Edward Scissorhands” in which the character doesn’t talk much, but has to use other things to get across emotion.

@tezpalmer of Warm Bodies

TP: You also had that guy from Cirque Du Soleil come in and help you with motions as well, right?

NH: Yeah, we had a guy from Cirque Du Soleil come in and help me get my zombie movements correct as well.

TP: And they videotaped them, and I got to watch them and have a good laugh! (laughs)

NH: Yeah, I would get an instruction like go get the food, so I would movie and go AHHHH! to get the food!

TP: The thing is that with everything Jonathan wanted to get everyone involved, so I loved the fact that we developed this relationship over time with working together so much and having to learn that the character R was trying to communicate with Julie without being able to talk too much. It made it a very interesting working environment, and the fact I had so much dialogue that I was just going over and over with and feeling like I was becoming long winded with everything going on, like I am right now.

DL: I really don’t mind you going on and on talking right now.

TP: It’s me accent isn’t it.

DL: Yeah, I would have to say so.

TP: (laughs) Well, I thank you!

DL: So, I was curious to know if there was any tension on set with Nicholas, you being British, and Teresa, you being Australian?

TP: I would LOVE to give you the “Inside Scoop” that there was some tension between us, but the truth is we got along from the start, and everything was great between the two of us throughout. Wasn’t it Nick?

NH: Yeah, it was actually very easy going, and we developed a quick friendship on the set. There was no tension between the two of us, and we just had a lot of fun working together. I would particularly “Corpse” a lot…

TP: What?

NH: Corpse! I suppose here you would call it “breaking”, but just constantly laughing!

DL: So, basically in the movie you were Corpses Corpsing, because the Zombies in the movie are referred to throughout as Corpses!

NH: Yeah! I never thought of that; Corpses Corpsing, I like that! That’s good.

@NicholasHoult of Warm Bodies

TP: And there were so many sexual innuendos in the script as well that made it difficult for both of us when I was lying in bed saying “Wow, it must be so hard for you!” or “You must really be stiff right now!” “I know you didn’t want to eat me!”

DL: That actually brings up the line that got the BIGGEST LAUGH when I saw the movie. It was while, Teresa, you were getting undressed and R simply has the inner monologue of “HOLY SHIT!”

NH: Really! That’s awesome!

DL: Yeah, it’s the first time I can recall where two words got that big of a laugh!

NH: Holy Shit! Yeah, that was a good line, and I’m glad it got such a big laugh. But, can you imagine being my character and not being with a woman for so long, and then seeing that happen!

TP: Yeah! I’m glad you told us that got a huge laugh, and I hope people continue to have that same reaction when they see the movie as well. Holy Shit gets a huge laugh; that’s great! Funny thing is that in the book, the character of R had his “dang-a-lang” as I like to call it fall off, so how could he even get anything going for him down there?

NH: Yeah, in the short story R has nothing down there, but I decided to change that, as an actor, and somehow in the movie everything down there is still in place! (laughs)

TP: (laughs)

DL: (laughs) Nicholas, I was wondering if it was difficult for you, while reading the script, when you were in your scenes with Julie was it difficult to (groan)

TP: (laughs)

DL: was that difficult for you to plot out; and Teresa was it difficult for you to react if Nicholas was supposed to do a (higher pitched groan) and it came out a (lower pitched groan)?

TP: You really didn’t over think your groans, did you?

NH: No, I really didn’t over think my groans; but when it came to the zombie stuff, I had done so much work on it that it came somewhat naturally at a certain point. I just wanted to show that there was more going on what was going inside then I could express. It still didn’t stop me from forgetting lines though!

TP: Yeah, I would go through pages and pages of lines and then he would forget his line or cue!

NH: I would just be there enthralled with her acting, and how she remembered all these lines and then just thinking “Wow, she hasn’t spoken for a little while” and she would be giving me these blank stares wondering what the hell was going on with me. And then I would be like, OH, my line!

TP: Yeah, I’d be sitting there going “Safe…” “Not Eat…” I was thinking, you know I should play R!

DL: Well, if there’s a sequel, you can switch roles?

TP: YEAH! I was very nervous with all these lines and lines of script, but when we were filming Nicholas had these facial expressions and such great emotions that he was able to get across without having to speak I was just amazed and felt lucky to be working with such a talent.

Warm Bodies

DL: So my last question was for both of you, and how you feel about this being your “Breakthrough” roles and a big success and notch in your cap? Showing the world that you’re talented enough to hold your own as the STARS of the movie; because you always had MAJOR roles; but this is your movie as the stars of the movie. Would you classify this as your “Breakout” movie?

NH: I never really thought of it like that. I don’t want to think of it like that, cause you don’t want to count your eggs before they hatch kind of thing. I just will know that I had a great time making this movie and that it is something I will always remember and cherish as part of my acting career. Unlike most movies of this type, I like to think of it as the perfect “date” movie. I would take a date there, but I’m now in it so that would be a little awkward. I’d be like “Oh, wait, that’s ME! Would you like some popcorn?” But yeah, definitely take a date to see Warm Bodies!

TP: I feel exactly the same! I haven’t thought about it in terms of what it will or won’t do for my career. I LOVE the character of Julie, and I miss R! I miss going to the set everyday and being able to work with such AMAZING people. I haven’t ever worked on a movie or a set that I miss going to shoot every day, or miss the character I’m playing, or miss the interactions with the other characters as much as I did on Warm Bodies! It was such an amazing experience, and I hope that audiences take away the same feeling that I did from this movie as well.

DL: I think that about wraps it up for us, and I wanted to thank you both for taking the time today to chat with me about Warm Bodies!

NH: Thank You! It was fun, and everyone should go see Warm Bodies on February 1st!

TP: Thank You so much! It was fun, and didn’t feel like an interview as it did a conversation about something I love! Oh, and go see Warm Bodies on February 1st everyone!

I had so much fun doing this interview and I agree with both Nicholas and Teresa that if you like Zombies, want a good time at the movies, or can’t agree on what movie to see on “Date Night”; then Warm Bodies is the perfect choice for everyone.

 

A Haunted House – in South Beach?!?

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

That's me - Madison Monroe with Marlon!When the opportunity to interview Marlon Wayans was presented to me, there was no question that I would do it.  He’s one of the stars of “White Chicks”, which I LOVE!!

So on a sunny and hot Wednesday before Christmas, my assistant and I trekked to the W hotel in South Beach for the interview.  We had screened “A Haunted House” the previous week and it was incredibly funny.  We arrived shortly before check-in but, as I learned, press junkets are never on time.  Needless to say, we waited about an hour and a half before the round table began.  I had my trusty iPad and the production notes from the film to keep me occupied, and there was plenty of food and drink for us to enjoy.

Finally it was time!!  My assistant, three other members of the press, and I were escorted into a room with very bright, hot lights and there he was:  Marlon Wayans!!  I mentioned that the lights were hot and he agreed.  Marlon was very friendly, walking around hugging everyone hello.  I was glad that he was really cool and not douchey or snobby at all.

We were told we only had 10 minutes for the round table interview, so we took turns asking questions while I recorded everything.  Of course, I had to mention my love of “White Chicks” and we talked about that for a few.

Enjoy listening to the audio of the round table interview.  Note that we did have to edit it to remove spoilers.  And go see “A Haunted House” in theaters January 11th!!!  I give it two snaps and a circle!

Click each question below for the audio answer, and be prepared to laugh!!

Where did the idea come up for “A Haunted House?”

 

Have you seen Paranormal Activity 3 or 4 yet?

 

“White Chicks 2” in the works?

 

What do you like doing better parody movies or non-parody movies?

 

Good movies are basically scatological jokes told in a smart way.

 

What do you like better, writing, producing, or acting?

 

How do you think you have progressed as a film-maker?

 

It’s pronounced “Titties” (listen to the WHOLE clip)

I really hope you enjoyed listening to each of these clips as much as I enjoyed meeting Marlon.  And, not for nothing, but I watched him on New Years and when he said he was “in charge” of White Chicks, it made a special New Years that much better.

Thank you, Marlon, it was great meeting you, and much success in your scatological adventures!

Madison Monroe

 

Wizard World Chicago – 2012, My Favorite Year

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

I recently had the pleasure and honor of being able to cover Wizard World Comic Con: Chicago now for the 3rd year in a row, and I can honestly say that it was the most organized and BIGGEST con yet.  Click here for all the images – iRATEfilms Facebook

I want to start off by saying that if you live in the Mid-West and have the opportunity to go, YOU BETTER GO! This year proved that the people at Wizard World know how to organize a con, and they really drove that point home this year. The organization, in the past, may have been questionable, but the lines flowed smoothly, and the staff and volunteers did their best to make sure everyone (press, talent, guests . . . everyone) had the best time.

They addressed venue issues and they expanded out more which gave room for more vendors, but it also gave room to breathe a little easier as well. This year they even had a smart phone/tablet app that people could download that had all the information a person would need in the palm of their hands.

The app was a helpful tool when wanting to know different booth locations, Q & A locations and time, and also to get a complete and up to date list of all the stars that would be available. The app was a greater help than the multiple maps and events sheets that were also available, definitely a must for the con geek.

This year was all about making sure that everyone had a great time, did I mention that yet?  There were some familiar faces and some new ones with guests including Stan Lee, The Boondock Saints (Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flannery, and David Della Rocco), Jon Bernthal (Shane of the Walking Dead), Sam Trammel (Sam on True Blood) C.M. Punk (WWE Champion), John Cena (WWE Superstar), George Perez (Comic Book Artist Extraordinaire), and too many more to list here.  Check out the official website for the whole roster, here:  Chicago 2012!

The celebs I got a chance to chat with were all VERY friendly and seemed to genuinely enjoy the opportunity to meet their fans. There were also a couple new additions this year with the Jedi Lightsaber Training Classes, and even Sci-Fi Speed Dating. Yea, they had something for everyone this year.

While I was walking around, I was lucky enough to get a few words and a handshake in with Jon Bernthal. He told me he has a few projects in the works and will miss working with his “Walking Dead Family.” 

When I spoke to Sean Patrick Flannery he was adamant about how much he loves the fans, and just loves the opportunity to interact with fans of all of his projects.

One of the more humorous people who I got to talk to at some length was David Della Rocco. David lives up to his moniker “The Funnyman” that was given to him in The Boondock Saints. He will take the time to chat about anything and everything and was very personable. The most memorable thing for me, being a HUGE fan of “The Boondock Saints” was asking him if he had to audition for a part that used his ACTUAL name. He said “Yeah, I went into the audition and they asked me to say Fuck in a variation of ways, so I did.

After I was done they told me that was all they needed and I got the part. I would’ve been pretty fucking embarrassed had I not gotten the part of Rocco that was written for me!”

I didn’t even attempt to talk to Norman this year, because his line was ALWAYS packed, and he was a machine taking pictures and signing autographs for EVERYONE who took the time to wait in his line. I also had the opportunity to meet and talk to Cindy Morgan. I remember her from the first time I saw Tron and Caddyshack. I was a bit intimidated to approach a person that is such a viable part of one of the FUNNIEST movies of all time. I can honestly say that she didn’t disappoint. She was very friendly, and such a class act as well. The fact she knew of the site (hear that Rick Swift?) and was a fan really put a HUGE smile on my face. When I asked for a picture of her, she said “ONLY if you’re in the picture with me!” That is a memory I will not soon forget! Thank you, Cindy.

I was able to live out a dream when I met George Perez. For those who don’t know, George Perez is a LEGEND in the world of Comic Book Art. I remember REALLY getting into comics when I was younger due to the art of a Marvel arc called “Thanos: The Infinity Gauntlet”. Those of you who don’t know who Thanos is, recall the first post credits part of The Avengers. He was the menacing purple dude at the end. George Perez has drawn for Marvel and DC, and his artwork is amazing.

I was fortunate enough to have him draw Thanos for me and while he did, he told me that an old friend of his was actually Thanos in The Avengers. He was excited to see one of his “babies” wasn’t given the CGI treatment, but there is/was an actual actor portraying Thanos. That was awesome news to me, and it made me appreciate the end that much more. George Perez also shared one of the most touching stories I have ever heard, but I’m not going to get into the sappy stuff here.

I had a great time just walking around all weekend as well. Visiting the different vendors (especially the Suicide Girls who were awesome and very cool to me; Hey Churtch!), and meeting people from all over the place; even AUSTRIA! There is such an eclectic group that arrives at Wizard World Chicago, and it becomes an adventure when you start seeing people over and again in this huge mass of people, but with my experience, it’s like I become a part of the event. I have found that when you keep seeing the same people over and again you start to develop friendships that you would most likely not have in any other environment.

It is truly a situation where you could walk in knowing nobody and walk out with a 100 new friends. And I learned the BEST way to make new friends is to just start high fiving people. Nothing puts a smile on a person’s face better than a high five. Even Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter Movies) had a smile on his face after I gave him a simple high five.

I must reiterate the point of how great a job everyone in the staff, volunteers, security, vendors, EVERYONE did this year. This year was the best of the past three years. Each year keeps getting better and better, and I’m excited to see what the future holds in store. Wizard World Chicago is the Mid-West equivalent to International Comic Con in San Diego. I really feel honored that I have watched it grow in a very short period of time. It is something that the whole family can enjoy too, and it really does have something for everyone. Check it out next year; I may just give you a high five!

Check out my past experiences here:

2010

2011

The Amazing Spider-Man

Friday, June 29th, 2012

******

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 4.50 out of 5)
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“Spider-Man belongs to everyone.”

Check out my interview with Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Dr. Denis Leary here!

Swift shot:  They finally addressed the fact that Peter Parker is more than just a teenager with a fortunate spider-bite, he is a real person, and more to the point, he is a genius! Fans of Spider-Man, the “real” Spider-Man, whatever that means anymore, should be incredibly happy to see a more compassionate person, rather than a caricature of what Hollywood thinks we want to see on the big screen, Andrew Garfield’s Parker was real in many ways.  In a few scenes, even the way he sat on the floor felt real, un-staged, and maybe the lanky guy that I am can appreciate how it works . . . tucking your knee under your chin and focusing intently on a book on the floor.  Little physical tricks like that helped flesh-out Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and while it is a giant Summer action blockbuster, there was a slight pulse throughout that couldn’t be ignored.  You feel for these characters in a big way.

When we first see Peter, he is only about seven years old, and his parents are still in his life.  But someone decides to destroy the happy home, and his parents flee in the night, leaving Peter scared, confused and a bit angry as he grows up without his real parents to guide him.  His Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Fields) are wonderful, but they just aren’t his parents.  A boy needs his father, and Peter’s quest to find answers to his father’s fate lead him to his destiny and molds the destinies of those around him in ways he will never be able to reconcile.

The teenaged Peter is a hero in his own right, whilst he may not have the physical mettle to stand up to injustice, his heart and courage are remarkable.  He is smitten by Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who is probably as smart, if not smarter than he is, but he isn’t really on her radar as far as he knows.  The direct-from-central-casting bully, Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) thinks he can get any girl, but Gwen isn’t interested in him either.

One night, when Peter happens upon his father’s briefcase, he discovers a clue about his father’s work, and his dad’s old partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) conveniently is hosting a group of interns from his school . . . and Gwen happens to be in charge of the group.  It might have been a bit too convenient, but we’ll let that pass, as this is where Peter, again searching for clues, manages to find himself in a web of intrigue when he gets bit by . . . duh, a “special” spider.  Dr. Connors’ research is only missing one piece, a formula that Peter’s father was working on solving.  It never occurred to Peter that maybe his dad didn’t want Connors solving the riddle of genetic manipulation.  From here, I think you can figure out the rest, no spoiler alert needed, Parker becomes Spider-Man and Connors eventually becomes The Lizard.  [By the way, that was the number one answer when I asked my twitter followers their favorite Spider-Man villain . . . mentioned in my interviews above]

Dr. Denis Leary turns in a solid performance as Captain Stacy, Gwen’s dad.  He’s a good-guy, which Leary admits is against his grain as an actor, so it was a novel role for him.  Stacy sees Spider-Man as a masked nutjob, a vigilante going around doing police work the wrong way.  In one somewhat dramatic scene, Stacy and Parker are debating on the morality of Spider-Man and how he doesn’t let the little fish get away, he busts all skulls.  I like that scene, because it developed the characters in a way that most of us could relate . . . if you have ever been at one of those dinners you wish you could just jettison yourself away from the table because the conversation is getting way too serious.

You’ll note this review, like the film, is focusing on the story more than the cool Spider-Man stuff.  I was impressed by the special effects team and the stunt crew, and visually this film stands out as really delivering that immerseve quality that a lot of CGI-rich films lack.  I had the opportunity to peak at some of the behind the scenes stuff whilst waiting for our interviews, and I can tell you a lot of the physical stuff is done by people, that is why it doesn’t look like a giant cartoon.  And, yes, I saw it in 3D IMAX, and Director Marc Webb [that still makes me chuckle, Web / Spider] added some first-person wall-crawling effects in there . . . most likely for fans of the video games.  I thought it was a nice touch, it was almost over-used, but he managed to avoid that trap.  Oh, and speaking of traps, the sewer trap scene was ripped right out of the comics and was so well done, showing how Parker can be a genius and the biggest web-head on the planet by overlooking one key element when laying out his trap for The Lizard.

After I met Emma Stone, I feel I would be doing her injustice if I didn’t point out that she brought to life a character that is probably often over-looked in the Spider-Man nerd-verse in Gwen Stacy.  Gwen’s character is the glue that keeps Peter, Captain Stacy and Dr. Connors weaved together in a complex story about a boy struggling to find himself as he faces ghosts from his past, deals with tragedy and power and all whist still not being able to legally drink.

I had one person comment that this film should never have been made, granted, they didn’t see it yet.  They were reacting out of anger that the other trilogy was dead, but I am like Andrew Garfield, I just wanted to see my ‘buddy’ on the screen again.  Spider-Man is, by far, my favorite Marvel character, he is surrounded by so much tragedy and pain, yet he still maintains his morality and avoids evil choices.  If you search the Marvel wiki, there are countless versions of Spider-Man, and whilst this film may be yet another version, it was highly entertaining.  And, I caught the ORIGINAL 1967 series Spider-Man [the one with the best song on the PLANET] wherein Dr. Curt Connors is a doctor in the Florida Everglades who has both arms and is trying to cure swamp-fever!   So, yea, spare me any attacks that this film isn’t the REAL Spider-Man . . . he doesn’t exist.  Yet, he does exist, we are all Spider-Man . . . otherwise, what’s the point of loving the character?

 

 

 

The Amazing Interviews!

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Denis Leary Emma Stone Andrew Garfield

I once tweeted the following question to no one in particular, “Who is your favorite Spiderman villain?”  Some Marvel writer quickly corrected my glaring mistake, “Boo, it’s Spider-Man, not Spiderman.”  “He’s not Jewish,” someone else tweeted in.  So, ok, I am not an avid reader of the books, but I pretty much grew up like every kid, loving Spider-Man, hyphenated or not.  I used to play the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, and I know Spider-Man has ‘Amazing’ strength on his FASERIP score, that’s the ‘S’ in FASERIP for the uneducated.

There have been, and hopefully will continue to be, countless iterations of Spider-Man, so when I was given the chance to meet the “real” Spider-Man in person, I rolled my 2d10 and prayed for a successful meeting.  It was a beautiful, sunny day in South Beach at the Mandarin Oriental where I met up with Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and let’s not forget Captain Stacy himself, Denis Leary.  I screened The Amazing Spider-Man the night before and was excited to speak to each of them.  You’ll have to wait a few days on that review.

It was, by far, the highlight of this reporter’s growing career.  I only had a night to prepare, so I delved into IMDb and found out some quality facts about each.  Probably my biggest surprise was that Denis Leary is a bonafide doctor . . . he’s freakin’ Doctor Denis Leary, folks!

Emma Stone has a strong commitment to fighting cancer, and the Spider-Man team did a fabulous job of spreading that message in Miami yesterday with their “#BeAmazing – Stand Up and Volunteer” campaign.  Emma is also an avid Gilda Radner fan, and I was thrilled to draw out her favorite Radner film, but you’ll have to catch that in the interview piece.

Andrew Garfield, I didn’t get much on him really, but my girlfriend filled me in that Emma and he were an item.  That isn’t really the kind of stuff I wanted to focus on though.  I wanted to know what it was like to BE Spider-Man, for real, or at least as real as it gets without The Universal Table. (yea, that’s another RPG reference, I am gonna get you to check it out eventually).

Some of the other folks at the table wanted to press each of them about why this film was “essential,” and while each answered in their own way, the message was clear across the board, this is OUR Spider-Man, stop bugging us about the other films.  We are actors, professionals, hired to do the best job we can, and we feel we did.  And, my two cents on the matter will be in my review, but really is ANY film ever “essential?”

You’ll have to listen to the interviews for a taste of what my adventure was like.  Simply click each image above to access the separate interviews.  And, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that it is still possible to Be Amazing and Stand Up to Cancer yourself!  Check out the events in your area here!  I hope you have as much fun listening to these interviews as I had meeting these charming and talented actors.

 

That’s My Boy

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

***½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 1.00 out of 5)
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Welcome to the return of classic Sandler movies!!

I got to meet Vanilla Ice and have an impromptu conversation, check it out here.

I’ve seen a lot of Adam Sandler movies.  Not all of them, but a lot of them.  In the beginning, they were funny, crazy, and crude, but there was always a good message at the end of the day.  More recently, they have been less crazy and crude, more family-friendly, or even the so-called worst movie of all time (it wasn’t THAT bad, people!!).   “That’s My Boy” would fall into the “Billy Madison” or “Happy Gilmore” type of movie.

Todd (Andy Samberg) is the product of an illicit student-teacher relationship.  You see, his mother was his father’s middle school teacher.  Todd’s mother, Mrs. McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino, in a clever bit of casting, which becomes apparent when you see Mrs. McGarricle 30 years later) got pregnant from her teenage boyfriend Donny (Adam Sandler).  She was subsequently sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Donny was made to raise their son, who they named Han Solo (which he changed when he was older).

Fast forward about 30 years.  Todd (formerly known as Han Solo) is about to marry Jamie (Leighton Meester).  They go to stay at Todd’s boss Steve Spirou’s (Tony Orlando) house in Cape Cod, along with Jamie’s parents Gerald and Helen (Blake Clark, a veteran of a few Sandler movies and Meagen Fay).  Also joining them are Jamie’s brother Chad (Milo Ventimiglia), who plays a dedicated Marine, and Steve’s Grandma Delores (Peggy Stewart), a former swimsuit model.

Donny is in dire need of money for not paying his taxes, or else he will be thrown in jail.  Desperate, Donny  tracks Todd down but Todd can’t introduce him as his father, because the story that he told everyone is that his parents are both deceased.  So Donny is presented as Todd’s best friend.  Surprisingly, everybody loves the crude, crass, over-the-top Donny, except Todd and Jamie.   Over the course of the weekend, Donny and Todd actually begin to form a bond, until something happens that ruins everything.

I’m glad to say that Leighton Meester didn’t scare me in this movie like she did in “The Roommate”.  I literally could not watch “Gossip Girl” for a month because of her performance!!  Her character Jamie did take a disturbing turn, however.  I was NOT expecting that to happen but it did and it was crazy.

I was pleased with Andy Samberg’s performance.  He had the perfect balance of exasperation at his father but still wanting his father to BE a dad to him.

Other standouts in this film include Will Forte and Rachel Dratch as Todd’s coworker Phil and his wife and Luenell as Champale, a dancer at Donny’s favorite hangout,  Classy Rick’s Bacon and Legs Strip Club.  This lady is NOT afraid to show off her goodies!!  Speaking of goodies, Ciara also has a role in this film, as a waitress at Classy Ricks.  And let’s not forget James Caan as Father McNally, the priest who officiates the wedding.

OH and I must comment on my interviewee Vanilla Ice’s performance.  This was no cameo role for him (although there is a cameo from an actor from an 80s TV show that is quite hilarious)!!  I’m not sure if it was because he was actually in the audience in person but everyone was laughing a lot at his scenes.  So much that sometimes I missed what was being said!!  What I did hear was funny though.  This is not a case of a musician trying his hand at acting, he really did a good job.  And yes, as he stated in my interview, his classic song “Ice Ice Baby” is played during the movie.

Some of the more outrageous moments in this film include but are not limited to:  surprising and hilarious back tattoos, the bachelor party (both of them!!), Donny’s choice of masturbatory material,  the numerous uses of the phrase “WHASSSSUP” (that will probably make a comeback now) and Jamie’s family secret.

Believe it or not, “That’s My Boy” is a good Father’s Day movie for grown-ups.  Please be warned that there is a LOT of semi-nudity, inappropriateness, curse words, and just general craziness.  There is also a ton of laughs and fun, along with a good message at the end of the day.