Blog Archives

The Twilight Zone FAQ Excerpt

With the New Year a couple days away, Syfy will be airing a Twilight Zone marathon on New Year’s Day. Enjoy an excerpt below from Dave Thompson’s, The Twilight Zone FAQThe Twilight Zone FAQ takes the reader back to that halcyon era, looking back on the show and its impact as a force for societal change, via reflections on the manifold topics and controversies that the show took on – from the space race to the Red Menace, from paranoia to madness and beyond.

“Where Is Everybody?” (First broadcast: October 2, 1959)

The Twilight Zone’s much-anticipated pilot episode was the tale of a man who found himself alone on a road, walking into a strange town, and discovering that he was the only person there. Every place he visited, from a diner on the outskirts, to the police station, a movie theater and a drugstore, was deserted, and while he continually saw signs of recent activity . . . a boiling coffeepot, a still-lit cigar, a ringing telephone and so on . . . life itself was altogether absent. His sole companions, it appeared, were a dressmaker’s mannequin seated in a car and his own reflection in a mirror.

It is a fascinating study of isolation and loneliness, edging into paranoia and terror. Throughout what quickly turns from a perplexing mystery to a screaming terror, the man cannot help but feel he is under constant observation, and when he finally cracks, that was the horror that he verbalizes. Stop watching me!

00130445fcOnly in the last minutes of the story do we understand who the man is and why he is in this predicament—an astronaut undergoing isolation training, in the days when the space race was still in its infancy and science had barely succeeded even in launching satellites into space, let alone a manned craft. Some liberties were taken, of course. The dimensions of the Mercury spacecraft, after all, were tiny—so much so that no candidate over five-foot-eleven and 180 pounds could even be considered.

Ferris appears much larger than this (although it is difficult to judge, with all but a few moments of his entire time on-screen being spent alone). But nobody watching the episode would doubt that he readily filled another of the requirements—he was a “superb physical specimen . . . [a] mature, middle-class American, average in . . . and visage, [a] family man.”

But he is also a family man who is left shattered by the sheer desperate loneliness of the mission he is about to undertake. For, staring up at the sky, to the stars and moon, even the most hardened viewer cannot but suppress a shiver as Serling reveals what awaited Ferris, and all who would follow in his footsteps.

“Up there . . . up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky . . . up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting . . . waiting with the patience of eons . . . forever waiting . . . in the Twilight Zone.” “Where Is Everybody?” was filmed on the same Universal-International lot that had hitherto featured in such movies as It Came from Outer Space (1953) and Tarantula (1955); and, later, would be seen in Gremlins (1984) and Back to the Future (1985).

The decision to allow Serling himself to handle the narration was very much a last-minute thing—other names were suggested, including Westbrook Van Voorhis, of the March of Time series of radio broadcasts and newsreels, but fears that such already-familiar voices were too readily associated with other shows eventually saw the field whittled down to the show’s creator alone. Just as he had always intended.

It was a move that would find immediate support from the critics. Deep into the first season, TV Guide was still moved to report, “a highly competent group of actors has been employed on The Twilight Zone—Burgess Meredith, Everett Sloane, Dan Duryea, Ed Wynn, fellows like that. But the real star of the series is its creator, chief writer, executive producer and narrator, Serling himself. It is the Serling touch that brings The Twilight Zone out of the everyday—and into the beyond”; establishing it, in fact, as “the most refreshing new anthology series in some time, [with] imagination, highly competent production and excellent acting. There isn’t much meat in it, but, for a mulligan stew, it is a tasty dish indeed.”

The New York Daily News agreed. “The premiere episode of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone … was a suspenseful, tautly-written story of an Air Force officer who finds himself in a completely deserted town. This is still an interesting theme, even though it has been used in other works, including the current [science fiction/end of the world] movie, The World, the Flesh and the Devil.” An interesting comparison, albeit one that must take into consideration the very different payoffs that the two productions deliver.

Other reviews of the episode were likewise enthusiastic.

“This debut scored with dramatic impact infrequently found when the TV camera attempts to focus on the fringes of fantasy, and while short on insight, it was strong on style and solidly suspenseful,” declared the Hollywood Reporter, while Time magazine called the show “a fresh idea presented by people with a decent respect for the medium and the audience . . . proof that a little talent and imagination can atone for a lot of television.”

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Earl Holliman was singled out as “painfully convincing as the last man on earth in an episode that brilliantly exploited those story line details the eye and ear remember long after the fadeout.” Across the board, reviews and reviewers were spellbound, although there was some dissent. The revelation that the events of the show took place only in the mind of a NASA test subject was not to everybody’s taste—more than one viewer, at the time and subsequently, would describe the tale’s solution as simply a variation on the most grisly storytelling clich. of them all, the breathless cliff-hanger that is resolved because “then the little boy woke up.”

Or, as Variety put it, “since the zinger lies in the denouement, it is here where Serling lets down his audience by providing a completely plausible and logical explanation. Somehow the viewer can’t help but feel cheated, even though Serling gives it a topicality attuned to the current human experimentations in preparation for space travel. A science fiction ending would be more in the realm of the imagination.”

But the strength of the story, the beauty of the photography and the power of the more-or-less monologuing Earl Holliman were such that any and all disappointments were overridden. Such values were, of course, common to many pilot episodes, as all concerned threw their very best efforts into displaying the project in the best possible light. But Serling was already committed to retaining those values throughout the entire series, a point that Variety predicted in its review of the opening story. “Everything about [The] Twilight Zone suggests solid production values, with director Robert Stevens extracting maximum performance in this one-man (almost right up to the end) journey into shadow.”

Yet ratings were low. Lower than low. Then sponsors were edgy, the network aghast. Serling might have consoled himself with the knowledge that the fifteen million people who tuned in for the first few episodes was many more than witnessed Oklahoma! throughout its entire Broadway run, but he was comparing chalk and cheese.

With less than one-half of the season either filmed or in production, the possibility that The Twilight Zone might be canceled before its first season was even complete was never far away. Serling himself joked that there were three principal occupational hazards facing the average television producer—hair loss, hypertension and ulcers. He only hoped he could keep all three at bay until the full season was in the can, but a growing tide of industry opinion seemed to be that the show’s life span was already nearing its end.

No matter that ratings offered only a very subjective snapshot of a show’s overall viewing public . . . in that strange way the human race has of playing “follow the leader” at every available opportunity, the news that a show was struggling in the ratings was itself often enough to turn hitherto faithful viewers away from it—out of fear, perhaps, that their neighbors might discover they watched a loser show, and ostracize them accordingly.

Serling himself believed a mail bag that hit twenty-five hundred letters across the first three weeks of the show spoke louder than the ratings, and maybe he was correct. But networks are in the business of pleasing their sponsors, and sponsors are in the business of making money. A couple of thousand people had bought a couple of thousand stamps, and used them to mail a couple of thousand letters, that is true. But how many General Foods products did they also buy? How many Kimberly-Clark?

Enough, it seemed. By the end of the year, Serling was claiming that at least one of the show’s sponsors had informed him that there was a 90 percent chance of the company renewing its sponsorship on the strength of the show’s mailbag . . . or, rather, on the strength of its contents, which was almost unilaterally in favor of the show. Other observers, too, were impressed. Bill Baur of TV Guide even claimed that Serling was in receipt of more fan mail than anybody else on television. . . even if “a great deal of [it] is from neighboring planets.”

In fact, Serling placed very little faith in the content of his mailbag, positive or negative, recalling instead how a favorite episode of the Lassie show, in which the titular collie gives birth to a litter of puppies, was lambasted by viewers—many from the Deep South; many written in the same hand and posted from the same mailbox, that apparently compared the birth of Lassie’s pups to some kind of bump-and-grind burlesque show. To which the network responded by banning any further scenes in which puppies might be born.

Besides, the highest accolades were still to come. In January 1960, at its annual Milestone Award dinner, the Screen Producers Guild declared The Twilight Zone as the best-produced television film series of 1959—a considerable feat for a show that had only debuted in October! Producer Buck Houghton received his award from actress Jane Wyman, and, a month later, the New York Times was repeating that both of the show’s sponsors, General Foods and Kimberly-Clark, had renewed their sponsorship deals for the remaining ten episodes of the season. A further ten, opening a second season, were confirmed by CBS on May 11, 1960. (Kimberly- Clark would drop their sponsorship of the show following the last of the summer reruns. They were replaced for season two by Colgate-Palmolive.)

Later in the year, The Twilight Zone won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Work of 1959 in the science fiction field—the first of three consecutive such victories; quickly followed by the first of two successive Emmys. Nor was the show only winning the respect of the industry. Science fiction fandom, too, was thrilling to its audacity and imagination.

How Carrie Fisher Became Princess Leia

Carrie Fisher, best known for for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the  Star Wars saga, has died. Below is an excerpt from Star Wars FAQ (Mark Clark) and how Carrie was chosen for the role.

Casting Call

Even before George Lucas had completed his Star Wars screenplay he was faced with finding actors to portray his still-evolving characters. Auditions began in late August 1975, while Lucas was finishing the fourth draft of the script. While not quite as excruciating a process as writing the films (see Chapter 4), casting soon became another protracted ordeal – both Lucas and for the actors under consideration for major roles.

00122914fcLucas wanted to hire young, unknown performers for the picture’s leading roles, as he had for American Graffiti. This was in part a cost-containment strategy, but he also believed that actors not already associated with other characters would be more effective in the fantasy context of Star Wars. It was one thing to ask viewers to accept Wookiees, lightsabers, and the Force, but something else again to ask viewers to accept someone like, say, Ron Howard as Luke Skywalker. To assist with the talent search, Lucas again relied on casting director Fred Roos, who had served marvelously on Graffiti. At the beginning of the process, Lucas, Roos, and several assistants worked twelve hour days, seeing as many as 250 actors per day. After three grueling weeks of this, to save time and money, Lucas joined forces with another young director, Brian De Palma, who was looking for a group of young unknowns to star in his film Carrie (1976). Lucas and De Palma took the unusual step of hosting joint auditions. Hundreds more actors were invited to come in and try out for both films. Lucas’ demeanor during the process was so low-key that some of the would-be cast member mistook him for De Palma’s assistant.

Nevertheless Lucas had definite ideas about what he wanted and placed a premium on chemistry between his leads. During callbacks (without De Palma), he screen-tested actors as ensembles to see how various would-be Leias, Lukes, and Hanes worked in concert with one another. Early on, Lucas wanted to hire legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune to play Ben Kenobi, but Mifune declined. “If I’d gotten Mifune, I would’ve used a Japanese princess, and then I would have probably cast a black Han Solo,” said Lucas in J. W. Rinzler’s The Making of Star Wars. One of the trios in contention for the leading roles featured newcomer Will Seltzer as Luke, former Penthouse centerfold Terri Nunn as Leia, and a young Christopher Walken as Han.

Jodie Foster was given serious consideration as Princess Leia. She was screen-tested, but not hired because she was only thirteen years old at the time, and casting a minor would introduce restrictions on the shooting schedule. (De Palma declined to cast her in Carrie for the same reason.) Other performers in the running for major roles included John Travolta, Am Irving (both eventually hired for Carrie), Nick Nole, Tommy Lee Jones, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (later “Boom Boom” Washington on Welcome Back Kotter) – a potential Hans Solo. Ultimately, of course, Lucas settled on Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carri Fisher for leads; a pair of distinguished British actors for key supporting parts; and four performers with specialized talents (and physiques) for the remainder of the primary cast.

None of their lives would ever be the same.

Carrie Fisher 

Roos also suggested that Lucas consider Carrie Fisher for the role of Princess Leia. Fisher, born October 21, 1956, in Beverly Hills, was Hollywood royalty herself – the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. Her parents divorced when Fisher was two (Eddie left Debbie to marry Elizabeth Taylor). Fisher appeared alongside her mother in the promotional short “A Visit with Debbie Reynolds” (1959) and in the TV movie Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children (1969). Beginning at age twelve, she worked in her mother’s Las Vegas revue, and at sixteen she and her mother appeared together in the Broadway revival of the musical Irene (1972). Prior to Star Wars, Fisher had made just a single screen appearance, but it was an unforgettable one – as Lorna, a precocious teenager who beds Warren Beatty (minutes before her mother does the same) in director Hal Ashby’s sex farce Shampoo (1975). Lucas liked that Fisher could believably play a bossy, intimidating, character yet still seem warm and likable. Despite concerns over the actress’ weight, he cast her as Leia, paying her $750 per week. With Star Wars, Fisher would finally step out of her mother’s shadow.

Star Wars FAQ tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds, full of frantic chases, narrow escapes, daring victories, and tragic setbacks, culminating in an unlikely triumph that changed the course of the galaxy – or at least of Hollywood.

John Kenneth Muir on The X-Cast

It’s been 23 years since The X-Files debuted and with its resurgence earlier this year, Season 11 is on the way. John Kenneth Muir, author of The X-Files FAQ, sat down with Tony Black of The X-Cast to discuss all things X-Files. For all The X-Files enthusiasts, this interview is for you. Take a listen below.


The X-Files FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Global Conspiracy, Aliens, Lazarus Species, and Monsters of the Week explores Chris Carter’s popular 1990s science-fiction TV series, which aired on Fox for nine seasons and inspired spin-offs, including feature films, TV shows, toys, novels, and comic books.

00124644It’s amazing story behind how Chris Carter came to write the foreword for the book. In fact, at the time that he wrote it production was in full swing for the six-episode event series that aired on Fox this past January. John explained how that came to be which was from Chris wishing him happy birthday on social media. He then asked Chris for a blog feature and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. What started out as a simple gesture turned into a foreword for a book from no better person.

The book explores the series in terms of its historical context and analyzes how many of the episodes tackle the events of their time: the Clinton era. The X-Files FAQ also tallies the episodes that are based on true stories, selects touchstone moments from the almost decade-long run, and organizes the series by its fantastic subject matter – from serial killers to aliens, from prehistoric menaces to ethnic and religious-based horrors.

Tony started the interview with asking John his ‘fandom’ questions to his discovery of the show to his favorite characters and episodes. The interview continued with an amazing discussion between two fans going in depth about the various episodes and seasons as well as character development.

The X-Files FAQ allows readers to relive the “Mytharc” conspiracy and the unforgettable monsters of the week – from the Fluke Man to the Peacocks.

This is the sort of book I dreamed of writing about the X-FIles. My only regret is that I couldn’t cover every single episode in depth.

-John Kenneth Muir

LGBTQ Comedic Monologues Creators Chat With FreakSugar

LGBTG Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny author Alisha Gaddis, along with contributors Ilana Turner and Jamison Scala, sat down with FreakSugar to discuss the book among other topics.

Before I get into the compilation, what can you tell me about your backgrounds?

00146677Alisha: I have been incredibly fortunate to perform all over the world in different capacities as an actor and comic (my first love). I’m in a band for children that has a kids’ television show, Lishy Lou and Lucky Too, which my husband and I created, produced and star in for PBS. Along with my husband, I also run an Artist Consulting company empowering other artists. I write books and articles, and I get to travel doing what I am passionate about. It is pretty spectacular, and I am very grateful to have success in order to keep doing what I do!  (And winning an Emmy and Grammy doesn’t hurt things…)

Jamison: I grew up in NJ and went to college in Philadelphia, Temple to be exact. I moved to LA right out of college and when traditional acting classes didn’t inspire me, I got involved in improv at The Second City. I quickly fell in love and improv and sketch has become a large part of my life, taking me all over the world performing comedy.

Ilana : Having this monologue, Sugar Coat It, included in LGBTQ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funnyis lovely because monologues were the first theatrical things I ever wrote. I’ve always written in one form or another, but when I started to take acting seriously, at Hampshire College, we had to write and perform a short solo show — basically a monologue. I was always terrified of writing dialogue, but I could write monologues. When I started to work on what became my first full-length play, O Réjane, I was trying to write myself a full-length solo show — a vehicle as an actress — but I could never get it to work. Thankfully, I fell in love with writing dialogue and the play was much better for it. I cast someone else in the lead role, played a supporting role and that turned out to be a great decision. That lead actress, Cara Pifko, won the first ever Stage Raw LA Theatre Award for Leading Female Performance and I was nominated for Playwriting — which felt like a huge win. I’ve continued writing plays ever since O Réjane premiered in 2014.

As an actress, I’ve been lucky enough to work in commercials, with some great directors, on stage and in indie film. I’ve done a bit of TV, too, like HBO’s Big Love and several what they call ‘back-door’ pilots.

Alisha. what can you tell us about the genesis behind LGBT Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny?

Alisha: LGBTQ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny was a natural progression in the Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny series for Hal Leonard/ Applause Acting.  Prior, I had put out the Women’sMen’sTeen Girl’sTeen Boy’s, and Kids’ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny versions — and there was still a large gap of LGBTQ performers left within the performing arts population.  I am an advocate for trying to represent all persons in every way, so this book was a good way to start.

Ilana and Jamison, how did you become involved with contributing to the compilation?

Ilana: I used to do a lot of improv iO West, and I met Alisha Gaddis there. Alisha helmed all the books in the Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny seriesWhen she put out a call for material for this book, I immediately sent her my pitch. Thankfully, she liked it!

Jamison: Great news, Facebook isn’t just for spending hours comparing yourself to other people! Through Facebook, my friend JP (also a contributor to the book) connected me with Alisha who was looking for writers.

Alisha, I really enjoyed the compilation, but, after having read it, I realized that there has been a bit of a guff in terms of a lack of these types of monologues available for LGBTQ actors. Was that one of the impetuses behind bringing this project together?

Alisha: This is the VERY FIRST book of its kind.  That was a HUGE wake-up call for me. As an ally to the LGBTQ community- when I would go to bookshops and see my books alongside others in the same genre- I first got really excited!  But then realized there is a massive hole in the representation of this community- for actors who are LGBTQ and also actors auditioning for roles that are LGTBQ (which are becoming more and more “mainstream” by the minute- thankfully!) This had to be changed ASAP!  I am grateful to have publishers who felt the same.

To read the interview in its entirety, click here.

 LGBTQ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny is the first and only book of its kind. This cutting-edge and incredibly hysterical monologue book is specifically for actors auditioning for LGBTQ roles. It features works by LGBT writers and comics (and their allies) who have written and/or performed for Comedy Central, Backstage magazine, NBC, the Huffington Post, the Onion, Second City, E!, and many more. This collection is the go-to source for the comedic monologue needs of actors seeking LGBT material, as well as a paean to LGBT characters and artists.

Brian Solomon Talks Godzilla on Fox News

Brian Solomon, author of Godzilla FAQsat down with Fox News to discuss the godzilla character with the new release of Toho Films, Shin Godzilla. He briefly shares his thoughts on the character plus more.

The latest release of Godzilla by Toho Films is its first since 2004. That film, Godzilla: Final Wars, was intended to retire the character for at least a decade. Since then there have been 28 versions over the course of 62 years. This 2016 release, Shin Godzilla, hones in on the essence of the horrifying character that was created with the initial release in 1954.

The film is kind of not looking to remake that because it’s not a remake of the plot, but they’re looking to recapture that horror and kind of reinvent the character.

-Brian Solomon

godzilla_cvr_151237Brian was the perfect person to explaining the character and popularity surrounding it since he discusses Godzilla further in his upcoming release, Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the King of Monsters. The book will explore the many facets of the monumental, fire-breathing radioactive lizard that has roared his way into our hearts over a 60-year reign of terror. But more than just a movie monster, he has become a pop-culture avatar, pervading our consciousness as few fictional creations have. Now, Godzilla FAQ take readers on a headlong dive into the depths of this unstoppable cinematic force of nature.

When asked if the Godzilla character was a metaphor to the United States, Brian shared how there were some parallels.

I enjoy the parallel of seeing Godzilla as a symbol of something else.

Godzilla FAQ will be released May 23, 2017. To preorder the book, click here.

Listen to the Fox News interview in its entirety here.

Brian Solomon is a former editor and writer for WWE, having worked on such publications as WWERaw, and SmackDown!, which he launched during his surreal seven-year tenure with the company. He is the author of WWE LegendsPro Wrestling FAQ, and has also contributed to Pro Wrestling Illustrated. He speaks publicly on his experience in the business as part of New York’s acclaimed Kevin Geeks Out series.

Richard Wesley’s Political Drama, Autumn, to Debut in Brooklyn

Richard Wesley, author of The Richard Wesley Play Anthology,  will be taking his politically driven play, Autumn, to the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. This will be Wesley’s first full-length play in over 27 years.

Autumn is a political drama that explores the conflicts that arise when aspirations collide across a generational divide marked by sharply different political agendas. The concept comes from Wesleys observation of the evolution of Black politicians against a changing political landscape.

Although Wesley has not had a full-length play in 27 years he is no stranger to the stage. His stage works include: The Black Terror, The Talented Tenth, and the Broadway production, The Mighty Gents. He’s also a noted screenwriter for classic films that star Sidney Poitier including: Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again, and Mandela DeKlerk along with Native Son starring oprah Winfrey and Akosua Busia. He has write for televisions series as well.

What a thrill to return to The Billie Holiday Theatre and to Brooklyn with the New York City premiere of Autumn. This is a timely work that raises questions about the responsibilities politicians have to the public, an especially important issue in this age of hyper-partisan politics and legislative stalemate.

Richard Wesley

Autumn will be directed by award-winning director Water Dallas. The cast includes Jerome Preston Bates (Seven Guitars, Stickfly), Terria Joseph (Empire, Cornerstone), Brent Langdon (House of Cards, The Program), Dorian Missick (Southland, Deliver Me from Evil), Count Stovall (A Streetcar Name Desire, Driving Miss Daisy), and Pauletta Washington (Beloved, The Watsons Go to Birmingham). 

00129709The Richard Wesley Play Anthology featured, in addition to Autumn, The Black Terror, The Sirens, The Mighty Gents, and The Talented Tenth. Each of the plays included in this anthology was born out of the idea of the public thinker, and what Arthur Miller would refer to as the importance of an individual conscience – as well as the belief that each generation must give back, must inform and inspire the generation that follows. No people – and certainly not the African Americans still striving and struggling in the 21st century – can thrive if they fail to adhere to that simple idea.

The play will run from October 21st to November 6th. For more information on the show and to buy tickets, click here.


LGBTQ Creators Interview with Fanbase Press


Author Alisha Gaddis along with Alessandra Rizzotti, Leah Mann, Jamison Scala, and Ilana Turner sat down with Barbara Dillon with Fanbase Press to discuss the book: LGBTQ Comedic Monologues That are Actually Funny. They each shared their inspirations behind the collection of monologues, their approach to creating it, experiences performing the pieces, and more.

00146677Congratulations on the recent release of LGBTQ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny!  What was the inspiration for this collection of monologues?

Alisha Gaddis: Thanks so much!  After the release of five other books in the series “Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny (Women’s, Men’s, Teen Girls’, Teen Boys’ and Kids’),” my agent, Sara Camilli, and I discussed the possibility of doing an LGBTQ edition. There was no book of monologues out there for LGBTQ actors, or actors auditioning for LGBTQ roles, and with the urging of one of the contributors, Alessandra Rizzotti, I went into action and made the pitch.  It is so incredibly important that this book exists for LGBTQ actors and their allies auditioning for LGBTQ roles. The book is chock-full of hardy, hilarious roles for truly anyone and everyone.

Alessandra Rizzotti: As a current volunteer and former Communications Manager of The Trevor Project, the only national accredited suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization serving LGBTQ youth under age 25, I found it important to give young people a positive outlet that could serve as a form of self-care, inspiration, and passion. I was frustrated that I didn’t see enough LGBTQ theater or media out there, so I reached out to Alisha Gaddis with this idea. I’m happy to know that the work of one of my fellow Trevor volunteers is also in this book — and he happened to train me at Trevor when I started.

Leah Mann: I’m inspired by people. It’s as simple as that. Everyone has their own perspective on the world and way of moving through it which is colored by their experiences. Love is love, hate is hate, and heartbreak is universal. It was great to give a funny take on the things every human — regardless of gender and sexuality — goes through, in voices that have been so severely under represented.

BD: How would you describe the creative team’s approach to creating fully fleshed out characters for the actors to perform in such a short period of time within each monologue?

AG: As the editor of the anthology, it is incredibly interesting to work with all the different writers and see their different approaches. Some writers sent me fully fleshed out pieces, complete with stage directions, character descriptions — the whole package.  Some contributors sent an idea for a sketch of a person, in a place, and we worked together to craft a deep, interesting character that an actor can really dig into it.  It is fascinating to see how different people create.

For me as a writer, I let the character talk in my head for a bit. I picture her in place, having the conversation. I see the scene around her — what does it look like, feel like, what does she look like, what does she have on?  I let the character write herself. Then, I go to the paper and let her into the world!

Jamison Scala: I approached my writing coming from a background of improv. The art is instantaneous and quickly erased, never to be seen again. In improv, we’re taught to create a world as quickly as possible so it can inform our characters and our scene work, and I lent that approach to the monologues I wrote.

LM: I generally brainstorm various characters and scenarios that speak to me, creating a long list before sitting down and pulling specific elements together. I want each piece to have a clear and specific voice, high stakes (fighting for love, your life, revenge…) and a funny setting. Strong choices and small details let the actor and audience know who this person is, where they are, and who they are talking to right off the bat.

Ilana Turner: Monologues are almost always written for an actor to perform as though their character is talking to someone else — it’s just the audience can’t see the other person. (Soliloquies are written to be performed as though the character is talking to themselves — “To be or not to be,” being a classic example.) As people, when we talk to or at someone for a long time, we are usually trying to get something from them — and we usually reveal an awful lot about ourselves, even if it’s not what we expected to reveal. For my piece, Sugar Coat It, I kept the character, a middle-aged figure skating coach, focused on his what he wanted from his student, and then let all the details he maybe didn’t plan to reveal leak into his monologue.

Click here to read the entire interview.

John Breglio on WAMC Radio

John Breglio, author of I Wanna Be a Producer, spoke with


IWannaBeCOVERWhat does a producer actually do? How does one travel from that great idea for a show to a smash hit opening night on Broadway? In I Wanna Be a Producer: How to Make a Killing on Broadway…or Get Killed (April 2016, Applause Books, $29.99), John Breglio – a Broadway veteran with more than 40 years experience – shares an exceptional road map for the hows and wherefores, the dos and don’ts of producing a Broadway play. In this highly informative book, Breglio offers practical concepts for the aspiring producer and entertains with great personal anecdotes from his illustrious career as a leading theatrical lawyer and producer.

Breglio recounts not only his first-hand knowledge of the crucial legal and business issues faced by a producer, but also his experiences behind-the-scenes with literally hundreds of producers, playwrights, composers, and directors, including such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Joe Papp, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti Lupone, August Wilson, and Mel Brooks.

Says Breglio, “Ultimately, my goal is to give the business of producing the respect it deserves. It is a profession that requires numerous skills, both business and creative. It demands relentless fortitude and optimism, and it should never be assumed casually without recognizing the enormity of the task.”

Working or aspiring producers, investors, directors, actors, designers, teachers — as well as those who are simply curious about the backstage reality of the theater — will relish John Breglio’s sage advice and irresistible storytelling. They’ll also treasure the included DVD of Every Little Step, a documentary of the auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.

I Wanna Be a Producer is indispensable reading for theater professionals and fans of all levels – from high school drama clubs to college theater programs, from community theater groups and summer stock to The Great White Way.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Everything Left to Know About the Campy Cult Classic

by Dave Thompson


When assessing the cultural impact of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, author Dave Thompson does not pull his punches: “Forty-plus years on from its debut in a tiny London theater; four decades, too, from its transition to the silver screen, Rocky Horror stands among the 1970s’ most lasting, and successful, contributions to modern culture.”

Thompson’s latest contribution to the Applause Books FAQ series, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ (April 2016, Applause Books, $19.99) is the in-depth story of not only the legendary stage show and movie, but of a unique period in theatrical history, in both the movie’s UK homeland and overseas.

Inside these pages, we see Rocky Horror as sexual cabaret and political subversion, as modern mega-hit and Broadway disaster. At the movie house, we learn when to shout, what to throw, and why people even do those things. Here is the full story of the play’s original creation; its forebears and its influences are laid out in loving detail, together with both the triumphs and tragedies that attended it across the next 40 years.

Packed with anecdotes, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ is the story of dozens of worldwide performances and the myriad stars who have been featured in them. From Tim Curry to Anthony Head, from Reg Livermore to Gary Glitter, from Daniel Abineri to Tom Hewitt, the lives and careers of the greatest ever Frank N. Furters stalk the pages, joined by the Riff-Raffs, Magentas, Columbias, and all the rest.

 The book also includes the largest and most in-depth Rocky Horror discography ever published, plus a unique timeline – The Ultimate Rocky Horror Chronology – detailing the who, what, where, and when of absolute pleasure.

 The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ will have you doing the Time Warp again!


6.0″ x 9.0″
 400 pages
B&W illustrations and photographs throughout
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation



Dave Thompson is the author of more that 100 books on television, music, and pop culture, with previous titles in the Backbeat Books and Applause Books FAQ Series on Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, South Park, The Twilight Zone and soccer. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Goldmine, MOJO, Melody Maker and other outlets. He lives in Newark, Del.


Interview with David Bushman & Arthur Smith

Authors of the book Twin Peaks FAQ, David Bushman and Arthur Smith, spoke with Byron and Ben hosts of Twin Peaks Unwrapped. They spoke about the return of Twin Peaks, what you can learn in the book, and lots more! Click below to listen to their interview.


Twinpeaks_coverTwin Peaks, the infamously strange, seductive, and confounding murder mystery, first made network television safe for surrealism 25 years ago, is set to return to the small screen in early 2017. Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, the series continues to enjoy a hallowed standing in popular culture and remains a touchstone in the evolution of TV as an artistic medium.

For its many intensely devoted fans, Twin Peaks continues to beguile and disturb and delight; it’s a bottomless well of allusions, symbols, conundrums to ponder and images to unpack, an endlessly engrossing puzzle box, an obsessive’s dream.

                  Twin Peaks FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About a Place Both Wonderful and Strange by David Bushman and Arthur Smith will guide longtime fans and the newly initiated through the origins of the series, take them behind the scenes during its production, and transport readers deep into the rich mythology that made Twin Peaks a cultural phenomenon.

                  Bushman and Smith provide detailed episode guides, character breakdowns, and explorations of the show’s distinctive music, fashion, and locations. With a sometimes snarky, always thoughtful – but never dry or academic – analysis of Twin Peaks‘ myriad oddities, mysteries, references, and delicious insanity, Twin Peaks FAQ is a comprehensive, immersive, and irresistible reference for experts and newbies alike.