Listen: Boze Hadleigh on Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips!!

Boze Hadleigh, author of An Actor Succeeds talks with Patrick Phillips of “Pop Culture Tonight” about his new book!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00122491An Actor Succeeds is a very special collection containing all the best trade secrets of the biggest and most successful film and theater professionals. Presented in an informative format, An Actor Succeeds is a useful yet entertaining how-to, tips-and-advice book comprising nearly 900 quotes mostly from actors but also directors, writers, casting directors, and more. The book is conveniently divided into five chapters: Acting, Auditioning, Connecting, Working, and Coping. Here’s a sampling of quotes from each section:

 

Acting

“Of course we all learn that acting is basically reacting. The least acting you ever have to do is in a close-up. The close-up may require an actor’s reaction, but a small, subtle one. Generally speaking, the less you ‘act’ in a close-up, the better.”    -Sir John Gielgud

Connecting

“Acting, especially in motion pictures, is very hierarchical, like a caste system. The stars are royalty, the other actors are serfs-okay, commoners… If you’re not a big shot, you gotta be careful not to push or intrude. You gotta watch what you say, how you say it, and, especially, when you say it.” -Bruce Dern

Working

“Acting in front of a camera or a live audience requires intense concentration, to shut out the real world and create the character’s reality. Focus is just as important for an actor as for a cinematographer.” -Keira Knightley

Coping

“Partly I got into show business to become rich and famous and thus show up anyone who’d treated me badly growing up. But doesn’t one evolve with maturity? My focus ultimately changed from negative to positive, as I found that I enjoyed the work, even the struggle, for its own sake.” -Michael Landon

How I Did It: Establishing a Playwrighting Career

Applause Theatre & Cinema Books has recently published How I Did It: Establishing a Playwriting Career, edited by Lawrence Harbison. The book features many interviews with successful playwrights, all conducted by Harbison.

Check out the Foreword of this new Applause book, written by Theresa Rebeck!

Foreword

How do playwrights get their start? Where does the idea of being a playwright even come from, and then how does one start?

Once someone starts writing, how does that person figure out how to get a raw new play from a complete nobody to a place where someone produces it? And then what happens? And then what?

In a series of interviews that are chock full of the kind of information that other playwrights want to hear, Larry Harbison poses these questions to some of America’s finest contemporary playwrights. In conversations that range from a discussion of what kind of temp work you were doing when you started out as a playwright to how you got your first agent, and from who gave you a hand up to the thrill or heartbreak of that first production, Harbison focuses on the mysterious moment when a playwright steps out of that chrysalis and starts to emerge.

The designation emerging playwright is so commonplace that no one is quite sure what it means. Intuitively, one might think it means a playwright who nobody’s ever heard of. Or, a playwright whose plays are pretty good, but who has never had a production.

Or, a playwright who’s had a couple of productions in smaller venues but is hoping to get into a bigger house. Or, a playwright who has had a couple of productions but has made no money at all at it and still harbors the fantasy that someday someone might actually pay him or her to do this. 

Or, a playwright who is teaching playwriting at a university but struggles to get his or her own work into production. 

Recently, I was told that emerging playwright doesn’t mean any of that. Apparently, some people think an emerging playwright is actually a playwright who has already emerged enough to get the attention of people who might agree that this emerged playwright could use some help emerging further. Which means, I guess, that we need another word for what happens before that. Aspiring? Depressed? Hopeful? Wannabe?

People seem very concerned about these designations. Right now, the ones in vogue are emerging playwright, midcareer playwright, and master playwright. Although I have a friend who had a couple of strong pops straight out of graduate school, and since then, not much. She calls herself a “submerged playwright.” Frankly she’s not the only one who worries about submerging; anything past “emerging” and before “master” is a little worrisome. Will you make it through “mid career” or will you fall away into teaching or raising children or (oh no!) television?

That is not our concern today. Today we are looking at the moment when some of our most compelling playwrights emerged. Their stories are simply told, with appropriate attention to detail, which Harbison nurses out of them with a shrewd eye. They are in fact the stories that every young playwright wants to know. How does that moment happen?

It’s hard to emerge. As I read these interviews, they reminded me of a little bird, pecking like hell to get out of its egg and get on with things. We are right to be obsessed with the question of emergence. I’m also struck by the way the word “emergence” glides so effortlessly into the word “emergency.” There is no question that climbing out of that shell is essential to life; you will suffocate in there if you don’t make it out. 

But there are ways to get out of that shell. Harbison and his pantheon of playwrights have information about that. 

Theresa Rebeck

September 20, 2014

HOW I DID IT F-COV FINAL

Listen: Leonard Pierce on Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips!!

Leonard Pierce, author of If You Like the Sopranos… talks with Patrick Phillips of “Pop Culture Tonight” about the portrayal of villains and criminals in television! Listen to their discussion about the rise of the antagonist!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

IYLsopranosThe best-loved crime family in America is just part of a grand tradition of mob movies, gangster flicks, great television dramas, and a sensibility that is part Sicily and part New Jersey.

If You Like the Sopranos… is the first book that starts with Tony and the gang in their humble homes in the Garden State and explores the astonishing amount of great films, TV shows, and other pop-culture wonders that any fan of the Sopranos will love. From The Godfather andBonnie and Clyde to The Wire, to lesser-known noirs, Jimmy Cagney classics, contemporary HBO dramas, Martin Scorsese’s best work, and even the rock’n’roll that inspired the classicSopranos soundtrack, this is the one book that every fan needs if he or she ever has to go on the lam.

Tom DeMichael on “Escape from New York” Remake

Twentieth Century Fox recently announced they will be remaking the film, Escape from New York. Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ author Tom DeMichael weighs in on this announcement in the following post!

00120811Let’s be honest – a guy named “Snake” is always going to raise a few suspicions.

Imagine the parents of a young girl when they’re introduced to her new beau.

“Mom…Dad – This is Snake, and we’re engaged!”

Hoo-boy.

The Snake in our case is, of course, Snake Plissken. He’s the ex-soldier, turned bad guy (then turned good guy) in John Carpenter’s 1981 sci-fi action flick, Escape from New York. Set in 1997, World War III has left America in shambles (the long-recurring dystopian future sci-fi setting) and the Manhattan Island in New York has become a maximum security prison (in other words, the Big Apple has a lot of worms in it.) The US government recruits a reluctant Snake to save the President, who has become a hostage of the inmates. He accomplishes the task, but the whole affair leaves Snake in a more cynical state than when he started.

Escape from New York offered a pretty enjoyable cast, with ex-Disney star Kurt Russell as the eye-patched Snake. Other performers included Donald Pleasance, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, and Adrienne Barbeau. It did well at the box office in 1981, grossing more than 25-million dollars and prompting a sequel fifteen years later. Escape from LA brought back Snake, with a new cast of supporting characters. Budgeted at 50-million dollars, the sequel bombed by grossing only half that amount. 

Now, in the opening weeks of 2015, 20th Century Fox has secured the rights for a remake once more. But this isn’t the first rodeo for a remake of Escape. Since 2007, remaking the film has been a recurring topic, first with Gerard Butler slated to play Snake, then Jeremy Renner mentioned. But many movie projects can languish in “development hell” for years, so there’s no guarantee that Snake will be escaping any city very soon.

Understand that movies are remade – not to improve on the original (which hardly ever happens anyway) – but to introduce a “new” product to a new audience. Even with the multitude of alternative sources for films (video-on-demand, DVD/Blu-Ray, digital download, Hulu, etc.,) folks younger than forty or so were barely in kindergarten when Snake first attempted to Escape from New York

So, with Fox obtaining the rights for a remake, they’re hardly concerned about how fans of the original will react – heck, they’re in search of new fans, from a different generation. And, as long as there’s another sci-fi film to keep us engaged and entertained for a couple of hours, that’s all that really matters anyway.

Daniel Craig Confirmed for Bond 25

Columbia Pictures has announced that Daniel Craig will return as James Bond in Bond 25, the 25th film in the James Bond series!  In James Bond FAQ, Tom DeMichael describes the various Bond actors’ individual portrayals of the iconic role. Here’s what DeMichael wrote about the latest Bond star:

Daniel Craig

The sixth official 007 would be flaxen-haired Daniel Craig. As usual, the public reaction was less than supportive, saying heJames-bond-daniel-craig was too short, too blond, or too pug-faced. The vitriol included hate mail to Sony Pictures and Eon Productions, as well as the establishment of an Internet site called “www.danielcraigisnotbond.com.” And Daniel Craig had yet to even order his first martini.

Daniel Wroughton Craig was born on March 2, 1968, in Chester, Cheshire, England. His dad, Tim, was a merchant seaman and eventually ran a pub called Ring O’Bells. Mom’s name was Carol—an art teacher—and the Craigs divorced when Daniel was four. Carol took Daniel and older sister Lia to the working-class city of Liverpool, where Daniel appeared in school plays like Oliver! Craig did find time to rough it up on the rugby fields, but was not the scholarly type, dropping out at age sixteen and joining the NYT—National Youth Theater, with alums that included Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Derek Jacobi, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Colin Firth. Craig toured Europe, while seeking admittance to the celebrated Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His auditions were repeatedly refused, and he waited tables in the meantime (poorly, by his own admission). But Craig was persistent and finally entered Guildhall in 1988 at the age of twenty. With three years of classical training in performance, he graduated in 1991 and was ready to leave the world of table-waiting.

Craig’s first film role came the next year, as he played a soldier in the John Avildsen–directed Power of One, which starred Morgan Freeman, Sir John Gielgud, and Stephen Dorff. His next ten years were steadily spent on British television shows and miniseries, as well as feature films.

Daniel Craig’s first prominent role
came in 2001, teaming up with Angelina Jolie as they searched for lost treasure in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. He followed that up by playing Paul Newman’s crooked son in 2002’s Road to Perdition. Craig played poet Ted Hughes to Gwyneth Paltrow’s poet Sylvia Plath in the 2003 biopic Sylvia. His roles as XXXX, the anonymous drug dealer, in 2004’s Layer Cake, and an assassin in Steven Spielberg’s Munich in 2005, filled Craig’s résumé with enough firepower to justify his appointment as James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale.

Justly, Craig’s take on JB changed a lot of opinions from negative to positive. Fans and critics alike appreciated his vicious physicality, his “rough-around-the-edges” charm, and straight-out acting talent. Dame Judi Dench—Bond’s boss, M, in the latest films—called Craig “a cracking good actor.” His performance in Casino Royale garnered something no other Bond actor had achieved—a nomination as Best Actor by BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (the equivalent of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives out America’s Academy Awards). Former Bonds, including Brosnan and Connery, gave their approval of the actor. Sir Sean Connery himself, appearing in the 2008 “James Bond Special” on the British TV program The South Bank Show, said Craig was “fantastic, marvelous in the part.”

00314951No doubt, Daniel Craig had done his homework in tackling the role. He knew the physical part would be key, working out with a personal trainer. He told an interviewer in a 2008 interview in Playboy, “I got big because I wanted Bond to look like a guy who could kill.” Craig also gave much thought to what this Bond would be. In another interview, this time in a 2008 Parade magazine, he wondered about 007, “Am I the good guy or just a bad guy who works for the good side?”

The actor took his rough-and-tumble Bond into Quantum of Solace in 2008. When he accidentally cut the pad of his finger off during a fight scene, Craig made light of the incident. “There’s nothing to tell about it,” he told an interviewer in a 2008 British edition of GQ, joking, “I lost my fingerprint so I can now commit all sorts of crimes with that finger. I look forward to that.”

Craig was also able to look forward to a third Bond film, following a two- year delay due to bankruptcy issues with MGM. Production of Skyfall, the twenty-third official film in the James Bond franchise, began in November 2011, with release scheduled to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the UK release of Dr. No in November 2012. Furthermore, producer Michael C. Wilson announced plans for Craig to be 007 for five more films (up through Bond 28). At the rate of a Bond film every two years, that would make Daniel Craig fifty-four years old (four years younger than Moore when he abdicated the throne) when that last film is released in 2022. Not at all an unreasonable expectation, but time will tell.

Happy Birthday, Pierce Brosnan!

A very Happy Birthday to one of our favorite Bonds! To celebrate, check out this excerpt from James Bond FAQ that describes how Brosnan rose to Bond-dom:

 

00314951Pierce Brosnan was well known as the title character of private investigator Remington Steele, from the NBC-TV show of the same name. But that notoriety nearly cost him the role of James Bond.

Pierce Brendan Brosnan was born in County Meath, Ireland, on May 16, 1953. He was an only child to mother May and dad Thomas, a carpenter who walked out on the family after only a few years. May moved to London to seek work as a nurse, leaving Pierce to move among relatives, friends, and even a Christian Brothers mission. In a 1997 interview in Cigar Aficionado magazine, Brosnan admitted, “It wasn’t all bleak . . . you learn how to create your own happiness.” When May remarried, eleven-year-old Pierce joined the couple in London. One day, stepdad William took the boy to the cinema to see a film called Goldfinger. Young Pierce was very impressed, realizing “James Bond was very cool.”

Brosnan attended school to be a commercial artist and landed an apprentice job in a small South London studio at the age of eighteen. But he had become enamored with movies and, at the urging of a coworker, joined up with a local theater workshop. Soon, they had formed the Oval House Theater Company, and Pierce quit his art job. He waited tables, cleaned houses, anything that allowed him to be free to act in the evenings. Brosnan attended drama school, acting in repertory theater and London West End productions like The Red Devil Battery Sign by Tennessee Williams. The playwright had personally selected Brosnan for the lead role.

British theater led to appearances on British TV by 1980. His wife, actress Cassandra Harris, landed a supporting role in the 1981 Bond flick For Your Eyes Only. Brosnan would amuse Harris by offering his impression of 007 when he would drive her home from the studio. (Perhaps a view of things to come for Brosnan. Tragically, Harris would succumb to ovarian cancer in 1991.) A successful 1981 ABC-TV miniseries, The Manions of America, led to Brosnan’s casting in NBC-TVs Remington Steele in 1982. The detective show ended up being in the top twenty-five TV ratings, but was canceled after four seasons as those numbers waned. Broccoli recalled Brosnan from the For Your Eyes Only days, and he tested for the role of Bond for the upcoming The Living Daylights. Pleased with the results, producers named Pierce Brosnan as the new James Bond.

Apparently, NBC read the trade papers that day, and, realizing the ratings boost having the “next James Bond” would give the network, they immediately renewed Brosnan’s contract as Remington Steele—effectively blocking his chances to play Bond. Ironically, the series would only air six episodes before getting the ax once more, but the damage was done. The Living Daylights would shoot with Timothy Dalton as 007.

Brosnan was understandably upset, but continued to work on TV and in films, including hits like Lawnmower Man in 1992 and Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993. When the 007 legal snafus were cleared up in 1994, it became apparent that Pierce Brosnan would be Bond in GoldenEye (over suggestions that included Mel Gibson and Ralph Fiennes), and it wouldn’t be enough to rescue the world—this time, he was expected to rescue the character from oblivion.

So, with that small task at hand, it was Pierce Brosnan who brought Bond into the twenty-first century. It was Pierce Brosnan who had to come to terms with a new boss—still M, but this time, a female (gasp!). It was Pierce Brosnan who, with his four Bond films, brought nearly $1.5 billion to box offices worldwide. In his four turns as James Bond, Pierce Brosnan brought the suave and calm demeanor to the character that one would expect from an experienced performer. In 1995, he told Big Screen magazine, “The way I see James Bond is as a man with a passion to get the job done . . . This film is . . . not a cure for cancer, it’s supposed to be fantasy.” Film critics like Roger Ebert praised his portrayal of 007, offering that Brosnan was “somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete, than the [other] Bonds.” High praise indeed.

No matter, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson decided to (get ready, here it comes . . .) “reboot” the role of Bond once more in 2005, just as Brosnan was in negotiations for a fifth whirl as 007. In a 2005 interview for Premiere magazine, he said, “It would have been sweet to go back for a fifth . . . It would have been wonderful to go out there for one last game and pass the baton.” Less poetically, he added, “it f . . . ing sucks.”

Indeed. But bad luck for Brosnan meant good fortune for the next actor to don the shoulder holster and cock the Walther PPK (or Walther P99, as the case may have been). Once again, Broccoli and Wilson considered hundreds of actors to play 007 (the list this time around included Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Jason Statham, Gerard Butler, Colin Firth, Colin Farrell, Clive Owen, Colin Clive . . . no, wait—he played Dr. Frankenstein years ago). After a search that took most of the remaining months in 2005, the winner was: Blond, James Blond.

David Rothenberg on Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

Fortune in My EyesRubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1967 and spent almost two decades in jail before being exonerated, died on Sunday in Toronto. He was 76.

David Rothenberg writes about meeting Carter at Rahway State Prison in his book, Fortune in My Eyes: A Memoir of Broadway Glamour, Social Justice, and Political Passion, published by Applause Books.

Here is an excerpt.

* * * * * * *

My visits to the Rahway penitentiary, beginning with my appearances on the inmate radio program, evolved. The prison officials had placed a moratorium on the number of visits afforded me, so—using their prison-acquired inmate wiles—several of the men created a class, which enabled me to return weekly as a teacher. Most of the guys in the class were doing heavy time. Several had been released from Trenton State Prison’s death row after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1972 that declared the death penalty to be unconstitutional…I would arrive on Saturday morning and read the class a page-one story from the morning edition of the New York Times. I would then ask for the students’ reactions to the article. At first the men balked, suggesting that this was not a class. As the teacher, they argued, I should give them my interpretation of the story. I insisted that their opinion of the news event was as valid as mine.

Tommy [Trantino] then challenged me: “Why are you the teacher?”

My answer satisfied them: “I’m the teacher because I’m getting you to think about what is happening in the world, and your personal assessment of a story demands that you think.” In fact, that was my goal. Most of the guys admitted that they were school dropouts and had hated and been intimidated by the classroom and the teachers, who tortured and embarrassed them. If I could create a classroom environment that was nurturing, they might be motivated to take advantage of some of the more traditional and formal classes being offered in the institution, and even aspire to a GED or a college course that might be available. If my class accomplished anything, it was that a few of the men, on their own, did go on to explore other educational opportunities. A few even contacted me upon their release from prison.

There was an intense man, Rubin, always sitting in the front row. Cocoa-skinned, bald, and with glasses, he listened intently but rarely spoke. In the many classes I have taught, I have always looked for that eager face, someone who is soaking up everything even if they are not asking questions. Rubin was particularly responsive when guests would join me. Judge Bruce Wright visited several times—canceling his treasured Saturday morning tennis games to travel with me to Rahway—and fascinated the students with his candor about the courts and racism in our society.

One day after class, Rubin asked if I could call his agent. “Rubin, why do you have an agent?” That seemed an appropriate question to pose to a man situated in a prison. “Of course I will call your agent, but what kind of an agent is this?”

He told me he was writing a book, and I figured, why not? Everyone in here has a story to tell. I asked him to write down her name, address, and phone number, and by the way, “Rubin, what is your full name?”

He said, “Rubin Carter.”

I looked at him for a long minute and asked, “Are you the Rubin Carter called Hurricane?”

“That’s me.”

I never asked last names in the class, nor did I take attendance. It was all voluntary. I had had no idea that the attentive young man in front of me was a former boxing champion.

In 1999, when the movie The Hurricane was released, with Denzel Washington giving a deeply moving and memorable performance in the title role, I had heard that Rubin was going to be in New York City for some promotional interviews for the film. He had long since been cleared and released after several courtroom dramas. I called the film’s publicity department and introduced myself as a host of a weekly radio program on WBAI in Manhattan. I requested an interview with Carter. “Of course,” the condescending and impatient publicist said, “everyone does. We have him scheduled with PBS, GMA”—and some other initials were thrown in.

I listened respectfully and said, “Rubin and I go way back. Why not just ask him and let him make the decision?” The impatient rep conceded to my logic.

Ten minutes later the call came: “Rubin is anxious to appear on your radio program.”

He arrived at the studio on Saturday morning looking like a million dollars, in a nifty suit with a professorial look. I told him that I appreciated his joining me, and he said, “David, you were there when no one else was. We can’t forget where we came from. By the way, you were taller then.”

“No, Rubin, I was standing up and you were sitting down. Now it’s the reverse.”

He was living in Canada, working with the Innocence Project and delivering inspiring lectures. He and Tommy Trantino had bonded in Rahway, and theirs was a dramatic demonstration that black and white guys could work together to give inmates a united voice. Because both men were charismatic and had respect from other prisoners, they were able to create some alterations in the traditional apartheid of the joint they were in.

Both Rubin and Tommy rejoined the human race in spite of prison’s attempt to dehumanize them.