Category Archives: Hollywood Insider

Sean and Mandy, A Interview To Remember

The nerve of Mandy Moore. After a brief but memorable turn as the one-dimensional vixen supporting Garry Marshall’s “”The Princess Diaries,”” this chart-topper-cum-actress has gone and landed herself the type of role most teen actors would scrap their series on the WB for.

Moore signed on to play Jamie Sullivan – a reverend’s daughter who falls for an “”other side of the tracks”” boy – in the cinematic version of Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling book, “”A Walk To Remember.”” Just don’t act too surprised by this bubblegum diva’s transformation, as Mandy warns, “”I think this character is a lot more like me than most people asking that question think sometimes.”” Do tell, Miss Moore. Do tell: EM I watched the trailer for “”A Walk to Remember”” before a screening a few weeks ago, and hardly recognized you. Was this makeover a conscious effort to ditch the perception of “”Mandy Moore””?Mandy Moore: It was not a conscious effort. I had a small role in the “”Princess Diaries”” this past summer, and I just figured I would continue to do supporting roles until I felt really comfortable, to kind of venture out and do a part like this. But I was such a huge fan of the book, that I knew I couldn’t let this opportunity pass by. Forget it, I love this story, and I may not know as much about movies as the next actress, in terms of what constitutes the good script, but I knew scripts like this were few and far between.EM So you didn’t run the script by anyone for final approval? MM No, I loved the book so much and I was like, forget it, regardless of whether it’s going to be successful or not, I have to be a part of it. EM It certainly is a big step, jumping from one supporting role to your first leading role. Did you feel any pressure to succeed, that this film was sitting squarely on your shoulders?MM Oh, absolutely. I mean, it was a completely different type of film, and obviously having a bigger role (laughs) kind of adds a little bit of pressure. Initially getting over that shock was kind of hard, but after that, everything was fine. I got to that point where it all felt really comfortable. Plus, I colored my hair. I got rid of being Mandy for two months, and that definitely helpful.EM But you didn’t have a Garry Marshall in your corner this time out. Was he missed?MM Well, I went and met (the director) Adam Shankman, and I had lunch with him long before I even went and auditioned for the part. And I knew that finding someone who was as passionate about conveying the message of this story was going to be tough. But once I met Adam, I was like, “”Wow, this is someone who reallygets it, and who’s really excited to share this movie with everyone.”” And so I knew that I wanted to work with him. And Adam, truthfully, helped me so much on the movie. Especially in the beginning, getting me to some of the places. But once we got through the first three or four days of shooting, you just completely … you’re there.EM So how familiar were you with Sparks’ novel before you even heard they were going to make a movie out of the material? How far in advance were you involved?MM Probably a year.EM And you claim to have related to the Jamie character, even when you were reading the book the first time through.MM There’s a lot of me in Jamie, and a lot of Jamie in me. I think the fact that at first, I’m kind of a shy, introverted person when I first meet people. And I think that’s how Jamie comes across, because she doesn’t feel the need to kind of express herself all the time, and have many friends. I think the fact that we’re both kind of spunky, too. People describe Jamie as spunky, and I’ve been described as spunky before. I like that. That adjective is kind of fun.The thing that I wanted to learn through this movie, or get out of playing Jamie, was that she was so comfortable in her own skin, [and] that’s something I haven’t felt. Despite all of the stereotypes, and judgement against her in school, it didn’t change the way she felt about herself, and I thought that would be amazing, even to kind of just pretend I had that going for me for a couple of months. EM It’s also a rare quality to see in a teenage character. Unfortunately, teen characters seldom are portrayed that way.MM Right, especially someone who is the “”outcast”” of the film. You typically see that she’s self-conscious, or that she – or even the boy in the film – has to physically transform themselves in the end to gain acceptance and appease the person that they’re in the relationship with, or whatever. It was nice to have a female heroine, or even a guy, who didn’t have to go through that. No one did. In fact, I was the only character in the film that was consistent with who she was and what she did with her life throughout the entire movie, and it was kind of everyone around her changing.EM The book is set in the 1950s, but the film is not. What did the film lose or gain by updating to the ’90s?MM There are things I think it lost, but it would have been a completely different film if it were set in the ’50s. Besides the obvious, I think its a little more reasonable for people my age to go see it. It would have been a cuter movie, and a littlesweeter, to see it set in the ’50s.EM Would you have attempted the role if it were set in the ’50s?MM (Emphatically) Yes, because I just loved the book so much.EM But would it have been as effective?MM To teenagers? No. I don’t think it would have been as effective if it were set in the ’50s then if it were set here.EM Perhaps the studio could have marketed it to adults, in that case.MM Yes, but I think adults are still going to want to come see this film, because they’ve read the book and the main story and the main message is still there. EM Now, the message “”Walk”” delivers does resemble that of other teen movies – poor girl meets popular guy … How do you differentiate your film from the competition?MM We don’t have to rely on selling ourselves as having sex, drugs and rock & roll in a teen movie for once, which is great. There’s actually something to learn from this movie. You’re going to walk out and not feel like you’ve wasted an hour and 45 minutes of your life, watching the same old, same old. I was so moved by the book, and I was hoping that the movie could capture that, too. And I really think it has. Maybe in a different way, because there are some differences, but I just know teens are going to walk out and think about faith. And not necessarily in a spiritual connotation, but just faith in general. Like in each other. And in love. Especially young love. SO It’s a unique theme, faith.MM And it’s so taboo in Hollywood to even mention it. Anything to do with spirituality or religion has been so “”not politically correct”” to talk about. It’s nice that it’s done in a way that’s not forced [in this movie], and it’s not preachy and in your face. Like, “”This is what I believe in, and if you don’t, then you are very, very wrong.””EM The film shot in Wilmington, N.C., a hotbed for Hollywood activity. Any run-ins with the “”Dawson’s Creek”” crowd?MM Shane [West, Mandy’s co-star] did. Shane ran in to Joshua Jackson a lot. Ashley Judd came down for my birthday, to wish me a Happy Birthday. She was in [Wilmington] filming the “”Ya Ya Sisterhood.”” And Vince Vaughn and everyone, filming “”Domestic Disturbance.””EM So, no bar fights?MM I was not out that night (laughs). I think I was actually out of town. But it got a little crazy. Some of the locals were unhappy that there were these hot young actors there. Tempers flared … it was crazy. But still, I love Wilmington so much.EM It’s becoming very popular:MM We call it “”Wilmie-wood.”” My goodness. Outside of N.Y. and L.A., it’s like the biggest epicenter for making films. I would do another movie there in a heartbeat. In fact, I’ll read a script extra carefully and make sure I found something that I loved about it if I knew it were filming in Wilmington.EM Really? What’s the selling point?MM The town, and the charms that it has. The fact that people understand that we’re here for, well, sometimes a long amount of time filming a movie. And they’re very accommodating. You feel like you’re in the South! You can go get some sweet tea. It was so right up my alley. The food … the shopping, wonderful restaurants. It was like a vacation for two-and-a-half months.By Sean O’ConnellJan. 18, 2002

Series 7, Reality TV To The Extreme, by Michelle Alexandria

Series 7″” will be one of the most controversial and talked about films of the spring movie season. This dead on spoof of reality television, asks and answers the question, “”how far will reality television go?”” “”Series 7″” stands for a weekend marathon of a fictional television show called “”The Contender””. Each week on the “”Contender”” five people are selected at random and given guns. The object of the game – simple, “”kill or be killed””. The contestants are forced to hunt each other down. The winner lives to appear in the next episode, while the losers, well… Many will watch this film thinking there’s no way television would ever do something like this, well guess what? There is talk of several take offs on a “”Series 7″” type of show already in pre-production. Of course people will not be killed in real life, but the variations on this theme are eerily similar. Several months ago we conducted a fun wide ranging interview with “”Series 7″” director Daniel Minahan and the movie’s star Brooke Smith who many will remember as the kidnapped girl from “”Silence of The Lambs.”” The two were gracious enough to give us their time for an exclusive, unfortunately our tape of this interview mysteriously disappeared, therefore the interview below is an detailed in-depth interview that Daniel conducted for the “”Series 7″” press kit. If we ever track down the allusive tape that contains our exclusive, we will bring that to you as soon as possible. In the meantime enjoy this excellent Q and A.

THE CONCEPTIONQ: What is a “”series 7″”?A: It

Mark Dacascos – The Accidental Star, by Michelle Alexandria

Mark Dacascos is the son of Al Dacascos, Moriko McVey, and his stepmother, Malia Bernal. His father is of Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese ancestry. His mother is half-Irish and half-Japanese. Mark’s cosmopolitan mixture makes him, in his own words, a typical Hawaiian “”local boy.”” His parents ran a Martial Arts school.Many people may not know his name or even recognize the face of the Mark Dacascos, but this hot young star has starred in several projects that have garnered him rabid cult followings. Editor’s Note – Because of Mark’s recent appearance in Cradle To The Grave, I thought it’d be fun to rerun this exclusive interview that I did.

Those projects include “”The Crow: A Stairway to Heaven”” which was quickly building a huge fan base in syndication, when due to corporate politics the show was inexplicably cancelled. While his films include, the overseas cult classic “”Crying Freeman”” and now his latest film “”Brotherhood of the Wolf””, an international hit that is now coming to these shores. He’s built himself quite an impressive list of credits and his future looks bright. Mark is a man who seems to be both content with his career and his family life. Not bad for a man who had no ambitions on becoming an actor and was actually discovered while walking down a street in China Town. Ironically enough the man who discovered him was Chris Lee, who then went on to run Tri-Star Pictures and produce the film Final Fantasy. You can actually read an interview that I did with Chris last year. I recently conducted an interview with Mark, who called me from his California home. The interview went a little something like this:EMOk, let me start by asking you my standard, overly broad question, who are you and tell us why we’re here?MDMy name is Mark Dacascos, and I play the character of Mani in a new film called “”The Brotherhood of The Wolf””. Mani is a “”mythical”” warrior who fights for what he believes in and he represents the balance between man and nature. EMYour life and background, much like this film seems to defy categorization. How would you describe this film?MD It’s a mix of a lot of different genres, including Mystery, Suspense, Horror, 17th Century French Period drama. Director Christopher Gans has created a film that is truly originaland is a visionary masterpiece. What’s even more amazing is, the basic premise of the film is based on real life events. Their really was a “”Beast of Gevaudan”” that scared the King and caused political unrest in 17th Century France.EMWhat was your impression when you first read the script?MDI signed on to this project before I Christopher Gans even wrote the script. We went out to dinner one night and he told me about this idea that he had for this movie. Through the course of a 2 1/2 hour meal he laid out the entire story for me and what my character would be doing I was blown away by it. It seemed to work so well at blending all these various genres. He did such a great job of selling me on this film that I signed on, even before he started the script. When I finally read it, I couldn’t put it down and the ending was a real surprise to me. EMYou were the spiritual heart of the film. Yet you didn’t really say that much in it. How difficult was it to play a part like this?MDWhen you are not working with much verbal dialog, it forces you as an actor, to become more in tune with every other part of your physical body. How you move, your facial expressions, everything. The slightest gesture or look that you make ends up speaking volumes. I worked with someone from the Indian Tribe and she [Editor’s note, I don’t want to butcher the name of Mark’s Trainer, so forgive me for not mentioning it here] taught me a lot about their beliefs and how they feel about the nature and interact with their surroundings. I really felt like I became part of their culture.EMHow did you end up meeting her?MDI met her through my agent.EMDid you get a chance to visit any real reservations? What were your impressions?MDNo, I didn’t. But I would certainly like to visit one someday.EMWhat kind of performance do you find harder? One like you had in “”The Crow: Stairway to Heaven””, where you were the star and had a lot of dialog, or a film like this where you are not the star, but the spiritual heart of it?MDI think they both have their strengths and weaknesses. When playing a part like Mani, you are forced to pay more attention to the nuances of your performance than you do when play a part like Eric Draven [The lead character in “”The Crow””.] The fun thing about doing “”The Crow”” was learning how to play the guitar, working with a large cast, learning new lines, etc.EMDo you think doing a role like this improves your acting?MDYes, definitely. EMHow would you compare this experience with Christopher Gans to the last time you worked with him?MDThey were both the same. The only real difference was the larger budget, our editor was from Holland, our fight choreographer was from Japan, etc…We had a large international crew working with us. EMWould you categorize him as more of an Actor’s Director or a Technical Director?MDHe’s definitely both. He works really well with the technical crew, and knows how to handle actors. He’s the type of guy who loves to have fun on the set and loves what he’s doing.EMIn a recent interview with Christopher Gans, he said that he wrote this part specifically for you. Why do you think he did that?MDI don’t know, we worked well together in his first film “”Crying Freeman”” and I think there are lots of similarities between myself and Mani. EMTo me the character of Eric Draven in “”The Crow””, and Mani are similar yet different. In terms of how they view life it’s from completely different perspectives, but in their interactions with people it seems the same. Would you say this is true? If so, are you like this in real life?MDI would say there are similarities. Both characters are extremely spiritual beings. When Mani takes off his clothes and only uses a knife, while others are putting on heavy armor, he’s trying to become one with nature because he feels that it’ll make him a better warrior. He has a deep connection with a higher being. I’m someone who loves nature and would like to think that the best parts of each of these characters personalities, are reflected in me as well. I like to believe that, I do bring a little something of myself to each character that I play. Both characters are also Martial Artist.EMHow long have you practiced Martial Arts?MDMy parents ran a Martial Arts school, so I’ve been training since I was a young boy.EMTime flies when you’re having fun, looks like it’s time to end the interview, let me ask you two really quick questions. What happened to the television show? Are there plans to bring it back? What are your future plans? Ok, it’s actually three.MDI don’t know what happened with the show. Our ratings really started to go up when there was a shakeup in the Network. The new brass wanted to have a clean slate, so our show got unexpectedly pulled at the end of the first season. There was talk a few years ago about possibly bringing it back, at the time I was interested in such a prospect. Recently I heard rumors that it may come back yet again; unfortunately it’ll have to be without me, as I’m pretty content with the direction that my life is going right now. I wish them well, and hope they succeed in bringing it back. EMI hope so too, I thought it was just hitting its stride when it was cancelled. What are you going to be doing for the next few years?MDI currently don’t have any immediate plans, just waiting to see what the reaction is to Brotherhood and looking for other fun and interesting projects to do.EMLet me squeeze in one more question before you have to leave. Brotherhood is starting to generate some really good buzz. What are your expectations for this film?MDI really don’t know, it’s such a strange mix of genres, that I’m curious myself to see what the American reaction is.by Michelle AlexandriaJanuary 23, 2002

Sean Patrick Thomas, Hot Young Rising Star, by Michelle Alexandria

Many of you may not recognize the name yet, but the face may be familiar, Sean Patrick Thomas is quickly making a name for himself as one of Hollywood’s most talented rising stars. He recently had a memorable role in the hit film Cruel Intentions, and now he has a role in Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000 and is starring opposite, Julia Stiles, in MTV’s Save The Last Dance, which opens two weeks after Drac 2000. You can also see him in CBS’s controversial new Washington, DC police drama “The District.”



Editor’s Note – I originally interviewed Sean several years ago, right before he hit it big with the surprise hit “Save The Last Dance”, since then the actor’s career has really taken off, and once again he finds himself in the number 1 film of the weekend, “Barbershop”. Once again at EM we “discovered” someone who was on the verge of hitting it big, and now he’s done it. I thought it’d be fun to do an EM rewind. Congrats Sean!————————————————————–

The hot young star hails from Delaware. As many of you know, we love to catch people right when they are on the cusp of fame and fortune, so we recently had a chance to put Mr. Thomas on the Hot Seat.

EM

Tell us about Save The Last Dance.

SPT

It’s an old fashion love story, along the lines of Romeo and Juliet.

EM

When the film was originally pitched to us, we were like, yeah, MTV, Teeny Bopper Romantic Comedy. Wow this will be good. The film was surprisingly serious, not a chuckle or laugh to be had. It was a refreshing change from all of MTV’s other recent efforts. When you read the script was the film pitched to you as a comedy, drama, etc.?

SPT

They pitched it to me as a dance movie with interracial themes. I really didn’t take it seriously when I first got it, I thought, ‘oh, it was a teen movie that has some cool stuff in it.’ I did think that I could bring a different take to it, and add more ‘gravity’ to the part. I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

EM

Did you have a dance double?

SPT

I would say I did at least 80 percent of the dancing.

EM

What was your experience with dancing prior to doing this film?

SPT

Very little, growing up I didn’t spend a lot time at the clubs or going out. For this role I spent a lot time learning and hanging out at clubs in Chicago.

EM

How do you prepare for a role like this?

SPT

I had to learn how to turn my brain off and relax. Normally when I take a part, I spend a lot of time doing homework and disciplining myself. For this role I had to learn how to be more improvisational and just wing it.

EM

How would you compare yourself to your character?

SPT

We’re both ambitious, have similar goals, care about our families. When I was growing up I wanted to be a Lawyer. When I was in college, I was an English major and started acting to kill time, and I just got swept up in it.

EM

Being from this area, did you find it harder to break into the business? In your bio it says that you moved to New York. Do you still have to be in NY or LA to become successful?

SPT

You have to be in one of those two places, otherwise it’s very difficult. You have to be in NY if you want to get into Theater. DC has some great productions, but you still have to be in NY if you really want to make it. For me I had to go to NY, I went to NYU Graduate School for Film. My dream was to do theater and to perform on Broadway.

EM

This is arguably your first really big break. How is this different than the other things that you’ve done, do you feel more pressure?

SPT

Well, you’d think it would be harder, but for me it’s been better. The quality of my work is better when there’s more pressure on me, and when I have more to do.

EM

How is “movie” acting different than “TV” acting?

SPT

It’s basically the same. Acting is acting. I would say the only real difference is on a movie set you have more time to fool around and work on getting a scene down. On a weekly television series, you generally only have 8 days to do an episode, so the pace is faster – there’s not much time for rehearsal or reflection.

[pagebreak]

EM

Which do you prefer?

SPT

I love it all.

EM

Where is “The District” (SPT’s CBS Television Series) filmed at?

SPT

In Marina Del Rae, CA

EM

Before “The District” premiered, there were numerous articles slamming the show for its inaccurate and stereotypical portrayals of the city of Washington. Many felt that the premise of the show, which features Craig T. Nelson as an heroic white police chief, who comes in to single handedly save the town from the corrupt police force and the city’s crooked black male was offensive. Did you hear any of this criticism and what is/was your response?

SPT

I heard it and I thought it was funny. Most of it was based on an old pilot that was completely redone, which no one had seen prior to the show’s premiere episode. The pilot was changed before most of those articles were even written. Beyond that, you can’t criticize an entire season of a show, based solely on a pilot episode. I’ve noticed that once the show aired, the criticism disappeared.

EM

Are you happy with the way the show is turning out?

SPT

Very happy, it puts a really optimistic spin on fighting crime. Most cop shows are very pessimistic it shows the criminals are winning and that it’s a hopeless fight. Our show puts a very upbeat spin on it. It says that eventually criminals will be beat, if we stick to it.

EM

Along those same lines, the new Steven Soderbergh film, “Traffic” is getting rave reviews yet it’s not a very hopeful film.

SPTI haven’t seen it yet

.EM

To be honest, neither have I. But from what people have told me, the film shows the drug war, as a loosing battle, a hopeless cause. It lays the problem out there but doesn’t offer any solution or hope. How would you say “The District” differs?

SPTOur show is more positive. It offers solutions and hope. It’s more solution than problem oriented.

[pagebreak]

EM

You have three projects out simultaneously, how did you squeeze all of this work into your schedule?

SPT

It all just kind of worked out. I finished “Save The Last Dance” last year, right after that, I did the pilot for “The District” and then Dracula 2000 came along. As soon as that was finished, we got the news that the show was being picked up.

EM

Has the show been renewed for next year?

SPT

We won’t find that out until April or May. We did get a full season pick up, which we found out earlier than any other show this season.

EM

Now that you are ‘out there’ do you find that it’s getting easier to find work?

SPT

To a certain extent, it’s always easier to get work and auditions if you have something that you can point to. A couple of years ago, I did a movie called “Cruel Intentions”, now when I go into a casting office, they say who are you “Sean Patrick Thomas?” When I say I was the black guy in “Cruel Intentions” they say “Oh yeah, I remember you.”

EM

Now that it’s easier to get auditions, do you find that you still get nervous, or is the process easier now?

SPT

Auditioning is always a scary thing, no matter how much they know you. As I’ve gotten older, I find that I don’t worry as much about what they think anymore. I care more about whether I thought I did a good job or not.

EM

Have you gotten any advice from any established actors?

SPT

Craig T. Nelson gives me advice from time to time, and during an audition, Denzel Washington gave me some tips.

EM

What kind of characters do you like to play?

SPT

Generally speaking, I like to play roles that aren’t written for black people. Those roles are ok, but I find that those parts [black] are not as well constructed or three dimensional as a role written for Matt Damon. I’d like to play that young doctor, or lawyer, or hero that usually isn’t written for a black guy.

EM

So do you want to break down boundaries?

SPT

No, I’m not trying to be an activist. I’m not crusading to change the world. I just want to work and do what I want to do.

[pagebreak]

EM

Let’s talk about some of the racial issues that came up in “Save The Last Dance” How do you feel about your character in that?

SPT

I wasn’t trying to play the racial aspects of the role. I only wanted to show that this guy likes this girl, how is he going to pursue her to notice him and also maintain this relationship. I really didn’t think about the black/white issue unless it was part of a specific scene.

EM

Do you think the film plays into racial stereotypes?

SPT

No, I think it plays against type. Even though we live in the projects, you don’t see the things that are normally associated with it. My character is a straight A student on his way to being a Doctor, and we come from a good home, etc.

EM

Yes, your character is against type, but what about your ex-girlfriend and drug-dealing best friend?

SPT

Well the movie is a fairytale and you have to have your stock villains.

EM

Did you have any friends in real life that were like Malakai (his drug-dealing friend)?

SPT

No, I never had any friends who were straight up criminal. I’ve had friends who wanted to party to much, but that was about the extent of it.

EM

Do you feel the end product has anything to say about interracial relationships?

SPT

The movie puts out the opinion that a lot of black women don’t like to see black guys dating white women. Black women that I know feel that every time a black man makes something of themselves, they start dating white women, which some black women see as a slight to them.

[pagebreak]

EM

How do you respond to criticism like that?

SPT

I’m definitely sensitive to it. But I think that point ignores the fact that before you are a Doctor, Lawyer, Black Man, you are just a man and that people fall in love for all kinds of reasons. Before you are anything you are who you are.

EM

Do you find it upsetting when a black woman comes up to you and makes those kind of comments, and I’m not implying that you are dating outside your race.

SPT

Upsetting? I wouldn’t say it’s upsetting, but it makes you think. I’ve never really dated anyone outside my race.

EM

I have friends who feel that way, and every time they say something, my response is generally, why do you care? You aren’t dating him. Are people bold enough to come and let their feelings?

SPT

Not strangers, I’ve had friends tell me that they get upset when they see a black man with a white woman. I’ve had strangers come up to me and say “you’ve been in two films now and in both of them you are dating white women.” It’s just a coincidence, I’m just a young actor and these are the roles that I’ve got.

EM

Do you think there are more roles for black actors today?

SPT

No, I think it’s about the same as it’s always been. It’s not the quantity that’s the issue, it’s the quality, there are lots of hoodlum roles, and roles where your eyes bug out. Just because there’s a ton of that doesn’t mean we’re getting anywhere.

EM

Are there more Matt Damon type of roles available for black actors today?

SPT

If there is, it’s very minimal – as far as I can tell. I still think that black characters and actors are still marginalized to a large extinct. I’m not particularly surprised or even upset by that it’s just the way it is. I just have to find my own way.

EM

In the early stages of being in a series like “The District” do you have any say in how your character develops?

SPT

Not now, but I think as the show progresses it’ll come. During lunch breaks I hang out with the writers and make suggestions, some of which are being incorporated into my character.

EM

Would you like to play more grown up characters like the one in “The District”?

SPT

Definitely. I don’t see myself doing teen roles much longer. I have a responsibility to myself as an actor to try something else. For the most part I find them to be limited, and the type of things that teenagers obsess over pretty boring.

EM

Boring? Like?

SPT

You know, “am I popular”, “does she like me,” etc. I’m sure they are important when you are 16, but when you are far older it’s hard to get excited about those kind of roles.

EMHow old are you?

SPT

A lot older than 16.

EMThe few teen roles that you have done, have all been against type and serious. Do think the Genre has gotten better or would you say that there are still to many “Never Been Kisses” and “Drive Me Crazy’s” out there.

SPT

You have to take it on a case-by-case basis. They don’t want a guy like me in a film like that – “Road Trip”, or “American Pie” I’m just not their type of guy and that’s fine.

EM

Why did MTV produce this film? It seems so out of character for them.

SPT

MTV didn’t produce it. Paramount did, when they saw the finished product they felt that MTV would do a great job marketing it towards their audience.

EM

What kind of job do you think they are doing?

SPT

Fantastic, every time I turn on MTV I see commercials for it.

EM

So are you going to be on TRL (Total Request Live) anytime soon?

SPT

No, I’m going to host MTV’s New Year’s eve party, and Julia (Stiles) is going to do TRL.

EM

How did you like working with Julia Stiles and how much of her own dancing did she do?

SPT

Julia was great to work with, very professional, fun to be around. She had dancing her background, so she picked up the moves easier than I did.

EM

What type of role would you like to do next?

SPT

My dream role would be James Bond, which I’m a little too young for. Currently I have to say that I just finished my dream role, growing up I always loved watching musicals like Singing In The Rain, and always wanted to be the cool guy that could dance and get the girl, and I got to do all of that in this film.

EM Interview
by Michelle Alexandria

Spike Lee, 15 For 15, By Michelle Alexandria

“”Bamboozled”” marks Spike Lee’s 15th film, in 15 years, the prolific and always controversial director’s latest project throws a pipe bomb into the current debate of racism in Hollywood. His impressive body of work includes classics like, “”Do The Right Thing””, “”Clockers””, “”Malcom X””, and “”Jungle Fever””. Spike uses his films as a billy club to force America to look at its ugly history of racism and continually remind us how that legacy still serves as an undercurrent to the racial attitudes that we all harbor today, whether you are black or white.

In his latest effort, “”Bamboozled””, he takes on the continued racism and stereotyping in the television Industry. This “”intensely thought provoking”” satire, makes wince, while you laugh at it. “”Bamboozled”” manages to elicit several distinct emotions in you at a single time, anger, laughter, held back tears, and even defiance at the same time.This award-winning director who sparks controversy with just about every thing that does and says recently sat down with EclipseMagazine and a roundtable of journalists from other organizations. Hi reputation precedes him. We expected him to be angry and controversial, but was surprised [and a little disappointed] to see him relaxed, happy, and ready to go toe to toe with us. RoundtableDid you have any problems pulling the cast, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Damon Wayons, Savion Glover, Tommy Davidson, etc. together?SpikeNo, they read the script and wanted to do it. They thought they where very good parts and could contribute to the movie.Roundtable When you look at blacks in the media today, what do you see as today’s minstrel shows?SpikeWell, where are you from? (He asks the reporter, reporter responds, “”I’m from BET.com””) [Spike, laughs], you guys [BET] show a lot, those videos you guys show, gangster rap, are a form of minstrel shows. Bling, Bling… I call them like I see them.Roundtable The Rev. Calvin Butts in NY, went off on a particular video, TLC, can you give us an example, or examples of videos that you feel are minstrel or something that set you off?Spike[Referring to elements in Gangster Rap Videos] The Bentleys, the ever flowing Cristal, the standard shot of people throwing $100 bills at the camera, the scantily clad – not my words – “”ho’s and bitches””, constantly gyrating. Bling, Bling….Roundtable Other than Gangster Rap Videos, what other shows, Comedy, or otherwise would you consider minstrel?SpikeI think there are shows on television that are boarder line minstrel. I’d hope that this film would show that in this new millennium you wouldn’t have to wear blackface or put on a minstrel performance.Roundtable Can you be a little more specific?SpikeNo, I think that’s as specific as I need to be.Roundtable Was there a difference in between in footage quality between the narrative portions and the television show?SpikeWe shot the show on Film, while the rest of the movie was filmed on Digital Video.RoundtableThe film really does a good job of showing the behind the scenes workings of the “”industry””….SpikeWe were trying to show how the industry works, but also show that we are partly to blame for what gets put out there because we are a part of it. We accept these roles.RoundtableAfter viewing the film some of us talked and discussed the pain that we felt while watching this film. At times, it’s also really funny, when can you laugh and not laugh?SpikeThe film is Satire and we want people to feel uncomfortable laughing at it.RoundtableAre people laughing with us, or at us?SpikeIt depends on who is doing the laughing. You really can’t dictate how people are going to react to your film. All you can do is put it out there. I don’t think this film is, “”ha, ha, ha,”” I think that people should be uneasy while they watch this film.RoundtableHaving said that, do you want people to walk out of this film thinking about their relationship to other people, their race, etc.?SpikeEverything, their relationship to the images, what they watch, what they think is funny, and to understand the history of racism in the Industry, etc…RoundtableIn a recent interview, someone asked you why there was no solution outlined or suggested in the film. SpikeI’ve seen this before, when “”Do The Right Thing”” was criticized because it didn’t offer any solutions. At the end of the film, you leave us hanging out in the wilderness without any answers. I think it’s a cop out to diminish the work.RoundtableThere was a lot of violence in this film. Did you have any reservations about including it?SpikeNo, I think the violence in the film is a comment on violence. It’s not exploitation or promotion of violence.RoundtableWho do you blame for the current slate of minstrel shows? The black actors who consent to do them or the producers who produce them?Spike There is enough blame to be spread around. The best thing about this film for me, is that I have tremendous respect for the original black actors who were forced to do minstrel shows and put on black face in the past. While at the same time, it’s made me even more critical of us [and I include myself] for what we do now, because we have a lot more choices in what we can do today.RoundtableFive years ago it used to be that African Americans where always the villains and that time they were completely a moral, one-dimensional killers drinking 40’s and doing drive-bys. Nowadays, it seems like Hollywood is over compensating by having white actors play the bad guy roles, the only difference is, now the villains are nice and cuddly, fully three dimensional characters. The type of guys you want to bring home to mother. For example, the Bruce Willis, character in “”The Whole Nine Yards””, is a killer, but a “”loveable killer””. Do you think that now that white actors are taking on bad guy roles Hollywood is more sensitive to how the character is portrayed than they were in the past, when black actors would play the bad guy?SpikeWell, they have always done that. For the most part, whether you are a black or white actor, the villain has always been the choice role. What has to change is the diversity of the writers.RoundtableNow that Hollywood, seems to be scared to have a black actor play a bad guy, while at the same time they don’t want them to play the hero either, do you think there are less roles for black actors today?SpikeIt depends on who the Heroes are. I think Denzel’s character in “”Remember The Titans”” is a hero. I don’t want to make any blanket statements, but I don’t think we have the range of roles that every one else does.RoundtableFrom a hip-hop point of view, we were talking earlier today about it becoming it’s own form of minstrel.Spike[laughing, and interrupting] wait, wait, I didn’t condemn all hip-hop, it’s the Gangster Rap that I don’t like. RoundtableDo you think there is anything on television now that serves as a good counter balance to the negative stereotypes?SpikeWell, I was watching the Yanks game, so I haven’t seen Gideon’s Crossing yet.RoundtableSomeone mentions that it has some annoying gospel music….SpikeIsn’t it funny, that whenever you see black people on television that they have gospel music playing, even on “”City of Hope””. [joking] Every single time… I mean, I’m not saying that we don’t love gospel, but we have a range of musical interests.RoundtableHow do you respond to the Time Magazine article that says that “”Spike Lee’s, Bamboozled, shames us all, you have rage for the powerful, and contempt, for the masses””…SpikeI have compassion for the masses, while at the same time you have to show people the truth. I think shame comes from the institution of television and film. If you look at the final montage of this film, it shows the legacy of the Industry. It’s funny if you look at the Academy Awards, they always have the 3-5 minute montage that shows the history of film. You may get a shot of Whoopie, or Denzel getting whipped, or Mookie throwing the garbage can through the window, but I say we start a petition to make the Academy Awards show the final montage of “”Bamboozled.””RoundtableSpeaking of the “”Bamboozled”” montage, why didn’t you continue it to the present day and show a linkage, did you think it would be too heavy a statement?SpikeNumber one, we feel that we do that to some extent with our commercial [they do a spoof of designer Tommy Hillfinger, calling his stuff Tommy ‘Hillnigger’] and the mou-mous [a spoofed gangster rap group]. Number two, there’s no way those groups would allow their videos, and clips be used in a montage like this. RoundtableWhy didn’t you handle this subject in a Documentary form?SpikeHow many people see documentaries?RoundtableHow much of Michael Rapaport’s character came from your direction and how much came from within him?Spike Michael Rapaport is nothing like that character. He’s very cool people, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York, he gets outraged when young white kids come up to him and say “”what’s up, my nigger.”” Unfortunately there are a lot of Dunwittys [Rapaport’s Character] out there, especially in this Industry and also running a lot of these rap labels. To get back to an earlier point, I don’t think every black person in my films has to be 100 percent “”angelic””, that you can’t have a crack head in the film, to me that wouldn’t be very realistic. My point is, there has to be a balance and I would like to see the characters be fully three-dimensional. As I said before, most villains have the meatiest parts.Roundtable You said that you were convinced that there are white people in Hollywood who think they know black people, better than black people themselves. Do you think that it’s possible for a white person, to know a black person better than another black person?Spike[laughing] I think that if I where white, and I thought that was true, I wouldn’t tell a black person that.RoundtableDo you think Generation X will understand what you were trying to accomplish with Generation X?SpikeI think they will.RoundtableIn the film, what do you think made the minstrel show so successful, was it the hype, or do you think the audience where naturally drawn to it?SpikeA combination of both.RoundtableWhat is your definition of a “”Minstrel”” show?SpikeIt’s something that everyone needs to make up their own mind, it’s not something that you would find a clear definition of in the dictionary.RoundtableHow do you respond to the following statement, “”this is a film that white people, definitely need to see, but black people can pass””… Their are black people who feel that “”we’ve seen this already before””, that “”we know our history”” and it’s “”too depressing to watch””.SpikeI disagree. I think everyone needs to see this film. A lot of black don’t know our history.RoundtableWhat part of the film affected you the most?SpikeFor the actors, Damon and Savion said it killed them to put on the black face every day. That it scared them emotionally. You can see them getting dehumanized and see their real emotion. For me, I’d say the end when we killed one of the characters. RoundtableWhat are your plans for the future, and what do you think of the Internet’s ability to bring new programming to the masses?SpikeIn the next few months we will be making some announcements about several new television projects that we are working on. I’m tired of all the comedies on television so we are creating new dramas. I don’t really see the Internet being a replacement for television, it’s fine for short films, but I don’t see a lot of people watching that little screen for an extended period, maybe in the future, but not now.RoundtableDid Savion’s statement “”as long as I’m hoofing and making money, it’s all good”” mean that young people only care about making money and not the consequences of what they do?SpikeThat’s not just young people. I think it’s up to each individual artist to make their own decisions as to what they think is right for them.Fini

Director Ann Lu Has Big Dreams of Hollywood Success

Ann Lu enters the skirmish known as filmmaking with “”Dreamers,”” a movie, coincidentally about the struggle itself. As of this writing, the eventual release date for the film remains indeterminate, pending a distribution agreement. It seems the final hurdle to the silver screen is the most challenging.

Imagine spending one-third of your time making films, and the other two-thirds haggling with powers-that-be. This is the true life of a filmmaker, beneath the varnish manufactured by Hollywood itself. When a filmmaker is not thanking critics for their praise, giving interviews to flattering writers, or running to the bank to deposit their latest seven-figure check, they are struggling: with investors and executives, with accountants, with cast and crew, with the power company and the IRS, and very often, with their own soul.For most, this struggle is too harrying. After a few years, they strike the tents, and retreat to vocations that offer more tangible rewards. Those are the people the industry doesn’t want; the non-professional, the easy capitulator. Its system is a well-constructed sieve, ensuring that only the grittiest sort remain in their auspices. All successful filmmakers remember their time being shaken through the proverbial sieve.Nascent filmmakers, regardless of talent, experience its purgatory. There are hundreds out there right now, fighting a single-handed war against artistic oblivion. It is a desperation that denies introspection, and eludes expression with words, at least until one has distant hindsight.It can, however, be portrayed with images. With “”Dreamers,”” Ann Lu has done just that. A visual memoir of the present, a cathartic outcry at times, “”Dreamers”” rolls all the frustrations of artistry and young life into a ball of gleaming images. Two kids, Dave and Ethan, shield themselves from hectoring childhoods with dreams of celluloid glory, which hold a power and beauty much like the sun sitting above the hills of eastern Tennessee, the film’s setting.Dreams are like amulets: intricate, splendorous, a charm worn for guidance, and also a weight that holds some in place and causes others to drown. As adults in Hollywood, Dave and Ethan learn– all too soon and all too well– that while dreams protect against some of the calamities in life, they also tear the soul apart from the inside.Their story does not resolve itself in their favor: their abilities to make these dreams work for them are not particularly potent; they are not prodigies. Nor does the story actually “”end.”” The artist who surrenders will find that his replacement has already arrived.Ann Lu is the new blood. Cautious, passionate, and imaginative, she makes you believe she deserves success, and is due, even if this is her first time as director. I picture her in China–before coming to U.S. in 1993– standing alone in a yellowing field, looking towards the sun. It is afternoon, the sun hangs in the west. She follows it in her mind.AntagonistHer aspirations have a powerful foe in contemporary Hollywood politics. With skyrocketing budgets, studio heads must be more cautious: they cannot produce many $ 50 million-plus movies that nobody goes to see. By necessity, contemporary films need to be commercial more than they need to be good. Which usually means they are familiar. The small, personal films are being turned down for their limited appeal, and the simple fact that the studios have less money to make them. For outsiders like Ann, there are now fewer inroads. She even worries if a director like Stanley Kubrick could succeed in contemporary Hollywood: “”Things were easier back then; studios were run by filmmakers. Somewhere, the M.B.A.’s took over and put emphasis on testing, marketing, and merchandising. It is hard for filmmakers with an agenda to fit in. Somehow, they have got to find a way to reconcile artistic integrity with commercial viability.””Her attitude is pessimistic, not defeatist. In fact, she believes industry is ignoring these films to their own detriment: “” It is a mistake to underestimate the size and purchasing power of people who watch this type of film. If they focus their product entirely for the seventeen year old ‘popcorn muncher,’ they are missing a whole group of people who can see value in films with personal vision.””””Even the way things are now, I think if you don’t give up, somehow you will get a break. I don’t know how: I’m still waiting for mine; but I think that if you wait long enough, you will find a way to reach audiences.””Eyes, Hands, and VoicesArt is material vision. The artist is simply one who knows how to use the given tools to make internal vision into material fact. In filmmaking, many of these tools happen to be other artists. Actors, cinematographers, set designers, and many others are artists just as much as writers and directors. Each brings personal vision to the project. The challenge of a director is to utilize these many visions in a way that successfully portrays her own. Without the talents of Neal Fredericks at her disposal, Ann could not have made such a distinct film. In “”Dreamers,”” camera angles and shooting techniques cross your mind more often than acting, dialog, or editing. Neal plays it to his best advantage, never letting you forget that the camera is the voice and not the eyes of the film; a viewer sees the characters and scenery with only as much sympathy as the cinematographer has himself.He is playful, even hedonistic with the photography, shunning the conventional, eschewing the objective, establishing the camera as a flamboyant presence within the film. He shoots dreamers in 35mm, 16mm, and video, according to Ann’s conception of the film. He also shows strong technical ability by conquering the film’s challenging lack of artificial light.At this moment, he is better known. His cinematography in “”The Blair Witch Project”” ( for which he has received only $5,000) was a serious topic of discussion last year, with its herky-jerky frames and varying picture quality. Neal got mixed praise and scorn for his facsimile of amateur camerawork. “”‘The Blair Witch Project’ is the first movie I know of that tried to portray reality with total immediacy and spontaneity”” he says, in part referring to the largely ad-libbed dialog.””Can I interrupt?”” Ann interjects. “”I was just thinking about [Ingemar] Bergmann’s ‘Persona,’ and the way it blurs the boundary of reality and illusion. ‘The Blair Witch Project’ is about the surface of reality, which in this movie comes off as an illusion. It intrigues me why this movie caught on with the public. The thinking is all improvisation, which makes it feel like an intrinsic record of the present. I think that opens a link to every audience. “” I believe Ed [Myrick] and Dan [Sanchez], were having a Bergmann moment during that shoot. They set out to do nothing more than re-create reality.””Neal adds: “”So many of us re-create reality in our own measured way. In the eight days of shooting, I think we set out to re-create reality in a more horrifying way.””””This film is one without control.”” Ann replies “” If there is no control, what is the point of being a filmmaker? I think if Bergmann saw ‘Blair Witch,’ he would say ‘why didn’t I make this?’ It has a lack of conscience in confronting reality. It intrigues me.””Neal: “” I could shoot a feature film. They are a dime a dozen. I prefer films that make the best use of camera and lighting. I like controlling my position, even if I am afraid to get involved. A real film director, like [Ann], controls the look. Her main style is to find places that match her imagination. For instance, she found the coffee shop that appeared in [“”Dreamers””], and she said to me: ‘look, this is the way my coffee shop looks ‘. “”Ann concurs: “” More than anything else, I want to re-create reality.Everything I did in this movie was creating the right environment, the right mood. That is why I only used natural lighting [which meant a lot of neon]. The goal was to reflect the psyche in the context it was in. Neal’s work helped achieve that. The look was self-reflective; very much about seeing and being seen.””Sexual BodyAnn and Neal met six years ago in Atlanta, working on “”Compelling Evidence,”” a B-erotic thriller. Ann has never gotten over the experience: “”I like films about sex and violence. The films are enjoyable in a primitive way, because they portray the human condition so shamelessly.”” “”Dreamers”” is a sensual if not erotic movie, containing several fleshy sex scenes. This is likely to become an Ann Lu trademark: “”I enjoy sex, it is part of life. I dream of breaking into people’s houses to have sex. If people go to a movie of mine and find the sex somewhat entertaining, that’s great. Movies are supposed to entertain. But if you go in, and come out wanting to write an essay about it, that’s fine too.””The set of the film was not immune to the tension created by differing sexual attitudes: “” Dave’s sex scene was a problem. The actor– Jeremy Jordan– is sexually ambiguous. Sex doesn’t mean much to him. Well, he had problems when it came time to do the scene. When they both took their clothes off and got close, Jeremy freaked.

An Interview with David Koepp By Courtney Kenny

David who? Many people may not recognize the name David Koepp, but they certainly know his work. He’s the man behind such blockbusters as “”Mission Impossible,”” “”Jurassic Park,”” “”Carlito’s Way””, and more. Note – This is an old interview that we conducted with David, but now that Spiderman mania – which David also wrote, has taken hold of us, we felt that it’d be neat to take a trip down memory lane and re-run this.

David Koepp, 36, was born and raised in the small town of Pewaukee, Wisconsin. He moved to Los Angeles to attend film school at UCLA and lived there for several years. Koepp first tasted success when he co-wrote and produced, “”Apartment Zero,”” directed by Martin Donovan. He later went on to write some of the top box-office hits of all-time, including Steven Spielberg’s “”Jurassic Park”” in 1993, Brian de Palma’s “”Mission Impossible”” in 1996 and Spielberg’s “”The Lost World: Jurassic Park”” in 1997.He made his feature directorial debut in 1996 with “”The Trigger Effect”” after previously directing the short film, “”Suspicious,”” in 1995.In his latest film “”Stir of Echoes””, Koepp took on the difficult task of writing and directing a film based on the renowned book by Richard Matheson. “”Stir of Echoes””is the story of a husband/father whose life changes after he’s hypnotized at a party. The man, Tom Witzky (played by Kevin Bacon), crosses over into a world where he can see everything that is going on around him, including the otherworld He’s become a receiver. And, he’s not alone.The dead surround him, sending him messages that he can’t understand. Tom must find a way to cross back over. But, not before he finds out what he’s received. David Koepp joined us to talk about making “”Stir of Echoes””, working with Kevin Bacon, and