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

ATLANTIS – Disney’s Lost Continent Adventure Loses Its Way. By Sean O’Connell

In the process of shedding the usual song-and-dance routine, Disney discards their sense of adventure, too. For “”Atlantis,”” Disney’s big-budget entrance into the summer movie season of 2001, the studio took the safe road by hiring the masterminds behind the enormously successful “”Beauty and the Beast”” and “”The Hunchback of Notre Dame,”” Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. The film, reportedly set in the early 1914, follows the adventures of inept but earnest adventurer Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox), who believes he’s one step away from decoding the location of the lost continent of Atlantis.

The crucial last step is provided by the eccentric Preston B. Whitmore, a philanthropist and old friend of Milo’s grandfather who funds an expedition to the spot where the continent should have vanished. Accompanying Milo are the usual cast of politically correct characters, including the African American doctor, the Mexican teenage girl, the French (Italian? Bad accent.) explosives expert, the mercenary (voiced by James Garner) and a mole-like person who provides absolutely no comic relief.Perhaps to keep with the Jules Vern-style story, Trousdale and Kirk present animation that’s rough around the edges, boxy and unpolished. Character’s faces are square, and the visuals lack detail. Intentional or not, it works to a certain extent, though the backgrounds look hazy and vague. Despite the lack of songs, Disney religiously sticks to their proven formula, but when you reach a point in the film when a lively song penned by Sir Elton or Celine Dion might have elevated the material, the film falls flat. By the time you reach the climax, a flurry of chase scenes and brutal battle sequences that are much more advanced than 1914 would allow, you’ll wonder why you’re so very bored. Final Grade D

Swordfish: This One’s Big Enough to Keep

“”Swordfish,”” the next summer slammer to attempt to weave gunfights, car chases and gratuitous nudity together in a coherent matter, starts off with the biggest bang of the season that literally has to be seen to be believed. It wouldn’t give too much away to say that the scene involves plenty of C4, hostages, John Travolta, a slew of ball bearings, and the same stop-motion camera work made popular by “”The Matrix.”” But this works. And more miraculously, “”Swordfish”” holds its own for 90 minutes after said opening sequence, a trick that’s mightier than you’d think.

Travolta, reeling after last year’s “”Battlefield Earth”” and “”Lucky Numbers,”” plays Gabriel Shear, a rogue spy who operates his computer piracy at arm’s length of the law. For his next project, which involves him stealing $9 billion in unused government funds, Shear needs the help of famed computer hacker Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman), a Leavenworth inmate on parole who only wants enough money to get his daughter back from his drug-addicted ex-wife. Halle Berry co-stars as the women in Shear’s life who may not be as loyal as she seems, and Don Cheadle plays the FBI honcho assigned to bring Shears down.As is required of most blockbusters in the post “”Sixth Sense”” age, “”Swordfish”” boasts more twists that a third-graders French braid, and most of them make sense, which is a pleasant surprise. Director Dominic Sena (“”Gone in 60 Seconds””) stages fantastic action sequences and lingers his camera on them long enough for us to appreciate them, a novel concept that has eluded the choppy directors behind “”Bait,”” “”Double Take”” and countless Jean Claude Van Damme films. Plot holes big enough to fly a bus through do appear, more to force the film’s surprise twist than anything. Sena avoids them, for the most part, by keeping the film in fifth gear, burying logical questions under layers of shiny car chases and glistening guns. “”Swordfish”” will not boost Travolta out of the acting cellar he climbed into with “”Battlefield Earth”” and “”Lucky Numbers,”” but it does further the argument that Hugh Jackman is a bona fide star waiting for the right role. Admittedly it’s not the freshest catch, but as a summer break, it’s certainly one fish you shouldn’t throw back.

Charlie’s Angels Review by Michelle Alexandria

Let’s start by saying that Charlie’s Angels is a hard movie to defend. The direction is awful; it had bad acting, a substandard script, and the action sequences where a pale imitation of John Woo – the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery doesn’t hold up here. But somehow this incredible mess of a movie manages to turn into 90-minutes of clean, kitschy, cheesy fun.

Actress and now producer Drew Barrymore (Dylan) has to be admired for taking on the task of creating material that showcase women as strong willed, ass kicking vixens, who don’t need to be rescued by some doped up male action star.She successfully did this in 1998’s “”Ever After””, a film where she managed to turn the beloved Cinderella into a strong willed heroine who wasn’t sitting around singing “”Someday My Prince Will Come””, her Cinderella, was strong in both body, mind and spirit and it was this strength that won her, her Prince Charming. Not the whimpering and simpering found in other versions.In Charlie’s Angels our new Angels are now Natalie (Cameron Diaz) a ditzy/klutzy blond who is really a genius, yeah right. Dylan (Drew Barrymore) a red-haired tough girl from the streets who has a chip on her soldier, and Alex (Lucy Liu) a rich girl with social graces and brains to match, also along for the ride is Bill Murray (who is in this film in Body, but slept walked through it) as Bosley. In homage to the original series, and a nice touch, John Forsythe reprises his role as the voice of Charlie, their mysterious boss whom no one has ever met.Charlie’s Angels doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, is it a serious update to the 70’s hit television series that made international stars out of Jacqueline Smith, Farrah Fawcett, and Kate Jackson? Or is a parody of a show that itself wasn’t exactly high art? Let’s look at the evidence, without giving away too much of the film, you be the judge.Exhibit one; what the hell was that opening title sequence? It was hysterically funny in its badness; it opened just like the television show did by showcasing our heroines growing up, going through police academy training and highlights of previous missions, including a direct rip off of a jail break clip from the original show, and I think they were being serious. While watching this beginning one is hard pressed to tell what, first time Director McG, was trying to accomplish here. Was he being serious or was he being tongue in cheek, while watching the sequence one gets the sinking suspicion he was trying to set a serious tone but failed miserably. There are many action sequences in this film that where completely hampered by the Director’s fascination with trying to duplicate Hong Kong, action master, John Woo. Woo who is known by his signature slow motion, over the top, high-octane, blood- pumping sequences have nothing to fear from McG. “”McG, I know John Woo, John Woo is a friend of mind, and you sir, are no John Woo.””Instead of letting a fight choreographer do his work, McG seems to interject him into the scene, a director should be “”felt,”” not “”seen””. For instance there’s a moment in the film where one of the Angels does a karate kick where it’s painfully obvious that not only is she on wires, but they suspend her in the air for several seconds before her kick is “”thrust forward”” toward the bad guy (played by creepy Crispin Glover) in slow motion of course, where right before boot kicks face there’s an jarring edit that switches to “”real time”” speed. Normally you can let a slip like this pass, but there are just too many of these badly edited sequences to ignore. After awhile it becomes just too comical to not notice. As far as the story goes, let’s see it has something to do with a billionaire communications baron Roger Corwin (Tim Curry), who kidnaps computer whiz Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell), our super Angels are hired by Knox’s business partner Vivian Wood (Kelly Lynch) to find Knox. As far as the acting goes, it seems like all the actresses (Drew, Cameron, Kelly, and Lucy) had a blast making this film, while all the guys where seemingly sleep walking. There doesn’t seem to be much of an investigation as the case seems to solve itself within the first 1/2 hour of the film then we are left with a bunch of goofy set pieces. The film seems to have been written in three parts by masters of the 1/2 hour television formula, as it seems to tie up story points every 1/2 hour. The producers must realize their audience (which I count myself as one) have very short attention spans and cannot sit through a film if the plot drags out for more than thirty minutes at a time.It’s this frenetic pacing and constant movement is what saves this movie from being a total disaster, the 90-minutes fly by and is genuinely entertaining in spite of itself. Or maybe I was in a good mood when I saw it (not). Final Grade C+

Nurse Betty Review by Mac VerStandig

I am told that “”Nurse Betty”” has a running time of 108 minutes. But I wouldn’t know because 75 minutes of this ridiculously silly movie that tries to achieve the seemingly impossible goal of combining a relative reality with the most far-fetched fantasy all-the-while hoping that American audiences will be dumb enough to not catch on was enough for me. I don’t mind wild comedic day dreams, ultra-serious dramas nor much of the in between for that matter.

“”Nurse Betty”” tried to mix the two genres with an absolute disregard for the laws of Hollywood chemistry, I found myself hating the screening I was attending even more than I had disliked my previous night’s entertainment: the final episode of “”Survivor.”” That show was a lame combination of melodrama and occasional comedy, but at least a string of consistent reality ran through it. No such salvation exists in “”Nurse Betty.”” Further aggravating matters is Ren

Van’s Warped Tour, By Bill Whiting-Mahoney

Vans Warped Tour 2000 cannot be better with its perfect blends of lesser known hip-hop, metal and punk bands, and popular mainstream artists. This type of professional but intimate festival environment certainly attributes much to its six-year success, and it’s a gorgeous creation to have in an age of big-budget, corporate-sponsored concert events.

Perhaps the only gripe one can come up with against the Vans Warped Tour isn’t much of a complaint at all. There are over 30 bands on four separate stages at the festivals sixth summer outing this year and quenching one’s curiosity to experience even half of this great and diverse line-up may be an exercise in futility. But what one does manage to catch is likely to be spectacular.What was surprising about this year’s event was the amount of access that both press and fans had toward the artists of this festival. While dozens gathered around the Bif Naked souvenir stand to get autographs from the female singer later in the day, various musicians and extreme-sport athletes on the bill could be spotted wandering around the crowd. As well, press members and numerous fans were given overwhelming access to the festival’s backstage area to meet members of MxPx, Suicide Machines, Save Ferris and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I had the opportunity to ask Tom Wisniewski of MxPx about his thoughts on life on the road.I haven’t really missed out on much, for obvious reasons,”” said Wisniewski, 23, on the band’s touring career which began when he was 18. “”I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years. I wouldn’t have said 5 years ago that I would be on the Warped Tour for the third time, so who knows?”” Not surprisingly, the two main stages drew the biggest crowds where The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Green Day, Long Beach Dub Allstars and NoFx lit the crowds up. But some of the smaller bands on these stages managed to hold their own against these ska and punk heavyweights.The sexy presence of lead singer Monique Powell highlighted a fun performance by Save Ferris and the youthful energy of MxPx pleased the girlies in the crowd. The hip-hop excellence of Jurassic 5 proved to be a gem moment of the day which drew surprisingly rave responses from the crowd. As well, the intensity of “”Last Resort”” by the rising alt-rock group Papa Roach and the old-school punk presence of Anti-Flag were awesome standouts.On the less crowd populated third stage, Gob graced their punk-metal set with an occassional Metallica riff that drew noise from their supporters and ended their decent set with a careening version of The Rolling Stones “”Paint It Black.”” Later in the day, the blistering English group One Minute Silence rocked to a bare crowd while Green Day drew the majority of the Warped spectators to their pleasing set. Still, OMS singer Yap gathered the few dozen onlookers together around one side of the stage while bassist Glen Diani leapt from a 20-foot stack of amplifiers onto the gatherers. It may not have been as popular as “”Welcome to Paradise,”” but the group still gave their fans a jarring show. Green Day and the Bosstones were certainly the big draws of the afternoon and with good reason. The charisma of Bosstones lead singer Dicky Barrett cannot be overstated, especially during the crowd favorites of “”1-2-8″” and “”The Impression That I Get.”” Green Day drew the most onlookers, even those of the old-school persuasion who frown upon this bastardized form of radio-friendly punk. Green Day are still hugely popular judging from the crowd they drew and killer versions of “”Welcome To Paradise”” and “”Longview”” highlighted their great set. It’s a wonder that the Bosstones can bring as much energy to their set night after night with a touring schedule that regularly breaks 300 shows per year. Still the eight-piece ska-group are absorbing onstage despite their rigorous schedule.””How much would it suck to work a real job?”” said Bosstones bassist Joe Giddleman about their motivations. “”Along the way, some fucking band started talking about how difficult it is to tour and ‘poor me, poor me.’ I just don’t find that to be true.””Along with Green Day and the Bosstones, the most popular act of the afternoon proved to be Long Beach Dub Allstars, which features Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh, the two surviving members of the now-legendary ska group, Sublime. Led by energetic lead singer Opie Ortiz, the Dub Allstars kicked through a couple original tunes among the Sublime drenched setlist of “”Caress Me Down”” and “”Badfish”” which featured bassist RAS-1 on vocals. The Dub Allstars ended their great tribute set to deceased Sublime singer Brad Nowell with their radio staple hit “”Santeria”” where the crowd supplied the vocals for the entire song.””What would you do if you got your dick cut off?”” said Wilson after the set when asked why he and the Dub Allstars keep the spirit of Sublime alive. “”I would be lost without my music.””The Vans Warped Tour may be leaning further away from its aggressive, die-hard punk roots each year with its diversity and mainstream talents. Yet, one thing that the festival has not lost is its human spirit which rocks straight down to its hard-core origins.

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.

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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

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

Cheech Marin, Hollywood Vet Still Going Strong, EM Interview by Cathy Areu Jones

As part of Cheech and Chong, the comic duo which rejoiced in a world of marijuana-smoking and ignorance, Mexican-American actor Cheech Marin, 55, and his partner Tommy Chong, were the counter-culture icons in the 70s and early 80s. The duo won a Grammy Award in 1973, put out records that went gold, and made six movies (which are now top weekend movie rentals). In 1984, the pair, which had met in a Canadian topless bar, split up. What happened? According to Marin, it

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