Thursday, July 25, 2013

We Miss USA Network's Up All Night with Rhonda Shear! Rhonda talks with TV STORE ONLINE about the show

Rhonda Shear, host of USA Network's UP ALL NIGHT and actress in films like SPACEBALLS, GALAXINA, ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS talks with TV Store Online.

From 1991 to 1997 comedian and actress Rhonda Shear hosted bad B-movies on the USA Network via her show Up All Night.   The caliber of bad films shown on the network during this era was astoundingly prolific, and hasn't been duplicated since anywhere.   Today films like SWEET SUGAR, THE VALS, BASIC TRAINING, KNOCKOUTS, BARBARIAN QUEEN and INVASION OF THE SPACE PREACHERS all maintain a cult following with Generation X because of their airings on the USA Network. To sit down and watch the USA Network and Shear's show in the mid- 90s really proved to be an B-movie education to anyone interested in getting such and Rhonda Shear was your very sexy teacher.

Shear, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana moved out to California and cut her teeth in the stand up comedy scene of Los Angeles in the mid/late-1980s. After working in various cameo roles and guest appearances on television and in films, she was cast by the USA Network to replace their then unwanted movie hostess Caroline Schlitt in 1991.  Shear was the essence of what the network was aspiring the late night and highly-watched weekend show to become.  Rhonda Shear provided the network with her own brand of goofy blond slapstick mixed with fun sexual innuendo, and as a television hostess viewers of Up All Night with Rhonda Shear were treated to zany misadventures recessing the nightlife hot spots deep inside cities like Los Angeles and New York.

Rhonda Shear took her audience to dance clubs, monster truck rallies, restaurants, coffee shops, cigar bars, even to a female impersonator cabaret called La Cage Aux Follies.   And she did it wearing hardly any clothing. Surrealistically-designed bras created from doll heads and skimpy dresses made with portions of see-through plastic transcended Shear's comedy into the hormonal consciousness of many male American teenagers staying up late on any given Friday night. If you were a fifteen-year-old boy growing up on the edge of Generation X in the early 90s and you were watching Rhonda Shear's Up All Night, not only did you become a B-movie obsessive but you also learned everything you always wanted to know about female sex appeal but were afraid to ask.  

Watching Rhonda Shear each week on Up All Night was a much better and more enriching experience than sneaking into your dad's sock drawer when your parents weren't home and looking through his Playboy magazines.  Rhonda Shear was sexy and you always wanted more of her.  Shear was the true goddess of the late night television landscape of the 1990s.

Not only was Shear beautiful and Amazonian like, but she was also very funny and watching Up All Night always felt like you were really just hanging out with the girl next door. She could make her audience laugh with her sexually charged, goofy physicality and prop play but also with her intentionally cheese-ball Borscht Belt era like jokes.

Watching Shear at work really gave you the feeling that Up All Night must have been a television show that was completely fun to make as well.  Shear on Up All Night was zany, mad, silly and kinky.   She was the incarnate of the definitive male fantasy and it's easy for anyone to assume that Rhonda Shear, her humor, and the tantalizing of her audience was in no way subconscious but truly thought out and planned for maximum effect. To see Rhonda Shear on television on Up All Night to some of the older generation must have only been imaginatively equaled by what it would have been like if Lucille Ball and Jayne Mansfield had gotten drunk and had sex with one another and through a divine miracle from God himself that discounted the laws of nature, gave grace and somehow birthed their captivating offspring and planted her on national television for the teenagers of the 1990s.  

To look back over the history of television, there hasn't been another female movie host at any level to have had the reach, effect, and influence that Rhonda Shear has had on the generational audience that were watching her each Friday night. Anyone that came of age during this era remembers Shear, Up All Night, those hideously fun and hilariously charming B-movies, her sense of humor and her two incredible talents.  

With the days of Up All Night behind her, Rhonda Shear has remained hard at work.  She has continued to do stand up comedy.  She has created a critically hailed traveling stage show, Rhonda Shear's Comedy Pajama Party Show, while still occasionally appearing on television.   A few years ago, Shear packed up in Los Angeles and moved to Florida to start her own lingerie and underwear line as well as a boutique. Her lingerie line is a best seller across The United States and Shear is committed to spending massive amounts of time appearing and selling her brand on The Home Shopping Network. Currently Shear is promoting her lingerie line and has many great things planned for the future.   We here miss Up All Night and Rhonda Shear's addicting blend of sex and slapstick.  Recently we chatted with Rhonda via telephone from her home in Florida and here's how it went:

TV STORE ONLINE: What was your childhood like growing up in New Orleans?

SHEAR: Growing up in New Orleans set the pace for my entire life. New Orleans was sexy. You had all the strip clubs, the old time burlesque clubs, strippers walking the strip. You could stay up and out all night long and drink coffee and eat beignets. When I moved to Los Angeles, I was out on one of the first nights after I arrived and people were starting to shut down the bars at 1:30 a.m., and I was asking myself: what is going on here you can't stay out all night long like back home? But yeah, it set the pace, and it was cool growing up in New Orleans. The city has all that cool stuff like, to go cups (you could have beer on the public streets), voodoo, great food, graves above ground, and great music--the place is who I am. It's where my heart is.

TV STORE ONLINE: Did your parents ever tell you their reasoning behind giving you your middle name, Honey?

SHEAR: Well, I think my mother thought I was going to be a stripper when I grew up. It's very southern actually.  My mother was very sweet and very girly. I grew up doing beauty pageants. My mother was very much a pageant mom. So it's just a very southern thing.

TV STORE ONLINE:  When was the last time you were in New Orleans? How do you feel about how everything was handled after the hurricane?

SHEAR:  My family still lives there. My mother actually just passed away, and we were very close. So I try to go back often. I love it there. Katrina was just horrible. I wish it was better there now, but it's making a comeback. I try to go back often, just to support the city. I went to the Super Bowl a few years ago. You know I was at one time a New Orleans Saint's dancer. And I was Miss Louisiana--so it just makes sense.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I read that during your college days you expressed an interest in studying law?

SHEAR:  Well, it's a long story. I won't go into it. Post college I actually went home and ran for public office. I lost. But I got accepted to law school. Underneath that, I still had this urge to act, perform and do comedy. So I took off to Los Angeles and see where things would lead me. I stayed for 26 years.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What was your first big break?

SHEAR:  I was cast in a Bob Hope special, and I did an episode of Happy Days [1974-84].

TV STORE ONLINE:  Bob Hope, really?

SHEAR:  Yeah. I was cast from an open casting call for one of his shows. I went in to audition, and I got it. If you read on the internet, you'll see something to the effect that Bob Hope discovered me. While that's not really true, I will say that he helped me. He did hand pick me during that first audition. Once I did that first show, he used me in a few other things. So in the sense, he was good luck for me. I got to work with all my idols too. This shows you how old I am...laughing I worked with George Burns and Johnny Carson. The only person that I didn't get to work with that I wanted to was my hero Lucille Ball.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What was the catalyst for you starting a career in stand up comedy?

SHEAR:  When I moved to Los Angeles I enrolled in Harvey Lembeck's improvisation class. So doing that was a lot of fun and inspiring. The people I was in the class with at the time were boosting my confidence, telling me that I should do stand up. So finally I got up enough courage to go out and do it. I met male comedians that told me that I was too pretty to do stand up. That used to make me so mad, because I'm really competitive.  So I just went out and did it. It was very empowering as a female to be up on stage. Also, back then female comedians made it a point to not look pretty while on stage, out of fear that they wouldn't get laughs. I didn't like that, so I just decided that I would be the first to go on stage not following that idea and try to get laughs.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Can you remember your very first stand up gig?

SHEAR:  It was at a Holiday Inn...laughing  I was following five guys at an open talent night that were Michael Jackson impersonators. It was hosted by a guy named Skip E Lowe. I think he's still around Los Angeles. He's gotta be a hundred by now.

Then my first paying gig, was in Atlanta, Georgia. I opened up for Wayland Flowers and Madame. The puppet. Shortly after that, I opened up once in San Francisco for Robin Williams. It was a fluke, but it was really cool. In those days, you didn't get paid much so it was a struggle. Sometimes you'd get stuck staying in a hotel room. These were what we called "comedy condos." It's where a bunch of comedians would all share a single hotel room. So that meant that I always had to get my money because I wasn't going to be the only girl in a room with four male comedians.

TV STORE ONLINE: How difficult were the 80s for you career wise? You had a bunch of walk on roles in films and television but did the work come fast enough for you? Did you have to struggle very much when you first started out in the business?

SHEAR:  Yeah, work came fast. I had a lot of doors open up because I had done a lot of television. I did shows like The A-Team, Three's Company and Cheers. But I was type cast somewhat as a character that came across as an overly sexy bimbo. Even during Up All Night I had the same problem. I was being type-cast for films I went out for during the show's run. Luckily though after Up All Night was over my hosting career really took off, and it became more about hosting than acting for me. I was really close to having my own daytime talk show on CBS but it didn't work out.

TV STORE ONLINE: You remember your first film role? It's listed as one of the Top 50 worst films of all time!

SHEAR:  JD'S REVENGE [1976] In New Orleans! See... I'm so proud. Even before Up All Night, I was doing bad films! Let me set the record straight here: Even though JD'S REVENGE is listed as my first film, it's not actually my first film role. It's listed first because I think I got my SAG card on it. I did a film prior to that and I dare you to find it. It's called QUADRUNE. It was shot in New Orleans. I had a non-speaking, but bigger than life role. A Quadrune is a one-fourth African American woman. It's historic and true. Frenchmen used to married Quadrunes and have babies with them because they were so beautiful. They'd take them as lifetime mistresses. It's the basis of Napoleonic law which still holds true in Louisiana.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about GALAXINA (1980)? Had you met or knew Dorothy Stratten prior to your walk on role as the "Mime-Bot?"  Did you meet her through Playboy?

SHEAR: I did know her prior. She was very nice, but very quiet. We actually had the same agent at the time. I'll never forget the day she was killed. It freaked everyone out. It was devastating. It really destroyed Hugh Hefner. It was horrible. Dorothy was so beautiful, she had such unique looks.

TV STORE ONLINE:  When you do something like Playboy... As a woman do you worry about people seeing it or what your parents will think?

SHEAR:  Somewhat. Now who cares, right? But back then I asked my parents prior and they were cool with it. When I did the film BASIC TRAINING, which I had that topless scene in, I had my dad's blessing. My dad came to the film's premiere and I was freaking out let me just tell you...laughing

Doing Playboy I've always considered to be a good experience. But it took some getting used to it of course. Being in the magazine with or without clothes on certainly didn't hurt my career. In fact, it really opened up a few doors for me hosting wise.

TV STORE ONLINE: What was it like auditioning for Mel Brooks for your role in SPACEBALLS(1985)?

SHEAR:  I went in to audition looking to get the part of the waitress. Mel Brooks auditioned everyone himself. At the time I didn't have blond hair and he was looking for a blond. So I told him that I would wear a wig and he said, "No, just show up and we'll figure it out. I like you and I want you in the movie but I'm not gonna cast you in the part of the waitress." So that was that. Up until the day of shooting all I knew was that I was going to be in the film but I didn't know what I was gonna be doing or saying. Of course... I just had that one line and Mel Brooks threw me that line while we were on set shooting!

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you get hired for Up All Night?

SHEAR:  The network wasn't happy with their current host. They were re-structuring, and they wanted hot, over the top, and sexy. At the time I was doing stand up comedy, so I went in and auditioned. I actually took a hair-dryer in there with me and started blow drying my hair as I was auditioning and while all these other girls were waiting outside for their audition.

TV STORE ONLINE: Do you remember the very first movie you played on Up All Night in 1991?

SHEAR:  No, but I'm sure you do...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Your movie BASIC TRAINING was followed by Linnea Quigley's THE GIRL I WANT [1990].

SHEAR:  Shut up, really?

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you actually watch any of the movies you guys were playing on Up All Night?

SHEAR:  Yes, actually I did. I watched as many as I had the time for. If I didn't have time to watch them, I would at least fast forward through them. I always felt bad for my mom because she would watch the show every week and she'd sit through all of those really bad movies.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think the show has held up over time?

SHEAR:  Yeah. The show was really smart. It was ahead of its time to an extent, because USA didn't care about it. It was a smart show. I've had parties and I've shown clips and people still laugh out loud. We made fun of the O.J. Simpson trial. We would parody USA Network execs. We had special guests on. We had all the "Scream Queens" on the show. We promoted them shamelessly. We'd show all their movies. Those girls were a very big part of my life. We had Lloyd Kaufman from Troma on there with Toxie. We hit on things going on at that time. And if you look back at those shows now you can see that what we were doing was a little forward. The comedy is still quite funny.

TV STORE ONLINE: One thing that I find interesting about the progression of the show is how upon starting the show the Rhonda character was overtly sexual, then as the seasons progressed that was toned down quite a bit. Why was that?

SHEAR:  Well, USA Network decided that it wasn't cost efficient for them to produce the show in Los Angeles anymore. USA was and is a New York City-based company. So basically they told me I had to move to New York City otherwise the show was gonna either go off the air or I would be replaced. So I did it. I moved to New York. I wanted to keep my job and I wanted to be on the air. So when I got to New York I got a new producer. And he changed the show. He wanted to make it more darker, and that's just not me, and wasn't that character. And besides, I think he just didn't like me anyhow. So that's were you start to see the sexuality tone down, and me doing stupid things like hanging out in a men's cigar bar or being dressed up as a giant ice cream cone on the streets of New York City. I really hated doing that stuff. I had to put up with him for a couple years, then after that, this sweet girl came in as producer, and she was very nice. We had a lot of fun, but the character still stayed the same as when I first came to New York.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Once the show started to take off did you have any thoughts pop into your head about the character being too sexual... I mean... Did you ever say to yourself... "Are there guys at home pleasuring themselves to me? Yuck...."

SHEAR:  Well, you're coming into someone's home late at night on Friday. And you know more than likely it's teenagers at home that are watching when their parents are asleep. Or it is a single guy coming home from work and he wants to relax. What's funny...We'd get fan letters from doctors, bartenders, and all kinds of people. We even knew that Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac was a fan. Ultimately, we were well aware of the sex appeal. I was your "Bed Time Buddy," so it's understandable and we played into it. The thing is..The show is remembered. We did something right. After all, we're sitting here fifteen years after the show is gone from the air talking about it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I need you to help me on something? So looking for stuff online about you... I continue to run into a connection between Rhonda Shear and foot fetishism. Are you aware of this? Can you please tell me what the hell that's all about please?

SHEAR: Wait a minute? You're not a foot fetishist?

TV STORE ONLINE:  No!..laughing

SHEAR:  During Up All Night it was really major. We weren't really paying attention then. During production we used to pan the camera across my body ending on my feet. Then all of a sudden we started getting letters from foot fetishists about it. They'd write in saying, "We love her shoes, or we love her ankles, her stockings." And the more letters that came in the more we would play it up. They'd write in asking me to dangle my shoes off my feet and we would do this all on the air. The best part is... USA Network never had a clue!  They had no idea we were doing it! It got crazy. We started pushing it further... One episode for Thanksgiving... I got up on a counter-top and started stomping food and the camera was zooming in on my feet.

After a while, I actually started to get approached by foot fetish magazines and they'd ask me to do a layout. I did a couple of them. It's the number one fetish in the world. It's sweet and harmless. It was crazy though. I'd get sent gifts every week, like toe rings and pairs of shoes. Guys would cut off their pubic hair and mail it to me...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  One thing I've always wanted to know and I'm hoping you can shed some light on this subject in regards to the secret society of the Scream Queens you were involved in... I can remember back as a teenager reading magazines like Femme Fatales and Fangoria and seeing ads in the classified for video tapes advertising "Your Favorite Scream Queens" all nude. And they always listed yourself, Linnea Quigley, and Monique Gabrielle etc...

SHEAR:  That whole thing was something that went very bad. So Monique Gabrielle was married to this guy. He was a nice and charming guy... His dad was a porn producer. So he got involved with Monique and got on our Up All Night set. We of course, were all good friends. It was myself, Monique, Linnea and Julie Strain. So he talked us all into doing a book called A Sex Symbol Dynasty. Anyhow, Monique and I did some photo shoots together, and I got topless during the shoot. But what we didn't know at the time was that this guy was shooting behind-the-scenes video of us nude or semi-nude and selling it via magazines and the web!

We tried to shut him down, actually. But then we figured... What's out there is out there. There isn't anything that he filmed of me that's really outrageous really.... There is maybe a couple boobie shots of me in those videos. This guy was selling these videos illegally. He's since gone out of business but we know he's down here in Florida somewhere. And to my knowledge he's no longer with Monique, even though the last one of us to see Monique was Linnea and that was a couple years ago. I am looking to get in touch with her. She is such a sweetheart.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did your comedy CD Your Bedtime Buddy come about?

SHEAR: I was just doing my stand-up and a producer approached me. And I did it and I got paid for it. It was fun. It's still selling out there, and I was just asked to do another recently. I'd like too but I just don't have time to update my act right now. I've got a bunch of new material that's a lot of fun. When I go on the road I now talk about being married and being a sexy step-mom, and it's fun to play that role. I like playing the cougar.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How do you feel about getting older?

SHEAR:  Well, I like it. I love my life. I've had a wonderful full life. I was Miss Louisiana. I was in Playboy. I did sexy stuff. I still think I look really good for my age. I have a youthful attitude. I love my husband, I love my dogs. I don't feel old. My mind is young. I like being seasoned...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  On behalf of every Generation X male now in their 30's.... I have to ask the universal question.  How does one become "Your Bedtime Buddy?"

SHEAR:  Well, there are really only two ways. One: You can be my bedtime buddy on Facebook or Twitter anytime you want 24 hours a day.  Two: If you want to be my real bedtime buddy you would have to be my junior high school sweetheart that I'm married to now and there's only one of him. So sorry guys, I'm taken.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

For more with Rhonda please visit any of the following links:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Director Albert Pyun talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his 1990 film version of Captain America

Albert Pyun, Director of such films as RADIOACTIVE DREAMS, CYBORG, BRAINSMASHER: A LOVE STORY talks about his 1990 film CAPTAIN AMERICA in the aftermath of it's recent screening at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con.

TV STORE ONLINE:   CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990) seems to come a bit out of left-field in comparison to the other genres that you had worked in prior to making it...I wanted to see how your CAPTAIN film came about?

PYUN:  In the early '80s when I was just starting out...I never figured that I'd get the opportunity to make one film, let alone many.   So I figured that if I was going to get the opportunity to make a film I was going to try to do something that hadn't been done before.  So after I made my first film I knew that if I got the chance to make another one or several I'd make a film in every one of the genres that I had enjoyed as a little kid.

When I first started at Cannon Films....They had a Captain America poster on wall because they had wanted to make that movie for a while. I had been a fan of the comic book as a kid. I really liked the Steve Rogers character. His life story was the most fascinating aspect to me of the Captain America mythos.  Originally, the director Joseph Zito was supposed to make Captain America and Spiderman at Cannon Films, but it didn't work out for whatever reason. I used to run into Zito on the stairway at Cannon Films because he'd be out smoking a cigar because they didn't allow smoking in the building and in talking to him is how I originally found out about Cannon wanting to make a Captain America film.   In 1987 there was a stock market crash and that prevented Cannon from making new films and the cousins that ran Cannon, Menahem Golan & Yoram Globus decided to split it.   I was in Golan's office one day and he was asking me about the projects that I thought that he should take with him to his new company and one of those was the script that they had for CAPTAIN AMERICA. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  What kind of input did you get from Stan Lee at Marvel in regards to the film?

Captain America T-shirt
Available at TV STORE ONLINE

PYUN:  Stan Lee supported the idea of sticking with the Steve Rogers story and making it the film's central focus.  I think Stan was intrigued with the idea of a normal human being who volunteers for this process and his life becomes something that he never expected it to be.  I talked to both Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and they were both very supportive as well.  Back then...The special effects were an issue too, because we didn't have CGI...So Marvel was concerned with some of the elements of the script, because they had remembered seeing how the late '70s Captain America television movies had turned out.  

Because the film was being made with a new company, the budget needed to bring the script to the screen just wasn't there.  I don't think that Marvel really wanted Golan to have the property because of their concerns with the budget.   With the budget we had, we had to make certain adjustments so the script would fit our budget and Marvel didn't like that.  We  didn't have the money that the script needed, and Marvel ended up being quite difficult on us because of that.  They really pushed the production into a corner and we really had to move forward with a script that really didn't fit our budget.    Golan just couldn't get the money collected for the budget and about half-way through the production we ran out of money.  That's why most of the action sequences in the finished movie are heavily truncated.     There was a lot of stuff in the script that we just couldn't do because of our budget.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you ever make an attempt at re-writing Stephen Tolkin's original script for the film?

PYUN:  No, because I really liked his script.  Stan Lee liked Stephen's script too.  Even though we had to cut a lot of stuff out of his script due to our budget I tried to retain his fish out of water thing where Steve Rogers is this guy from the '40s that comes back from Alaska and he's now in the 1990's.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you storyboard?   I really adore that opening shot in CAPTAIN AMERICA...It's a long crane shot where the camera comes down, goes across the street in Renado Beach, into a yard and takes us into the story via the home of Steve Rogers through his kitchen window...

PYUN:     Not really, but we did some initial concept drawings in the pre-production.  We didn't see any purpose in spending money for storyboard artists because we knew from the beginning that we wouldn't be able to afford many of the big action sequences or set pieces in Stephen Tolkin's script.

TV STORE ONLINE:   How did Matt Salinger become part of the project?   Was he always your first choice to play Captain America?

PYUN:  Well, originally my idea was to cast two different actors to play Captain America.  There would have been no way then that one actor could've played the little Steve Rogers and then also play the Captain America Steve Rogers.   For the Captain America Steve Rogers I had originally wanted to cast Howie Long.   I went out to his house and met with him and he was a Captain America fan and he was really excited because even though he was still playing football at the time becoming an actor was a career path that he wanted to pursue.    But Marvel wouldn't allow it.  They told me that he wouldn't work because he wasn't an actor even though he had the build for Captain America.  

We came to Matt Salinger as a sort of compromise because he was tall and he had this sort of All-American face and plus I had really liked his audition reading because he did a great job at showing the sensitive side of Steve Rogers. He was great and could convey the hurt and pain of having to live up to someone else's idea of who he was supposed to be.   While he was tall...Matt could've been each incarnation of Steve Rogers but in the end we had to build a body suit for him for the Captain America side of the story, and I'm not sure now how that worked in finished film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  That's one of the things that I like so much about your CAPTAIN film is that Steve Rogers is in fact this tortured soul of sorts.   He's not really the definition of what a super hero should be according to everyone's standards...I love those scenes with him and the girl...

PYUN:  Right...That's what Matt was really focusing on.   He brought that to it.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  What a great cast too...Melinda Dillon, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox...Was this a project that people wanted to be a part of or were they people that you wanted to cast?

PYUN:  They were people that I wanted.   Many of those actors I had just been an admirer of.  I really liked certain qualities that I had seen in all their work.   Melinda had a great quality in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977)....Ronny had a very unique quality in DELIVERANCE (1972).   In real life, Ronny has that kind soul that the character in DELIVERANCE has.   He's just the sweetest guy.   Then after I got Ronny I went after Ned Beatty because I really loved the chemistry that he and Ronny had had together in DELIVERANCE.    I just really wanted to bring certain qualities to CAPTAIN AMERICA.   Melinda Dillon...She had done a film that I was a big fan of called A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) with Darren McGavin.   I had to fly to London to get Darren McGavin for CAPTAIN AMERICA because he was living there at the time.   None of these actors had to audition.  I just offered them their roles because I thought that they all had a special quality and I wanted that to come across in CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Actor Scott Paulin as
The Red Skull 
TV STORE ONLINE:  What about Scott Paulin in the role of 'The Red Skull'?

PYUN:  Well, I had just worked with Scott prior on a small three day movie called DECEIT (1992).  I was completely taken with his ability to take small moments and turn them into something magical.  So I figured if he could do that on a small film that was shot in three days, he could properly bring something really great to The Red Skull.   Scott really added something to The Red Skull that made him something more than just a tradition villain.   I know that CAPTAIN AMERICA was a difficult experience for Scott too because so much of his work was cut out from the movie.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about that great Red Skull make-up that we see him in at the very beginning of your CAPTAIN AMERICA?  Was there any trial and error getting what you wanted for that?

PYUN:  Well, Greg Cannom did the make-up and he's went on to win Oscars.   Greg was very specific in the regard that he wanted me to cast someone who didn't have a breach in his nose and of course I cast Scott who had everything that Greg didn't want in order to achieve a great make-up effect.   So that really posed a challenge to Greg...Because remember we didn't have CGI back then so it wasn't like he could have a little bit of make-up on and then let a computer do the rest.   That Red Skull make-up was also a challenge for Scott too because each day he had to spend four to six hours in a chair getting made up.

TV STORE ONLINE:   There's also a unique sense of humor at play in your CAPTAIN AMERICA as well...I love that bit where Steve Rogers is in truck first with Ned Beatty, then later on with that girl....and every time he gets stressed out he plays a trick on them by saying, "Pull over for a second I think I'm going to be sick."   Then he gets out and runs away from them.  Was that type of stuff in the script or was that something that the actors or yourself brought to it.

Pyun at the helm.  Look for his upcoming
film ROAD TO HELL (2013) in
theaters starting in August 2013
PYUN:  It was in the original script but I just magnified it a little bit.  What was interesting to me what the fact that if you're a superhero and you have to steal from somebody then you don't really want to hurt anybody in the process of doing that.   He had to steal those cars because he had to get out of the bind that he was in and and once he found that this worked with Ned Beatty's character he thought it might work time and time again...laughing   I know a lot of people don't really like that aspect of the film but I thought it was really clever.   People don't like the film because it doesn't have those set pieces and the Captain America type of action that they were expecting.

TV STORE ONLINE:  It seems to me that the reason why many people don't appreciate your CAPTAIN AMERICA film is because they don't know or understand your sensibilities.  Do you think that hurt the film?

PYUN:  I do.  I did what I could do with the budget I had for CAPTAIN AMERICA.   Not having the budget I needed really made the shoot tough so I just tried to focus in on certain aspects that I found amusing and fun.  We knew we couldn't do big action pieces so we focused in on the people that were coming after Steve Rogers.  They weren't the biggest guys and they didn't have any type of special weapon.  In a weird way I saw the action in the film as something from a '40s movie.  I wanted just quick fist-a-cuffs and somebody goes down.  I didn't want anyone flying around on a wire.  I think I just brought a old school sensibility to it.

A  Showdown Homage:  Matt Salinger as Captain America
and Scott Paulin as The Red Skull
TV STORE ONLINE:  Well, you can clearly see how someone like Sergio Leone influenced you as a filmmaker...There's that showdown at the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA where you've set up the framing where Captain America is on the left side of the frame in a medium shot, then you cut to a extreme close-up of The Red Skull's face all the way to the right of the frame....

PYUN:  Right, that was always my intention.  I always saw that showdown as something out of a Spaghetti Western.   When we first cut the film together and showed it to the studio executives they didn't like that.   I mean, it's very much like the opening of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968).   They couldn't understand why these two actors were giving each other these looks. I did something similar in CYBORG (1989) at the end too.  I love them personally.  A Showdown is one of my favorite things in films.  I like it when two characters can sort of examine each other.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Some fans might not be aware of the fact that there are in fact now two different versions of your CAPTAIN AMERICA available. There's the studio version cut then your specially made Director's cut of the film based off of a work-print.    I personally prefer your Director's cut .  I mean you revise the story arc with the insertion of that scene of The Red Skull as a young boy playing piano at the end of the film, where in the studio cut that scene appears at the very front....

Albert Pyun's Director's Cut for
PYUN:  Right...The original ending that I had intended for the film I actually couldn't find even for my Director's cut.   In my original first cut of the film...It started with the scene that you see now of The Red Skull as a little boy playing that piano and then the Nazi's break in, shoot everyone and kidnap him.   Then the film was going to end with him thinking back to that same moment but at the end you would've seen him play that entire piano piece completely and then you came back and The Red Skull commited suicide.   When I showed it to the studio...They didn't like it.   They didn't think that the bad guy should get off the hook.    They didn't get it.  

Captain America T-Shirt
Steve Rogers really understood The Red Skull because they both were men that were set off on someone else's destiny and not their own.  I think Steve Rogers really understood and related to  The Red Skull's pain.  So we had to go back and shoot that little bit for the end where Steve Rogers as Captain America throws his shield and kills The Red Skull.    

The studio didn't understand that pain and sadness and pathos.   These guys at the studio clearly hadn't read the comic book in the '60s. Because if they had they would've understood  how Steve Rogers was in the comic book.   He was a superhero that solved his problems very uniquely.  He was a superhero who was very in-tune or sensitive to others around him.  The studio wanted him to be a killer, and he wasn't a killer in the comic book.   I was shocked to see Captain America in the new film with a gun.  When I saw that I couldn't believe that.

Albert Pyun's new film ROAD TO HELL will be hitting theaters in select cities in The United States this August 2013. 

To purchase Albert Pyun's Director's Cut of CAPTAIN AMERICA please visit his site HERE:
Looking for a Captain America T-shirt?  Check out TV STORE ONLINE's selection HERE:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mickey Jones from The Dukes Of Hazzard talks with TV STORE ONLINE

Musician / Actor Mickey Jones talks with TV STORE ONLINE about working on such television series as The Incredible Hulk, The Dukes Of Hazzard, and V: The Mini Series as well as on films like NADINE, WILD IN THE STREETS, THE SUNCHASER, HUNTER'S BLOOD and STARMAN.

TV STORE ONLINE: Hi Mickey!  Thanks for your time today.

JONES:  My pleasure...

TV STORE ONLINE:   I guess my first question for you....When did the acting bug first bite you? Obviously growing up you had an interest in music, but where do you think your interest in wanting to be an actor comes from?

JONES:  I can tell you almost the very day that happened.  I was about seven or eight years old.  I was living with my grandmother at the time in Texas.  My father was in the military and he was in Buford, South Carolina.  My mother had decided to go back and be with him.  There were a bunch of kids in the neighborhood that I lived in.  They were older than I was but they were putting on this play in one of their garages.  They were charging the neighborhood kids a penny to see the play.  So my grandmother gave me a penny to go and see the play.  When I went and saw them, they looked just like they were having so much fun.  That's when I became smitten with the idea of acting.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Is it true that you have a small part as an extra in WILD IN THE STREETS (1968)?

JONES:  That is true.   I was an extra and I played a teenager even though I wasn't actually a teenager.  I was one of those kids that takes over Congress.    Richard Pryor worked on that too.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then you also worked with Steve McQueen in TOM HORN (1980)?

JONES:   That's right.  I had gotten to know Steve McQueen when I was playing drums for Johnny Rivers.  We used to play the Whiskey A-Go-Go and he'd come in every couple nights to see us.  We'd be playing our set and in front of us dancing would be Steve McQueen or Jayne Mansfield.   When I was hired for TOM HORN...I was supposed to play one role in the film, but when I got there to work, the director who had hired me was gone, and he was replaced.   The new director had given my part to his driver.   So I was relegated to playing a background role in a bar.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I read somewhere someplace that over the course of your film career that you've been killed on film 92 times.  Is that true?

JONES:  That's true.  I have that statistic because I was approached by a movie magazine in Germany a few years ago to do an interview and one of their questions was, "How many times have you been killed on camera?"   I didn't know the answer at the time, so I told them that I'd get back to him.  So I started to dig out all of my old tapes that I had used to put together my demo reel and started to go through them, making notes while I was going.  I had something like 28 hours of footage of just the scenes in films and television that I had been in.  After I added it all up...I've been killed 92 times on camera and I've killed 136 guys on camera.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm a really big fan of your work on V: The Mini Series [1983] and the television series V [1984] itself...

JONES:  When I got that job....I had no clue what it was all about.  I didn't even know anything about character of "Chris Farber" for V.  I was really excited.  I went down to Warner Brothers for my wardrobe fitting and read the script for the pilot episode which would eventually turn out to be the first episode of the mini-series. I was told that I'd be working on this for three months.   I kept noticing that all of my scenes where with this character named "Ham Tyler".  Michael Ironside is the actor who played Ham Tyler.    The producers told me at the time that they really didn't know much about the actor who was playing him except that he was Canadian and that he had done a film called SCANNERS [1982].   So I went and watched SCANNERS just so I could see who I'd be working with.   On the first day of shooting in downtown Los Angeles, I went to Michael's dressing room and knocked on the door to introduce myself.  It wasn't a big thing...It was just to say a quick hello to him.   We chatted for a couple minutes is all.  Then we got called to the set.  

The first shot we did was where Michael and I shoot our machine guns at these lizard people.  In the next scene, we shot our guns at these lizards but he runs out of ammo.  He pulls his magazine from the gun and I toss him a new magazine then deliver my lines.   None of that was in the script though.  It just happened.  We had an instant chemistry and during that mini-series we become best friends.    In fact, not long after we finished shooting the V: The Mini-Series we jumped in a car together and drove across the country.   I knew V was going to be a big deal.  It's still the highest seen television mini-series of all time.

Jones as "Chris Farber" in
NBC's V: The Mini-Series
TV STORE ONLINE:  Then came the television series...I always thought that final episode of the television series that you did was really funny...That one with the funny homage to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE [1946]....

JONES:  That's right. The mini-series was great, but the television series wasn't very good.  They really botched it.   That's why it only ran for thirteen weeks.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I really liked that Chris Farber character....Did you invent any sort of back story for him before that first day of shooting?

JONES:  He was a Vietnam veteran but I don't think that was very clear in the mini-series.   Back when I was playing drums for Johnny Rivers...I had went and played music with him and Ann-Margret on a tour of Vietnam.  I saw some really crazy things.  I talk about the whole experience in my book. Maybe I subconsciously used my experiences in Vietnam to help with the character but I can't be sure.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Not long after you finished up on V you were cast as the greasy breast loving biker "Big Zero" in SAVAGE DAWN (1983).  What was that experience like for you?

JONES:  Oh God...My wife calls that film SAVAGE DOG!   William Forsythe got injured on that.  There is that scene where all of the bikers have to turn on this L-Shaped street.  He dumped the motorcycle on that shot and for the rest of the movie he had a leg cast on.   What I did enjoy about working on SAVAGE DAWN was working with Richard Lynch and I was just thrilled to be working with the great character actor Leo Gordon.  He played the sheriff in the town that killed my character.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Speaking of William Forsythe...I'm a huge fan of EXTREME PREJUDICE (1986) and Walter Hill...

JONES:  I'm a huge fan of Walter Hill as well...The first day I met him...I went in for an interview and as I as leaving I turned and said to him, "Mr. Hill...I can't tell you how much I loved THE LONG RIDERS (1980).  There was just one thing wrong with it."   He got this look and he said, "It's Walter.  What was wrong with it?"  I said, "It doesn't have me in it!"  He laughed and he gave me the job in EXTREME PREJUDICE.    It was great to work with Nick Nolte and I loved working with Rip Torn on that.  I think Rip Torn is one of the greatest actors in the world.

Mickey Jones in Walter Hill's EXTREME PREJUDICE (1986)

TV STORE ONLINE:  You got to work with Rip Torn again in NADINE (1987)...

JONES:  That's right.   The day that we shot the scene where Rip's character kills me in NADINE  he said to me, "This is a great day for me because you killed me in EXTREME PREJUDICE and now I get to kill you."   

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love that great scene with you and Jeff Bridges in NADINE.  That scene where you're roughing him up in the back of the bar is wonderful.  Was something like that a result of any type of improv?

JONES:  A lot of it was done improved.   Jeff Bridges and I became good friends on NADINE.  In fact I got called in to meet with the Coen Brothers for a role in TRUE GRIT (2010).  I ran into Jeff in the hallway.  He was there for a wardrobe fitting and when it came time for me to go in and see the Coen Brothers, Jeff went in with me and read with me for them.   I didn't get the part though.  It went to someone else, but Jeff is a really great guy.  We did NADINE together, but also we did another film together called STARMAN (1984).  That was fun.  Jeff and I would hang out and play guitar together between takes.  I took him one night during STARMAN to see Leon Russell and Edgar Winter at the Austin Opera House and we ended up recording some stuff with them in there.  I've played on Jeff's recordings too that he's done since.   

Working with Kim Basinger was wonderful on NADINE too.  I got to hug and kiss her every day.  It was a difficult job but someone had to do it.   I had that problem too on THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS (2003) with Beyonce...

Jones and Cuba Gooding Jr.
TV STORE ONLINE:  Yeah, That was a great role for you in THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS...

JONES:   That was so much fun.  I had went in to audition for another part for that but I ended getting the role of the "Scooter" the piano player.   When I went in, the director had asked me, "Do you play the piano?"  I told him, "Well not really, but I can play a few songs..."  So we went over into a audition room where they had a piano and I sat down and played a couple Jerry Lee Lewis songs and he gave me the part.   About six weeks in...We were down in Atlanta, Georgia shooting that and the director got a call from the film's editor in Los Angeles and the editor had asked him if I really played piano because as he saw it...He thought I was really playing that music.  So I fooled them on that one.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What are you memories of working on HUNTER'S BLOOD (1986)?

Kim Delaney and Mickey Jones

JONES:  I remember the scene where Kim Delaney slams those deer antlers into my back and kills my character because I had to fall onto a mattress.   I really fell there.  It wasn't a stunt fall, I really just let go and I fell hard.  Those deer antlers were snapped into me.  They had sanded off the ends and then put a snap into my shirt so they could mount them in my back as if she'd just rammed them into me.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What about working with Kevin Costner on TIN CUP (1996)?

JONES:  He was great.  How I got...It's a fun story.  I went in to audition for that.  I knew that I wasn't going to get that role but I went in anyhow.  It eventually went to a great actor that just passed away named Dennis Burkley.    Afterward, I went up to the casting director and told her that I knew that I wasn't going to get the role but that I had the best golfing song for the movie.  I asked her if I could play it for her, and she told me to come back the next day and bring my guitar.  So I came in the next day and she videotaped me playing my song "The Double Bogey Blues".  It was a song that I had co-written and that I owned the rights too.     Once the producers heard the song they decided that they wanted it and me for the movie.  It ended up on the soundtrack and it's the only song in the movie.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   PENNY DREADFUL (2008) isn't a great film, but I love your work in it...My note here says, "Mickey falls down the hill and he shows great emotion when he's hurt."

JONES:  Right.  My character ends up with a skewer in his neck.   I liked the character.  I really liked that scene that came before that death scene in the movie, where my character is sitting there cracking jokes.   I thought that was good work.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You're often type cast as a biker or as a hillbilly.   Do you ever get frustrated with the type-casting?  I'd love to see something where you can get out and stretch your acting wings...

JONES:  I did that.  You've probably seen it, but have forgotten about it.   I did an episode of The Incredible Hulk (1978-1981) television series where I was cast as a nineteen year old kid that was mentally retarded even though I was in actually in my thirties.   It was the very first time in the series where someone came face-to-face with the Hulk on camera.   I was on the show three different times over the course of that series.  The producer, Kenneth Johnson, put me up for a Emmy that year for that, but I didn't get nominated.  Also, I did a short film with Billy Bob Thorton called THE LAST REAL COWBOYS (2000).  My wife, who I love dearly, can be my toughest critic.  She'll tell me if I suck or if I'm good in something.   She thinks that it's the best work I've ever done.   So I think it must be really good.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Speaking of type-casting....I'm a huge admirer of Michael Cimino and THE SUNCHASER (1996).  What was that experience like for you?

JONES:  That was fun.  The interior of the cafe where that scene takes place at was shot in a funky little dive bar down toward Long Beach, California.  The exterior stuff for that we shot up in the mountains in Jerome, Arizona.    I don't know if your familiar with Jerome, Arizona but it's just beautiful.  It's not far from Cottonwood, Arizona.  I almost got killed in that chase scene.  There were two things that happened.  The first thing that happened is when I throw Woody Harrelson through that window and I pull out my knife and go after him.   Then, a car comes up and runs over my character's motorcycle and Woody takes off in it.  My character and another get in this truck and take off after them.  As the truck was taking off...I barely made it into the truck.  The stuntman had taken off and I'm hanging from the truck trying to get in, and my feet are dragging onto the pavement.  Then when I get in, the door wouldn't close.  So I'm holding the door shut and I'm also leaning out of it with a shotgun firing at that car.  There was a part of the scene where we have do this horse-shoe turn and when we did it, the brake pedal on the truck went to the floor and we went out of control and we started sliding.  

We were going down a hill and we would've flipped but we hit the curve and luckily for us it stopped us.  The shotgun flew out the window and my head slammed into the channel of the door and it knocked me out cold.   Had that curve not been there we would've slid off the side of the road and fell about forty feet down a canyon.  When I woke up there was paramedic standing over me and she started to talk to me.  They wanted to take me to the hospital in Cottonwood but I told them that I didn't want to go.   After arguing with them, I ended up going to the hospital and getting some stitches.  After a couple hours I went back and finished shooting the scene.  When we were done I went up to the producers and asked them for that footage and one of them said, "Are you going to sue us?"  I told them, "No. I just want the footage for myself."

TV STORE ONLINE:  You worked on TOTAL RECALL (1990) as well...Did you suffer the now legendary stories of the entire cast getting sick from the water in Mexico City during the shoot?

JONES:  I don't know about the others on that show, but I was so sick...I was on the floor most of the time.  I was down there for ten days and we were staying in a  five star hotel.  I was brushing my teeth with bottled water.  The hotel we stayed at served us a salad and they told us that it was safe to eat, but they didn't tell us that they had washed the lettuce in the water down there.  Around day seven...I got back to the hotel and headed right to the bathroom.  I was throwing up and just praying to God to take me.  "God take me now!"  (Laughing)  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Were you on the set the day that they shot the scene with the girl with the three breasts in the bar?

JONES:  I was.  That actress was only like four foot two inches tall.   It was a prosthetic. It was a whole chest piece that they fit onto her.  At a glance those looked real.

TV STORE ONLINE:    What are your memories of working on The Dukes Of Hazzard [1979-85]?

JONES:  I was hired on for one season.  The reason that I got hired...The actor who played "Cooter" Ben Jones quit the show.  When he had started on the show, they had told him that they would be shooting in Georgia.  They shot the first few shows in Georgia then moved to Los Angeles and Ben hated it.   So he quit and I was hired on to play his cousin "B.B. Davenport".   After a few episodes Ben decided that he wanted to come back on the show so when he did they let me go but paid me for the entire season.   I really loved working on The Dukes.  I got to go to work everyday and I had my own parking spot even.

Jones as "B.B. Davenport" on
The Dukes Of Hazzard

TV STORE ONLINE:   You've played so many characters in your career.   When you go into a character...What's your process as an actor?

JONES:  That's a good question.  I'm not a method guy.   I'm just the opposite of that.  I think that I know they types of characters.  I know where he lives. I know what he eats.  I know what's going on between his ears.   I can tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy.  I try to just not think too much about it.  I think a lot of actors get into trouble because they think too much about the characters they're playing.   I really don't look at this as brain surgery but I do take pride in my work.  When I walk onto a set I know my work.  If we have to do another take it's not because of me, it's because another actor wasn't prepared.

Dukes Of Hazzard T-shirt
Available at TV STORE ONLINE
TV STORE ONLINE:  What can we see you in next?

JONES:  I just did an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia [2005-Current].   I play a guy who owns a gun shoppe and those guys come in and ridicule people who support the ownership of guns.   I tell them that they need to complete a background check and I collect their licenses.  I go out back and watch what they're doing in the store.   Then I come back out and talk to them and one of them says, "Well, that was quick."  I say, "Yeah, The No's come back faster than the Yes's."    They try to argue with me and I mention the fact that one them has a record.  One of them attacked a girl and set her on fire.  They say, "That was one small incident and she was annoying." (Laughing).   I think the episode is airing in September or October 2013.

For more with Mickey Jones please visit his official website HERE:
Check out Mickey Jones's book  HERE
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Who's The Killer? Star of the new hit ABC reality series Whodunnit? Gildart Jackson talks with TV STORE ONLINE

Star of ABC's new Whodunnit?  Gildart Jackson talks about episode four of Whodunnit? as well as his work on Charmed, Early Edition and his film YOU (2009)...

TV STORE ONLINE:  We had a new episode last night!

JACKSON:   Indeed we did...  What did you think?

TV STORE ONLINE:  I loved it!   You know the thing that I love most about ABC's Whodunnit? [2013] is the fact that it blurs that line between reality and episodic TV Show...

JACKSON:  Yeah for sure.

TV STORE ONLINE:   We had that mountain lion in the house too....What was that whole experience like being there to do that?

JACKSON:  It was a lot of fun, and it was quite scary.  That mountain lion was bloody big.   There were multiple trainers there and the chaps with the electric wires to keep it from running around.   I had no idea how big a mountain lion was until I saw it standing there across from me in that kitchen!

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you try to feed it?

JACKSON:  I didn't.  I know better than that. (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE:  How is the show doing?  Are you getting good feedback?

JACKSON:  Well everyone who's stopped me in the street about it has been very complimentary.  We're building an audience, the ratings are going up, we are being received well by everyone.   Just the other day I was stopped by a fan of the show who had not only see every episode, but had just recently bought Anthony Zuiker's book about the show.  I recorded the audio book for that.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Yesterday I read some of Anthony Zuiker's book on WhoDunnit?,  which gives us the back story for your character "Giles"......Is that back story something similar to what you would've envisioned for Giles in the beginning as the actor behind him?

JACKSON:  No, it wasn't.   I didn't really have an understanding of how Giles would keep on coming back until Anthony Zuiker explained it to me.  Giles's back story is all revealed in the new book. People should go out and get it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Why do you think that reality television has such a grip on American television audiences?

JACKSON:   I don't really know...Does it really have more of a grip on audiences than episodic television, video games, or music?  I'd say not.  What it offers is something new to audiences and I think that's why people are watching.  It's  still somewhat new as a medium and that's exciting to people. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   What kind of spoilers can you give us for the rest of this season?

JACKSON:   I can tell you that it will be scintillatingly exciting!  I can tell you that the final episode, where the killer is revealed and the contestant who walks away with $250,000 dollars...That was just astonishing to be a part of.  I was flabbergasted by it.   I can't tell you what's going to happen, but I can say that the rest of the season is well worth the ride!

TV STORE ONLINE:  What would you say if I told you that I think that you're the killer?

JACKSON:  I'd say..."You're very good aren't you.  You're good at this."    And if you told me that you thought that "Geno" is the killer, I'd say, "You're very good at this aren't you." (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE:   I'm loving your outfits in each episode...It was great to see you in that sort of Ernest Hemingway safari hunter outfit in last night's episode....

JACKSON:  Yeah that funny. Sadly we had to cut out the bit where I alluded to it in the episode.  I hope it played all right or made sense why I was wearing that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Oh course.....It was great to see you come out carrying that rifle to take care of that mountain lion...Giles obviously has his own style and finesse so it's not surprising that he'd be wearing all different kinds of outfits for the occasion.

JACKSON:  Yeah, he loves to get dressed for the occasion.  The next episode he gets dressed up as a cowboy and the next episode takes us out of the house and onto the grounds. The next episode is a great one and I hope that the fans enjoy it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I really love that film that you wrote called YOU (2009)...

JACKSON:  Thanks very much.  That film is one that is very near and dear to my heart.   As you know Melora Hardin is my wife and while I wrote it, she directed it.  It was really a labor of love for us and of course our kids are in it and my in-laws are in it as well. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  I really love how you've structured the film too.  What was your inspiration and process for writing it in the first place?

JACKSON:   It was a strange process.  My wife and I had just had our first baby and I had just gotten hired to write for a television series up in Vancouver, Canada, and I was going to be up there for a while.    Our daughter was only about four or five months old at the time and I really didn't want to leave them and go to Canada.   When I got there...As I was sitting there I started to feel really lonely.  So I sat down in my hotel room and just started to write.  Fortunately I don't really know what it's like to lose your partner, but I think the germ that was really running through my brain at that time was, "What if Melora my wife wasn't here to go on the journey with me and our family? How terrifying that would be. What if I had to do it alone?"   Subsequently I've talked to people who have told me that I'm not alone in this nightmarish thought.  

So YOU was really a love-letter to my wife.   I wrote it in about two or three days then I sent it off to my wife and she read it, liked it, and told me that we should make it.   Then with Melora directing it...She has made it a love letter to me.

Gildart Jackson in YOU (2009)
TV STORE ONLINE:  You also had a role in that Orson Welles / George Hickenlooper film from 1999 called THE BIG BRASS BRING.  What was that whole experience like for you?

JACKSON:   I think that was maybe my first job.  I was doing The Seagull, the Chekhov play in Hollywood and one day I was in my dressing room and there was a knock on my door.  It was a very Hollywood moment.  So I opened the door and there was George Hickenlooper.  He had told me that he had seen me in the play and that he had a role for me in his new film which was based on an Orson Welles screenplay.   I didn't believe him at first.   Then George and I became friends and we got to know each other a bit and he cast me in the film and I have a couple of scenes with Irene Jacob.  It was a fun experience.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Recently I just took a look at a couple episodes on YouTube of that British cartoon series that you wrote for in the mid '90s called Action Man (1993-95)...How did that opportunity come to fruition?

JACKSON:  Well before being an actor I was a lawyer.  When I quit my job I decided that I'd like to write, and at the time I had a friend who worked for DiC Entertainment.  I wrote them a spec script and I showed it to them and they asked me if I'd like to write an episode of the show.   I know that on IMDb it says that I wrote several Action Man episodes but I really can't remember if I wrote that many to be honest.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What kind of advice can you give to young screenwriters who are just started out...After all, you just sort of jumped in and went after it...

JACKSON:  Well for what it's worth....My advice would be to just do it.   Just do it and do it as much as you can.   I really think that the most satisfying moments for me have come when I've worked on something that I was very passionate about.   Find a subject that you really care about and don't worry about trying to write something that you think might be the next blockbuster film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm a huge fan of actor Kyle Chandler....You had a great role on the 4th Season of his show Early Edition [1996-2000].  What was that experience like for you?

JACKSON:   That was great.  We shot that in Chicago.  I played a man that gets him the newspaper.  The producers and Kyle had liked very much what I had done and they had asked me to come back in a bigger role in the next season but it got canceled. (Laughing)   

TV STORE ONLINE:   I really loved the first film, but I'm still scratching my head about the second one...I have to ask you about ATLAS SHRUGGED PART II (2012)...

JACKSON:  It was just another gig.  I went in for an audition for that. I had to play a guy that gets tossed around inside of a train car.

TV STORE ONLINE:    Then what about your work on Charmed (1998-2006)...I have to admit that I wasn't someone who watched Charmed when it was on television, but looking at your work on the show for the first time this past week I really liked what I saw...What was the whole experience like for you?

JACKSON:  Well you don't necessarily fall straight into the demographic that was watching Charmed when it was on...I usually get stopped on the street by a twenty-six year old girl who recognizes me as "Gideon" from the show, who had watched it when she had a wild color in her hair as a teenager.    That show was a huge hit. Especially with the girls.  My character Gideon was supposedly evil but I always told people that he was a charming fellow.   It was fun to do.  I got to ham it up as a wizard who taught at a magic school.  I worked opposite with a great actor named Billy Drago and he was just wonderfully intense.  Every time we got to do something together  I was just exhausted afterward. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  In that first episode of Charmed...Your character is thrown around a room by a young man.  Do you like doing your own stunt work?

JACKSON:  I do.  I can't remember now if I did my own stunt work on Charmed but I did on a episode of Las Vegas [2003-2008] that I did with James Caan.  It was a very early episode of the series, and I was playing "King Arthur" and there was a scene where my character had to dive into a pool at Mandalay Bay and get this Excalibur sword.   As the stunt man was planning  it out, I started to look at it and I told the director, "I can do this. I'm a good swimmer."    But I misjudged the height of the dive and when I went to do it I didn't dive head first, I ended up going in sort of feet first and we ended up having to do it a couple times to get it right.

I made a documentary in Peru also where I went deep into the Amazon jungle with a film crew. We went six or seven weeks deep into the jungle and that was pretty intense also.   It's a film called THE LOST TRAIL and we started to shoot it exactly where Werner Herzog shot his film FITZCARRALDO (1982).   We actually encountered a tribe that had never seen Westerners before.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  What can we see next from you?

JACKSON: Well, I'm about to record a new audio book.  Anthony Zuiker has written another book about WhoDunnit? that I'm about to read.  That will be on soon.   Keep watching the show on ABC because the more people that watch it the better chances we have of doing another season and I'd really love to do that.

For more with Gildart Jackson please visit his official website HERE: