Monday, April 28, 2014

Cool...A Freak Show! Megan Ward talks '90s cult classic FREAKED



Actress Megan Ward talks with TV STORE ONLINE about the '90s cult classic FREAKED (1993) directed by Alex Winter and Tom Stern...

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did FREAKED (1993) come to you?

WARD: I got the script from my agent and I went in and auditioned.   I have to say...It wasn't the average script.   It was one of those scripts where you had to have a certain sense of humor to get it and appreciate it.   I had done a couple other screwball-y type of movies before FREAKED so when I read the script I thought that it was something that was right up my alley.

TV STORE ONLINE:  One of my favorite scenes in FREAKED is that bit where your character "Julie" and Michael Stoyanov's character "Ernie" are connected and each of you vomit....

WARD:   When we were shooting that scene there was a hose that ran up my leg and it came out and it was taped to the side of my mouth, and it came loose and that fake vomit went all over me. It was split pea soup and it got in my underwear and in my socks. It went everywhere.  I was so grossed out that still to this day I can't eat pea soup.  I kid you not when I tell you that the machine that was supposed to spray the pea soup was called "The Vomit-a-nator".

TV STORE ONLINE:  FREAKED was directed by Alex Winter and Tom Stern.  I was wondering if you could talk about working with two directors on one film?

WARD:  Well, it was nice because Alex had a lot of responsibility in performing the role, and he was in almost every scene and plus he had a ton of prosthesis make-up to put on every day.  Then he had these monster teeth that he wore and that made it difficult to understand what he was saying in many of those scenes, so he had to loop all of his dialogue on FREAKED. Alex and Tom worked so well together and they were a great team.  It was totally collaborative and they really spent their money wisely.  They built the entire production from the ground up.   They fabricated all of the sets.  All of the monsters were fabricated. There were three separate teams of guys who built the monsters and the freaks.  Different special effects houses had different responsibilities.    There was a amazing collaborative spirit behind it all.   Before we started shooting we had rehearsals.   We shot on one little mini-lot and we spent our days all together.  It was really like we created our own little mini-sideshow. There were a lot of long hours but we all had so much fun and it was a very creative environment. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  What was your inspiration for "Julie"?

WARD:   Julie was one of the more straightforward characters of the whole piece.  She's a liberal environmentalist and we had a fun time coming up with the t-shirt I would wear for my costume.  We wanted to come up with something that was just so ridiculous.  We came up with the burrowing sloth, which doesn't even exist.  She had on a "Save The Sloth" t-shirt and it was just so ridiculous.  The more difficult part of the character was how Michael Stoyanov and I had the running Three Stooges gag.  This is where the girl comes out....  Growing up I hadn't watched The Three Stooges so I had to be trained in the actual movement and sound effects and it takes rhythm and coordination to do that when you're playing a Siamese twin with another actor.  

There's that scene where we all have to crawl through that tunnel...I think by the time that we got to that we were maybe a little bit tired of each other because we had all worked such long hours and Michael and I were connected to each other.  He was tired and he was about to get married and he had just quit smoking so he was not having any of it.   In the scene I was supposed to poke Michael in the eye just like The Three Stooges had done to each other and when I went to do it I actually poked him in the eye.  I felt so awful about it.   But everyone thought it was kinda funny, so after that, when we would get together to watch the dailies, we would always watch that particular piece of film where my aim had been a little too accurate...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Speaking of that tunnel scene....I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about working with Paul Lynde during the shooting of FREAKED?

WARD:  Paul Lynde was there the entire time on the set.  He sat in his chair and he kept quiet and he never made any crazy demands...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:   Do people come up and talk about FREAKED with you?  Is it one of your favorite things that you've ever worked on?

WARD:   Personally, it's a very important film to me.  I'm very proud of that movie.  It was so creative.   We all committed ourselves to this sort of endurance test.   People don't ask me about it and what's so great is that it's a litmus test for sense of humor.    Either you get it or you don't.   It's such a off the wall film.  It's a very specific film too.   They really don't make movies like FREAKED anymore.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   What's your favorite line or scene in FREAKED?

WARD: I think my favorite line was, "Cool!  A freak show!"   There were scenes that didn't make it into the film that I thought were just hilarious.   The Wheel Of Fortune scene was hilarious. It's on the DVD in the extra features section today.  Then the transformation scene was fun as well.     My favorite moment in FREAKED is when the freaks are going around and telling their sad stories and it comes to the hammer...laughing   Then I love the bit with Mr. T and Randy [Quaid] where Randy says to Mr. T, "You know...You'd be better off without a dick!"   It's really hard to pick a favorite scene though because each scene tops the previous....

TV STORE ONLINE:  Last question...What exactly did Julie see in "Ortiz the Dog Boy" that she found attractive?

WARD:  Well...You know...He was a naughty boy.   There's a primal attraction that all women have to train and tame a wild beast...laughing     Keanu and I were supposed to kiss at one point in a scene and it was the weirdest thing ever to have to kiss him with that hair on his face...

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

Thursday, April 24, 2014

M. EMMET WALSH talks with TV STORE ONLINE about THE JERK and BLOOD SIMPLE

 
M. Emmet Walsh talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his work in THE JERK and BLOOD SIMPLE.  Walsh would win a Independent Spirit Award for his role as "Loren Visser" in the latter.


TV STORE ONLINE: I think THE JERK (1979) is the greatest comedy of the last thirty plus years.... 

WALSH: I was in that!  And I was in SLAP SHOT (1977) too.  The greatest Hockey film ever made.  I do everyone's greatest film and then they never hire me again...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:   Laughing...Can we talk about THE JERK?

"Die Gas Pumper"
WALSH:  Sure... Well,  it was Steve Martin's first big movie I believe and I got that after I was called up and asked to go down and meet with Carl Reiner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel down on Sunset.  I had never met him before.   I went in and he hired me on the spot.  He was a very pleasant guy and everyone that worked on THE JERK told me that they were hired kind of the same way.   Usually, you go in to a meeting like this one and they say, "What do you need?"  Then you give them a number for the salary that you're looking for and then they counter that with another offer, but that didn't happen here.  I went in and Carl asked me how much money I wanted, I told him what I needed and he said that that was fine.   Everyone that worked on THE JERK told me the same thing happened to them.

Everyone that worked on THE JERK was incredibly happy while we were shooting it.  It was the kind of project were you found yourself on the set on the days that you weren't supposed to be working.

TV STORE ONLINE:  So let's talk about the Gas Station scene where your character tries to shoot Steve Martin...

WALSH:   The thing I remember the most about that was when they had to shoot the portion of the scene where they have the ropes hooked up to that church and it's pulled away with that car.   They had scheduled that to take three days to shoot but we ended up shooting it on the first take early in the morning on the first day...laughing    Carl Reiner worked so fast. 

Steve Martin is a very funny guy.  I remember sitting and talking with him and Carl Reiner as we were waiting for a shot to be set up. They mentioned to me how much they had liked my work in STRAIGHT TIME (1978) and Steve went into telling us about how he had just played a benefit in Joliet, Illinois for a prison thing and how there was a guy that performed that just killed it on the Harmonica.  He said, "This guy was incredible.  He just tore the place apart.  He was spectacular. He was fuckin' amazing..."   He went on and on about this guy for several minutes.  I didn't realize it at that time but he was setting Carl and I up for a joke.  He continued to carry on about this guy, this inmate, who played the harmonica and finally Carl said, " Who in the hell was he?"  Steve said, "He's in for life...  I mean, this guy was brilliant. I've never seen someone play the Harmonica..."  Carl said, "Wait... What's he in for?" Then Steve casually said, "Oh, Murder.  He butchered his wife and this guy and everyone else...."   (Laughing)   It was all in the build-up.  Steve is so great at building comedy bits.  He built a punchline out of a murder...laughing

We were shooting the scene where I have to track Steve's character down.  It comes after the "Random Son-A-Bitch" scene.  My character is a private detective and he tracks Steve's character 'Navin Johnson' to this little apartment.   My character pulls up and he has his car windows down.   I thought it would be funny if my character got out of his car, shut his door, then locked it by pushing that little plastic lock knob down while the windows were still down...laughing    Then, my character confronts Steve.  Steve does a thing where he tries to fight me off by making a crucifix out of two wooden stakes.   I thought it would kill the audience if I had my Detective badge up under my Fedora hat.   I thought it would be funny if I took my badge out from under the hat to show it to Steve's character...laughing   I really thought that these two bits were strokes of genius...laughing   But no one has ever mentioned them...laughing

When I was chasing Steve Martin through the alley, I thought that the character should have a unique way of running... I saw him as running as if he had the " clap " or something like that...laughing   I just remember after shooting that, Carl Reiner said, "Gee, that's a hell of a run you got there..."  (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE:   So was that dialogue....The "Random Son-Of-A-Bitch, Run-Of-The-Mill- Bastard..."    What that scripted or was that something that you came up with in the moment?

WALSH:   You know, I can't remember if it was scripted or not now.   I know that it was really embellished though. It was Carl's film.  He was one of those guys that would say, "Show me what you can do..."   I mean, I'm profane enough to have come up with at least some of that. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   That dialogue from THE JERK has to get quoted to you all of the time...

WALSH:   It's amazing.  I do get that back.  There are scenes that I paid no attention to at the time that I was doing them that people come up to me and quote now.   Everyone quotes "Dr. Jellyfinger" from FLETCH (1985), or SLAPSHOT (1977),  or my lines to Rodney Dangerfield in BACK TO SCHOOL (1986)..."Get your trunks Melon... It's time to do the Triple Lindy.." 

Walsh in STRAIGHT TIME
TV STORE ONLINE:  I can't imagine people come up to you and quote your dialogue from CLEAN & SOBER (1988) or RED SCORPION (1988)...

WALSH:  They definitely don't quote RED SCORPION....CLEAN & SOBER was a picture I was attracted to because I came from a long line of drunks.   It was an interesting project to me because I felt I knew so much about that.   STRAIGHT TIME too.  That Dustin Hoffman picture was of interest to me because I also come from a long line of civil servants too.  I was trying to play a cop that was just trying to do his job.  I didn't see it, but the filmmakers tried to make me out as if that character was a total asshole. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  People don't quote BLOOD SIMPLE (1984) to you?  "If I see him, I'll give him the message..."

WALSH:  Oh Yeah.  That was the Coen Brothers' first film.   Then I did RAISING ARIZONA (1987) with them.  For that,  we went out to lunch in New York.  I said, "I don't care about the money.."    "If I seem him, I'll tell him..."  That guy had an image of himself.   He was a private investigator.  In that final scene where my character finally gets his hand out from under that window he goes down out of frame and when he comes back up he takes the time to put his cowboy hat back on.  I came up with all that because of the image that I thought that he may have had of himself.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Whose idea was it to put you in that amazing yellow suit that your character wears in BLOOD SIMPLE?

WALSH:  That was this little costume girl [Sara Medina-Pape] who came up with that down in Austin, Texas.   We just had a reunion down in Austin and the Coens were there and we showed the film and I met her again.  She's married now and has a couple kids.   That costume was all to her credit.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did BLOOD SIMPLE come to you?

WALSH:  Well, I was down in Dallas shooting SILKWOOD (1983) at the time.  I wasn't getting along with my agent. We had an altercation.   I had found out that I had been offered some things but they had turned them down on my behalf.  This really pissed me off, so I told them that moving forward I wanted to read every script that was sent in personally.  They sent me a script that these two kids Joel and Ethan Coen had written.  Most of it took place at night.   They were planning on shooting it down in Austin.   I saw the character as a Sidney Greenstreet kind of guy.    He had that hat.  I thought that I could take this kind of character and flesh him out and then in fifteen years when I was doing a really important movie I'll be ready with him.  I had no idea what BLOOD SIMPLE was going to turn out to be...  

I went down to Austin to meet with Joel and Ethan Coen.   They showed me this trailer that they had recently cut but I wasn't impressed with it.    I went to see my agent the next day and said, "What do they have?"   My agent said, "Well, they have no money.  But they'll give you one percent of the film's profits..."  I said, " Zero times X is zero...laughing   There aren't going to be any profits on this thing..." (laughing)   The next day I went to meet with my agent again and they said,  "OK... They've come back with another offer.  You've went from one percent of the profits to two percent of the gross...laughing   I said, "You're a fuckin' brilliant agent. You've went from profit to gross..." (laughing)    So we shot the film and I still get checks for it.   I own part of the movie all of these years later yet.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I love that whole setup....That beginning scene with you and Dan Hedaya at the bar...

WALSH: Joel Coen calls me up in Dallas.  I was finishing up SILKWOOD and he said, "Can you blow a smoke ring?"   I said, "Joel, I don't smoke, but I'll work on it."  So I gave it a try and I just couldn't do it.   I worked and worked on it but I started to make myself sick.    I went back to Joel and told him.  He said, "Don't worry we have this kind of bellows smoke machine that will blow a smoke ring..."  So, we're shooting in this little roadhouse outside of Austin.  My character is there with Dan Hedaya and I show him the pictures of Frances McDormand  and John Getz in bed.   My character is supposed to be blowing these smoke rings at him while Dan is looking at the pictures.  So they set up this smoke machine next to my head and when we go to shoot the scene the machine won't work.    After messing with it for a few minutes, the script girl says, "Give me a damn cigar.  I grew up with five brothers smoking behind a barn..."   So they give her a cigar and she starts making these incredible smoke rings.  I said to myself, "My God...This is how you make a movie!"    Later on, I went outside and saw her puking her brains out.   That was BLOOD SIMPLE.

Look for M. Emmet Walsh as the voice of "Cosmic Owl" on the animated series Adventure Time as well as in the upcoming films CALVARY (2014) with Chris O'Dowd and the upcoming SCORPION KING 4.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

Monday, April 21, 2014

INTERVIEW: Documentarian Paul Kendall talks with TV STORE ONLINE about The Byrd Who Flew Alone


Documentarian Paul Kendall talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his new documentary on the co-founder of the legendary '60s music group The Byrds, Gene Clark...

TV STORE ONLINE:   How did The Byrd Who Flew Alone: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Gene Clark (2013) come about?

KENDALL:   Well the essence of it....Gene is and was one of my musical heroes and when I decided to make a film, his story hadn't been put on film yet.   Taj Mahal said it best when he said in the film that Gene Clark and his contributions to music have been grossly under-represented.  Over the years there had been several people that had expressed an interest in making a documentary on Gene but it never happened, so for me this whole thing really snowballed into a go project fast.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you ever meet Gene Clark?

KENDALL: I did, very briefly back in 1977 when he came over here to the United Kingdom.  I was writing for a British magazine at the time called Zig Zag.   He was over here on a package tour with his band and then the bands of Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn.   I interviewed Gene for the magazine and after I shut off my tape recorder we sat together for a few hours and had a couple of beers together.   Of all the people I interviewed during my stint as a music journalist the two people that impressed me the most, the two that I thought had good souls if you will, were Lowell George from Little Feat and Gene.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You have a writing credit on the documentary...There are those that would say that a story like this shouldn't be written and that it should tell itself....

KENDALL:   I only have a writing credit because my son Jack, who was the editor on the film, insisted that we should give someone a credit as the writer just because of how we've structured the film.  Right from the get go we knew that we didn't want to have a narrator who would come in and work from something that was consciously written.  It's very easy to put your own spin on things and we didn't want that.  We wanted the story to come directly from those that knew him.

TV STORE ONLINE:  The film is edited so wonderfully too..I love all of Gene Clark footage in the film...Could you talk about discovering some of that footage in the research?

KENDALL:  Well the research for the film took about two years and it started the minute we decided to make the film. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love that footage that you close out the film with...Gene and some others singing "I Shall Be Released"...

KENDALL:  That clip of Gene and the guys doing I Shall Be Released was one of the very first things that we saw and when I saw that I knew that I'd close out the film with it given what I knew already about Gene.    Once I decided that I wanted to make the film, one of the first people I spoke with was a guy named Barry Ballard.  He's one of the foremost Byrd's archivists and he had just a treasure trove of video and in his collection was that footage of Gene and the guys singing I Shall Be Released in his kitchen in Sherman Oaks, California.  It was shot by a guy named Tom Slocum.  We spent two years looking for material and we went through periods of frustration because we just weren't finding anything and when we'd find something people would say that they would send it out but it would never arrive.   There was one day when we were quite late in the editing and out of the blue a package arrived to me from a guy named Garth Beckington who had played with Gene.  In the package was a huge lot of old photographs and a black and white film of Gene playing 'Silver Raven'.   It meant going back and re-editing the film but it was quite worth it.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   You had the Gene Clark family's blessing on this project....But going in do you ever worry that you might not do your subject or his legacy justice or that you might stir up dormant emotions in that family?

KENDALL:   I wouldn't say worry, but we very conscious about that.  We knew that we wouldn't make the film unless we could get the family's blessing.   Once we got that then we felt responsible for that trust.   We didn't want to let them down and that was very much at the forefront when we were making the film.   We've heard back from almost everyone that we spoke with from Gene's family and everyone seems to be very pleased with the movie.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung
Pick up a copy of  The Byrd Who Flew Alone: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Gene Clark (2013) at Paul Kendall's official Four Sons Productions website HERE:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Film Historian James Neibaur talks with TV STORE ONLINE about Jerry Lewis


 Film historian and author James Neibaur talks with TV STORE ONLINE about Jerry Lewis and the book he co-authored on Lewis  The Jerry Lewis Films: An Analytical Filmography of the Innovative Comic...

Neibaur (L)- Jerry Lewis (C) - Ted Okuda (R)
TV STORE ONLINE:  I just re-read your Jerry Lewis book...   I was wondering if we could talk about CINDERFELLA (1960)?  I get the impression from reading the book that neither yourself or your co-author [Ted Okuda] are really very big fans of that particular Jerry Lewis film...

NEIBAUR:   It's not that Ted or I thought that it was a bad movie by any means.  I mean, it's a great idea for a film, it has those colors and it was done by Frank Tashlin. It just doesn't seem to arrive at the potential of the idea.  Jerry Lewis seemed to like it more than we did, and that was one of the areas where we didn't see eye-to-eye with Jerry while we were working on the book with him.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What do you dislike about CINDERFELLA?

NEIBAUR:  Well, it really isn't about that.  I just don't think that it ranks up there as one of his best films... I don't know if the film needs that many songs in it.   It seems as if the song numbers are intermissions in the film and that they really took away from the action.  They didn't blend with the action, and there didn't seem to be a lot of great scenes or ideas like we had seen in something later  by Tashin and Lewis like WHO'S MINDING THE STORE? (1963) or THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY (1964).   

There are particular scenes in both of those that really standout.  You have that great typewriter pantomime in WHO'S MINDING THE STORE? that is really funny and very memorable.  Whereas, in CINDERFELLA, you have Jerry doing that walk down the stairs?   It's funny and amusing but those musical numbers in the film really stick out and make it uneven.  Overall, the structure of CINDERFELLA isn't very good either.    It seems that it was just too standard of a story, and that was something they had to stick with.  Even though they were parodying it with Jerry in what is usually a female role,  it just didn't seem to be enough.  I'm sure they worked really hard on the film, and it amusing in places, but I just don't think it's one of his best films.

TV STORE ONLINE:    You just mentioned WHO'S MINDING THE STORE?....Do you have any other favorite scenes from that Jerry film?

NEIBAUR:  There are a lot of great scenes in that one.  Interestingly enough, WHO'S MINDING THE STORE? was the first movie I ever saw as a kid in a theater.  It came out on the weekend that followed the Kennedy assassination and there was nothing on television because of the funeral, so my parents took me to the movies.  I was five or six years old at the time.   We sat way up in the balcony and the theater was packed.  The first scene in the film features Jerry sitting at a counter and loudly slurping soup. When he came on the screen in that scene, the entire theater was rocking with laughter.  I was young, but there was some part of me that realized that here was this guy that was making all of us laugh during a very sad time in our country.   As a small child, even though that I couldn't articulate it that well, I realized that there was something magical happening, and I think that's were I fell in love with  comedy.  

The broken vacuum cleaner bit is very strong in WHO'S MINDING THE STORE?   Tashlin came from cartoons and he really brought a lot of cartoon action and colors to the film.   It's filled with some wild slapstick as well.  There's Jerry trying to walk all of those dogs, and then when Jerry has to try to squeeze the shoe onto the foot of the lady and they end up wrestling around.

TV STORE ONLINE:  When you were working with Jerry on the book did you get to ask him about working on that vacuum cleaner scene in detail?

NEIBAUR:   We didn't get to talk to him particularly in great detail about every scene just because he's a very busy guy. He was gracious enough though to allow us to sit with him in his living room and on his boat, and when we talked about that film he said something to the effect that his contribution was that he would come up with an idea and that Tashlin would just run with it, and that the film was Tashlin's "Baby".   He said that he contributed very little, because Tashlin had his own ideas and that because Tashlin had come from cartoons, he had really wanted to open it up and go into that realm for that scene. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Often times you'll see critics write about the Jerry Lewis solo films and about how the directorial styles of Lewis and Tashlin are very much alike....

NEIBAUR:  Yeah, but I think that what Jerry Lewis did as a director was different that what Frank Tashlin did.  Tashlin, could be at times a little conventional, but what Lewis did as a director was to create an entire world in which we the audience could exist in.    There is a complexity to the Lewis films and anything can happen in that world.   Jerry's character has a surreal existence in that world.  Tashlin could be offbeat too, but he always had elements of the real world and the mainstream in his films even though critics called his films cartoon-like.  Jerry's films always maintained that level of the surreal or the outrageous throughout them the entire length of the film.  That's something that Tashlin didn't do.    

Jerry would experiment, I'm sure you remember the scene in THE PATSY (1964) where Jerry's character is getting a haircut and his feet get tickled and the sound gets sped up so he sounds like a chipmunk?   He was experimenting with sound. He did it for the gag and to enhance his artistic vision as well.   He liked to experiment with colors too.   If you remember that scene at the beginning of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963) where the chemistry classroom explodes and all of the students come running out?  If you watch that scene today, you'll notice all of the great colors in it.  The students coming running out of the classroom and each of them are wearing very distinct colors of clothing.  Jerry was painting there.   He really liked to experiment and play around with the medium in which he was working.  That's what makes Jerry Lewis different from Frank Tashlin.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You mentioned THE NUTTY PROFESSOR....That's my favorite Jerry Lewis film and I find it interesting because of how it isn't a sort of gag-after-gag film like those that came before it like THE BELLBOY (1960) and THE ERRAND BOY (1961).....

NEIBAUR: 
THE NUTTY PROFESSOR was something Jerry really wanted to do because he had this unique idea based on two characters.   He was inspired after seeing the film DOCTOR JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1941) with Spencer Tracy.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Right, but around the time of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, Jerry had also tried to acquire the film rights to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye...It just seems like he might have been working in a particular direction as an artist/actor and then he sort of moved in reverse and did THE PATSY (1964).

NEIBAUR:  Well, I don't think that The Catcher in The Rye was filmmable.  I don't think it would have translated to the screen and that's why I think that it hasn't been made yet all of these years later.    I don't think that he was moving in any particular direction either.  I think THE NUTTY PROFESSOR was just the film that he made at that time, and when he followed it up with THE PATSY I think he was investigating show business.  In fact, he does that in THE ERRAND BOY (1961), but I think he does it better in THE PATSY. I think THE PATSY is every bit as good as THE NUTTY PROFESSOR and THE PATSY gets just as surreal and outrageous as any of his other films.   It's filled with so many incredible ideas and it has dramatic elements in it as well.  THE PATSY might be my favorite Jerry Lewis film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  With THE NUTTY PROFESSOR...A rumor has been swirling around for decades that Jerry based "Buddy Love" in the film on his former partner Dean Martin...

NEIBAUR:  There have been a lot of people that have speculated on that, and it's not the case.   Dean Martin was never like Buddy Love.   Anyone that I've ever talked to that knew Dean Martin has said that he was a really nice guy.   Jerry has admitted that Buddy Love is based on his own alter ego and his own worst perspective.

Even though Jerry and Dean were no long partners at the time and they probably weren't in touch with each other, when Jerry shot THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, he still maintained a love of him as if he was his own brother.   People have tried to suggest this over the years, but really it just falls flat.   Buddy Love was really just Jerry's own demons.

TV STORE ONLINE:  In your book you mention that Jerry wouldn't let you watch his take on The Jazz Singer which he did for NBC in 1959...With that on DVD now...What are your thoughts on it these years later?

NEIBAUR: 
  Lewis told us that he thought that he was too young for the role, but I think his performance is quite good.  I think he surrounded himself with really great actors and the fact that he preserved something so early from those beginning days of television, I think is really wonderful. Hopefully the new DVD will do well and he'll release more things from his archive that we'll all get to see.

TV STORE ONLINE:    In your book you make a mention that critics have called THE LADIES' MAN (1961) "Felliniesque"... I was wondering if you could talk about that?

NEIBAUR:   Well, that's probably because Fellini always had a surreal bent to his work just as Jerry's films have.   With something like THE LADIES'  MAN....Jerry plays a guy who is spurned by his lover and it turns him off of all women.  He can't stand to be touched by a woman even.  It's always with younger women too.  He doesn't have a problem with any of the matronly types.   It's very surreal, and then he's put into a all girls boarding house which intensifies that.   With that gigantic dollhouse set, he really created a world onto itself too.  Fellini did that.  He, like Jerry, created worlds for their audiences. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   If you could pick one moment or scene in any Jerry Lewis film that you thought defined him as a filmmaker what would it be?

NEIBAUR:   I think probably that scene in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR were "Professor Julius Kelp" is at the dance and he's responding to the Les Brown music.   It's because he's in that world, he's at that dance, and he's supposed to act one way but something is distracting him.  Something has his attention, and he tries to ignore it, but he can't help but to respond to it.    When he's caught, he stops.  That's what defines Jerry Lewis the best.  As a filmmaker he tries different things in the context of cinema.  He tries things and he's distracted by different ideas but he keeps going on.  He's created some of the most brilliant and surreal comedy films ever made.

The Jerry Lewis Films: An Analytical Filmography of the Innovative Comic by James L. Neibaur and Ted Okuda is available HERE:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FIRST LOOK: FX Madman/Director Gabe Bartalos looks at crazy in SAINT BERNARD




FIRST LOOK:  SFX Madman and Director Gabe Bartalos talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his upcoming WTF descent into the madness of the mind in his new film SAINT BERNARD.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What can you tell me about SAINT BERNARD?  There isn't much written about it online...  Where did the idea for the film come from?

BARTALOS:  I just finished shooting the film back in November of last year.   From there I took it to the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain and it really went over well.  The film is less horror based than my previous film SKINNED DEEP (2004).    It has a much bigger scope to it than SKINNED DEEP.  This time around I was conscious of more than just getting film through the gate in the camera.   I'm really proud of this new film.   We shot in Super 16 and it looks beautiful.   It focuses on a musical composer named "Bernard" who is played by Jay Dugré.  Jay played "Brain" in SKINNED DEEP.   Bernard descends into madness and we're along for the ride.   The madness is manifested through very weird large-scale mosaic sets and prosthetic characters and difficult scenarios.  It all becomes very maze like and he has to navigate through that.   He's a very likeable guy, and you'll realize that you're going through some really difficult and surreal times with him.   

Being really interested in the brain and in psychology I really wanted to figure out a way that we could visualize mental illness.   This has really allowed me to use a palette of dreams and surrealness and explore mental imbalance.   Having been able to do that has allowed me to produce some really far out imagery. Movie goers have become really sophisticated and they've seen almost everything, so with SAINT BERNARD, I really wanted to give the people something in images and narrative that I think that they've never seen before.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  I see Warwick Davis is part of SAINT BERNARD....

BARTALOS:  Right, he was in SKINNED DEEP.  In SAINT BERNARD  he plays "Othello" and he's the guardian of a 50 foot high log pile and he's a kind of guardian angel that introduces "Father Time" to the story.   I'm really into playing with a lot of different sensibilities in SAINT BERNARD and I really like playing around with characters that exist through history or those that only exist on paper and bringing them to life in my world.

TV STORE ONLINE:  When I see the cast for SAINT BERNARD...One name really sticks out to me and that's Bob Zmuda...

BARTALOS: Laughing...Most people know Bob as the founder of Comic Relief. I know him through my collaborations with Tony Clifton.    Bob's very talented and he has a great singing voice so I approached Bob to play a character.   There's a scene in SAINT BERNARD that occurs in a church.  There is a priest that has a sort of about face.   I really needed a very charismatic person who could go from being completely charming to flat out monstrous.  Bob has a great voice and he's a great salesman and pitchman.  He's got this wonderful mane of hair.  I approached him to play the character and said, "Do you have anything against playing a priest?"   He just knocked this character out of the park and he played both sides of the spectrum that I needed just perfectly.

TV STORE ONLINE: Laughing... If you've done the Tony Chifton make-up for Bob Zmuda... How many times have put that make-up on Andy Kaufman in recent years? 

BARTALOS:   Laughing...There are many layers to that question so we'll have to save that one for another interview...laughing

Check out the official SAINT BERNARD website HERE: 
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

INTERVIEW: How Joe Dante ALMOST made HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH

TV STORE ONLINE:  I realize it's kind of odd to be talking to you about a film that isn't yours...

DANTE:  Well, it was almost one of my films for a couple days...

TV STORE ONLINE:  So how did you ALMOST come to direct HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)?

Steven Spielberg (L) with Joe Dante (R)
DANTE:   As I recall...John Carpenter said that he wanted to do another HALLOWEEN but he didn't want it to be like the first two...I met John for dinner at some restaurant at Universal,which now is CityWalk, and we talked about a approach to the material.  He was into this Catholic thing.  I suggested that he hire Nigel Kneale who was a very intelligent Science fiction writer who had written some really good pictures like FIVE  MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1967) and the QUARTERMASS pictures.   I thought it would be right up his alley, and this was when I thought I was going to be the director and John would be the producer.   Then John got in touch with Nigel, and Nigel did a treatment.  This came at the time that I also got an offer from Steven Spielberg and John Landis to be involved in TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983).   So since nothing was for certain yet on HALLOWEEN III, I decided to start work on TWILIGHT ZONE because that was definitely happening.  So I told John that I was going to have to leave to work on that.   So John hired Tommy Lee Wallace to direct the film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Before you suggested Nigel Kneale had you been given the option to come up with a story idea for HALLOWEEN III?

DANTE:   No, John already had a story in mind for what he wanted to do.  It was similar to the story that was told.   When he hired Nigel Kneale the idea got fleshed out and went into what I thought was a much more interesting direction.  Then, as I understand it, Nigel saw the picture or maybe he had just seen a  rewrite of his script, but he demurred and didn't want a credit on the film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I've read that around this same time Nigel Kneale, yourself, and John Landis were involved in some sort of reboot of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) for Universal...

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) 
Directed By Jack Arnold.  Arnold was tapped to reboot the film
for Universal Studios in the early '80s.


DANTE:  I was.  I was hired to be the backup director for Jack Arnold because he at that time had only one leg.  Universal was worried that he wouldn't be able to finish the picture.   They wanted to have another director on hand in case their was a hill that he couldn't climb and they just wanted someone to help out on the picture. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you see HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH when it was finished?  What did you think of it?

DANTE:  I did see it.  I liked the picture.  I know it got a lot of bricks thrown at it because it wasn't like the first two  HALLOWEEN pictures but that was what I liked about it.  I thought that the casting of Dan O'Herlihy was a great choice. I can't remember now who suggested Dan for that role initially, but I think it might have been Nigel Kneale.   I just thought he was the perfect choice for that.   I don't think HALLOWEEN III deserved the criticism it took.    I thought it was a great concept.

TV STORE ONLINE:  It seems like that whole idea of keeping the brand name intact but changing the story direction was a little bit ahead of it's time in thought....

DANTE:  I think it was.  I think John was thinking about it in terms of continuing on with it as series where each would have a completely different storyline.   I thought it was a great idea to make it a anthology series out of it.   It couldn't be done now.  It's just too associated with Michael Myers now.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you get to know Nigel Kneale well in the time you worked with him on that CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON reboot?

DANTE:  Yeah, I had first met him through a friend of mine, Jon Davison.  He had met him over in England while he was there making TOP SECRET! (1984) and they had become good friends.    Nigel did a treatment for us for a remake of X: THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES (1963) but we couldn't get anyone to bite on it.  We actually worked with him on several things over the years.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you ever read that first Nigel Kneale script for HALLOWEEN III?

DANTE:  I did, but I only have a vague memory of it now.  I was also involved with John at the time on a script he was working on which eventually became THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT (1984).  He was writing it for Avco Embassy but he only got about 25 pages in when the company started passing it around and offering it to other writers.    I started working on the script for that and another for them called MELTDOWN, which was about a atomic power plant, but then Avco Embassy went under and it was sold to  Norman Lear and he decided that he didn't want to make those kinds of movies so THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT ended up being made at New World Pictures.   I worked on MELTDOWN for no money which left me less than enthusiastic when they went under.  In fact, they also owed me my editing fee on THE HOWLING (1981) when they went under...I never got that either...laughing

Check out Joe Dante's fantastic site TRAILERS FROM HELL here:
Follow Joe Dante on Twitter here:
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Attaboy Luther! Karen Knotts on her dad Don Knotts and the making of THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN



Karen Knotts talks about her dad Don Knotts and his classic 1966 Universal Studios film THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   How did your dad Don come to make the film THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN (1966)?

KAREN KNOTTS:  He was offered a five picture deal at Universal Studios.  It was while he was still on The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68).   Andy had originally said when they first started shooting the show that he wanted it to go for only five seasons.   So my Dad decided that he had better start scrambling for work.  So he took an offer for a five picture deal at Universal because he thought that the show was going off the air.   THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN turned out to be the first of five films that my Dad made at Universal.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Your dad had become quite the hot property because of his work on The Andy Griffith Show...He had worked in some great films but this marked the first time that he had to carry a film on his shoulders...

KAREN KNOTTS:  Right.  He was nervous and excited about it all at the same time.   I can remember him worrying about that, because this marked the first time that he wasn't playing a second banana.  He had a lot of anxiety about that for sure.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Yet, Andy Griffith had a lot of involvement in the writing of the screenplay for THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN, didn't he?

KAREN KNOTTS:  He did.  There was a first draft of the movie that was written by Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum.  My Dad and Andy had worked with them many times on The Andy Griffith Show.  Dad wasn't very happy with what they had done in the first draft, so he called Andy and asked him if he'd serve as a consultant and help with the script.   I think Andy had a lot to do with the story line for the movie as we know it today.  Once they got that all worked out they were on their way and they starting shooting the movie.

TV STORE ONLINE:    I've wondered if the origins for THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN didn't come about because of that episode of the 4th Season of The Andy Griffith Show which was called "The Haunted House"?

KAREN KNOTTS:
  I don't think it was, but I can't recall if I ever heard my Dad say anything about it, but who knows it might have.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN was directed by Alan Rafkin and he also went on to direct some of your dad's other Universal films as well...What was your dad's relationship like with Rafkin?

KAREN KNOTTS:  Alan, also directed many episodes of The Andy Griffith Show too, so when they started on THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN they had become quite comfortable working with each other.  He was a very experienced director.   I even worked for him on an episode of Too Close For Comfort [1980-86] and he was great.    My dad and Alan worked on many projects together.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How do you think THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN ranks among your dad's movies that he made?   How does it stand next to something like HOW TO FRAME A FIGG (1971) or THE LOVE GOD (1969)?    What THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN one of his favorite films that he had been a part of?

KAREN KNOTTS:   Yeah, THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN was his favorite for sure.   But, he really enjoyed THE LOVE GOD too because he thought it was such a different role for him to take on.   I think THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN is a classic.   He talked about the movie fondly.  He told me a story once about how he had snuck into the back row of one of the local theaters when it was released because he had wanted to see how the audience was going to react to what was on the screen.   He had seen the film in a screening room and heard the Studio Executives laugh at it but he wanted to see how it would play to the public.    He wanted to make sure that people were laughing in the right places.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  It's such a classic film...

KAREN KNOTTS:  I think it is.  The haunted house story makes it a classic.  The acting was great in it.  It was scary and funny.  It's a underdog story. My Dad was basically reincarnating "Barney Fife" for THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I love the colors in the film and the score really makes THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN that much more wonderful...

KAREN KNOTTS:  Yeah, it's a beautiful movie.  They spent a great deal of time trying to find what they thought was the perfect looking organ for the movie.   They spent a lot of time getting that music just perfect for it too.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I also love how that relationship forms in the movie between your dad's character and the character that actress Joan Staley plays in THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN...

KAREN KNOTTS:  Me too. I love that as well.  I love how she sweetly encourages him to go off and do what he does...

TV STORE ONLINE:  That scene on the porch between them is so wonderfully child-like and tender....

KAREN KNOTTS:   That's the best isn't it?  I love that scene.  What guy wouldn't want that opportunity with Joan Staley... You can relate to that... The whole "Should I or Shouldn't I?"

TV STORE ONLINE:  Considering how often your dad and Andy Griffith worked with writers Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum...I was wondering if you could recall ever hearing your dad talk about a film project that all of them were working together that never came to fruition called "Me and My Shadow"?  It was supposed to be about two depression era hitchhikers going across the country.

KAREN KNOTTS:  I do remember hearing about it, but I don't think that it ever got written in script form.  I think it was just something that my Dad and Andy had wanted to do together.  They wanted to do that for a long time.  It was about two con men that go across the country together.  I think it was just a wish and dream of theirs.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you have a favorite scene in THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN?

KAREN KNOTTS:  I think the courtroom scene is my favorite just because of all the characters that appear in it.  I just noticed the last time I saw it that the schoolteacher "Miss Tremaine",  who is played by Ellen Corby, is wearing black leather gloves.  There are so many details in it...They shot the film in like seventeen days and it was done on a fairly low budget.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think that Universal knew what they had with the film? When THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN was released it was pushed out on a double feature with MUNSTER, GO HOME! (1966)...

KAREN KNOTTS:  I think they did.  They marketed it as a family film and that was a very popular genre for that time.  It was marketed the same way that the Fred McMurray films were being marketed in that time.   I can remember my Dad telling me though how that genre disappeared, and that's why he stopped making those types of films when he did.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Tell me about how your "Tied Up In Knotts" stage show came to fruition?

KAREN KNOTTS:
  Before my Dad passed away in 2006, I had started talking with him about producing this show.  But I didn't get really serious about it until after he was gone.   When he passed away I kind of panicked because I thought that the most important thing to do was to sit down and get all of these memories down onto paper because as time goes on your memories can fade away.  So I got the show up the stage and we had some success with it right away with a short run but I thought that it really needed some fine tuning.  So I did some work on it over the years as I've been going around with it.   I've done the show all over the country and I do it every year at the Mayberry Days Festival in North Carolina.   When I first started doing the show people that saw it would say, "That's a nice tribute to your Dad" and as it's evolved I now her "That's a great show".   My goal with it was always for it to be both.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Writing the show...Going back through those times and memories of your Dad...Was it ever difficult emotionally?

KAREN KNOTTS:  Actually just the opposite.  It's really fun to think about those times.  I want my audience to experience those times with my Dad just as I experienced them.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you find that the response that things in the show get vary from audience to audience?

KAREN KNOTTS:  Absolutely.  One audience will give me just a little chuckle on a line and then on the next night a different audience might roar out loud on the same line...It's what I love about live theater.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Can you share with me one of your favorite stories from your show?

KAREN KNOTTS:  Sure.   So Dad and Andy did a live stage show....  They would do it all over the country.   There was one show that they were set to do at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe.  This was right around the time that my Dad had left The Andy Griffith Show.  Andy took me backstage with him and we stopped at the curtain. He said, "Put your ear up to the curtain.. What do you hear?" I said, "I hear the audience giggling and laughing..."  He said, "That's right.  I always listen to the audience before I go on stage and that gives me a idea about how they're going to react."   It was fantastic because all of these years later I still use that technique myself before I go out on the stage.

Check out the website for Tied Up In Knotts HERE:
Interview Conducted by:  Justin Bozung

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Watch the amazing George Lucas student film THE EMPEROR (1967) and read about how it was made

TV STORE ONLINE recently got the opportunity to speak with Paul Golding.   Golding, a former student at The University Of Southern California or U.S.C. with George Lucas in the mid/late 1960's talks about working with Lucas on a series of films while the two were attending U.S.C together.

Golding, a writer and director has worked on such movies as MEDIUM COOL (1969), BEAT STREET (1984), and PULSE (1988).

TV STORE ONLINE:   I'm such a huge fan of these short films that you made with George Lucas while you were both at U.S.C....In particular,  THE EMPEROR (1967).

GOLDING:  When George and I made THE EMPEROR...He was one semester ahead of me at U.S.C so he got to be the director and I worked as the editor and the sound man on the film.   We made it for class and it was only supposed to be a ten minute film done in black and white and in sync sound.    We were both listening to the Emperor Hudson radio show at the time, and we both tried to call each other at the exact same time that we were listening to his show because we both knew that we had to make a film about this guy.      We started to work on it, but it was only supposed to be only ten minutes long, but both George and I were rather ambitious and saw this as a thirty minute documentary with commercials.    This lead to a lot of problems for us with one of the teachers at school.    Finally, the school gave in and allowed us to shoot more film on the agreement that the final film would only be ten to twelve minutes in length max.  

When you watch THE EMPEROR you'll see that the titles appear in the middle of the film, and   when we screened the film for the first time in the big room at U.S.C and those titles came on the screen you could hear this wave of sadness and disappointment in the crowd because everyone knew what we were going through with this film.   They all knew about the battles that we had been fighting with the school to shoot this and they had thought that we had caved in on the school's demands.   So when the titles finished on screen and the film kept playing, you could hear everyone in the big room get excited as the film kept going because every minute of it past those titles was our deliberate attack on the facility. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did the two of you have any trouble getting Bob "Emperor" Hudson on board to be in the film?

GOLDING:  Yeah, we did have quite a bit of trouble with that.  He had no idea what was going to happen with us being in his studio and he didn't want anyone in there screwing up his radio show.   The first day we went into his studio, we went in there with three cameras and we had said before that we just needed to get everything that we could get and then we'd make up the rest with the soundtrack.  When he saw that we didn't screw anything up he started to get a little friendly with us, and then he became more friendly, and eventually he offered to do that little interview with us in the radio station breakroom that you see in the film. There's even a gag in the film were he turns directly to the camera and says, "George Camera..."  He meant to say George Lucas...

TV STORE ONLINE:  You even gave him a writing credit on the film...

GOLDING:  Right, well, he came up with everything he said in the interview.  He was an amazing personality.   There was no one else on the radio at the time that talked like him, and I think George and I were lucky to have had the opportunity to document him.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  One of my favorite moments in the film is that shot of the car pulling up to the radio station and out gets some military guys, and you can clearly see it's George Lucas in a General's military dress...I love that dissolve there from those military guys into Emperor Hudson walking into the broadcast booth at the station....

GOLDING:   Right, that's both George and I walking in dressed like that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  It seems so inventive yet these almost fifty years later....

GOLDING:   Thanks.  I see the film now as a real piece of what I call "filmmaking".  It was filmmaking at its purest.  We all worked together wonderfully and we were all very open to each others ideas.  It was George and I and two others.  Our Photographer was Rick Robertson.   With THE EMPEROR we wanted to visualize a radio show, and so we knew that we would need shots with Emperor Hudson but we also realized how important actual music would be in the film.   So we all got together and assembled a play list of the songs that we wanted to be in the film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love those two girls that are staring right into the camera in the opening of the film....One of them says, "To pulverize Pasadena, to numb North Hollywood..."

GOLDING:  Yeah, we shot those girls to playback on a soundstage at U.S.C.   They were just miming that section because those lines had been something that Emperor Hudson used to use on his radio show.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Those aerial shots over Los Angeles are pretty incredible too...

GOLDING:  I can't remember how we got those now.  I think maybe George knew the guy who shot that...

TV STORE ONLINE:   What about the "Buy More Bananas" sequence with John Milius and Walter Murch?

GOLDING:  Those were just commercials that we wanted to include. That and the Camaro commercials were just very popular spots at the time on the radio.   That's not the voice of John Milius in the banana thing, it was Richard Walter, and George did the animation in the Camaro spot.   What was funny about the original Camaro commercial that you heard on the radio was that they never told you that a Camaro was a car...laughing   We thought it was appropriate to make it a rhinoceros instead.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What were some of the films that influenced you and what were some of the films that you thought influenced George?

GOLDING:  George and I both loved the films of Akira Kurosawa.  I really loved the films of Godard, but I don't think George liked his work as much as I did at the time.   What you need to understand about George was just how far out he was back then.   He wasn't the conservative person back then that he slowed morphed into today.  George was the guy who introduced me to the music of Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention, and had it not been for that, I might not have used Zappa's music on the soundtrack when I was editing MEDIUM COOL (1969). 

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung 
        Watch THE EMPEROR (1967)


Watch the other U.S.C. Golding/Lucas Shorts:
1) Herbie (1965)
2) Anyone Lived In A Pretty [How] Town (1967)
3) Wipeout (1966)