Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Lacey plays an executive assistant, Amy Nightingale, on a long nighttime flight to Zurich who strikes up a romantic encounter with a handsome stranger seated next to her. When she later wakes from a nap, she finds that her bag with her ID, cellphone and laptop are missing — as is the mysterious stranger. Furthermore, no one admits to ever seeing the guy in the first place. Recently I spoke with Lacey, who told me she was delighted to play a different character from what her fans are used to seeing.
Celebrity Extra: This is quite a different role than many fans are used to seeing you play. What were some things about Amy and “Non-Stop” that attracted you in the first place?
Lacey Chabert: I like that Amy is in a situation that is completely out of her control and starts to unravel. She’s going through a very difficult time in her life. It was just a lot of subtext to the character. I wanted to do this because it’s a bit more dramatic, and I really like that the whole entire movie basically takes place on one set, which I thought would be really interesting. It was actually really, really fun. It was a little bit of a departure for me from what I have been doing recently. I always try to keep it interesting. I’ve been in the business a long time, and I’m constantly trying to find new roles or find aspects of a character that I’ve never gotten to delve into before.
CE: Can you give me a little backstory about your character and where we are when the movie starts?
LC: Sure — the story picks up when she’s at a point in her life where she’s gone through a very devastating breakup, which is something I, in years past, have gone through in my life. She’s really searching for clarity and just trying to find an anchor in her life again. And there is also this mysterious side about her job, which I don’t want to give away, but she’s delivering paperwork to Switzerland, and it is something of great importance.
I could relate to here. I’ve certainly had times in my life where I felt a little lost. And I was in a transition in my life with relationships and work. I think everyone goes through that. But there was a lot about her that I hadn’t seen in characters I had played before. And I liked that she’s in a situation where things are completely out of control, and she’s starting to feel like she’s going completely insane. At the same time, she has to be the sanest character in the film because she’s driving the story. So, it was definitely a challenge.
CE: How was the shoot? Pretty fast-paced?
LC: Yes, the movie was shot rather quickly. We were shooting like eight pages, 10 pages a day. You just have to be really prepared. For me, the hardest part is doing the work beforehand, really laying out the scripts, so when we jump from the first scene to the last scene, I know exactly what’s happened in between. It was very fast-paced.
CE: How was the cast and crew to work with?
LC: It’s like a family. The director (Richard Gabai), the director of photography and most of the crew were people who I had worked with about a year and a half ago on another Lifetime movie called “Imaginary Friend.” So, we all have a shorthand with each other, which makes everything go faster and have a good time. You’re working all hours of the night, and when you are with people you enjoy hanging around with and chatting with, it always makes for a better experience. The cast was wonderful. Drew Seeley is a sweetheart. I got to work with my friend Amy Davidson a couple of days. She’s a real-life friend of mine, and she plays my friend in the film. It was just great fun.
CE: That must have been a big deciding factor in taking the role.
LC: Exactly. I love watching Lifetime movies. I’m a big fan of the network. With “Non-Stop,” I liked the story, I liked the cast and crew — there really wasn’t much else to think about.
CE: You have a Hallmark Channel movie coming up called “The Color of Rain,” which is a great departure from “Non-Stop.” What can you tell me about that movie?
LC: “The Color of Rain” is based on a book by Michael and Gina Spehn. It’s their story of finding each other and finding love, and the blending of their families after they both suffered the awful tragedy of losing their spouse to cancer. That was a very special experience for me because I got to actually meet Gina and speak with her and spend time with her.
When you’re playing someone who’s real and you’re telling her story, there’s such a great responsibility to do it justice and to make her proud. They were just the loveliest people, and they were so happy to be on set. They are just so inspirational — their strength and the way that they are so open about their story; you can ask them anything. And they just want to help other people. They have this beautiful foundation where they help other families who have been affected by cancer. They’re just lovely people. It was a wonderful experience.
CE: Doing a 180, I see that you are also in a horror movie coming up called “The Lost Tree.” Tell me about that.
LC: I worked with my friend Thomas Ian Nicholas on that. He and I were on “Party of Five” together, like 15 years ago. He called me up and asked me to be a part of “The Lost Tree.” It was really fun to work on. It’s more of a classic horror movie. It’s fun to do things that are different, especially when you can do different genres of projects back to back.
CE: Speaking of different genres, I loved you in “Mean Girls” and would love to see you in a comedy again soon. Would you be up for that?
LC: Absolutely. “Mean Girls” was one of the greatest working experiences I’ve ever had. I’m so honored to be in the movie. It’s really nice that 10 years later people still quote the movie. I feel like it’s almost had a second life. It’s something I’ll always be grateful to have experienced. It was a really special time in my life for a lot of reasons — working with Tina Fey and Mark Waters and all of the cast, it was just a very special experience. The 10th anniversary is coming up. I wish the cast would get together or something.
CE: I’d love to see a “Mean Girls” reunion. Let’s make that happen!
LC: People keep asking, “Are you guys going to do a reunion, or are you going to do a sequel?” I don’t have any say in that part, but I think we’ll all definitely get together to celebrate. I’m still really, really good friends with Jonathan Bennett, who played Aaron Samuels. He’s a dear friend of mine. I see him often. So, you never know!
Friday, November 22, 2013
|Photo by Diana Ragland|
I spoke with Bruno recently about “Catching Fire” — which opened at midnight and is well on its way to smashing opening-night records everywhere — and he is thrilled that the world gets to see him play Brutus, the hard-core kick-ass Tribute from District 2. And lest you think he is even a teeny bit like his scary character, take it from me when I tell you that Bruno is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
Celebrity Extra: Take me back to the moment you heard that you’d been cast as Brutus in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” What was your reaction?
Bruno Gunn: It’s life-changing information when you get something like this. I have been fortunate enough to be working for the past 15 years doing guest stars and small roles and independent films. And when something of this caliber comes along, it’s a game-changer. I was thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. It’s one of those moments you’ll never forget the rest of your life, to say the least.
CE: Of course you knew that “The Hunger Games” was a book series turned into a film franchise, but how familiar with it were you prior to being cast in the movie?
BG: I hadn’t read the books, at first, but after I got the part, I dove in and read the books, and I was like, “Wow.” The first movie was pretty darn close to the first book. And I think fans are going to be happy with this translation from book to film in this second one. Lionsgate really gets it right with casting. Gosh, they nail it. So, to get cast in something that I feel very close to as a character is pretty special.
About six or seven years ago, I had a friend of mine say to me, “Right now somebody is writing your role.” As an actor, you go through a lot of ups and downs, and you wonder, “Man, is there going to be something for me at some point?” And I was in a low with things, and a friend shook me up and said, “Someone is writing a role for you right now.” I really feel that way with Brutus. I feel that way with “Catching Fire.” The first thing I said to Suzanne Collins (author of the “Hunger Games” trilogy) is, “I am this guy!”
CE: What was filming like? I’m sure it was pretty strenuous, but I hope it was fun too.
BG: It was one of those things where everybody was really focused on doing their work, bringing their best selves for the part. And at the same time, as focused and as serious as everybody was, it was one of those sets that was a very relaxed, loose vibe. It was a fun vibe. We all knew what we were doing with this massive film, but at the same time, it was fun. We were all just having a great time making memories and friendships. We filmed in Atlanta, and I had the good fortune to go to Hawaii. That was the other thing. We were a group of people who came together to make this amazing film, and I had this opportunity to travel the country to make it.
CE: You’re in great shape already, so tell me, how was training for the movie?
BG: We did about two to three months of training leading up to the movie, and that was a blast. It’s important for me to stay fit on many levels. And so I went into this fit, but once I got there, I definitely turned the heat up. I wanted to do this to be a big, bruising, bad-ass warrior. Brutus instills fear, and so I wanted to look the part. I put in a lot of extra time to change my physique.
CE: Because of the popularity of the books and the first movie, a lot of people have a preconceived notion of who Brutus is. How did you go about creating him for yourself and making Brutus your own?
BG: It was about building a history for Brutus, building a back story for him. It was one of those things where I wanted to build this history and let that influence what was otherwise a very physical role so I could draw upon it when needed. I ended up having to go back and use my imagination and create scenarios for me. You know, what was his relationship to his parents? Did he have brothers and sisters? What happened to them? So I built those back stories to let that influence what was otherwise a very physical role.
|Bruno Gunn as "Brutus"|
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Photo By Murray Close
BG: There were moments where I found myself going back into my story that I created, and there was a sense of sadness that was starting to bubble to the surface, and I was like: “Wow! I’m getting really sad right now.” Not to give too much away, but there was a moment where I had this sadness, and it was bubbling to the surface, and as an actor I thought: “Gosh, you know, Brutus wouldn’t be almost crying. He’s a fierce warrior.” And then I thought: “Wait a second. This is real. This is what I created. It’s a real moment.” Brutus can have this real moment.
I’m starting to get — it’s so close to bubbling up in me now. Even a year later, it bubbles up. But it’s a real moment for Brutus to have this sadness. So I let it play. I’m going to open the floodgates and just let it be real. So, that’s what I did. As an actor, my job is to express myself as freely as possible. So that’s why I was like, “I’m just going to let ’em have it.” Building that back story really helped.
CE: I know that fans really appreciate all the hard work you put into creating this character, the concern you’ve shown for a series that is close to a lot of people’s hearts.
BG: I’m glad you brought that up. That’s one of the things that I just love about this: The fandom is pretty special. This is one of those opportunities where — and especially with social media, and I’m a huge fan of social media — to be able to reach across the world and have a dialogue with someone instantaneously is pretty freaking amazing. And to be able to reach out to the fans and share that experience with them — because it’s a real experience that I’m having — and to share that with the fans, who are probably feeling it 10 times more than I am, that’s pretty special.
CE: And they’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time. Are you ready for the craziness to begin?
BG: Everybody asks me that, and I’m like, “Are we ever really ready?” But I should prepare myself, right? I’m looking forward to it. It’s thrilling to see the fans so excited; I’m ready to jump in with them. I’m ready to have this experience with them because it’s for them. That’s really how I feel. This is all for them, so if me tweeting (twitter.com/brunogunn) about “Catching Fire” gets them — which I do a lot of, and they love it — that’s what I want. It’s for them.
CE: I am excited for summer to come, and to see what’s in store for my favorite vampires, werewolves, and fairies in season seven of “True Blood.” What’s it been like working on that hit show?
BG: That’s another great group of people to work with. They’re organized; they’re smart. They know exactly what they want and what they’re going for. The whole entire group of people was great to work with. I’m excited to get back on “True Blood,” and I’m looking forward to getting into that season opener.
CE: I am so worried about Sookie, Bill and Alcide, what with you and all the other Hep-V-infected vampires coming after them. I know how tight-lipped they are over there, but do you know anything about the inevitable fight scene that will take place?
BG: I don’t know about the fight scene, but I can tell you that I’ll definitely be back in Bon Temps, Lousianna.
CE: Such a tease! I know that, along with myself, there is a whole slew of “True Blood” fans who just have to know what’s going to happen!
BG: That’s awesome that you like it. It’s such a fun show. And it has a great fan following too. They have such great fans, just amazing. I think that’s one of the things I love about it: These fans are loyal to the bone.
CE: What can you tell me about the new movie you have coming out next year called “The Vatican Tapes”?
BG: That’s a thriller/horror movie, and it’s with an amazing director, Mark Neveldine, who did “Ghost Rider.” It was a great opportunity to team up with him and work with him for the first time. It’s another Lionsgate production. I play a patient in a mental ward. It’s going to be frightening, to say the least. But it was great working with Mark Neveldine. What a talented and visual director! Some of the shots, you’ll just be blown away. As we were filming, I was thinking, “How is this going to work?” And then I saw it, and I was like: “Yep, okay. Go ahead and do it, Mark.” But I’m not going to say anything anymore to give it away. But he was great to work with. The whole cast was great. It was a fun experience, and I’m looking forward to that coming out.
CE: Fairly recently you were at a charity event in your hometown of Canton, Ohio. What was that for, and what can you tell me about it?
BG: It was the Pathway Caring for Children charity event. They help foster kids, abused kids — kids just in real bad shape. It was a fundraiser, and they also had the Tuohys, the family who inspired the book and movie “The Blind Side.” They were the guest speakers, and they reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in appearing. I love the state of Ohio and everything about it. I love the people there and especially my hometown, so it was a no-brainer for me to take that opportunity to go back. It was a great experience, and it’s an amazing organization.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
A: Lacey, who played the second youngest of the Salinger children on the hit ’90s nighttime drama, stars in the Lifetime Movie Network original movie “Non-Stop,” which premieres Friday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Lacey plays an executive assistant on a nighttime flight to Zurich who strikes up a romantic encounter with a handsome stranger seated next to her. When she later wakes from a nap, she finds that her bag with her ID, cellphone and laptop are missing — as is the mysterious stranger.
Lacey told me she was delighted to play a different character from what her fans are used to seeing: “My character is at a point in her life when she’s gone through a very devastating breakup. She’s really searching for clarity and just trying to find an anchor in her life again. And there is also this mysterious side about her job, and throughout the story, you start to find out what that is.”
“I really could empathize with her. I’ve certainly had times in my life where I felt a little lost — I could relate to that part of the character. But there was a lot about her that I hadn’t seen in characters I’ve played before. I like that she’s in a situation where things are completely out of control, and she’s starting to feel like she’s going completely insane. At the same time, she has to be the sanest character in the film because she’s driving the story. It was definitely a challenge.”
Come back next week to read my entire interview with Lacey, where we talk about “Non-Stop,” future projects, and the possibility of a “Mean Girls” reunion.
Q: Will “The Client List” return for another season, especially now that Jennifer Love Hewitt is pregnant? — Nina L., via email
A: Lifetime has officially canceled the racy nighttime drama after two seasons. Word has it that Jennifer and the execs were at a standoff over how to handle her real-life pregnancy within the show’s story line.
Q: I recently caught the encore airing of History’s “The Bible” miniseries, and it made me wonder if there will be more new episodes of the series. — Jackie W., via email
A: NBC recently acquired the rights for the sequel to “The Bible,” called “A.D.: Beyond the Bible,” currently in development. There also is a two-hour theatrical version of the miniseries in the works focusing on the life of Jesus through his Resurrection. The film, called “Son of God,” premieres Feb. 29, 2014.
Q: Is Drew Barrymore expecting again? Didn’t she just have a baby? — DeeDee P. in Georgia
A: Drew did indeed give birth to daughter Olive in September 2012, stating at the time that she wanted another baby, and soon. She got her wish, as Drew is now pregnant with baby No. 2, and is due late spring/early summer 2014.
Monday, November 11, 2013
|Downton Abbey Season 4 Cast|
Boston, MA – November 10, 2013 – DOWNTON ABBEY, the Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning drama hailed by The Hollywood Reporter as “an absolute pleasure to watch,” will return to MASTERPIECE on PBS for a fifth season.
“As American audiences ready themselves for the January 5th premiere of Season 4, our devoted Downton fans will rest easy knowing that a fifth season is on the way,” says MASTERPIECE Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton.
Downton Abbey Season 4 recently completed its run in the UK, where it drew 11.8 million average viewers — making it Britain’s highest-rated television drama in 2013. Earlier this year, more than 24 million viewers watched the third season of the series in the U.S., making it the most-watched drama in PBS history.
Gareth Neame, Executive Producer of Downton Abbey and Managing Director of Carnival Films, said, “Audiences have enjoyed their regular Sunday evening visits back to Downton once again this autumn and we are thrilled to produce a new series of the show next year. We promise all the usual highs and lows, romance, drama and comedy played out by some of the most iconic characters on television. All the actors and makers of the show continue to be humbled by the extraordinary audience response and want to take the show from strength to strength next year.”
"Like millions of other Downton fans, I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Crawley family,” said Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS. “PBS is proud to be the home of this extraordinarily entertaining series, and, along with our stations, we look forward to sharing Season 5 with U.S. audiences."
Downton Abbey Season 4 will air on MASTERPIECE Sundays, January 5 through February 23 on PBS.
A: I am happy to report that TNT has renewed the hour-long courtroom comedy/drama for a fourth season. I recently spoke with series co-star Dana Davis, and she told me all about how great it is to work on the show: “It’s just too fun working with Mark-Paul (Gossaaler) and Breckin (Meyer), because they’re really, really funny. And I respect them so much. I find it amazing to work with people like Breckin, Mark-Paul and Kumail Nanjiani. They’re so much fun, and they light up a room.”
Before season four begins, Dana will be busy. She is co-starring in the Syfy pilot “High Moon.” But more important, she has a project of her own she wants the world to see. “I had this idea for a show, called “The Wish i Mayz,” that teaches kids about music, all the while, giving them amazing music to listen to. It’s about three aliens from the Star Planet who speak only in song, and that’s how they teach the kids on Earth about music. Right now, I am pitching it around town. I want to evolve children’s music, and also stimulate their brains a little bit more. I want to give them music that they can keep with them for a lifetime.”
Come back next week to read my entire interview with Dana.
Q: I am a huge “X-Files” fan, and my husband and I have been rewatching the series at home on DVD. Can you tell me if there will be another feature film? — Carissa G., Tacoma, Wash.
A: If series stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, and series creator and head writer Chris Carter have their way, there will be a third movie. All parties are interested, they told a crowd of fans at the Paley Center for the Media in New York this past October. (They were there to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi cult hit.) According to David: “It’s really up to 20th Century Fox at this point.” Gillian added: “If it takes fan encouragement to get Fox interested in that, then I guess that’s what it would be.”
Q: I know “Drop Dead Diva” has been on the bubble for a few seasons. I have my fingers crossed that it’ll be back for at least one more. — Leila P., via email
A: Lifetime recently announced that “Diva” will indeed return for a sixth season. Look for 13 new episodes next year. (I’ll let you know when there’s a firm date.)
Q: Is it true? Have the Jonas Brothers really broken up? — Mollie H., via email
A: Sorry tweens, but the pop-music trio has decided to call it quits. According to the band’s publicist, Jesse Derris: “There is a deep rift within the band. There was a big disagreement over their music direction.”
Monday, November 4, 2013
|Bruno Gunn as Brutus in |
(courtesy Lionsgate, photographer Murray Close)
A: Bruno Gunn plays the brawny and vicious “Career Tribute” from District 2. And while Bruno certainly is brawny, he is anything but vicious. The Canton, Ohio, native is one of the nicest people I’ve ever interviewed, and he’s just as thrilled to be in “Catching Fire” as you are to see him in it. Upon getting the news that he’d be playing Brutus, Bruno told me: “It was life-changing news. It’s life-changing information when you get something like this. I have been fortunate enough to be working for the past 15 years doing guest stars and small roles and independent films. And then something of this caliber comes along — I was thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. I mean, it’s one of those moments you’ll never forget the rest of your life, to say the least.”
And while the training was intense, Bruno had a blast filming this movie: “It was one of those things where everybody was really focused on doing their work bringing their A game. And at the same time, as focused and serious as everybody was, it was one of those sets that was a very relaxed, fun vibe. We all knew what we were doing with this massive film, but at the same time, it was fun. There was a fun vibe on set. We were all just having a great time making memories and friendships. We did about two to three months of training leading up to the movie, and that was a blast.”
Check back next week for my FULL interview with Bruno.
Q: When is “Dallas” coming back? — Karolyn, Lubbock, TX
A: “Dallas” will return to TNT for its third season in early 2014. I don’t have an exact date yet, but I will let you know when I do. In the meantime, I can tell you that my favorite “90210” alum, AnnaLynne McCord, will guest-star in several episodes when the hit nighttime drama returns for its 15-episode run. All of the Ewing family will return, as well as Mitch Pileggi and Judith Light.
Q: It seems like I’ve been waiting forever for “Teen Wolf” to return to MTV. When will they air the rest of season three? — Joshua B., via email
A: You still have a couple of more months to wait — until Monday, Jan. 6, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, to be exact. However, I do have some good news to share to help ease the pain of waiting: MTV announced that the hit series will return for a fourth season in 2014 with 12 new episodes. Additionally, the network will debut the new talk show, “Wolf Watch,” set to air weekly after each “Teen Wolf” episode.
|John O'Hurley (and friends)|
A: For starters, the talented actor/host/dancer/singer/author will be hosting the National Dog Show Presented by Purina on Thanksgiving Day, which airs at 12 p.m. ET/PT, for the 12th year in a row. Aside from all the cute doggy fun for the whole family that we’re used to with the dog show, this year sees the introduction of the Chinook, rat terrier and Portuguese podengo pequeno into the competition.
John also has a children’s book coming out Oct. 31 called “The Perfect Dog.” According to John: “It’s a Doctor Seuss-style poem that I wrote about (my son) Will’s question to me, which was, ’Is there a dog that is perfect?’ And so I go through all of the attributes of what I think the perfect dog would be, and I’m back and forth and back and forth. It ends with: ’The dog that is perfect is the one next to you.’”
You can catch John on the big screen this December, when he co-stars in the indie drama “A Remarkable Life.” And you can catch my full interview with John right here Thanksgiving week.
Q: One of my favorite shows is “Cold Justice.” Will it be back for another season? — Chris M., via email
Friday, October 18, 2013
Celebrity Extra: When you first were approached to do the “The Good Witch” series, what was your initial reaction, and what tilted the scales in favor of taking the role?
Catherine Bell: It’s funny — I have been playing characters who are really different from “The Good Witch.” And when I saw the script, I thought, “Well, this character is more like me than any other character I’ve ever played.” So, that was appealing. And I thought it was funny that I was just offered the role; I didn’t have to audition for it, but I’d never played a role like it. Orly Adelson, one of the producers, had heard from a casting director that my personality is actually like this character. I thought it was sort of a risk to take. I mean, I’ve played kind of the tough girl on “J.A.G.” and an army wife, and so this is very different, but I love it.
CE: You say that you are a lot like Cassie; what are some similarities between you two, and what do you like about her?
CB: She’s just got a great sense of humor and a great enthusiasm, and just enjoys people and makes people happy. Those are all things I can certainly relate to. I find people interesting, and try to find the best in them or bring out the best.
CE: Cassie is very likable and seems like a really fun character to play.
CB: She’s very whimsical. Very rarely does anything get her down. Maybe for a moment, but then she finds a way to turn it around. She has such a great, positive spirit. That inspires me in real life to have fun. It’s like, OK, I’m feeling a little down. Maybe I could be a little bit more like Cassie. It’s a really fun role to step into. Every time I come back (to shoot another installment in the series), I put on the clothes and the dark nail polish, and I step right back into Cassie, and start making or turning anything into something good or fun.