Thursday, October 1, 2015

Interview: Emmy Winner Regina King Joins the Cast of HBO's The Leftovers

Regina King, photo by Ross Ferguson
Last season, the HBO hit drama/fantasy/mystery “The Leftovers” astounded viewers and left them all in suspense, patiently waiting for season two. While season one was based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta, season two is all-new material, which promises to be equally enthralling. The show takes place three years after a global event in which many people disappeared, known as the “Sudden Departure,” which caused the inexplicable disappearance of 140 million people, 2 percent of the world’s population. The story focuses primarily on the Garvey family and their acquaintances in the fictional town of Mapleton, New York.

Season two takes us to Jarden, Texas, which is the only place in the world that was not affected by the Sudden Departure. Created by Tom Perrotta and Damon Lindelof, the series stars Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman and Liv Tyler, with new cast members Regina King and Kevin Carroll. I spoke with Regina (who just won an Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her work on ABC’s “American Crime”) recently about the new 10-episode season, which premieres on Oct. 4, and she can’t wait for fans to see what Damon and company have in store for us.

Celebrity Extra: Were you familiar with the book and/or the show before signing on to join the cast for season two?

Regina King: I knew of the show, but I hadn’t seen it yet. When I read the script I was like, “Oh my gosh!” I was really floored. I thought the writing was just amazing. It totally locked me in, which I’m sure for the cast members from the first season, that’s what grabbed them. So I went back and watched the show, and just like everybody else, I was filled with a bunch of questions. I don’t feel like the first episode of the second season necessarily answers all of those questions, but it stands on its own and creates even more questions. There are some things from the first season that will be answered in this season. But this season kind of stands on its own because it’s the life after the book. It’s its own journey.

CE: This is a fantastic show with loyal fans and great reviews. Were you excited for the opportunity to join its ranks?

RK: I was very excited. The thing about that is it’s hard to find work, or a subject, that is entertaining and also provocative. So often it’s either/or. It’s provocative and it’s entertaining for a minute, but it doesn’t keep you in it. When you have subject matter that challenges really big sects in our society, it’s pretty awesome to be a part of. I love the way they deal with religion in this show. Religion is always a touchy subject, and you always have people who have different beliefs or don’t believe in religion. This show challenges all of that.

CE: Tell me about those first few days of work, being the new actors on an already established set.

RK: It didn’t particularly feel like, “Oh, we’re the new kids at school, and we have to make that adjustment.” Some people I don’t ever get to work with; so far our story lines have not crossed. And that’s the case a lot of times on shows. But one of the things that everyone has shared, which has remained since last season, is how much Damon helps you through your character because there’s so much secrecy with the show. We don’t know what’s coming from episode to episode. We signed on based on this amazing first script and just trusted that Damon, being so talented, was going to continue with a season as impressive as that first script we read. He’s so good at giving you help, because sometimes you get into the place of, “I don’t know what my character is doing because I don’t know where I’m going.” He’s good at guiding you through that moment without revealing too much about where your character is going.

There’s a part of it, as an actor, that’s terrifying. I talked to Justin and Carrie (Coon) about it, and they mirror that same sentiment. They felt like this last season. They tell me, “Just go talk to Damon; it will calm your nerves.” It totally did. But as terrifying as it is to not know where your character is going, in a way it’s a bit liberating because it really forces you to just be an actor and explore and be vulnerable.

L to R; Kevin Carroll, Regina King, Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux
(Photo by Van Redin/HBO)
CE: What can you tell me about season two?

RK: Oh gosh. I’m trying to figure out what I can say without getting in trouble. Jarden, Texas, is the name of the town where we live. It’s referred to as Miracle, Texas, because we are the one town that no one departed when the Sudden Departure happened. And because of that, here you have this town of a little over 9,000 people, who prior to the departure probably didn’t feel like there was anything special about them. Like towns across the world that we have never heard of, and now the entire world has heard of Jarden, Texas, because of this lack of something happening in our town. All of these people are trying to get into our town so they can be touched with what’s special, and it’s made the property value in our town shoot up sky-high. And all these weird things that have come to happen in Jarden have been heightened to the third power.

CE: Tell me about your character, Erika Murphy, and her family.

RK: We’re a respected family in the town; I’m an urgent-care doctor, so everyone in the town has seen me at some point. And my husband has his certain views about the departure, things that came to be when the departure did not happen in our town — and this is the part that I can’t give up. You can imagine there are a lot of people who were trying to capitalize on that. So, my husband has his feelings about that, and he expresses those feelings. It’s so funny trying to talk about this show because you really have to dance around.

CE: What is the mood like on the set, and how are the others to work with?

RK: You know what? It’s funny because as dark as this show is, we keep it terribly light. We’re always joking, especially Carrie (Coon) and me. We always are just silly all the time. Kevin Carroll, who plays my husband, he’s fun and a light guy. Justin (Theroux), believe it or not, smiles quite often. I am probably telling a secret, but he’s not this dark person. I see him sometimes in photos and in interviews, and he’s always real serious. But he’s a real cool cat.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Q and A: Week of Sept. 21

Q: A show on A+E called “Longmire” was on for several seasons. Will it be back? Thanks for any info you can give me. — Dave S., Gulf Breeze, Fla.

A: I’ll forgive you for missing my column where I let everyone know that “Longmire” was indeed renewed for a fourth season, however, it now airs on Netflix. In fact, the 10-episode season four just started streaming on Sept. 10, and you can also find seasons one through three there if you need to catch up, or just to refresh your memory. Returning cast regulars include Robert Taylor, Bailey Chase, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Cassidy Freeman and Adam Bartley. Gerald McRaney also reprises his role as Barlow Connally for a story arc.

Executive producer Greer Shephard revealed this past summer at the Television Critics Association press tour that season four picks up moments after the finale, in which Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) found out who was behind his wife’s murder. Succumbing to his darker impulses, Walt takes off in pursuit of the killer with one thing on his mind: murder. “Now that Walt thinks he knows who his wife’s killer is, how does he go on?” executive producer Greer Shephard asks. As for the future of the show, executive producer John Coveny told reporters that he hopes to be talking to them at the press tour for seasons eight, nine and 10. Everyone involved, including series star Robert Taylor, are all on board for that possibility.

Q: Is it true there is going to be another “Harry Potter” film? — Patty T., via email

A: Sort of. There is a new film slated to open December 2016 that’s set in the world of Harry Potter, however it’s a spinoff of sorts. It’s called “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — which was a textbook (featured in the films) written by Newt Scamander that the prospective wizards had to read at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — which J.K. Rowling wrote as a tie-in to the Harry Potter books and made available for us Muggles to read. Starring in the feature film are a bunch of high-profile actors like Collin Farrell (who portrays the aforementioned Newt Scamander), recent Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller and Alison Sudol.

Q: I love CBS’s “Under the Dome,” especially the super-intense season finale! Will there be a season four? — Jack M., via email

A: The struggling summer thriller series, based on the Stephen King bestseller of the same name, will not be back for a fourth season. In a glass-half-full sentiment, “Dome” lasted two seasons longer than it should have. When the script was ordered to series, it was intended as a limited-run event series, however the producers figured out a way to keep the action and intrigue going when CBS ordered another season, and then another. However, the show has officially run out of steam and won’t return for a fourth season.

Regina King, photo by Ross Ferguson
Q: I got hooked on this show on HBO called “The Leftovers,” and I wondered when and if it was coming back. I hope so! — Kelly K., via email

A: The drama/fantasy/mystery series, season one of which was based on the book of the same title by Tom Perrotta (who also wrote “Little Children”), will be back for its 10-episode second season on Oct. 4. The second season — starring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Liv Tyler, Regina King and Kevin Carroll — will be based on all-new material, and will take viewers to the little town of Jarden, Texas. I spoke with series newcomer and recent Emmy winner Regina King about season two, and she can’t wait for fans to see what executive producer/co-creator/writer Damon Lindelof has in store.

“One of the things that has remained since last season is how much Damon helps you through your character because there’s so much secrecy with the show. We don’t know what’s coming from episode to episode. We sign on based on this amazing first script and just the trust that Damon, being so talented, is going to continue with a season as impressive as that first script you read.”

She could tell me only a teeny bit about season two: “It takes place in Jarden, Texas, which is referred to as Miracle, Texas, because we are the one town that no one departed when ‘The Sudden Departure’ happened. All of these people are trying to get into our town so they can be touched with what’s special about it. You’ll discover all these weird things that have come to happen to Jarden, which has heightened to the third power.”

Q: My book club just finished “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” and I loved it. Is it true it’s being made into a movie? — Mallory F., via email

A: “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” which is based on the unpublished diary of Antonina Żabińska, recounts the true story of how she and her husband, Jan Żabiński, director of the Warsaw Zoo, saved the lives of 300 Jews who had been imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto following the German invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Award-winning actress Jessica Chastain has signed on to play Antonina, and Daniel Brühl and Johan Heldenberg are set to co-star. The movie is scheduled to premiere sometime in 2016.

Q: What has William Hurt been up to lately? — Paul T., via Facebook

A: William Hurt will co-star opposite Billy Bob Thornton in the Amazon Studios series “Trial” from David E. Kelley. “Trial” follows Billy McBride (Thornton) a once-respectable lawyer who was ousted from the high-profile firm he co-founded. Billy now spends his days getting drunk, with the occasional case tossed his way by his ex-wife. His professional life is turned upside down when a young lawyer, who has just been fired from his old firm, brings a wrongful death case that pits him against the head of his former firm, attorney Donald Cooper, played by Hurt.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Interview: Minority Report Is Meagan Good's Dream Come True

Meagan Good
If you are like me, you were devastated when the thrillingly soapy nighttime drama “Deception” was canceled by NBC — with a humdinger of a cliffhanger. This was also the first time I had seen actress Meagan Good performing in anything, and I was impressed. So I was thrilled to hear that she has scored the role of the female lead (Lara Vega) on Fox’s new fall series “Minority Report,” which is based on the 2002 film of the same name. I spoke with Meagan recently, and she’s super excited for the sci-fi crime drama’s debut on Sept. 21. She told me a bit about the show when we caught up.

Celebrity Extra: You must have been thrilled when you landed the role of Lara Vega on Fox’s “Minority Report.”

Meagan Good: It’s a dream come true, really. For me, it’s a dream character. She’s everything that I want to be doing. We’re all fans of the movie, and we were like: “Oh my God. This show is getting produced by Steven Spielberg.” Who, you know, is taking even more of a role since he saw the pilot. We know that he’s happy, and even just knowing that Steven Spielberg had to sign off on you and that he thinks you are a good actress is a huge thing.

CE: “Minority Report,” like the movie, takes place in the near future, with all these awesome special effects and technology. Visually, is the show on par with the movie?

MG: Oh, yes, it definitely is. If you remember from the movie, what Tom Cruise does with his hands on that virtual-reality screen became what we do now on our computers and on our cellphones. It pioneered some of that stuff. It’s really cool because we have a lot of new stuff in the show, which is stuff that is actually being created. On the show, we have a selfie drone that comes off your arm as a watch and drones into the air and takes selfie pictures for you. And that’s something actually being made right now. It’s just like the world is very futuristic. It’s crazy, whatever your mind can think of, then it can be done. It’s exciting. But also for us when we’re filming, we have to imagine it because we do a lot of work with a green-screen. So, a lot of what we are reacting to is not really there.

CE: This kind of role must be so much fun to play.

MG: It is a lot of fun because it’s what all of us really want to be doing. And for me the action part of it is amazing. That has been my priority for the past couple of years: I just want to do action. And now I’m getting a chance to do that. We all get along; everyone loves each other, and we love spending time together. And we’re all in it together. It’s a really good set to be on.

CE: What else appealed to you about the show, and your character, that made you want to be a part of the production?

MG: Well, off the top, I get to be on “Minority Report,” and I’m getting paid to do it. I was thrilled to find out that Lara, the main cop character, is now a woman. She is tough and is willing to do whatever it takes to see justice is served. That was really appealing to me. Her father died when she was very young. He was a cop. He was a part of the Pre-Crime Unit. It’s what she’s always wanted to do. And it’s also her legacy and his legacy.

But now, Pre-Crime has been abolished, and Lara hasn’t had the chance to be a part of it, but she still is like: “OK, I’m going to use what I do have. And I’m going to be the best cop I can be.” That’s really what drives her purpose. But she’s also willing to go off-road and to go rogue and do whatever it takes. She ultimately teams up with Dash (played by Stark Sands), who’s a legendary Pre-Cog who’s completely illegal and shouldn’t even be in the city, and he has the ability to have some of that insight into what murders might be happening, when they’re going to be happening, and having the real chance to try to stop it before it happens. This is what she lives for. That’s what really drew me to her. Just her passion and the fact that she is living her purpose every day, and it drives her.

Meagan Good, courtesy Fox
CE: When “Minority Report” opens, where does it start? What’s going on?

MG: The Pre-Cogs — Agatha, Arthur and Dash — were sent away at the end of the movie to an undisclosed island where nobody has access to them. Nobody can abuse them or take advantage of them anymore. It’s 15 years later, and we meet Dash as he’s come back into the city because Arthur has come back into the city. Dash can’t find Arthur, and he is being plagued by the trauma of still seeing visions that he can’t stop, whether he’s a part of Pre-Crime or not. These are visions all of them are still having, but he is the most sensitive one where he actually physically feels the violent pain that the person is feeling when he is being murdered.

Dash wants to stop this, but he doesn’t have any police training. He has spent the majority of his life either being tested or in a milk bath half-unconscious. He is really learning this world for the first time. When he meets me and sees my passion and my desire, he wants to make the world a better place. He doesn’t fully come to me, but he tries to give me little hints and stuff. The second my character, Lara, realizes who he is, she’s on him. She’s like, “You’re going to help me.” At first he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t want to be taken advantage of again and potentially arrested or abused. We form an unlikely bond, and we go at it together just the two of us, because what we are doing is illegal.

CE: Tell me about the other characters and how they fit into the narrative.

MG: Wilmer Valderrama plays my boss, Will Blake. He’s not supposed to know what we are doing. And there’s this other relationship there: You’re not sure if Lara and Will might have been together in the past. And then you’ll get introduced to Arthur, who is more of the dark twin, who is completely unemotionally connected to what he sees. He tends to see a lot more than Dash does.

Li Jun Li plays my right-hand girl, Akeela. She pools all of the information, and she’s on top of everything. She’s the human encyclopedia. It’s a very cool world. What you can expect from the show is that something is happening, and we need to figure it out beforehand. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. Maybe it’s a Minority Report. Maybe what’s happening isn’t what we think is happening, and we’ll make a mistake. You just never know. But the concept is fun and suspenseful. It’s a little bit dark, but the world is very bright. It’s not apocalyptic, where everybody is dying and it’s sad. It’s actually a very bright and happy 2065. But dark things are happening in it.

CE: What is the format of the show? Do you solve a crime at the end of each show, like close-ended episodes, or is it suspense from show to show?

MG: It is going to be suspense from show to show.

CE: What are your hopes for the show? You want it to be successful, of course, but what else?

MG: Yeah, we obviously want the show to do incredible. We want to see these characters continue to grow and for people to grow with them, for people to really fall in love with them. I guess that’s the biggest thing: We just want it to do well, and we want to live with these characters — because everyone is so happy with who they get to play — for as long as we can.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Interview: Kelli Williams Is in a Bind

Fans of Kelli Williams, who’s best known for “Army Wives,” “The Practice” and “Lie to Me,” can see her on her new series beginning Aug. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on the Up network. The show is the network’s first original series, and it’s called “Ties That Bind.” The 10-episode series centers on Kelli’s character, police detective Allison McLean, who is balancing a demanding and dangerous job and a family. When she must arrest her brother, Tim (special guest star Luke Perry), for aggravated assault, her world drastically changes as Tim is convicted and sent to prison, leaving his two teenagers teetering on the brink of foster care. Allison now feels compelled to do the right thing as a sister and aunt: She brings Tim’s two very unhappy teens into her home. I spoke with Kelli recently, and she is excited for fans to see this not-so-typical police drama.

Celebrity Extra: Tell me about the series: What did you think when you read the script, and what made you want to be a part of it?

Kelli Williams: My interest was immediately piqued to play this detective because I’ve never played a detective before. So I quickly said yes. I met with Barbara Fisher (senior vice president of original programming at Up) and Sheryl Anderson, our producer/writer extraordinaire. And Sheryl said something to me that was really sweet: She said that when she was writing this part, she had me in mind. She had my picture in her office hoping that I would play this part, which is so cool. How nice is that to be the inspiration for the writer? And then to get to play the part to boot was really, really great.

I was really curious about this whole hybrid cop drama/family drama and how the two would work in everyday terms of trying to kind of manage career and family. I know from experience — I have three kids and I have a job. We all try to do the best we can with being the best mom you can be and also doing the best in your work that you can do. Sometimes you have days where it’s like: “I got it. Good. This is teamwork.” And then there are days where it’s like: “Oh my God. This is not working.” So, I liked the idea of the family’s story throughout all of our episodes. It feels like a perfect show. That’s a funny thing to say, but you set out to do something and hopefully have the product work, and it really feels like it does.

CE: Tell me about your character, Allison McLean.

KW: Allison is a pretty tough lady, in a lot of ways. She’s certainly tougher than I am, in terms of the job. She has qualities that I aspire to. She calls it like it is and speaks her mind immediately. I’m not saying that I’m not strong, there’s just a quality about playing a detective like this and then having the softer side of her world. She has this really strong long-term relationship with her husband. They’ve worked hard at their marriage and raising their kids and becoming good people. They don’t always necessarily get it right, but they do their best. Those values are really nice things to show.

CE: Is the format of the show where you solve a case each episode, but the family drama is underlying throughout the season?

KW: Yes, exactly. The family part of it is a continuation, but each episode is a different case. And then her kids have their own stuff that happens, and then there’s the ongoing world of her niece and nephew moving in with them and what that does to their family dynamic. It happens pretty quickly.

CE: Tell me about the family dynamic between Allison and her brother, Tim, as well as what it means to bring his teens into her home.

KW: So, Luke Perry, who plays my brother, Tim, doesn’t want me to take the kids in, and I insist on it. He’d rather they just stay in the system than be with me. There’s this kind of tension that we get to play where he’s like, Why do I always have to be so right? Why do I always have to follow the rules? But I want the kids with me, and it’s a little bumpy at first because the kids have been raised in a different world.

CE: This has to be placing stress on her marriage and home life.

KW: We’re all trying to keep it intact. We definitely have a lot of plates spinning. And all of our lives are messy. We all try to keep everything going. You’ve just got to keep moving along, otherwise everything is just going to fall apart.

CE: How is the cast to work with?

KW: The cast is fantastic. Jonathan (Scarfe, who plays her husband) is a delight to work with. He’s great. We’re always having scenes, like, around the dinner table, and we’ll give each other a little nod like, “OK, we’re going to survive all the crazy kid action and energy.” And of course, the kids are great, and they’re all so talented. And then Jason Priestley comes in and he plays a pretty pivotal and important character from my past. That was a really fun night of filming. He’s a really nice guy, but he won’t come off that way onscreen. Things go down, but I can’t give you more information than that.

C. Thomas Howell came in for a guest role. I’ve never worked with him before. And that was really fun to do. And then Dion Johnstone, he plays my partner, Devin. He’s just great. I have to say, from Dion to Jonathan to the kids, it all really works. We’re not faking it on that set. We’re creating a new world, but we all get along really well. It’s a really good group.

CE: This is Up’s first original series; tell me what it’s like working with them and being a part of this inaugural event.

KW: The exciting thing about Up is that they’re rebranding the network, and this is a new frontier for them, their first scripted series. They have done movies and other more reality-based stuff, but this is the first scripted series. It’s a really exciting place to be, because the network wants to expand and be known as a place for good drama with good values. The whole family can watch it.

It’s been a really great process for me personally. They’ve been so welcoming. It’s a close group of people, and it’s so exciting, like we’re in on the ground floor of something new. I hope our show can bring in an audience and that they can build on that audience with other series. There’s a whole world that’s available. Hopefully we can make them proud.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Byron Mann Is Hell on Wheels

Byron Mann, photo by Kevin Thomas
Byron Mann is no stranger to the small screen (“Smallville,” “Dark Angel,” “Arrow”) or the silver screen (“Street Fighter,” “Catwoman,” “The Man with the Iron Fists”). He’s acted alongside the likes of Russell Crowe, Steven Seagal, Halle Berry and Chuck Norris, and he’s always ready, willing and able to do his own stunts. I spoke with him recently about his latest project, playing a major new role in the hit drama series “Hell on Wheels.” The historical Western begins its fifth and final season on AMC tomorrow night at 9/8c, with the first half of the season airing this summer, and the second half picking up in summer 2016.

Celebrity Extra: What can you tell me about this final season of “Hell on Wheels”?

Byron Mann: I’m in Calgary now filming this great season. It’s fantastic. This season is about the Chinese workers on the railroad and all the stories that come out of it. My character is Chang, and he is the power broker. He controls all of the workers. He gets into all of these different conflicts and vies for power with Cullen Bohannan, played by Anson Mount, and with all the other railroad owners. He is a very complex, very interesting character.

CE: How does this season compare with other seasons?

BM: It will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen. And I’m telling you the truth. It’s very gripping. It’s no-holds-barred.

CE: Without divulging too much, what can you tell me about the season? How does it open, and how are you introduced?

BM: The season opens with the introduction of the Chinese workers on the railroad. As you might be aware, the railroad in America — and certainly the line from San Francisco out to the East — was built primarily by the Chinese workers and the Irish workers. There were 15,000 Chinese workers who built this line, and their stories have never been told, on television or in movies. Kudos to the writers that they’ve dug up all of these stories and these characters. I can tell you that there will be a bitter and very complex rivalry between my character and Cullen Bohannan, which will develop and escalate throughout the whole season.

CE: How did you prepare for this role?

BM: The writers and producers gave us a lot of books to read on this history. I did some research on my character. My character parallels Cullen Bohannan in that he just came out of the Civil War in America, and my character came out of the Civil War in China.

CE: What was it like coming to work on an already-established set, co-starring for the final season of such a well-loved series?

BM: Before we started, Anson Mount gave me a call. I asked him: “What should I prepare for? I’ve never been to Calgary. I’ve never shot a Western before.” He said, “Well, bring boots.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “It’s going to be muddy when you come out of your trailer.” So I took his advice, and I brought my boots. And sure enough, the first day I come out of my trailer, I step down, and I’m in a pond of mud.

Also, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be in a Western. I didn’t even know what these guys wore. It turns out my character wears a lot of these coats and ties and stuff. I can’t even do it myself. I have to have someone dress me every day. It’s interesting. You have to have help to put them on.

CE: Tell me how it came about that you got the role in “The Big Short.”

BM: About six months ago, my brother, who works for a major bank in Asia, called me up and said: “Byron, there is this feature film that my client is doing. You should try to get a part in it or something.” But I blew him off. I said: “Well, you know nothing about the film industry. They’re probably just writing the script now.” And then six months later, I met Adam McKay (the film’s writer and director), and he cast me in the film. I found out that my brother’s client is Ben Hockett, the character that Brad Pitt plays in the movie. Isn’t that interesting? It is complete happenstance that I’m also in the film. But I can’t tell you too much, otherwise Paramount Studios will send ninja assassins to visit me.

CE: Without getting yourself ninja-ed, what can you tell me about the film?

BM: It’s about the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008, if you remember, that totally caused the collapse of the American economy. There were trickle effects all over. A lot of people lost their homes. A lot of major banks — like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch — were all selling these products (that aided in the collapse). The characters played by Brad Pitt and Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling are bankers. They are trying to find out what’s behind these products and who’s selling them. So they track down my character, Wing Chau, who’s a bond manager in New York. He’s actually one of the world’s largest sellers of these products. He worked in conjunction with several major banks on Wall Street to sell them.

CE: I can’t wait to read the book this is based on; I already have it downloaded to my Kindle.

BM: It’s a great book. It’s by Michael Lewis, who also wrote “Moneyball.” He’s a great writer. And don’t be intimidated by the finance stuff, because he breaks it down very simply and very comically. Essentially that is what this movie is going to be like, too; it’s broken down in a very funny manner. It’s very accessible.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Astrella to Release New Single, "Friction," by the Late Michael Hutchence of INXS

(from press release)

Iconic INXS lead singer, Michael Hutchence, will forever be in the hearts and dance moves of fans across the world. Although known for his hit band songs "Need You Tonight" and "Never Tear Us Apart," he also embarked on many solo projects.

In a partnership with fashion designer Astrella, daughter to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Donovan, Hutchence's first solo recording to be released in 15 years will now be available through her famed hybrid, T-shirt collection known as the MUSICAL T's™. PledgeMusic is honored to be a part of this campaign, where the song and T-shirt will be available exclusively via Fashion Designer Astrella's Next MUSICAL T's™ Design and is allowing the fans to vote on several graphic options. The winning option will be produced onto a T-shirt and be for sale exclusively on PledgeMusic.

Previously unreleased and available only through this package, Michael Hutchence's song "Friction" will be available for pre-order. Sales will officially begin September 1, 2015. To launch our PledgeMusic storefront, Astrella is offering 5 designs for the public to vote on, to decide which design should be put into production. Astrella has collaborated with internationally recognized artist Miguel Paredes, as well as former head of design for Lucky Brand, Tom Garner, to help design the "Friction" MUSICAL T's™ graphics. The song came from his recording sessions in 1995, before his tragic death, to create a solo record with music producers Danny Saber (Rolling Stones, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy, Korn, U2, David Bowie) and Andy Gill (Gang of Four, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Jesus Lizard, The Futerheads, The Stranglers.)

PledgeMusic, a frontrunner in the direct-to-fan platform, is bringing fans a truly special and unique experience with this campaign. PledgeMusic will be the exclusive place to purchase the song and vote for and purchase the MUSICAL T's™ T-shirt.

Pledgers will have the opportunity to get the previously unreleased Michael Hutchence single "Friction" + 2 remixes, (EMF DJ, Milfredo Seven as well as Jeff Patterson of the 3 Jays). Fans can vote on 1 of 5 T-shirt designs from Astrella Inc., and the winning T-shirt will be come the official Friction MUSICAL T's™. Fans can purchase the winning T-shirt along with experiences from co-writer of "Friction", and a long time Michael Hutchence friend and storied engineer/producer Danny Saber. 10 unreleased photos of Michael will be premiered and Danny Saber will do video breakdowns of the lyrics in the track. To pledge, please visit,

Saber says, "Michael was always looking to reinvent the wheel as an artist. Delivering music and fashion together through Astrella and the PledgeMusic platform is precisely the type of ground-breaking initiative he would have been proud to be a part of. This project honors the intimate connect between artist and fan, which Michael cherished."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interview: Abigail Spencer Heats Up True Detective

Abigail Spencer
Abigail Spencer has come a long way since her “All My Children” days: Since she left the show in 2000, Abigail has been in numerous TV shows and movies. These include “Angela’s Eyes,” “Mad Men,” “Hawthorne,” “Cowboys and Aliens,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “This Is Where I Leave You,” “Rectify” and, most recently, “True Detective.” I spoke with Abigail about “Rectify,” which comes back to SundanceTV for its third season July 9. But first we spoke about her new role, that of Alicia on season two of the critically acclaimed HBO drama “True Detective,” which premieres June 21.

Celebrity Extra: What can you tell me about the new season, and about your character, Alicia?

Abigail Spencer: Nothing (laughs). I can tell you my opinion of how wonderful it is. I don’t want to ruin anything, and I think if anyone were to give away anything about it, it would ruin the suspense. But I can tell you it was a really great experience. I think the season is going to be all the things that people loved about season one, and then some, with totally new and fresh stories. Nic Pizzolatto is just an incredible storyteller. And the acting is wonderful. Colin Farrell is so amazing. People are just going to be blown away, particularly by his performance on the show.

CE: Do you work mainly with Colin, and will we get to see you for the whole eight-episode season?

AS: I work with almost everybody, but I work mostly with Colin. I’m there throughout the season — heck, I probably shouldn’t say anything — but I am in it throughout the season.

CE: What can you tell me about the actual filming experience?

AS: When you have a really rich character, one who has a lot of depth, you really are just trying to bring all of that depth to the character that is on the page. It was hard. I was also shooting “Rectify” at the same time, so I was going back and forth between characters. Everyone was so great. Nic really supported me and really welcomed me into the fold of telling the story, so I really wanted to do it justice. It was incredibly intense but very fulfilling.

CE: I see Rick Springfield has a guest-starring role. Did you work with him?

AS: I didn’t, but I know of him being on the show, and I thought that was super cool. Junie Lowry-Johnson and Libby Goldstein cast “True Detective,” and they also cast “Rectify.” They are two of the most phenomenal casting directors ever. They love actors. They really hire great actors for every piece. A lot of the credit has to go to Junie and Libby for who they put forward for all the roles.

CE: Is it difficult being on a show where everything is so hush-hush, and you can’t slip up and give away any secrets?

AS: It’s so interesting — I’m pretty used to this from when I was cast for “Mad Men.” I couldn’t tell anyone I was on the show. I wasn’t allowed to walk the red carpet at the premiere or anything. But then after the fact, it’s fun. It’s fun to let people discover your work. That was a really beautiful experience for me. You do get these dream jobs where they’re like, “But you can’t tell anybody about it.” And you’re like, “What? Huh?” But really, I’m very OK with that. It’s cool that people just discover it. People will find shows or will find good work. Hopefully it’s through word of mouth and wonderful people like you spreading the word.

CE: For those unfamiliar with the show, tell me a bit about “Rectify.”

AS: “Rectify” is a story about a man, Daniel, who has been on death row for almost 20 years. The show picks up on the day he is released from prison because some new DNA evidence was brought into the fold showing that he most likely did not commit the crime. But the main issue is that it doesn’t totally clear him, but it’s most likely he didn’t do it. It’s his reintegration back into his family and the society that put him away, and back into the arms of his adoring co-dependent sister, Amantha, who has basically been in charge of his release. The show focuses on how intimately and emotionally it affects all of the people surrounding this one event and this one human by the name of Daniel.

CE: Tell me about Amantha.

AS: I would say that Amantha is a bit of the engine of the show. She’s moving things forward. She was the catalyst for his release. As we explore Amantha, we see that she is a very active character. What do you do when the active character is met with resistance from the one thing that she wanted? Her brother gets out of prison, and he’s like: “No thanks. I’m good. I don’t want to fight this anymore.” He’s had a life-changing experience. It really puts Amantha in a position where she has to start looking at herself and what her life is like. What is her life about? She has to make some hard decisions.

CE: Where do we pick up for the start of season three?

AS: We’re going to start right where we left off with season two. We left off with Daniel having this strange confession, or re-confession, of the time that he’s not even sure of, or what he did. When it comes to Amantha, she didn’t just want to get him out of prison, but she also wanted to clear his name. She wanted to go all the way with it. When Daniel says, “I just want it to be done,” that’s heartbreaking for her.

So she draws a boundary, like if you do this, I’m not going to be there. I’m going to go put my own life together. So we left with that really strong boundary, and we pick up after Daniel’s “re-confession” surprise for everybody. It’s different now. There will be more clues, and more people come into play. It’s really interesting. I’m always like: “How do we go deeper? We just went there. We went so deep.” And then season three happens, and you go: “We just did it. We just went deeper.” I’m always amazed. I’m amazed with the actors and writers and how they get right in there illustrating the complexity of human beings’ lives and celebrating it. The show is really about celebrating life — it’s about living your life and understanding who you are.

CE: You shoot this on location in Griffin, Georgia. What’s it like on set?

AS: Everybody is so supportive of us shooting there. It’s a very small town, and it is thick with the issues at play on the show. At times it can be difficult to shoot there just because there are certain needs when you are shooting a show. It’s like you live in your own world in your own town. It’s like you’re living in Oz all the time when you’re shooting something, and you have your own set of needs when you are working. So there are challenges there. But at the same time, it definitely puts you in the mood. Once we get off the plane and drive that hour south, it’s like: “Here we are. We’re back in ‘Rectify’ land.”