Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Interview: Alexander Newton Talks Justice/Vengeance |

Read's exclusive interview with up-and-coming British actor-musician Alexander Newton, who is making his feature film acting debut in the upcoming thriller ‘Justice/Vengeance.’ In the movie, which is set for a Spring 2012 release, Newton plays the younger version of the late Roy Scheider’s character, Joseph. He is the only survivor of his family’s massacre by members of the Nazi SS during World War II. During flashbacks, the story of Joseph’s escape and his teenage love for a heroic Polish girl, portrayed by ‘The Tudors’ star Sarah Bolger, is revealed.

Newton, who was dubbed the “next Robert Pattinson” by Vogue UK, discusses with us, among other things, what his reaction was when he found out he won Best Young Actor at the Boston Film Festival. He also spoke about what it was like working with his father, Joshua, who wrote, directed and produced ‘Justice/Vengeance.’

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): In ‘Justice/Vengeance,’ you portray the younger version of the main character, Joseph. What was it about the script and the character that attracted you to the role?

Alexander Newton (AN): (laughs) I was convinced to take on the role because my dad was directing the movie. The opportunity to work with him was great. I had been on set with him a lot in the past. I fell in love with the idea of being an actor at a very, very young age.

Obviously, the fact that Roy Scheider played the role was a great thing. He was an incredible actor, and taught me a lot. I felt very confident with the role, well, actually, doing the role. I was on set, and realized this character is a Holocaust survivor. It became difficult in the sense that it was very, very emotional for me.

SY: Speaking of Roy, did he offer you any acting advice while you were on the set?

AN: He did. One of the things that Roy would say was acting is like a child-like belief in the make-believe. Being with Roy on set was easy. He was very calm and composed in his acting methods.

SY: How did you prepare for the role of Joseph? How did you get into his mindset?

AN: I did a lot of research, I studied the Holocaust a lot. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors, so I spoke with them. I went to see Auschwitz. I spent a lot of time in Poland, and tried to imagine it the way it was.

SY: Speaking of your father as well, he wrote, directed, and produced ‘Justice/Vengeance.’ What was it like working with him on the film?

AN: It was great working with Dad. He’s such an inspiration to me. He’s taught me so much, and he’s such a fantastic director, writer and artist, really. My entire life, he’s inspired me to do art, and be good at what I do. So it was good working with him.

I’ve always wanted to direct a film. I guess this is the opportunity for me to do it, the first of many.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Alexander Newton Talks Justice/Vengeance |

Justice League: Doom Movie Review |

'Justice League: Doom' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: Lauren Montgomery (‘Justice League: Crisis of Two Earths’)

Starring: (Voices of) Kevin Conroy (TV’s ‘Batman,’ ‘Justice League’), Phil Morris (TV’s ‘Smallville’), Nathan Fillion, Tim Daly and Michael Rosenbaum (‘Smallville’)

Saving the world and stopping immortal villains who want to take control of mankind can be even the most daunting tasks for a team of the most well-known and respected superheroes. The superheroes who are part of the Justice League have finally met their match in immortal villain Vandal Savage, who wants to use their vulnerabilities to kill them all and rule the world. In the new animated film ‘Justice League: Doom,’ which will be released as a Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download on February 28, 2012, such favorites as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman discover what it’s like when their emotions begin to cloud their judgment and negatively affect their mission.

‘Justice League: Doom’ follows the members of the Justice League as they’re pursued by their enemies, led by Vandal (voiced by Phil Morris). The villains want to take down Superman (Tim Daly), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), Flash (Michael Rosenbaum), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumbly), Cyborg (Bumper Robinson) and Batman (Kevin Conroy). They used the Dark Knight’s contingency plans for stopping the superheroes, so Vandal can take over the world.

While the Justice League is upset to learn their enemies plan to kill them, they’re equally upset at Batman for creating the contingency plans, which he would use if he needed to stop a rogue team member. At the same time, Batman must question whether he wants to continue working with his fellow team members when they express their concerns over trusting him again.

While ‘Justice League: Doom’ is part of the DC Universe animated original movies line created by Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics, it isn’t a direct follow-up to prior Justice League films as ‘The New Frontier’ and ‘Crisis on Two Earths.’ Therefore, even people unfamiliar with the superhero team will be able to follow and appreciate the pairing of some of DC Comics’ most well-known characters. Even with the multiple sub-plots involving the vulnerability of each of the superheroes, enough emotion and information is provided about each character to spark interest in everyone who believes good can overpower evil.

Famed superhero film and television scribe Dwayne McDuffie, whose last script was ‘Justice League: Doom’ before he died in early 2011, effortlessly proved how vulnerable and humanizing the beloved superheroes can be. Despite creating the seven sub-plots involving each of the members of the Justice League fighting their enemies to stay alive, each superhero’s fear of not being able to protect the world and remain true to themselves was clearly distinct.

Batman, for example, is still adjusting to the fact that he’s the only human in the Justice League. He continuously allows his fear of being perceived as an outsider among the other superheroes and questioning if he’s truly helping the other members leads him to betray their trust. His reluctance to believe that he is indeed doing good in the league in fact leads to the mistrust and alienation from his colleagues.

To continue reading this review, please visit: Justice League: Doom Movie Review |

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gone Movie Review |

'Gone' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Being kidnapped and left for dead, and not having anyone believe the terrifying story after escaping, is one of the most devastating experiences a person can go through in life. But having the kidnapper come back to finish the job years later, only to take a sibling instead, and still not have anyone believe the tale, is even more traumatizing. The new film ‘Gone’ puts a new spin on the psychological thriller genre, showcasing the lengths a person would go to in order to save their sibling in that situation. Unfortunately, the film hints at the suspect too earlier in the plot, leaving the rest of the story unintriguing and predictable.

‘Gone’ follows former kidnap victim Jill Parrish (played Amanda Seyfried), who has been spending the past two years since returning home from her abduction trying to convince the Portland police that she was indeed taken by a local predator. When she returns home one night from an overnight shift from her waitress job at a local diner, she discovers that her sister Molly (portrayed by Emily Wickersham) is missing. Jill knows that Molly wouldn’t leave without leaving her a message, especially after her ordeal and the fact that she has an important college final exam that afternoon. Jill is therefore convinced her kidnapper has come back for her, only to abduct her sister in her place when realizing she wasn’t home.

When Jill informs the police of Molly’s disappearance, Detectives Powers (played by Daniel Sunjata) and Erica Lonsdale (portrayed by Katherine Moenning) and Lieutenant Ray Bozeman (played by Michael Pare), who worked on her case when she first returned home, are skeptical of her theory. Even Molly’s boyfriend, Billy (portrayed by Sebastian Stan), questions Jill’s story, as he thinks Molly, a recovering alcoholic, may have started drinking again. However, Detective Peter Hood (played by Wes Bentley), who is new to the unit, believes Jill’s story, and offers to help, much to her reluctance.

The psychological thriller’s director, Heitor Dhalia, who is primarily known for directing and writing films in his native Brazil, deserves credit for taking a different approach to the genre. Instead of focusing on Jill’s own attempts to flee her kidnapper, ‘Gone’ sets out to show that no matter how normal of a life people settle into after living through a traumatic experience, time does little to settle their anxieties or paranoia. While viewers hope Jill safely finds her sister, Dhalia offers scare details on her own abduction two years before. The lack of information about the kidnapper’s motive or Jill’s escape unfortunately provides little sympathies for her reckless actions while trying to find Molly.

‘Gone’s short list of kidnapping suspects also makes the plot-line predictable and unsuspenseful. The man Jill comes to suspect as the kidnapper exhibits obvious actions of stalking her even before she realizes that Molly is missing. The whole premise of the movie is based on her struggle and determination to find out who and where he is, and the obvious, early reveal takes

To continue reading this review, please visit: Gone Movie Review |

Interview: Marin Ireland Talks The Understudy |

Read's exclusive interview with actress Marin Ireland, whose black comedy-drama, ‘The Understudy,’ is set to hit select theaters in March 2012. The movie follows Ireland’s title character, Rebecca, an unemployed actress who’s living with her equally unsuccessful screenwriter boyfriend. Rebecca’s luck seemingly starts to change when she is asked to be the understudy to famous movie star Simone Harwin in the play ‘Electra.’

Rebecca’s fame increases as the play’s leading women begin suffering from accidents. To keep the spotlight, Rebecca must protect her freedom and cast off all suspicion that she was involved in the accidents. Ireland discusses with us, among other things, what attracted her to the role of Rebecca, and the natural working relationship she had with ‘The Understudy’s co-writers and directors, David Conolly and Hannah Davis.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): In ‘The Understudy,’ you portray Rebecca, an unemployed actress whose luck changes when she becomes an understudy of a play. However, she’s ignored by the cast and crew, and doesn’t receive attention until she begins causing accidents on the set, in order to be promoted. What attracted you to the role of Rebecca?

Marin Ireland (MI): Well, I had a history with David and Hannah, who wrote ‘The Understudy’ and directed it. We had worked on another project for awhile that involved a lot of improvisation, in terms of developing the script. So when they brought me the script, it was about three quarters done. It sat on the shelf for awhile, on the back burner. They wanted to help me improvise my way around finishing that one again.

Those types of experiences, of feeling the rejection, are overwhelming. All of those experiences of being an actor are familiar. So we had a really good time, getting to explore that, and bringing my own personal experiences to the table.

SY: Speaking of David and Hannah, they co-wrote and co-directed the film together. Do you find it easier to work with directors who worked on the script?

MI: Yes. In this case, they’re so special, because they really do co-direct and co-write. It was wonderful to have them have such an insight and input into the script. They were very clear on some points, where they wanted dialogue to be said as it was written. Other moments, it could be a little more flexible. They had a lot of say over where it could have a lot of room.

Also, the way that they worked together is great. Working with a team like that is nice, because they can share responsibility in a really great way.

SY: ‘The Understudy’ was David and Hannah’s second film, after the 2004 drama ‘Mothers and Daughters.’ Were you familiar with their directorial and writing debut before you began shooting ‘The Understudy?’ What was it like working with relatively new filmmakers on the film?

MI: I had seen the film, they had given me a copy to watch of ‘Mothers and Daughters’ before we started working on another project in between ‘Mothers and Daughters’ and ‘The Understudy.’ That hasn’t yet happened, but I think it will. So I had seen that, and I really liked it. Then I went in on that with them.

I worked with filmmakers primarily at this point, in their second or third realms of movies. I haven’t noticed any significant differences. They’re very clear on their vision. So I didn’t think of them as people who had only made one or two things. They’re very clear and smart, and accurate in terms of achieving their vision, and welcoming you into that world.

SY: David and Hannah also briefly appeared in ‘The Understudy.’ What is it like working with directors and screenwriters who are also actors?

MI: Oh, it’s really helpful, because I feel that one of the most important things that they understand is that everybody has their own process. So they were very eager to learn how each of us needed to work. So rather than demanding certain things at certain moments, they were always very trusting that we would deliver what we needed to deliver for them, and that we had our own way of getting there, and our own process.

They were curious about that, and respectful of that at the same time. I definitely feel that was something that came from being performers, and understanding the atmosphere; people need to find their own space sometimes on the movie set, and their own way of working.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Marin Ireland Talks The Understudy |

Tomorrow, When the War Began Movie Review

'Tomorrow, When the War Began' Examiner Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

The modern stresses of being a teenager, such as declaring independence from parents and authority and navigating the ever-changing dating world, are enough to leave many adolescents self-serving and pretentious. But the new action adventure drama ‘Tomorrow, When The War Began,’ which is now playing in select theaters and is available for New Yorkers to own via On Demand, iTunes and on Blu-ray and DVD, successfully proves they can bond together and fight for the better good. The film is a captivating look into how some people naturally step into the leadership role when emergency strikes, and how that guidance can successfully bond those striving to take a stand together.

‘Tomorrow, When The War Began’ follows country Australian high school friends Ellie (played by Caitlin Stasey) and Corrie (portrayed by Rachel Hurd-Wood), as they decide to go camping in a remote valley known as Hell. Corrie’s boyfriend, Kevin (played by Lincoln Lewis), Ellie’s next-door neighbor Homer (played by Deniz Akdeniz), her crush Lee (portrayed by Chris Pang) and their friends Robyn (played by Ashleigh Cummings) and Fiona (portrayed by Phoebe Tonkin) join them as they drive into the mountains. During their first night of camping, Ellie sees military aircraft overhead, but doesn’t think much about it until they return home to their deserted neighborhood.

When the friends arrive at Ellie’s house, they see their neighborhood is abandoned, and the power, internet and telephone lines are down. After exploring the area, they discover everyone is being detained at the showground. After Ellie is discovered, the group is pursued by soldiers.

The group eventually decides to return to Hell until they decide what to do next. Along the way, they encounter their classmate Chris (played by Andrew Ryan) alone in his house, and decide to take him with them. Upon reaching Hell, the group hears a radio transmission, which states that Australia has been invaded by “The Coalition Nations” from nearby Asia, which feels it has a right to the country’s immense natural resources and wealth in order to sustain their growing populations. The group decides to fight back, instead of just waiting to be killed.

Stuart Beattie, the director and writer of ‘Tomorrow, When The War Began,’ perfectly translated John Marsden’s novel of the same name, the first book in the Tomorrow series, to the screen. The filmmaker showcased the true essence of Ellie’s determination to keep her friends bonded together during a time of survival of the fittest and crisis. Ellie serves as a respectable role model to teens, as she isn’t afraid to take charge during a disaster and watch over those she cares about, no matter what they may have done. She proves that a girl can truly be the protagonist that fights for what she believes in, no matter what the consequences.

To continue reading this review, please visit Examiner.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cast and Crew Hit World Premiere of Justice League: Doom |

Aside from all the hype surrounding next summer’s anticipated last installment of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman trilogy, ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ fans of the superhero team Justice League have their own film to look forward to, ‘Justice League: Doom.’ The animated movie, which is based on Mark Waid’s ‘Tower of Babel,’ had its world premiere on February 13, 2012 at New York’s Paley Center for Media.

Actor Kevin Conroy, who reprises his voice role of Batman, and his co-star Phil Morris, who can be heard as villain Vandal Savage, were joined by Emmy Award-winning casting-dialogue director Andrea Romano on the red carpet at the premiere. Following the screening of ‘Justice League: Doom,’ the three took the time to speak to the audience about their experiences while shooting, during a Q&A session.

‘Justice League: Doom’ is set to be released as a Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download on February 28, 2012. The movie, which was directed by Lauren Montgomery and was the final DC Universe film script from the late screenwriter Dwayne McDuffie, follows the members of the Justice League as they’re pursued by their enemies, led by Vandal. The villains want to take down Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Batman. They used the Dark Knight’s contingency plans for stopping the superheroes, so Vandal can take over the world.

While the Justice League is upset to learn their enemies plan to kill them, they’re equally upset at Batman for creating the contingency plans, which he would use if he needed to stop a rogue team member. At the same time, Batman must question whether he wants to continue working with his fellow team members when they express their concerns over trusting him again.

While on the red carpet and during the Q&A session, Conroy and Morris had nothing but praise for Romano, and expressed their delight with working with her. She has an “artful way of directing, as it’s in what she doesn’t say,” Conroy said of Romano. She’ll “give an approximation” of where she wants the actors to take the characters. While Romano shows a “command of her domain,” she also respects the actors, and allows them to work through finding the right fit for their characters.

Conroy added that he finds Romano’s work habits “refreshing, as she gives us the freedom to go places we’d be afraid to go otherwise.” The actor also said he feels fortunate to have worked with the dialogue director, as she very rarely gives line readings, and doesn’t come off intimidating.

To continue reading this article, please visit: Cast and Crew Hit World Premiere of Justice League: Doom |

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Movie Review |

'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Directors: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, credited as Neveldine/Taylor (‘Crank,’ ‘Gamer’)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, CiarĂ¡n Hinds (‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,’ ‘The Woman in Black’) and Idris Elba

Comic book heroes are often synonymous with self-loathing or conflict, questioning of their own purpose and desire to rid the world of those who wronged them and plan to harm the rest of the world. Their misfortunes, combined with their proven track record of stopping the evil that plagues mankind and impressive stunts and visual effects, usually guarantee success on screen.

Unfortunately, the new ‘Ghost Rider’ sequel, ‘Spirit of Vengeance,’ based on the Marvel Comic of the same name, fails to follow in the shoes of other successful movie follow-ups, such as ‘The Dark Knight’ and Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man 2.’ ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,’ much like its predecessor, includes uninspired acting, scarce plot points and unimpressive stunts.

‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ follows Johnny Blaze (played by Nicolas Cage), as he continues to struggle with his curse of being the Devil’s bounty hunter, the Ghost Rider. Rebel monk Moreau (portrayed by Idris Elba) asks Johnny to help save Danny (played by Fergus Riordan), the son of the Devil (portrayed by Ciaran Hinds), on the eve of his 13th birthday. If Johnny is able to deliver Danny to the secret sect Moreau is part of, and help prevent the Devil from taking control of his body, the monk will take away the curse of being the Ghost Rider.

But Johnny also faces the obstacles set by Ray Carrigan (played by Johnny Witworth), the ex-boyfriend of Danny’s mother, Nadya (portrayed by Violante Placido), who’s working for the Devil. Ray is ultimately turned into the demon Blackout by the Devil, in an effort to be given the strength to fight Ghost Rider. Despite the struggles he faces against the Devil and Blackout, Johnny is determined to defeat them both in order to save Danny, no matter what the cost.

‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ had the potential to create a more cohesive plot-line than its predecessor, as David S. Goyer, the screenwriter of ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight,’ co-wrote the script. The scribe has proven his value and skills in creating in-depth, suspenseful stories for films based comic books, and could have done the same for ‘Ghost Rider.’ But Goyer and his co-writers, Scott M. Gimple and Seth Hoffman, failed to create any motivations for any of the characters in the sequel.

To continue reading this review, please visit: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Movie Review |

Friday, February 17, 2012

This Means War Movie Review

'This Means War' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

The rule among friends not to let a potential mate come between them and ruin their relationship is an important one many people strive to live by. But the new romantic comedy action film ‘This Means War,’ which is now playing at area Long Island theaters, aims to amusingly show the lengths men will go to compete for a woman’s affections, no matter how the rivalry ultimately affects their working and personal relationships. Unfortunately, the overstated emphasis on the stunts and action in the film and the lack of character development takes away from the movie’s true potential.

‘This Means War’ follows successful executive Lauren (played by Reese Witherspoon), who is tired of being alone and decides to start dating again. Having moved to Los Angeles to be with an old boyfriend and subsequently being dumped, Lauren begins to feel lonely, as she left behind her family and friends in Atlanta. While she loves her job in L.A. and has a great friend in Trish (portrayed by Chelsea Handler), Lauren wants to find love again.

After Trish signs Lauren up on a dating website, she meets CIA operative Tuck (played by Tom Hardy), and begins to fall for him. Later the same day, Lauren also meets Tuck’s best friend and fellow operative, FDR Foster (portrayed by Chris Pine), at a video store, and she decides to date both men. When FDR and Tuck realize they’re dating the same woman, they decide to keep that fact to themselves, and battle each other to see who can become the right match for Lauren.

The underlying premise of ‘This Means War,’ in which two different men trying to win the heart of the same career-driven and independent woman, played by Witherspoon, is unfortunately similar to one of the Oscar winner’s recent flops, 2010’s ‘How Do You Know.’ Witherspoon had a genuine effort in both romantic comedies to showcase the difficulties women face in the dating world, and the continuous questioning of what they should do if they become attracted to two diverse men. However, much like ‘How Do You Know,’ the male characters of ‘This Means War’ are unfortunately trite and predictable, leading viewers to question why Lauren would be interested in either one.

To continue reading this review, please visit Examiner.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Exit Strategy Movie Review

'Exit Strategy' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Some people think they have the best romantic relationship, only to find out after moving in together that they aren’t compatible at all. The new self-described “un-romantic comedy” ‘Exit Strategy,’ which New Yorkes can demand expand into a wider theatrical release on Eventful, entertainingly showcases what happens when people realize they no longer find their relationship ideal. They’ll turn to their friends, strangers and even local DJs to seek advice on how to break up, and avoid being trapped in a relationship they no longer want to be in.

‘Exit Strategy’ follows James (played by Jameel Saleem), who gets evicted from his apartment after spending all of his money on his girlfriend of three months, Kim (portrayed by Kimelia Weathers). After his best friends, Carville (played by Quincy “QDeezy” Harris) and Leona (portrayed by Noelle Balfour), decline to let James move with them, his only remaining option is to move in with Kim.

After realizing that Kim isn’t who he thought she was, and isn’t the type of woman he wants to be involved with, he enlists Carville and Leona to help him end the relationship. When Kim insists that breaking up isn’t an option, James also seeks help from L.A.-based radio personality Big Boy (played by himself), a customer at the consignment store he works at (portrayed by Kevin Hart) and high school student Snoop (played by Nick Sinise).

Despite ‘Exit Strategy’ marking Saleem’s major leading feature film acting debut, the actor still wittily portrayed James as being afraid to fully make a serious commitment to Kim. James knew of Kim’s domineering personality to some extent before moving in with her, and as a result, was always adamant that the only reason he was doing so was because Carville and Leona wouldn’t take him. But he genuinely seemed surprised by her controlling, possessive ways once he saw her daily routine, making him hesitant to take their relationship to an even more serious level.

To continue reading this review, please visit Examiner.

Sharon Corr, Cathy Davey and Colin Devlin Performing at Oscar Wilde Event

Sharon Corr, Cathy Davey and Colin Devlin Performing at Oscar Wilde Event, Yahoo! Voices, Written by: Karen Benardello

Irish singers Sharon Corr, Cathy Davey and Colin Devlin have all been selected to perform at this year's Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film. The event will be sponsored by the US-Ireland Alliance and will be held on February 23 at the Santa Monica offices of J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company. The event will honor Academy Award nominees John Logan, Melissa McCarthy and Michelle Williams, with the latter's "My Week With Marilyn" co-star, Kenneth Branagh, serving as a presenter.

Trina Vargo, the president of the non-profit US-Ireland Alliance, said Corr, Davey and Devlin are all talented artists. "I know the guests will greatly enjoy them and I hope this event will expose them to many people who aren't already familiar with them," Vargo said. "The event has a history of being a great place for enhancing careers."

To continue reading this article, please visit Yahoo! Voices.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Interview: Reiko Aylesworth Talks Buzz Kill and The Understudy |

Read's exclusive interview with actress Reiko Aylesworth, who can next be seen in the upcoming independent comedies ‘Buzz Kill’ and ‘The Understudy.’ The former is set to hit DVD on February 14, 2012, and the latter will hit select theaters in early March. The actress has also made a name for herself on in series regular, recurring and guest starring roles on such television shows as ’24,’ ‘ER’ and ‘The Good Wife.’ She can currently be seen playing Malia Waincroft on the hit CBS drama ‘Hawaii Five-0.’ Aylesworth discusses with us, among other things, what drew her to ‘Buzz Kill’ and ‘The Understudy,’ and why she enjoys appearing in both films and on television.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): You portray Sara, the wife of the lead character, Ray Wyatt, in ‘Buzz Kill.’ What was it about the script that convinced you to audition for, and accept the role, of Sara?

Reiko Aylesworth (RA): It was just so wonderfully dark and weird and funny. It hit a certain note with me that I don’t see often. I don’t see this oddball, strange kind of comedy. It seems like a lot of comedy is, which I love too, is winking at the camera. (With ‘Buzz Kill’), it seems like everyone is struggling to do their best. That’s the kind of comedy I love, because it seems like my life. (laughs) We’re all trying to do our best. That’s what really appealed to me about the script. Also, it had the serious side and wonderful bits of dark humor.

SY: In your scenes in the film, Sara is talking to Ray on the phone. What was your working relationship with Daniel Raymont, who plays Ray in the film, like?

RA: You know, I was only working a few days. But I hopped right in there, and it was great. We had a lot of fun. He was really open and willing to be flexible with our relationship and the history of what was going on. So we had some fun.

SY: Were you actually speaking to Daniel on the phone while you were filming your scenes?

RA: It’s been a long time. (laughs) Oh, you know what, he was on set for me, but I wasn’t on set for him. He was on set for mine, and they shot our stuff on the East Coast. All of Daniel’s stuff was on the West Coast. I couldn’t be there, but he was there for my scenes. He was off camera, and he got to see what I was doing.

SY: Steven Kampmann both directed and co-wrote ‘Buzz Kill.’ Did the fact that he worked on the script help his directorial duties while on the set?

RA: Yeah, mostly because he had the authority to change it if he wanted to, which was great. We’d get on set, and things on the set are never the same as they are in the imagination of the writer. Not only was he close to it, but he was also able to be fluent with whatever as going on.

SY: Steven is also an actor, notably for playing Kirk Devane in the television series ‘Newhart.’ Does working with a director who has acting experience also help while on the set?

RA: I think so. I don’t think all the time. I do think there was an ease he had with actors, and a support. I think he was definitely an actors’ director, and is supportive of actors. He could go to the actors and give them support and freedom, and whatever we needed. So I think it did help.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Reiko Aylesworth Talks Buzz Kill and The Understudy |

Interview: Ashlynn Yennie Talks The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) |

Read's exclusive interview with actress Ashlynn Yennie, who returns to the ‘Human Centipede’ series in the sequel ‘The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence).’ The independent film is scheduled to be released by IFC Midnight and MPI Media Group onto Blu-ray and DVD on Valentine’s Day, 2012. In the follow-up to the 2010 cult horror film, ‘The Human Centipide (First Sequence),’ Yennie plays a fictionalized version of herself.

‘The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)’ follows a disturbed security guard, Martin (portrayed by Laurence R. Harvey), who is obsessed with the first film, directed by Dutch filmmaker Tom Six. Martin decides to re-create the feat of the original film’s antagonist, Dr. Heiter (played by Dieter Laser), by making a 12-person centipede of his own. Pretending to be Quentin Tarantino’s casting agent, he lures Ashlynn to his home to include her in his centipede.

Yennie discusses with us, among other things, what motivated her to return to the ‘Human Centipede’ series, which was initially banned in the UK for its revolting content. The actress also spoke about what it was like working with Six, and why she thinks the films have caused so much controversy.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): You were the only main actor from ‘The Human Centipede’ to return for the sequel. What was your motivation in returning to the series?

Ashlynn Yennie (AY): I was the only one asked to return. Tom kind of had this crazy idea about one of us coming back and playing ourselves, and he asked me to do it. I have no idea why. I love working with Tom, so of course I said yes. With the success of the first one, I said yes, I’m game, let’s do the second one. Let’s make a shocking film, so we did.

SY: Like you said, you portray yourself in the film. How was your approach to preparing for the sequel similar or different than the original film, in which you play main character Jenny?

AY: Well, it’s a version of myself, it’s not really actually me. Tom wanted me to play this typical Hollywood actress. We all know these types of girls, who think they’re amazing because they’ve done one film that’s gotten a lot of buzz around it. They think they can get whatever they want, and audition for Quintin Tarantino.

But Tom wanted this tongue-in-check, almost campy, approach to a typical Hollywood actress. They used my original name, which I gave them permission to do, but it’s not actually me. Preparing for that role, and preparing for the role of Jenny, was totally different. But at the same time, you go about it the same way you approach any character, and try to play it truthfully.

SY: Martin, who is played by Laurence R. Harvey, has no dialogue in ‘The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence’). Do you feel that benefited the character and the film?

AY: Well, the dialogue was taken out in post (production). We shot the film with dialogue. We shot the film in color and with lines we said to each other. Tom decided when he was editing it to take out all the dialogue, so it makes it more like the dream-like state, which it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a big dream in his head. So no one’s talking to him, and he’s not talking and interacting with anyone else. Then Tom chose to do it in black and white as well.

Preparing for that, and doing that, we did do it with lines. So it was Tom’s decision to make it almost as a silent movie.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Ashlynn Yennie Talks The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) |

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Very Harold & Kumara 3D Christmas DVD review

'A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas DVD review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Christmas films are primarily known for their heartwarming, family-friendly messages and innocent stories aimed at children. But when the story is aimed towards adults and includes sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, violence and of course, drug use, the film is undoubtedly a follow-up in the successful ‘Harold & Kumar’ series. The second sequel in the franchise, ‘A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,’ which is now available on DVD at select Long Island Red Box locations, doesn’t fail to please fans of the title characters, who once again find themselves in a crazy, illegal adventure after smoking marijuana. While some of the movie’s jokes feel recycled, the overall message that friends can reunite after life takes them in different directions is not only surprisingly touching, but also offers several amusing pranks as well.

‘A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas’ picks up six years after the previous installment in the franchise, 2008′s ‘Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.’ The title characters have been estranged for over two years, as their lives have taken very different courses; Kumar (played by Kal Penn) is unemployed, having failed a drug test required to enter medical school, and is still living in the same apartment he once shared with Harold (portrayed by John Cho). While Kumar has once again broken up with Vanessa (played by Danneel Harris), due to his immature ways, Harold is now married to Maria (portrayed by Paula Garges), and works on Wall Street.

The two title characters are preparing for their own respective holiday plans with their new friends, when a mysterious package mistakenly arrives at Kumar’s apartment for Harold. Kumar brings the package to Harold’s house, and accidentally burns his former friend’s Christmas tree, which was brought over by Maria’s father, Mr. Perez (played by Danny Trejo). Wanting to impress his father-in-law and keep him happy, Harold takes Kumar to find a new tree. The two naturally embark on a wild journey throughout New York City, which of course includes another chance encounter with Neil Patrick Harris.

Fans of the ‘Harold & Kumar’ will be disappointed by the lack of extras available on the DVD. Little is shown about the interaction between the cast in the six-segment interview feature “Through the Haze with Tom Lennon,” in which he rants about the second sequel and his fellow actors. The short sequence “Bringing Harold & Kumar to Claymation Life” showcases how Strauss-Schulson created the Claymation sequence. The bonus features do also show more adventures between Harold and Kumar in three deleted scenes.

To continue reading this post, please visit Examiner.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

POV's Award-Winning Film Racing Dreams Shows Three Tweens' NASCAR Ambitions

POV's Award-Winning Film Racing Dreams Shows Three Tweens' NASCAR Ambitions, Yahoo! Voices, Written by: Karen Benardello

PBS is set to premiere its film "Racing Dreams" as part of its POV series on Thursday, February 23 at 9pm, and will stream on POV's website from February 24-March 24. The movie follows a year of three tweens who dream of becoming NASCAR drivers, and showcases their racing, young love and family struggles. Annabeth Barnes, Josh Hobson and Brandon Warren are shown racing extreme go-karts at speeds of up to 70 mph in the World Karting Association's Pavement Series, which is considered to be the Little League of professional racing.

"Racing Dreams" was directed by Academy Award-winning director Marshall Curry, and executive produced by Dwayne Johnson. It won Best Documentary Awards from the Tribeca, Indianapolis and Jacksonville Film Festivals. Curry will participate in a live Q&A on February 24 on POV's Racing Dreams website. The site also features a video game where users can compete as an extreme go-kart racer and download a discussion guide.

To continue reading this article, please visit Yahoo! Voices.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

'Swinging with the Finkels' Being Released on DVD and VOD on Valentine's Day 2012

'Swinging with the Finkels' Being Released on DVD and VOD on Valentine's Day 2012, Yahoo! Voices, Written by: Karen Benardello

British director-screenwriter Jonathan Newman's latest film, the romantic comedy "Swinging With The Finkels," is set to have a home video release date of February 14, 2012. Freestyle Digital Media is releasing the DVD, which includes the bonus features "Sex With The Finkels," the short film on which the feature film is based, and the trailer for the movie.

"Swinging With The Finkels" tells the story of what happens after a married couple's honeymoon period ends, and they become bored with married life. Ellie, played by Mandy Moore, and her husband Alvin, portrayed by Martin Freeman, are living in London several years after their marriage. Their days of lust and fun are long gone, and they're looking for something to change the normality of their everyday life.

To continue reading this post, please visit Yahoo! Voices.

Interview: Russell Hornsby Talks Grimm |

Read's exclusive interview with actor Russell Hornsby, who is currently starring as Detective Hank Griffin on the NBC fantastical mystery-crime series ‘Grimm,’ which airs Friday nights at 9pm PT/ET. The show, which is based on the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales, follows Hank and his partner, Nick Burkhardt, played by David Giuntoli, who discovers his family is a group of hunters known as Grimms. The Grimms fight to keep humanity safe from from supernatural creatures. Nick learns that he’s the last of his kind, and begins to protect humans from the evil that have infiltrated the real world, unbeknown to Hank. Hornsby, who has also appeared on such television shows as ‘Lincoln Heights’ and ‘In Treatment,’ discusses with us, among other things, what attracted him to the role of Hank, and what differentiates ‘Grimm’ from similarly-themed series.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): On ‘Grimm,’ you play homicide detective Hank Griffin. What was it about the premise of the show and the character that convinced you to audition for Hank?

Russell Hornsby (RH): Well, two reasons-the procedural and the fantasy aspect of the show. I am a big fan of police procedurals, like ‘Law & Order.’ I was a big fan of ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ for years. Andre Braugher is one of my favorite actors.

I’m also a big fan of fantasy. I’m a huge fan of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and things like that, and also the fairy tales. I felt intrigued by the idea of marrying those two worlds. When I read the script, I said to myself, this can become very interesting. I was really excited about auditioning for it, and elated once I realized I had landed the role.

SY: How did you initially prepare for the role of Hank? Did you know any details about the fairy tales the show is based on before accepting the role?

RH: I just had a cursory knowledge of the Grimms’ fairy tales. Basically my real exposure had really only been of Disney and the like, and the watered-down versions of the fairy tales. It wasn’t until I received the role that I really became more familiar with the fairy tales. I’m not familiar with all of them, there’s over 200 or so of the fairy tales, and I’m familiar with about 20 or so. Sort of the ones that are the more mainstream fairy tales. Again, having played a police officer before, I was familiar with the police procedure and their way.

SY: Has there been any discussion to eventually introduce Hank to Nick’s family background and his work as a Grimm?

RH: There hasn’t been any discussion about that up to this point, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. But as of right now, a lot of the actors are in the dark as to how we’re proceeding forward, as far as Hank’s knowledge of Nick’s world.

SY: Since you and David Giuntoli play partners on ‘Grimm,’ what is your working relationship with him like?

RH: David and I work well together. We have a very strong working relationship, and we get along with each other. We tell jokes and stories, and I think we have a great relationship. It’s a pleasure to work with David. I think we work well together, and I think we play off of each other well, which is very vice.

SY: ‘Grimm’ debuted this season alongside ABC’s similarly-themed show ‘Once Upon a Time.’ What is it about ‘Grimm’ that differentiates itself from ‘Once Upon a Time?’

RH: Well, I think ‘Grimm’ represents a more gritty aspect of what the fairy tales were originally intended. I think ‘Once Upon a Time’ is more traditional, and is more of a Disney vibe. Disney has characterized a lot of their fairy tales over the years, like ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ with a nice glow around it.

I think we’re more of what nature intended. We’re sticking to the original idea of what the fairy tales are meant to be. They’re meant to be cautionary tales, warnings for people.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Russell Hornsby Talks Grimm |

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Interview: Paul Fisher Talks Remodeled |

Read's exclusive interview with Paul Fisher, who can currently be seen hosting the CW series ‘Remodeled,’ which airs on Wednesday nights at 9/8pm C. The show gives Fisher the leverage to change the industry from the inside out. He brings together hundreds of small agencies around the world in a new venture called The Network, which has two missions: to make sure agents in small towns aren’t taken advantage of, and to empower models to take control of their careers and lead healthier lives. ‘Remodeled’ follows Fisher as he visits struggling Network companies across America to fix them and create the largest agency in the world. Fisher discuses with us, among other things, why he decided to film ‘Remodeled,’ and why The Network feels its important to move away from the idea that smaller models are better.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): You’re currently hosting ‘Remodeled’ on The CW. What was your motivation in starting The Network, and chronicling it on the show?

Paul Fisher (PF): Many people ask me what my reality show’s about, and I always say to them, it’s not really a reality show. It’s really a docu-series. What The CW’s doing is documenting what we do in our normal business. That’s the one rule that we had with The CW, don’t tell us what to say, don’t try to suggest to us what to do. You’re allowed to document us in our everyday business.

I decided to open up The Network about two-and-a-half years ago for a couple different reasons. I found my faith about nine years ago, and in my faith, I had to go back in this very dark industry and beg, beg, beg for forgiveness. When I was “famous modeling agent Paul Fisher,” representing Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Kimora Lee Simmons, Brooke Burke, and I can go on and on, I was a jerk. I had a big, huge ego. I did drugs, and I wasn’t a nice man.

I decided to go back into this industry, on the one hand repent, and to beg for forgiveness for the man that I used to be. On the other hand, I wanted to teach young girls around the world that if they don’t treat their physical features as a blessing from God, it will be the one thing that haunts them for the rest of their lives. If they don’t take some of the money that they’re earning, and give it back to the world, and become role models, then the universe will take their career as fast away from them as it was given to them.

I’m really trying to give a safe environment to young women. I’m trying to convince young women around the world about how to give back and share with the world, how to take their physical features as a very serious responsibility.

Then I’m trying to empower small agencies in small markets to fully live out their dreams. Then they can actually feel and taste what it actually feels like to make somebody famous, and be part of the star-making process.

SY: Like you said, The Network has two missions-to make sure agents in small towns no longer get taken advantage of, and to empower models to take control of their careers and lead healthier lives. Why are these missions important in the modeling world, and has The Network brought a change in the way agents and models have been taking control of their careers?

PF: I believe that when parents are taking a young, 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year-old person, and saying here’s my daughter or son, take care of their careers, take care of their youth, I take that as a very serious responsibility. I know that I’m not curing cancer, but I do think that when you’re dealing with impressionable young people, you can put drugs in front of them, and these kids will do the drugs.

Or you can put in front of them, foundations, charities, feed the homeless, give back to the world, and they may just do those types of things. Those types of things might just resonate with them.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Paul Fisher Talks Remodeled |

AskMen Reveals the 99 Most Desirable Women of 2012

AskMen Reveals the 99 Most Desirable Women of 2012, Yahoo! Voices, Written by: Karen Benardello

Sofia Vergara has been ranked as the most desirable woman on AskMen's 11th Annual " Top 99 Most Desirable Women " list. More than one million votes were cast by the lifestyle website for men's readers, who voted for women with edge and unconventional beauty.

Of leading the list, the "Modern Family" star said "I am so honored to be AskMen's most desired woman this year. A big thank you to all the men who desire me."

For the second year in a row, television actresses have dominated the list. Such television stars include Blake Lively, Zooey Deschanel, Lea Michele, Dianna Aron, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Kat Dennings.

To continue reading this article, please visit Yahoo! Voices.

'Dallas' Fans Can Tour the Infamous Southfork Ranch

'Dallas' Fans Can Tour the Infamous Southfork Ranch, Yahoo! Voices, Written by: Karen Benardello

With the revival of the hit prime-time soap opera "Dallas" this summer on TNT, the now-famous Southfork Ranch that served as the Ewings' home in the original 1978 series is serving as a world-renowned tourist attraction. The home, which was featured on the CBS drama for 13 seasons, is actually located in Plano, Texas, but still attracts millions of fans from around the world.

With TNT's continuation of "Dallas," fans of the original show can travel to Southfork Ranch to see mementos on display.

To continue reading this article, please visit Yahoo! Voices.

Monday, February 6, 2012

USA Network Launching Second Characters Unite Month

USA Network Launching Second Characters Unite Month, Yahoo! Voices, Written by: Karen Benardello

USA Network has announced that its launching the second Characters Unite Month, which will last throughout this month to build on its ongoing public service commitment. The network is striving to fight prejudice and discrimination by premiering original programming and PSAs, as well as launching new digital content and expanding its community outreach programs to inspire Americans to promote acceptance and tolerance.

Chris McCumber, the co-president of USA, has said "Characters Unite Month is a time to put much-needed spotlight on the importance of fighting hate and discrimination. Huge problems such as bullying, racism, religious intolerance and other forms of discrimination can seem insurmountable." He added that the network wants everyone know that they can make a difference by speaking up against discrimination.

To continue reading this article, please visit Yahoo! Voices.

Donner Pass DVD Review

'Donner Pass' DVD Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Debating a legend focused on murderers and cannibals is an easy set-up for horror films, but is surprisingly effective in the new movie ‘Donner Pass.’ The low-budget, independent movie, which is now available to rent on DVD at select Long Island Redbox locations, incorporates the highly controversial Donner Party into a modern-day teen murder story. Not only does the film include strong-willed characters willing to stand up for themselves, it also features a different perspective on the American legend and the normal blood and gore included in the horror genre.

‘Donner Pass’ starts off in 1846, showing how the infamous Donner Party became lost and snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The few survivors that are remaining have to resort to cannibalism in order to survive, much to their disdain. Three of the remaining men are brutally killed and eaten by another pioneer, before the horror film switches to the present day. Teenager Kaylee (played by Desiree Hall), her boyfriend, Mike (portrayed by Colley Bailey) and her cousin, Nicole (played by Adelaide Kane), all take a trip to their new friend Thomas’ (portrayed by Erik Stocklin) cabin in the mountains.

Kaylee and Thomas become upset when Nicole’s boyfriend Derek (played by Dominic DeVore) surprisingly shows up at the cabin with several of their friends. Mike convinces Kaylee and Thomas to let Derek and the group stay, in an effort to improve his social status in school. However, members of the group quickly start turning up not only dead, but half-eaten as well. Everyone initially assumes Epstein (portrayed by John Kassir), a local accused of murder who is on the loose, is responsible for the killings, until a surprising connection to the Donner Party is revealed.

Elise Robertson, who is making her feature film debut with ‘Donner Pass,’ surprisingly was able to balance the murders and gore typically seen in horror movies with strong, contrasting characters. The director successfully set up the tumultuous relationships between the main characters, who all have different outlooks on life and their social status before introducing the Donner Party horror element into the story. The movie serves as a reflection of teens who only care about how others perceive them and their relationship and social statuses, until they surprisingly bond together in a time of need.

Kaylee is a memorable leader of the group, as she’s not afraid to voice her opinions and stand up for what she believes in. Hall was the perfect casting choice to portray Kaylee, as she convincingly made the other characters around her question their decisions and actions. Kaylee isn’t the typical female horror lead who has to rely on other people to take care of her during periods of murder and horror; she willingly embraces the challenge of trying to protect everyone else.

To continue reading this review, please visit Examiner.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Interview: Jameel Saleem Talks Exit Strategy |

Read's exclusive interview with actor and screenwriter Jameel Saleem, who plays James in the upcoming film ‘Exit Strategy.’ The self-described “un-romantic” comedy, which is set to hit select theaters in the Philadelphia area on February 10, 2012, follows Saleem’s character, James, as he’s evicted from his apartment. He moves in with his new girlfriend of three months, Kim, played by Kimelia Weathers, and discovers she’s not what he wants in a relationship. He enlists the help of his best friends, Carville, portrayed by Quincy “Qdeezy” Harris, and Leona, played by Noelle Balfour, as well as Kevin Hart and L.A. Power 106 radio host Big Boy, to find a relationship exit strategy. But Kim feels breaking up isn’t an option.

Saleem discusses with us, among other things, how he came up with the idea for ‘Exit Strategy,’ which fans can currently buy tickets for on Fandango, and demand to bring to their area on Eventful. The screenwriter-actor also spoke about his working relationships with Weathers and director Michael Whitton.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): Besides appearing in ‘Exit Strategy,’ you also wrote the script and co-created the characters the story is based on. Where did you come up with the idea for the story, and have you had similar experiences in your own life that James went through with Kim?

Jameel Saleem (JS): Well, the idea came from a web series that we started in 2007. Kimelia Weathers, my co-star, actually came up with the premise with some other friends. We shot our first web series, and put it online. It got a lot of attention from friends, and it started to get passed around and blew up. We did like seven episodes over a three-year period. In 2010, I decided to turn it into a feature film.

I’ve definitely had some horror stories, as far as relationships go. (laughs) I think we’ve all had something to that effect. Maybe not to that extreme, but we’ve all been through situations that are similar to that.

SY: How did you prepare to play James, and did writing the screenplay help you get into his mindset?

JS: Yeah. I’ve been playing James for years, throughout the seven episodes that we shot. So I’ve been living with this character for awhile. Not to mention, James is pretty much me. (laughs) I’m really playing myself in an extreme situation. Honestly, that’s me on the screen. (laughs)

SY: ‘Exit Strategy’ marks your first major leading feature film role. Did you feel any pressure while filming to portray the character any particular way?

JS: I did feel pressure. Being the lead of a film wasn’t something that I had done, except for little short films. Once I passed the script to the director, I kind of took the writer’s hat off, and went into full actor mode. We only had 14 days to shoot the film. So I wanted to be prepared and know my lines, and go in there and give good performances, improvise and have a good time.

I guess after the first day, the pressure kind of went away, because the crew and the director and Kimelia were great. It really was a fun time. After the first couple scenes, there really was no pressure. It was pretty much just having fun.

SY: Like you said, you had a 14-day shoot, and ‘Exit Strategy’ is an independent film. Did that pose any difficulties while shooting?

JS: We had the usual difficulties that you have while shooting any film, even a major one. We were shooting in an apartment that was next to a high school. During the afternoon, the marching band would practice. We’re inside an apartment, but we can still hear the drums and the trumpets. We kind of had to work our shooting schedule around that. Just little things like that that we were able to work around, and it worked out.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Jameel Saleem Talks Exit Strategy |

Friday, February 3, 2012

Interview: Brian White Talks What My Husband Doesn't Know |

Read's exclusive interview with actor Brian White, who can currently be seen as Paul in the Blu-ray/DVD release of playwright-director David E. Talbert’s play ‘What My Husband Doesn’t Know.’ The play follows Paul, a handyman, who enters into an affair with Lena Summer, played by Michelle Williams, a married woman whose husband is often out of town on business trips. Lena contemplates whether she wants to keep her marriage in tact, or continue her relationship with Paul.

White can also be seen in the upcoming comedy-drama ‘Good Deeds,’ written and directed by Tyler Perry, and the horror-thriller ‘The Cabin in the Woods,’ co-written by Josh Wheddon. The actor discusses with us, among other things, what it was like working with both Talbert and Perry, and whether or not he prefers working in films, plays or television.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): In ‘What My Husband Doesn’t Know,’ you portray Paul, the handyman with whom Lena Summer, the lead character, has an affair with. What was it about the story and the character that convinced you to appear in the play?

Brian White (BW): Well, it wasn’t so much the character, it was I’ve never done a play before. So this is my first touring play. I wanted to challenge myself as an actor. I do mostly films, which is the opposite end of the business. On a film, you maybe only work 30 minutes out of each day. You’re on set for 12 hours, but you’re only working 30 minutes.

(On films), you’re flying first class with assistants, they pay for your cell phone, you’re in Four Seasons Hotels. On a play, you’re traveling on a bus with the whole cast. You’re changing locations everyday, no frills. You’re eating burgers, and then jumping up on stage and doing the work. There’s no second takes or do-overs. It’s raw and organic 24/7, and that’s what really drew me to it.

Then, also the script, David E. Talbert’s words. You don’t get to see many stories focused on the middle-class or upper-middle class brown folks in a positive way that works out in the end. I applaud that, and wanted to support it.

SY: How did you prepare for the role? Do you take a different preparation approach for theater than films?

BW: We didn’t get any choices (for ‘What My Husband Doesn’t Know’). (laughs) Every beat is scripted and directed by David. Every look, every movement, even down to how Paul dances. There are a lot of ideas, but this is David’s baby. He’s a very hands-on, collaborative director. So everything that ended up on stage, from the music to the lights to the set to the way lines are delivered to the volume we delivered them with were directed via David.

SY: Michelle Williams plays Lena in ‘What My Husband Doesn’t Know.’ What was your working relationship with her like?

BW: Fantastic. I was actually a dancer in her video ‘Bootylicious.’ So I’ve been on set with her before, but I didn’t actually met her that day, when I was just starting out. I had the opportunity to do lots of different things and work with her. I’ve always been a huge fan.

So it was a blessing to meet her and have her be even cooler and more talented and humble and even more of a lady in person. I’m proud to say that we’re real-life friends now, and we stay in touch and talk. She’s like a sister, and she’s fantastic. I love her.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Brian White Talks What My Husband Doesn't Know |

Interview: Leslie Odom Jr. Talks Smash |

Read's exclusive interview with actor Leslie Odom, Jr., who portrays Sam Strickland in NBC’s upcoming musical series ‘Smash.’ The anticipated show, which is set to debut on Monday, February 6, 2012, follows two musical rivals-the veteran actress Ivy Lynn, played by Megan Hilty, and newcomer Karen Cartwrigh, portrayed by Katharine McPhee. The two compete for the lead role in a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Sam will be introduced as Ivy’s best friend in the first season’s fourth episode. Odom, who can also currently be seen as Declan ‘Winky’ Hall in the action-adventure-drama ‘Red Tails,’ discusses with us, among other things, what attracted him to the role of Sam on ‘Smash,’ and what the working relationships between he and his co-stars are truly like.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): You portray Ivy’s best friend, Sam Strickland, on the highly anticipated NBC drama ‘Smash.’ What was it about the show and Sam that that convinced you to audition and take on the role?

Leslie Odom, Jr. (LO): Well, I couldn’t pass up the chance to work with friends, first and foremost. I’ve known Hilty for almost a decade. We were a year apart at Conservatory. Her work is astonishing on this show, by the way. From the cast to the creators and producers, this was a dream team of collaborators. I feel lucky to be a part of it.

SY: Will Sam be involved in the Broadway musical Ivy is auditioning for? If so, how much musical experience did you have before you landed the role of Sam, and how did you prepare for the series?

LO: Sam is absolutely in the ensemble of the show within the show! I come from the theater. That’s where I received all my formal training. As a matter of fact, we’re trying to work out the ‘Smash’ schedule so that I can take part in a Broadway musical this Spring called ‘Leap of Faith.’ I was involved in the show’s out of town tryout a couple of years ago in LA. It is often a long road to Broadway for a new musical, as ‘Smash’ will soon illustrate.

SY: Megan Hilty, who is most well-known for her roles in Broadway productions ‘Wicked’ and ‘9 to 5: The Musical,’ portrays Ivy in the ‘Smash.’ What is your working relationship like with her?

LO: My first day on-set was one of the most comfortable and relaxed days that I’ve ever had in the business. It was me, Hilty, and Will Chase in a bar in mid-town Manhattan talking over a few beers. It’s what we probably would have been doing anyway, just with cameras there! I mean…maybe we would’ve been doing it a few hours later. It was only like 4 or 5 in the afternoon, but you know what I mean.

It’s a dream come true coming to work and being with people that you like and have liked for a long time. Megan also makes me laugh like no one else. That girl is hilarious. I’m looking forward to her sitcom after 7 or 8 years on ‘Smash.’

SY: Katharine McPhee plays Karen Cartwright, Ivy’s rival for the role of Marilyn Monroe in the Broadway musical featured on ‘Smash.’ Is there any competition between the cast of ‘Smashz?’ What is it like working with Katharine?

LO: I think Katherine is going to surprise a lot of people. She’s doing such fantastic work on this show. She’s a pleasure to work with. No competition between the cast. We’re all in it together.

To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Leslie Odom Jr. Talks Smash |

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Texas Killing Fields DVD Review

'Texas Killing Fields' DVD Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

The success of many action-thriller films heavily relies on the visuals and stunts to entice and engage audience interest. But the new Anchor Bay Films release ‘Texas Killing Fields,’ which is now available to rent on DVD at Long Island Redbox locations, instead focuses on the actors’ chemistry and the characters’ reactions to the killer. First-time feature film director Ami Canaan Mann surprisingly succeeds in telling the tale of the detectives investigating the case instead of the victims.

‘Texas Killing Fields,’ which was inspired by real murders in the oil refineries of the southeastern section of the state and based on the novel of the same name, follows League City homicide detective Jake Souder (played by Sam Worthington) and his partner, New York City officer Brian Heigh, (portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Brian was transferred to help Jake track a sadistic serial killer who has became known for dumping his victims’ bodies in a nearby marsh called “The Killing Fields.”

As Jake and Brian become familiar with the killer’s patterns, the suspect changes his routine and begins hunting the two detectives. The two become even more determined to catch the killer when he kidnaps a local girl, Little Annie Sliger (played by Chloe Grace Moretz), who Brian has come to care about after protecting her from her negligent mother.

Viewers interested in hearing Mann and Ferrarone’s experiences of shooting ‘Texas Killing Fields’ will surely enjoy the DVD’s main bonus feature, the feature-length commentary track. The DVD also includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

To continue reading this review, please click here.

The Woman in Black Movie Review |

'The Woman in Black' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: James Watkins (‘Eden’s Lake’)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Liz White (‘Wild Bill’), Alisha Khazanova (‘Heart’s Boomerang’) and Ciaran Hinds (‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2′)

Creating an effective horror movie that features an in-depth plot-line and detailed character backgrounds, frightening physical and emotional scares and visually stunning sets can be a monumental challenge for many directors, as they may not have the time and/or resources to include all of these important elements. ‘The Woman in Black,’ the new horror-thriller starring Daniel Radcliffe in his first film after finishing the ‘Harry Potter’ series, unfortunately fails to embody these important aspects. While the film does feature captivating sets and some frightening scares, it doesn’t provide a developed back-story to make it truly memorable.

‘The Woman in Black’ follows young London lawyer Arthur Kipps (played by Radcliffe), who leaves his sickly son Joseph (portrayed by Misha Handley) to travel to the countryside to settle the legal affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow (played by Alisa Khazanova). Upon his arrival in her small village, Arthur discovers that following a series of inexplicable accidents and suicides, parents have began locking their children inside to protect them. While the village’s residents, including Mr. Jerome (portrayed by Tim McMullan), the local agent of Arthur’s firm, have asked him not to go to Alice’s home, Eel Marsh House, he travels there anyway. Arthur is determined to finish going through her paperwork, in an effort to protect his job. He receives help from local landowner Sam Daily (played by Ciaran Hinds), whose young son drowned years before.

While at Eel Marsh House, Arthur discovers that Alice’s sister, Jennet Hmfrye (portrayed by Liz White), has returned to the house and village after her death as the menacing title spectre. After seeing her figure, Arthur learns that whenever she makes her presence known, a child is killed, in an effort to avenge the death of her own son, Nathaniel (played by Ashley Foster). Arthur must do whatever it takes to not only save Joseph, but the local children as well, from the woman in black.

‘The Woman in Black’s production designer, Kave Quinn, and set decorator, Niamh Coulter, deserve the most credit for their work on the horror-thriller. The decaying furnishings in, and the decrepit structure of, Eel Marsh House, as well as the gloomy surrounding grounds, perfectly represent the evil and revenge the woman in black has unleashed on the village. From the first time Arthur steps into Eel Marsh House, viewers will undoubtedly feel the pain and suffering Alice suffered there, due to the disarray she left behind. Since Arthur is the outsider who isn’t afraid to search through Alice’s belongings and property to figure out why she has returned from the dead to haunt her town, having him explore the darkened hallways and objects which move by themselves effortlessly added to the film’s overall menacing feeling.

Radcliffe deserves credit for trying to find a film role that will prove he can move past his famous alter-ego, Harry Potter. Unfortunately, Arthur fails in comparison to the character the actor played for 10 years, and has built his career on. ‘The Woman in Black’s screenwriter, Jane Goldman, unfortunately failed to create a lead character with a true back-story for the actor to showcase his talent. Wile Goldman provided the basic information about Arthur’s personal and professional lives, such as his wife, Stella (played by Sophie Stuckey), dying during childbirth, and him needing to successfully organize all of Alice’s paperwork to save his job, the reasoning behind these problems are never revealed. If the script more fully explained the reasoning behind Arthur’s problems, viewers would more easily understand the motivation behind his persistence of finishing the job at Eel Marsh House.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lovers and Other Problems Movie Review |

'Lovers and Other Problems' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Directors: Hannah Davis and David Conolly (‘Mothers and Daughters,’ ‘The Understudy’)

Starring: Joanna Pecover, Miranda Hart, Hannah Davis, David Conolly and Simone Bowkett

Independent films can sometimes be the most memorable, as the directors encourage more realistic, emotional performances to make up for the lack of budget and stunts. Unfortunately, the new British comedy ‘Lovers and Other Problems,’ which was co-directed by David Conolly and Hannah Davis, failed to believably showcase the difficulties many people are facing today. The ensemble cast features too many characters and conflicts that provide no interest or emotional connections to the viewers, despite Conolly and Davis’ best efforts.

‘Lovers and Other Problems’ follows Emma (played by Joanna Pecover) and her husband Dan (portrayed by Conolly), a vicar, as they prepare to move their family to the English countryside for his job. While Dan is eager to start their new life, Emma is hesitant to leave London and her friends there, particularly Kate (played by Miranda Hart), with whom she’s having an affair. Emma convinces Dan to accompany her to a dinner party Kate is throwing with her sister Dolly (portrayed by Davis), in an effort to show him what they would be missing if they moved.

While at the dinner, Emma fights her feelings for Kate, as she’s afraid to leave Dan, since she has no job, and he and their children are all she really has. Kate is dealing with her own problems, as she’s conflicted over telling her mother she’s gay. However, she feels compelled to encourage Emma to reveal their relationship, so that they can finally be openly together. Dan, meanwhile, battles his physical attraction to Dolly’s friend Sam (played by Simone Bowkett), a supermodel who seemingly has no moral compass.

Conolly and Davis deserve credit for aiming to showcase the diverse, true-to-life personal problems many people face among all of the characters in ‘Lovers and Other Problems,’ such as Kate fearing to divulge her true personality to her mother over fear of rejection. Emma and Dan are also facing the difficulties many married couples with children experience, such as no longer being able to relate to, and understand, each other. However, the comedy fails to include any true plot-line or characters aiming to resolve their problems.

To continue reading this review, please visit: Lovers and Other Problems Movie Review |