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2010: A Look Back at a Lot of Interviews

At the end of 2009, I took a look back at 100 interviews I’d done over the course of the year, and it was exhausting…not only for me, but possibly also for you, the reader. Oh, I still think it was a heck of a piece, but I believe I made a mistake by numbering them. I mean, you get about 20 – 25 into the proceedings, and it’s, like, “Oh, geez, I’ve still got 75 left to go? Screw this, I’m out of here.” So this time, I’m not going to tell you how many quotes are in the piece. I’ll just say that I talked to a lot of really funny, fascinating, and decidedly forthright people during the course of 2010, and I’ll let you dive in. Hope you enjoy the chance to reminisce as much I did, and here’s to a great 2011 for us all!

Big Shots at the Box Office

“I was in Australia, touring with my films and live show, and I got an E-mail from my agent, saying that there was interest in me for Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ I thought, ‘Okay, that sounds good.’ I thought it would be for a day or two, maybe a few days or something, and I would’ve been very happy to do that. But then the offer came in, and it was for virtually the entire run of the film. I didn’t even know what part it was for, so I asked my agent, and he said it was for the Knave of Hearts. So I looked up the Knave of Hearts in the original book online and…it didn’t really seem like a character that would require the run of the film. I thought, ‘Something must be different.’ And then I got the actual screenplay, and it was extremely different. I could see that it was written as a sequel. But it was a great part, and I was ecstatic to be in it…and I’m still ecstatic to be in it!” – Crispin Glover, Alice in Wonderland

“They called my agent and said they were auditioning for (‘Inception’), so I flew myself back, I read for Chris (Nolan) once, and I left. I think it was later that day that I heard from my agent, saying, ‘They’ve cut everyone except you. Now, they’re going to go to London to see some people, and then we’ll know more after that. So don’t get your hopes up, but…this is great!’ Then I came back and read again, and I got the job. And then, as you might expect, I freaked out completely.” – Dileep Rao, Inception

“I was actually down at my ranch in South Texas, and my guys called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re trying to get you a meeting with Sylvester Stallone. He’s casting a movie called ‘The Expendables.’’ Several months went by, and he’d already cast ‘The Expendables,’ but he still wanted to meet me for potentially playing the part of Dan Paine. So I went in to meet Sly, it was the first time I’d ever met him, and I’m a huge fan. I remember watching ‘Rocky’ back in ’76 or whenever it was, then getting up the next morning, drinking eggs, and running down the street…and now here I am meeting with this guy!” – Steve Austin, The Expendables

“I was privileged and honored to work side by side with Sly (Stallone in ‘The Expendables’). Most of my scenes take place with him, and I’m telling you, man, he took me under his wing, and it was a brilliant thing. I don’t know what else to say. ‘Rocky,’ ‘Rambo,’ just everything he’s done is iconic, and it wasn’t lost on me. I love the man, and I can’t wait to do another one, ‘cause Sly’s the king of the sequels…and in my whole career, I’ve never done a sequel to any one of my projects. So I’m, like, ‘Sly, I’m ready for ‘Expendables 2,’ okay?’” – Terry Crews, The Expendables

“Jessica (Pare) was just about to disrobe…we were in the (hot) tub…and they were, like, ‘Ready!’ And she took off whatever was covering her in the tub. And somebody asked the boom guy a question just as she was disrobing, and all he could say was, ‘Yesssssss…’ He could only whisper. I didn’t make a joke about it, though. I was just, like, ‘Okay, Craig, keep it cool, keep it together…’” – Craig Robinson, Hot Tub Time Machine

“I made the mistake of using one term loosely and saying (filming in 3D) was a tedious process, and somebody made it sound really bad. The bottom line is that it took a little longer, and the one that suffered more than anybody was (director Kevin Greutert) and the camera guy, because they have to get it right. You know, calibration and being specific with lights and all that stuff. For me, it was a good excuse to go play with the crew that wasn’t on set and crack a couple of jokes, so I got to socialize a little bit more.” – Costas Mandylor, Saw 3D

“Usually, when you’re coming in completely blind with who you’re working with, you don’t know if you’re going to get along, nor do some people put the time in to try to get along. We were all in Pittsburgh, and we did do, like, two weeks of rehearsal before we started shooting (‘She’s Out of My League’), and in those two weeks, we hung out a lot…and, luckily, it went good rather than bad. Because sometimes it’s just awful, and you’re going, ‘I can’t stand that guy!’ So we were lucky. I know a lot of people always say this when they come off work, because they’re kind of trained to say it, but with this one, we all really got along, and I think that’s what helps our chemistry on screen so much: we thought each other were funny, we even liked to hang out afterward, and that played well. ” – Nate Torrence, She’s Out of My League

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A Chat with Anders Anderson and Andy Steinman (“Stolen”)

When you hear about a movie that stars Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) and Josh Lucas (“Glory Road,” “Poseidon”) and fleshes out its ensemble with Morena Baccarin (“V,” “Firefly”), Michael Cudlitz (“Southland”), James Van Der Beek (“Dawson’s Creek”), and half a dozen other faces that are instantly recognizable from television and motion pictures, it’s hard not to get excited when you’re pitched the opportunity to speak with the director (Anders Anderson) and the cinematographer (Andy Steinman).

But what happens if, before you see the film, you read on the website RottenTomatoes.com that it’s actually earning the much dreaded 0% rating on the Tomatometer?

Well, if you’re me, then the first thing you do after that is actually watch the film yourself…and, personally, I liked it.

If I had to guess about the reason “Stolen” has received so many sneering reviews, it’s that it bears striking similarities to a couple of high-rated but critically snubbed police procedurals currently airing on network television. But, hey, I like those shows, and I also like the actors in “Stolen,” so if you’re of the same mindset, then you’ll probably like the film, too.

Still, before I got off the line with Messrs. Anderson and Steinman, I felt obliged to buckle up and ask them what they thought about the film’s Tomatometer rating….and, no, the line didn’t go dead immediately after I asked it.

Bullz-Eye: Hi, guys! Good to talk with you.

Anders Anderson: Hey, Will, how are you doing?

Andy Steinman: Hey, Will, nice to talk with you.

BE: Now, I hope you guys don’t mind if I ask you to identify yourselves before you answer questions, just because your voices sound kind of similar.

AA: Yeah, no problem.

AS: They’re actually quite different, but when you’re around someone that long, they start melding into one.

BE: (Laughs) That’s probably what it is. Well, I guess my first question is to ask how you guys first began your collaboration. Had you been friends prior to this project?

AA: Yeah, we had, but I’ll let Andy tell this tale. He’s told it many times.

AS: Yeah, we first met on a short in Santa Fe, NM, that Anders was acting and…I think you were producing it, too, yeah?

AA: Yeah.

AS: And I was a cinematographer, and I came out there, and we just clicked. Talking to him about whatever we had to do with the camera, talking to him about performance, talking to him about movies that we like, how to make the short the best it could be. We just kind of hit it off on what we wanted to do in our careers when we were done with this short, so we started talking about possibly forming a company and trying to do movies that we wanted to do. And it was just one of those things where we talked to each other and asked, “Well, what do we do next?” And the answer was always, “Well, we’ve got to make a feature.” And so we started talking about, “How do we make a feature? What do we do?” And we just started that process, step by step, of trying to get a movie made: pulling our resources and connections, however little they were, to try and get a feature off the ground. And we became friends all at the same time.

BE: So how did Glenn Taranto’s script cross your path? Did you know him, or was it pitched to you?

AS: We basically contacted everyone we knew. (Laughs) Friends, family, any type of business connection, and asked, “Does anyone know anyone who has a script? Does anyone have a script? We’re looking for material. We’re just looking for something that we can get behind.” And a production company that we’d worked with in the past basically said, “Here, we have a couple of scripts that we like. Why don’t you take a read?” And, lo and behold, Glenn’s script – which was originally called “Box in the Box” – showed up in front of us, and instantly we knew that something was there was that was a great vehicle to get actors, to get performers to be in our first film. Being first-timers, we knew that a lot of this had to be…we knew that we had to get some really good cast behind us to kind of help get the movie out there, and we thought that script would do that. So we just kind of took it and ran with it.

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“Southland” has been saved

In a delightful screw-you to the programming powers that be at NBC, TNT has saved the day and picked up “Southland.” Although I must, as ever, remind you that I have never claimed to be Nostradamus, I am pleased to say that I did predict that this would be the case when I originally posted about the show’s cancellation by NBC, so it’s nice to see that I can get something right once in awhile. (I’m still smarting over the fact that, in Bullz-Eye’s Fall TV Preview that “Trauma” has been canceled, but I stand by my position: based on their pilots, I can’t imagine anyone would’ve expected “Mercy” to last longer.)

Here’s the official word from TNT on the latest addition to their line-up:

TNT has picked up the critically acclaimed series “Southland,” closing a deal with Warner Bros. Television that will bring the drama from Emmy-winning producer John Wells (“ER,” “The West Wing”) to the network in January. TNT has obtained exclusive rights to air all six episodes that have been shot for the second season, as well as the seven episodes from the series’ first season. “Southland” will air on TNT Tuesdays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), beginning with the first episode of the series on Jan. 12.

“This is a great win for fans of ‘Southland’ and a perfect opportunity to introduce the series to new viewers,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. “It’s also another outstanding example of how TNT has established itself as the go-to place for the best dramas on television.”

“We are extremely pleased that TNT has acquired all 13 episodes of ‘Southland,’ giving devoted fans the opportunity to watch a show that they passionately support,” said Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. Television.

“We’re delighted that TNT has stepped forward to pick up ‘Southland.’ We are all extremely proud of the show,” Wells said.

Of course, if you’ve been following the Twitter feed of “Southland” star Michael Cudlitz since he started making with the obscenities over NBC’s treatment of the series, then this is old news to you, anyway. He reacted to the news minutes after the story broke, thanking everyone in Twitterland and saying, “The reason this happened was because of you. They never would have picked this show up if they didn’t think it had an audience.”

But will the audience make it over to TNT come January…?

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NBC kills “Southland” in a manner which will annoy even those who DIDN’T watch it

It’s one thing to kill a show when it’s been struggling in the ratings but hasn’t managed to gain a sufficient foothold with viewers. It’s quite another to pull the plug after the show has been renewed for a second season, several episodes have been completed for said season, and it hasn’t even made it back to the airwaves yet.

Sadly, you’ve probably deduced that it’s the latter which has happened to NBC’s “Southland.”

The news broke yesterday via The Hollywood Reporter, who revealed that production on the John Wells-produced cop series is being shut down before any episodes of its second season even make it to air. “Southland” was originally slated to make its return to NBC on at the same time the rest of NBC’s new shows emerged, but instead of having Season 2 kick off on September 18th, the 9 PM timeslot was filled on that Friday by “Dateline NBC.” So it has remained ever since. Plans had been afoot for the series to come back on October 23rd, but…well, obviously, those plans changed.

You barely need to read between the lines of Wells’ statement on the matter in the Reporter’s article to see that it was uttered through gritted teeth:

“I’m disappointed that NBC no longer has the time periods available to support the kind of critically-acclaimed series that was for so many years, a hallmark of their success,” Wells said. “We remain extremely proud of ‘Southland’ and are actively looking for another home for the series.”

Wells may have managed to maintain his politeness in the midst of being profoundly pissed off, but the same can’t be said of Michael Cudlitz, one of the stars of the show.

PopEater.com offered up a piece about the show getting its walking papers from the Peacock and cited Cudlitz’s comments on his Twitter account, which – as of this writing, anyway – remain out there for the world to see:

* Don’t go quietly…….. People need to know when they fuck up this big. Saw ep 2.1 …….. Dumb fucking people.

* season was so fucking good this year…….. I mean good.

* we are still in production. The shows are very, very good………… They have broken their word. I should know better.

* Honestly, not bitter. Kinda pissed. I still believe the show would have done well on Fri.

I reckon we’ll never know if “Southland” would’ve succeeded on Friday nights or not, but here’s hoping that someone…maybe TNT?…will be agreeable to saving the series and giving it a chance to play out for at least a little bit longer. Wells and his cast sat for a panel during the TCA tour in August, and the plans for the upcoming season sounded promising. This actually was a surprise to me…not because I didn’t like what I’d seen during Season 1, but because when NBC’s President of Primetime Entertainment, Angela Bromstad, talked about it, it sounded like it was going to be turning into a show that would feel more at home on CBS.

“I think we’ve made some creative adjustments. I think they tried to do too much in those six episodes, and instead of re-piloting the pilot and letting the audience get more familiar with these characters, they sort of…you know, it became very serialized, and they were a large, large ensemble. So it’s really going to focus on Regina King and Ben McKenzie and the two sets of officers and detectives and sort of focus on, you know, crimes and how they come together.”

To me, that sounded like they were basically going to be getting rid of the type of stuff that Wells brought to shows like “E.R.” and “The West Wing.” But when we talked to Wells later in the tour and Bromstad’s comments – which he hadn’t heard – were brought up, he first smirked and said, “Well, I think we are all interested in reading what Angela had to say to you the other day,” then tried to calm us down:

The show we are making is the show that we wanted to make. I think that, for people who have been watching the show, they will recognize it as the same show, and I think some of the more serialized elements that began to take over a couple of the final episodes will be less serialized, so that someone who shows up and just watches that episode will fully understand what’s happening in the episode. But we are very proud of the show we were making last year, and I think for most casual viewers of the series, they will not see a significant difference in what the show is bringing to them when they watch it. What they had asked us to do when we were coming back was to make certain that the characters of the patrol officers and the detectives were appearing in every episode. When we originally began planning the series, we had talked about doing episodes that would be solely about one group or one character, and they’ve asked us not to do that in the future or move towards that. They would like it to be an ensemble show, which has all of the characters in it on a weekly basis.

In the end, I think you have to trust Wells’ track record as a producer and presume that he and fellow producer Christopher Chulack would’ve still made Season 2 of “Southland” more than worth checking out.

In closing, I feel like I should offer up this comment from Wells during the “Southland” panel about NBC’s decision to wipe out five hours of programming in favor of “The Jay Leno Show.” I don’t think I’m wrong in suggesting that he might well have offered a more succinct response if the panel had taken place on NBC’s TCA day rather than on the Warner Brothers lot, but whatever the case, it strikes me as ample proof that, although he might not be happy that NBC has kicked “Southland” to the curb, he’s probably thrilled at the possibility that he has a chance to peddle his wares elsewhere:

“Well, you know, it would be disingenuous for me to say anything other than this is what I do for a living, and we lost five hours’ worth of time periods that had been known throughout the history of the network for putting some really terrific shows on. So I wish NBC and Jay Leno well, personally. He’s a very nice guy. But I hope he falls flat on his face and we get five dramas back. I mean, you know, that’s what I do for a living. That’s what I think should be on network television at 10:00. It should be an opportunity for narrative programs to be on the air. So it’s only one more thing that’s going to force more and more dramas into the basic cable and pay cable world. And they made the decision that they felt was necessary to make for financial purposes and whatever other decisions they had, but I hate it.”

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: NBC newsflash

Angela Bromstad, President of Primetime Entertainment, and Paul Telegdy, Executive Vice President of Alternative Programming, just popped up on stage to offer the following tidbits of information, some of which were announced awhile ago but which we haven’t yet covered on Premium Hollywood:

* “Southland,” the new drama from John Wells (which was formerly known as “Police”), will premiere on April 9th, Thursday at 10 PM.

From Emmy Award winners John Wells, Ann Biderman and Chris Chulack comes a raw and authentic look at the police unit in Los Angeles. From the beaches of Malibu to the streets of East Los Angeles, “Southland” is a fast-moving drama that will take viewers inside the lives of cops, criminals, victims and their families. Michael Cudlitz plays John Cooper a seasoned Los Angeles cop assigned to train young rookie Ben Sherman. Cooper’s honest, no-nonsense approach to the job leaves Sherman questioning whether or not he has what it takes to become a police officer. Cudlitz and McKenzie are joined by other cast members including Regina King who plays Detective Lydia Adams. Adams lives with and is the primary caregiver of her mother. Her partner, Detective Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott) is an unhappily married father of three. Michael McGrady plays Detective Daniel “Sal” Salinger. Sal oversees fellow gang detectives Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) and Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy). Arija Bareikis plays as patrol officer Chickie Brown, a single mom who dreams of being the first woman accepted into SWAT.

* They have ordered 3 more episodes of “ER,” bringing the season total to 23. The series finale will now air on April 2nd, with a one-hour retrospective preceding the two-hour finale. Why the additional episodes? “Why not?” asked Bromstad. She then clarified, however, that it allows John Wells time to get “Southland” ready.

* They have officially signed on for additional seasons of “The Office” and “The Rock”

* NBC has signed Don Cheadle and his company, Crescendo Productions, to a two-year, first-look television development deal.

* Due to its success up against “American Idol,” they will indeed be picking up another season of “Biggest Loser” for next season.

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