Interviews

Interviews

Mon
07
Jun

Addison Road's Jenny Simmons: This is Me Under Construction

Jenny Simmons of Addison Road

The Jenny Chisolm Band no longer exists -- partly because Jenny Chisolm is now Jenny Simmons. Needing a new name, these college kids engaged in a battle of the sexes. Simmons suggested "Bloom," the title of her favorite Audio Adrenaline album, which was rejected as "too girly." Similarly, she vetoed all of the guys' "horrific" name suggestions. The debate took place backstage at a show, and happened to be overheard by one of the sound engineers, who volunteered that he didn't like any of their suggested names. He also volunteered that his wife had just had a baby boy, and that they had named him Addison. Since the band had already been circling around the themes of roads and journeys, the took one name and married it to the other, and Addison Road was born.

Fri
16
Apr

Alan Parsons: The Artist and Scientist of Sound Recording

Alan Parsons

I've just hung up the phone with Alan Parsons. I can see it in your eyes -- you don't believe me. But it's true, and now I can put another mark on the old "bucket list." The mad genius behind The Alan Parsons Project (as well as a key player to a few lesser known releases like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and The Beatles' Abbey Road) is releasing a DVD series, "The Art & Science of Sound Recording," which afforded me the opportunity to ask a miscellany of almost but not quite totally unrelated questions.

You just recently completed an event at the Spaghettini Grill and Jazz Club, where you debuted your new DVD release. Tell us a little about what this was all about.

Fri
05
Mar

Frank Beddor: There's Something About Alice

Frank Beddor Looking Glass Wars

Here's a take on Alice that's rather novel: Alice is grown, and returns to Wonderland, only to find that the Red Queen has taken control and imposed tyranny on the citizens. Card soldiers roam the streets, and the Hatter and her other friends form an armed resistance, with Alice as their leader.

But it's not Tim Burton's new sequel, "Alice in Wonderland" (which, more aptly, ought to have a "2" appended to the title). Rather, it's the plot of a series of novels and graphic novels, The Looking Glass Wars, penned by the producer of "There's Something About Mary," Frank Beddor. With all the hype surrounding the movie, everyone has Alice on the brain -- so it was a good time to sit down with Beddor and chat about Alice and Lewis Carroll and Wonderland... and who better than me to do it? (Well, probably a lot of people, but fortunately the pool of potential interviewers was limited to the staff here at Critical Blast, so there.)

Sat
15
Aug

Brian Herbert: The Chronicler Heir of Dune

Frank Herbert is regarded as one of the few holy names of the science fiction pantheon of authors. His 1965 novel, Dune is the bestselling science fiction novel of all time. His passing left behind big shoes and a tall shadow, but Brian Herbert has been more than up to the task of carrying on the Dune legacy. Working with author Kevin J. Anderson, he has added over a dozen more novels to the history of his father's creation, setting up a tradition of New York Times best sellers in his wake.

With so many years of Dune history still available to be explored, is there any planned end in sight for the franchise?

Thu
23
Jul

Carolyn Hennesy: Pandora Gets Heroic

Carolyn Hennesy

Carolyn Hennesy is a busy person these days. Not content with her recurring role as Diane Miller on the long-running soap opera, General Hospital, she has taken on a role on the upcoming series Cougartown, and also begun publishing a series of young adult novels retelling and reconstructing the mythical Pandora that is being widely acclaimed for its humor and adventure.
I was graced with the opportunity to chat with the ever delightful Ms. Hennessy about Pandora, Cougartown, the near future of General Hospital and Hennesy's skill at the art of... the flying trapeze?
I've just finished reading the first Pandora novel, and I have to say that the idea is a combination of such genius to reimagine Pandora's story into a quest series, and yet such obviousness that I can't believe no one had done it already. Can you fill us in on what it was that caused the idea to bloom?

Tue
14
Jul

Carmen Reed: Surviving the Haunting in Connecticut

In "The Haunting in Connecticut," Virginia Madsen plays the mother of a young man with cancer who stands as the nexus of supernatural activity when the family rents a former funeral home.

Carmen Reed (then Carmen Snedeker) is the real-life mother Madsen portrays, the woman who lived through the events of story that took place in a renovated funeral home in Southington, Connecticut. This is her story.


Almost everyone knows that when a movie uses the phrase "based on actual events," the actual similarities between life and art can be miles apart. How far is the film from what you experienced?

It's hard to give a percentage. A lot of things you saw -- for example, the shower curtain scene -- definitely happened to me (it didn't happen to my niece), and there were apparitions in the house. My son did have cancer.

As far as bodies in the wall, all of that is fictionalized.

Tue
23
Jun

Brad Cotter: After a Few Years, the Patient Man is Back, Right on Time

Brad Cotter

When Brad Cotter came out the winner of Nashville Star 2, winning a record deal with Epic as a result (Patient Man), it was expected by many that a rapid rise to stardom would result. But that turned out to be a dream delayed, as Brad parted ways with Epic and signed with an independent label to produce an EP few are aware of.

It's been a while coming, but Brad is back on the scene, joining forces with co-writer and producer Steve Bogard and One Music Group to release his newest full-length album, Right on Time. If anything, the wait has forced the artist to live up to the title of his first album -- and fans are lining up to eagerly say, "Welcome Back, Cotter!"

How long did it take to put together Right on Time?

Mon
16
Mar

The Devil You Know: Ray Wise on Reaper

Ray Wise

It's high noon on Friday the thirteenth, and I've got the Devil on the phone.

Any other time this might give a writer cause for concern. But the Devil in this case is Ray Wise, the face and force behind the diabolical tempter on the CW series, Reaper -- so I shouldn't have anything at all to worry about.

Right?

Part game show host, part used car salesmen, Wise's Devil makes for a perfectly charming fallen angel who relishes torturing Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) whose soul he owns, and whom he tasks with collecting escaped souls from Hell.

The villain is, notoriously, the best role to play, and it certainly seems like you're enjoying yourself.

Yes, indeed.

You pull off such a great bad guy -- like Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks or Hal Gardner in 24. Do you think casting directors see something in your personality that leads you toward these kind of roles?

Mon
14
Jul

Lora Innes: Bringing History and Comics Together

Lora Innes is one of many new friends I made on my annual trip to Pittsburgh this year. She is the creator of one of the finest webcomics I've ever seen, The Dreamer. She's a die-hard history buff, a fantastic artist, and a wonderful person. She even took time off from her comic recently to help the people who were devastated by the floods in Iowa. Lora was kind enough to share with me her thoughts on The Dreamer, her creative process and her views on gender in the industry.


How were you first introduced to the world of comics?

Mon
10
Dec

Ernie Hudson: Everything's Jake

Ernie Hudson

When I was given the opportunity to interview Ernie Hudson, I'll be honest: my first thought was, "What's he done since 'Ghostbusters'?" Then I learned he was promoting a new DVD called "Everything's Jake." So I said, "Okay, let me take a look at that, and we'll move on from there." So they did, and so I did, and so here we are. And I couldn't have been more pleased. Hudson is a man who's passionate about what he does and what he believes in, with concrete opinions about the message of "Everything's Jake," acting on television, and the ongoing WGA writers' strike.

Tue
23
Oct

Kathy Garver: An AFFAIR to Remember

Kathy Garver Family Affair

Fans will recognize Kathy Garver's face from her scores of television appearances, not the least of which was the role of Cissy in the Don Fedderson classic series, Family Affair. But if you have a discerning ear, you may find that you're more familiar with Ms. Garver's work than you might have realized, as the actress has continued to keep quite busy up through even today.

Through the magic of cellular phones, we caught up with Ms. Garver while she was en route to a celebrity golf tournament, after which she was slated to deliver a carload of Mrs. Beasley dolls and ornaments loaded in the backseat for an autograph show at the Beverly Garland Hotel in Studio City for fans of Family Affair, the fourth season of which is just now becoming available on DVD.

Mon
15
Oct

Stephen Anderson: Meet the Director Behind "Meet the Robinsons"

Stephen Anderson Disney Meet Robinsons

Stephen Anderson has over ten years of experience working for Disney's animation department. Starting as a story artist on "Tarzan," Anderson continued with other successful Disney projects like "The Emperor's New Groove" and "Brother Bear."

Most recently, Anderson has graduated to directing for the Mouse House, and his latest venture, "Meet the Robinsons," is soon to appear on DVD. In advance of that release, we spoke with Anderson about animators directing animators, creating eccentric characters, and working with musicians and voice actors.

Tue
02
Oct

Alton Brown: Forging THE NEXT IRON CHEF

Alton Brown Iron Chef Food Network

James Brown may have been the hardest working man in showbiz. But when the showbiz is also the food biz, nobody is working harder than the guy who made it cool for men to cook, the MacGyver of all things culinary, the ubiquitous and always multi-tasking Alton Brown. You've seen him host Good Eats, traveled with him while he was Feasting on Asphalt, and cheered on competitors as he emcees Iron Chef. Now, Brown will present yet another show on Food Network: The Next Iron Chef.

Gee, pretty soon somebody's going to have to give this guy his own network!

Fri
21
Sep

Ellen Hopkins: Sculpting the Words Behind GLASS

Ellen Hopkins Glass author

Authors often draw upon the well of their experiences as a source for their art. For New York Times bestselling writer Ellen Hopkins, that well is deep, dark, and painful. Through her verse-novels Crank and its sequel Glass, readers are taken on a journey into the world of a young meth addict, seeing through her eyes the impact she has on her family, her friends, and ultimately herself. It's an eye-opening story, and one that couldn't really have been written with the same vision had Hopkins herself not had to live the nightmare, when one of her children became addicted to "the monster" drug, crystal meth.


You've mentioned that this story is "loosely based" on family events. Does the writing act as an abatement or catharsis for what plainly must have been an extremely painful time for your family?

Mon
11
Jun

Lou Scheimer: A Candid Conversation with Filmation's Founder

Lou Scheimer

I've been lucky to do a number of interviews with influential people through the course of my career. I don't do an awful lot of them, but I've done enough to generate a conversation at a dinner party, if ever I should attend one. However, there are a few interview opportunities that have come my way that exceed fortune. I haven't been lucky to talk with these people -- I've been blessed. Thurl Ravenscroft, Dan DeCarlo, Mort Walker, Stan Lee... pioneers all, and veterans of their craft who impacted the world in so many ways, some of them not always through the things for which they are most remembered.

I can now add Lou Scheimer to that list.

Wed
28
Mar

Warren Murphy and James Mullaney: Building a Better Destroyer

To protect the Constitution, it became necessary to break it. And so creators Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir came up with a man who could do what needed doing, accomplish the things which no one else was capable of. His name was Remo... but he became known as The Destroyer. A hero to many, a political nightmare to even more, the Destroyer novels have garnered a large and loyal fan following who have stuck with the character even through the lean years. He's a classic man of action in the school of such pulp heroes as Doc Savage -- except that where Doc was the head of his agency, Remo falls more at the bottom of CURE's food chain.

Mon
28
Nov

Bruce Campbell: On Making Love, Books, and Movies

Bruce Campbell

It's easy to be a Bruce Campbell fan. One gets the sense that he is what he appears to be: capable, hardworking, smart, with a keen sense of his strengths and limitations. The hard part is trying to figure out just how good he is at his craft, how good he could be, given the right role, the right script, the right director, with something bigger than a B-movie budget and a shooting schedule extending beyond two weeks.

Given that you had relatively minor roles in your friend Sam Raimi's mega-blockbuster Spiderman movies (the carny-like fight announcer in the first film, the boorishly obstinate theater usher in the second), did the inspiration for Make Love!* The Bruce Campbell Way spring from these 'small-role-big-movie' Spider-man experiences?

Yes and no. I've been in and out of studio films like "Congo" for years, so it's my overall experiences that became amalgamated into an original Hollywood tale.

Fri
21
Oct

Vincenzo Natali: Turtles All The Way Down

Canadian director Vincenzo Natali's latest film "Nothing" will soon be released on DVD. Natali's first feature-length film, "Cube", about a group of amnesiac strangers trapped in a giant, lethal puzzle box, garnered high praise for its smart scripting, conceptual originality, and deft direction. Natali's second effort, "Cypher", a futuristic story of shifting identity and corporate espionage starring Lucy Liu and Jeremy Northam, demonstrated an increasing sophistication of means and greater command of pacing. And "Nothing?" Unlike Natali's previous films, "Nothing" can safely be considered a comedy, although the comedic elements are an aspect (albeit an important aspect), not the whole.

Mon
29
Aug

Geoff Johns, Engineer of Destruction: On Crisis, Continuity, and Consistency of Character

If you're not familiar with the impending Crisis occurring within the continuity of DC Comics... well, you probably aren't reading this article. For those of you who are, you're very likely aware of the role one of the main architects, Geoff Johns, plays in the current restructuring.

Plans for the future of DC have been kept Top Secret. And while we tried to worm as much out of Geoff as we could without resorting to violating the Geneva Convention, we were only able to glean a few nuggets of information -- not enough to inspire a Sutter's Mill rush, but enough to keep us panning away until Infinite Crisis debuts in just a few short weeks.

You've recently been appointed the official "Keeper of the Continuity" for DC. Can you elaborate on what this entails?

I'm a Consultant Editor along with Grant Morrison and Mark Waid. It's not just about continuity -- it's about "One Year Later" and all the stuff going on during Crisis.

Tue
24
May

Thurl Ravenscroft: He's Grrrrr-eat!

Thurl Ravenscroft

Author's note, May 24, 2005: It's been less than 30 minutes since I heard the heart-rending news that Thurl Ravenscroft had just passed away at the age of 91. Many people are unfamiliar with Mr. Ravenscroft and his work. Those who have a passing acquaintance may know of some of his more famous voice acting roles.

I was privileged and honored to speak with the man a few years back and learned there was so much more to Thurl than a career behind a microphone. Actor. Singer. Veteran. Mister Ravenscroft, you will be missed. You were, indeed, great.

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