Attention to my fellow bloggers out there. Don’t mess with Jeff Gordon. If you don’t believe me just ask “Jalopnik” writer Travis Okulski. Last year when Pepsi Max released a commercial that featured the well-known NASCAR driver wearing a disguise to pull a fast one (literally) on an unsuspecting car salesman many thought that ad was staged. Okulski was making his voice heard saying that the commercial was fake.
Well Jeff and Pepsi Max were listening. They teamed up with Okulski’s friend to show the writer that these commercials are real. The new Pepsi Max ad has Gordon in the role of an ex-con now taxi driver. When Gordon gets pulled over by the cops he gets nervous and tries to out run the police officer. Next a high speed chase ensues. The ad is priceless and it is a moment that Okulski will never forget.
I was able to talk with the four time NASCAR Cup Series Champion about the new Pepsi Max ad, racing, and which ride in his garage is his favorite.
Art Eddy: I am loving your Pepsi Max commercials. When this idea was first brought up to you what were your initial thoughts?
Jeff Gordon: We did the original one about a year ago. We had so much fun with it. It did really well. Pepsi Max in true max fashion wanted to take it to that next level and max it out. Conceptually how do we make this one even better? There is no use in doing another if you can’t step it up.
We knew a lot of people had questions about the first one. So we thought how can I do all the driving, all the stunts, and make sure that they know that this is as authentic as it gets. That was the whole thing about the authenticity of it. This whole production exceeded my expectations. It was unbelievably fun doing it.
There was also a lot of pressure. It was intense knowing that you got only one take to make sure that Travis from “Jalopnik” did not know who I was. Nor did we want him to at any point to think that this was a prank. We wanted to have him think that this was serious. Obviously from his reaction I think we succeeded.
AE: Yes you did. You got him. You got some acting chops there. Ever think about going into acting after NASCAR?
JG: Oh, I don’t know about that. They did some really nice editing. It is amazing that when you get in disguise how you can start to adapt into a character. It certainly is not something that I am used to doing, but I love that Pepsi took the risk and wanted to take it to the whole level of disguising me. They gave me a tattoo and I was an ex-con. Turing this Chevrolet into a taxi and looking at every safety precaution to pull this off.
When they take that much risk and go all out like that it makes me want to go all out. So I did. I had a ton of pressure on me to make sure that Travis had no idea who I was.
AE: I think you succeeded there Jeff. I was able to get a firsthand look at a NASCAR race at the Brickyard 400. I was able to walk around the garages and pits. It is incredible to see how much effort goes into your sport. Does it bother you when people that don’t know too much about NASCAR say that it is just people racing?
JG: Yeah. Either that or that our cars are not taken to the level of other forms of motorsports like Formula One. I think that when you come and see how NASCAR can keep the cars, the rules and limitations that we are under, and you see what we are actually capable of doing is incredible. 850 horsepower engines, the amount of down force we get in the cars, and the speeds that we carry make you have to look at the great race that is on the track. Like you said all that goes into it I think is a surprise for just about everybody who comes to their first race.
JG: Certainly not just by coincidence that you brought it up, but I would say the Brickyard 400. The first race they had in 1994 was and still is probably the biggest race and win of my career. If I just go to my trophy room in my house, even though that is the smallest trophy I have (both laugh) it is front and center which makes for a good story. The fact that it is so small as well, but definitely that race because I grew up in Indiana. I went to high school there. I always wanted to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So that was huge. It was a big event throughout the nation.
It is hard to say on the championship because the first one was really sweet and amazing to get. The fourth one because I went through a lot of changes with my team and Ray Evernham wasn’t my crew chief anymore. From a pure accomplishment standpoint that one really meant a lot to me. I was able to show what I was capable of bringing to the table as a driver and how Hendrick (Motorsports) can span across several years and many new team members and still go out there and get it done.
AE: Out of all the places you have raced which track is your favorite?
JG: I love Bristol probably the most. I like Atlanta. I like Bristol because it has short track action. Martinsville I really like for the short track action. I like a track that you got to slide the car around and really drive it and work with the team to get the car really working well. I think I am best on tracks where you have to have finesse. Atlanta Motor Speedway is that track.
AE: What is your favorite ride in your garage right now?
JG: I just bought a Barrett-Jackson a few weeks ago. It is a 52 Oldsmobile. So right now that is my favorite. It is not the highest performing. I got one of the new Stingray Corvettes that I am pretty excited about. That car is pretty darn cool. The kids seem to like that one too.
If you missed Test Drive 1, here it is!
Yesterday there was a conference call with Executive Producer and Show-runner for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Warren Leight. SVU guest star Jonathan Silverman who will be in this Wednesday’s episode called “Comic Perversion” also joined the conversation.
Here is some of Leight’s and Silverman’s answers during the Q&A session over the phone.
Warren was asked about Benson’s attack by Lewis this season and her eagerness to arrest men. The question of Benson’s judgment seems at stake. Would her decline continue throughout this season or can we expect her to gain some stability?
Warren Leight: Okay, well this is Warren. I guess I’m responsible for her decline so I’ll take that. I think that, you know, she’s suffering from PTSD and I think she’s working through it. I think in the next few episodes we see her comfortably in command of her squad. Although in this current episode Comic Perversion, I think you see some of her – I think you see some anger still leaching through. But I feel like unless Lewis returns maybe the worst is over for her. That’s a big unless.
Jonathan Silverman was asked if actors like to play characters who are vulnerable. Silverman responded by saying the following.
Jonathan Silverman: That’s a great question. First of all, Warren Leight is a god in my eyes and he knows I would do anything to work with him again. I was lucky enough to be in the – at least the West Coast Premiere of his wonderful play, Glimmer, Glimmer & Shine at the Mark Taper Forum probably. When was that Warren, 12 years ago?
Warren Leight: 1904 I think something like that.
Jonathan Silverman: Yes, 1904. It was done in black and white even live on stage. Honestly he knows. I would do anything to work with him. So when he presented me with this script I was blown away by how powerful it was and a little scared about just the workload involved. And then of course my next reaction was, “Oh, can I do this?” You know it’s obviously a subject matter that is very delicate and to me, to my wife, to some of our dear friends.
And I was somewhat hesitant and even, you know, I had to discuss it with my reps, with my manager, with my agents. And we ultimately decided, you know, this is what I do for a living. And you don’t always get to play reputable characters. Sometimes you get your hands a little dirty literally and play the bad guy.
And I’m so glad I did. Obviously I hope people don’t respond to my character’s inclinations on and off stage. But it was a wonderful opportunity to portray and to get this message out so I’m thrilled I did it.
Warren Leight: I will say it was very brave with Jonathan. I will tell you now, there’s probably not a standup comic in the country who would have dared to do the part because and I am very comfortable with Jonathan because we had done this play together. And I knew he could land every beat of this thing.
And, you know, it has worked out well for Pablo Schreiber playing one of our villains. And I think it will – it should work out well for Jonathan. But it is interesting to me how many people tell me how much they want to be on SVU but they don’t want to play a pedophile or a bad guy.
And really that’s what we have for, you know, to offer. Our good guys are already on the squad. And I’m very glad that Jonathan stepped up. And he, you know, he’s – like Pablo, he didn’t flinch for a moment. You know you have to drive into the skate of these characters and man did he drive into this good.
Warren was asked about Twitter and social media. Does social media tend to affect the way the show is produced?
Warren Leight: I like it. I like Twitter. You know I don’t have – it’s great because you can just – if you have two minutes of downtime you can go on, see what’s going on. Drop a couple of bombs and get out. And I like doing that.
And it’s – I feel it does get a dialogue going with the fans. And of course with the haters which is also fun. But it gets – it’s a way – we’re 15 years in so it’s not – we have to figure out ways to reach our fans directly. We’re not going to – there’s not going to be a ton of promo for us or a ton of ads for us.
What I like about Twitter is we get to speak directly to the fans and kind of – it’s also good when there’s about 30 rumors a week that go out and trying to shut those down as fast as I can. So I enjoy it. Most of the time I enjoy it a lot and we have the entire writing staff now tweeting. We have an SVU writers of account, the entire cast tweets. And it’s also a way of just since none of us actually talk to each other in real life, it’s a way of finding out what each other’s doing all the time.
Jonathan Silverman: I’m amazed by it. And my wife is on Twitter. And actually she just got me on Instagram so I’m going to start playing around with that. I’m just always a couple of years late to the party on all this stuff. So I’ll join soon. I promise.
Warren Leight: Well I think word is out that we have Alec Baldwin will be coming up. I think everyone – he’s shooting today in a story. I hope the paparazzi are leaving him alone. And he’s shooting in an episode directed by Mariska that will air March 19th. We also have Donal Logue and Sherri Saum airing the week before that.
So we the guest stars will keep coming. It depends on how much money’s left in our budget. But I think that they’re going to keep coming.
Next Jonathan was asked about what it was like to go from comedic films that people knew him from to kind of doing a more serious show like Law and Order SVU.
Jonathan Silverman: I relish doing anything that’s a bit out of, you know, the norm and out of my wheelhouse. I supposed there’s a certain comfort level for me in doing comedy. But I’ve certainly done my share of dramas and anytime I get a chance to play a somewhat nefarious bad guy I leap at it. What was interesting about this is probably around 70% of what I do in this episode is up on stage being a comic.
Lastly Warren was asked if there was going be some big surprises this season. Is the squad going to get a new captain anytime soon and if so can you give us a hint who will play him or her?
Warren Leight: We’re not sure where we’re going with that. I have liked Olivia in charge a lot. But there is in certain – there are certain circumstances that could cause her to not be allowed to be in charge of the squad room.
And if – I’m being as – I think now I’m being kind of vague here. But there’s certain cases she would not be allowed to handle for her own safety. And if one of those comes up she may be in – she may get boot. She’s – as we speak Mariska has been redecorating the captain’s office by the way. She’s directing our episode now.
And she’s been moving in. She moved a plant in. She moved some survivor handbooks and things like that in. So she’s making that office a home. But I think technically she’s only a sergeant and she’s acting commander of the squad. So eventually NYPD may – and we play a lot about – of late we’ve been writing a lot about the politics of NYPD. Usually when something’s going well NYPD likes to muck it up bureaucratically.
And so I think the better the job she does as acting commander of the squad, the more likely it is the Peter Principle will apply and they’ll bring somebody else in. It’s – I’ve been loving watching her in command. She’s – it’s – she’s 15 years in. She knows what she’s doing, you know.
Make sure to check in to Law & Order: SVU this Wednesday on NBC at 9/8c
Our friends at Bulleit Bourbon served as a sponsor for the 22nd annual Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and they invited us to check it out this past weekend. The festivities kicked off with a Friday night Valentine’s Day dinner and whisky tasting with actor/producer Isaiah Washington, his lovely wife Jenisa and Bulleit Mixologist Natalia Castellanos.
Now I should probably just come right out and say that I’m really down with Bulleit Bourbon. Bulleit makes a tasty, user-friendly bourbon, a damn good rye and an affordably-delicious 10-year bourbon that’s aged a few years longer in those trusty charred American white oak barrels.
See, I used to be a single malt Scotch and Old Fashioned kinda guy, but ever since I attended the premiere of Jeymes Samuel’s They Die By Dawn at SXSW last year, I’ve been all Bulleit, all the time. Bulleit sponsored that premiere and the Bulleit Ryes and Cokes were free flowing at that event. I developed a hankering for the rye and it’s become my beverage of choice ever since.
And I’m not the only one. When Isaiah Washington hit Sundance and SXSW last year to promote the premiere of They Die By Dawn, he developed an appreciation for Bulleit as well. During our dinner, when I mentioned that Bulleit Rye and Coke had supplanted other cocktails as my top drink, Washington shared a similar story. Before Sundance, he was more of a Macallan man, but after Sundance and SXSW in Austin, he was fully in the Bulleit camp.
During this chill dinner vibe, me and a few other media folks got to chat freely with Washington and his wife Jenisa (who, incidentally, were celebrating their 18th anniversary that Valentine’s evening). We covered a lot stuff – whiskey, acting, producing, Grey’s Anatomy, Jasmine Guy, Lance Armstrong and the films that Washington was involved with at PAFF.
Washington had three projects screening at the Pan African Film Festival. He co-produced Stacey Muhammad’s web series For Colored Boys. He starred and served as executive producer for Blue Caprice, a film that examines the relationship between the two men responsible for the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. He also starred and produced Blackbird, a bittersweet coming-of-age tale about a young black man coming to terms with his sexuality in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
I asked Washington if there were any films in the festival that he wasn’t involved with in some way.
“Apparently it’s unprecedented for any producer, particularly after 22 years of the Pan African Film Festival, to have three properties going at the same time,” Washington said. “I’m just grateful that I’ve been supporting them for 18 years and they’re supportive of the creativity from other entities that I think deserve a platform to be heard. I’m just thankful that they saw what I saw.”
When I saw Blackbird, Patrik-Ian Polk’s film based on the novel by Larry Duplechan, I was honestly a bit surprised by how moved I was. Blackbird follows high school choir kid Randy Rousseau, played by new comer Julian Walker, as he balances his Southern Baptist upbringing with questions about his sexuality. Complicating the young man’s life is the fact that his sister has been missing for six years, and her disappearance caused his parents to split. Randy’s father, played by Isaiah Washington, keeps a watchful eye on his family from afar while his mother, played by Oscar-winner Mo’Nique, is on the verge of a faith-based, god-fearing mental breakdown over the loss of her missing daughter. It’s all quite a lot for a 17 year old kid to deal with.
The independent film has its saccharine moments and it can feel a bit unpolished in places, but overall, it was pretty engaging and uplifting. Interspersed laughs and introspective dream sequences were timed well to take the edge off the heavy content. The performance that Mo’Nique turned in was intense, honest and ultimately convincing. Julian Walker’s performance was also quite convincing and, as the audience who attended the festival’s closing-night gala screening discovered, very personal.
“What you all saw on that screen, was me,” Walker explained as his emotions starting getting the best of him. “It was like I was telling my own personal story.”
As the first time actor broke down in tears, the crowd began to applaud.
“Randy Rousseau is like millions and thousands of young male guys (and females) out there that are so confused,” Walker continued. “They feel like they can’t tell their parents, hey, this is who I am. All I want you to do is love me. That’s all I want from you,” Walker said as he continued to battle back the tears. “And to look out in the audience and see my father and my brother, means the absolute world to me. Because I know that I am lucky, and I am blessed to have a father and a mother and a brother and a family who support me 100 percent, because a lot of people don’t have that today.”
The film alone packed a pretty powerful emotional punch, but seeing Walker follow his on-screen performance with his on-stage outpouring of emotion was pretty damn moving, man.
We live in a world where a college athlete says he’s a homosexual before entering the NFL draft and it’s headline news for weeks. Russian President Valdimir Putin declared before the Olympics that despite the country’s anti-gay laws, gay people could “feel clam and at ease” as long they “just leave kids alone, please.”
We like to think that society’s evolved into recognizing essential, fundamental truths like all human beings deserve the same basic freedoms regardless of race, class, gender or sexual orientation, but the fact is we’re not there yet.
“Blackbird, the story, is about all blackbirds. It’s about all outsiders,” Washington said this past Friday. “It’s about people choosing to be who they are no matter what and not apologizing for it. That’s what Blackbird is all about.”
It’s a relevant message that’s gonna resonate for some time, and the film’s a good vessel to give that message some traction.
Titus Welliver is starring in one of the first Amazon Studio’s series pilot called “Bosch.” He plays the lead role of a Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective named Harry Bosch. The series is based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling Harry Bosch book series.
Welliver is no stranger to being in critically acclaimed films and TV series. He was known as the “Man in Black” in the TV series “Lost.” He also played the role of Glenn Childs in the TV show “The Good Wife”.
Last year, Welliver was in both films “ARGO” and “Promised Land.” Titus didn’t stop working hard this year either. He finished wrapping up filming of “Transformers 4: Age of Existence” which is set to be out in theaters this summer.
Titus was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about “Bosch,” “Transformers 4: Age of Existence,” fatherhood, “Lost,” and more.
Art Eddy: First off let’s talk about the new Amazon series called “Bosch” that you star in. Tell me about the series and your role.
Titus Welliver: “Bosch” is based on the Hieronymus Bosch novels written by Michael Connelly. In the pilot episode we combined two of the novels, “The Concrete Blonde” and “City of Bones” into the storyline. Harry is an LAPD robbery homicide detective. In the pilot he is on trial in a civil lawsuit.
He is being sued as well as the city of Los Angeles for a wrongful death shooting of a suspect. In the interim, because he is taken off the duty roster and since Bosch is such a driven character downtime is not something he does well with. He switches rotation with two other detectives. In that process a dog discovers a bone in the Hollywood Hills and brings it back to the owner.
They discover that it is a shallow grave with the remains of a child. Bosch then catches this case. It is his pursuit of this cold case since it is over 20 years old. It is some compelling storytelling that we got here.
AE: Like you said “Bosch” is based on the Michael Connelly’s book series. Did you read his books even before you started preparing for this role?
TW: I read one of his books a few years back. In preparation to shoot this above and beyond the script I read the two source books, “The Concrete Blonde” and “City of Bones” to get into the mind of Harry. Michael’s characterization since it is the source material is invaluable. Obviously you can’t tell and show everything. You got about 50 minutes per episode to do that.
The script is super tight. A large percentage of the dialogue has been lifted directly from the books. It is very true to the books because Michael is an executive producer and a writer with Eric Overmyer. The integrity of the books are there, which I think is really important. Often in the translation of these things the industry for whatever reason feels the need to cook it up or change it. That really alienates people. You are never going to please everybody. I am sure that there is a percentage of people saying Titus Welliver is Harry Bosch?
I understand that as a person who loves to read. Even with historical characters we have this preconceived idea in our heads about the physicality of the character, what they should sound like, and what they should look like. It is hard because you do want to please everybody, but that is a fool’s errand. There is no possible way.
AE: You are working with a great cast. How did you guys all come together to get the chemistry right for the series?
TW: I have been shooting “Transformers” for months and months. Every time I tried to meet with these guys something came up and I wasn’t able to meet up with these guys. I was really getting frustrated because I really knew that I wanted to do it. I just couldn’t get with them.
So when I finally did it was pretty fast. I had to go to Hong Kong to finish shooting “Transformers” and I was back for like 48 hours and started shooting. We were able to get Jamie Hector and I together. I am a longtime fan of his work. I wasn’t a stranger to his work, but I never met him before. Jamie and I were able to spend some time together with Jim McKay, the director, and talk about the dynamic of those characters and their relationship. They are partners and we sort of have to jump in there.
When we got to the table read, which I think is always interesting, I have to say looking around to see who was there I was just kind of knocked out. These are all people whose work I really, really respect. So I got really excited at the table read and just couldn’t wait to get started.
It was kind of fast, but I always feel that when you assemble a group or people, which directors and producers have a way of putting people who will complement each other, it will work. That is also the difficulty. You want to assemble a group of talent, but you also need to bring people together who can complement each other and work well together. That is tricky. There is always that social aspect of it. Will personalities clash? It is an interesting recipe.
AE: This series airs online at Amazon Prime. Are you happy with the way media is now being housed not just on cable anymore?
TW: It is a whole new ball game. I also think that realistically it is the future. The structure has always been when you do a network pilot is that you shoot the pilot and then they test it. Then we re-edit, we sometimes re-shoot, and even re-cast. Then it is left up to the decision of the executives and not even so much the producers. You are at the mercy of that.
Whereas with this you are still at the mercy with people who will ultimately have the decision to see if this project will move forward, but I think it is also very smart. People are paying for it. If you walk into a butcher shop you don’t ask for the cheapest cut. People want quality. If you are paying for something you want it to be good, quality programming. It is just a different time. There is so much more access now with the internet. People are able to express their opinions. It is kind of interesting.
AE: I can’t wait for “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” It comes out this summer. I saw the trailer. It looks awesome. What can you tell us fans about the film and what we can prepare for?
TW: It looks pretty cool, right?
TW: It is a reboot. There are some of the original Autobots. There are all new characters. Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, and Jack Reynor are the central characters. I think also it has been expanded to more of an adult audience. It still has its roots with the regular audience.
It is a little bit darker. It is a little bit rougher then what we have seen in the other films. For me the thrill of participating in a franchise that I have enjoyed, not only with my children, but also on my own. Michael Bay is someone I always wanted to work with. I always wanted to work with Wahlberg. Stan Tucci is in it. Kelsey Grammer is in it. It is a fantastic cast. Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor are great.
There is a lot of new stuff. It is very different from the other films on a lot of levels. I will say to you that no one will be disappointed. You get yoked and it doesn’t let you go.
AE: You have been on so many great TV shows and films. Do you have an all-time favorite role and what character do fans bring up most to you?
TW: Well I certainly will say “Lost.” The irony is that I only did four episodes of that show. Because of the whole mythology of the show, the history of the character, and because of the smoke monster and all of that I get a lot of shout outs from people. They will call me Smokey. People also really love “Sons of Anarchy.”
The films that I have done that standout are the ones I have done with Ben Affleck. As far as a favorite character it is difficult to say. They all have different merits. They each brought me a level of joy and challenge in different ways.
I will say that Harry Bosch is a character that is very nuance, really compelling, and a complex character. It feels like this is something I have been working towards. There is some age and some maturity to have a character at this stage like Bosch at this juncture is really exciting. I love this character and I feel that we have barely scratched the surface. It is my hope that we will be able to continue because there are a lot of books. I get to work with unbelievable actors. There is nothing more exciting to be in the middle of a scene with another actor who is great at what they do.
Two-time professional football champion Eli Manning and several athletic dogs demonstrated that our four legged friends are naturally incredible athletes at the “Purina® Pro Plan® MANning vs. DOG Challenge” leading up to the Big Game. This made-for-media competition featured Manning and other human athletes pitted against highly athletic dogs in a variety of physical challenges, including flying disc, weave pole races and high-speed man vs. dog races.
Manning was joined by Dr. Brian Zanghi, Nestle Purina® Canine Sports Nutrition Researcher, and one of the key developers of the Purina® Pro Plan® SPORT PRiME and ReFUEL nutritional supplement bars. Dr. Zanghi discussed the science behind proper canine nutrition, and how the PRiME and ReFUEL nutritional supplement bars can be used to help active canines fuel, perform, and recover safely.
Intuit Inc. is now in Phase III of their Small Business Big Game program, sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks. These four small businesses are all who remain in the competition to receive their very own 30-second television advertisement that will air during football’s biggest game on Feb. 2. The ultimate winner will be determined by a worldwide online vote between:
- Barley Labs, of Durham, N.C. – Produces all-natural dog treats in various flavors out of recycled barley from a local brewery.
- GoldieBlox, of Oakland, Calif. – Is a toy company inspiring girls to push limits and think outside the box.
- Locally Laid Egg Company, of Duluth, Minn. – Raises hens on pasture to produce healthier poultry and eggs.
- POOP – Natural Dairy Compost, of Nampa, Idaho – Produces natural and odorless composted dairy manure for lawns, gardens and flowerbeds.
“What a wide-ranging and deserving group!” said Brad Smith, Intuit president and chief executive officer. “Tens of thousands of small businesses entered this contest, and these finalists demonstrate the breadth of entrepreneurship across the United States. Although the field is down to just four, this effort shined a light on the contributions and importance of all small business to our economy.”
Check out Barely Lab’s ad!
Hank Azaria didn’t know if he wanted children. So he wanted to ask his good friends who were parents what their take was on fatherhood. He started filming this as a documentary to find out how others navigate through the journey of parenthood.
On the series he spoke with Bryan Cranston. Jim Gaffigan, and Kevin Bacon about their views on fatherhood. He would ask about the good times as well as the bad times. Lo and behold while filming this series he and his wife found out that they were going to have a baby.
Now from what started as a fun project became a quick prep course into fatherhood. Naturally Hank called the series “Fatherhood.” It is hosted at Mom.me and AOL and you get to see famous dads like Mike Nichols, Mike Meyers, Richard Hatch, Phil Rosenthal, Willie Garson, Tim Robbins, and Rainn Wilson talk about being a father. Plus Azaria gets expert advice from Dr. Elliot and Dr. Alyssa Berlin, Jill Spivack, Michele Borba and more.
I had the great opportunity to chat with Hank about his film series, fatherhood, and yes of course “The Simpsons.”
Art Eddy: You started off looking to do a documentary series with your friends showcasing them on being a dad. During that process you and your wife get the good news of expecting a child. Of course it was a no brainer to shift the focus a bit to your journey into fatherhood, but did you ever think of not going with that angle for the web series?
Hank Azaria: It changed so much over the course of a few years. It started out like you said just asking dads why did you do this. It seemed insane to me. Then getting pregnant. It shifted to oh I am going to be a father please help me because I am terrified.
I didn’t want it to be an overshare. I didn’t want it to be some reality series about my family. I had real questions that I wondered if other dads did. Real fears that I wondered if other dads had. It doesn’t seem that men talk about this too much. Because I produce this I can control it in the editing room so that I am not oversharing in front of America basically.
AE: Did you find some of the answers about fatherhood from your friends shocking?
HA: I’ll tell you one thing a guy said that was a little shocking. I jokingly asked who do you love more, your kids or your wife. He said oh are you kidding? It is my kids. They are my flesh and blood. My wife is someone that I met in a bar. (Both laugh.) That person shall remain nameless. He didn’t say that on camera. He wasn’t that stupid to say that on camera.
AE: How soon was it from when you started shooting to when you guys found out you were pregnant?
HA: Six to nine months. Somewhere in there.
HA: Total. In fact we were shooting some stuff. We had a dog. Our dear old dog Annie that was 16 years old and was starting to die. We were shooting that since that was what was going on. I don’t know if you ever had an old pet that you were taking care of, but she was blind, deaf, and senile. I was hand feeding her. I was like I am taking care of a child. The day that the dog died we found out we were pregnant. It was the same day.
If my son was born a girl I wanted to name her Annie much to my mother’s chagrin. She was like you can’t name your child after your dog.
HA: With tantrums I don’t know about you, but I found them very daunting. I didn’t want to flip out. I didn’t want to make a mistake. I also wanted to keep up my own sanity. One of the main things is that you can’t give in. You can’t give them what they are wanting. If you do then the lesson they learn there is that if you flip out you can get what you want. You don’t want them doing that.
You also don’t want to respond to a tantrum with a tantrum. You don’t want to be emotional in the face of a tantrum. You want to pick your battles. You can do certain things to head off tantrums if you know they are coming. Transitioning a kid is a big deal. Instead of just saying okay we got to go you tell them we are leaving in five minutes. Finish up what you are doing because in two minutes we got to get out of here.
Think about it. You wouldn’t like it if you were told that. You were doing something and I said hey let’s go. It takes a lot of practice. That’s why I like to get advice from experts and other dads. It is good to get help on things like that.
AE: You have said the Kevin Bacon has given you a ton of great parenting advice. I know we saw some of that advice in your series, but what is some of his advice that still stands out to you?
HA: He was really wise. Bryan Cranston was. Tim Robbins. Bacon, before I had a kid, he said the phases will drive you crazy. The phases of childhood. Whether you love them or hate them, they will pass. They don’t say that in the books. Including the tantrum phase. They stop with the tantrums after a while.
You are better off handling them well than not well. Even if you don’t handle them well they are going to pass. Even when my son was two. He was like a cherub. He was completely angelic. The second he turned three he became maniacal. Love it or hate it, it is not going to last. When you look at it that way it helps appreciate the good times and know that the bad times are not going to last forever.
AE: What can we except from the upcoming episodes in your series?
HA: We get into things like different generations like how we were raised and how we raise our kids. There is a definite difference how my dad approached it and how I approach it with my son. Being a kid with your kid. Being a friend to your child as opposed to being a parent to your child, like a disciplinarian. These are all topics that personally interested me that I found challenging.
Getting your kid to go to sleep. There is an entire episode on that. Birds and the bees. My son at an early age asked us where he came from. It was a ridiculous conversation. Not only was it dads sharing how they handled the conversation, but the insane way people’s fathers approached with them. There was a whole lot to say on the sex conversation.
HA: They are voices I have heard. Either they are voices of celebrities that I like to imitate, family members, friends, or store owners. Wherever. Anything I heard I mimic it. Sometimes I am mimicking it exactly. Sometimes it is just my version of it. I am a mimic at heart. It starts there for me.
AE: Out of all the characters which one do you feel the most closest to?
HA: (In his great voice work as Moe from “The Simpsons”) I feel closest to Moe the bartender. I used to be a bartender. (Back to normal voice) I feel that if it wasn’t for “The Simpsons” that I would still be a bartender. Moe is from Queens. I feel the closest to Moe. I feel Moe is like if I didn’t have success in showbiz my life would be closest to Moe. My actual personality.
Click here for each episode.
Season Two of HISTORY’s hit scripted series VIKINGS is around the corner premiering Thursday, February 27 at 10 p.m. and below is a link to three new images. At the conclusion of season one, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was unfaithful to his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) with Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland). These new photos may shed some light into how Ragnar’s lady troubles could play out in season two.
Will Ragnar’s indiscretions with Lagertha threaten his marriage? Will Lagertha stay by her husbands’ side or leave him? In episode one airing on 2/27 Aslaug makes her way to Kattegat and brings with her a surprise that leaves Ragnar in a difficult predicament. Who will he choose?
Last spring, HISTORY® introduced viewers to a clan of Norse warriors with a rapacious appetite for warfare, knowledge and power. The gripping family saga of Ragnar, Rollo, Lagertha, friends and enemies was a tale of brutality and passion, alliances and infidelities, infighting and death. It portrayed life in the Dark Ages, a world ruled by raiders and explorers, through the eyes of Viking society.
The epic tale continues in 10 all-new episodes of VIKINGS. The hit scripted drama series centers on Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), a restless young warrior and family man who longs to find and conquer new lands across the sea and claim the spoils as his own. Now he is an Earl, allied with King Horrik (Donal Logue). With more power than ever before, his desire to sail west and explore new kingdoms remains unquenchable.
Yet there’s a heavy price to pay for Ragnar’s ascent to greatness. Season two brings crises of faith, of power, of relationships. Brothers rise up against one another. Loyalties shift from friend to foe, and unlikely alliances are formed in the name of supremacy. Plots are hatched, scores are settled, blood is spilled…all under the watchful eyes of the gods.
New to the cast of VIKINGS are Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games) as Bjorn, the intelligent and bold warrior son of Ragnar Lothbrok, and Linus Roache (Law & Order) as Ecbert, King of Wessex, a man of strength, knowledge and undisguised ambition. They join Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrok; Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha, a fierce shield maiden and Ragnar’s wife; Clive Standen as Rollo, Ragnar’s impulsive, wild, care-free brother; George Blagden as Athelstan, a young and not-so-innocent Monk; Jessalyn Gilsig as Siggy, beautiful wife of the late Earl Haraldson; Donal Logue as King Horrik, who desires to make the increasingly famous Earl Ragnar an ally and supporter; Gustaf Skarsgard, a ship builder who designs the new generation of Vikings ships; and Alyssa Sutherland as Princess Aslaug, Ragnar’s new love interest.
Pepsi is getting ready for the Super Bowl with these two new ads that showcase the halftime show with Bruno Mars as well as pre-gaming a bit earlier smack dab in middle of America with Lee Brice.
When you’re trying to get the whole of America Hyped For Halftime, where do you start? For Pepsi, the answer was easy: smack-dab in the middle. That’s why we traveled to the tiny town of Milligan, Nebraska with a fleet of trucks, a grip of machines spouting free Pepsi, and a very special performance from country star Lee Brice.
Football isn’t football without halftime and halftime isn’t halftime without Pepsi. Check out Pepsi’s latest commercial and share in the joy of the first-ever halftime, caused by—what else?—a classic Pepsi moment. Then, tune in to the Pepsi Super Bowl 48 Halftime Show with Bruno Mars, happening on February 2nd, 2014. Get Hyped for Halftime!
Omar Dorsey has been very busy lately. He recently starred in the HBO hit comedy “Eastbound & Down” as the character Dontel Benjamin. You might have also seen Omar in the Quentin Tarantino film “Django Unchained.”
Now you can watch Omar on the new FOX show “Rake” alongside Greg Kinnear. Greg Kinnear plays the role of Keegan Deane. He is the genius lawyer, but he is a degenerate in everything else in life. He is a degenerate gambler. He is a degenerate womanizer. He owes the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dorsey plays Kinnear’s friend, who is also Greg’s bookie.
Omar was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to talk about “Rake,” comedy, and what he learned from the cast of “Django Unchained.”
Art Eddy: You have been busy recently. Let’s first talk about your role on “Eastbound & Down.” How did you get involved in that show?
Omar Dorsey: I did it the old fashioned way. I auditioned for it. It was crazy. I met Danny when I was doing “Django.” He was doing “This is the End.” We were both in New Orleans. I ran into him. I asked him if they were bringing the show back. He said he didn’t know. He wanted to bring it back, but he didn’t know.
Then I swear two or three weeks later HBO was bringing it back. I was on a mission. It was my favorite comedy. I have to get on this show, by hook or by crook. So when I go audition for it I see Danny. He was like hey. I was like I told you I wanted to get on your show. I went in there and knocked out the audition. We created the great character named Dontel Benjamin. It was fun.
AE: The show has a great cast which is headlined by Danny McBride. What was it like to work on the show that is very different from other comedy shows?
OD: It is a show that is real life. That is how dudes talk to each other. My mom watches it. She says that she doesn’t get it. She says she doesn’t understand the show. She asked me why does everybody curse. I told her that this is how we talk to each other. It is not like church. When we are watching sports or on the phone with each other we sometimes curse each other out. We don’t mean anything bad by it.
It is such a natural show. It is quite organic. Even the way that we shoot the show. Jody Hill is the show runner. He told us we were going wide open. You can say whatever you want to say within the structure of the show. We could improv. That was when the best stuff came out in the show.
AE: Do you have any cool behind the scene stories from that series?
OD: We shot in North Carolina. We were like a family. We stayed in the same hotel. We would go out to eat together all the time. We did everything together. When we got done with work we would meet in the lobby and go out to eat. That was the most fun thing in the world. We did that for two months. It was awesome.
AE: You star in the new show called “Rake.” Tell me about your character and the show.
OD: It is a great show. Greg Kinnear plays this character Keegan Deane. He is the genius lawyer. He is a degenerate in everything else in life. He is a degenerate gambler. He is a degenerate womanizer. He owes the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I play his friend, who also happens to be his bookie. He owes me money as well. I have to remind him quite often that he owes me money. We would be partying and go to the bathroom. I beat him up in the bathroom and tell him how much he owes me. It is just a fun role. Every week the role just keeps growing. It is like the role has a life of its own. I love it.
AE: What can the audience expect from this show?
OD: It is a fun show. I believe it will connect, because Greg Kinnear connects with people. It is the same thing like how “House” was. You would be like this guy is such a despicable character, but he is very likable. It is that type of thing. Or like how “The Shield” was with Michael Chiklis. He is not as bad as Michael Chiklis was, but he was that anti-hero type though. He tries to be morally good with his clients. That is how people will connect with him.
AE: I am a big fan of “Django Unchained.” What will you take away from your experience working on that film?
OD: That movie changed my life straight up. I was noticing the way Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sam Jackson, Jamie Foxx, and Walton Goggins work. I would sit back and watch. Then I like to ask questions. I was asking them questions. They really taught me on how to be an actor. It was like I was in acting school.
I would be sitting there with DiCaprio at lunch and would be talking about characters. This was right before he went to New York to do “Wolf of Wall Street.” I asked him how he does that. He goes from one role to the other. He has to learn all these lines. He said that is why they pay you.
Watching their work ethic. Watching their brilliance. All those people were great. Quentin Tarantino has the best eye for talent. Watching all these actors who I admire and their process was showing me how it was done. Nothing has been the same for me since then. After “Django” I came back and started really working a lot. It has been non-stop since then, because I learned those lessons from what those guys taught me.