Last summer, I had the pleasure of speaking with the amazing Julie Piekarski Probst. Although her name may not ring a bell, chances are if you were a fan of “The Mickey Mouse Club” or “Facts of Life” back in the day, you’ve seen her.
Now, the beautiful actress and dancer is embarking on a journey to get on this season’s ‘Dancing With The Stars’ and I’m doing a re-visit of that interview to help her on her quest.
Julie is no stranger to the art of the dance, having honed her chops from a very young age performing in front of huge audiences at The Muny, the nation’s largest outdoor theater located in St. Louis, Missouri. She took time off from perfoming in the mid-1980′s in order to raise a family, but is now ready to enter the biggest ballroom in prime time.
In just the short time that we spoke, I found Julie to be a warm, infectious person with a love of life and the arts. She would be awesome on the show.
1. Julie would be the first Mousketeer to appear on the ABC show, which coincidentally also owns Disney.
2. With another ‘Fact of Life’ alum, (Lisa Whelchel) having made a successful run on the TV show ‘Survivor’, a “Facts of Life’ battle for TV ratings could be in order.
3. As a side note (and in another odd twist of fate) Julie and Lisa were BOTH Mousketeers and first worked together on ‘The New Mickey Mouse Club’.
You can read the rest of my interview with Julie here
Please help me help Julie by clicking this link and letting producers from Dancing With The Stars know you want Julie on the show. You can point them to my article if you like, but let’s make it happen. It would be very cool to say we played a role in getting Julie on the show and then cheering her on to victory!
Here are a few clips from Julie’s career:
Julie on The New Mickey Mouse Club
Here’s Julie from Facts of Life:
Julie on the show, Quincey M.E
Julie Returns to Walt Disney World:
Julie Piekarski is on a mission.
The former “Mouseketeer” and “Facts of Life” alum is on a quest to join the cast of the ABC hit show, “Dancing with the Stars”. Julie is no stranger to the art of the dance, having honed her chops from a very young age performing in front of huge audiences at The Muny, the nation’s largest outdoor theater located in St. Louis, Missouri.
In the mid-1980′s, Julie took time off from acting in order to marry and raise her three children, and keep the artistic talent they inherited from their Mother alive in their own way.
I had the opportunity to speak with this amazing woman as she prepares to become the first Mouseketeer to do the Fox Trot in prime time. In this interview, Julie discusses her career, including her time on “The Mickey Mouse Club” and “The Facts of Life”. She also talks about a certain celebrity she rebuffed for a date and why she believes now is the perfect opportunity to once again showcase her dancing talent.
goJimmygo (gJg): Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in acting?
Julie Piekarski (JP): Growing up, my mom enrolled me in dance classes. When I was five, one of the ladies there thought I had potential, took me under her wing, and became my mentor. She saw that I was a quick learner and had that “X factor” gift that can’t be taught. I started participating in community theater and shows as well as professional venues like The Muny Opera.
gJg: How did you get involved with The Mickey Mouse Club?
Disney was doing a nationwide talent search for their new TV show and several of my relatives, friends, and teachers were asking me to try out. After sending in a resume and photo for the preliminary casting, I received an invite to come for an audition. I traveled to Chicago for a two-day audition. At the time, I remember thinking that I’d be really lucky if I could just be made an “Honorary” Mouseketeer and appear on the show just one time. Instead, after the auditions were complete, I got a call to go to a local TV station for an on-camera interview and eventually was chosen for the show! Out of the 15,000 kids auditioned, only 12 were picked.
gJg: What was that experience like?
JP: It was amazing! Such an awesome experience to be that age and to work with Disney. Imagine growing up and hearing about Disney and seeing all of the animated movies and now I was actually getting to be a part of that.
It was such a “family” working there. We went to school for 3 hours a day and then either filmed a segment, skit, or musical number, or were in rehearsals. The show was on every day. That meant that the turnaround time for new material was fast and a lot was expected of us. But we loved it. It never felt like work for me. In the summer and for our Friday segments, we would get to film in Disneyland. I will never forget that. We were in the park before it opened sometimes remained even after it was closed. Only a handful of people would be in the park. It was magical.
Though the taping of the show was fun, I loved performing live at Disney land and Disney World. We did 3 shows a day and 2 parades for five days a week for 13 weeks. On our lunch breaks, we were allowed to come in the back way and ride the rides for free. But it was hard on me when it came to my family. My mom stayed with me since I was only 13 and my dad and grandma stayed back with my sister in St. Louis to allow her to continue her life uninterrupted. So I’d usually work for three months and then come home for two weeks. That’s when I would go back to my school and take tests or exams (this was before email remembers), make up for lost time with friends, and catch up on family time with my sister and Dad.
gJg: That’s where you met Lisa Whelchel (Facts of Life) for the first time!
JP: Yes, Lisa was there too. There were eight people from the LA area and four of us from out-of-town. Lisa was from Texas and I was from St. Louis. We both bonded quite a bit during our time together. Since we were the out-of-state “Mice”, we tried to get lodging near each other and do things together on the weekends or after work.
The show was really doing great. They were talking about making dolls of each of us, touring across the U.S., and cutting a record (yes I said a record). I remember plans were being made to come to everyone’s home over the summer break and film special segments about each of us and what our home life was like and our other passions, but all of sudden we received word that the show was cancelled.
gJg: What happened?
JP: “The Black Hole” movie came out. It was the first big, one of kind Sci fi movie that Disney had poured everything they had into. They made a choice and obviously chose wrong since the movie didn’t do very well. We still continued performing and doing appearances at Disneyland and Disney World as well as the TV movie for another year or so but the show part of it was over.
By this point I had acquired an agent and started doing more television work: The big Dr. Pepper campaign “I’m a Pepper” commercials, Taco Bell Girl, made guest appearances on “Three’s Company”, Quincy, General Hospital and others. That was when “The Facts of Life” came along.
gJg: Coincidentally, that’s also where you were reunited with Lisa again!
JP: Yes! What’s funny is I honestly don’t remember her being up for a part until close to the end of auditions. One day, I literally walked in and found out that we would be reading together. [laughs]
gJg: What was your experience like on that show?
JP: I enjoyed it. The seven of us girls got along great. Actually, Kim Fields and I became very close and still keep in touch. I looked forward to going in every day. I also enjoyed doing the photo shoots and publicity events. I was thrilled to be chosen to be on Hollywood Squares with Charlotte Rae.
But most of all, the charity events really touched me and I was honored to participate and help out in any way. As for our show, we’d usually rehearse on a Monday, then there would be re-writes over the next few days and finally, we’d do a taping in front of a live audience. Now that was the best part.
It was like doing real theater again for me. It’s such a high to hear the immediate response of the audience. It was a great process.
gJg: Why do you think they down-sized the show and decided to only go with four girls?
JP: I heard that the reason was they didn’t feel audiences could relate to all of the different characters. They couldn’t find enough specific “niches” for each girl to conform to and identify with. Maybe the writers were not able to write in that many characters for only a half hour sitcom? Even Julie Anne Haddock’s character (Cindi), who was sort of a tom-boy, wasn’t quite as “tough” as they wanted. That’s when they decided to bring in Nancy McKeon as Jo.
JP: Lisa and I have kept in touch a little. When she comes to town with her Christian Women’s Group, we try to get together. I’ve been involved with a great bible study, CBS, for the past ten years and that’s how I found out that Lisa was coming to St. Louis. Kim Fields and I talk more often.
gJg: From there you went on to a show called “The Best of Times” which not a lot of people know also starred Nicolas Cage and Crispin Glover (Back To The Future).
JP: Yes, they were on that show too. I remember them both being really nice guys. Nicolas Cage was a riot. To think back then I was considered top bill. Now look at him! <laughs> That sitcom was more a variety style production. It was a good entertaining show but just way ahead of its time. It would’ve fit in perfectly now with shows like Glee, Smash, and High School Musical. I enjoyed it because I got to sing and dance again. Plus we did outrageous comedy skits. It reminded me of “The Carol Burnett Show”. Now I am really dating myself. <laughs>
JP: Education was always important to me. It’s something that no one can ever take away from you. While in LA and still pursuing my acting career, I was going to school at UCLA and originally considered getting a degree in biochemistry because I was into genetics and cloning. But the workload became intense and something had to give. Instead, I decided to go into business and communications.
That’s also around the same time when a boy from St. Louis came out to visit. He was going to dental school and had a promising dental practice waiting for him back home. When I went home for the summer, we started dating and ten months later we got engaged. I knew I wanted to raise a family away from the craziness of Hollywood and unfortunately around that same time my father passed away. A lot of things pointed me to being home. So I moved back. And then once I started having children I knew I had made the right decision.
But I still do industrial films, spokesperson projects, and training videos here in St. Louis. I also am involved with three worthwhile charities that keep me busy beside all my volunteer activities for my children’s schools and extracurricular activities.
gJg: Tell me about your kids!
JP: I have three absolutely amazing children: Patrick, Jacqueline and Christian. I feel so very blessed and am thankful that I was able to be a stay at home mom for them. And you know what, that term is so ironic because I was never AT HOME when I was “being mom”. I was running all over the place with them. <giggles>
Patrick, my oldest, graduated from SMU with a double major in Biology and Economics and a minor in Spanish and Chemistry is now in his first year of medical school. He wants to be some type of surgeon. He’s an avid sports fan and a really strong soccer player. And he also has a creative side. …. He has a beautiful voice and performed professionally at The Muny, The St. Louis Rep, and Stages St. Louis while growing up. He was President of Southern Gentlemen; an A Capella group at SMU where he arranged the music and helped produced their CD as well as sing solo on it. He’s also starred in two films: Logan and Moon Ring.
My daughter Jacqueline is now in her junior year at Alabama…Roll Tide! She received a full scholarship and is part of the prestigious Fellows program as well as in the Honors College. She was actually recruited to be a gymnast for Bama. She was an amazing gymnast and it truly is her first love. She qualified at an early age to go to a special program with Bela Karolyi and was well on track to accomplish great things. It is a grueling sport and does take a huge toll on one’s body.
Unfortunately, after two months at Bama her old back injury returned and she had no choice but to retire. Luckily for her, she is extremely gifted in dance and singing as well. She too has performed professionally at The Muny, Stages St. Louis, and The Cincinnati Rep. She is now dance captain of her college show choir and choreographs for Phi Mu, her sorority as well. She is also teaching gymnastics and ballet while focusing on getting her degree in order to become a physical therapist. Check out YouTube under her name to see her gymnastics demo and some of her performances.
My youngest, Christian, really wants to pursue entertainment. He truly has that special something that you can’t help but notice. He has this amazing smile that just lights up a room. I am proud to say that he is a freshman at Yale and plans to double major in theater and economics. Though he’s a state champion racquetball player, I am trying to convince him to take up squash for Yale. He has been blessed with major roles in professional theater since the age of seven. He’s been very close to landing a Broadway role several times in shows like Mame, Tarzan, Billy Elliot and most recently Newsies where he was kept as part of the final 20 and sang in front of Alan Menken. They said he was just too young. He just got the lead in the musical at Yale as a freshman and is part of the infamous a Capella group The Dukes Men. He studies ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and lyrical. Tap is his favorite. YouTube his name and “I love a piano” and Once in Love with Amy” to see him.
When my children started showing talent and a desire to perform, I consciously chose to cut way back on what I did. I really wanted them to earn anything they would get because they deserved it and not because I was their Mom.
gJg: What’s your plan now?
JP: Now that my kids are all grown and on their own, I’m opening up the door again and getting back into the business. Last year, I portrayed Elle’s mom in “Legally Blonde” at The Muny and I recently performed the role of Lilly St. Regis in a professional production of “Annie”.
Which brings me to my next endeavor: I’ve begun a crusade to get on “Dancing With the Stars!”
JP: I really think I could do it. I’d like to get a following going to show the producers I’m serious about it. And besides, they’ve never had a “Mouseketeer” on there!
It’s been a while since I focused on myself. I’ve spent these last years putting my energy into being a mother and wife. My children are now situated, happy and confident. I couldn’t ask for more. Now it’s my turn! [laughs] I really miss the dancing and the singing and I think “Dancing with the Stars” would be a great opportunity for me. I would thoroughly enjoy it: high kicks, splits and all!
gJg: What’s it like when you go back to Disney now?
JP: It’s surreal. It honestly seems like yesterday. There are times when I go there that, in my head; I think that I’m 18 again. Then I suddenly realize that I’m actually there with my own children! [laughs] It’s still such a rush to think I am a part of Disney history.
gJg: Do you find that people still recognize you?
JP: Yes people do and a lot of times it’s because of my voice. It’s funny, here in St Louis where there are so many private high schools, the big question isn’t so much: “Do I Know You?” but rather: “Did I go to high school with you?” So, when I see that look on their face that they know me but not sure why, I’ll usually wait until it really starts bugging them and then give them a hint. I’ll say something like: “Well, it may be because of a TV show…” and then they’ll realize who I am. They usually say something like I knew it but yet couldn’t imagine why you would be here in St. Louis. Then it’s nice to hear that they think I still look the same and haven’t changed at all.
JP: Here’s something that always cracks up my fellow women friends: When Tom Cruise was first getting started; I had met him on several audition calls. It was on one of these occasions where he actually asked me out on a date. You know, this was before Tom Cruise became “Tom Cruise” and I remember… I turned him down!
I thought at the time he seemed a bit full of himself! [laughs]
gJg: Do you have any regrets?
JP: Honestly I don’t. Life happens for a reason and it takes you down a certain path. The only “regret” I think about as I get older is the amount of money that’s being made out there in Hollywood that people could use for good things rather than squandering it on things like drugs and alcohol. There’s money that can be used for education or to build a foundation or for charity.
I always tell my kids: “Leave this world a better place then you found it.” And most of all, What you are is God’s gift to you, what you make of yourself is your gift to God.
Click Here to Tweet your thoughts to Dancing With The Stars!
Help Get Julie Piekarski on the show!
Lauren Nash is forging her own path. The multi-talented actress, model and dancer is making a name for herself on-screen and off.
Not only does she have several film and television roles on deck (including an appearance on the new JJ Abrams show, “Revolution”, but Lauren is also busy writing and directing her own short films as well.
This fall, Lauren (herself a huge horror movie fan) will appear in CUT!, the David Banks/David Rountree film about a pair of filmmakers who decide that the best way to make a horror movie is to actually kill people for real.
I had the opportunity to speak with Lauren and get her thoughts on CUT! as well as some of her other upcoming projects!
gJg: Have you seen the trailer for CUT!?
LN: YES!!…. I LOVE it! <laughs>
gJg: Tell me a about how you got the role of Red.
Lauren Nash (LN): It was an early morning audition when I went in, but everything went great. A few days later they called me and told me they wanted to close the role after my audition because they thought I was perfect for it!”
What was the experience like filming your scenes?
The scenes were frighteningly real! <laughs>. We were all in a hotel that really fit the mood. Then of course, you’ve got the props and blood. It was one of the easiest transitions for me to get into character. And both Davids were so nice. The entire process was a great experience. We were able to film everything in one day.
gJg: Are you a horror fan?
LN: Yes, I’m a huge horror movie buff!! My all-time favorite is, “The Exorcist (Directors Cut)”. The only thing is, when I watch it I usually can’t make it past the scene in Iraq where the dogs start barking, only because I know what’s coming!! <laughs>
gJg: How did you get into it acting?
LN: I went to college in Florida and majored in literature and theater. I was living in a tiny little beach town and while I was there, I started getting into commercial work. From there, I began doing some HSN modeling and, after I had honed my skills more, started going on more and more auditions in the southeast. I got my credits together, moved to Los Angeles and here I am!
gJg: What do you like to do when you’re not acting?
LN: I love to dance. Since moving to LA, I’ve also gotten into hiking. I’m also an avid reader.
gJg: What other projects do you have coming up?
LN: I’m going to be appearing on the JJ Abrams show Revolution, which begins airing on NBC September 17th. My role has a potential to recur, so I’m very excited about that. I also have two films that I’ve completed earlier this year that are about to do the festival scene: “Heterosexual Jill” and “The Republic of Two”.
gJg: Tell me a little bit about those films.
LN: In “Heterosexual Jill” – I play a raunchy red-head named, Ruby. That was a lot of fun to shoot.
“The Republic of Two” is a project that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s my boyfriend’s movie and a lot of the film actually takes place in my home. I got to wear a lot more hats than just actor.
I’ve also written, directed and acted in a short film called “Plan B”. I was fortunate to be able to get the production crew from the show Workaholics to help me with it! It’s the story about how far women will go to be able to afford acting. The truth is, it’s incredibly expensive to live out here, and being an actor is not something you can just do on the weekends. It’s something that you have to work on every day.
gJg: Between acting, writing, making props, editing; you really do it all!
LN: If I’m going to do this, then I’m not going to limit my opportunities! If I have the chance to learn all of these things, it gives me that much more appreciation for the people who actually do these jobs all the time. When you see all of the effort they go through each and every day by doing it with your own hands, you really respect it!
gJg: Where do you see yourself a few years from now?
LN: Continuing to do what I’m doing and being part of memorable projects!
Article first published as A Slice of Lauren Nash on Technorati.
I remember when Jim Henson died back in 1990 it didn’t really affect me. I was, after all twenty years old and having just recently left the confines of public school; eagerly looking forward to getting my “You can now purchase alcohol legally” card.
I was roughly nine years removed from the days of regularly watching Kermit the Frog and Ernie (who was always my favorite Muppet). So, although still tragic, I saw Henson’s untimely passing as something much too childish to think about.
Fast forward 22 years.
Jerry Nelson, another famous Muppeteer, passed away on August 23rd at the age of 78. Although having lived nearly three decades longer than Henson, his death has affected me more. I look at the list of characters he has portrayed over the course of his career; many of whom were a regular part of my life growing up in the 1970′s. Among them:
The Count: my second favorite Sesame Street character, next to Ernie of course. I loved him.
Herry Monster: The one monster that ALWAYS scared me. Must have been that he always looked angry and had that big nose.
Sherlock Hemlock: The greatest detective.
The Amazing Mumford: Ala peanut butter sandwiches.
Mr Johnson: The bald, blue-headed Muppet who always ate at the restaurant Grover worked at.
Floyd Pepper: the bass player for the band Electric Mayhem on The Muppet Show.
But perhaps the most sentimental Jerry Nelson character for me was Emmet Otter from the Jug Band Christmas story that played every December on HBO. A story that I will always remember sitting next to my grandmother and watching every year.
Funny, I can still hear her yelling to me from downstairs, and it always sounded like the house was on fire by the tone in her voice:
JIMMY!!! HURRY UP AND GET DOWN HERE – EMMET OTTER IS ON!!
Perhaps it’s because I’m now a middle-aged man that I’m starting to become acutely aware of the fact that every day more and more parts of my childhood die. And even though I’ve never met Jerry, it’s hard not to look back at his passing without a sense of sadness. For in many ways, much like The Count and The Amazing Mumford, he was a part of my family.
My grandmother has been gone for 16 years now. Whenever I think about her, the first thing I think about are those cold days in December when Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas came on. And now, I’ll think about Jerry Nelson too.
Godspeed Mr. Nelson. Your work will not soon be forgotten; at least not by this 42-year-old kid.
“Very classy”. It’s one of the few lines she speaks in the movie “Can’t Buy Me Love”, but those two words are what best describes actress Ami Dolenz.
The 1987 coming of age movie that showcased nerdy Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey) buying the affections of Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson) also contained a number of firsts for the daughter of famous “Monkee” Micky Dolenz. Not only was it Ami’s first feature film role, but it was also where she met co-star Darcy DeMoss (Patty) for the first time as well. The two instantly connected and have been best friends ever since.
Following the breakout success of “Can’t Buy Me Love”, Ami would go on to appear as Melissa McKee on the daytime soap “General Hospital” and star in such films as “She’s Out of Control”, “Miracle Beach”‘, “Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway” and Pumpinkhead II: Blood Wings” to name just a few.
What you may not know about Ami is that, in addition to being an amazing actress, she also has a passion for art and writing. She is currently working on a children’s book,“Harold and Agatha and the Mysterious Jewel”, in which she will both write and illustrate.
I had the opportunity to speak with the beautiful and multi-talented artist from her home in Vancouver and discuss “Can’t Buy Me Love” and the bond she shares with Darcy DeMoss. Ami also talks about her passion for art and storytelling as well as her own “metal” connection.
If there’s one thing I learned about from our conversation, it’s this: When it comes to cool, Ami Dolenz is in a class by herself.
goJimmygo (gJg): I wanted to talk to you about the 25 year anniversary of “Can’t Buy Me Love”.
Ami Dolenz (AD): It’s so weird and hard to believe that its been that long.
gJg: I spoke with Darcy DeMoss (Patty) a few months ago and she said the exact same thing.
AD: You interviewed one of my BEST friends. Darcy and I have known each other for such a long time. It was one of those things where we just instantly connected; we keep in touch a lot. I love what she’s doing with the animals. I’ve been to Shambala quite a few times. That whole movement is so amazing; it means a lot to me.
gJg: How did you become involved with “Can’t Buy Me Love?”
AD: I was just starting out as an actress at the time, and initially auditioned for the role of Cindy but ended up getting the role of Fran; which was great. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to get my chops going; memorize lines and hit my mark. Amanda (Peterson) did such a great job as Cindy. I met so many amazing people while working on that movie.
It was so much fun just to be there with everyone and be a part of that experience. It’s a point in my life that I don’t ever want to forget.
gJg: What do you remember most about your experience making the movie?
AD: When we made the movie, it was around the time of my 18th birthday and it was the first time I was on a location without my Mom along. It was also where I met Darcy for the first time. She bought me a cake to celebrate my birthday. We’ve been best friends ever since!
gJg: Do you have any favorite scenes?
AD: I really love Darcy’s scene where she’s in the car with Patrick. Of course, I’m also pretty fond of the party scene too (because, I’m in it). <laughs>
gJg: You went on to appear in “General Hospital” and then the movie “She’s Out of Control” with Tony Danza. What was it like working with Tony?
AD: Tony was a fabulous person to work with. He’s also a great tap dancer and showed me some of his moves. It was funny because our paths seemed to keep crossing. I first met him when I was on “Star Search”; we were both in a comedy sketch together. Then a few years later, I met him again for “She’s Out Of Control” .<laughs>
gJg: What attracted you to the horror genre for films like “Pumpkinhead” and “Witchboard”?
AD: Believe it or not, I’m actually a scary movie fanatic. I love horror. In fact, the original “Alien” is my all-time favorite comfort movie. I can watch it over and over.
gJg: Your father is hugely into music. Did he encourage you to try to get you into music while you were growing up?
AD: He did in a way, when I was younger. I used to play his drums. I also have a tape of me as a child signing “Blue Suede Shoes” with him. But acting was something I really wanted to do.
gJg: What was it like growing up with The Monkees?
AD: I remember we had a beautiful house in the Hollywood Hills that people would always come and visit. One of my best friends growing up was actually Alice Cooper. I even remember one of my first days in school; my teacher asked me who my best friend was and I said, “Alice Cooper”…<laughs>
AD: I once did an episode of “The Adventures of Superboy” where I actually got to play a rock star who needed to be protected. My hair was wild and I got to “perform” on a huge stage. I particularly remember the scene with my limousine pulling out and everyone pounding on the car. That was a fun gig!
gJg: What are you working on right now?
AD: I’ve been taking art classes here in Vancouver. I do charcoal and some ink projects. I’m also self publishing my own children’s book, “Harold and Agatha and The Mysterious Jewel”. It’s very exciting but a lot of work. I’m going to be doing the illustrations myself as well.
As far as acting goes, I have a few things going right now, but I can’t really talk about them…yet. <laughs>
Article first published as A Conversation With Actress Ami Dolenz on Technorati.
Have you ever stopped to consider the importance of Friday? I’m not talking about “the day that comes after Thursday and before Saturday” Friday… No, I mean FRIDAY!!
When you think about it, there’s absolutely no day of the week that’s greater than Friday. Not only does it mean the start of the weekend but just think of all the really important events that always happen on Fridays: Getting your paycheck, checking out new movies that premiere, high school football games. It doesn’t even matter if it happens to be raining out – it’s STILL Friday, and that’s cause for celebration!
For me, tonight (coincidentally, also a Friday) begins a nine-day break from the rigors of work that will also coincide with an excursion to Ocean City, Maryland. See? I told you Fridays were awesome!
But, while Fridays as an adult are pretty cool, they don’t even compare to the Fridays I experienced while growing up. So, in celebration of the final day of the work week, here are the three things I loved the most about Fridays growing up:
3. School’s Out: Ah yes, absolutely nothing compared to being a teenager and Friday rolling around. For, in addition to a two-day reprieve from all of the pressures and drama that go along with being a teen, Fridays typically meant no homework and even more importantly, a chance to stay up late and sleep in on Saturday!
2. The Mall: If it was Friday night, you know a non-essential trip to the Palmer Park Mall was in order. The mall was THE place to be seen; especially on Friday.
My neighbor’s mother would always chauffeur the kids around in this big blue station wagon with the sounds of Survivor’s “Vital Signs”; Night Ranger’s “Midnight Madness” or The Hooters “Nervous Night” albums blaring through the Kenwood stereo. Ah, life was good.
You can read more of one of my favorite Friday memories here.
And the number one thing I loved most about Friday growing up:
1. The Incredible Hulk: The television show that starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. I would literally be sitting in class ignoring the teacher while daydreaming of that night’s episode. “Will David Banner cure himself of the Hulk tonight?” I’d ask myself; already knowing that the answer was “No”.
In fact, I was so naive that for the longest time I even believed that Bill Bixby and The Hulk were one and the same. I actually believed Bixby really changed into the Hulk; “hiding” his true muscular physique until necessary. I even remember seeing Lou Ferrigno’s name appear in the opening credits and think: “Who the hell is this guy? I’ve never seen him in any episode.”
Although my siblings seemed to be more interested in watching the Dukes of Hazard on Friday nights (and who could blame them, Daisy Duke was pretty hot) when 8pm rolled around at the Wood household, I laid claim to the 19″ television. At least for the next sixty minutes.
There you have it, the three things I loved most about Friday! Here’s hoping your Friday is just as great! And feel free to comment with your own favorite Friday childhood memories!
Singer-songwriter Jack Dolgen has just released his sophomore album, “Wandering Times” on his own Not One Thing Records. The album is the follow-up to his hugely successful Maricopa album; songs from which were featured on such shows as “How I Met Your Mother”, “16 and Pregnant”, “One Tree Hill”, and “Royal Pains”.
Produced by Mike Geier (B.O.B., Cee-Lo Green), Chuck Brody (Ra Ra Riot, Ted Leo) and Jack Dolgen himself, “Wandering Times” is an eleven song opus that’s filled with organic pop, catchy choruses and melodies that are highly addictive.
In addition to releasing the much-anticipated follow-up album, Jack continues to involve himself in a variety of interesting projects, including co-writing and producing comedy songs with Rachel Bloom (Robot Chicken, Allen Gregory); and composing music for film and TV, such as the theme song for season two of NTSF:SD:SUV:: (Adult Swim)
I had the opportunity to speak with Jack and get the insight about the new album. In “Wandering Times”, Jack takes the listener on a journey of thought and self-reflection. And in the end, we discover that sometimes you need to wander in order to find home.
goJimmygo (gJg): What’s the inspiration behind “Wandering Times”?
Jack Dolgen (JD): I decided to quit music a few years ago. Even though I was living in New York and had already made an album (Maricopa), I felt that everything was sort of crumbling around me. So, I put all of my instruments away, moved to LA and closed the door.
I quit and then the TV and film placements began coming in for my first record. Opportunities to record for TV shows kind of drew me back into recording and it was all going so well, I realized that I can’t really get away from music. I started recording songs in chunks, just to test the water and see if I could handle it. Eventually, I was back in completely.
gJg: What’s your songwriting process like?
JD: It’s different every time. Sometimes I’ll just be out walking or driving and a melody will come to me and I’ll record it on my phone. Other times, I just pick up the instrument and see what happens. All of the songs started out on just acoustic guitar or piano and then build from there. I try and take a stay out of the way approach to the early part of the songwriting process, when an idea comes from wherever it comes from. Then after that stage is over, I jump in and work, rework, tweak and refine.
Baby I’m Afraid Tonight: This song is about vulnerability and honesty in a relationship. The idea that it’s not the times when we’re perfect for each other that bring us closer together; it’s the times when we’re vulnerable.
In the song, I’m singing to a lover but in a sense, I’m also signing to myself. It’s a hard thing to be vulnerable. In a lot of my songs, I strive to learn from them.
gJg: What’s next for you?
JD: I’ve already begun writing songs for a third album. I’m always writing and working with different songwriters. I have a theme for NTSF:SD:SUV, the second season of which airs this week.
I’m also finishing up an album with Rachel Bloom. It’s her first full-length release. In addition to being an incredible musical talent, she’s also a tremendous comedic talent as well. We’ve worked on quite a few comedy songs and videos together. She’s phenomenal.
For More information on Jack Dolgen check out the links below:
Article first published as Jack Dolgen Releases New Album: Wandering Times on Technorati.
Super coolness runs deep. Just ask Tom Schanley.
The actor, known for his bad guy roles is excited to discuss his latest film project, “Get The Gringo”; the action thriller starring Mel Gibson which was recently released on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Gibson plays a convict, “Driver” sent to a Mexican prison for stealing money from a crime boss. While adjusting to life inside of the town-like confines and plotting his escape, he befriends a young boy with a rare blood type and fondness for cigarettes. It’s up to the “Gringo” to save the boy’s life and break out of prison.
Tom plays the role of “American Hitman”, one of many nefarious villains out to acquire the money stolen by the Gringo.
Schanley himself is no stranger to the entertainment medium. His accomplishments include credits on stage (“Getting Out”, “The Wager”, “Julius Caesar”), on television (“Dexter”, “Criminal Minds”) and in film (“A Better Life”, “Courage Under Fire”, “Conspiracy Theory”). In addition to his acting, Tom’s written several screenplays and also donates his time to various causes to help those less fortunate.
It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Tom continues to exercise his theater chops; and will appear in an upcoming version of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” at the Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara, California September 13-23, 2012
I had the opportunity to speak with Tom and get hit thoughts on “Get The Gringo” as well as some of his other acting roles, writing and charitable works.
TS: Mel Gibson plays a bad guy who steals money from another bad guy and winds up getting his money taken by corrupt police and thrown into a Mexican prison. The story then follows his quest to try and get the money back. In the interim, he falls in love in the most unlikely of places as he tries to get back what he had lost.
I like to say that it’s Mel Gibson going back to his old “Lethal Weapon” self.
gJg: How did this role come about for you?
TS: I liked the script and wanted to be a part of it. I’ve also known Mel for quite some time; we both shared the same agent for about 20 years.
Initially, I was called in for the lawyer role; Peter Stormare’s character but the producers said that they really liked me for the role of the hit man.
I’ve always loved playing the bad guy so I said: “Hell, yeah!” <laughs>
gJg: What’s it like working with Mel Gibson?
TS: Mel’s always been a great guy to me. I worked with him before in the movie, “Conspiracy Theory”. He has a great sense of humor and is just a great guy to be around. It was a nice shoot down in Mexico.
Even though Mel wasn’t directing, it was a light set and we were all just having fun knowing that we were making a great movie.
TS: It was around the time when I was sixteen. I was just a kid in high school performing in the local community theater. I grew up outside of Boston in a little conservative town called Manchester. It was New England and “the norm” there was pretty much finishing high-school, going off to college and then finding a job.
I remember I was driving home from the theater one night with a friend of mine and we were talking about what we were going to do once school was finished. I told her that I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do and then she asked the question: “Well, how about acting?”
Honestly, I had never really given much thought about it before. To me, acting was so much fun; how could it possibly be my “job”. But, it gave me something to think about and it wasn’t long before I said “Yeah, let’s try this on for size and see what happens!”
gJg: You’re also an accomplished writer!
TS: Yes, my writing partner Jon Lindstrom and I wrote a script a few years ago called “The Hard Easy” that was made into a feature film. It took quite a long time to write but we knew we had a good story. It was exciting.
At the time, my agent’s former assistant, Dan had left the agency to work for Joel Silver. So, I gave the script to him to read and critique. He wound up calling my agent and telling him that they wanted to buy it. Jon and I decided to hold on to it for a while and eventually sold the rights a few years later.
Now, I can add writer to my list of achievements. <laughs>
gJg: What do you find are the differences between filming a movie as opposed to doing series television?
TS: The time factor is really the big thing. A TV shoot is typically run on an eight-day shooting schedule. With feature film, you have the luxury of having more time to develop characters because they’re shot at a much slower pace.
gJg: Tell me a little about your charity work.
I work with the Los Angeles Mission. The homelessness problem is a very big concern for me. It’s hard to believe that in this country there are so many homeless people. I like supporting the mission because I know the money goes to the right places. I’m also involved with various other causes as well.
gJg: What are you currently working on now?
TS: Right now, I’m working on a play that’s a labor of love. I play Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. It’s one of those rare Tennessee Williams pieces that you don’t get to do a lot. It’s great fun!
Article first published as Actor Tom Schanley Discusses Get The Gringo on Technorati.
Jessica Gahring has unleashed her full potential.
From the moment I first met her, I knew it was only a matter of time before the artist, actress, model and Mom put down the moniker of “Shop Manager” of NY INK, pick up her own tattoo machine and open Ms. Dixie’s Tattoo & Pin Up Parlour in Troy, New York.
With the unique shop layout that reflects the 1950′s and her love of pin-ups, Jessica is about to make her own mark on the business.
Her love of art began at a very young age and was nurtured by family and through education. On the television show, she may have been portrayed as a person with limited experience in the art of tattooing. In reality, quite the opposite is true. Jessica is already gaining notoriety for her work from people all over.
I had the chance to speak with Jessica as she prepares to open the doors to her shop for the very first time. She may have butted heads with Ami James for entertainment purposes, but in “real life” Jessica Gahring is making her dreams come true.
goJimmygo (gJg): Jessica, it’s so great speaking with you. Congratulations!
Jessica Gahring (JG): Thank you! This was definitely a long time coming.
gJg: How are you doing?
JG: I’m doing great. I’m tattooing full-time now, which was a given. I have people who want to travel and come see me!
gJg: Did you always have the dream of opening your own shop?
JG: That was always the plan. Even when I worked with my friend Lydia years ago we almost bought a studio together. It didn’t end up happening at the time, so we decided to wait. I went into banking to get more into the business side of things. I knew I wasn’t going to be there long.
gJg: Why did NY Ink choose not to showcase your talent?
JG: The producers didn’t think it would make much of story. Even though I was already working with Lydia, they didn’t want to reveal that I had any sort of real background in the industry.
The truth is, we play characters in a “reality-type” show. The public wants confrontation and that’s what sells. But the person they showed in the first season is not who I really am as an individual.
gJg: What makes Ms. Dixie’s different from your typical tattoo shop?
JG: I’ve got a pin-up modeling theme; with a 1950′s, vintage feel to it. It looks like it belongs way back when. It’s classy and something completely different from all other tattoo parlors. I’ll be tattooing full-time at one of three stations. I never wanted to have a huge studio. I wanted something that felt like home when people walk in and I think I’ve accomplished that. It’s very true to what I imagined it to be.
gJg: Do you have anyone else helping you in this endeavor?
JG: Yes, my boyfriend Christian is my business partner and he’ll be scheduling and managing appointments for the shop. He’s the one that holds it all together.
JG: I have an amazing artist, Jon Abbott, who will be working with me. He’s a traditional style artist. The third slot I’m going to leave open for guest artists until someone else comes along. I’m not sure what will happen down the road but I am really excited about where I am at right now!
gJg: Where did your love of art begin?
JG: I’ve always loved art even as a child. My Dad painted and drew pictures and even from a young age I was amazed that you could actually look at something and put what you saw down on paper.
I have art awards from elementary school and graduated high-school with a fine arts degree. Even when I went to college; I studied sociology but still took art classes. Art has always been a huge part of my life.
gJg: Where did your interest in tattooing begin?
I grew up in a very conservative family where tattoos were sort of taboo and something that was untouchable. I think because of that, it made me want to understand it more.
During high school and college, I would often design tattoos for other people. To me, tattooing is art on the ultimate canvas: the skin. I think that’s very cool!
gJg: What’s one thing everyone needs to know about getting tattoos?
JG: Be knowledgeable. My first tattoo was a butterfly on my upper back that I got right after high school. Unfortunately, it was done poorly and I ended up covering it up.
Most people between the ages of 18-21 usually either hate their first tattoo or end up covering it, so it’s really important to understand what makes a good tattoo and the health and safety aspects of getting one.
JG: I really don’t have a personal favorite; all of them mean something to me. I have some that represent my daughter that are very special and the very first tattoo I ever did was on myself, so that has importance as well.
gJg: When is your official grand opening?
JG: We are open for business right now but we’re having our huge grand opening the week of Aug 11th. That’s where we’ll have the ribbon-cutting, balloons and prizes. I will be tattooing two radio DJs live on-air during the Grand Opening week: one from Jamz 96.3 and the other from our local country radio station, 104.9 The Cat.
I also happen to turn thirty on August 12th, so it’s perfect timing.
I figure, if I’m going to do thirty, what better way than by opening a tattoo shop?
For information on Ms Dixies Tattoo Pin-Up Parlour Click Here
Article first published as Jessica Gahring Is Making Her Mark on Technorati.
Gabrielle Stone has acting in her genes.
Her mother is none other than the amazing Dee Wallace (“The Hills Have Eyes”, “E.T”, “Cujo” among many other great films) and her father is the late Christopher Stone who also appeared in a multitude of films and TV shows as well.
2012 will be a breakout year for Gabrielle. She has no less than four film projects scheduled for release and is currently working alongside her legendary Mom in another.
And then there’s the one in which she plays a role she knows very well.
Gabrielle will be portraying herself in the upcoming movie “CUT!”, a story which indirectly pays homage to the classic horror film “The Hills Have Eyes” and co-stars Suze Lanier-Bramlett, another amazing actress who starred alongside Gabrielle’s Mom in the original film.
“CUT!” also features the talents of David Rountree, William McNamara, David Banks and Dahlia Salem.
Here is a quick synopsis of “CUT!” from the film’s website:
Nothing is as it seems as an ex-con and aspirant filmmaker set out to manufacture a horror film by scaring real people; however, when it goes too far and someone actually dies, the pair decide that killing for real on film is the way to make a truly terrifying movie.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Gabrielle and discussing “CUT!” as well as some of her other upcoming projects! She also tells me what it was like growing up in an acting family.
goJimmygo (gJg): Gabrielle, it’s so great to speak with you!
Gabrielle Stone (GS): It’s great to speak with you too!
gJg: Tell me a little bit about “CUT!”
GS: “CUT!” was so much fun because I actually got to play myself. David Rountree is such a great director. I loved working with him and everyone else in cast as well. They’re all fantastic!
gJg: David (Rountree) wears several hats in this movie. He wrote, directed and stars in it as well.
GS: That’s right! It’s really his “baby”. I haven’t seen any of the final footage myself but from the people I’ve spoken with who have, it’s REALLY good!
gJg: What was it like working with Suze Lanier-Bramlett?
GS: Suze is awesome. She’s so full of life and is absolutely wonderful. We had a great time together. In a way it was kind of like coming full circle because she did the original “The Hills Have Eyes” with my Mom. It was very cool to be on set with her.
gJg: What’s your role in “CUT!”?
GS: Without saying too much to give it away: I play myself and am supposed to be starring in a new movie that Suze is writing and directing. She plays herself as well.
I end up getting into some trouble with David Bank’s character and there are plenty of pretty intense moments!
gJg: Since there are references to “The Hills Have Eyes”, are there references to your Mom in the movie as well?
GS: Yes. Although my Mom doesn’t appear in the movie they do reference her. At one point it’s even mentioned that I’m “E.T.’s Mom’s kid.” <laughs>
GS: It was awesome! It was actually hard to be mean to each other in character at times because we were laughing and having so much fun with it!
gJg: Your Mom and Dad were both in the industry. What was it like for you growing up in such a great acting environment?
GS: It was fantastic! If my Mom knew she would be gone for more than a week she’d take me on set with her. So I was able to travel all over. I traveled to New Zealand with her when she filmed “The Frighteners” with Peter Jackson and I also got to go to South Africa when she was filming over there. I was really lucky.
gJg: Is that what motivated you to start acting yourself?
GS: I think in a way it did. I grew up around it and had always said that I would do it. But it wasn’t until I was 18 and did my first film where I walked off the set and said: “Oh my God, I don’t ever want to do anything else!” <laughs>
gJg: What’s your favorite movie that your Mom was in?
GS: “Cujo”! After I saw her in that movie I was never worried about being at home alone because I knew my Mom could kick ass with a shotgun! <laughs>
Seriously though, that was such an intense role for her. She was actually treated for exhaustion for three weeks when it was over. I still to this day think she should have gotten an Academy Award for it.
So, on the day that I get mine I will be dedicating it to her. <laughs>
gJg: You also have another movie in post production right now: “869″. What’s the premise of that movie?
GS: “869″ was a film I shot last August. It’s kind of like a combination of “Big Brother Reality TV” meets “Paranormal Activity”. There’s definitely a lot of hot girls and a lot of blood. <laughs>
gJg: What do you like to do when you’re not acting?
GS: My other “day job” that I love is teaching dance. I teach eleven classes a week. I was actually doing this before I started acting.
gJg: What’s your favorite horror movie?
GS: That’s a tough one. Off the top of my head one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen is “The Strangers” just because it’s so creepy and realistic.
The ones that scare me the most are the ones that I think can actually happen. The ones with ghosts don’t really affect me as much as the ones with psychotic people who want to kill you – those are the ones that really get to me. <laughs>
gJg: Another project you have coming up is “Unhallowed”. Will this be the first time you’ll be acting alongside your Mom?
GS: Actually, no. I did a film with her called “Beyond” that we filmed in Roswell, New Mexico last Summer. That’s also in post production right now.
gJg: What’s “Unhallowed” about?
GS:” Unhallowed” is a psychological thriller but with a religious twist. It’s about a young kid who goes to Peru for a graduation trip, gets into trouble and goes missing.
My character’s husband gets hired to go to the family’s house to do some religious work for them and the intensity ensues from there. It’s a cool, different kind of script and I’m really excited to begin working on it!
Article first published as A Conversation with Actress Gabrielle Stone on Technorati.