Tag: TV

‘Turn’: Actor Samuel Roukin Discusses Revolutionary War Spy Drama


What do you get when you combine phenomenal writing and acting with a historical based spy thriller? You get, “Turn: Washington’s Spies”, the new AMC drama series that tells the true story of spies during the American Revolution who helped give rise to modern espionage tactics and gave freedom to our country.

“Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete First Season” is a new 3-disc set that’s available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD. The package contains all ten episodes from the show’s first season as well as a plethora of bonus features, including a history of the show, deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and crew.

English actor Samuel Roukin plays the role of John Graves Simcoe on “Turn: Washington’s Spies”. A ruthless lieutenant whose high stakes, emotional affections for the beautiful Anna Strong (Heather Lind) is matched only by the viciousness he holds for the rebel alliance.

I recently spoke with Roukin about the release of the first season of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”. He also gives me a sneak peek at the brand new season of the series, which airs April 13 on AMC.

How did the role of John Graves Simcoe come about for you?

I had originally read for a bunch of roles for the show when they offered me the role of Simcoe. In the original pilot, Simcoe is killed. So we filmed the scene where Simcoe was shot and I thought that was all there would be. Then after the show was picked up, I remember getting a call from producers telling me that the show just wasn’t the same without Simcoe and that they were going to rewrite the pilot and keep the character on the show. That’s really how it all began.

What was it about the show that attracted you?

One thing you must know is that in England, we get taught absolutely nothing about the American Revolution…. and we all know why! [laughs]. But when pilot season comes around each year, the really good scripts just pop out. Apart from that, the writing on this pilot was just phenomenal. You could see the world and the characters and the relationships were very clear. I immediately connected with the material and wanted to be involved. I wasn’t thinking about Simcoe initially, but when the time came my whole creative outlook just opened up. I saw so many options with this guy and had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do with him. He’s a character of such depth and complexity with so many different layers and extremes. He’s someone who’s completely viscous and unpredictable and it’s been great fun developing him.

In season one we see quite a bit of Simcoe’s affections for Anna. Will we be seeing more of this dynamic unfold in season two?

Absolutely. Simcoe really believes that there’s something there with Anna, and it’s interesting that he’s not just trying to intimidate her. In his mind, he really believes he has a chance with her and that there’s some sort of connection. That’s what keeps him coming back. I think he’s genuinely in love with her.

In the season one finale we see a brutal execution scene. Do you feel at that moment we’ve started to see the real face of John Simcoe?

What’s great about the development of the story is that by the end of season one every character has been changed significantly. For Simcoe, he’s always been expected to toe the line under an authority in which he believes to be indecisive and lacking in real military might. So when the crisis moment happens and the town they’ve been sent to defend is under attack, in his mind it’s very clear what needs to happen. I think one of the most dangerous things about Simcoe is that he knows exactly what the solution to the problem should be — even though it doesn’t chime with most human beings [laughs]. In his mind, Major Hewlett [Burn Gorman] wasn’t doing his job and the rebels needed to be sent a message. So in that regard he’s really acting on military instinct. He’s also hell bent on revenge for what’s happened to him and it was the perfect opportunity for payback.

What can fans expect from season two of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”?

From Simcoe, you’ll see what happens to him after his arrest. We know through history that he eventually takes over the Queen’s Rangers and we’re heading towards that. The Queens Rangers are a group of Special Forces sent in to do specific jobs and are a lethal force. Generally speaking, the tempo and velocity of the show goes off the charts in season two and it becomes a more intense, high stakes spy show with some really brutal events that take place. It’s all very exciting.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor when you were growing up?

Yes. From a young age I was drawn to it. My parents would always take me to the theater when I was growing up and I grew up in a family where there was a lot of storytelling and it fascinated me. I got involved in theater early on but didn’t know that it could be a job until late into my childhood. For me, it was always just one big, fun thing to do. But once I found out that you could do it for a living, that was it! Everything I did from that point on was driven on making it happen!

If you had to describe season two of “Turn: Washington’s Spies” in just two words, what would they be?

That’s easy. “High intensity”.

Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete First Season
Is available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD
Season Two premieres Monday, April 13 on AMC

True Beauty: Model And Actress Denise Bidot Discusses Career

DeniseBidot2Model and actress Denise Bidot is turning heads and making statements, not only for her beauty but also for her radiant charm. The international Plus Sized Model and mom has traveled the world, working with many of the industry’s top clients such as Macys, Old Navy, Lane Bryant and Forever 21.

Bidot also stars on Nuvo Tv’s hit show “Curvy Girls”, which provides an all-access pass inside the glamorous world of professional modeling. The show has garnered a huge following of fans since its debut, receiving praise for highlighting a different side of the modeling world and for encouraging women to embrace their bodies no matter what shape or size.

Much like the show, Bidot’s own story is one of inspiration and letting nothing stand in the way of success. I spoke with her about how she got her start, what a typical day is like in the life of a model and how true beauty really does come from within.

How did you get your start in modeling?

I was one of those kids growing up who was always enamored by the whole aspect of entertainment and all of the glitz and glamor associated with it. I knew what I wanted to do early on so I started taking acting classes. When I was 18, I decided to move to LA and started going to auditions. I remember everyone I met kept telling me that I had a lot of charisma and that I was so much of a “leading lady” person, but my body type was something that wasn’t quite what they were looking for.

Seeing that it was an industry that I wanted to be in, my mom convinced me to go back to school for makeup and I eventually started doing freelance work for a plus sized model for a photo shoot. That was when a photographer asked me if I’d be interested in modeling for her as well. I had never done anything like that before but the next thing you know, I’m shooting pictures with her and before long started getting calls for work. It was really one of those right place at the right time type of stories. It’s been an amazing journey of self discovery and a dream come true.

What are some of the things you’ve learned about being a Plus Sized Model?

I think there’s something to be said about what’s lacking in fashion and for me, it’s great to be a part of something that’s at the forefront of change. It’s really all about embracing every woman and the diversity of her shape, ethnicity and age. Of course, I would prefer to just be called “model”, but it’s the technicality of it right now with fashion. Hopefully it will eventually be dropped but right now it’s cool to be involved with fashion in a way that people don’t necessarily expect.

What’s a typical photo shoot like?

A lot of people think it’s all glitz and glamor but there’s really a lot of work and travel involved as well. We’ll usually get up in the morning and have our hair and makeup done (the fun part), but over the course of the day there may be as many as 20 or 30 different changes. It’s a definite workout for ten hours, but as a woman it’s the best job in the world. You get to play dress-up and feel amazingly empowered.

Who are some of the people who inspire you?

There are a lot of women who inspire me. I’m a big fan of Jennifer Lopez. As a Latino woman, it’s remarkable what she’s achieved. I admire her for her production work, music and film. She’s been able to grasp the whole realm of the industry. I also love Penelope Cruz, Jessica Alba and Sophia Vergara. Women who’ve learned not only to love themselves but have also inspired others to love themselves as well.

DeniseBidot3What does your daughter think about your career?

My daughter is a princess and thinks that what I do is so cool. But she also sees first hand that you have to really work hard for what you want. That nothing is impossible and real beauty can come in many different ways. It’s a great journey and I’m so thankful to be able to share it with her.

What advice can you give to women who are self conscious about themselves or think they’re never “good enough”?

First, you need to stop thinking that you’re not perfect. Sometimes the media tries to make people believe that there is that “perfect” woman but the truth is, there isn’t. You need to be happy with who you are; with none of the make-up, hair extensions or fancy clothes. It’s about the woman inside. Every woman has her own specialness and nothing is impossible. I like to say, “There’s no wrong way to be a woman.” But don’t just say it. Believe it!

Do you have other interests outside of modeling?

I love art, movies, painting and playing in the park with my daughter. There’s so much beauty and things that can be done in the world. I’m still growing as a woman and learning about who I am.

For more info on Curvy Girls Click Here

Click Here For Denise Bidot’s Official Website

Bobbi Brown Discusses New Book: Dirty Rocker Boys

dirty rocker boysShe’s been a model, video vixen, rock star wife and a reality TV star. But Bobbi Brown has taken things to an entirely different level as published author. The ex-wife of the late Warrant vocalist Jani Lane is dishing the dirt about the LA scene in her new tell-all book, “Dirty Rocker Boys: Love And Lust On The Sunset Strip.”

In it, Brown talks about her journey from Louisiana beauty queen to the glamorous life of LA. From her early modeling career and time spent on TV’s Star Search to how she became the infamous “Cherry Pie” girl in the Warrant video of the same name.

Brown also pulls no punches when it comes to detailing her sometimes stormy relationships with Lane, Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe), Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) and even a young Leonardo DiCaprio; often going into vivid detail about the sex, drugs and debauchery that ran amok in the 90’s. Her book is a roller-coaster ride of emotion and a refreshingly quick read. More importantly, it’s an open and honest look at the life of a Louisiana girl who’s come full circle.

In addition to the release of Dirty Rocker Boys: Love And Lust On The Sunset Strip, Brown’s reality show along with other fellow rock ladies has just completed a second successful season. I spoke with her about the book as well as her relationship with Lane and the close circle of friends that’s become known as the Ex-Wives of Rock.

What made you decide to write a book?

I had read about a dozen or so rock books that I had been mentioned in. As I was reading the stories I just remember thinking, “Well, that’s not exactly right.” I felt the stories were more serving the ones who wrote them and weren’t really being accurate or honest. So I thought I would do a retort, but also have it be what life was like on the scene from a woman’s perspective.

bobbibrownWhat was the writing process like?

Caroline [Ryder] and I met and hit it off right away. She really got my sense of humor and what I was looking for and came back with the best perspective of my voice. There would be times where she would come over and we’d stay up all night just talking stories. I couldn’t have asked for better ghost writer. I wanted it to be realistic and for the reader to feel like they were one of my friends and I was talking to them about it.

After you arrived in LA, did you think that you would be immune to the drugs, sneaking around and cheating?

I think that when you get into a situation like I was in, you always sort-of believe in the back of your mind that somehow you’re “special” and that’s not going to happen to you. But that’s delusional. And the thing is it’s not even personal, but I think it’s the nature of the beast when it comes to dating a musician.

It’s been discussed that Jani’s time with Warrant was strained due to his addiction. What was his relationship like with other members of the band while you were with him?

They all got along well and never really had any serious rifts. It was “party scene-ish” and just very social. There were no serious emotional bonds or loyalties that I witnessed. In the same respect, they had known each other for quite a while and had history together. That’s why I was a little bothered after Jani passed that they didn’t make a bigger deal about it. I took that personally. I do know that he put them through a lot of grief, but I think that was part of his illness and addiction.

You mentioned your regret for not being there much for your daughter Taylar while she was growing up. Is there anything else you regret?

You know, I could actually sit here and say that I have a little bit of regret about all of the decisions that I’ve made. Looking back, you can always say things like ‘”Hey, maybe I should have done this differently or tried a little bit harder.”  But I’m really grateful every day for what I have and I think that has a lot to do with the way things are going for me now. I’ve also learned that the more grateful you are, the less sad you are.

Did you discover anything else about yourself after you finished writing the book?

It was very cathartic. I didn’t go into it imagining that it would end up being therapeutic, but going through all of these stories opened up a lot things that I had suppressed over the years. Some of which I never really had any closure with. It was a nice release.

Let’s talk a little about “Ex-Wives of Rock”. What’s your relationship really like with the girls on the show?

Believe it or not, it’s exactly what you see on camera. We’ve known each other for more than 20 years so it’s very much like a family. We may have our battles, but it’s never a situation where one of us will say “I hate you and I’m never going to speak to you again!” We may fight and argue but at the end of the day, we all care for each other.

Ex-Wives of Rock (l to r): Bobbi Brown, Susan "Blue" Dixon, Athena Lee, Sharise Neil
Ex-Wives of Rock (l to r): Bobbi Brown, Susan “Blue” Dixon, Athena Lee, Sharise Neil

Have any of the people you talked about in the book approached you to refute your side of things?

Knock on wood… Not yet! [laughs]. What I will say though is that it’s my own perspective of my story and I was very honest and open about it. I might have said things that some people didn’t want discussed or talked about, but it’s my life too. It is what it is. My favorite thing to say is “If you didn’t want anyone to find out about it, then maybe you shouldn’t have done it!” [laughs].

BobbiWhat advice would you give to people who might want to follow in your foot steps?

Don’t just think that you’re going to go out to LA and “give it a shot.” That kind of attitude just won’t fly. That’s when you can get caught up in the mistrust and be side tracked by opportunists. Make sure that it’s something you’re really passionate about and driven to do. It’s a crazy city and everyone here is here for a reason.

Is there a message you’d like people to take from reading your book?

I don’t want people to come away from it feeling sorry for me. When they finish the book, I want them to feel that my life has come full circle and maybe say “Good for her!” I want them to feel good about what they’ve read. I also don’t want them to feel like I was a victim, because I wasn’t. All of my life experiences were my own choice.

No one made me do any of the things I did. But in the end, they all made me the person that I am today.

Be sure to check out Bobbi’s Facebook Page and follow her on Ex-Wives Of Rock

Hollywood Is Hard For Frutron and Kimmy Kim


Somewhere amid all of the glitz and glamour of the Los Angeles scene lies the somewhat bizarre world of Frutron and Kimmy Kim. It’s a world where wedgies are doled out as freely as candy, Fruity Pebbles are used at bath salts and cheeseburgers replace silicon implants.

Collectively, they are known as Hollywood is Hard, an alternate reality web show about two girls who navigate through the cartoon world of Hollywood.

With nearly one million views on You Tube, these ladies really know how to tickle the funny bone. And although their subject matter sometimes crosses the line between the risqué and the extreme, you’d be hard pressed to find two women who are as funny and open about their “pseudo-lives” as Frutron and Kimmy Kim.

I sat down (with my underwear facing away from her or course) with Frutron and got the inside scoop on these wedgie giving, wiener lovin’, Fruity Pebble bathing beauties as she share the secrets behind Hollywood is Hard. During the course of our conversation, Frutron (the nerdy one who refuses to reveal her real name) informed me that there has been talk of the wedgie videos going away, much to the chagrin of this reporter. This would be a tragedy of epic proportions.

Kimmy Kim and Frutron of Hollywood is Hard
Kimmy Kim and Frutron of Hollywood Is Hard

What’s your story?

FT: I would like to say that I was homeless and sleeping in my car and ran into all of this success but none of that’s true. The truth is,  I went to high school in San Francisco and went to art school at the same time. Originally, I thought I wanted to draw comic books, but a year into that I began thinking that comic books just weren’t cool and that I’d never make money drawing (of course, now comic books ARE cool). And although I didn’t pursue drawing, I can storyboard really well which helps with our production.

What brought you to LA?

FT: I wanted to become an actor and was doing commercials; going back and forth between San Francisco and LA. for auditions. A few years ago, I decided to leave my safety net and move here.

I’ve never been a person who was passionate about being a “SERIOUS” actor, but always loved comedy and dreamed of being on Saturday Night Live or MAD TV.

How did you meet Kimmy Kim?

FT: Kimmy Kim and I would see each other in passing while going on auditions. At certain points in our lives, we both had similar looks and knew each other from acting jobs. I always thought she was funny but never thought I’d actually be working with her.

One night, we ended up being at a writing session together that one of our mutual friends had set up. We were both at a point in our careers where we wanted to do something where we were in control. I’m not sure how it is for men, but as a lady you really risk a lot by doing movies that turn out to not be the type of movie you thought it was going to be. You don’t want to have to say, “Oh, GREAT! Now I’m a Sci-fi lesbian space alien in a shit movie!” [laughs]

The other thing is, we both wanted to do something for our career instead of waiting around for some asshole who’s going to want a blow job to give us a part in some shitty movie. Honestly dude, I’m horrible at giving them so it wouldn’t get me a movie part anyway. I’m terrible in the sack so I don’t have that going for me. [laughs]

Our really good friend, Andrew Bentler, who’s the most amazingly talented editor actually knew both of us separately. He was the one who suggested that Kimmy Kim and I should do something together. And once she and I got together, we both found out we were on the same page.

Wedgie of Death


FT: I have to tell you, ‘Wieners’ is my favorite episode. When I watch it, it’s not even like watching us.

Fruity Pebbles Bath Time

How do you come up with ideas?

FT: It’s all about what goes on in our daily lives. For instance, one day Kimmy Kim texted me and said (jokingly) “Frutron? I want to get a boob job.” And then I said, “You should stuff cheeseburgers in your bra!” And that would become an episode.

Kimmy Kim Gets Boobs

That’s how it usually starts. We start off with an idea and then everyone puts in stuff. We’ll all write together and then Andrew is just fantastic about taking those ideas and turning them into a story. Basically, we take shit that happens in our lives and then horrifically exaggerate what actually happens.

For more on Frutron, Kimmy Kim and Hollywood is Hard Click Here


Actress Julie Piekarski’s Mission: Dancing With The Stars

Julie Piekarski and The Facts of Life cast

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.

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.
You can read the rest of my interview with Julie on Technorati by clicking here.

Watch for an extended interview on this blog soon and help get her on the show!

Diane Franklin’s Excellent Adventure

Diane Franklin’s new book, “Diane Franklin:The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s” is a look back at a career of one of the most amazing actresses to come out of the MTV generation.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been thirty years since Diane’s first feature film role in “The Last American Virgin”. The raunchy sex comedy about three friends who were trying to…. well, you know what they’re trying to do.

But, aside from their testosterone fueled quest and Diane’s innocence, for me no single movie exemplifies a slice of the 1980′s better than LAV. When you see the fashions and hear the soundtrack laden with songs by U2, Journey, The Cars and REO Speedwagon; timeless classics now but back then, songs that were fresh and new, it just takes you back. Back to a time of complete innocence.

The thing about Last American Virgin is that it’s not just a movie, it’s a slice of time. And whether it was her beautiful smile or curly locks, I still found a way to forgive Diane for the horrible choice she made at the end of the movie.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Diane about her amazing book and career. The enthusiasm she has for her written word is matched only by the talent she has as an actress.

goJimmygo (gJg): To this day whenever I watch The Last American Virgin, it’s almost like being in a time machine.

Diane Franklin (DF): I agree. LAV brings that 80’s generation back to their teen years. At the beginning of the 80’s, movies that were made had such a rawness to them. The films were real gritty and even the subject matter was grittier. Then in the mid  80’s, movies started to become more polished and upbeat. I’m so happy that I was chosen for that role.  Even though it’s a sex comedy, there’s something that rings true about it, and it doesn’t leave you.

gJg: LAV was also your first feature film as well.

DF: Yes it was. I had actually been auditioning for years prior to getting the role. I was doing good readings but things just weren’t happening. They’d always hire a lead who was someone with a “name’ or some notoriety. And I wasn’t getting the smaller parts because I couldn’t play the best friend; I was told I was too “noticeable”. For my first role to be a lead was just meant to be, and it was a big break for me in my career.

gJg: What made you decide to write a book about your career?

DF: My daughter used to have a crush on Jemaine Clement, a musician and actor. One day, we actually had the chance to meet him and she was in heaven about it. I said to myself, “Look at the happiness that this man brings, and he has absolutely no idea.” I’ve always been recognized a lot and decided it would be great to write a book as a way to give something back to people.

I came to the point of view where I had an “excellent adventure” and was an 80’s “babe”. I found words that were indicative of the 80’s but, I also wanted to talk about everything I’ve done in my career; both the good and the bad. This book exemplifies both my life and journey as an actress. What’s also unique about it, aside from the stories about my journey, is that it also lets you look back and see what the 80’s were really like. There are really are no other books like it. If you know me, you’re definitely going to be into my book. If you don’t know me, but you love the 80’s you’ll love my book anyway!

gJg: What was the writing process like for you?

DF: It felt natural to write and everything just fell right into place. I wanted to make sure I wrote it from my point of view and not someone else putting my thoughts in their own words. This is me. When you read it, it feels like you’ve been sitting with me in Starbucks having a conversation [laughs].

gJg: Where can people get a copy of your book?

DF: Right now, you can get it on Amazon and there’s also a Kindle version of it available as well. Eventually, I’m going to try for a wider distribution.

Do you have any appearances coming up?

I’ll be at New York Comic Con in October. It’s sort of a bizarre schedule but, I’ll be at the Javits Center in NYC Oct 12th from 4:15 – 5:15pm and Oct 13th from 10:45 – 11:45am. In addition to signings for my book, I’ll also have photos from my films available and be taking pictures as well. It will be a great time and a lot of fun.

gJg: Have you stayed in touch with any of your cast mates?

DF: I have. In fact, I recently hosted a radio podcast for CRAGG called, “Babes of the 80’s”. I brought in people I had worked with and we talked about the movies we did together.  I had Amanda Wyss and E G Daily from “Better of Dead”;  Kimmy Robertson and Winnie Freedman from “Last American Virgin” and Kimberley LaBelle Kates from “Bill and Ted”. It went really well.

This time around, I’m planning to do a Halloween Special with Horror Babes and bring in some friends I know who’ve acted in other shows. There are so many beautiful 80’s actresses and it’s so much fun to get together and reminisce.

What else do you have coming up?

DF: I’ve just finished doing commentary with Tony Ginnane for the Blu Ray release of “Second Time Lucky”. The other thing I’ve been involved with is acting in my daughter’s films.

She’s an amazing writer and director and actually won her first award when she was twelve. I play the voice of the computer in a film she did called “Humanized“. It was recently in the Future Filmmaker category for the Los Angeles Film Festival. She’s also completed another film called “My Better Half “.

I’ve heard rumors of a Last American Virgin remake. What do you know about this?

DF: Good question. Brett Ratner actually talked about me on The Howard Stern Show not too long ago and discussed his desire to do a remake. I understand why they would want to do it for another audience and also probably because of the way the original film ended. That’s the reason we all remember it so well.

It would be interesting to see what became of Karen.

DF: I think people might go crazy if I was in it. [laughs]. It would be interesting to tie it together and bring some kind of closure to the original movie. It would also be cool for people who grew up with the film to watch it and get that nostalgic feeling again. We’ll see.

1980’s This Or That With Diane Franklin….

Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday The 13th?

DF: Nightmare on Elm Street, because I was in and episode of Freddy’s Nightmares: The Bride Wore Red.

The Go Gos or The Bangles?

DF: That’s a tough one. I’d have to say Go-Gos, but I do like The Bangles too.

Diane Franklin

Love Boat or Fantasy Island?

DF: When you say it, the imagery just pops into my head [laughs]. Hmmm, The Love boat had some funny skits. I’ll go with that.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Porky’s?

DF: Even though I worked with Roger Wilson in “Second Time Lucky”,  I’d still have to say Fast Times.

A Rubik’s Cube or a Pet Rock?

DF: Pet Rock  [laughs]

Finally, REO Speedwagon or Journey?

Journey – Although every time I hear that song I think, “Uh oh, I wonder if people are thinking of that scene I was in?” [laughs].

Article first published as Diane Franklin’s Excellent Adventure on Technorati.

Jack Dolgen Releases New Album: Wandering Times

Jack Dolgen – Wandering Times

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.

Jack Dolgen

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:

Official Website * Facebook * Twitter

Article first published as Jack Dolgen Releases New Album: Wandering Times on Technorati.

Making A Difference: A Conversation with Felice Schachter

Felice Schachter is making a difference.

Most of us remember her as the wholesome brunette Nancy Olsen from the first season of Facts of Life. I personally remember her as Bernadette from the movie “Zapped!” where she played the class president and was the only one who wanted Scott Baio’s character Barney to use his newly acquired power of telekinesis for the good of mankind.

In an environment where nerdy science student Barney (Scott Baio) and rich jock Peyton (Willie Aames) promote recreational drug use and freely drink alcohol on school grounds, Felice’s character was the voice of reason – even telling Barney not to use his new-found ability to cheat at gambling!

In addition to the ridiculous antics, we as viewers also get to see the seed planted for what will become Felice’s future in real life.

In one of the later scenes, Felice’s character is shown setting up for the high school prom while wearing a Brown University sweatshirt. Normally, a movie about high school students wearing a college sweatshirt might not be all that big of a deal. But in this case it means much more. Felice had already committed herself to take a break from acting and pursue college and asked producers to wear this particular shirt for the scene. Wearing the shirt made a statement about where her life was going.

Today, Felice is making a difference in the lives of children by teaching those with special needs and helping them reach their fullest potential.

It was a pleasure for me to speak with Felice and find out what she’s been up since the “Facts of Life” days and “Zapped!”

gJg: I guess the first big questions are: How are you and what are you doing now?

Felice Schachter (FS): I’m doing really well! I’m a special education teacher working with children from 2 to 10 years old.

My job now is to work with children with special needs, especially children with autism. I use ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) to help these children learn social and language skills. I also work with the typical population, teaching them skills that raise their IQ’s, enabling them to gain acceptance into the elite private schools of New York City.

gJg: What’s a typical day like for you?

FS: As a single mother, a typical day for me includes getting my son ready for school and myself ready for work at the same time in the morning. After dropping him at school I see my students, either in their homes or at mine.

gJg: So this isn’t a typical classroom setting?

FS: No, not at all. The teaching is actually done one on one.  I go to my student’s homes, and in certain cases I may even go to their school with them.

Here’s an example: If a child I’m working with has autism, I might go to their home to do ABA (Behavior Therapy) or, if a child is high-functioning and in a school, I’ll go with them to that school to make sure they’re using appropriate behavior, language and social skills.  I support them in participating in class, finishing tasks, being flexible, etc.

To sum it up, I am an independent contractor who does early intervention and SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher) work, using ABA. I balance my day by tutoring typical kids.

gJg: That is a busy schedule!

FS: It really is, but I love what I do. I’m also fortunate because I get to work around my son’s schedule. My day is usually done when he’s done. I’ll pick him up, make dinner, help him with his homework and get ready to do the whole thing all over again the next day.

gJg: How long have you been doing this for?

FS: I’ve been doing this for about eight years now. Prior to that, I worked in film and television production.

gJg: What does a job in Film/TV production usually entail?

FS: I was a production coordinator, which meant that I coordinated everything to make the production run smoothly. I made sure the actual film is ordered, all of the actors have their scripts, pretty much everything you could think of from A-Z. Basically, I was responsible for everyone having what they needed to do their job.

gJg: I want to ask you about some of your earlier roles.

FS:  Sure!

gJg: How did you get your start with “The Facts of Life”?

FS: “The Facts of Life” actually started out as an episode on “Diff’rent Strokes”. That episode was a pilot and from there it went on to become its own series.

gJg: There was a rumor that you had actually auditioned for Kimberly on “Diff’rent Strokes”. Was that true?

FS: I not only auditioned but I actually had the part. I did the presentation for NBC but they decided that they wanted someone who was more “wholesome”.  So the role went to Dana Plato.

gJg: Were you originally to have much larger role on “Facts of Life” as well?

FS: Yes, it started out that way but then they minimized it, and ultimately my character was taken off.

gJg: What do you suppose was the reason for that?

FS: I think it was because there were too many girls and it became a bit too confusing. They decided to go with just four strong characters. I was supposed to return to do recurring appearances, but at that point, I had decided that I wanted to go to college and dropped acting for a while.

gJg: What made you decide to do that?

FS: I think it was when I was supposed to travel to LA to film an episode of “The Waltons” and actually had a psychology test conflict at that same time.

I also began to think about how during high-school I was always missing out on a lot of things because of work. So I made the decision to just concentrate on going to Brown University and then go back to the business once school was over.

gJg: In a scene in “Zapped!” You’re actually wearing a “Brown” University sweatshirt. Was this done on purpose?

FS: Yes! I had asked to wear it because I knew at the time I would be going to Brown. <laughs>

gJg: What was the chemistry like with all the girls that first season of “Facts of Life”?

FS: We had a lot fun together.  We all went to school together.  I remember that we all used to go around the lot on roller skates. Even though Tootie was the one who wore them on the show, we all used to skate around the lot on them.

gJg: One of my favorite “guilty pleasure” movies is “Zapped!”.  I loved how you were the only grounded person. Even when Willie Aames’s character is walking around school with an open can of beer.

FS: You’re right, that’s a good point! I never thought about that. <laughs>

gJg: Was “Zapped!” your first feature movie?

FS: Yes that was the big feature one that I did.

gJg: What did you like most about the script when you read it?

FS: I liked the fact that it was a spoof on the horror films at the time. I thought it was very clever.

gJg: How was it working with the cast?

FS: Everyone was nice. I got along well with everyone. I especially enjoyed being around Scatman (Crothers). He was just so adorable and sweet!

gJg: Any interesting facts from the movie you can share?

FS: A couple of the other actresses who auditioned for the role of Bernadette were Demi Moore & Helen Slater. Quite a few up and coming actresses at the time were also considered.

I remember being told that when they were deciding on the role, one of the executives asked their kid who their favorite person was from all of the old “Tiger Beat” and “Teen Beat” magazines. At the time, I was in those magazines quite a bit, so their kid knew me. That was one of the deciding factors as to why they chose me. <laughs>

I also recall being underage when they were filming the gym scene at the prom (the one where the shirts were popping off). I wasn’t allowed to be on set for that. <laughs>

gJg: Do you have an interesting Scott Baio story?

FS: Here’s a good one:

After the movie was completed we came back a year later to redo the love scene to make it “steamier”. I remember the acting technique I used was to just be “in the moment” and be real.

So when we did the make-out scene I was really making out with him but he just had his mouth opened moving it around. I was sticking my tongue in his mouth but he wasn’t reciprocating and I remember thinking: “Oh my God! He is the worst kisser ever!”  <laughs>

Then years later, I was in an acting class and the teacher was talking about screen kisses. How you just open your mouth, put it on the other and you just move your mouth around. You do NOT put your tongue in the other person’s mouth.

I was SO embarrassed thinking there he was giving me a professional screen kiss and was probably thinking: “What the hell is this girl doing sticking her tongue down my throat?!” <laughs>

gJg: Do you still keep in touch with anyone from the movie?

FS: When I lived in LA I used to run into Scott every so often at whatever clubs were “hot” at the time. <laughs>

I remained friends with Bob Rosenthal (director) for many years. Most of my friends now are in education.

gJg: Do you have any desire to go back to the business again?

FS: No, not really. Like I said before, I love what I’m doing now.

gJg: Do you find that people still recognize you a lot?

FS: Once in a while they do. Sometimes people will come up to me and say: “You look familiar but I’m just not quite sure where I know you from.” <laughs>

gJg: Have you ever given thought to writing a book?

FS: You know, it’s funny you mention that. I’ve had people who have asked me to write. I wouldn’t write about myself but about education and/or parenting.

Right now I’m in the process of designing and developing educational apps for the I-pad to help children with test prep and raising IQ’s.

Article first published as Making A Difference: A Conversation with Felice Schachter on Technorati.

A Conversation With Actress Darcy DeMoss

Actress / Animal Rights Activist Darcy DeMoss

I’ll never forget the day I met Darcy DeMoss.

Ok, let me clarify something. I didn’t actually “meet” her in person. In fact, I’m sure she didn’t even know I existed.

But when the film “Can’t Buy Me Love” was released I felt an instant connection. There was something special about her. Ironically enough, it wasn’t until this very interview that I discovered what that special something was.

But first things first.

“Can’t Buy Me Love” is one of my all-time favorite movies. The fact that I was a senior in high school myself when it was released made the thought of paying $1000 to spend a month with any of the cheerleaders something worth serious consideration.

In “Can’t Buy Me Love” Darcy got to showcase her full acting and dancing potential. She played the role of Patty, a high school student who suddenly finds the nerdy Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey) quite attractive after he starts “dating” her friend and head cheerleader Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson) . The infamous scene of Patty and Ronald sitting in his car on a date is one of my personal favorites.

But Darcy isn’t just your typical cheerleader. Horror fans all know that she’s a fighter as well.

Darcy gets credit for putting up the best and longest fight scene against the infamous hockey-masked slasher Jason in “Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part Six”. A fight that unfortunately doesn’t end well.

But in real-life though, Darcy DeMoss’ passion runs deep. She is a multi-talented actress, dancer, photographer and animal rights activist. One look at her website: Exotic Visuals will show you that not only does she have an eye for photography but also for life as well.

She’ll soon be able to add the title of “Author” to her list of achievements as she is currently working on no less than three books of photography based upon her African adventures.

Darcy is also a member of the advisory board of Shambala, an organization led by Tippi Hedren whose mission is to educate the public about exotic animals and to advocate for legislation to protect them.

In this interview with Darcy we’ll discuss her amazing career in dance and film. We’ll talk all about her roles in “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Friday The 13th”. But more importantly, we’ll discover how a dream she had as a child turned into an epiphany that gave her life new meaning. An amazing woman whose story is yet to be told.

goJimmygo (gJg): Darcy! It’s so great to speak with you!

Darcy Demoss (DD): It’s great to speak with you too!

gJg: Tell me a little about where you grew up and how you first got into acting.

DD: I was born and raised in Hollywood, California. My best friend growing up was Helen Hunt who was working on “Swiss Family Robinson” at the time. I remember going to the set with her all summer long while they were filming.

Helen and I were in acting class and studied dance together as well. It was there that I decided I wanted to become an actress. I did my first commercial when I was 15 for Sony and then started doing a few other little things here and there to get started.

gJg: What was your first film project?

DD: The first real big thing I ever did was a show on cable television called “Aerobicise”. My actual first film role was in a movie called “Hardbodies”.

gJg: Let’s talk a little bit about your role as Patty in “Can’t Buy Me Love”, one of my favorite high school movies.

DD: I was actually 23 when we made that movie.

gJg: You honestly look like you were in high school.

DD: Thank you!

Last year, we had a revival screening of the movie at a local theater here in LA. It was myself, Cortney Gains (Kenneth), Cort McCown (Quint), Gerardo Mejía (Ricky) and Eric Bruskotter (Big John). It was a full house and we did a Q&A afterwards. Seth Green wasn’t able to attend but he sent along a little video where he talked to everyone. It was a really fun evening.

Michael Swerdlick, our writer was also there answering questions that even I didn’t know about. He told the story about how Touchstone came to get it. Originally, it had started out as a little independent film called “Boy Rents Girl”.

Darcy & Amanda Peterson

gJg: What was the audition process like for you?

DD: I recall originally reading for the role of Cindy Mancini. What they like to do is have you read for the main character because there’s more dialogue. I remember standing in a hallway that was crammed full of people reviewing about eight pages of material.

I went in to read and that’s where I met Steve Rash (director), Michael Swerdlick (writer) along with Jere Henshaw and Mark Burg (producers). But instead of doing the four scenes (8 pages) I had studied, they narrowed it down to just two.

Through that, I ended up getting a callback. I think Michael actually called up my agent personally and requested me which was awesome.

I didn’t get Cindy Mancini, but I was offered the role of Patty.

gJg: Was there anything special you had to do to prepare for the role of Patty?

DD: I hadn’t been in high school in a while so before we started filming I went out to Tucson and had them sign me up to be in school again for a few days so I could do a little “research”. <laughs>

What was funny was that here I was, an adult having this intelligent debate with the geography teacher and I have all of these boys saying: “So, you’re the new girl in school?  What are you doing this weekend? <laughs>

So I did go back to school for a few days. We wound up using a lot of the students there as extras which was pretty neat.

gJg: How was the chemistry with the cast?

DD: It was amazing. There was a whole camaraderie with us. We were all newbies and just had a blast. We all laughed together a lot and shared our stories of the day.

I do remember telling the guy I was with at the time: “This is going to be great! I’m going to be able to do method acting and really bond with these girls”. You know, really connect. 

So I go to the table reading and find out that the girls are all 15… I’m 23! They had to be DRIVEN to the readings.

So needless to say, instead of doing pub crawls with the girls it was more like “Hey, anyone want to go the movies?” <laughs>

Amanda (Peterson) and Tina Cyphert (Barbara) actually both worked together on the movie “Annie” with Carol Burnett. So they both knew each other previously.

Darcy & Ami Dolenz

Ami Dolenz (Fran) is amazing and beautiful. She and I still have this incredible bond together. It’s so few and far between when you hear women say: “I love her with all my heart”. But I do and will until the day I die. She’s awesome!

gJg: The scene with you and Patrick Dempsey (Ronald Miller) in the car on a date is one of my favorite scenes from the film.

DD: That was an interesting scene. When we first shot it, I had glitter all over my face and the people at Touchstone didn’t like it . They thought it looked like I was sweating.

Once initial filming was complete we actually had to go back to Arizona and re-shoot it.

gJg: Did you ever think Patrick would go on to have the success he’s had?

DD: I always knew that he’d go far. He was really into method acting. I actually haven’t seen him in many years but ironically, my husband owns an employment agency and I think he staffs him with some of his employees.

gJg: Small world.

DD: When you’re in LA it certainly is.

Although I was once in Bucharest, Romania filming a movie and I’m sitting there waiting in the lobby going over my script when I hear someone across from me say: “Darcy?” 

Now I didn’t know if that person was talking to me so I sort of blew it off.

Suddenly I hear this voice again saying to me: “DeMoss?” Turns out he was a casting director I had auditioned for a long time ago and here we are reuniting in Bucharest, Romania of all places!

gJg: Wow, how about that!

DD: The world just gets smaller and smaller. So be nice to everyone because you never know. <laughs>

gJg: what’s your favorite scene from the movie?

DD: It has to be the African Anteater Ritual!

gJg: I LOVE that scene too!

DD: Being a dancer I just had so much fun doing that scene! Paula Abdul actually worked the choreography for that. What’s funny is that Paula was actually my dance rival in dance class so I had already known her for many years before the movie.

Friday The 13th

gJg: What was it like being a part of a franchise like “Friday The 13th?

DD: It was a lot of fun. Some directors are unapproachable and some are so accessible and this was my first introduction to the most accessible, coolest director ever. Tom McLoughlin, who both wrote and directed this film, was so awesome!

gJg: Your scene with Jason has to be one of the greatest “kills” ever in a horror movie.

DD: It certainly was the longest struggle out of any of his victims, which is something I guess you could say I’m very “proud” of. <laughs>

Darcy & Jason

gJg: You definitely weren’t going to go down easy!

DD: You’re right! Most of the time once Jason gets a hold of you you’re pretty much dead right away. I’m only 5’2 but I really did put up quite a fight.

I remember CJ Graham (Jason) originally wanted to go a little easy on me but I just said, “No, let’s have at it and make it look as real as possible.” Now, he’s about 6’4 and a bodybuilder who could’ve squashed me but we really fought and made it look realistic. At least it sure felt real to me!

gJg: How was that scene filmed?

DD: They actually constructed a whole room that was designed to be the bathroom inside of the Winnebago. All of the walls were removable so they could get different angles and shots. They even had an overhead camera as well. I remember it was an entire evening of filming my fight scene with Jason.

gJg: For the actual “kill” scene was that a mask of your face that was constructed?

DD: Yes it was. I have to admit; when we made that mask it was hard for me to stay still in that position for so long because I’m claustrophobic. And I was completely covered. Fortunately though my mouth was open but I still had to keep it that way for a very long time while they made it.

I actually had the mask recreated from photos taken by the special effects company and I bring them along to my convention appearances.

gJg: It’s amazing how much longevity the franchise has had.

DD: I know. It really is. There’s even a book out about the entire Friday the 13th franchise. It has interviews with all of the people who were involved with it. They’ve even released a CD with all of the music from the films too.

gJg: Why do you think the series has been so successful?

DD: You know, it’s really because of all of the fans. The horror genre fans are just so incredibly loyal.

I’m still getting letters from 16 year olds telling me that they’re my biggest fans and asking me to send them a photo…<laughs>

gJg: Speaking of photos, the ones on your website from your trips to Africa are incredible! They are absolutely beautiful!

DD: Thank you! So you’ve seen my website? Fantastic! I’m actually working on three books.

gJg: Really?

DD: Yes. They’re a real labor of love. I’ve been so inspired by my African “interludes” that I’ve decided to write three photography books on Africa. It’s been a long hard road but they’re finally coming to fruition.

gJg: Tell me a little more about them.

DD: The first is going to be called “Kamoflauge”. The second is a photo book of “Animal Eyes and Asses” and the third book will be a photo book with celebrities called “Private Moments”.

gJg: When did you start doing photography professionally?

DD: I was never really into it as a profession at first but I would always have my camera with me when I’d be on location. I loved to get behind the scenes pictures of the set, the actors and other fun photos.

On a recent birthday one of my dearest friends had bought me a camera. My husband then bought me a great lens for it to take on my very first African safari.

I went to Sir Richard Branson’s Game Reserve (an absolutely unbelievable place) and just started taking pictures. I think I had brought somewhere around fifty rolls of film along with me. I just really just wanted to document everything about my experience even though I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time.

When I came home and started developing the pictures my friends were just in awe at how good the photos looked and told me I should do something with them. So I took some of the best ones and walked into my first gallery and the woman there saw them and said, “Let’s give you a show!”

gJg: WOW!

DD: That’s exactly what I said: “WOW!” <laughs>

I couldn’t believe it. So I had my first exhibit and from that experience became a professional. What I got to see from taking those pictures was inspiring. It gave me this whole new vibe on life.

gJg: In what way? 

DD: I had always wanted to go to Africa. It was always my dream. In fact, the very first paper I ever wrote in elementary school was about Africa. It wasn’t until I found that paper again that I said: “Now, it all makes sense!” “The Jungle Book” and all of those films and television shows I loved watching growing up. They were all about animals.

Everything about me just vibrates Africa. When I’m there every sense I have is heightened and so alive. It’s literally the place where everything came to be. It’s where life is what it should still be like everywhere.

gJg: It’s inspiring to see the animals in their natural habitat as opposed to a confined area like a zoo.

DD: I don’t condone zoos or the circus. I think they’re the worst thing ever. I don’t think we were meant to train animals like that. There are books and photographs and the Internet where we can learn so much more about them instead of seeing them in these restricted areas where they can’t move about.

Did you know that there are more tigers in Texas than there are in India? And it’s because they’ve all been poached and killed. They have canned hunts. It’s appalling.

I’m involved with a sanctuary called “Shambala”. It’s a refuge for exotic cats. They’ve even rescued Michael Jackson’s two tigers because no one else wanted them.

Darcy DeMoss & Tippi Hedren

gJg: Tell me more about Shambala.

DD: Shambala (www.shambala.org) is a sanctuary in Acton, California that’s run by Tippi Hedren. Tippi is Melanie Griffith’s mother and starred in the Alfred Hitchcock films “The Birds” and “Marnie”.  It’s pretty spectacular what this woman does with her life. She is my absolute hero. I’m a member of her advisory board.

Tippi is passing bills and is making a world of difference. She has these amazing sunset safaris that you can go to. You can walk around through the property and be told about each cat and how they came to be there. There’s even a chance to have dinner and a Q&A session with Tippi. It’s an entire evening.

She has two huge actual African tents you can stay at. When you spend the night there you can actually hear the cats talking to each other. It’s the coolest thing. It’s a fun, educational place to really learn about the animals.

gJg: It really sounds amazing!

DD: If you can’t afford to go to Africa and if you’re in the area you just have to go to Shambala!

gJg: Tell me a little about your own animals.

DD: I have two Golden Retrievers: Trubble & Duchess. Duchess was a rescue who we found out needed to have her hip replaced shortly after adopting her. Fortunately we were able to do that for her. It went well and now she’s like a new dog.

I also have an African Grey parrot named “Choo-Chi”. She’s a junk food junkie. <laughs>. She’ll eat pasta and pizza.

She can go out of her cage and crawl around and I also have an area set up for her outside. She’s beautiful and a lot of work but I love it.

gJg: What other projects do you have coming up now?DD: I’ll be working on a new movie project,”Bone Garden” this summer. It’s a film by Mike Gutridge. I loved the script and am really excited about it.

For more information on Darcy and Shambala click on the links below (photographs in this article courtesy of Darcy DeMoss):

Darcy DeMoss * Exotic Visuals * Shambala

Article first published as A Conversation With Actress Darcy DeMoss on Technorati.

Beyond Elm Street: A Conversation With Actress Amanda Wyss

Amanda Wyss

In a word: “Amazing”.

That’s the best way to describe Amanda Wyss. Both as an actress and as a person.

Amanda’s deeply involved with Project Happiness, an organization that specializes in emotional resilience-building programs and provides proven techniques to cultivate one’s own authentic happiness. Its mission is to empower children, families and communities to create happier, more meaningful lives.

Amanda is also a very down to Earth person. She’s someone you’d easily want to have a conversation with over a pizza. Especially when you consider her body of work and the characters she’s hung around with.

As an actress, she’s sat behind Jeff Spicoli in history class, listened to music with Captain Jack Sparrow and was even the first person to dream about and have a rendezvous with bad boy Freddy Krueger.

One of the earliest performances I remember Amanda from also happens to be one of my favorite movies: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. A film where she plays Lisa, the girlfriend of Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold).

Its senior year and Brad is trying to figure out a way to break-up with Lisa but she inevitably beats him to the punch. But why anyone in their right mind would want to dump Amanda Wyss is still a mystery to me.

The film Amanda’s become most synonymous with though is “A Nightmare On Elm Street” where she will forever be remembered as Tina Gray, Freddy Krueger’s first victim. Not only was she Freddy’s first but here’s something that only true horror enthusiasts will know: Amanda Wyss is the very first face you see in the “Nightmare” franchise.

Amanda’s resume includes diverse roles in such films as “Better Off Dead”, “Silverado” and “Powwow Highway”, a film that won the Dramatic Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival and one of Amanda’s personal favorites.

In addition to film, Amanda has also worked extensively in television as well, having guest starred on such shows as “Highlander”,  “Cold Case”, “Dexter” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”. Chances are, you’ve seen her in prime time and may not even have known it.

Amanda has recently gone back to her horror roots, having appeared as the waitress Darlene Atwood in the Brian Pulido directed film, “The Graves”.  She also appears in the film, “Deadly Impact” where she plays Julie Mulligan, a television news reporter covering a terrorist attack.

But one of her greatest moments for me personally was her performance as Tina Vincent, an obsessive “wife” of a serial killer in a multi-part episode of CSI. Maybe it was because she was channeling her inner “Freddy” at the time but one thing’s for sure: in that role, she was nothing short of amazing.

In this interview with Amanda we’ll talk about her role as Lisa in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”. We’ll also discuss some of her other film projects including the original “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, a film put together on a shoe string budget that became a cult phenomenon (and one which also launched the career of a then unknown Johnny Depp).

Finally, we’ll find out what Amanda likes to do in her spare time and her plans for the future as well.

Amanda preparing to become Tina Vincent

goJimmygo (gJg): I just recently watched you for the first time as “Tina Vincent” on CSI. One of the best roles I’ve ever seen you do. You were amazing! Just the look in your eyes and the way you smiled at Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger). That was really intense.

Amanda Wyss (AW): Thank you!

gJg: How do you prepare for a role like that, to play a woman that obsessed?

AW: You know what? I just use my imagination. That’s my technique. I just sort of dive in. Tina Vincent was SO much fun to play because she was so madly in love with that crazy guy (Nate Haskell). It was really fun to do.

gJg: So, how about we begin by first going back to Ridgemont High?

AW: Sure, let’s go!

gJg: You played Lisa, Judge Reinhold’s love interest. How did the audition process go?

AW: I was actually called in for that specific role (as Lisa) and I remember the audition for it was fun and unique. Part of the process for me was having to do an improv with Judge Reinhold. The casting director, Bonnie Timmerman and Amy Heckerling (Director) were both there and it was a lot of fun.

gJg: I’ve heard rumors that Sean Penn was so into the role of Jeff Spicoli that he wanted everyone to call him by that name and even had the name put on his dressing room door. Is there any truth to that?

AW: <Laughs>. Honestly, I don’t remember that but I have heard about that rumor several times myself so it could quite possibly be true. Sean’s super talented and was very into his part. I think a lot of the surfer guys were, actually.

I do recall that there was a long rehearsal process and everyone had a chance to improv and prepare their characters. So I don’t think it was a situation where Sean just walked on to the set and said, “OK. Everyone call me Jeff Spicoli!” It was more of a slow process where everyone just became these fun high-school characters.

Fast Times At Ridgemont High

gJg: You looked like you were having such a great time on screen. Like when you’re sitting behind Sean in history class when the pizza comes. You had this look on your face like you were ready to just laugh.

AW: It was a very fun film to do with such talented young actors. Every day was really fun.

gJg: How did Ridgemont High compare to you own real-life high school experience?

AW: You know what’s funny? I actually grew up at the beach so I basically did go to school with all of those types of people. It was definitely my era. You know, we were all surfers. To some extent it was a very comical, slightly exaggerated view of the beach town that I grew up in.

gJg: Do you have a favorite scene from the movie?

AW: I don’t really have a favorite scene in particular. I look at it more as a whole. I adore it and certainly loved making it.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

gJg: Was the role of Tina in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” another that you were just called in for?

AW: Actually, we had all read for the role of Nancy (which eventually would go to Heather Langenkamp) and then for the call backs they split us up into groups.

I remember at the time reading with Heather and just thinking that we both really clicked together. I kind of had the feeling that we were going to get those parts. The best part is we’re actually still best friends from that movie. She’s amazing.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

gJg: Did you have any idea of how big the franchise would become in the horror genre?

AW: Quite honestly I had no idea. I loved the script and Robert Englund is so brilliant. I think it was because at the time I was young and wasn’t really that savvy or aware of all of the elements that make something last like that.

Obviously though, when it was completed and there was such a big reaction to it and after all of the positive initial reviews I was like, “Oh Wow!” But at the time, I had no idea that it would become this iconic, horror classic. I don’t think any of us did. Well, except for maybe Wes (Craven, Director) but he’s one of the smartest people alive. <laughs>

gJg: It was filmed on a low-budget too wasn’t it?

AW: It really was filmed on a super low-budget. It was a classic example of true indie-style, guerrilla film making. It just happened to have this magical group of people working on it whose combined energy gave audiences the sense of wanting to keep coming back for more. And I think that’s sort of the same thing that happened with “Fast Times” as well.

For whatever reason there’s something that happens sometimes when you mix the right combination of people and energy. No one really knows what it is. It’s just a magical mix that makes the movie stand out and last. Those two movies are good examples of that.

gJg: I worked at a drive-in while in high school and must have watched it dozens of times.

AW: You know, people have told me they’ve seen it a lot. I’ve actually seen it more in the last few years because of the reunions at horror conventions. When I watch it now with my distance from it I see it more as a film and not so much as one that I’m in. It really is a scary movie.

gJg: And you’re the centerpiece of it in a way. You’re actually the first person you see in the movie.

AW: I am. I’m actually also the first person to die in the entire franchise. <laughs>

gJg: How did your death scene work? Was that a rotating room?

AW: It was based on an old Fred Astaire movie. The room was built on this large sound stage and was positioned on a rotisserie type contraption. Everything in the room was either nailed down, glued down or taped down. It was made that way so nothing would move and as it turns around it appears as though I’m going up the wall and on to the ceiling.

gJg: Visually, it was very effective!

AM: I actually got vertigo from doing that scene. Everything was nailed down so perfectly that I had no visual cues that I was still on the floor. It was a great experience but it was pretty intense.

gJg: One of the scariest scenes I remember from the movie is when you’re running from him in the alley. He’s behind you and then all of a sudden you run right into him.

AW: That scene was actually filmed out in Venice around three o’clock in the morning. I remember it was freezing and the beach mist was starting to come in. It was pretty creepy. Not so much because we were out there filming a horror movie that’s filmed broken up in parts but just that the overall sense of it was creepy.

Behind The Scenes

gJg: What was it like working with Robert (Englund)?

AW: I absolutely loved working with Robert. He’s so imaginative and so hilarious. He’s also the best story-teller I’ve ever met.

gJg: Were there any funny stories that you remember while filming it?

AW: For me it wasn’t so much funny as much as it was gross. Every single day that I went to the set there was always something gross that I had to do.

It was always something like: Stand in a body bag…Lay in a body bag…Be covered in blood…Be covered in worms…Stand with eels. <laughs>

There was this one scene from the alley that was cut out where I had to pick up a trash can lid and underneath were a bunch of worms and they had to crawl all over my arms. The whole thing reminded me of those wilderness outward bound adventures to see what you’re made of. <laughs>

gJg: What did you think of the remake?

AW: You know, I haven’t seen it. I’ve heard mixed reviews about but haven’t seen it myself.

gJg: What was it like working with Johnny Depp in his first movie?

AW: Johnny was so sweet. We were all so young and had so much fun. I didn’t work with him all that much but he was exactly how you’d picture him to be. Really creative and interesting.

Amanda in Powwow Highway

gJg: I read where one of the movies you’re most proud of is Powwow Highway Tell me a little about that film.

AW: That’s one of my favorite movies. It was a cool group of people and is actually based on a true story. It was a powerful Native American piece and I got to play that crazy Texan.

gJg: What was it like filming in all of those locations?:

AW: The locations were beautiful. We filmed in Montana, Wyoming and Santa Fe, New Mexico. We also filmed it between November and March and I remember FREEZING while we were on location. You know, it’s snowing and 18 degrees and you’re standing outside trying to pretend you’re not cold. <laughs>

gJg: What was it like for you personally as an actress when it won at Sundance?

AW: I’m so proud of that movie. It actually won when it wasn’t really the “scene” for actors to go to festivals and support their projects. For it to win a Jury award at Sundance is sort of a badge of honor for me.

Amanda and crew in "The Graves"

gJg: Let’s talk a little about one of your newest films, The Graves“. What was it like revisiting the horror realm and filming that movie?

AW: That movie was a really fun film too. I got to play Darlene the waitress.

The Ronalds brothers (Brian and Dean) produced it and are both in the movie as well and Brian Pulido directed it. Brian is an amazing artist and graphic novelist.

We filmed it in this spooky old mining town in Arizona. It was a real fun group of people to work with. It was also fun for me to revisit the horror genre again as an adult.

gJg: Have you ever thought about directing or producing?

AW: I would like to move to the other side of the camera. I’ve actually been shadowing a few people so I’m looking forward to the opportunity of directing.

Amanda Wyss

gJg: What do you like to do when you’re not acting?

AW: I love Yoga and I love to read. I read everything. I also like to go to movies and visit museums.

gJg: What’s your favorite book?

AW: My favorite is “A Prayer for Owen Meany“. I love that book.

gJg: What projects do you have coming up?

AW: I actually have two web series projects we’re about to start work on. One is horror themed and the other is more of a light-hearted comedy. We’re producing them together. I’m going to be in the light-hearted comedy and make some appearances in the horror one as well.

gJg: They sound interesting!

AW: I’m very excited about them. They’re really well written and have really good directors attached to them.

There’s also another project I’m involved with where someone is using my likeness for a graphic novel. It’s about vampires which I absolutely LOVE. They’re my favorite part of the horror genre.

gJg: Are there any people  you’d like to work with or projects you’d like to be a part of in the future?

AW: I’d like to be in a Steven Spielberg project someday because he just has such an epic imagination. Then there’s Joss Whedon (love his projects), George Clooney (both as director and actor), Helen Mirren, Debra Winger… the list goes on!

I would love to be a part of shows like “Walking Dead”, “Fringe”, “American Horror” and “Game Of Thrones”.

And I really adore the independent film world. The cool, interesting creative projects that are done under the radar. There are so many great young filmmakers out there I’d like to work with. People like Adam Green for example.

I’d also like to work with Sean Penn again. He is just amazing and always has a lot of interesting projects.

gJg: You’re amazing too. I’m so glad I got the chance to speak with you!

AW: Thanks! It was my pleasure.

For more on Amanda be sure to check out her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter!

Article first published as Beyond Elm Street:: A Conversation with Actress Amanda Wyss on Technorati.