Friday, March 29, 2013

Jeremy Piven in the PBS show - "Mr. Selfridge"

For those of us who are die-hard "Downton Abbey" fans, we've been wondering how we're ever going to make it to the new season.  With the way it ended and the sudden deaths (near spoiler alert but just catch up on your DVR'ed eps, people!), it's a little hard to recover emotionally.  But now, perhaps our remedy to get us through this hump is the new show on PBS called "Mr. Selfridge" starring Jeremy Piven, which airs this Sunday. 

This character, Harry Selfridge, will be a huge departure from the raging agent Piven played on "Entourage".  In "Mr. Selfridge", he depicts the department store mogul set in the early 1900's, who was deemed to have changed the way women shop. 

In the UK, the show brought in high ratings (averaged 8M viewers during it's three-month run) which is a great sign as it's been ordered for a second series (season as we call in the States). 

"At a screening of the first episode late last year, Piven said playing Selfridge was like 'artistic sorbet.' At a TCA panel in January, he said he felt no competition pressure with Downton. 'I feel like I willed this job to happen because I was such a fan of that show… I think there’s a great deal of camaraderie there.'"


The 5er: Actor Shannon Komai

She's an actor, dancer, writer and producer and her name is Komai.  Shannon Komai.  As a young girl from a small town in Pennsylvania, Shannon found herself in awe while watching her older sister rehearse for a school's performance of "West Side Story". That was the moment she was bit by the acting bug and since then, she has worked both in front of the camera and behind the camera learning every aspect of the production world.  She most recently had a supporting role in Clint Eastwood's film, "J. Edgar" starring Leonardo DiCaprio as well as playing a red carpet interviewer in "The Muppets."  Learn more about Ms. Shannon as she talks about knowing a thing or two about Hollywood, what makes her laugh like there's no tomorrow and what advice she would give her younger self.

Who or what inspired you to become an actress?  
My two sisters and I were raised by a single mom who worked very hard to support us.  She kept us very active in after-school activities like drama, horseback riding, and chess, while she was at work.  My older sister, Angela would sometimes pick me up from elementary school and take me with her to her drama practice to keep an eye on me after school.  I would sit in the back of the auditorium doing my homework and watch her perform.  I remember she was playing the role of Anita in a production of "West Side Story". I'd watch her doing the "America" number from the musical.  I already thought my big sister was the coolest person in the world and when I saw her perform so powerfully, I wanted to feel that powerful, too. 

As far as professional inspirations, because I grew up singing, dancing and acting in musical theater, I also love triple threats like Dorothy Dandridge, Barbara McNair, Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, and Rita Hayworth.  I'm also really inspired by the work and careers of Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda, Angela Bassett, Penelope Cruz, Marisa Tomei, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Dorothy Dandridge

What challenges as a woman have you had to overcome in the entertainment industry?  
My biggest challenge has been people wanting to pigeon-hole me. People that know me as a dancer are shocked when I can pick up a script and portray a character, do an accent, or sing a song.  Others that know me as a producer find it hard to believe that I can also write comedy and perform live sketch & improv. 

Also, there's the Hollywood game of men dangling a carrot in front of an actress's face. Basically, they'll offer an actress an opportunity when all they really want to do is sleep with her. It's hard to find people with true integrity and morals in this town. NOT impossible, but I am very careful about the projects I choose to be a part of and who I will do business with.  I've been in this game for over ten years, so I'm not the desperate and green actress from Coatesville, Pennsylvania anymore.  Now, I know how to play the game just like the boys and I will check somebody in a quick second if they come at me in a slimy or shady way.

They say everyone has a doppelganger.  Who do you think your celebrity doppelganger would be? 
The celebrity people tell me that I look like almost everyday is Mariah Carey.  When my twin nephews, Ian & Jordan were little and a Mariah Carey music video would come on TV, they would scream out my name.  I do see the resemblance. We're both multi-racial and have some similar features.  I've also gotten Rosie Perez.

What makes you laugh so hard your eyes tear up and you seriously just about pee your pants?  
I love satirical comedy that pushes the envelope. When people imitate others spot on is what gets me.  My cousin, Mark Allen, is one of the funniest people I know. He's an observer and can watch someone for a few minutes and then be able to imitate them, their mannerisms, little nuances in their personality. Whenever he does that, I literally CRY!

If you met yourself as a young teen, what would you tell her, er, you, er, her?  (This feels like a "Back to the Future" moment.)
If I could go back and talk to the younger version of Shannon, I would tell her that life is going to get easier.  I'd tell her to believe in herself, trust her instincts, and don't be afraid to speak her mind.  Life isn't about pleasing everyone else or doing what other people expect of you. It's about staying true to God's purpose for your life.  As long as you're doing that, everything else will fall into place.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The 5er: Channel 4's Ed Webster

(Photo Disclaimer: I clearly did not interview a baby so obviously the interviewee subject is on the left. LOL)

For the best British TV recommendations, I often consult my friend, Channel 4's Ed Webster, for which he is now the reason for my absolute addiction to the infectious show, "Peep Show".  Get deeper inside his mind for more of his fave shows - albeit some of them American ones, what American-isms he fancies and why Gene Kelly is so appealing to him.

What is currently your favorite show on Channel 4?
The brilliantly written, shot and acted "Peep Show".  I'm very glad that it's coming back for another series (or season as you would say!) later this year.

 Peep Show
What is currently your favorite show not on Channel 4 and why?
I'm catching up with various box sets. I'm a huge fan of the "West Wing". It makes me proud to be an American. At least it would if I was.

Out of current shows, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" which I tried to get Channel 4 to acquire for the UK. It's the funniest thing I've ever seen on TV.  "Boardwalk Empire" is amazing - I'm going to New York to visit my friend Anatol Yusef this year, who plays "Meyer Lansky". While I'm there I'm going to try and persuade him that his character should have a brother.  From there it's a short walk to my own spin off series, which would like to be a musical comedy show. I'll let you know what they say.

Anatol Yusef

If you could live anywhere else than London, where would it be?
I absolutely love New York (though you never once invited me over when you lived there. I'm over it) And I could very happily live anywhere along the California coast - so beautiful. Even thinking about it makes me happy.

What makes you laugh the most about us silly Americans?
The Writers/Cast of 'It's Always Sunny...', Seth McFarlane, Oliver Hardy, Steve Martin, legal disclaimers on commercials, The 'World' Series, and the way you spell 'favourite'.

What is your favorite all-time film and why?
I want to say "The Godfather" but I think I have to go for "Singing in the Rain". When I grow up, I want to be Gene Kelly.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Love "Peep Show" - It's Not What You Think!

It'’s time to add some new fun and humour (as the Queen’s English spells it) to your “watch instantly” queue on Netflix by adding in the brit comedy, "“Peep Show"” starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb.  Never mind that you probably haven’t heard of either one of these funny fellows but they are a comedic duo who have starred in and written several sketch comedies such as “"The Mitchell and Webb Situation"”, "“That Mitchell and Webb Sound"” and most recently “"That Mitchell and Webb Look".”  "“Peep Show"” is in it’s eight season and is now the longest running comedy having ever been broadcast on Channel 4.

This quirky comedy is shot in the point of view of each main character with voice-overs made by the characters, Mark and Jeremy.  “"Peep Show"” is centered around two men in their twenties and their lives as roommates, their loves, jobs and every single awkward situation known humanly possible to mankind.  Mark is an unhappily employed and socially awkward especially around the neighborhood kids who constantly bully him.  Jeremy moves into Mark’s flat after a recent break-up and struggles to find employment while working on what he believes to be his true calling, a musician, much to everyone else’s dismay.  Neither one is incredibly successful with the ladies although Jeremy does fair a bit better with the birds.

British humour, in general, is a little more dry and ironic however “"Peep Show"” fully delivers causing outloud laughs when watched.  The predicaments that Mark and Jeremy find themselves into alone are embarrassing enough to make you blush but to watch it presented from their own eyes and voice, makes it feel even more personally humiliating for both the character and the viewer.  As with many british tv shows, there was an attempt to recreate a US version of this show on Fox in 2005 but it was deemed unsuccessful.  Creators of the UK show, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain criticized that the flop of the show was due to the lack of using a point-of-view filming like the original show.  This show is one of my favorites and I hope you will feel the same.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Can't Wait: Disconnect

Aside from the fact that this film, "Disconnect", is so well cast.  Mr. Marc Jacobs, THE Marc Jacobs, the fashion designer is in this film playing himself.  What?!?  Seriously, is there anything this guy can't do?  I can't wait to see this indie flick.  It stars the uber talented Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Paula Patton, "True Blood's" Alexander Skarsgard, brit Andrea Riseborough, and Jonah Bobo (played Steve Carell's son in "Crazy, Stupid, Love". This film impressed at last year's film festivals and seems to be a version of "Crash" with maybe a tinge of "Catfish". Disconnect will be in theaters on April 12th.