The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Bruce Boxleitner

Bruce Boxleitner has been making a living as an actor since the early ’70s, but there are many who consider the ’80s as the era when he really hit his stride, thanks to him having starred as the title character in “TRON” and following up that success with four seasons as Lee Stetson on CBS’s “Scarecrow and Mrs. King.” Then, of course, there’s his work during the ’90s as John Sheridan on “Babylon 5,” and…well, basically, what we’re saying is that Bruce Boxleitner’s fanbase is multi-generational.

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Currently, Boxleitner is a regular on the Hallmark Channel original series “Cedar Cove,” but he also continues to keep busy on other projects, including a new holiday film called “Silver Bells,” which makes its small-screen debut on UP TV on Dec. 1. Bullz-Eye had a chance to talk to Boxleitner about both of these projects, along with several other items from his back catalog, but there were actually two conversations: one in person, one on the phone. The first one took place during this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, and the second…well, I’ll explain about that one when we get to it.

For now, though, here’s our chat from the TCA tour…

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Ron White Still Loves His Scotch, But Now He’s Talking Tequila, Too

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Earlier this month, I had a chance to chat with comedian Ron White – you probably know him best from his work on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour - in conjunction with his latest round of tour dates featuring a night in my home town of Norfolk, Virginia. We chatted for quite some time…enough time, in fact, for me to pull together a piece for the Pilot (“Interview: Comedian Ron White Prefers His Shows Live“), an altogether different piece for AntennaFree.TV (“Pilot Error: Comedian Ron White Reflects on ‘Señor White’ and Takes Us Through ’12 Miles of Bad Road’“), and still have a bit more material left over.

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It’s not really “left over,” though, as I made a point of keeping this portion of the conversation for Bullz-Eye. I mean, come on: if Ron White talking about the tequila company he co-owns with his brother-in-law, fellow comedian Alex Reymundo, isn’t something that’s got “Bullz-Eye” written all over it, I don’t know what does. 

Once upon a time, White was quoted as saying, “There were years when I was a beer and tequila guy, then I got real fat. And then I found that you could actually go on a diet and drink scotch. Then I got hooked on scotch, and if you get hooked on scotch, then everything else just tastes wrong.” Apparently, he’s changed his tune a bit on tequila now that he’s selling the stuff. Then again, from the sound of it, this tequila probably tastes a hell of a lot better than the stuff he was swigging back then.

The topic of tequila came up somewhat offhandedly, when I asked White about his writing regimen. In the process of explaining that he writes most of his material on the road, getting input from the team of folks who travels with him, he began listing off the travelers by saying, “I’ll have an opening act, usually my brother-in-law, who’s also my partner in my tequila company. He and I own a company called Number Juan Tequila. Best tequila in the world.” He didn’t mention it again after that, but having thrown that tidbit into play, I decided to pick it up and run with it a few minutes later.

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A chat with Jason Statham (“Homefront”)

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Time really flies when you’re having fun. It seems like yesterday that audiences fell for Jason Statham in Guy Ritchie’s “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” Of course, it’s been 15 years and Statham’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned one iota. The London native has gone from former model and stuntman to arguably the hottest action star around. The man best known for his sarcastic delivery and closed combat action scenes mixes a bit of tenderness in his new role as Phil Broker in “Homefront,” based on the novels and adapted by his “Expendables” castmate Sylvester Stallone. Jason recently sat down with us to discuss the role, Stallone’s influence and the topic of bullying.

Amazing performance in “Homefront,” Jason. How much of it do you attribute to Sly’s script, which he had originally written for himself?

JASON STATHAM: Yes, totally. You can only have a good shot if you’re doing something of quality. If the writing’s no good, then what are you going to do with it? You’ve got good things to say and the situations are right. It’s all about what’s on the page. It goes back to that every time. More often than not, I can’t get Sly right for me. (Laughs)

You’ve done his work before, but how surprised were you with the quality of the writing?

JASON STATHAM: I look back at “Rocky” and it’s a bit of a masterpiece when you look at the writing. It’s just great. I think people tend to forget just how many films he’s written and what a prolific writer he is. He’s done so many. I think he lost sight as to how good this was and I got in there at the right time. I got a bit lucky there. (Laughs) He’d always been giving me advice, saying, “You really need to do something that shows a different side.” I said, “What side?” And he said, “Have a read of this.” And it was almost advice, but here’s how to do it. (Laughs) I remember that as a great moment, as in, “Thanks for the great advice and for showing me how.” He’s great. He’s been a massive influence on me. I’m grateful. I’ve been on a great film with great actors. I’ve been cast with people who used to be hairdressers. Now, I’m cast with James Franco.

It doesn’t seem fair when you see Statham versus Franco. Do you ever think in that adversarial way when you’re cast?

JASON STATHAM: It’s so much more interesting, because he’s so much more dangerous. He’s totally unpredictable and that psychotic nature is much better than me standing in front of a big musclehead and then me having to chop him down like a big tree. He’s manipulating things which means far more. To have your daughter in jeopardy, it can’t get much worse than that. He’s torturing our pets. (Laughs) It’s pretty sick. Once someone starts messing with your animals, the stakes are higher. You need someone who has this eerie kind of weirdness and that unpredictability. It’s a much better choice than someone that’s going to duke it out with me.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with James Brolin (‘Christmas with Tucker’)

James Brolin has been a star of TV and film since the ’60s, rarely disappearing from either for very long before popping back up somewhere or other, and tonight at 9 PM he can be found starring in “Christmas with Tucker,” the debut original movie from the Hallmark Movie Channel (which, just in case you aren’t aware, is a separate entity from the Hallmark Channel), playing a gruff but loveable grandfatherly type fella who gets to have a lot of scenes with a very cute dog. I was fortunate enough to chat with Brolin for a bit when he attended this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, and – as you’ll read below – I was even more fortunate to be able to continue the conversation a bit later.

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Bullz-Eye: So you’re in a dog movie, but are you a dog guy by nature?

James Brolin: Yeah, but guess what? I don’t have a dog right now. But I’m kind of shopping! The thing is, I’m not sure where I’m going to be next, and I kind of hate to go off and leave a dog once I have it. I’ve found that didn’t work well in the past. But I got my wife a dog. And the dog is… I can’t believe she’s had it 10 years now. And it sleeps right here. [Points to his head.] It likes the top of the couch or the head pillow. So usually, if you roll over it or around it, it gets out of your way and just goes down to the other end. Anyway, I’ve been moved to the back seat of the car now. [Laughs.] Those two run things.

BE: Yeah, we just got a dog a few months ago, so I know what you mean.

JB: Oh, yeah. If it ain’t a baby, it’s a dog. [Laughs.]

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BE: How was this dog, Tucker, to work with?

JB: Fine! Really good natured. He would do all the things, and then when you’d go to shoot, sometimes the dog would have a little brain fade or confusion, but it’s not unusual. You just keep going. You have the trainer keep going, you run the camera, and now with digital, you can just turn the camera on and let it run for two hours, and then you go in there, wade through it, and pick out just what you need. But that’s Filmmaking 101, in a way. If you have time for that, you do that. And if you’re doing a dog picture, you make time. And the kids… Anyone youthful who was involved was just right on. Gage (Munroe) is just like a honed pro, so that wasn’t an issue. Kids weren’t an issue. But animals are always an issue, and you just need to schedule the time to shoot and shoot and shoot a little bit.

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Sex! Drugs! Death Rap! Interview with Underground Hip Hop Legend Necro

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The first time I ever heard Necro was the winter of 1999 in East Chicago, Illinois hanging out with a bunch of hip hop heads. While Brittney Spears, Lou Bega and TLC were dominating the radio, these guys were listening to underground hip hop artists like El-P, Non-Phixon and Necro all the time. And it blew my mind.

It’s important to note that internet music sharing services like Napster had just started, so aside from the radio and, increasingly less, MTV, the only way to get exposed to new music was passing cassette tapes or CDs among friends; what’s more underground than that?

Music at its optimum level dictates, or at the very least, reflects a culture. Every time I hung out with these “heads,” hip hop songs and artists I had never heard before were being pumped in the tape deck of an ’89 Oldsmobile that served as the communal vehicle. The music wasn’t being played because it was “cool” like what Puff Daddy was doing in marketing rap music, but because the music reflected the pace and events of life as it was happening.

Necro’s song “STD,” a narrative about an encounter he had with a female acquaintance, was in rotation at all times. The lyrical content was intense, cartoonish and something like I had never heard before. The production was stripped down and grimy, while the beats reflected the rolling drone of Necro’s New York roots.

Since ’99, Necro has been featured as a rapper or producer on 16 different albums. While the majority focuses on hip hop, Necro created a genre of rap called “death rap,” an homage to his love of death metal, his original musical influence. He even produced and directed a porn movie called “Sexy Sluts: Been There Done That.”

His 2007 album, Death Rap, featured appearances by Scott Ian of Anthrax, Dave Ellefson of Megadeth and even Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed.

As a rapper, Necro has been featured with the likes of Wu-Tang’s U-God, DMC from Run-Dmc, and Ill Bill from Non-Phixon and La Coka Nostra. As a producer, aside from producing all of his own tracks, Necro has created tracks for Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan, Cage of Eminem battle rap fame, and most recently, Kool G Rap, one of the most influential emcees in history and the original gangster rapper.

Necro’s latest project, The Godfathers, is a collaborative effort with Kool G Rap. Once Upon A Crime drops on November 19th.

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