The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Adam F. Goldberg (‘The Goldbergs’)

If you grew up the ’80s and haven’t watched ABC’s The Goldbergs, then you’re missing out on one of the funniest new comedies of the season…and if you didn’t grow up in the ’80s, you’re still missing out on one of the funniest new comedies of the season, because most of the stories are about growing up and dealing with your family, two things which are absolutely not decade-specific. Tonight’s episode is definitely going to be a treat for those folks in the former category, though, because it’s basically one big homage to The Goonies. I had a chance to chat with the show’s creator, Adam J. Goldberg, who’s basically taken his own life and turned it into a sitcom, and there’s little question that this episode is a career milestone for him. Having now seen it, I’d agree…although I hadn’t seen it when I originally hopped on the phone to talk to him.

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Bullz-Eye: While I got a link to watch the Goonies episode of The Goldbergs, I didn’t get it in time to watch it, due to another deadline I was rushing to meet. But I’m rationalizing that, since the piece is going to be written for people who won’t have seen it either, I’m still on solid ground.

Adam F. Goldberg: [Laughs.] Right, exactly! And it’s technically not even finished, anyway, because I’m still editing it! I’m just so nervous about this one. ABC loved it and wanted to send it out, but I was, like, “I don’t know…” It’s the one that… There’s just a lot of writers on my staff who, like, don’t know the movie. I showed it to them as an adult, and they were just, like, “What is this?” So when they watched it, they were just baffled. So I’m hoping that people who’ve seen the movie will be reviewing it, at least…

BE: When you’re doing a show about the ‘80s, you’ve got the opportunity to pay tribute to basically anything you experienced when you were growing up. Was The Goonies always in the back of your mind as something you wanted to do?

AG: Yes. From the minute I sold the show, and I think even… [Hesitates.] I don’t remember if it was in my original pitch document, because I didn’t want to alienate anybody with something that could potentially be so insane to do. But I’m a collector of the props. You know, I have an original doubloon, and fans have made replicas that I have of the various copper bones and all this stuff. I’ve seen the movie a billion times. I mean, honestly, it’s the movie that… It’s the reason I’m a writer. I know that when Peter Jackson made King Kong, that was his movie as a kid, and this is mine. So if I’m doing a show about the ‘80s, of course I’m going to pay tribute to it. And there’s a character that’s me, and since it was such a big part of my life growing up…

My siblings just tortured me about it being the dumbest movie ever, ‘cause they were teenagers. They didn’t get it, so they always made fun of me for watching it and called the movie stupid to torture me. So that’s how the episode began. And, you know, I even did something on my last show, Breaking In, which was that Goonies 2 was coming out, and they had a mission to protect the movie. So it’s always something. I pitched the musical to Richard Donner. I went in initially to pitch him Goonies 2, which he quickly said he wasn’t that into. [Laughs.] So I flipped over to the musical. So it’s, like, my dream job. I keep revisiting it in different ways. It’s my thing. My jam.

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Crown Royal YHNH program kicks off this weekend!

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Bullz-Eye participated in the Capture the Crown fun-filled weekend at the Crown Royal Brickyard 400 last year, and what
made that experience so special was honoring a true hero and their family. And now, you get a chance to nominate this year’s hero, which the race will be named after in 2014.

As the cars roll into Phoenix this weekend at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, the search for the namesake of the 2014 Brickyard 400 will officially launch, with the help of Packages From Home. The local non-profit organization, dedicated to sending care packages to active-duty troops stationed overseas, has teamed up with Crown Royal to kick off the brand’s “Your Hero’s Name Here” program, which honors a deserving American hero by re-naming the July NASCAR race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his or her honor.

Packages From Home and Crown Royal will treat a group of local heroes from Luke Air Force Base to a VIP experience at this weekend’s NASCAR race. In addition to sending 20 military members to the race, two individuals are being recognized as the inaugural program nominees and will have the chance to have the legendary Indianapolis race named in their honor.

Consumers 21+ can visit CrownRoyalHeroes.com to nominate their own heroes for a chance to win naming rights to the race. Nominations will be accepted through April 13th, with finalists being announced at the end of April.

  

The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Pam Grier (TV One’s ‘Unsung Hollywood’)

Fans of TV One’s documentary program Unsung, which shines the spotlight on performers whose mainstream profiles aren’t as substantial as they perhaps out to be, will be pleased to learn that the network is branching out with the series, expanding its coverage beyond the world of music and into the field of acting. Tonight marks the premiere episode of Unsung Hollywood, which kicks off with a look at the life and career of Pam Grier, and Bullz-Eye was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with Grier and discuss the episode and how it came about while also chatting a bit about her career…but without giving away too much about the program, of course.

Pam Grier as Kit Photo: Max Vadukal/Showtime Photo ID: LW3_21D-05

Bullz-Eye: How did you find your way to Unsung Hollywood? Did they pitch you on the idea?

Pam Grier: I had turned them down several times, because I wasn’t interested, but then I saw one of their episodes. My mom was so enthralled by one of the shows they had done on musicians – they did an excellent job – and she said, “I didn’t know that!” And, of course, no one knows what inspired the music and the tenacity of people to get their music played and all that except for the musicians. So we talked, and they said what they were going to do, and I said, “Okay, but you know it’s very difficult to get photographs.” Because as I learned from doing my book (Foxy: My Life in Three Acts), you have to have the rights if someone owns the photographs, and if someone else is in it, you have to get the rights from those people.

I said, “I don’t know if I can do that, because you’re going to get maybe five pictures, because a lot of people do not want to participate.” So I said, “I don’t want to marginalize it, but I can only give you so much, and I don’t know when I can do it.” But they kind of gave me an outline, and I said, “Oh, I think we can do this…so I just have to find the time!” And I did. And I think they did an excellent job.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Titus Welliver (‘Bosch’)

There are so many things that you might know Titus Welliver from that we simply don’t have the time or space to list them all – although you can hit up his IMDb listing if you really want the full monty – but, for example, even just limiting it to shows that are currently on the air that’s he’s popped up in, you’ve got NCIS, Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, Suits, The Good Wife, CSI: Criminal Scene Investigation, Grimm, White Collar, and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. At the moment, though, Welliver has high hopes that he’ll have a full-time gig on his hands in the near future…but that’s going to be up to audiences to decide.

If you’re a fan of author Michael Connelly, then you’ll most likely recognize the name “Hieronymus Bosch” as belonging to someone other than a Dutch painter: he’s a character in more than a few of Connelly’s novels – you may know him better as Harry – and now he’s making the jump to the small screen…or, more specifically, to Amazon…with Welliver playing the part in a new pilot. If it proves successful amongst viewers, then Bosch will go to series, and if not…well, let’s not even consider that possibility, because I’ve seen the pilot, and it’s pretty damned good.

In fact, it’s so good that you really ought to go watch it right now, which you can do by clicking right here. After you’re done, though, be sure to come back, because I had a chance to talk with Welliver about working on the project in some detail, and before we wrapped up, we also had a bit of time to chat about his experiences on one of his earlier TV projects as well. (Hint: he worked with David Milch on the series.)

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Bullz-Eye: I’m sure you’ve gone on record elsewhere about the origins of how you came aboard the project in the first place, but as I haven’t heard them, how did you end up in the mix to play Harry Bosch?

Titus Welliver: Well, I read the script and…it was sort of a funny situation, because I was trying to meet with the producers and Michael Connelly, because I read the script and I went crazy for it and just felt like I so desperately wanted to play this character. But I was shooting Transformers 4, and a lot of different locations and a very long shoot, and sometimes it was a little bit like being in the military – in, like, special operations – where, literally, I’d get a call saying, “We need you here, now!” [Laughs.] So there were, like, three attempted meetings, and I was really getting nervous about it because, y’know, at a certain point they kind of go, “Well, as much as we’d really like to meet with you, we’ve gotta get going!”

So when I did finally get to sit down and meet with Michael Connelly and Erik Overmyer and Jim McKay and Henrik Bastin and Pieter Jan Brugge and the whole clan, it was one of those things where I walked into the room and sat down, and within five minutes… I already knew that I wanted to play the character and I loved the script, but just the energy – for lack of a better word – coming from this group, I thought, “I have to do this. My God, I really have to do it!” And that’s not always the case, y’know? Sometimes you can love material but there’s personality conflicts or whatever, you just have a gut feeling about something. But I knew from the second I got in there, “I want to work with these people.” So in that way, it was great. And I feel very blessed that I’ve been given the opportunity.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Alan Spencer (‘Bullet in the Face’)

I’ve said before – if not in this column, then certainly elsewhere on the ‘net – how a great deal of my long-term tastes were established during my teen years in the ’80s, and one of the shows that was must-see TV for 16-year-old me was the ABC sitcom Sledge Hammer!, created by Alan Spencer. As a result, my eyebrows shot skyward when I first learned about the IFC series Bullet in the Face, since the press release prominently featured Spencer’s previous credits. Too bad the network’s programming and promotional departments weren’t quite as enthused as I was: the show’s six-episode season was noticed by precious few, resulting in a quick departure from the airwaves.

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Thank goodness for Shout Factory, then, a company who knows a future cult classic when they see one: they released Bullet in the Face on DVD a few weeks back – sorry, I was at the TCA tour at the time, or I would’ve been able to promote it more heavily right as it hit the shelves – and were kind enough to set me up with an interview with the aforementioned Mr. Spencer.

After discussing his most recent endeavor in considerable detail, you will be unsurprised to learn that I took a bit of time to geek out as well, enjoying the opportunity to learn more about his friendships with Marty Feldman, Andy Kaufman, and Anthony Perkins, and to find out if we’re likely to ever see Sledge Hammer! return.

Bullz-Eye: How did Bullet in the Face originally come about? It seems to owe at least a spiritual debt to Sledge Hammer!, but from what I can tell, it appears that the project existed in some form – if only as a vague concept – before you ever came aboard.

Alan Spencer: Well, first of all, there’s nothing spiritual about Sledge Hammer! [Laughs.] Basically, the IFC network… An executive I knew at the IFC network said they had a concept in development that wasn’t working. It was called Dieter Horn in Night Port, and if you Google it or use any search engine, I think you can see information about it. They had made a two-minute trailer – kind of a sizzle reel, as people are wont to do – and a Canadian production company was behind it. The trailer shows a spoof of ‘80s tropes about a German cop called Dieter Horn, who was apparently a bad guy who became a cop, and it’s heavily rooted in the ‘80s. It’s never explained why it was German, by the way. I couldn’t figure that out. But it’s a spoof of a Miami Vice sort of city, and it was…  A lot of people are doing ‘80s parodies – MacGruber, and there’s a miniseries now (The Spoils of Babylon) – and it was an ‘80s spoof, and…that didn’t interest me. And I guess they developed scripts for it and it didn’t work, so it was a piece of… The term is “broken development.”

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Since I’m one of the few people that had done and sustained a successful half-hour action comedy, they came to me and asked if I’d be willing to supervise the writers and retool this. It was basically… I was given, like, carte blanche for whatever I could come up with to fix this. So, anyway, I took the one kernel, one idea from it, and threw everything else out. And the only kernel from it was the German, formerly a bad guy, turning into a cop. So that was it. I threw everything out, re-titled it, and came up with all new characters, an all new milieu, and the kind of a graphic-novel city I set it in.

I also threw out the ‘80s baby with the ‘80s bathwater, because a lot of people can’t reference the ‘80s. I lived through the ‘80s already, and that didn’t interest me to go through it again. I don’t have that hair anymore, I don’t wear the pastels, I wear socks… [Laughs.] So I didn’t want to deal with that at all. I wanted something new and fresh. Also, since I had some creative freedom, I really wanted to go for it, so they were kind of thrilled when I decided to write it myself. I just said, “Let me write it,” as opposed to going through the machinations that we would’ve to find some writers. So they were surprised and happy, but I think that was their agenda all along, to have me write it myself.

So I indulged myself. I didn’t imagine this getting made, so I wrote something very, very extreme, and going further than the restraints that I was used to working on in network television. And then, lo and behold, I was surprised. I got a call from the network saying, “We’re not going to make a pilot for this.” I said, “Oh, all right.” They said, “We’re going to go straight to series!” So it was a six-episode order with the contingency that I write them all. I knew something was up before I got that call, because on Facebook all of a sudden I was being getting friended by IFC executives. [Laughs.] That was kind of the hint that something was in the works. That’s how social media works now, right? If social media was existing during World War II, and if all my Japanese friends were unfriending me, I think I would’ve anticipated Pearl Harbor. That’s sort of how it works.

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