The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Iliza Shlesinger (“Excused”)

A hallmark of attending the Television Critics Association press tour and the various panels and events surrounding it is that you really never know who you’re going to end up chatting with. On one evening this time around, I went to the Paley Center and found myself chatting with Joe Regalbuto (known to most for “Murphy Brown”, though I’ll always remember him best as Rex Smith’s scientific sidekick on “Streethawk”) and “Waltons” creator Earl Hamner, Jr., then had a chance to say “hello” to one of my past interview subjects for both Bullz-Eye and the Onion AV Club, Ed Asner. But that was a special Warner Brothers event celebrating the history of the studio’s TV series, so I wasn’t entirely blindsided by their appearances there…unlike the gorgeous blonde in a traffic-stopping dress who strolled into the CBS all-star event even though, I felt quite certain, she wasn’t actually on a CBS show.

I mean, you wouldn’t forget someone who looks like this, would you?

And I was right, as it turns out.

Well, sort of, anyway: Iliza Shlesinger isn’t on CBS, per se, but she hosts the syndicated dating show “Excused, “which – provided it appears in your market – appears in on your TV screen courtesy of CBS Television Distribution. Funnily enough, I’d worked with her publicist on several past projects, which is why the publicist came up to me and asked, “Would you like to talk to Iliza?” Like I’d turn down an offer like that…

(Plus, as I told Ms. Shlesinger a few minutes later, I also immediately thought, “Hey, I’ve actually watched that show, so I won’t have to sit there bluffing my way through the next several minutes!”)

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A Chat with John Landis (“¡Three Amigos!”)

There’s no point in writing an intro for our conversation with John Landis when we’ve already given a perfectly serviceable synopsis of the man’s life and times on his page within Bullz-Eye’s Directors Hall of Fame – which you can find right here – but we will say that we’ve been looking forward to chatting with Landis for quite some time. Although his publicist regretfully informed us that he didn’t have time to talk when we were pulling together the Hall of Fame, we’d kept our fingers crossed that we’d get an opportunity to talk to him one of these days, and at last that time has come, courtesy of the Blu-ray release of “¡Three Amigos!,” which hits shelves on Nov. 22nd.

Bullz-Eye: First of all, in case you haven’t heard, I should let you know that we put you into our Director’s Hall of Fame last year.

John Landis: Oh, thank you very much!

BE: Our pleasure. After all, we’re a guy-centric site, and it would be fair to say that you’ve made a few movies that have been appreciated by many a man over the years…including, of course, “¡Three Amigos!”

JL: [Laughs.] So did you get a chance to watch the Blu-ray, then?

BE: I did. It looks fantastic.

JL: Yeah, I was able to restore it to the way it’s supposed to be seen. I’m very pleased with the way it looks.

BE: I was actually going to ask you about that process. I presume there’s at least a little bit of difference when it comes to restoring a comedy for Blu-ray versus, say, a full-on special effects extravaganza.

JL: Actually, no. [Laughs.] That would be an untrue presumption. I mean, every picture’s individual, and it depends on the look you were going for with that particular movie. When they made the Blu-ray for “Animal House,” I was upset. I thought they made it much too bright and clean. “Animal House” is supposed to look dirty and funky. [Laughs.] I remember the technician, when I had to check it, he kept writing on his chart, “Image degraded per director.” But every movie you make, you try – or at least I do, anyway – for a different kind of look. On “¡Three Amigos!” I was really trying to go for those beautiful westerns that Hollywood used to make in the ‘50s. The Technicolor pictures. We wanted the colors to be incredibly vibrant. You know, the old DVD wasn’t even the correct aspect ratio. So I’m happy that I got the chance to restore it.

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