Category Archives: 2015

Best Speech I Ever Heard Was From Ron Suskind

 

I was waiting, along with 500 attorneys for the keynote speaker at an ABA Solo event(American Bar Association) in Boston, during lunch last year (September 2015), when we were told that he would be unable to make it due to a medical emergency the night before. He was in the hospital. They told us that they reached out to a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center For Ethics, and he agreed last minute to fill in and speak with us. I thought then, “How good can this be, he’s filling in at keynote last minute…”. Pretty lofty if you think about it, for even the best speakers, even if they do talk regularly in front of students every week. 500 lawyers. An educated room. Try engaging that group and keep their attention longer than 5 minutes. In my head I was thinking he had 3 minutes tops before half the room was looking up their email on their cell phones.

Podium on Empty Stage

They announced him as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Ron Suskind. “Pulitzer Prize…that’s interesting, let’s see what he’s got, ” I thought. I consider myself as somewhat of a writer as well, no where in his sphere, but decent and work-able in my own interests…so I found some common ground to give him some, if not all of my attention, (at least until my phone sounds off letting me know I have email) for the sake of supporting a fellow writer. A small man in his fifties in a blue suit made it to the stage. First thing he did was curious, he took the mike off the podium and then he stepped to the side. He made some kind of joke about his stature and being hid by the podium. I had a feeling that he was going to be interesting, if not unconventional, right from the start.ron-suskind

Now, he gave us his background briefly; he attended University of Virginia, graduated and then a master’s degree at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, straight to the Wall Street Journal where he became senior national affairs reporter, wrote 4 books about presidential power (a few fun stories about the Clintons), and then won a Pulitzer Prize for two articles he wrote about Cedric Jennings a student at inner-city Ballou High School in Washington D.C. who wanted to attend MIT. Now, it’s here when he started talking about Cedric where he really grabbed the attention of the room. He talked about how he was able to gain the trust of this poor under-served teenager and to write about his journey. This is where the story of his life changed.ron-suskind-and-family

He started to talk about his autistic son, Owen. Here was a highly educated man, who communicated for a living both as a speaker and a writer…he never found it hard reaching an audience and communicating ideas. But he couldn’t reach his son. He couldn’t communicate to Owen. His wife, Cornelia, his oldest son, Walt, and himself, found themselves in a daily existence where words failed them. They sought out answers from all different sources, experts, and establishments designed to help families with autistic children. Nothing helped and they grew frustrated and desperate. Then one day, they had a breakthrough from a very unusual source. Through Disney animated movies. They found that Owen had a voice and that they could communicate through the dialogue of an animated film. You see, Owen’s past-time over the last several years was watching Disney movies. It’s the only thing they could do to keep him occupied. And by accident, they realized that they could actually talk to him and he would understand and talk back by using the voices and dialogue from the Disney films. Because he knew them by heart.life-animated

About here is when I realized that over an hour had gone by, probably closer to 2…and the room was still rapt. He had us completely enthralled by his story…his journey over the last 10 years with his family. No one had ever reached for a single phone… email, work and everything completely forgotten to hear a story about what mattered most to all of us; personal relationships and how we can go about communicating and finding common ground. His next book about this experience was called Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism. Now a New York Times Bestseller. He has since spoken to audiences at the United Nations; testified in front of the United States Congress; and appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams, CBS’s Sunday Morning, NPR and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.life-animated-documentary

A documentary film has been produced and directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams and is already winning awards all across the country.  Now, you have a list of to-do items; read the book, watch the documentary, communicate with your kids. Also, if you get a chance to see Ron Suskind speak…by all means and whatever it takes…DO IT! He’s amazing and well worth the few hours you spend with him and the 100’s of hours after that you will spend thinking about it later. I’m not one to usually ask for a picture with celebrities, politicians or influencers…but in this case, I couldn’t help myself, he was that good. I am privileged to have been in the room that day and encouraged to spread the word.Ron Suskind Donovan Montierth

Zoe Saldana Takes Over The World

 

If you don’t know the name, you will definitely know the face, soon to become the number 1 actress in total box office revenues of all time. Earlier this year, Scarlett Johansson was announced as the 1 actress in total box office revenues…but with the films that Zoe Saldana has lined up in the next few years, she could definitely be the one to take Scarlett’s place at the top. Scarlett has had a fantastic year with the release of The Jungle Book and Captain Marvel: Civil War, but Zoe has some pretty hefty releases of her own, especially over the next 6 years.zoe saldana avatar

Lifetime gross for Scarlett’s films hit over $330 Billion Dollars at the box office this year, and it will still be rising as she is at her peak right now.  Zoe Saldana is currently at $214 Billion Dollars at the box office this year so far with Star Trek Beyond having released over the weekend and with Live By Night with Ben Affleck and Scott Eastwood and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 being released next year and Avatar 2, 3 and 4 to be released every 2 years starting in 2018. If the Avatar films do as much as expected then Zoe will very much be in contention, even with the 2 upcoming Avengers Infinity War movies to come for Scarlett. It will be a very interesting race to watch.zoe saldana guardians of the galaxy

Zoe Saldana has racked up a very impressive list of roles in a very short period of time. Her pinnacle year was 2009 when she released Star Trek and Avatar. The thing I think I like best about her is that she plays very strong and intelligent women. She’s no-pushover in any of her movies. I also think it’s amazing that she has managed to have a family and a great career at the same time.  She gave birth to twins (yeah!) in 2014 with her husband Marco Perego. She recently said of directors that created strong female characters, “I’ve learned this about men who write good roles for women – there’s a very beautiful sentimentality to them. Their exteriors are sugarcoated with this manly presence, but deep on the inside, there’s also this [fragility]. During the shortness of my career, I’ve managed to work with Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, and now Jim Cameron- all directors who are known for having strong female protagonists. They don’t feel diminished by it as men; they can tap into the complexities of how woman really are.”Zoe-Saldana-Uhura-Star-Trek-Beyond-Movie

She has shown an interest in getting behind the camera and directing in the future.  She said, (on expanding her career to become a film director), ” It is more satisfying. You are more of a participant in the conception. I like having control. I think I have the capability. I am a storyteller and an artist and I love what I do. So I want to be part of it more and not just show up and say my lines.” Maybe after all the big movies coming up are gone and she starts her second career as a director, we’ll be talking about her amazing directing, but for now we are pleased to have her in front of the camera, entertaining us!

Pat Finn, Comedy King in a World of Jokers

 

Last year we had the good fortune to work with the amazing and hilarious Pat Finn. You may not recognize his name (yet) but you’ve surely seen his face once or twice in the last fifteen years if you’ve been watching TV for any length of time. Fifteen years is a long time. Did I just age myself? Well, even if you’ve been watching for the last five years…Toyota and Pat Finn

He’s done a lot of TV and can be seen most frequently as PAT in the Toyota Commercials and at times on the ABC sitcom, The Middle. He’s also a founding member of LA’s Comedy Improv Troupe, Beer Shark Mice.  Brothers’ Ink had him come to Phoenix last year to take part in a video series of interviews with comedy greats for a show currently titled, Inside the Laughter Studio for our upcoming Laugh University website. We also had him headlining at the Jester’Z Improv Comedy at the Mesa Riverview.David-Koechner-and-Pat-Finn

Pat’s Toyota Commercials are directed by the fantastic Jordan Brady of Superlounge. Both of them work magic together as they both come from a background in comedy. Jordan was a stand-up comedian before finding his passion for directing national TV spots. Pat grew his funnybone in Chicago’s ImprovOlympic Theatre alongside comedian’s Chris Farley, Ian Gomez, Jon Favreau, Tim Meadows and Rachel Dratch and with Second City of Chicago. When he came out to LA he eventually continued with Improv by forming the Troupe, Beer Shark Mice alongside David Koechner, Neil Flynn, Michael Coleman, and Peter A. Hulne.Pat Finn Marsha Mason Patricia Heaton Julie Brown

His partner in Beer Shark Mice, Neil Flynn, is a series regular and Patricia Heaton’s husband on The Middle, featured on ABC. Pat plays a neighbor of theirs and husband to comedian Julie Brown, but can be seen over the years in TV Shows; Ed, Seinfeld, Murphy Brown, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Friends, That 70’s Show, The Drew Carey Show, The King of Queens and so, so much more! His movies include, Dude, Where’s My Car?, The Bachelor, Space Buddies and It’s Complicated. He’s an incredibly talented and hilarious guy and we sure hope we get the chance to work with him again.Pat Finn Donovan Montierth Adam Montierth

 

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None

 

This original novel by Agatha Christie has become the number 1 mystery novel of all time, selling over 100 million copies. Written first in 1939, it went on to become a smash hit.  It’s no wonder really that it’s had multiple versions and imitations of it on film over the years.

The main plot device of using the 10 figures to showcase each death has changed over time, with good reason. Originally Christie wrote them as well as the title as, “Ten Little Ni**ers” (I can’t even write it, it’s so offensive) and then to “Ten Little Indians” and then changed to “Soldiers”. The title that is retained most commonly at that point is the end of the nursery rhyme, “And Then There Were None“, which I think fits perfectly.And_Then_There_Were_None_1945

Now as for my favorite version of the film, it would still have to be Rene Clair’s version from 1945. Interestingly, enough it’s not based on the book but rather the play by Christie that was written a short time later and has a difference in that the two main protagonists Lombard and Claythorne are innocent and manage to survive the whole affair. In the book they were guilty and die like everyone else. This version is just fantastic, however, with a very strong cast and great dialogue. It’s in the public domain, and so it is difficult to get a hold of a quality copy.nine suspects - Ten Little Indians (1965)

The next version worth noting is the George Pollock version (1965), titled, “Ten Little Indians” and is fantastic in it’s own right.  I have to point out at this time the plot seemed to inspire a lot more films that are fantastic as well, my first being the very well written Neil Simon’s “Murder By Death” (1976).  He added a flair to the proceeding by making all the guests themselves world-famous detectives modeled after a slew of my favorite all time literary characters! Characters modeled after Charlie Chan, Nick and Nora Charles, Sam Spade, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple. The works of Earl Derr Biggers, Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett all in one movie is just too good to pass up!Murder+By+Death+Dinner+with+Truman+Capote

Another one that my brother and I just love is the movie made from the board game, “Clue” (1985). The game itself, ironically enough is also inspired by Agatha Christie’s book and originally featured 10 characters as well when it was first created in 1944. Anyway, the movie Clue is great fun and features one of the best comedic casts to ever be gathered for one film. The last one film to note is the most recent, “And Then There Were None” (2015). The most recent one is done by the BBC and is the only one to retain the original ending of killing Lombard and Claythorne.clue-blu-ray-still-550x285

100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts Book

 

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100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts goes back over the last 100 years and picks 1 movie every year to recognize for their stunt achievements and to tell the stories, incredible trivia, and interviews from the people that were there behind and in front of the camera.  Unsung heroes.  Stunt Men and Women, along with Stunt Coordinators and Second Unit / Action Directors have created some of the most thrilling moments ever seen in the movies.  100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts celebrates those moments and the Stunt Teams behind them. To be truly effective in creating this movie magic, these people have been risking their lives and serious injury and have virtually remained unknown, and unrecognized for over a century.

Lists are very popular today.  This is a list of the top movie stunts, highlighting 1 movie every year from 1913 to 2016.  The book is perfect for today’s multimedia world where photos and short chapters resonate with the modern reading public. The chapters are short and feature fascinating trivia, great lobby cards, posters and film stills and interesting stories behind the scenes.  Anyone who loves movies and have ever wondered who were the people behind some of the most exciting stunts ever performed in them would find this book fun and informative.

From Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd in the early days of cinema through the exciting westerns with Yakima Canutt and John Wayne to the silver screen of the swashbucklers of Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn through the golden years and the thrilling cliff hanger serials like Spy Smasher, Captain Marvel and the grand epics like Ben Hur and Spartacus to Hal Needham, Vic Armstrong, and Terry Leonard and fantastic car chases to James Bond, Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible with stars like Tom Cruise and Jackie Chan, modern hair-raising thrill-rides we see on the big screen today.

371 Pages, full of over 300 color and black and white photos!

Sample pages:

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What Will Be The Best Movie Stunt of 2015?

 

There are several movies coming out in 2015 that have impressive stunt sequences.  Here are a few of my favorites:

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

George Miller has brought Mad Max back to the big screen and it’s incredible! It’s a visual action feast! In this day and age of technology, most movies like this made today would be done so with millions and millions of dollars in special effects. Over 80% of the effects seen in the film are real practical effects, stunts, make-up and sets. CGI was used sparingly mainly to enhance the Namibian landscape, remove stunt rigging and for Charlize Theron’s left hand which in the film is a prosthetic arm.Mad Max Fury Road StuntsAs an example of some practical effects, the flame-shooting guitarist is Australian artist/musician Sean Hape, better known as Iota. In an interview on Vice (2013), he said the guitar weighed 132 pounds, and shot real gas-powered flames, which he controlled using the whammy bar.mad-max-fury-road-new-trailer-has-epic-car-stunts-video-89920_1

This film series has a long established relationship within the stunt community. There are so many stunt performers on this film, it’s staggering. It’s interesting to note, while on location in Africa filming this movie in June 2012, Dayna Porter, the  stunt double for Charlize Theron, and Dane Grant, the rehearsal double for Tom Hardy, met, fell in love, and, in March 2013, got married. In February 2014, they had their first child, a son named Ryder. Dayna, who changed her last name to Grant after the marriage, founded a school in New Zealand for training stunt performers, and has performed stunts in other projects based in New Zealand, such as Xena: Warrior Princess (1995) and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995). Another stunt performer in the film also met his spouse on the set: in February 2015, stuntman Ben Smith-Petersen married actress Riley Keough, who played Capable.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATIONtom-cruise-mission-impossible-5-rogue-nation-2015-bmw-s1000rr-motorbike-wallpaper

Tom Cruise has done it again with fantastic stunts in this film. At the beginning of the film, Tom Cruise performed the sequence where Ethan Hunt climbs on the outside of a flying airplane (an Airbus A400M) without the use of special effects or a stunt double. At times he was suspended on the aircraft 5000 feet in the air (1.5 kilometers).Screen-Shot-2015-03-22-at-1.05.12-PM-1748x984

Tom Cruise stated in an interview that it was his intention to do the stunt hanging onto the Airbus A400M in a way to outdo himself after the Burj Khalifa climb stunt in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. However, his idea raised objections due to safety by the crew. Being a certified pilot himself, he wanted to get the feel of being out on the wing or on the side of the airplane. A major obstacle to filming would be bird strikes and wind resistance on the runaway. To capture the action, a wind-resistant custom frame for the camera was built and mounted onto the left wing of the plane. The other major problem would be keeping Cruise’s eyes open in the presence of fast wind and runway particles, so his eye specialist designed a special lens that can cover the entire eyeball. Eight takes of the stunt were filmed. Christopher McQuarrie was very concerned that the actor might panic suddenly, but was assured by Cruise to not stop filming until the stunt had been finished. It took 10 days to actually film the aeroplane sequence involving Tom Cruise suspended on the plane, however it is only in fact a 90 second scene.

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