The AwardsWatch Podcast (Interview)
Podcasts from AwardsWatch on the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG and more.

The year was 2015. A year in cinema that saw one of the greatest actions films ever made delivered to cinemas with George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. The fourth installment in Miller’s Mad Max franchise was an experience like no other. A two-hour bonanza filled with thrilling car chase sequences, memorable characters, and a cinematic world unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Layered into this spectacle were social and political messages on climate change, warmongering, hoarding nature resources, and the power of feminism, all the while sharing the screen with a guy playing an electric guitar on top of a moving vehicle with flames coming out.

With stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron leading the charge in front of the camera, Miller and company gave the world an entertaining achievement that was not only loved by audiences and critics around the world and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with ten nominations and six wins, but it is almost a film may consider one of the best films of the last decade, some even going as far as to say of all time.

But the journey to the big screen is a story within itself, as there were twenty years of obstacles in pre-production, on-set, and even leading up to the test screenings for the final cut of the film. This is all documented in the new book by Kyle Buchanan, Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road. Over the course of the book, we are told the history of this film struggles, leaving no stone unturned in terms of information about how hard it was for Miller to get this made, the monumental task of recasting the iconic Mad Max character, the extensive production that resulted into a behind the screen feud between the two leading stars of the picture, the constant fight to keep Miller’s version Fury Road his and only his, the legacy of this film and even a tease at the future of the franchise.

Buchanan, known for being a pop culture, awards season reporter (The Projectionist is his Oscar column) for The New York Times, former the senior editor at Vulture, makes an engrossing, stellar debut novel filled with loads of honesty and passion for Miller’s action epic. In taking in dozens of accounts from people involved with the project, along with mixing in talent within the industry, film historians, and journalists, he crafts a must read for any self-proclaimed cinephile.

In our audio conversation below, we talked about his first experience with seeing the film, when he knew he wanted to make this book, what he learned about director George Miller and actress Charlize Theron, why the Academy went for the film, and what the future of the Mad Max series looks like. We thank Kyle for his time and implore everyone, once they are done listening to the interview, to go purchase his book. You won’t regret it.

Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road is available in stores and online wherever books are sold.

Direct download: KB-MMFR.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 8:28am PDT

Ariana DeBose is a triple threat force to be reckoned with. From the moment she arrives on the screen of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the classic musical West Side Story, it is clear we are in the presence of singular talent that expertly performs any task she is assigned. Since the film’s release, she has become an overnight sensation and the front-runner to take the Best Supporting Actress prize at this year’s Oscars, but if you have followed her career, it’s not surprising that she is in this position.

DeBose began her career in 2009 as a contestant on the dancing show So You Think You Can Dance, where she finished in the Top 20. She then landed roles in musical productions of Bring It On, Motown, and Pippin, where she landed the understudy role and eventually, for Pippin, was the star of the show. These projects led her to the part of “the bullet” in the ensemble of the Broadway phenomenon, Hamilton.

From her time on Hamilton, she moved on to playing Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, where she landed a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. With this, DeBose was able to make the transition to the big screen and small screen, with prominent roles in Ryan Murphy’s The Prom and Schmigadoon! from AppleTV+. 

But it’s with West Side Story, and her layered, energetic, passionate interpretation on Anita, a role made famous by the legendary Rita Moreno, that has brought Ariana DeBose the most praise and accolades of her career to this point. And with her Oscar nomination, she is the first Afro-Latinx actor to be nominated for an acting prize, as well as one of the few nominees in the history of the Academy Awards to be openly out as a member of the LGTBQ+ community. This brings enormous pressures and power being in this position, but after speaking with her, it is clear she is taking it all in as gracefully as one can be at this monumental moment in their career.

Within the first moments of speaking with her, I marveled at how down to earth and open she is. As the conversation started, DeBose arrived on the zoom humming a song with subtle lyrics about getting set up for our chat. About five minutes in, as she is answering a question, her Airpods went out, and as she responded, she quickly configured her settings, all the while staying focused, smiling the entire time. Midway through, her cat started to crawl right next to her and she grab it and put them on her lap as we finished out our time together. Completely comfortable and authentic, she spoke to me about her love of musicals, the important relationships with her West Side Story co-stars, what she is going to look for in future projects, and so much more.

By the end, as we parted and exchanged goodbyes, she struck me by the way she said goodbye, as if it was a friend saying goodbye to someone they know, someone they will see again down the road. In a world that is harsh to navigate through, DeBose shows in this interview, and the variety of others she has done throughout this awards season, that her kindness, relatability, and comfort within who she is is infectious and leaves you with a smile on your face and a warm heart.  Good things happen to good people, and Ariana DeBose is beyond good, she is phenomenal. I hope our paths do cross again; till then, here is my full conversation with the recent Oscar nominee.

Direct download: Debose_Audio.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:09am PDT

Last week, when the Academy announced Oscar nominations, hair and makeup designer Donald Mowat was on set in Spain, hard at work on his next project. When he found out that his fantastic work for Dune was nominated, it was the culmination of over 35 years of incredible creations being celebrated for the first time by his peers. For Mowat, an Academy member who over 20 years, he couldn’t believe it happened, and still can’t we I spoke with him recently, but takes a lot of pride in this honor because it’s for a movie and team he truly loves.

Known for working with actors Mark Wahlberg, Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling, and Jake Gyllenhaal as their make-up artist, and being the department head for movies like First Man, The Fighter, Skyfall, Prisoners, Sicario, and Blade Runner 2049, Mowat’s dedication to his craft has garnered praise by many in the industry, thus making him one of the most reliable artists working today in the business. On Dune, he and his team’s collaboration built upon their director’s vision to create unique looks for each character and the story they are telling. Between extensive research and detailed “vision boards,” they were able to successfully separate the work on this film from any of the previous versions of Dune we had seen before.

I sat down with Mowat back at the 2021 Middleburg Film Festival, right before the release of the film and before he and his team have gone on to win award after award for their work on Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi spectacle. In this interview, I asked him about his reaction to being nominated for his first Oscar nomination, what Dune has meant to him, his team’s work on the villainous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), dealing with weather difficulties on shooting on location in Budapest, and his excitement for working on Dune: Part 2. And while he’s a little nervous about the outcome of the Oscars in late March, he is mostly excited to get back together with Denis and the team behind Dune one last time to celebrate their epic achievement.

This audio interview, which runs 51m, might contain spoilers, so if you have not seen Dune, go watch the film and come back to this conversation.

Dune is available to buy on Blur-ray and DVD, as well as to own or rent on all VOD platforms. It will return to HBO Max in March 2022.

Direct download: MowatInterview-2.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 11:07am PDT

Dave Karger is a host on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), including the network's annual 31 Days of Oscar, which kicks off on March 1 this season.

An award-winning host, interviewer, and entertainment expert, Karger began guest hosting on TCM in 2016 and was named an official host in 2018. He has made more than 200 live appearances on NBC’s Today show and also serves as a Special Correspondent for IMDb. In 2018 he co-hosted ABC’s Live from the Red Carpet on Oscar night.

In 2015, Karger received the Publicists Guild Press Award honoring the year’s outstanding entertainment journalist. In 2014, he was named one of OUT Magazine’s “OUT 100,” acknowledging the most influential people in the LGBT community.  

From 2012 to 2016, he served as Chief Correspondent at Fandango, creating and hosting the original video series “The Frontrunners,” which received a 2013 Webby Award nomination for Best Variety Series. Before that, Karger spent 17 years as a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, where he wrote more than 50 cover stories on subjects including George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Elton John, Taylor Swift, Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington and Carrie Underwood.

In 2012 and 2013, he was the Academy’s official red-carpet greeter on Oscar night and only the third person ever to hold that post. Dave graduated cum laude from Duke University.

I sat down with Karger to talk about 31 Days of Oscar, the look of this year's race, the changes in the Academy over time and his own Oscar origin story.

Direct download: dave-karger-tcm.mp4
Category:Interview -- posted at: 12:25pm PDT

For over to forty years, Nicolas Cage has given us one of the most diverse filmographies of all time. While being one of cinemas greatest action heroes with hits like The Rock, Gone in 60 Seconds, Con Air and Face Off, Cage also excels in prestige dramas about complex, emotionally rich characters in films like Leaving Las Vegas (for which he won the Oscar), Matchstick Men, Adaptation, and Joe. He can make you fall in love with him in films like Moonstruck and Raising Arizona, while discovering and protecting historical American secrets. Basically, the man can do anything and knock it out of the park, thus makes him one of, if not, the best actor of his generation.

But with his latest film, Pig, Cage takes his range and dramatic work to a whole new level as Rob, a reclusive chef who must confront his past after his beloved truffle hunting pig is kidnapped. Written and directed by Michael Sarnoski, and co-starring Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin, Cage is stunning in this film. When I reviewed Pig back July, I stated that “it’s not just one of the best performances of the year so far, but how it is the best work he has ever done,” and after seeing the film again, that statement firmly holds up. This sentiment was fleshed out a month later in an FYC piece for Cage to get a nomination for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars, noting that what the legendary actor was doing in this part was “an astonishing achievement” and that he delivers “a bloody, broken, delicious showcase that lingers well beyond the briskly efficient 92-minute runtime.”

After writing about this performance all year long, it only seemed fitting to go to the source and sit down to ask the actor about his incredible, career defining work in this movie. In the interview below, I spoke with Cage about his time making Pig, the bonds with Sarnoski and Wolff that grew on and off set, the lessons he learned in playing a chef, and his love of cinema. At the end, we concluded our chat with some interesting rapid-fire questions with answers lifelong fan of his movies have always wanted to know, as well as take a look at what he has coming in the not too distant future.

This interview runs 24m 31s.

Pig is available to rent or buy wherever you stream movies.

Direct download: Cage_Interview-_FINAL.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 8:59am PDT

Stevie Martin and Lawrence Davis are two very well-established makeup and hair designers, having traversed the worlds of film and television with equal success and yes, respect.

Martin made her start in makeup designing when she started doing makeup for magazines before building her way to TV and film. She was one of the key makeup artists on projects such as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, then returning for Mockingjay – Part 2The Nice Guys and Sleepless, where she grew a reputation of her minimalist style and using no prosthetics.

Davis comes from a very ranged background of work, having even won an Emmy for his work on Hairspray Live! He went on to being one of the key hairstylists for daytime and primetime TV shows and specials like the Grammys, the Academy Awards, American Idol. From this he went onto movies and became a key hairstylist for projects such as In TimeFlight and Dumb and Dumber To. Through all of this he started working frequently with Jennifer Hudson, which is how he landed the role of Hair Designer Head for Respect.

We were curious how they both went about the daunting task of transforming Jennifer Hudson and Marlon Wayans into their respective roles as Aretha Franklin and Ted White, especially when the filmmakers asked for no prosthetics. Benji Bury had a sit-down discussion with them about how they climbed this high mountain.

Respect is currently available to rent or buy wherever you stream movies.

Direct download: respect_makeup_interview.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 2:16pm PDT

When Ridley Scott calls, Janty Yates answers. 2021 brought not one, but two Scott projects - The Last Duel and House of Gucci - and Yates was by his side on both. With The Last Duel, we are transported back into medieval France to meet Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) and Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) as they fight for the truth. As for House of Gucci, we meet Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) in the late 1970s as she begins her relationship with Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). Yates’ costumes are standouts and she is receiving some of the best reviews of her career. 

Yates is no stranger to the awards attention. In 2001, she was the winner of Academy Award for Best Costume Design for Gladiator. She was also nominated for a Satellite Awards (where she is 4x nominee), a Saturn Award (where she is a 3x nominee) and a BAFTA. In addition to these accolades, she is also a 2x Costume Designers Guild Awards nominee (The Martian and De-Lovely). 

Yates has been racking up nominations left and right for critics prizes for both of her films of this year, including a Hollywood Critics Association nomination and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards nomination. 

Their collaboration continues with Kitbag, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte. Jodie Comer was originally cast as Joséphine Bonaparte but had to drop out due to COVID-influenced scheduling conflicts.

This audio interview runs 25m 19s.

Direct download: janty_yates_final.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 3:55pm PDT

To this day, 3x Oscar nominated production designer Arthur Max continues to transport us to his beautifully constructed worlds. In 2021, he took us to the castles of medieval France with The Last Duel and to the bustling streets of Italy in House of Gucci. Through tireless research and close collaboration, Max has been frequent go-to of Ridley Scott for over two decades. 

His three Oscars were for Best Achievement in Production Design (The Martian), Best Achievement in Art Direction (American Gangster) and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Gladiator). The accolades don’t stop there. He is also a 2x BAFTA nominee (1x winner for Gladiator), 7x ADG nominee (2x winner for The Martian and Gladiator), NBR Award winner for Gladiator, and many more. 

Their collaboration continues with Kitbag, starring Jodie Comer and Joaquin Phoenix as Joséphine Bonaparte and Napoleon Bonaparte. 

House of Gucci is out in theaters today and stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, and Al Pacino. The Last Duel is on VOD today and stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck.

This audio interview runs 59m 27s.

Direct download: arthur_max_edited.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 1:55pm PDT

I’ve been a fan of Robin de Jesús since Camp, nearly 20 years ago. 

But de Jesús is more than Camp, he's built a stellar career with work in television, film and of course, theater where he's a three-time Tony nominee, earning nods as Featured Actor in a Musical twice (2008's In the Heights and 2010's La Cage aux Folles) and Featured Actor in a Play for the 2019 revival of The Boys in the Band.

Born in Norwalk, Connecticut, he always loved to sing and would join his family in the Parranda, the Puerto Rican version of caroling, during Christmas and go from house to house wherein that house's family would then join and go to the next house until the group grew into most of the neighborhood. It gave him the outlet for his voice and also a creative outlet for his family ("they sort of identified as factory workers but at that time of year they were musicians") and it pushed him through his school years to explore the possibility of making it a career.

After 2003's Camp, his first feature film, de Jesús landed a career breakthrough, the part of Sonny in Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights, a relationship that would bear fruit once again with the theatrical feature version of Jonathan Larson's tick, tick...BOOM!, bringing him full circle back to Miranda, who directs. His performance has earned him Hollywood Critics Association and Satellite nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

Throughout our 30m conversation, we talk about the electrifying response to the film's world premiere at AFI FEST in November and the actor gets candid about his well being and mental health during the shooting of the film ("I wasn't choosing the healthiest thoughts") and how he broke through it to recognize love and blessings in his work and being present in his own life. We talk about his onscreen co-star Andrew Garfield, the depiction of the friendship between a straight man and a gay man on film and what that means on a larger scale.

We also take a look at the state of representation of queer and Latino actors and what representation means to him, the difference between who should play certain roles and who even gets a seat at the table from the ground floor of auditions and casting, what his dream role is and more.

tick, tick...BOOM! is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.

This interview runs 33m with intro and music.

Direct download: robin-de-jesus-interview-final.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 12:21pm PDT

2021 has been the year of the musical. Whether it was Encanto, Vivo, tick…tick…BOOM, Annette, Cyrano, West Side Story, and many more, audiences have experienced a resurgence of the once staple genre of Hollywood. But for many, including myself, the musical that still stands out over the rest this year came out during the summer, Warner Bros' In the Heights.

Based on the Broadway hit musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film is set over the course of a couple of days in the mostly Latinx based neighborhood of Washington Heights, where people are navigating the modern world and fight to obtain their sueñitos, their little dreams that will change their lives forever. With this, we many follow Usnavi, played by recent Golden Globe nominee Anthony Ramos, is saving enough money to go back to his home in the Dominican Republic and start fresh. But leaving isn’t easy when the community he is in, surrounded by family and friends, rely on him to move forward as much as he needs them.

With awe-inspiring choreography, impeccable performances by this talented ensemble, and lavish cinematography by Alice Brooks, In the Heights provides wonder not found in many modern musicals today. In large part, this has to do with the direction of Jon M. Chu, whose vibrant energy and passion for musicals comes through in almost every moment we see in the film. Chu, known for starting his career making dance movies with Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D, followed by blockbuster sequels with G.I Joe: Retaliation and Now You See Me 2, he found his biggest success in the 2018 worldwide smash hit, Crazy Rich Asians. With that film he not only made the highest grossing romantic comedy of the 2010s, but landed major awards nominations including a SAG Ensemble, thus making a commercial, celebrated film that all audiences can enjoy while given a vehicle for Asian actors to be seen by audiences in a light that they hadn’t been seen since The Joy Luck Club. Therefore, when it was announced he was attached to In the Heights, it made all sense in the world that he would carry his sincere, detailed approach over to this mostly Latinx, yet universal story.

In a recent conversation with Chu, I talked to him about his passion for the project, his love of the genre, what he carried from making the film’s extravagant musical numbers like "9600," and what he has learned, good and bad, from his experience post the film’s release. With his schedule getting bigger by the day as he starts preparations adaptation of the film version of the monumental musical sensation, Wicked, it was nice to sit down and speak with Mr. Chu about his process and passion to tell diverse stories. His affection for this world and time with Miranda, Ramos, the rest of the cast, and crew still shows in how he speaks, displaying the same feeling the audience has when watching his film, that of an unforgettable experience.

In the Heights is available to stream on HBO Max, as well as to own or rent on Blu-ray and all VOD platforms.

Direct download: Jon_M_Chu_Interview_AW.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 10:47am PDT

Within the first few moments of speaking with writer-director Mike Mills, you vibe with his calm energy and gentle spirit, therefore making it a very soul enriching experience to have during an interview. This feeling isn’t a stranger to most who have seen his films, as Mills has been making audiences feel this way over the last sixteen years since his debut feature Thumbsucker. In taking time between his debut and his next three projects, he was able to find distinct connections that span into grand ideas about not just the world his character inhabits, but our modern culture and society.

Films like Beginners and 20th Century Women are, respectively, pieces of art used as an ode to his father and mother. The former earned massive acclaim, including the late Christopher Plummer’s Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor. The latter was hailed as one of the best films of the last decade and landed Mills his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. But it is his latest film, C’mon C’mon, that finds him examining new territory, as Mills is making a film about a new family member, his relationship with his child, thus his most personal film to date. Within C’mon C’mon, we follow a journalist named Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his precocious nephew Jesse (Woody Norman) as their bond grows while Jesse’s mom Viv (Gaby Hoffman) is tending to the needs of Jesse’s struggling father (Scoot McNairy). Built within this simple narrative lies some of the most honest screenwriting of the year as Mills is able to balance this familial dynamic as well as the difficult themes he suggests about humanities future and how unsure our world is, with no solutions in sight.

From talking with him, he is someone who cares deeply about his craft, and the connection his work has with audiences across the world. In doing so, he understands the human soul better than anyone working today in film right now. C’mon C’mon is, as stated in our review, “the best film of his career” and “crafts one of the best screenplays of the last ten to fifteen years.” In my conversation with the writer-director, Mills spoke about his creative process, his inspirations for the film, and tells stories and antidotes of his cast, including the relationship between the veteran actor, Joaquin Phoenix and the newcomer of the year, Woody Norman. Here’s hoping the one time Oscar nominee can add not just another Oscar nomination to his leaguer, but a gold statue as well, thus honoring him and one of the best films of 2021.

C’mon C’mon is currently playing only in theaters from A24.

Direct download: MikeMillsInterview.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:44am PDT

When you go to a film festival, you never know who you are going to meet. At the opening night after party of the Middleburg Film Festival, I was introduced to one of the most talented, hardest working people of their or any craft, the great make-up artist Donald Mowat. What started as a meet and greet turned into multiple conversations over the span of four days, talking about not just his work and the festival, but every other topic in between. Thus was the case when we sat down for a conversation at the Salamander Resort and discussed his extraordinary work.

In a career spanning over 35 years, Mowat has created some of the most iconic looks for some of the most celebrated films in that time span. His highlighted work as a department head includes 8 Mile, The Fighter, Skyfall, Nightcrawler, First Man. He’s worked closely as a personal artist for actors such as Mark Wahlberg, Daniel Craig, and Jake Gyllenhaal. But his biggest collaborations of late have been his work with director Denis Villeneuve on Prisoners, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049, and their latest project, Dune. When talking with Mowat, there is an infectious glee that comes out of him when he talks about working with Villeneuve because of how proud he is of not just his work, but the work of all involved to make these movies successful.

Though his stellar work has been celebrated by many over the decade, Mowat has yet to receive an Oscar nomination. With Dune however, that is bound to change at it is not only some of the bes make-up and hairstyling of the year, but it is some of Mowat’s best work of his career. In the conversation below, we talked about his relationship with Villeneuve, how he came up with the looks of the different character groups in Dune, and what it would mean to Mowat, an Academy member since 1999, to be celebrated by his peers.

The interview might contain some mild spoilers, so if you want to go in blind, see the film before listening to the conversation.

Warner Brothers released Dune in theaters and on HBO MAX on Friday, October 22.

Direct download: Donald_Mowat_Interview-dune.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 7:48am PDT

If you're here on AwardsWatch then it's probably safe to say that you're obsessed with the Oscars and have been for a very long time (to date, there is no known cure). Well, have I got something for you.

If you don't already listen, I have your newest podcast obsession about your favorite subject: the Best Actress Oscar. The Just To Be Nominated: An Awards Season Murder Mystery podcast isn't simply a chat about the Academy Awards, it's a murder mystery at the Academy Awards with a delicious meta twist. Think Clue meets Serial meets Little Gold Men. Here's the set up:

Riley Audrey won the Academy Award for Best Actress after a long and arduous campaign. Later that night, she was found dead in a hotel room. Someone was not happy with her win.

Leo Gold and Terri McPherson are the hosts of the popular award prediction podcast "Just to Be Nominated." And they believe they hold the key to solve Riley's death. Week by week, they'll go back to listen to interviews they did with the major players and contenders of a controversial award season, and try to put the pieces together of who killed Riley Audrey.

Just To Be Nominated is a Kingdom of Pavement production and available on Spotify, Apple or wherever you listen to podcasts. New episodes land bi-monthly on Thursday and the first two are out and ready for listening and stars Anouk Samuel as Riley Audrey, Drew Droege, Adam Faison, Gabriela Ortega, Sid Phoenix plus Brendan Scannell and Zach Noe Towers as Leo Gold & Terri McPherson and many more.

I interviewed Jorge Molina, the creator, writer and director of the Just To Be Nominated podcast about what inspired his love of the Oscars, the incredible cast he's assembled, some of his favorite Oscar campaign seasons and everything you'll want to know about his passion project. I have provided an audio version as well as a written one over at awardswatch.com for your needs and/or pleasure.

Direct download: Jorge_Molina_JTBN.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 8:45am PDT

Patti LuPone’s been busy. Between starring in the new Ryan Murphy Netflix show Hollywood, performing in Zoom concerts, giving no-holds-barred interviews in her signature outspoken fashion and giving us regular video updates from her basement, there’s no question that 2020 – coronavirus be damned— has already been Patti LuPone’s year.

But to many of us, EVERY year is Patti’s year. My love for the legendary diva spans decades of seeing her perform in countless shows and settings, including an evening almost 10 years ago when I got to see her sing at a Barnes and Noble in New York City to promote her deliciously honest memoir. Watching LuPone in that intimate setting solidified my love and admiration for this woman and was an evening I’ll never forget (partly because I was also seated right next to the late, great Zoe Caldwell— but that’s a story for another day.)

So you can imagine how thrilled and honored I was to get a chance to talk to her briefly in the midst of her busy quarantine schedule. Patti filled me in on the challenges of trying to stay productive while stuck at home, chatted about the current state of the arts in general and theatre in particular, filled me in on how she prepared to play a female studio executive in 1947 Hollywood, and, yes, gave me some insight into those basement videos that have turned her into a full-blown Twitter legend.

Direct download: patti-lupone-interview-full.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 4:43pm PDT

At the age of 85, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. But without a definitive Ginsburg biography, the unique personal journey of this diminutive, quiet warrior's rise to the nation's highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her
biggest fans – until now. RBG is a revelatory documentary exploring Ginsburg 's exceptional life and career from Betsy West and Julie Cohen, and co-produced by Storyville Films and CNN Films.

I spoke with Betsy West and Julie Cohen, the directors of RBG, the double Oscar-nominated documentary of the life and victories of the judicial powerhouse. In our conversation we talk about the directing duos first meetings with RBG, her unique relationship with fellow Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and what it could tell us about how we interact with each other today.

RBG is currently available to rent or buy on DVD or streaming on Amazon. The 91st Oscars will take place on Sunday, February 24th, 2019 and air live on ABC.

Direct download: Julie_Cohen_and_Betsy_West_RBG_Feb_15_2019_033708_PM_PST.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 4:49pm PDT

Since graduating from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Brian A. Kates has edited many acclaimed films, with 14 films selected to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and 5 films in Cannes.

He has been honored with an Emmy Award for his work on Taking Chance, and an Emmy nomination for editing the pilot episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He also won two ACE Eddie Awards for his work on Bessie and Lackawanna Blues, in addition to two other Eddie Award nominations.

His collaborators have included Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly), Dee Rees (Bessie), Joseph Cedar (Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer), Michael Cuesta (Kill the Messenger), Tamara Jenkins (Private Life and The Savages), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Jack Goes Boating), John Cameron Mitchell (How to Talk to Girls at Parties and Shortbus), Lee Daniels (Shadowboxer and The Butler), Nicole Kassell (The Woodsman), George C. Wolfe (Lackawanna Blues and Nights in Rodanthe), Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project), Ross Katz (Taking Chance), John Krokidas (Kill Your Darlings), and Jeremiah Zagar (We the Animals).

In addition to his work in fiction, he was Jonathan Caouette's co-editor on the groundbreaking documentary Tarnation.

His television work has included collaborations with Alfonso Cuarón (Believe), Bill Condon (The Big C), David Simon and Eric Overmeyer (Treme), and Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).

He is currently finishing his third collaboration with John Cameron Mitchell, a 10-episode original audio musical, featuring the music of Bryan Weller and Mr. Mitchell, and a cast including Glenn Close, Patti LuPone, Cynthia Erivo, Ben Foster, Nakhane, Bridget Everett, Justin Vivian Bond, and Laurie Anderson, entitled Homunculus.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Brian this week about his Emmy nomination for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, his summer camp background that got him into film and his collaborations with Lee Daniels and John Cameron Mitchell.

By the end it turns a bit into an impromptu gushing about his work on NBC's Kings and a promo for his new film We the Animals, which is in theaters now. GO SEE IT.

You can see Brian's work next in the upcoming Tamara Jenkins film Private Life, which will world premiere at the New York Film Festival next month.

There also might be a bit of tea spilled on an upcoming sequel to a gay classic. 

This interview runs just shy of 37m with music.

Opening: "A Wonderful Day Like Today" from The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd (Original 1965 Broadway Cast) 

Closing: "Girls Talk" by Dave Edmonds

Direct download: Brian_A_Kates_interview_.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 10:24am PDT

Christopher Scott never wanted to dance. Now he's a three-time Emmy nominee for Outstanding Choreography. 

After his mother packed him and his sister from Maryland to Hollywood to give them better opportunities, Scott defied having to enter a dance class, opting for track and field instead. "If you had told me I was going to be a dancer I would have laughed in your face," he says.

He entered Hollywood High School in the 9th grade, and applied and was accepted into the performing arts magnet program. It was in his very first semester that he checked out the school's production of West Side Story (his sister was in it and dating the "coolest guy in school") and out of sheer boredom learned the songs and the dance moves and landed a part in the production. During his four years in the program, he had leading roles in several stage productions and studied various styles of dance, particularly excelling in tap. To hone his tap dancing skills, he spent many weekends as a street performer on the Venice Beach boardwalk and the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California.

In 11th grade, three-time Emmy winning actress and choreographer Debbie Allen (and future So You Think You Can Dance judge) came to the school to audition dancers for the opening of the American Music Awards with Mariah Carey. "I feel like the luckiest kid in America," he says. It was his first paying job and when he got his paycheck (about $650) he thought 'I think I'm gonna go with this,' and his dancing career began.

Since then Chris has worked with renowned artists such as Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons, Khalid, and Gloria Estefan, and has worked on a variety of film and TV projects including the Emmy-nominated 82nd Academy Awards, Step Up 4: Revolution, Step Up 5: All InDancing with the Stars, and America’s Best Dance Crew.

In 2009, Scott teamed up with Harry Shum, Jr. to choreograph the super hero inspired web series The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, aka The LXD. An experiment in storytelling through dance, the series is the brainchild of writer/director/producer Jon Chu. 

In 2011, Scott made his So You Think You Can Dance debut and thereafter made frequent visits choreographing contestants' duets and group routines. He received Outstanding Choreography Emmy nominations for his work on the show in 2012 and 2014.

In my interview with the three-time Emmy nominee and Scott talks about his leap from dancer to choreographer, his love of props in routines, reveals his advice for new dancers and the song that got away - the only tune he hasn't been able to snag the rights to (yet).

Christopher Scott is nominated for Outstanding Choreography for So You Think You Can Dance.

The Emmy voting period ends August 27th at 10pm PST.

The Creative Arts Emmys will be a two-night affair on Saturday, September 8th and Sunday, September 9th.

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will be Monday, September 17th.

This interview runs 25m.

Opening: So You Think You Can Dance theme

Closing "Say You Won't Let Go" cover by Boyce Avenue (used by Christopher Scott in one of his nominated dance routines featuring Allison and Logan)

Direct download: Christopher_Scott_interview_.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 10:18am PDT

 
Costume designer Meghan Kasperlik has made a name for herself in the world of feature films after first cutting her teeth in the fashion industry and then television.
 
Out of college she jumped at the opportunity to work with the legendary Patricia Field (Emmy winner for Sex and the City, Oscar nominee for The Devil Wears Prada). Building her resume on shows like Hope & Faith, Cashmere Mafia and Royal Pains, Meghan made the jump to feature films, working as an assistant costume designer on The Dark Knight Rises, American Hustle, The Amazing Spider-Man 2Noah and Joy before being the head costume designer on Little Accidents, Crown Heights and It Comes at Night.
 
 
Her work on Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes brought her to the HBO movie that would earn her her first Emmy nomination, Bahrani's update of Fahrenheit 451 which made its world premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival and stars Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon. 
 
In my interview with Meghan the Emmy-nominee talks about her approach to color and texture when she designs, how she's an expert second-hand shopper and some of her costume design inspirations and favorites of all time (including Keira Knightley's iconic green gown from Atonement).
 
You can see some of Meghan's most recent work on the upcoming second season of Netflix's The OA.

The Emmy voting period ends August 27th at 10pm PST.

The Creative Arts Emmys will be a two-night affair on Saturday, September 8th and Sunday, September 9th.

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will be Monday, September 17th.

This interview runs 23m

Opening: "Fahrenheit 451" from Fahrenheit 451 music byMatteo Zingales and Antony Partos (Milan Music)

Closing: "Resurrection" from Fahrenheit 451 music by Matteo Zingales and Antony Partos (Milan Music)

Direct download: Meghan_Kasperlik_Emmy_interview_Fahrenheit_451.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 3:35pm PDT

Bill Groom is no stranger to the Emmys, he's a four-time winner for HBO's Boardwalk Empire. With its expansive sets and designs of Atlantic City, both the boardwalk and interiors, Groom was more than ready to take on the mid-century look of New York City for Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which earned 14 Emmy nominations for its freshman season, including one for Groom's meticulously detailed production design. 

In my interview with Groom we discuss his incredible body of work which includes HBO's Vinyl, ABC's miniseries When We Rise and the feature films Eat Pray Love and Milk, the process of location vs sets and the leg work involved in recreating the period with accuracy and detail. 

Bill Groom is nominated in Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel episode "Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme."

The next season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will hit Amazon in late 2018 or early 2019.

This interview runs 34m with opening and closing music.

Opening music: "Egh-choh-choh" by The Barry Sisters

Closing song: "Rebel Rebel" by David Bowie

The Emmy voting period ends August 27th at 10pm PST.

The Creative Arts Emmys will be a two-night affair on Saturday, September 8th and Sunday, September 9th.

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will be Monday, September 17th.

Direct download: Bill_Groom_Emmy_interview_Marvelous_Mrs_Maisel.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:40am PDT

Cort L. Hessler, with his 2014 Emmy for Stunt Coordination on 'The Blacklist'

Cort L. Hessler lll, with his 2014 Emmy for Stunt Coordination on 'The Blacklist'

Emmy-winning stunt coordinator Cort L. Hessler lll got his start in Florida, where he grew up, at Disney when the theme park came to his high school scouting for talent. He water skied, did live shows, anything and everything that was available to him.

When Universal Studios opened in 1990 he auditioned for, and got, a Miami Vice-style show in the park's lagoon and that kicked off his film and television stunt career. With live shows and film and television being shot for onlookers and tourists to see, Hessler jumped in head first, filming stunts in the park. That led his first big break, the NBC primetime show SeaQuest 2032 starring Roy Scheider and Jonathan Brandis. Hessler doubled for Brandis and he became a go-to for water and underwater stunt work.

On The Blacklist, a job he got over Facebook while working on Blue Bloods, Hessler is proud of the level of practical stunts he employs (including more than one character on fire, CGI-free) and the safety he demands on his set.

In our chat we talk about his directorial debut on the show last season (he'll have another one next season), his favorite types of stunts, his favorite sequences from this last season, his advice for those interested in this (sometimes literally) backbreaking work, and if the Oscars will catch up to the Emmys and Screen Actors Guild in recognizing stunt work.

Season 6 of The Blacklist will return this September on NBC.

The Emmy voting period ends August 27th at 10pm PST.

The Creative Arts Emmys will be a two-night affair on Saturday, September 8th (where Hessler’s category is slotted) and Sunday, September 9th.

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will be Monday, September 17th.

Direct download: Cort_Hessler_The_Blacklist_interview.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 12:10pm PDT

For Ben Kutchins, his love of film and filmmaking started out the way it did for a lot of kids; finding an old 35mm camera in a parent's drawer, dusting it off and giving it a go. Looking at life through a lens became a hobby, then a passion and during college he interned, as many people who are interested in film and live in Northern California do, at Lucasfilm. That internship turned into a job but he saw the tides turning from film to digital and that he was on track to a working at a desk, which he didn't want.

Pushing back, he left a job offer from Lucasfilm and entered NYU's film program. It was everything he wanted; shooting over 60 short films, learning the language of film and learning from and with Reed Morano (Emmy-winning director of The Handmaid's Tale) and Rachel Morrison (Mudbound, and the first ever female director of photography nominated for the Cinematography Oscar).

Throughout his career Kutchins has been inspired by cinematographers like Oscar-winner Emmanuel Lubezki ("He moves the camera in the most naturalistic way that I've seen of any modern cinematographer"), Roger Deakins ("The best lighting cameraman I've ever seen), Gordon Willis ("He knows how to give each location its own beating heart") and more.

For his work on Netflix's Ozark, Kutchins earned the first Emmy nomination of his career in the category of Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour). But he'll tell you he didn't get there alone ("I take every day as a gift, I don't take that lightly"). He had been the cinematographer on a film starring Jason Bateman (The Longest Week) and that relationship earned him a spot on Bateman's team for the Emmy-nominated Netflix hit ("We get excited about the same things, we're real film nerds"). Working with Stephani Lewis (costume designer) and Derek Hill (production designer, who's also Emmy-nominated) on finding the look of Ozark, Kutchins calls it a "melding of minds" and "gearing towards the same aesthetic."

Ozark returns to Netflix for its second season on August 31st. You can watch the trailer here.

The Emmy voting period ends August 27th at 10pm PST.

The Creative Arts Emmys will be a two-night affair on Saturday, September 8th (where Kutchin's category is slotted) and Sunday, September 9th.

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will be Monday, September 17th.

Direct download: Ben_Kutchins_Ozark_interview.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 8:22am PDT

From left: Melissa Sweeney, Ted Sarandos, Sean Callery (photo: Image24 PR)

From left: 'Jessica Jones' creator Melissa Rosenberg, Netflix's Ted Sarandos with Sean Callery with Emmy win for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for Netflix's Jessica Jones (photo: Image24 PR)

It doesn't get more Emmy-tastic in the Music Composition categories than Sean Callery.

Callery has received 17 Emmy nominations and 4 wins, making him one of the most nominated composers of all time. 10 of his Emmy nominations are for the hit Fox drama 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland, where Callery composed all nine seasons and is the only composer to have been nominated every year for a series that ran more than three seasons. Altogether, Callery won three Emmys for Outstanding Music Composition for his work on 24

His fourth, and most recent win, came in 2016 for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for Netflix's Jessica Jones, starring Krysten Ritter.

He also composes the music for hit series such as Showtime’s Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning drama Homeland, starring Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, ABC’s Designated Survivor, starring Kiefer Sutherland, and CBS’s Sherlock Holmes-inspired drama series Elementary, starring Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller.

I had the pleasure to chat with Sean about his prolific composing career, the intricacies of being a Television Academy judge in the Limited Series music sections, and how music is a primal form of human communication.

In our conversation, Sean talks about his first major moviegoing experiences that helped shape his own likes and inspirations with composing, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Jaws

Describing creating the Emmy-winning theme for Jessica Jones, Sean found the voice of Jones through film noir but with an original spin, playing with the playful and hardened elements of the character.  

Sean also reveals the golden piece of advice that every composer wants to hear before creating a score. 

Sean resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Debbie.

This interview opens with his Emmy-winning main title theme from Jessica Jones and closes with music from Homeland's 7th season and sixth episode, "Species Jump."

Direct download: Sean_Callery_interview_Jul_26_2018.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 1:11pm PDT

Composer Nathan Barr has received critical acclaim for his unmatched versatility, incorporating eclectic instruments from musical cultures across the world. Nathan recently completed construction on his new 8,000 square foot personal studio in Tarzana, California that can house 50-60 musicians. The studio, Bandrika (named after the fictional country in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, which I had forgotten!), houses the original Wurlitzer pipe organ that was installed at Fox studios in 1928 that recently went through a four-year restoration. With 1,500 pipes, able to mirror hundreds of different instruments ("It's like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for music," he says.), its music can be heard in iconic films including Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Sound of Music, and Patton. Barr and his team are currently compiling a list of composers that have used the organ including Oscar winners John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann.

I chatted with the two-time Emmy-nominated composer about his work on The Americans, how his pianist mother and banjo-playing father introduced him to music in Japan at five years of age and becoming a collector of rare and unusual instruments from around the world such as a human bone trumpet from Tibet, dismantled pianos, a rare Glass Armonica, gourd cellos, many of which you can hear on any number of his original compositions. We also talk about some of his favorite composers and film scores including The Third Man and its classic zither.

Since the end of The Americans, Nathan scored the dystopian action thriller, The Domestics, starring Kate Bosworth and Tyler Hoechlin, which hit theaters June 29th and is currently scoring season two of AMC’s multi-generational western epic, The Son, starring Pierce Brosnan. He's also putting the finishing touches on his next collaboration with director Eli Roth, the upcoming adventure film The House with a Clock in Its Walls (see trailer below) starring Jack Black and two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett.  The film's release on September 21 will mark the Wurlitzer's 21st-century debut for movie audiences. 2019 will find Nathan scoring Amazon’s upcoming fantasy, period drama, Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and produced by Guillermo del Toro.

Nathan Barr currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

Direct download: Nathan_Barr_interview.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 7:48pm PDT

Before earning an Emmy nomination last week for her work on the series finale of Once Upon a Time, Cindy O'Connor began her career as a musical theater composer...well, actually it goes back further than that. Her parents love to regale their friends with stories of Cindy composing at the age of 5, writing song on her keyboard called "The Aku-Aku Foot Disease" while her family was living in Japan. It all began there. Flash forward to 1993, writing the music for All That He Was in collaboration with Larry Todd Johnson where she won the National Playwright Award and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for New Play. The darkly comic musical, about one man’s struggle with AIDS where the deceased functions as host and narrator, invisible among the friends and family assemble to pay him final respects, has since been produced in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and several theaters across the US.

O'Connor worked from the ground up in television and film, with Emmy-winning Oscar-nominated composer Mark Isham taking her under his wing. The two have collaborated for over a decade and share that 2018 Emmy nomination with Michael D. Simon. Throughout her musical career she's worked on the Oscar-winning film Crash, Blade, The Conjuring 2The Black Dahlia and as the composer for shows like The Black Donnellys and the television adaptation of Crash

I chatted with Cindy about her first Emmy nomination (and being the only female nominated in the Music Composition categories), jamming with Pat Benatar and the importance of advocacy for women composers and in the film and television industry. She's also a member of the Alliance of Female Composers. On September 4th she'll be a part of KCRW Presents The Future is Female: A Concert Celebrating Female Composers at The Wiltern in Los Angeles that will also include Tamar Kali (Mudbound) and Ronit Kirchman (The Sinner), both featured in 5 Female Composer You Should Know. Tickets are available here

Here is my interview with Emmy nominee Cindy O'Connor. 

Direct download: Cindy_OConnor_-_Once_Upon_a_Time_-_Interview.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 2:30pm PDT

I chatted with Screen Actors Guild nominee Leonardo Nam, star of HBO's Emmy-winning sci-fi series Westworld, which just had its second season premiere last night. We talked at length about the importance of visibility, opportunity and representation in films and television and his early role models and acting idols, Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington. 

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Korean parents and then raised in Australia, Nam knows a little something about cultural diversity. TheLA-based actor constantly defies stereotype with his versatility and is actively making sure other Asian-Pacific and Asian-American actors and filmmakers get noticed, including his ambassadorship with the Asian Pacific American Visionaries Short Film competition sponsored by HBO and his support of multi-cultural designers in what he wears on the red carpet. 

Nam broke big with the 2004 Paramount Pictures film The Perfect Score, playing a lead role opposite Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson but is beloved for his role of Brian McBrian in 2005's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the film's sequel (for which he was almost replaced). He talks fondly of his mentor on that film, Debra Martin Chase, who really went to bat for him for a role that was written as a blond-haired, blue-eyed guy. We might fan out over the movies juuust a little bit. Nam also reveals a touching story of a young female fan of the book who was not happy when she found out he was cast but had a change of heart once she saw him in the film.  

Talking Westworld, Nam teases a bit of what's in store for Felix's hero status after helping Maeve escape last season and what Westworld, and television like it, has to say about the state of the world today. 

Westworld season 2 airs every Sunday on HBO. Listen to the full interview below. 

Direct download: Leonardo_Nam_interview_Apr_23_2018.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 2:40pm PDT

1