Lacey Chabert – Scarecrow (TV movie)

October 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews

It may not have the same kind of outlandish title like most SyFy Originals (think “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators” or “Chupacabra Vs. the Alamo,” for example), but actress Lacey Chabert (“Mean Girls”) says her new movie “Scarecrow” is still a fun ride.

In “Scarecrow,” Chabert plays Kristen, a young woman who is trying to sell her family farm, which is being haunted by a – you guessed it – killer scarecrow.

During a quick phone chat, Chabert, 31, talked to me about the TV movie and shared some thoughts about a possible 10-year-reunion for the cast of “Mean Girls.”

“Scarecrow” airs on the SyFy Channel Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. (CT).

I think most people would describe SyFy original movies as somewhat campy, but that term could mean different things to different audiences. Can you tell me what the term campy means to you?

To me campy is when you don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s sort of a wink to the audience. That’s how I would describe it.

When you hear the term SyFy original movie these days, people tend to anticipate some kind of crazy title like “Sharknado” or “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators.” But here, we simply have “Scarecrow.” So, do you think that’s enough of a hook?

I hope so. I mean, I don’t know the last time I saw a movie about a killer scarecrow. So, to me, that’s enough of a hook. I just saw the movie last week and it’s a fun ride. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I think it has a bit of a darker vibe and it is actually scary. But it’s all in good Halloween fun.

Most people know you for your role in “Mean Girls,” but if you could pick a movie you’ve been in that you think deserved more attention when it first came out and could help define you as an actress, which movie would you ask fans to seek out?

Oh, wow, that’s a great question. Gosh, you know, I totally appreciate that people are “Mean Girls” fans. I was so lucky to be a part of that movie. It thrills me that people are still talking about it. You know, I did a movie about two years ago called “Imaginary Friend.” It ended up airing on Lifetime I believe. I was very proud of the work we did in that film. I played a woman who had a history of emotional abuse in her life. She realizes her husband is trying to harm her. She really rises to the occasion to turn the tables on him. I was really proud of that movie.

Six months from now – April 30, 2014 to be exact – will mark a decade since “Mean Girls” hit theaters. Don’t you think that calls from some kind of 10-year reunion?

Gosh, it’s so crazy that it’s been 10 years! Someone else just reminded me recently that next year is “Party of Five’s” 20-year reunion. All of this makes me feel very old. (Laughs) Very old, but very lucky and very happy to be alive and still working and still pursuing my dreams. Yes, a 10-year reunion, absolutely! It calls for some sort of celebration! We’ll definitely have to put that together. [Actor] Jonathan Bennett (he played Aaron Samuels) and I are still very good friends. I’m still friends with [actor] Daniel Franzese (he played Damian). I would love it if they did something with the cast.

What do you think Gretchen Wieners would be doing 10 years after graduating from high school?

(Laughs) Well, she’s running the Toaster Strudels Company, of course!

Erik Estrada – Chupacabra vs. the Alamo (TV movie)

March 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Best known for his role as California Highway Patrol Officer “Ponch” Poncherello during the 70s TV series “CHiPs,” actor Erik Estrada has been keeping busy over the last 20 years with a number of guest roles on TV. His latest is “Chupacabra vs. the Alamo,” an original TV movie that will air on the SyFy channel March 23 at 8pm. In the film, Estrada plays Carlos Seguin, an ex-DEA agent who rides a motorcycle, carries a shotgun and finds himself at the center of a battle in San Antonio, Texas with a pack of blood-sucking chupacabras. During an interview with me, Estrada, 64, talked about what movie scared him as a kid and how Ponch would’ve handled the chupacabra.

What kinds of horror/sci-fi films did you like growing up?

I liked all of them – the werewolf movies, the vampire movies. They were all fun to watch. The one that scared me the most was “The Exorcist” because of all the makeup and special effects. I think that scared everyone the most.

The legend of the chupacabra is fairly new when it comes to folklore. It only goes back to about 1995. Why do you think it’s been able to find a following with the likes of Bigfoot and La Llorona?

Well, because it a folklore tale that has spread all over from Puerto Rico to all of Latin America and the U.S. It’s another spin on an old song. Everything gets recycled in one way or another. It’s just a good story to make a good movie with a lot of drama and action and adventure.

How would Ponch do fighting against chupacabras?

I think he would kick their ass. He would tie them to his bike and drag them down the highway. He would smoke em’.

If the chupacabra was actually at the Battle of the Alamo back in 1836, which side would he have fought for?

He’d be with us Latinos.

You’re also promoting another movie called “Finding Faith.” Can you tell us about that?

Yeah, it’s a story about a young girl who posts a picture of herself on her smart phone and the bad guys come and take her away. It’s an issue I’ve been working with in real life as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force. I urge everyone to visit to learn more.

Ving Rhames – Zombie Apocalypse (TV)

October 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

Zombies might be referred to as the “walking dead,” but they really don’t know what dead is until they’ve felt the cold end of Ving Rhames’ sledgehammer in the SyFy original movie “Zombie Apocalypse.” In the film, which airs Oct. 29 at 8 p.m., Rhames plays Henry, the “enforcer and protector” of a group of survivors fending off a zombie outbreak.

During my interview with the Julliard-trained actor last week, we talked about why he doesn’t think he could actually survive a zombie attack, what the difference is between an actor and a movie star, and his thoughts on criticism of director Tyler Perry.

Do you think you could survive a zombie attack if it ever was to happen, and how would you do it?

No, I don’t think I could survive it. So no, I’d be gone. I think dealing with something that’s stronger than you, that’s very difficult to kill, that’s already dead, I just think that percentages are slim that a human being could really beat a zombie. We also have a lot of fast zombies [in “Zombie Apocalypse”], so they’re stronger, faster, and they’re already dead. So, how do you conquer that?

When the cameras weren’t rolling on the set, did you just kind of standing around chatting with the actors in full zombie makeup at Craft Services?

No. Actually, I’m one of those actors who normally go to my trailer if I’m not working and being used. I try to stay a bit focused. I just realize I have to keep a certain professional distance from dealing with a lot of people on a set. Because a lot of times, I think the extras are as important as lead actors. You can’t do a film without extras. But sometimes [extras] want to take photos and what have you and I don’t take any photos until after the day is done. So I go back to my trailer and relax.

Asylum (the studio behind “Zombie Apocalypse”) is known for making films that sort of piggyback on major releases. For “Snakes on a Plane,” they did “Snakes on a Train.” “Transformers” became “Transmorphers.” What do you think about that filmmaking strategy?

Well honestly, this is my first time working with Asylum. I didn’t even know they did that. Evidently, it’s something that’s working for them. I was in “Death Race 2” and I’m going to be in “Death Race 3” and “Death Race 4.” [These movies] piggyback off of something that already developed an audience, theatrically. So I think it’s a very good business move. I think it’s much cheaper when you’re doing something for television than having to shoot on film.

Everybody knows you for your masculine roles. What scares Ving Rhames?

I think some things in life [scare me] like [not being able to] protect your children from things. It could be something as simple as a child getting sick. You know what I’m saying? The mumps. The measles. The flu. You know what I’m saying? I don’t want to say that’s a fear, but I would say it’s when something happens to a child and there’s nothing I can do except wait. My fear is when I’m in a position where I can’t help. A kid gets the flu [and] you can take them to the doctor and give them plenty of liquids and whatever, but I can’t necessarily heal them in a day or so. So I guess it’s the fear of something happening to people I love and there’s nothing I can do about it.

You’ve mentioned in the past what you think the difference between a movie star and an actor is. Do you prefer the term actor or is being called a movie star OK with you?

I’ll put it this way: Not all movie stars are actors, you see. And of course, not all actors are movie stars. But every now and then you get someone like a – let me see – Sean Penn; someone who’s an extremely good actor but is a movie star. There are other people who are movie stars and no one looks at them as, “Wow, what an actor,” you see? The guys I grew up watching were like [Robert] De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino. All of those guys were movie stars, but they were actors first. So, I look at things now and I don’t know if the quality of acting has changed. I just named those three [actors] off the top of my head. I don’t know what three [actors] I would name now that are comparable to those three. I’d put Sean Penn in there, maybe Johnny Depp. You see, now I really have to start thinking, whereas I just rattled those [first] three off the top of my head. I think now things have changed. The economy has changed. The quality of films has changed. We do a lot of blockbusters now. We don’t really do that many films dealing with the human spirit, the human condition. When you have better scripts, I think it raises the actor. I think now the scripts are not as good and Hollywood is more so run by businessmen. Decades ago there was something artistic in the [résumés] of studios heads. I think that reflected what types of films were being made. Now, their résumés are more business related.

Are you familiar with the social commentator and writer Touré?


Well he just came out with a book called Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness. He talks a lot about black America. He also does a lot of commentary on the entertainment industry and has a lot of criticism of director Tyler Perry. I’m wondering, since you are an African-American actor, would you ever accept a role in a Tyler Perry movie?

What’s his criticism?

He thinks roles that he portrays of black characters aren’t very realistic. I know Spike Lee has the same kind of criticism. They say [Perry’s movies are] more buffoonery than anything.

Well, for me, I’d have to read a script and look at the role and see if it’s something I wanted to do. But I also feel that this is Americaand Tyler Perry has the right to do whatever type films or TV things he wants to do. I think that if something is not your cup of tea, that’s fine. But I think many times we criticize without actually talking to the person and getting to know their perspective of things. I can look at Tyler Perry and say, “Well, he’s employed more African-Americans than any other director in the past five, seven years.” I don’t watch [his movies or TV shows]. They’re not my cup of tea. But I have to say, “Well, hey, he created his own studio in Atlanta and he is creating jobs for people, mainly African-American people.” So, I’m not ever quick to criticize because many people didn’t care for a lot of Spike Lee movies. You get my point? They’re entitled to that like he’s entitled to have his perspective on Tyler Perry. I don’t give into nonsense or people’s opinions. Many years ago – I forgot the name of that movie that Spike Lee hired Damon Wayans to do (“Bamboozled”), a lot of reporters asked me if I thought Spike Lee was doing that in reference to me. (Quick background: Rhames won a Golden Globe in 1998 and during his acceptance speech called fellow nominee Jack Lemmon onto the stage and gave him the award. Many people said Spike Lee was satirizing Rhames in Bamboozled because Wayans’ character makes a similar gesture). And I said, “You know what? I don’t know, but God bless Spike Lee.” I’m supportive of whatever a person is doing as long as it’s not against the Lord and it’s relatively positive.” People can have their opinions of me or others, but I’m not going to let someone divide and conquer. The Lord knows we have many more problems in black America than movie images. We got a homeless problem. We got teen pregnancy. We have AIDS. We have drugs. You get my point? My focus is more on that then focusing on the perception of whatever Tyler Perry is doing. If we focus on cleaning up our house, we may not have enough time to look into Tyler Perry’s.

I’ll go from something really serious to something more lighthearted. I saw the video where you accepted an Oscar for “Piranha 3D”…


And it seems like you really have a good sense of humor about yourself. Is it easy for you to sort of laugh at some of the roles you’ve done in your career and play along?

Well I do have a pretty good sense of humor and Elizabeth Shue, she’s a lot of fun. I tell people, “Look, it’s just a movie.” You know, it’s not curing cancer. It’s not curing AIDS. It’s only a movie. So I take my work seriously, but at the same time I realize this is just a film. Hopefully it’s a film that can do something to enlighten, inspire, or affect the way one may think about whatever issue we’re dealing with. But again, there are very few films that really say something.

Tracy Morgan & Scott Hallock – Scare Tactics (TV)

October 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

Whether it’s escaped mental patients, zombie outbreaks, or demonic dolls, host of the SyFy hidden camera reality show “Scare Tactics” Tracy Morgan finds it all hilarious. During my interview with him and executive producer Scott Hallock, we discussed why watching someone who is terrified out of their mind makes for good comedy. Season 5 of “Scare Tactics” began Oct. 10 and can be seen on SyFy Mondays at 8 p.m.

Tracy, out of all the episodes of “Scare Tactics” you’ve done in the past two seasons, which one do you think would have scared you the most and why?

Tracy Morgan: Oh, dude. I can’t think. I don’t want to single one out. They’re all hilarious. They’re all scary. It’s great shock value but I don’t think I could just pick one out and say this one scared me the most because they’re all great. But one comes to mind and that’s the devil baby. The first season I did when a baby comes out. It was just hilarious. And the one with the little rat boy and the guy just was so afraid. It was just funny. I just thought it was hilarious that people were so afraid of it.

Scott, I’m wondering in some of the pranks it seems like you could have pushed the envelope even more by allowing the prank to continue longer. Sometimes it seems like you stop it before things get out of hand. Is that a conscious decision producers make or is it because of time constraints?

Scott Hallock: It’s a little bit of both. All these bits are meant to play out. We have four bits in an episode and most of them are like 4½-minute vignettes, 4½-minute scenes. And we definitely want to make sure that it’s an enjoyable thrill ride for everybody. So, definitely, when we get to the point where someone’s at their most scared, we’re pretty much at the reveal. We don’t want to keep someone scared out of their mind for a long, long period of time. When we get someone at their most scared we call it inflating the balloon. You’ve inflated the balloon to its bursting point and that’s when you want to burst the balloon and say you’re on “Scare Tactics” because that’s when you’re going to get the big reaction of, “Oh my god, I can’t believe it!” So, that’s why we do that. You really want that person to have a good time in the end and so that’s the point when you want to reveal. I don’t know that you get anything more out of the bit by keeping it going when the person’s so scared. I think if you did keep it going when someone was truly scared people would start to turn off to it a little bit. It would start to seem a little bit too mean and not enjoyable. So I think it’s fun watching people get right up to that moment and then at that moment you tell them it’s all a joke. You’re OK! You’re on “Scare Tactics.” Then everyone can kind of enjoy [it]. Then you like to see that person bounce back and say, “Oh my god, that was so much fun! I can’t believe my friend set me up! Let’s do it again!” One of the biggest sources of new victims for the show is past victims. People, after they’ve been on the show, come to us and basically say, “I’ve got five friends I want to setup. Here are their names and phone numbers.” That’s how we get a lot of our new people on the show.

Tracy, what do you think the link is to comedy and fear? Why is it so funny to watch somebody get scared?

TM: I think it’s because it’s not happening to us. I think we laugh because it’s not happening to us. I mean, being frightened – when someone else is being frightened – it’s funny to us because we’re not the ones being frightened. [It’s] sort of like voyeurism. If you see someone slip on some ice, you will crack up because you’re not the one slipping on ice.

Scott, when you’re brainstorming for ideas, have there ever been pranks you would have liked to have done on the show but maybe for certain situations or reasons you didn’t do them; maybe because they were a little too mean-spirited or something like that?

SH: Oh yes, I mean, we always edit ourselves and certainly if something seems like, “Umm, no, that goes a little bit too far” or “that doesn’t seem like fun” or “that’s not in the spirit of the show,” we’ll certainly throw those out. Again, it’s supposed to be a thrill ride. It’s supposed to be a roller coaster. At the end people are supposed to get off and say that was a good time. All the writers and producers are pretty much on the same page of what makes a good scare bit. So, everyone knows what kinds of bits to pitch and what makes a good “Scare Tactics” bit. Everyone knows what kind of bits not to pitch and what kind of bits are too mean and what wouldn’t make a good scare bit.

Tracy, how do you think Tracy Jordan (Morgan’s character on “30 Rock”) would react if Jack (Alec Baldwin’s character on “30 Rock”) set him up on “Scare Tactics?”

TM: Oh, I have no idea what Tracy Jordan would do. I mean, that’s a character. That’s an image on TV. I could tell you what Tracy Morgan would do but I don’t know what Tracy Jordan would do.