My Freelance Work

  • Reginald VelJohnson reveals how ‘Die Hard’ helped him get cast in ‘Family Matters’

    Today.com11/06/18

    “Die Hard” is, let’s face it, a perfect movie: You get an unbreakable Bruce Willis as everyman cop John McClane; vile European baddies fronted by future Snape Alan Rickman; a brilliant use of a fireman’s hose as bungee cord; and a rousing rendition of “Let It Snow!”

    But that’s not all the 1988 blockbuster, which has (at last count) brought us three sequels, has to offer. It also introduced much of the world to the jovial Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell, the one person outside the Nakatomi Plaza who believes McClane when he calls for help.

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  • Directly or indirectly, political films offer history lessons that punch at the status quo

    L.A. Times Envelope11/06/18

    In theory, movies are an escape – one of the few ways to get away from the relentless news headlines and social media quibbling over partisan politics that drive us to distraction.

    But that’s not going to be true this awards season. Films like “The Front Runner,” “Vice,” “On the Basis of Sex,” “Widows,” “The Favourite” and “Mary Queen of Scots” refuse to shy from the political or the personal – and that’s actually a good thing. Whether unearthing recent history like Gary Hart’s lost presidential bid; Dick Cheney’s unusual rule as vice president; the early years of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; or machine-style Chicago politics; or honing in on the court intrigue of queens Anne, Mary and Elizabeth, each of those films, respectively, tells a story that’s as relevant, if not more so, than what’s currently on CNN or Twitter.

    “Politicians are the new gangsters,” says “Widows” director/co-screenwriter Steve McQueen. “I wanted to bring those things to the surface.”

    “The dynamics of the 16th century in many ways are not so different from the dynamics we see now,” adds Beau Willimon, “Mary Queen of Scots” screenwriter. “They had the Protestants and the Catholics, we have Republicans and Democrats at each other’s throats. There are things that are shockingly familiar about what Mary and Elizabeth were experiencing — including mansplaining.”

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  • Are separate bathrooms the secret to a happy marriage?

    Today.com10/23/18

    Michelle Obama. Michael Caine. Sarah Michelle Gellar. Joan Collins. What do all of these celebrities have in common?

    They all agree that having two separate bathrooms equals one long-lived, happy marriage.

    “Listen, I know that everybody can’t have that, but it does help, quite frankly,” Collins told James Corden on “The Late, Late Show” in September. Early in October, the former first lady echoed the sentiment on TODAY.

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  • The debunking website Snopes turns 25 this year. And that’s not fake news

    L.A. Times Calendar - 10/14/18

    Remember the one about the “new deadly spider species” that was killing Americans this summer? Or those “friend complimented you” texts that were linked to sex trafficking? Or that Florida Gov. Rick Scott returned a rescue dog after he got re-elected?

    Even if you didn’t hear about those recent rumors and urban legends, it’s safe to say that Snopes.com has. For almost 25 years, Snopes – which averages 22 million views per month – has crafted itself into the go-to web location for confirming or debunking every rumor or urban legend your father-in-law emailed you, your sister posted on Facebook or your college buddy showed you in a Reddit meme.

    And thanks to the ongoing flood of “fake news,” political shenanigans and a persistent human desire to pass along stories that “feel true,” it’s also safe to say that Snopes, headed by founder and CEO David Mikkelson, will never run out of material.

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  • Quest for Fire

    Emmy Magazine - 9/13/18

    One of the challenges of being cast in a new adaptation of a George R. R. Martin property is this: at least some fans are probably expecting Syfy’s Nightflyers, which is based on Martin’s 1980 novella by the same name, to be a bit like A Song of Ice and Fire but in space — complete with shocking mother-of-dragons moments.

    “I love Game of Thrones,” Jodie Turner-Smith says. “But Nightflyers is something completely different. I’m not walking out of any fires naked. Yet.”

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  • Emmys: Artisans Up Their Game for High-Def Scrutiny

    Variety - 9/05/18

    Edward Berger had been so careful. The Emmy-nominated director of all five episodes of Showtime limited series “Patrick Melrose” had taken a chance by casting a brown-eyed boy as the younger Melrose, who is played as an adult by blue-eyed Benedict Cumberbatch.

    “We had a boy with blue eyes, but [Sebastian Maltz] felt like a stronger choice,” says Berger. So in post, Berger and his team tweaked his eye color to keep things consistent, and that should have been that. In the old days, nobody would have been the wiser.

    That wasn’t enough, however. “Two people picked up on the change, and were very triumphant that they’d found an eye color mistake,” sighs Berger. “There are millions of people watching and some will stop at every frame to make sure they find something that doesn’t work so they can post about it online.”

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  • How Accurate Sets Can Help an Entire TV Production

    Variety - 9/05/18

    Finely detailed sets and productions aren’t just to draw in potential audiences: Everyone from actors to the crew can benefit from a highly-specific, realistic environment.

    “First and foremost where we look is for detail in performance,” says “Handmaid’s Tale” director Kari Skogland. “I’m very conscious to make the set as real and alive as possible so the performer is really in their reality — and that makes their job less difficult, if the room they’re in feels true and authentic.”

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  • TV Execs Break Down How They’re Working Toward Diversity

    Variety - 8/28/18

    When ABC revealed that “Black-ish” would have a spinoff, sister network Freeform raced to sign the series up. For Freeform, “Grown-ish” would hit all the right notes — it came with a proven pedigree in creator Kenya Barris, and even more important, featured a young, diverse cast.

    The decision was a wise one, indeed. “We chased the show that became ‘Grown-ish’ because we very much wanted a diverse comedy on our slate, and who better to partner with than Kenya?” explains Freeform exec VP, programming and development, Karey Burke. “It very quickly drew new viewers to our channel and ‘Siren,’ which follows it, has a more diverse audience than ever.”

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  • ‘Patrick Melrose,’ ‘The Americans’ and more turn the past into must-see escapism

    L.A. Times Envelope - 8/09/18

    Making good TV isn’t easy. Making good TV that takes place in the past or the future – that’s exponentially harder. And that’s a lesson “This Is Us” creator/showrunner Dan Fogelman, whose family drama was nominated for an Emmy award in July, says he’s learned the hard way.

    “When I got into this business, I thought, ‘If I got a chance it’d be so easy to make great TV,'” he says. “But it’s so difficult and challenging – and when you add a time period not your own it’s nearly impossible. I’m amazed anyone pulls it off.”

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  • All great TV episodes have a key scene at their heart — especially the Emmy nominees

    L.A. Times Envelope - 8/09/18

    Whether you’ve got eight, 13 or 24 episodes in the can, boiling an entire season of a television show down to one critical, hopefully award-winning moment might seem unfair. But in some cases, that’s all it takes: One well-executed interaction or particularly poignant scene can be the final reason why an Emmy voter tips your way. Writers from this year’s comedy and drama nominees all had unique takes on what might be their statue-worthy scene and 10 of the 12 shared their thoughts with The Envelope. If you’re saving these episodes for future viewing (and why on Earth would you do that?), you might want to skip reading this article.

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