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#46 - David Ansen: Movie Critic

Film critic David Ansen has had one of the most unique and influential careers in modern entertainment history.

He joins his high school classmate Bob and Suzanne in a revealing and engaging conversation that starts with a childhood growing up in Beverly Hills as the son of a Hollywood industry insider. You’ll hear about David’s early fascination with movies and how even as a pre-teen he began documenting that interest as the ultimate “list maker.”

Going from undergrad writing studies at Harvard, to life on a commune, and then to writing about movies for Boston’s The Real Paper, David then found himself recommended as film reviewer at Newsweek by no less a luminary that legendary film critic Pauline Kael.

During his 31-year career at Newsweek, David Ansen became one of the most powerful voices in modern film criticism. His lifelong love of movies was matched by an insightful worldview and a writing style that made many of his reviews more entertaining than the movies he reviewed. When David Ansen wrote favorably about a movie, people bought tickets. A negative review would often have the opposite effect, although in this conversation David humorously reveals the one film he describes as “an unkillable movie.”

With unique industry knowledge and deep analytical perspective, David talks about today’s rise of quality TV shows as compared to the trend toward major studio “franchise” movies which fail to capture his attention.

After a career as Senior Editor at Newsweek and writing numerous television documentaries about Hollywood legends Greta Garbo, Groucho Marx, and Elizabeth Taylor--winning the Ace Award for All About Bette Davis—David moved on to work with The New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, and recently served as Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Film Festival.

His newest assignment as Lead Programmer for the 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival guarantees his ongoing influence in the world of serious filmmaking.

If you like movies, you don’t want to miss this revealing conversation with David Ansen.

Direct download: 46-DavidAnsen-FINAL11.17.15.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 6:48pm PDT

#45 - Actor William R. Moses

William R. Moses is one of the most prolific TV and film actors of his generation. His hundreds of credits on shows ranging from Castle, CSI: Miami, and Mad Men to NCIS, The Mentalist, and Mind Games—have established him as one of Hollywood’s true leading men.

You’ll hear Bill describe his unique family origins—his mother was actress Marion McCargo, his stepfather was the hugely popular U.S. Congressman Alphonso Bell, Jr.—and how he was “discovered” at a Hollywood party by an agent who soon had him in front of the cameras in a Sprite commercial.

Bill shares stories about ducking out of college classes to attend auditions and sneaking into acting classes where he began to get some idea of what this “acting thing” is really all about. By the time he was a senior, he was cast opposite Demi Moore in Choices, a roll that eventually brought him to the attention of a casting director who thought he was perfect for the role of “Cole Gioberti” in a television pilot that eventually became the mega-hit CBS-TV series Falcon Crest.

As he describes his experience working alongside such talents as Robert Foxworth, Susan Sullivan, and Jane Wyman, you’ll hear some candid “insider” stories about life on the Falcon Crest set, as well as the reasons Bill left the show in the middle of its 9-year run. The conversation then turns to how he transitioned into a major leading role in the classic romantic comedy Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts, and then going on to co-star with Raymond Burr in more than a dozen Perry Mason movies. When you hear his fond recollections of working with Burr, you’ll find out how he was “born in the wrong year”

For anyone interested in what it takes to become a working actor, and how to sustain a successful Hollywood career, this is an interview that is truly a lesson in “getting past the hard parts and loving the craft.”

Direct download: 45-William_R._Moses-FINAL10.1.15.mp3
Category:Celebrities -- posted at: 8:49pm PDT

#43 - TV Director Michael Zinberg

In this very personal and candid conversation with Bob and Suzanne, you’ll hear their longtime friend Michael Zinberg as he share the candid details of a professional history that spans four decades and multiple career paths.  Michael is unique in the world of Hollywood, laying claim to hundreds of major directing, writing, and producing credits, as well as to two stints as a network executive.

 

Today, Michael is among Hollywood’s most enduring and prolific writer-producer-directors, with a track record of creating hit shows that has earned him multiple Emmy nominations and the prestigious Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramatic Television for his groundbreaking work on Quantum Leap.

 

 

Michael—ever the consummate story teller—brings his innate good humor to the conversation as he talks about coming from San Antonio, Texas brimming with ambitions of big-time Hollywood success...and how he has actually achieved it.  You’ll hear about his first job as a CBS-TV usher, how he broke into a dynamic prime-time “above the line” career as an Associate Producer and eventually transitioned into comedy writing and directing with The Bob Newhart Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show at legendary MTM Productions.

 

 

Zinberg has directed in every television format and genre, from half-hour sitcoms to hour dramas, to mini-series and movies.  He’s worked with the entire pantheon of Hollywood celebrities on shows like Taxi, Lou Grant, Family Ties, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Practice, JAG, and Newhart.  Still in non-stop demand as a seasoned, “go-to” director, Michael continues working on major hit shows, including NCIS, Lost, The Unit, The Blacklist, and The Good Wife.

 

 

Michael Zinberg reveals the extraordinary work ethic behind his remarkable success, and lights the way for anyone hoping to build a meaningful Hollywood career.  It's a conversation you'll want to be part of.

 

Direct download: Podcast_43-MichaelZinberg-FINAL-8.1.15.mp3
Category:Television -- posted at: 10:43am PDT

#42 - Producer Hawk Koch

 

Look up “Hollywood Royalty” in your Webster’s Dictionary, and you just might find the name and face of Oscar Nominee, Golden Globe Winner, and movie producer Hawk Koch on the page.

 

In this podcast interview with Bob & Suzanne, Hawk talks about his unique childhood on movie sets with his father, Howard W. Koch, one of the most prominent film producers of his generation.  Hawk describes how school vacations spent on movie sets led to his passion for film making and to an inspiring career working with legendary directors like Robert Aldrich, Sidney Pollack, Paul Mazursky, and Robert Wise. 

 

It wasn’t long before he evolved from being “the kid” on Hollywood soundstages to getting hired as the production assistant on Sidney Pollack’s This Property Is Condemned, where he quickly proved himself as someone who could “get it done.”

 

After a stint as a rock & roll road manager for iconic performers like The Supremes and The Dave Clark Five, Hawk returned to Hollywood as an assistant director on movies destinedto become : Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and Barefoot in the Park.  Hawk candidly recalls how he rose through the Hollywood ranks to work closely with iconic film stars like Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, and Kirk Douglas.

 

You’ll hear how Hawk’s passion for the entertainment business continued to propel him up through the ranks as the producer of dozens of critical and box office hits, including The Pope of Greenwich Village, Heaven Can Wait, Wayne’s World, Primal Fear...and the list goes on.

 

Hardly resting on his laurels Hawk Koch works hard to "pay it forward" as he vigorously supports the Hollywood film industry. He’s currently President Emeritus of the Producers Guild of America, and has served on the Board of the National Film Preservation Foundation.  Hawk most recently served as 2012-13 President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and continues to produce the movies we love.

 

Direct download: Podcast_42-HawkKoch-FINAL6.14.15.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 9:36pm PDT

#41 - TV Writer Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor has a unique show business history and track record. In this podcast interview, he describes his journey from a childhood in rural England to Hollywood sound stages, with dozens of writing and producing credits on some of TV’s most memorable hit shows.

Taylor talks about his years of studying at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and recalls the thrill of performing Shakespeare on the international stage.  He then shares his experience “being in the right place at the right time”, and how he began writing scripts for hit TV shows.

Not many TV writers have the ability to move between comedy and dramatic genres, but Philip has multiple  credits on both sides of the fence.   He’s written for shows as varied as . “Mork & Mindy”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Eight is Enough”, “CPO Sharkey”, “Good Times”, and “Knight Rider”, demonstrating an unusual ability to move between half-hour sitcoms, hour dramas, two-hour longform TV movies, and feature films. 

With great humor and plenty of behind-the-scenes details, Philip tells Bob and Suzanne how he wrote the cult movie classic “Lust in the Dust”, starring Tab Hunter and the legendary Divine. He then describes his four-year stint writing for “The New Zorro” (and acting in an episode on location in Spain), which he quickly followed with multiple scripts for “Highlander” and for Jerry Bruckheimer’s first TV series, “Soldier of Fortune, Inc.”

Now teaching film and television writing at Arizona State University, Philip candidly shares tips that have helped many of his students break into the Hollywood mainstream.   If you’ve got your sights set on writing for movies or TV, this conversation with Philip Taylor is “required listening”.

 

Direct download: Podcast_41-Phillip_Taylor-FINAL5.26.15.mp3
Category:Television -- posted at: 6:55pm PDT

#39 - Stuart Benjamin: Oscar Nominated Producer & Grammy Winner

Stuart Benjamin—a longtime family friend of Bob and Suzanne—shares the highlights and deteails of his award-winning career as a major film, television, music, and theatrical producer in this revealing podcast interview.

 

 

You’ll hear Stuart describe the path of a Harvard-educated lawyer who juggled two careers at once, working his “day job” as a partner in a prominent Los Angeles law firm and eventually discovering his true passion as the producer of high-quality motion picture and musical entertainment. 

 

 

With college classmate and film director Taylor Hackford, Stuart formed New Visions, Inc. and produced some of the most memorable feature films of his generation.   Their first short film production, Teenage Father, earned Hackford an Oscar and threw open the gates of Hollywood studios as the pair delivered critical and commercial hits like Against All Odds, White Nights, La Bamba, and Everybody’s All-American, working with stellar casts that included Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Helen Mirren, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dennis Quaid, and Jessica Lang.

 

 

Stuart describes the Hollywood studio development process and the growth of New Visions into a creative powerhouse that went on to release another half-dozen movies and award-winning soundtrack albums. 

 

The natural outcome of Stuart’s lifelong passion for music—with music playing a central role in the success of a majority of his movies—was a long and lasting friendship with the legendary Ray Charles.  You’ll hear Stuart describe his relentless, decade-long struggle to produce Ray, which earned six Academy Award nominations, including his own for Best Picture.  The soundtrack for Ray won Stuart a Grammy Award and sales of more than 4,000,000 albums.

 

 

Turning his attention to live theatrical production, Stuart discusses differences between working in movies, television, and theater.  With his production of Louis & Keely Live breaking records in Los Angeles, he’s currently developing the compelling story of Stax Records in collaboration with soul singer Tasha Taylor, daughter of the iconic blues legend Johnny Taylor.

 

 

Stuart Benjamin has built a career in the mold of Hollywood’s great impresarios...and he generously shares the secrets of his success for us all to follow.

 

Direct download: Podcast39-StuartBenjamin-FINAL-5.1.15.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 9:47pm PDT

Listen in as Bob & Suzanne talk to actor David Selby about his life and starring roles on stage, screen, and television.  

David describes his childhood in rural West Virginia, and his discovery of “something inside” that drove him to become a serious student of acting.

Having appeared in more than 70 stage productions—including starring roles in everything from Oklahoma, to The Crucible, to last year’s A Delicate Balance—David’s theatre work has been the backbone of an unparalleled TV and movie career.

His first major television role as “Quentin” on Dark Shadows made David a huge fan favorite.  From there, he jumped into feature films, starring in The Super Cops and playing opposite Barbra Streisand in Up the Sandbox.  Always in demand by Hollywood casting directors, David’s hundreds of acting credits include The Waltons, Police Woman, Raise the Titanic, Mad Men, The Social Network, and the soon-to-be-released Equals, with Twilight’s Kristen Stewart.

When David joined Bob on Falcon Crest to play opposite Jane Wyman, he earned an international following that continues to this day.  David talks about making “Richard Channing” an unforgettable character with unusual depth and complexity, which he followed up with as “Xavier Trout” on Soldier of Fortune.

Beginning his acting career as far from Hollywood as you can imagine, David Selby has worked with directors like Tim Burton, David Fincher, and Ridley Scott...and with actors from Jeff Bridges and Jason Robards to Barbra Streisand and Julia Roberts.

While scaling the heights of show business, David has also managed to author ten books of memoirs, plays, poems, and novels. David Selby, an actor who has remained devoted to his family and rooted in his West Virginia origins, is the ultimate “Hollywood Renaissance Man.”

 

Direct download: Podcast38_DavidSelbyFINAL_03.28.15.mp3
Category:Television -- posted at: 9:54am PDT

This interview features acclaimed film scoring mixer Dennis Sands as he talks about his rise to the highest ranks of “behind the scenes” Hollywood legends.

Dennis describes his first gig working at MGM Recording Studios as we learn the true meaning of “working your way up from the bottom” and of being in the right place at the right time...if only by always being there. 

As Dennis tells his story of becoming a recording engineer for major artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, and Sarah Vaughn, and then to his founding Hollywood’s Group IV Recording Studio you’ll learn how dedication to his craft, and “being a nice person” have been the keys to his amazing career.

You can actually feel the love Dennis has for his work when he describes the collaborative energy he shares with composers like Alan Silvestri, John Williams, and Danny Elfman...as well as with film directors like Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis.

The conversation touches upon some of the more than 300 major feature films to his credit, and you’ll hear the appreciation Dennis has for his four Academy Award nominations (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Contact, The Polar Express), as well as for his multiple Emmy and Grammy nominations and wins.

Dennis Sands truly opens up professionally and personally, sharing his excitement over the cutting-edge installation of Dolby’s Atmos in his Sound Waves SB studio, the only one of its kind.  For those who hope to learn the keys to the success in Hollywood and how to follow in his footsteps, this podcast is pure gold.

After hearing this episode, you’ll agree that the life of Dennis Sands is truly... “an outstanding achievement”.

 

Direct download: Podcast37-DennisSands-FINAL-2.28.15.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 3:41pm PDT

#35 - Hollywood Icon Actress Diane McBain

One of Hollywood’s iconic screen beauties, Diane McBain was headed for major stardom before she had even finished high school.  In this revealing interview, she provides a candid look into her life before, during, and after her years of major film and television stardom.

Raised as a child within sight of Hollywood Boulevard’s klieg lights, Diane quickly went from winning teen beauty contests, acting in neighborhood theater productions, working through high school as a magazine cover girl, her first day on the set of Father Knows Best, and being cast in Ice Palace, a major motion picture starring Richard Burton...all before she was 18 years old!

Diane pulls no punches as she describes life as a Warner Brothers contract player, how she handled the allure of stardom while still finishing high school, and the sacrifices she made for a career that “fell into her lap”.  She talks about her first on-screen kiss and the hectic life of an actress working non-stop on TV series like Maverick, Sugarfoot, Bourbon Street Beat, Surfside 6, 77 Sunset Strip, Batman, and The Man from Uncle (to name only a few of her dozens of shows).

Diane openly discusses the challenges and realities of working as a contract player for a studio that didn’t capitalize on her star power when she had it.  She reflects upon changing audience tastes, the fact that “people move on”, and how she found herself becoming “just a working actress” struggling to succeed in “a very difficult business”.

After starring in classic films like Parrish and Claudelle Inglish (her favorite role), after working with Elvis Presley in Spinout, after three decades of appearances in every TV show from Eight Is Enough to Dallas and General Hospital , Diane has now recently authored Famous Enough in which she tells the complete story of her life and career.  As her longtime friend Tippi Hedren describes it, “This is a book about the real Hollywood...told with truth, humility and lots of humor.”

We agree.  It’s a great book (packed with pictures) and if you’ve got “Hollywood dreams”, you need to listen to this interview...and then read it!

 

Direct download: Podcast35-DianeMcBain-FINAL2.16.15.mp3
Category:Show Business -- posted at: 10:50am PDT

"Falcon Crest" Superstar Ana Alicia

This episode features Bob and Suzanne having a free-wheeling up-tempo conversation with "Falcon Crest" actress Ana Alicia, as she holds nothing back in telling her very personal story.

Ana’s story—of a girl born in Mexico, raised in El Paso, educated at Wellesley on full scholarship, and determined to follow her acting dreams even while going to law school—is an inspiring lesson for anyone thinking about a career on stage or in front of the camera.

From her initial creative “break” as a finalist in a grammar school poetry contest, as a teenager she jumped into in school plays and found her true calling as an artist.  She was soon involved in the world of local dinner theater, and while still going to law school (“trying to be practical”) turned the challenge of finding a Hollywood agent on its ear.

She describes her first screen test—and why she wore a casting director’s sweater over her own clothes—and how that propelled her into a starring role on Ryan’s Hope at the age of 20.

This fast-paced conversation reveals Ana’s very real intelligence, commitment to craft, and the personal determination that saw her rocket to national prominence on the cast of CBS-TV’s hit series Falcon Crest by the time she was 25.  (Don’t miss her story about her “sexy” audition for Executive Producer Earl Hamner…)

Ana talks about working with Bob in the role of  “Melissa Agretti” on Falcon Crest during the years he produced the show...and even opens up to Suzanne about what it was like working with the many “hunky guys” (William R. Moses, Lorenzo Lamas, David Selby) on the show.  She pulls no punches in revealing the real-life “drama” behind the scenes of the series, and how network and studio politics, including the constant changes in the writing staff ultimately affected everyone on the show.

Ana talks candidly about the real world of auditions, casting sessions, and working on the sets of more than 30 major TV shows and movies, including The Sacketts, Renegade, Murder, She Wrote, Life Goes On, Moonlighting, Hotel, The Love Boat, B.J. and the Bear, Quincy, The Hardy Boys.  She also shares personal insights into what it’s like performing alongside major stars like Raul Julia, Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, Jane Wyman, Jack Klugman, Susan Sullivan, Edward James Olmos, James Brolin, and Angela Lansbury.

In telling her story, Ana Alicia gives a compelling lesson in determination, preparation, and the focus it takes to make it as an actor in Hollywood…and the hard choices involved in choosing family and motherhood over a stellar career.

This is an inspiring, educational, and heartfelt conversation…and it’s not to be missed.

 

Direct download: Podcast34-AnaAlicia-FINAL-1.15.14.mp3
Category:Celebrities -- posted at: 1:38pm PDT

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