Crazy Rich Asians based on Kevin Kwan’s novel is the romantic comedy of 2018 that is winning the hearts of audiences worldwide and critics as well. Director John Chu takes us vicariously on a sumptuous tour of the beautiful sights, scents and lifestyle of the affluent in Malaysia and Singapore. This richly created world helps set the contrast between Constance Wu’s character’s Rachel Chu’s life and Henry Golding as Nick Young’s upbringing.
Each member of the cast is brilliant in their role in serving up the laughs, heartwarming moments and drama. I love how Constance show’s Rachel’s lovable vulnerability combined with fiery strength.
The film has all the elements of a romantic comedy we love including a satisfying Cinderella ending and characters we adore.
I am so proud and inspired by this movie’s representation and story that has resonated with so many people. It is exciting to know that due to the overwhelming positive box office response the second book in the series China Rich Girlfriend has been approved as the next film sequel.
The movie Christopher Robin is a heartwarming film that reminded me of the many reasons I love being a creative. There is something so special about being in the moment, taking in people and environments with an open heart and slowing down to be grounded. The film reminds a grown up Christopher Robin played by Ewan McGregor what it was like to be loved and give love. He is also reminded of the importance of playfulness in discovering new ideas with a fresh perspective.
Some of my favorite quotes from the stories on Winnie the Pooh:
“You’re braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think.” —Winnie-the-Pooh
Winnie The Pooh: What day is it? Christopher Robin: It’s today. Winnie The Pooh: My favorite day.
“There’s always time for a smackeral of wonder.” —Winnie-the-Pooh
I have been enjoying reading the book “A Walk in the Wood: Meditations on Mindfulness with a Bear Named Pooh” by Joseph Parent. The book brings up the point of being grounded and connected to the earth. One of my favorite expeditions to take is to go grounding where your bare feet can touch the ground. I have come away with a clearer mind, sense of calm and inspiration to do something new.
The entire Newsies story taken from screen to stage back to screen is one of triumph and feel-good entertainment that certainly brings the magic of Disney.
Disney’s NEWSIES: The Broadway Musical made its worldwide cinema debut this past Feb. 15, 18 and 22 courtesy of Fathom events taking the sold-out Broadway musical to more than 700 movie theaters across the United States.
The musical was filmed onstage at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, CA bringing Alan Menken’s music, Jack Feldman’s lyrics, Harvey Fierstein’s book and Jeff Calhoun’s stage direction to audiences for the price of a movie ticket.
The show takes you to 1899 where newsboys took a stand against the giant publishers of the newspaper world in a strike that galvanized the ragtag youth of New York in a classic David and Goliath story.
The superstar cast included the leads and some memorable faces from the Broadway production combined with the national tour cast. It was thrilling to see all the actors link arms to form a new band of brothers who were “all for one!” The comradery of Broadway originals Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly), Kara Lindsay (Katherine Plumber), Ben Fankhauser (Davey), and Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Crutchie) shined on screen.
Some of my favorite moments unique to this film version included the varying shots depicting a closer look into a character’s inner thought life. The scenes that highlighted relationships were richly flushed out with details such as those on the rooftop. Kara Lindsay’s “Watch What Happens’ solo took on a whole new level of meaning where you saw and experienced the mental gymnastics her character goes through for each lyric.
Christopher Gattelli’s Tony award winning choreography with signature gymnastics and dance moves is elevated to a new level of appreciation as well. The movie version lets you see the intricacy of difficulty while never losing sight of the dynamic athleticism sweeping the entire stage. For instance, Michael Dameski’s turns on a newspaper ending “Seize the Day” is a standout moment shot from different angles. The tapping sounds are as clear and crisp as ever and the facial expressions tell a compelling story with each leap and head spot.
Other standout moments come from Jeremy Jordan who brings his stage, film and television star power to the newsboy leader Jack Kelly. He is able to find the perfect blend of charisma and chutzpah needed for Jack. Audiences are swept up in emotion with Jeremy’s powerhouse vocals in “Santa Fe” and are endeared to Jack’s unique relationships to each of the newsboys.
Movie theater audiences can cheer right along with the filmed audience when Tommy Bracco (Spot Colon) enters or when Andrew Keenan-Bolger’s Crutchie is released from the refuge. In addition, laughs can be had at jokes that hit right home by Ben Cook (Racetrack), Nico DeJesus (Romeo) and Ethan Steiner (Les). Steven Blanchard’s Pulitzer and Aisha De Haas as Medda Larkin are a joy to watch too!
I am so thankful that more people will see such strong male dancing and be inspired to stand united to make a difference! Both the dance moves and the courageous moves to stand up for one another are timeless visuals to serve this generation and the next! #NewsiesForever
And now “The World Will Know” too as this filmed live version will air once more on February 22 at 7 PM in the United States but also in movie theaters across the world. For more information please visit FathomEvents.com
On Saturday, I had the pleasure seeing Newsies at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre built in 1926.
Pre-show: Audiences were treated to hearing Disney songs and Newsies signature songs from organist Rob Richards.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is a movie that will spark imagination and touch open hearts with timeless messages of valuing identity, family, friendships, time, forgiveness and adventure.
I was delighted to see the world of Underland come to life enriched by a visually stunning film and pockets of truth that can resonate for children and adults.
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) steps through the looking glass to another whimsical feast for the eyes and heart. Emboldened by her loyal friendship and selfless love for her best friend the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) ventures out on a quest to help save him and find his family.
In order to restore the Hatter to vibrant life she must deal with time travel trips and Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) that reveals new layers and facets to the truth. There is a running thread of discovery through each time jump that Alice makes where she observes beloved characters Mirana (Anne Hathaway), Iracebeth (Helena Bontham Carter), and the Hatter in their formative years.
I love the message that in order to understand someone you must realize that each person has faced their own trials and tribulations. Never be quick to judge but take the time to listen to each person with an open heart of acceptance that allows room for forgiveness.
“You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it.” Alice’s mindset changes from determination to fix problems to humility in valuing what a new perspective can give you. Pain of the past can be let go when you step into the future with perspective, possibility and lessons learned with gratitude.
Another message that is beautifully interwoven throughout is to not to be afraid to be fully you. It is when Alice own her uniqueness and ability to find wonder that she is able to use her strength to help save the day and the relationships that mean the most.
And of course, believe in the impossible and do the impossible. If you watch the film go with an open heart ready to revel in some madness and experience moments of friendship. Step through the looking glass where adventure awaits. In your life, what looking glass do you need to step through to enjoy a new experience? When you look in the mirror what adjectives come to mind to describe you?
Breakfast is my favorite power meal of the day. Egg whites, avocado and a healthy green elixir of veggies get my mind exploring the possibilities of a promising day filled with adventure. Create an inviting atmosphere for yourself to start your day. Change your point of view from the ordinary to the extraordinary and get ready to embrace the impossible. Adventure awaits!
“Vox Lumiere is a soul-pumping concert, dance, and theatrical live production that combines the power of an epic rock concert with the beauty of classic silent films. A captivating, one-of-a-kind experience where musicians, singers, and dancers perform an original score and new songs that propel you forward through a story seamlessly synchronized with the movie.”
Combine silent films telling familiar stories such as “Phantom of the Opera” and “Peter Pan”, rock concert electricity with an innovative new vision backed by creator Kevin Saunders Hayes and prepare yourself for a firecracker experience. Watch the video below to get a taste of the experience!
I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin at the neighborhood café Paper or Plastik where we started off our discussion about dreams. His multifaceted career includes composing, songwriting and producing. Vox Lumiere’s, “Voices of Light” daring show concept intrigued me into finding out the vision behind such a project and what was coming up next.
What about your dreams and journey? I know you have worn many hats in life.
We all have to wear many hats. It continues to be an interesting journey. I started from a love of music and then the journey has taken me to crazy places. I went and played with lots of bands, traveled around the world, gone to school to study music, lived in New York for years, wrote commercials and jingles for television, moved out to LA and scored films and then thought of this crazy idea for this show that has let me again travel around the world.
Trifecta of Doing Art
I get to write music and create something and people pay me to let me perform my music for them and they to seem to really enjoy it. It is a trifecta of doing art. It is not all easy but it is the trade-off. It is a blessing and incredible joy to get to do that. That is the encapsulated version but that is sort of where I am right now and I want to do more of it. It is fun to get on a plane or bus to go someplace new, meet new people and play music.
Inception of Vox Lumiere?
I was living in New York, writing jingles and scores for television and I was doing a lot of commercial paid work. I have a passion for creating my own things so I had been doing a lot of 99 seat theater or guerilla theater as we called it. We would come up with an idea with friends, write a show, find some space, cast our friends in it and find things on the street to make our set and props and do it all for no money. I was doing a lot of that and it was fun and working on as much film work as I could but there was not a lot in New York at that time.
I had this idea of what if I could write these themes for a movie and characters so instead of it being a popular song of the time that they might drop in, what if I took some of the themes that I was writing and put lyrics with them that were appropriate to the scene? My hope was that at the end of the film you would create even more emotional impact and another layer of storytelling. I thought that this was a great idea but no director in his right mind would let me do this so it was one of those ideas that I thought maybe one day.
It took one day going to rehearsal and the need for new underwear. So I went into a store stacked to the ceiling with tons of things you don’t need looking for the cheapest underwear. I was wandering around and saw this bin of silent movies for one dollar and I stopped and stared. This idea pops up that since they are silent movies there is no dialogue, nobody owns them and all these people are dead so they can’t get mad at me. So instead of underwear I went home with 5 silent movies. After rehearsal I went home and popped one of these tapes in and I was completely mesmerized and blown away by these movies. They were perfect for what I wanted to do. So I started writing and doing it.
To Los Angeles
In the meantime things brought me to Los Angeles. I found or I felt like I had more free time to work on my own projects and didn’t feel the same pressure I felt in New York. I involved my friends like I always do and they started to ask me what we are doing because it is very cool but strange so I told them.
What happened was that through a friend of a friend I got a call about a film festival and if I wanted to perform this silent movie show there. I did not know what he was talking about because I didn’t even think that I had a show. I was told that it won’t be paid but we would be flown out with lodging. I thought that it would be cool and asked “where is the film festival?” The answer was in Avignon, France.
I asked friends if they wanted to go to France for a week even though they would not be paid and we did rehearsals here in town. We never really done it and sure enough we went off and it worked. People really responded to it and we were at the Avignon Opera House which is spectacular and an incredible way to begin a project.
Come Back Next Year
The head of the opera house said that was great, we loved it and what are you doing for us next year? I was thinking about the other tapes I had and thought that we could do the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I had no idea that I said exactly the right thing because the Hunchback to Parisians, there is no American equivalent in culture, is a national character that goes back hundreds of years with meaning. We went back again the next year and I got some other calls from people that had seen us there. After three or four years of having fun doing that-my lovely wife brought up that people really respond to what I do and I should think about doing something with it.
Next Part of the Journey
How could we do more of this and expand the art form? It has been an interesting journey of wanting to do something with telling stories better and then have it open up to this whole world of opportunity. You think your life is going in one direction and then you end up somewhere else. I came out here thinking I was going to be the next John Williams in scoring films which I have done plenty of, but now I look where I am where I get to do my music. If it ends tomorrow I am so blessed and how lucky am I? I am not done yet and there is always another chapter or opportunity.
What is the next chapter?
In the past five or six years we have had a great experience and learned a lot about what works or doesn’t. Every time you get more ideas on what you could do creatively they then become possible. It is such a new and different art form and the music doesn’t follow a traditional format with the beginning, middle and end, big clap to next number. We asked if the performers can catch these cues. Creatively there is a never-ending list of possibilities to try and expanding on the art form. It is the process over and over again of thinking something is the hardest thing ever to having something be doable and exciting. We want to keep on exploring.
We think that the show has the potential of Cirque de Soleil, Stomp or Blue Man Group with a really strong concept. We already have five different shows. Like Cirque, they have amazing production values, tell stories using circus skills. Vox Lumiere is completely different but we have a theme and a way we tell stories that we can apply to different movies and shows.
Focused Approach: Building and Uniting the Tribe
Touring has introduced the show to a lot of people, but the hard part is uniting the pockets of our tribe and to create momentum and traction out of it. We want to do local shows in Los Angeles maybe once a month and build our local tribe. We would love to become that show in Los Angeles that you can’t get in to see.
When is your first LA based show?
We are looking at December and we believe we will be at a venue called the King King which is on Hollywood Blvd. We hope it will be our home and we are probably going to start with “Phantom.” It is a very cool, sexy, fun production in the space.
Our next goal is to take the momentum and within 12-18 months to put the show off-Broadway. The goals are not completely egotistically driven. We think off-Broadway is the best way to introduce the most amount of people to the show and to brand it allowing us the opportunity then to branch off again to tour.
What inspires you as an artist?
That is a tough one for an artist because it is always different things. There are so many wonderful and talented artists in LA and New York. My friends are wonderfully talented artists so that serves as inspiration. I am inspired by extraordinary work. It does not matter what it is, it could be something completely not related to what you are doing. I can call and say thank you for creating something that helped me take my brain in that direction for exploration.
Is there a special moment in your career that really sticks out to you?
I have a lot of memories that fall into different categories. Getting to perform and enjoy being a part of the audience of sitting in back of a theater-movie or performing arts. You get to hear people’s response and how they react to what you have created. It is an incredible feeling to hear the audience laugh at the same thing you thought to be funny. It is really gratifying and nice to know that you set out to tell a story and that people are appreciating it and it is affecting them. Hopefully it causes them to feel and to be inspired to do something extraordinary in whatever it is you do. You don’t have to be in the arts to go and create.
Safe sucks and I don’t mean that in a belligerent or ugly way. Don’t stop creating—keep on making, doing and exploring.
Being an artist is a really hard road to go down because we are compelled to do this. A lot of people don’t understand it. At the same time, we have to make a living out of it. It is two different parts of our world with creating art and then the commerce side.
Whoever hires me always gets 100% where I create what they want and need. There is what you want to create and then what people are buying that could make you money. That is what I have a hard time with. I understand being hired to do your craft, but our jobs as artists are to show people this is what is being explored where there is risk.
It is one thing if something is making you money and people are responding to it, but there is always that area to see if you are challenging your audience at all or challenging yourself? Give your absolute best. Don’t be afraid to try whatever it is because you will never try if you take the safe route. Push the envelope and have the opportunity to make something better even for your client. Don’t get discouraged. Any art form is the toughest thing to get into. Just get up and try it again.
Thank you Kevin for being a shining inspiration! I was reminded that everyday tasks like helping someone move can be an adventure. We are blessed to be alive in a world with so much beauty and opportunity for inspiration!
I hope you fall in love with how Vox Lumiere tells stories and become a member of their tribe! For more information visit their website by clicking here. Find them on Facebook here! Find some of their music here! Find more information about Kevin here.
The “Into the Woods” cast seems delightful with Meryl Streep as the Witch, Johnny Depp as the Wolf, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine to name a few others. Recent casting decisions include casting Sophia Grace Brownlee as Little Red Riding Hood and Daniel Huttlestone as Jack. People might recognize Sophia Grace from her appearances on Ellen DeGeneres’s show and Daniel from playing Gavroche is the movie “Les Miserables.” Rob Marshall is set to direct known for directing the movies “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” etc.
This fairytale-themed musical is set to premier in theaters December 2014.
For more information about Disney’s upcoming projects click here.
“Ways to Live Forever” is coming to select theaters starting July 19.
The film “Ways to Live Forever” is a poignant look of living with terminal cancer seen through the eyes of 12-year-old Sam played by actor Robbie Kay who chooses to live forever by recording his story. Sam possesses an inquisitive and courageous soul to face the unknown with openness and honesty.
Joining Sam on his quest to find answers and peace despite a ticking time table is his best friend Felix played by actor Alex Etel. Their camaraderie and adventures shine light through a spectrum that breaks apart the potentially dark unknown future from what is positively attainable in the present. Together they are able to start to accomplish Sam’s wishes that include going up down escalators and breaking a world record.
The film mentions the impact of recording your story where experiences can “lodge themselves into people’s hearts” like works of art that are left behind. What is temporary and what is eternal? Sam’s character is tested by life’s temporary assignment.
It is the relationships that enrich the film. Look out for Sam’s evolving relationship with his father played by actor Ben Chaplin. There is a turning point of acceptance and understanding.
What could be a cancer battlefield just laden with fear, depression and sadness is a battlefield fought with humor, joy, connection to reality and who matters most. The movie has moments that will endear the story of Sam and his family to you that can be watched over and over again.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Hancock, the CEO of the Worldwide Motion Picture Corporation. Since 1977 the WWMPC has been a boutique distributing company that acquires high end independent films from around the world and prepares them for theatrical releases in the United States.
How did the WWMPC get involved with “Ways to Live Forever?”
Our selection process is based on several different criteria. Primarily it is the scope and feel of the film and if the film has a good sense of a theatrical release. When you go to see a film in the theater there is a different texture to the film verses a DVD release or something on cable. We are looking for something that has a big presence with some sort of message or sort of feel. We are a little bit different in the sense of we don’t cater to the big stars as the studios do but we do have a list of things we look for which can include how the story plays out, cinematography, script, dialogue and acting at a certain caliber. All of these things sort of blend together and apply to “Ways to Live Forever.” It didn’t have any major actors but a lot of very good actors that have been in a lot of things over the years that is reflected on screen to form a unique and special motion picture.
The message the film has for pediatric cancer has been fantastic. It has been really great with the families around the United States who have seen screenings and have just loved it. The other interesting thing is that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that rates all films called me personally. They told me that when they were rating the film they thought that it was one of the best independent films they had seen in many years and it would be an artifact film. In other words, it is a film that people can hang on to and keep in their libraries for years to come.
What do you hope audiences take away from the film?
It is the sense that death is not a permanent situation and that even though one may leave this world their soul if you will or presence on earth with their family continues on and doesn’t evaporate. The film eloquently expresses even though you may pass away you’re not necessarily going to be forgotten. That feeling if you really think it through is very powerful and equating that to families that are going through this cancer ordeal with their kids—they want to have that special feeling that even though their child may pass away the child’s memory can be retained for many years to come. There is a comfort in that.
What is your hope for the film beyond the initial release?
These cities are the initial kickoff and then it will widen out to other cities in the US for the remainder of the year. Next year we will have a nice DVD release of the film, go to the cable television networks and it will go through the normal process of being released out. Most importantly, I am happy that our supporters around the United States get to see the film for their own personal use. It is a film that you can watch over and over again.
Can you explain the partnerships with the various cancer related organizations?
The relationships that we have with these organizations are based on essentially two tiers. One tier is an official contracted relationship that involves participation on a revenue basis. Some of the box office money that is received for the film goes back to their research departments to help find cures and help families and they in turn help support the film through their supporters such as John Hopkins in Baltimore, CHOC in Orange County and CHLA in Los Angeles. The second tier are organizations that wanted to be involved who support the film’s story and have become even more supportive as time goes by and get the word out.
Favorite moments or scenes that stand out to you?
One of the most powerful scenes is with Sam and his father. Sam is suffering from a seizure of sorts and the father is called to action to try to find some pills in order to get Sam to relax. It is a poignant moment because the father after finding and giving the pills to Sam expresses that he is panicked. Sam is the one who remains calm and helps his dad find the pills. The father then asks who is the son and who is the father? This moment expresses so many things about the process that people go through in a crisis where people can fall apart sometimes. Everyone needs to come together to make daily life possible.
Do you have any interesting stories in the making or distributing of this film?
It is all relative to the partnerships of the hospitals, organizations and foundations around the country. It is the first time that we have ever partnered with organizations on the philanthropic basis. It is an interesting process partly because it is not done that much in the film industry. We are sort of blazing a trail in that regard. It has been very fulfilling in that respect and frustrating in others due to the bureaucracies involved. Generally speaking it has been very unique. What we are doing essentially is carving out a specialized audience for the film who are touched by cancer.
Is there anything you want people to know about this film?
The most important thing for people to know is that the film although on the surface may seem like it would be depressing is in reality an uplifting and positive film. The film leaves the viewer with a sense of how things really work through families and the disease. I guarantee you that if you give it a chance you will like the film.
I know you have over three decades worth of experience invested in the film industry. What inspires you to do what you do?
It has been really a cathartic experience for me over the years. I originally got into the business in order to experience what it would be like to follow through with a film including the process and how film affects people and the world. It has been a real unique thing to see the differences that have occurred with the various genres that have played into the film industry, how the film industry affects our society, how media is affected by film and vice versa. The film industry really has a profound effect on society. It has been interesting for me to try to bring high quality films to the US that are basically foreign based that audiences in the US may not get a chance to see.
Don’t miss the film “Ways to Live Forever” and catch the film during the initial release beginning July 19, 2013 at the following locations:
AMC Burbank 8 – Burbank, CA
AMC Orange 30 – Orange, CA
AMC Empire 25 – New York, NY
AMC Cherry Hill 24 – Cherry Hill, NJ
AMC Valley View 16 – Dallas, TX
AMC Streets of Woodfield 20 – Chicago, IL
AMC Hampton 24 – Norfolk, VA
AMC Owings Mills 17 – Baltimore, MD
It is nice to see some Asian faces cast whether that be John Cho in Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” Kenneth Choi in NBC’s “Ironside,” Kelly Hu in CW’s “The Hundred”, Aaron Yoo in CW’s “The Tomorrow People,” Jamie Chung in NBC’s “Believe,” and Ming-Na Wen in ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” to name a few.
John Cho can be recognized by many to be the character Sulu in Star Trek movies. The latest “Star Trek Into Darkness” can be now seen in theaters.
For fans of the Star Trek series, it may be interesting to know many of the shows for 2013-2014 has a Star Trek connection. For instance, “Sleepy Hollow” not only has John Cho but is from the writers and executive producers of Star Trek. John Billingsley from “Star Trek: Enterprise” is in CBS’s show titled “Intelligence,” Karl Urban known as Bones in Star Trek stars in Fox’s show titled “Almost Human.”
“Star Trek Into Darkness” director J.J. Abrams is the Executive Producer behind NBC’s mid-season “Believe” along with Bryan Burke who serves as a producer on Star Trek. J.J. Abrams is also the Executive Producer behind Fox’s “Almost Human.” The Executive Producer behind the new show “Intelligence” is Rene Echevarria known for the involvement in the Star Trek television series.
The connections between these mentioned new series are indicative of the type of stories, tone and audience that the new television shows will attract. Therefore, if you are a Star Trek fan you might just like “Almost Human,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Believe,” or “Intelligence.” The show descriptions lead me to put them in the drama, sci-fi, action, fantasy, thriller, good vs evil category which can relate to Star Trek.
Almost Human: Premise: In 2048, cops are partnered with humanoid robots. This futuristic buddy cop show centers on an out-of-control human and his slightly crazy robot partner. (Late Fall on Fox, Mondays at 8pm)
Sleepy Hollow: Premise: Retelling of the classic tale with Ichabod Crane transported 250 years to the future to prevent the destruction of the world by solving a mystery that goes back to the Founding Fathers. (Fox, Mondays at 9pm)
Believe: Premise: A little girl with special powers is protected by an ex-con from people who would use her abilities for evil. (NBC, Sundays at 9pm mid-season)
Intelligence: Premise: A federal agent has a microchip implanted in his head that allows him to access phone records, the Internet and all electronic frequencies to fight crime. (CBS Mondays at 10pm mid-season)
“24” fans might be thrilled knowing that the series is being brought back for 12 episodes airing in May 2014. Brannon Braga (creator of “Star Trek: Enterprise”) and Manny Coto (“Star Trek: First Contact”) wrote many episodes of “24.”
For people in the industry castingabout.com has a nice list of the network up-fronts. Get deadline’s TV grid with the new shows in red-here.
In the meantime, while you are waiting to see the new television shows, check out “Star Trek Into Darkness” in theaters officially opening tomorrow.