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Comedians Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson To Tour With The Legendary Andrew Dice Clay!

Comedians Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson To Tour With The Legendary Andrew Dice Clay!

Andrew Dice Clay

Metal Blade recording artists and That Metal Show hosts Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson will be hitting the road at the end of February. They’ll be performing their comedy routines on a short string of dates as the openers for the legendary Andrew Dice Clay. The tour begins February 26th at Comedy Zone in Charlotte, NC. The list of dates is below, along with links to each club’s website for more info and to order tickets.

Don Jamieson comments on the tour: “Me, Jim Florentine and Dice – The Sideburns, the Voice & the Living Legend. It’s the ultimate rock ‘n roll comedy show!”Jim Florentine adds: “It’s an honor to be working with 2 of my friends on this short run of dates. Knowing the jokes we all do, the tour should be called ‘3 Slobs!'”

Jim Florentine released his latest standup CD/DVD, Cringe ‘n’ Purge, on October 25th, 2011 and debuted at #5 on theBillboard Comedy charts and #3 on the iTunes comedy chartsFlorentine appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2011 to promote his part in the film A Little Help, starring The Office’s Jenna Fischer. Florentine is best known for his work on Comedy Central’s show Crank Yankers where he performed the voice of Special Ed, a mentally challenged teenager, and Bobby Fletcher, a despicable, alcoholic slob who is the older cousin of Ed.

Don Jamieson first ever live standup CD, Live & Hilarious, was released on April 26th, 2011. Jamieson started his career as one of the young and talented comedy minds at MTV helping to launch the careers of comics like Jon StewartKevin JamesPauly Shore (sorry) and Tom Green. Amongst his many accomplishments, Jamieson won an Emmy for his work on HBO’s Inside the NFL.

Andrew Dice Clay, known as “The Undisputed Heavyweight Comedy King”, has been touring in the comedy circuit for over 30 years and is the only comedian ever to sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row. Most recently, he appeared as himself in a recurring role on the final season of HBO’s Entourage.

Tour w/ Andrew Dice Clay
02/26 Charlotte, NC Comedy Zone
02/27 Atlanta, GA The Punchline
02/28 Birmingham, AL Stardome
02/29 Nashville, TN Zanie’s Comedy Club
03/01 Louisville, KY Louisville Improv


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Director Michael J. Weithorn Discusses His New Film ‘A Little Help’

Director Michael J. Weithorn Discusses His New Film ‘A Little Help’

Writer/director Michael J. Weithorn’s is no stranger to the entertainment industry. A seasoned veteran at this point, Weithorn has writing and producing credits under his belt for several television series, including “Family Ties,” “Ned and Stacey” and “The King of Queens”. Now this multi-faceted artist is taking aim at the world of independent film. Serving as both writer and director on the project, the film is set suburban Long Island in the summer following the September 11 attacks. “The Office’s” Jenna Fischer stars as Laura Pehlke, a Long Island dental hygienist whom we meet in the aftermath of 9/11, whose marriage to Bob (Chris O’Donnell) is on the rocks. A fatal heart attack solves her marital woes but opens a whole new set of problems, including severe cuts in income, a distraught 12-year-old son entering a new school and a newfound connection with her brother-in-law. Laura soon finds herself trapped in an ever-growing web of lies that looks to complicate her life even further. Armed with a powerful script robust characters and standout performances from the entire cast, Weithorn has definitely established himself as a filmmaker worth keeping an eye on in the years to come! Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with him to discuss the origin of the project, the challenges involved with bringing it from script to screen, the collaboration with singer/songwriter Jakob Dylan for the film’s soundtrack and much more!

I wanted to give our readers a little background on you, in your own words. What got you started on your journey in the entertainment industry?

Michael J. Weithorn

Oh, you really want to go back, do you? [laughs] I always wanted to be a comedy writer. That was the phrase that they used on the Dick Van Dyke Show to describe his profession. I remember watching that show as a kid and thinking, “Wow! I want to do that!” [laughs] It was always kinda my career goal and I always did a lot of comedic writing and cartooning on my own. Then, when I was old enough, I took part in the school paper, talent shows and that carried on into college. It was always my love. After college, I moved out to LA with the hopes of being able to break into television writing. I taught high school for three years and I was working on scripts at night and I continued to pursue it. Finally, I was able to break in! I got a few freelance jobs and I was hired by Gary Goldberg, the creator of “Family Ties,” for a show that he did just prior to “Family Ties” called “Making The Grade.” It came and went in a minute but he liked me and asked me to work with him on the “Family Ties” pilot and then subsequently on that series for four years. I worked on that and then eventually left to pursue my own things, so that is the sorta nutshell version of it.

Your latest project is “A Little Help.” For those not yet familiar with it, what can you tell us about it?

It’s an indie film that I wrote and directed. I have always loved films that attempt to show what is compelling and dramatic in real, ordinary lives as opposed to films where there is a very heightened situation or big premise or action or broad farce or slapstick. I mean, those movies can be very good but I particularly love the films of Mike Leigh, he is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, along with Noah Baumbach and Kenneth Lonergan, especially “You Can Count On Me.” I was really fascinated with the idea of making a film like that myself. At that point, I had been working in television for 20 plus years and I enjoyed it and found it very fulfilling but I was also wondering what it would be like to work in a very, very different way — that is without a big studio or network or with big stars. I was interested in a small film, low budget, a very intimate kind of production. What I found is that it is incredibly difficult! [laughs] In its own way, it is as hard as doing a show for a network, just in a different way. Ultimately, I feel like I accomplished what I had set out to do. I made a film that I like very much and that I am very proud of in the vein of the films of the filmmakers that I mentioned. It may not be at the level of those films but I feel that for the right audience that it has merit and hopefully will be enjoyed.

You have some great talent in the cast of this film. How difficult was it to find the right mix of actors to bring your characters from script to screen?

It ultimately wasn’t very difficult because the right actors really responded to the script. There was a first incarnation of trying to get this film made where I was hooked up with some producers who were much bigger, indie producers that had done “Little Miss Sunshine” and other films in the indie arms of major studios. You know, when a studio is involved, even for an indie, you are talking about more significant amounts of money, 10 million, 12 million, 15 million dollar budgets. Originally, the role of Laura, the lead who was ultimately played by Jenna Fischer, would have had to have been an A-list movie star. I went through a year with these guys where we were submitting it to all of the different A-list women who would get the movie financed. I was really torn because I really wanted to get the movie made but on the other hand, none of these women really felt right to me exactly. I had a very specific idea of this character and none of these women felt right, so it was ironic because we were submitting it to these great women but I was secretly hoping that they would pass and all say no! They all obliged! [laughs]

I think the reason was that often when women who are capable of doing big studio movies will do a little indie movie if the director is someone that they really want to work with or has a really big reputation. I had no reputation at all in film, so I took the film back from those guys and put it in a drawer and eventually pulled it back out as a much smaller venture. Even in small indies you need somewhat of a name, not a huge A-list movie star, but someone where the audience knows their name and face.
Jenna Fischer, at that point, was coming into prominence on “The Office.” I just said, “Oh! She is right for this part,” unlike these other women that we had submitted it to earlier. She was really right for this project. She had the right look and the right vibe. I met with her and she really wanted the part very much and had her own take on it that was really great and could really bring something to it. That being said, I was still blow away by how great she was when we started shooting and, by the way, she was able to create so much nuance and inner life for this character that is so very different from her in real life. As far as the other parts, Lesley Ann Warren, I have always loved and she was my first thought for the role that she played and she was eager to do it. Chris O’Donnell was great. All of these people really responded to the rolls that they played and were very interested in doing the film. When I met with them to talk with them, I could tell that they had a feel for it or at least I like to think my instincts were good! You have to go with your instincts at that point! So the cast really came together once we were kinda doing the low-budget version of this very well and very easily.

As a director, what was the biggest challenge in bringing this film from script to screen?

The film was shot in 24 days, so the logistics were really tough. We shot in New York on locations and had a sampler pack of every problem that you can have while shooting an indie film! [laughs] We had a little bit of everything! We had horrible weather, we had union problems where they were sticking us with people who knew that they couldn’t get fired and didn’t want to work, you know all the typical things that you hear about on “The Sopranos!” [laughs] We had scheduling problems and when we found a location, which was somebodys house, the neighbors hated us and called the police because they didn’t want all of these people around their house in trucks. We just had everything go wrong but somehow amazingly we managed to get the whole thing on film! It was stressful and harrowing every step of the way but fortunately I had one of the best assistant directors in the business. The A.D. is the guy who runs the ship logistically once you are in production. Luckily, I had someone great doing that and it kinda saved my butt! [laughs]

Music plays a large role in the film. How did the collaboration with Jakob Dylan come about?

Just a bit of serendipity. I was driving in my car a few months before we were going into production and my iPod was on shuffle. I have thousands of songs on there and anything could have come up but this song by The Wallflowers came on called “Health & Happiness.” The movie was so much in my head at that point I thought, “Oh my god! This would be fabulous to voice the movie.” It was almost like this narrator in a way was talking about or singing about this character and what she is putting herself through. I love the way Dylan sings and writes lyrics, there is an edge to it and a darkness.

So initially, I explored getting that song but it wasn’t possible because the publishing rights are so complicated and expensive. The producer suggested that we see if he would be interested in writing original songs for the movie, better yet! [laughs] As it turns out, he was very interested in getting into writing music for films and he liked the script, so we went forward. That was it! I met with him after we shot the film and tried to describe the vibe that I was trying to get in certain moments. The idea was that he would almost be like another character in the movie when his voice came in, it would be like this spirit, this person, in some vague spiritual sense would be singing about a “What have you gotten into now?” kinda thing. Jakob wrote three songs that I feel work great in the movie. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I can’t stop listening to them quite frankly! [laughs] That was just another one of those things where it just worked out that the person who seemed right for the role, so to speak, was interested in doing it.

The film has been showing at a lot of different festivals. What has the whole experience been like for you?

The festival experience was very good. There are three or four festivals that are useful for hoping to get a distribution deal. Distributors tend to Sundance and SXSW and a couple of other places but we didn’t get into those. I was actually kinda stunned that we didn’t, I was sort of naively thinking that we had a film that we could get in. What I learned, subsequently, was that these festivals have very specific criteria and the movie has to have either a cast member or director who really has strong indie cred already, which we didn’t have, or it has to be about some subject matter like returning Iraqi war veterans or a very specific genre film or have some studio backing that muscled it into the festival, a list of elements that get your movie into a festival. We had none of those things!

But we did get into some very good festivals on the next tier, which are your major city festivals. We did quite well. We won at five different festivals and were generally very well received. It was a very positive experience. You know, the festival crowds are not the same as your overall movie going crowd. They generally tend to be more film lovers looking for more off-beat kinda stuff unlike your mainstream film viewers. But in a way, that is who this movie is aimed at. It is not a mainstream film by any means, it is not intended to be. My hope was always that we would be able to find the audience for the film and put it in front of them and market it in a way to get that group to see it.

Being a seasoned vet of the film industry, what is the best piece of advice you would give to young filmmakers looking to get into the industry as a career?

It is very, very tough for anybody. The people that you look at and admire their success, you want to emulate, have undoubtedly had very difficult periods in their career trying to get in, during their career and will certainly have more.  It is very much a kind of, “What have you done for me lately?” kind of business. So, you really have to want it with all of your heart and soul and believe in what you have to offer as opposed to, “Oh gee! That looks like fun! I know someone who is doing that and they have a nice life and a nice car. I’d like to have that.” Those are the people who aren’t going to make it because they aren’t getting into it for the right reasons. You have to have a great passion for it.

A really quick story, there is a guy who I knew years ago when I was in LA doing shows. He lived in New York and was the friend of a friend who had sent me his sample scripts because he was interested in TV writing. They were OK, not great, not terrible. He kept asking me, “Do you think I should move out to LA?” wanting me to tell him whether he was going to be successful or not as a TV writer. I kept trying to avoid the question but it kept coming up, “Should I move out?” I finally said to him, “If you have to ask me that question, then the answer is no.” I guess that is, in a way, how I would answer your question? If you don’t know it in your gut that you have to pursue this to the ends of the Earth, then you probably don’t have the fortitude. It will probably beat you down before you conqueror it because it is a very, very tough business.

Thank you so much for taking time out to speak with us, we really appreciate it and all the hard work that you put in on the film.

Thank you for your interest!

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Be sure to check out the official site for ‘A Little Help’ at www.alittlehelpthemovie.com!

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Don Jamieson Co-hosts Metal Blade Podcast; That Metal Show Preps Season 8

Don Jamieson Co-hosts Metal Blade Podcast; That Metal Show Preps Season 8

Metal Blade Records recording artists Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine are back in Los Angeles to tape season 8 of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show. Guests for this season include Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and many more. This season, which will be 10 one hour episodes, appears to be the most star-studded season yet. More info on the show can be found at vh1.com.

All three hosts of That Metal Show will be doing an in-store signing at Sound Check Hollywood at 8872 Sunset Blvd. (across the street from the Whiskey) on Wednesday, July 27th at 7:00pm. The hosts will be selling and signing copies of their books, dvds and cds. For more info, head to facebook.com/soundcheckhollywood.

Comedian and actor Jim Florentine recently recorded his debut Metal Blade Records comedy album at the Orlando Improv. Florentine also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote his appearance in the upcoming film A Little Help starring The Office’s Jenna Fischer. Fans can watch Florentine talk about his character, Brian, in this video on the A Little Help facebook page HERE. The album, Cringe N Purge, will be available later this year.

Don Jamieson’s debut live comedy album, Live and Hilarious, is available now. The album debuted at #9 on Billboard’s Comedy albums chart and rose to the top 20 on iTunes comedy top albums charts. Live and Hilarious was recorded at New Jersey’s Bar A.

Don Jamieson recently co-hosted the Metal Blade Records podcast to talk about That Metal Show and some upcoming releases from Metal Blade. To subscribe to the podcast, grab it via iTunes HEREJim Florentine’s podcast, “Metal Comedy Midgets” can be found on iTunes HERE. Guests include Brian Slagel, Rudy Sarzo, Jim Norton, Robert Kelly, Nick DiPaolo and more!

For more information on That Metal ShowJim Florentine or Don Jamieson, follow the links below.


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Directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien Discuss ‘Solitary Man’

Directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien Discuss ‘Solitary Man’

Brian Koppelman and David Levien made a name for themselves in Hollywood penning stellar scripts for “Rounders,” “Knockaround Guys” and “Ocean’s 13.” This dynamic duo, who have been friends since childhood, have become two of Hollywood’s most sought-after screenwriters. Now, their march to cinematic greatness continues with their second directorial effort, “Solitary Man.” In the film, Michael Douglas stars as Ben Kalmen, a used car magnate who becomes a shameless, aging, self-destructive lothario set adrift on an rapid decent from perceived greatness after an irregular EKG turns his world upside-down. Kalmen ventures with his wealthy girlfriend’s daughter to her perspective college campus in order to use his friendship with the school’s dean to ensure her admission, as well as a opportunity to get his declining career back on track. After a brazen sexual encounter with the daughter, opportunities for redemption continue to pass him by and his choices threaten to ruin him for good. Michael Douglas’ performance jumps from the screen as he nails his performance with interactions with a number of high-caliber actors like Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Jesse Eisenberg, Jenna Fischer, and relative newcomer Imogen Poots. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Koppelman and Levien to discuss their roots in the entertainment industry, the making of ‘Solitary Man’ and their upcoming projects!

You guys have been a dynamic duo for quite a while. How did you initially form that bond?

Brian Koppelman: We have been like brothers since we were 14 or 15 years old. We met on a cross country student bus tour. I was carrying, my idea of cool, a leather valise full of cassette tapes. Dave was the only one not put off by my geeky music fandom and we became friends.

David Levien and Brian Koppelman

How did you decide to pursue a career in the entertainment industry as opposed to going in a different direction?

David Levien: Our paths diverged for a little while after college. I went out to Hollywood and started working in the business. Brian had a successful career in the music business for a while but our goal was always to do movies. We had this shared sensibility, so we decided that we wanted to do a film together. We were looking around for the right arena to set a movie in, when Brian got taken to an underground poker club in New York one night. He lost all of his money but he smartly recognized that it was a great place to set a movie! He called me at 3 in the morning just to say, “Hey, I think I have the subject of this movie!” We started going to the clubs every night and playing cards. That is what ‘Rounders’ came out of and got us started.

As filmmakers, how difficult is it to get a film made outside the Hollywood system these days, like ‘Solitary Man?’

Brian Koppelman: That is a great question. Yeah, it is very difficult! We had a few things going for us. Obviously, the main difficultly was that it was a small story on Hollywood standards. It is about a character whose redemption doesn’t come easily, if it comes at all. Steven Soderbergh had read the screenplay early on and loved it. He sent it on to Michael Douglas. Once Michael agreed to be in it, it was a battle as it always is to get the money together to shoot and have enough resources. But once Michael and Steven were in, we knew that we had a movie! It is difficult every step of the way and we only had 26 days to shoot it, so if we wanted an actor other than Micheal for more than scale, we would have probably had to put our own money into the movie to get them. It was all worth it, you do anything you have to, to get these kind of movies made.

How did the script for ‘Solitary Man’ originally come about?

David Levien: We both grew up in New York and Long Island, specifically. There were a lot of men like this. There is no one person that the script is based on. This type of guy, the type who have a tremendous amount of business savvy, they think that it leads to a certain amount of authority in all other areas, was just fascinating. As a young kid, looking at these guys you believe that they have all the answers. As you get a little older, into your 30s and 40s, you start to realize that they don’t really. I started to wonder about hubris and power, people whose charm and ability to influence was so great that it perverted something essential about them. Then it was like, “How do you make that entertaining, funny and compelling?” The most rewarding thing has been that everywhere we have gone with the film, which started on two screens and ended up on 200 and there have been festivals, people come up to us and they say, “That was my dad up there!” or “That was my mother’s father up there!” or “That was my uncle and now I understand why he acted the way he did.” So, although it wasn’t based on one person, I think there are a lot of people out there that have aspects of Ben Kalmen.

You mentioned Michael Douglas, who plays Ben Kalmen and is in just about every shot in the film. How much of his own personality did he bring to the role as opposed to what was on the written page?

Brian Koppelman: From the moment that he showed up to talk about it, he had a complete understanding of the character. He didn’t draw any parallels to his own life. We never spoke to him about his personal experiences. It was always about the character and what the character was going through, yet he clearly had a very deep emotional understanding of the issues that the character was facing. He brought a complete command of the material and total professionalism. He really led by example and set a great tone. He made the whole thing possible to shoot in 26 days on a very high level.

You mentioned the time frame in which you had to shoot. Was that the biggest challenge in making this film or is there something else that stands out in your mind?

David Levien: When you are lucky enough to make movies for a living, like we do, we don’t really live in the place of taking off to challenges really. We wake up every day and are so glad that we get to do this and are able to tell these stories. There are challenges that come up every day but it is more about using the resources that you have and trying to tell the best story that you can within that framework.

David Levien and Brian Koppelman

You’ve worked with Steven Soderbergh several times before in different capacities. What was it like working with him as your producer?

Brian Koppelman: He is brilliant in whatever role that he is playing in a film. To watch him direct a movie is like watching a maestro in action and, as a producer, he is totally supportive. He has made enough movies and is secure enough that he doesn’t want to get into the business of the directors, he just supports the whole thing. He puts the movie first and has great ideas …

David Levien: We talk a bit about this on the commentary track of ‘Solitary Man’ on the DVD. We get into talking quite a bit about how Steven was helpful in the editing room and his various suggestions. He brought a real specificity, a filmmakers point of view that was very helpful.

How do you think you have evolved as filmmakers since your first film?

Brian Koppelman: That is definitely for someone else to say based on the work. But there is nothing like making your first movie to prepare you for making your first movie, unfortunately! By the time you are done, all the knowledge that you have gained is in you, so it is great to get to go and direct another movie to feel more experienced and ready for the challenge throughout the process.

Does directing get any easier as you move forward?

David Levien: Directing a movie is a job where even if you know exactly what you want to do, you never walk off the set saying, “Yeah! I nailed it! I am the best director in the world today!” There is always room to grow, so you just do your best every day. It is not a job that you can do perfectly, no matter what.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to aspiring scriptwriters or filmmakers?

David Levien: Sadly, the only advice is sorta the sage advice from the beginning of time. David Mamet said that, “People who make it in Hollywood are the people who refuse to go home.” I interpret that to mean that you have to take every day to move it forward. Write every morning. If you can’t write in the morning because you have to work, write at night. Surround yourself with talented people and don’t stop.

Brian Koppelman: Don’t let anybody else define the restrictions of the world for you.

You guys are attached to a lot of upcoming projects. What is next for you and will we see you behind the camera again soon?

David Levien: We are currently writing a project set in the world of online gaming, the off-shore web casinos in Costa Rica and places like that. That is a project for Leonardo DiCaprio’s company. That is one that we are writing, not sure about the directing aspect of that. We plan on directing again as soon as we find the project that is totally animating to us.

Well guys, our time is short. Is there anything you want to say to your fans before I let you go?

Brian Koppelman: Just thanks! We hope that everyone gets a chance to see the film that didn’t get to see it in theaters.

We will be spreading the word. I think it is a film that a lot of people will enjoy. The dialog in the film was fantastic and I wish you all the best!

Brian Koppelman: That’s awesome, man! Thanks so much!

David Levien: Thank you! We really appreciate it!

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‘Solitary Man’ is available on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 7th, 2010! Visit the official website for the film at www.solitarymanmovie.com.

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