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A DYING MACHINE: Mark Tremonti On Bringing His Latest Creative Endeavor To Life!

A DYING MACHINE: Mark Tremonti On Bringing His Latest Creative Endeavor To Life!

Mark Tremonti takes on his most ambitious project to date with “A Dying Machine.”

Every lasting legacy remains rooted in an undying urge to grow. After two decades at the forefront of all things guitar, a GRAMMY® Award win, 40 million-plus units sold between Alter Bridge, Creed, and his eponymous Tremonti, and countless other accolades, Mark Tremonti once again summited an uncharted creative peak in 2018. For the very first time, the guitarist and singer crafted an immersive concept and accompanying novel for Tremonti’s fourth full-length album and first for Napalm Records, “A Dying Machine.” The undeniably power record serves as the first concept album of Tremonti’s career and the music is inspired by a story that came to Mark while on the last Alter Bridge tour. During that time, the epic title track “A Dying Machine” was born. The story, which has been handcrafted into a full-length work of fiction (now available for pre-order at www.marktremonti.com) authored by Mark Tremonti and John Shirley, takes place at the turn of the next century where humans and fabricated beings called “vessels” are trying to co-exist.

Since the worldwide release of “A Dying Machine” via Napalm Records on June 8th, the album has stormed the US sales charts giving the group their fourth Top 10 on the Independent Current Album Chart. The album also landed at #2 on the Top Hard Music Albums, #3 on the Record Label Independent Current Album, #7 Top Internet, #12 Top Current Artists and #57 on the Billboard Top 200. The album also shot up the iTunes chart hitting #3 on the Top Rock Albums and #6 on Top Overall Albums when it was released. Hot on the heels of their impressive chart debut Tremonti, comprised of Mark Tremonti on vocals/guitars, Eric Friedman on guitars/backing vocals, and Garrett Whitlock on drums, have also announced they will be touring the US later this year as special guests for their friends in Seether. 

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Mark Tremonti to discuss the latest exciting chapter in his career. In the interview, the focus on the origins of “A Dying Machine,” the challenges encountered during the creative process and what lies in store for fans in the near future.

Before we get to everything you have going on currently, let’s go back to the beginning. How did music first come into your life?

When I was really young, I was drawn to the guitar. It was something that I absolutely needed to get my hands on! When I did, I just went to songwriting route right off the bat. I have been creating, as much as I can, since I was 11 years old!

One of the hardest working men in rock.

Pursuing one’s passion professionally is a huge step to take for any young person. Did you have any reservations about taking the plunge?

No, I never had any reservations. I always played it safe. When I was in high school and college, I was always on top of my school work, in addition to practicing my guitar as much as possible. I went to college for about 4 to 5 years before we got the record deal. When we got the deal, I just had to drop out and go chase the dream at that point. I could always go back to school, but I couldn’t always go back to a record deal. So, that’s the decision I made at the time.

You make it all look so easy when you take the stage. When do you feel you came into your own as a performer and become comfortable in your own skin?

[laughs] I think I’m still trying to do that more and more every day! Back when I first started, I was very timid on stage. There comes a point where you just don’t think about what you’re doing, and you enjoy it. Nowadays, it’s just like the switch goes off. When I go out on stage I’m a completely different person then I am when I’m off stage. It’s kind of like putting up a wall. It protects you. It’s kind of like how some people don’t like to hear their own voice or see pictures of themselves. When you get on stage, you can’t feel that way. You just gotta let it all out and not worry about it. It takes years to develop that, but like I said, it’s like a light switch going off. When I am on stage I turn into a character and I’m not really myself.

You’ve come so far in the past 2 decades in the business. What do you consider the biggest obstacles that you’ve overcome?

I think the biggest obstacle we’ve ever had to get past was the breaking up of Creed and the birth of Alter Bridge. It was definitely not an easy transition and we fought for our lives and careers at that point. We fault for 12 or 13 years before we felt we had a very solid foundation. It was a tough time, but I think it built us all and made us a stronger unit.

What goes into fueling your creative fire, so to speak?

I just like to set moods. A lot of times, I just have to be alone and get into the flow of whatever it is I may be feeling at the moment and see what happens. It’s almost like catching lightning in a bottle! You never know when it’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen, or what type of mood you’re going to be in. You just have to adapt!

There’re a lot of people out there who look to you as an inspiration. What do you consider the keys to longevity in the music business?

I think it comes down to being passionate about what you do and working hard at it, along with never getting comfortable. This is something I’ve always loved doing, so it’s never been an effort for me to write the next song or work on the next guitar technique. It’s something I truly enjoyed doing. My advice to anyone out there would be to be passionate about what you’re doing and work hard!

You’ve certainly worked hard on the latest release, “A Dying Machine.” Tell us a little about how the ball got rolling for your concept record.

I had been working on a few songs before I came across the title track. Once I came up with the title track, I discovered that I really enjoyed telling that story within the song, so I started to write another song to continue that story. At that point, I thought, “maybe I will do a three or four song, miniature concept record.” Once I got there and finished with that, I just kept on going until the whole record was a concept. That was a new concept for me and I really enjoyed it!

Wow! It sounds like it was a very organic process from start to finish.

Yeah, it just kind of landed in my lap. I was never a fan of concept records in general. I had a couple of concept records in my collection when I was younger, but it wasn’t because of the concept. I never even really knew what the concepts were, I just had the records. It was never something on my radar to do. For a few years now, I’ve had this ambition to write a book and get it published. I felt it would be a huge accomplishment and it was something I put on my list of things to do before I left this planet. When this album came together, I thought, “No time like the present to go ahead and try to do this!” That’s why I took on the challenge of taking on the record and the book.

Tell us a little bit about your typical songwriting process. How did the writing process for “A Dying Machine” compare and contrast to what you’ve done in the past?

Each song is a little different. A lot of songs on this record, if I wrote something I enjoy, I would set some type of drum loop and write to that. The idea was to come up with as many parts as I could in at any given sitting. Then, I will come back to those parts and filter through to see if I could tie them together. On this record, it was a little different because I make sure that each song was completed before I moved on to the next song. Usually, I will write in pieces and parts and kind of jump between the songs. I might even write songs that aren’t going to be only record for two more records from now. I never force myself into forcing a song to be done but on this record I did. I made sure each song was completed before I moved on because it needed to follow a plot because it was the concept of a book. I needed to have the songs for specific reasons. It was a fun challenge and a new way of working for me. Some songs were more difficult to nail down than others. There were things that made it tougher and easier at the same time. When you have a concept record, you have a goal but, in having a goal, you have to be able to make it makes sense. You can’t just be vague with your songs. You have to go to the direct route. When you’re going into a new song, sometimes it’s good to have that purpose, but other times it made it more difficult.

You joined forces with John Shirley, your co-writer, for “A Dying Machine.” How’d the two of you cross paths?

When I first decided to do the book, I started putting pen to paper and try to do it myself. Over the years I have bought and studied all kinds of books on how to write novels, develop characters and so on. I didn’t have a lot of practice of actually doing it, only practice at studying how to do it! [laughs] When I actually got around to doing it, it was a very slow-going process and I questioned myself a lot. It was at that point I decided to look into ghostwriters. A thought occurred to me that my agent, who books us in The States, works for UTA (United Talent Agency) and they have a literary department. So, I called him up and told him the story and what I was looking to do. I asked him if he could find somebody that I could partner up with on the project. You hear about people getting ghost writers and writing stories with them and whatnot, but I wanted a partner so you’re not writing in a vacuum, and you can bounce ideas off each other and move forward from there. I think we went through about nine different authors before we got to John Shirley. All the authors they send my way worked great and all were great writers, but you can kind of judge somebody’s voice and storytelling by just reading a few chapters of their work. Once I came across John, I knew it was perfect! He specializes in where technology is going in his writing and does TED Talks about the future of technology. I knew that when I explain the story to him, he could make it make sense scientifically, which really helped out a lot.

The “A Dying Machine” novel from Mark Tremonti and John Shirley is available for pre-order!

What was the process for working together on the book?

It was very similar to writing an album, believe it or not. The first thing I did was tell him the story about 10 different times from start to finish. Every time we would get on the phone, there would be things missing. Finally, I said, “Why don’t we come up with an outline. Could you write me a short outline of how you see the story after I’ve told it to you?” I was looking for two or three-page thing, but he turned in a 28-page outline! [laughs] We went through that outline for a couple weeks to make sure every detail was on track. Once that was taken care of we started with Chapter 1. We talked about what was going to happen at the beginning of the story, he would get off to writing and turn into me what he had written. I would go through it and give my input. We did that chapter by chapter for 21 or 22 chapters of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it!

What do you feel you brought out in each other creatively through the process?

You know, one thing that really stands out is that when we first started working together, it was very formal and professional. As we got going, we both fell in love with the story. We really respect each other and became great friends through the process. We have never met in person, but we have talked on the phone hundreds of times. I’d talk to him every single day! Now that the book has been turned into the printer I really miss talking to John! I’ve been constantly thinking about another story that we could work on together. I loved working with him.

That’s so cool to hear! I know you said this was something you wanted to try once but it seems like you might be eager to take another stab at it!

I would love it. When we were finishing up the project, I was excited that we were finishing it up, but I was kind of sad that it was coming to an end. I would say that of anytime in my career, this has been the most satisfying artistic endeavor I’ve been a part of. Doing the book and the album has allowed me to use my imagination to the fullest and that is very, very satisfying.

What are the biggest challenges you encounter during the creation of both the book and the album?

Telling the complete story was a big challenge. It was all very natural and the more natural you can be the better because the less hard it will be and the more right you know it is. If you have to force something, you know it’s not right. I think one of the toughest things I encountered was when I was initially writing the album. That was just getting lucky with your imagination and saying, “Okay, this is what the next plot twist could be and that’s what this next song is going to be about.” Then you finish that song and think, “Where is the story going to go from here? What’s next?” Then you have to write a song about that. The biggest challenge was opening up my mind and imagination to tell a story.

You’ve done the concept album and the novel. Any interest in turning “A Dying Machine” into a major motion picture?

That would be the ultimate dream come true! It’s something that the people at UTA are already discussing. When I was looking for this partner in the writing of the book, I told them the story and they told me that sometimes when artists turn in ideas for books it doesn’t necessarily end well. They said, “Sometimes when you have a musician or an actor who wants to write a book, you have to let them down softly. Sometimes they should stick to their craft.” Then they said that they really love this idea and really wanted to see it through. The head of their movie department was very excited about it and was talking to me about the possibilities of TV or movies. It really blew my mind that they were even considering that, so I’m really happy about that. I would really love to be as involved as I could, if that happens.

What remains on your creative bucket list now that you’ve knocked a few things off?

It’s hard to say! Those were the most far stretching goals I had. I still haven’t gotten the book published. I wrote the book with John and we’ve self-published it. We’re doing a limited run so that we can then go out and try to shop it to a publishing house to put it in bookstores. We still haven’t gotten to that point yet, so the book is still not totally checked off my list! I say the peak of my ambitions and goals at the moment would be to, like you said, get this thing on the screen somehow.

The album, “A Dying Machine,” is in stores now. Where can people go to get their hands on the book?

They can go to www.fret12.com or www.marktremonti.com. Like I said, we’re just doing a limited run of a few thousand books to start. We’re taking that approach because if you print too many of them the publishing house is like, “Well, you’ve already sold all of these books. Why would we want to sign you up and sell your books for you?” That’s why were keeping it so limited.

You’ve come a long way since starting out as a musician. How do you feel you’ve most evolved along the way?

It’s hard to say. I feel like you’re always evolving as a songwriter and are always trying to reinvent the way you are approaching the song. That’s been the biggest challenge for me overall. As a guitar player, I think my guitar playing has changed a lot over the years. If you listen to one of the songs off “My Own Prison” and one of the songs off “A Dying Machine,” I would hope you would see a big, big difference between the playing styles. Lyrically, I think you gain more and more confidence over the years. I always say, “if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse!” [laughs] you just have to keep on pushing and flexing your creative muscles along the way.

The music business is always changing. What’s the best way for us to lend support to you in this day and age?

Really, the best thing to do is to come out and see a show. It’s not all about CD sales these days, we’ve got vinyl of all different sorts and I love for people to check out the book. I love for people to not only enjoy the record but hear what the record is all about in it’s long form. Definitely check out the website and see when we’re touring near you. We love for you to come out and see us. We loved meeting everybody in person and we always stay at the end of shows to talk with everyone and sign shirts and whatnot. That’s probably the best way to support us.

It seems like the rest of your year is going to be jam packed! Give us a taste of what’s to come in the near future.

We’ve been over here in Europe for about seven weeks and we are headed home later this week. We just got done with the Iron Maiden tour which has been fantastic! We’re going home and taking five weeks off before heading back out on tour in the United States with Seether. After that, we’ll come back over here to Europe for a November tour. In January, we will probably do a short run in The States. Who knows from there! We will just keep on touring. I’m not sure where yet but we will probably tour through the fall of next year and then Alter Bridge will be on deck!

Awesome, man! You always have irons in the fire! Thanks for taking time out of talk to me today and I wish you continued success!

Thank you so much, man! I look forward to talking to you again soon! Take care.

Tremonti’s “A Dying Machine” is available now! Pre-order the book at marktremonti.com and fret12.com. Follow the continuing adventures of Mark Tremonti on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Scream Factory To Release Jean-Claude Van Damme Classic, ‘Cyborg,’ On Blu-ray In April!

Scream Factory To Release Jean-Claude Van Damme Classic, ‘Cyborg,’ On Blu-ray In April!

Action legend Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as the future’s most fearsome warrior in the adrenaline-charged sci-fi thriller Cyborg, available on Blu-ray™ in a Scream Factory Collector’s Edition set loaded with new bonus features, on April 24, 2018.

Deteriorating from a deadly plague, 21st-Century America is descending into a barbaric nightmare. Only Pearl Prophet (Dayle Haddon), a beautiful half human/half cyborg, has the knowledge necessary to develop a vaccine. But during her quest to gather data and bring the cure to the world, Pearl is captured by cannibalistic Flesh Pirates who plot to keep the antidote for themselves and rule the world. Now, only saber-wielding hero Gibson Rickenbacker (Van Damme) can rescue her and save civilization.

Customers ordering Cyborg [Collector’s Edition] from ShoutFactory.com will receive a free 18×24 rolled poster featuring brand new artwork, available while supplies last, and will get their items 2 weeks before street date.

Special Features:
· NEW 4K scan from the original film elements
· NEW  Audio Commentary with writer/director Albert Pyun
· NEW A Ravaged Future – The Making of CYBORG  – featuring interviews with writer/director Albert Pyun, actors Vincent Klyn, Deborah Richter and Terrie Batson, director of photography Philip Alan Waters and editor Rozanne Zingale
· NEW Shoestring Fantasy – The Effects of CYBORG – featuring interviews with visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr., Go-Motion technician Christopher Warren and rotoscope artist Bret Mixon
· Extended interviews from Mark Hartley’s documentary ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS with writer/director Albert Pyun and Sheldon Lettich
· Theatrical Trailer
· Still Gallery

Visit SCREAM FACTORY™ at their online store, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.

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Legendary Character Actor Ethan Phillips Talks Life, Career and Role In “Future ’38″

Legendary Character Actor Ethan Phillips Talks Life, Career and Role In “Future ’38″

Ethan Phillips

With over four decades of work under his belt as a character, Ethan Phillips has created one of the most unique resumes in Hollywood. Originally hailing from Long Island, New York, Phillips caught the acting bug early in life. He cut his teeth as a young actor in roles both on and off-Broadway where he poured his heart and soul into every role he took on. His hard work and dedication to his craft paid off in spades as his work began to capture the attention of casting directors in The Big Apple. It wasn’t long before he made the jump to television, In 1980, Phillips joined the cast of the hit sitcom “Benson” (1979–1986), playing Pete Downey, PR man to Governor Gatling. In 1990 he began his prolific Star Trek career playing the Ferengi character, Dr. Farek, in the “Ménage à Troi” episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He went on to play Neelix on “Star Trek: Voyager” in 1995, and stayed with the series through its entire seven-season run. The role quickly earned him the adoration of “Star Trek” fans around the globe.

As years go by, Ethan Phillips continues to take on roles that intrigue him and isn’t afraid to take chances with projects that might even seem quite peculiar to others. His latest outing, director Jamie Greenberg’s “Future ’38,” is the perfect example. Shot in fabulous 1938 “Spect-a-color,” an American agent travels through time to hamstring Hitler! Transported to the year 2018, he finds a strange world of silvery sky~scrapers, connected computers, and – GASP! – working women! He hoodwinks hoodlums, infuriates the Fuhrer, and goes gaga for a gal 80 years his junior! To save civilization he must leave his love behind… WHAT’LL HE CHOOSE?

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Ethan Phillips to discuss his journey as an actor, his career defining roles, his latest work in Jamie Greenberg’s “Future ’38″ and what the future may hold for him in the years to come!

Through the years, you’ve become a familiar face in film and television. When did you catch the acting bug?

When I was a kid, I was always fascinated that these people I was seeing on TV, in the movies and on stage were being paid! As a little boy, I used to go to a lot of theatre because my dad had a restaurant in New York City. My sisters and I used to go to Broadway and I thought it was so cool that this is how they made their living! I guess that kind of stuck with me! When I got around to college, I was majoring in English and Latin, I wanted to be a teacher but my girlfriend convinced me to audition for some play. That’s when I got the bug! I was in my early 20s and I started looking around at people who were doing it professionally and I thought I could do it as well as them, plus I really enjoyed it. To be honest, other than translating Latin, I didn’t have a whole lot of skills! [laughs] I thought I would give it a shot and I had some luck! I certainly had endurance and I believe I had some talent but you have to have that third element of luck or nothing is going to happen for you. That can be tough for people sometimes but I was lucky. I was in the right place at the right time, a lot of the time!

What are the keys to longevity when it comes to a career in the arts?

You have to have good representation, people who believe in you. Again, I come back to luck. I started out in New York in the mid-’70s. The way to go then was to spend all your time doing stage work. You would do as many plays as you could get in because that’s where the people who made the money decisions went to look for talent. You might be in some crumby play in some crumby theater way over on the east side of New York but you never knew who would be there and you’d never know who you’d meet who might. Those people might go on to become somebody and tag you along because you got along well and they respected you. It’s just a combination of staying busy and focusing on the craft. I’ve always thought that a night on stage was worth about 50 classes because you really learn up there how to do your own editing, close-ups and everything else. The stage taught me how to act. I just had the chops from doing a lot of that and I got some decent jobs. I met people along the way who led me to some stuff that got some notoriety and some attention. Then it comes back to getting the right auditions because the right people believed in me. There is no true and fast way to do it but I think you are born with this urge to behave privately in public. That’s how I put it. You just have a need to do it, so you never let anything get in your way. If you have a little luck, you never know, you might make it!

What projects, you were involved with early on, had the biggest impact?

I went to Cornell for a Masters of Fine Arts and Acting when I got out of college and I got to do a lot of classics there, particularly Shakespeare. Shakespeare taught me about how to drive a line so the idea of the line gets to the audience. Just by honoring his text, you learn how to drive through to the end of a sentence and send that idea to the people who are watching. That has paid off a lot in stage work. When I got to New York, I tried to use that for every audition. I got a play in 1980 called “Modigliani” that was a big hit. I had done the show off-off-Broadway. It was a really great role with a lot of chances to show off. It became a big hit off-Broadway and a casting director saw it. They went on to put me on a TV show called “Benson.” Then I had enough money to sit out some of the dry spells and wait for other things to come along. “Modigliani” really put me on the map, well, not particularly on the map anywhere … [laughs] If you do find Waldo and me along with him, you can say, “Oh, well that play helped a lot!” [laughs]

What are your biggest creative milestones along the way?

I did a production of “Comedy of Errors” at a beautiful theater called The McCarter Theatre in Princeton. That was in the late ‘70s and my dad came to see it. My dad was not very sure about me doing this for a living. He saw that and came backstage afterwards and told me that he believed I had it, that I knew what I was doing and he was going to support what I was doing. That was a massive event to have his support and belief in me. My mom was always for it. I have many sisters and they were always, “Let’s go, let’s go! You’re going to do it!” My father was born of the Depression and he had worries of financial insecurity and wanted to make sure I was going to be OK. When he saw me in that play, he told me, “I know you’ve got it! Go for it!” It was really a really important moment because everyone needs a pat on the back.

You played a diverse array of characters. Tell us about your creative process and bringing a character to life.

I always wish I had a little director in my head saying, “I don’t believe you,” after everything I do. If I did, I would keep doing it until he shuts up! [laughs] Jodie Foster was asked this once and she had the best answer. They asked her where she studied and she said, “I never studied. I always thought acting was pretending really, really well.” I always thought that was a great answer because it is pretending but it has to be coupled with that urge or need to pretend — whether it’s neurotic, artistic or whatever, you just want to do it! You don’t want to get caught acting! I was reading an interview with Michael Sheen, who played Frost in “Frost/Nixon.” He said, “I’m never acting. I’m always playing myself because if I don’t, then I’m acting and I don’t want to be caught acting.” I learned over and over again to just bring the personal to it and use as much of yourself as you can. It’s kind of a relaxed revelation of who you are through whatever the writer has written and whatever situation they have given you. You just try to respond to that and see what it brings up in you emotionally and physically. From there, you just lay it out in a way that can be good for whatever the story is that’s being told. That’s all I try to do.

We connected today to chat about your role in Jamie Greenberg‘s new film, “Future ’38.” For those who haven’t heard, tell us about the film and what intrigued you about it.

It was a very funny script. For your readers, I’m quoting a synopsis I read that I think hits the nail on the head — “Everybody’s on the brink of World War II and a young guy named Essex, who’s played by the wonderful Nick Westrate, is hired by the U.S. Government on a secret mission to take down the Nazis.” The plan is to travel into the future and he does it via a time machine composed of two industrial fans and a mixing bowl! [laughs] He has to recover this isotope that, when it matures 80 years from now in 2018, it would become like the atomic bomb. Basically, the concept is that there are a bunch of filmmakers in 1938 who want to make a film about the future. They place it in 2018 and when 2018 comes, the film that was made in 1938 is discovered and that’s the introduction. The wackiness of it, the puns and jokes were so inventive that it immediately caught my attention. The character he wanted me to play was such a character from the 1930s, one of those boring scientists! I thought it would be a lot of fun! My agent said, “The director would like to meet with you.” We got together and talked about some possible roles and then I didn’t hear anything for a few months. Finally, they called me and I was free, so I was really happy to do it! How he got everything he did on the amount of money that he had is extraordinary! I’ve worked on some big budget films but this guy got the essence across on not a lot of money. I don’t know what the budget was but I know that when I was paid, I went to the bank and the teller asked me, “How do you want it? Heads or tails?” [laughs] That’s how small my pay was for it! He just nailed the look and feel of those films from the ‘30s, the whole screwball mystique and wrapped it up in all of these vibrant pastels and goofy colors that are totally off the hook! It’s, visually, a joy to watch!

I watched “Future ’38” last night and you’re right, it jumps off the screen visually. The screwball aspect and the jokes suck you in!

That’s great to hear! When I went to the screening, people got a huge kick out of it. Neil deGrasse Tyson was at the screening and, for those who don’t know, he is the person who introduces the film. I got to have a picture taken with him, which I thought was really cool. He said, “This is finally a movie that gets the science right!” It’s like they cracked the code of correctly dramatizing temporal and spatial displacement, which “Star Trek” did an awful lot. It’s like anything that uses time travel. If it’s a great story, and I’m thinking of a novel I read called “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” if it’s done well, you accept it and get into the story. That’s what Jamie did! It’s such a cool story that there may be some physics that might be a little askew but you don’t get bogged down in that. You just go on the ride, ya know?

Absolutely! As you said, you have significant roots in the sci-fi world with your work within the “Star Trek” universe. How did you get involved and has it been like being a part of that legendary franchise through the years?

It started out with an audition in New York for a casting director. They taped me and sent it to the people in Los Angeles, who liked what they saw. I think I was coming in toward the very end of the process. I think they had seen every character actor in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles by the time I got onboard with the audition. I think they were just exhausted and said, “Give it to him! I can’t look anymore!” [laughs] I don’t know if that’s true or not! There was a lot of makeup, probably five hours a day between getting it on, taking it off and keeping it up to par in the studio each day. Prosthetically, it was a difficult job but it was so much fun! I thought the character was really well written and it was great to work for seven years in a row and know you had a place to go! Any actor would love some consistency like that! I know I certainly appreciated it! The world of “Star Trek” is amazing. They are the most dedicated fans you can find anywhere. They are truly fanatics! The thing that they all have in common is that none of them seem to be cynical. They are the most hopeful people! I guess that has to do with the fact that they believe there will be a future! “Star Trek” has really decent morals. It’s not really concerned with what you look like or how wealthy you are, it’s your actions that matter. If they are good and they are kind, then you are respected. I think these people who watch “Star Trek” truly embrace that morality. I know that anyone I have ever met has been a very decent and loving person. It’s fun to get to travel a little bit and see different cultures and parts of the world because of my involvement in that series.

Ethan Phillips as Neelix from ‘Stat Trek: Voyager.”

I’m sure you get offered interesting projects like this with your eclectic resume and notable background in sci-fi. What are you looking for in the work you’re taking on these days?

I’ve been doing this for 45 years and I’ve probably only played a villain or a bad guy three times! I’ve done over 400 television shows and many, many plays but I never get to play the bad guy! So, with that said, I’m kind of looking for the bad guy sometimes! If a character is evil, immediately I’m peaked because it’s a chance to do something I haven’t had luck with yet. That’s one of the things I look for and I also look for anything that keeps paying the bills, along with projects that include the people I want to work with! [laughs] I can be a little choosier now that I’ve been around but any time someone offers you money to act, that old thing kicks in from when you were a kid — “You’re gonna pay me to do this?” So, I still take a lot of what comes along, ya know!

What are some of your favorite roles people just discovering your work should check out?

I certainly enjoyed doing a movie I did fairly recently called “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which is a movie that the Coen Brothers did. That was a terrific movie, particularly because it really shows, in a very correct way, the Greenwich Village of the early ‘60s. That is when I grew up and I lived in Long Island. I used to go into Greenwich Village and I was obsessed with Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk and everything. That movie is all about that early time when all of those guys were coming into prominence. It was wonderful to work with the Coens, who are extraordinary! I got a huge kick out of being in something they directed! I also did a wonderful film called “Irrational Man” about two years ago, which was a Woody Allen film. I got to work with Woody and Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone. I’m very proud that I worked in that! It’s funny, if you IMDB me, I’ve done a lot of films but sometimes something will come on TV and I won’t even remember anything about them. That is especially true when it comes to television. My wife will say, “Hey, you are on ‘Jag!’” I’m like, “Oh, wow. Did I do ‘Jag?’ Yeah, I did but I can’t remember the part.” That’s so weird because it’s like someone telling you a dream you had but you have no recollection of it!

As an actor, is there anything you are anxious to tackle when it comes to the projects?

When it comes to film or TV, not really. However, there are still a few roles that I would like to do on stage before I hang up my hat. One of those is Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman.” I would love to do that! I would love to play the character of Max in the Harold Pinter play, “The Homecoming,” which is one of the plays that got me going early on. There is a role in a Samuel Beckett play called “Endgame” that I would love to play. These are just tremendous, tremendous plays and I would love to get my fingers into those. They are like Mount Everest’s to me and something I would love to do. Times running out, you do what you do and you get the roles you are supposed to get, I suppose.

I love getting the opportunity to speak with someone like yourself who has so much experience. We can look to you as an inspiration. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?

Thanks, Jason! I would say the best lesson is to show up. If you are trying to do something in the arts, you seem to always be waiting in line. It’s like a line where you are waiting to get a ticket to go to the movie and you never know how long the line is but if you get out of the line, you’re never going to get the ticket! I say it all comes down to tenacity. Tenacity, tenacity and tenacity! Stay on that line and stick it out. Show up no matter how tertiary you think something might be as an actor in terms of an audition. I’ve been to some very, very dicey auditions early on in my career where people happened to be there who went on to be something that was important and they remembered me. There were some that I almost decided not to go to because I thought they weren’t worth it but I went! So, again, I’d say show up for everything you can. You never know where it might lead you!

That’s a great piece of advice! I know our time is short, so I want to thank you for sharing your time with me today! I appreciate it and can’t wait to see where the rest of the journey takes you!

Thank you, Jason! I really appreciate that! I really do! Take care!

“Future ’38” is available NOW in iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube and more! Learn more about this unique film via the official website, www.future38.com.

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THE DARK CRYSTAL: Jim Henson’s Epic 1982  Fantasy-Adventure To Return To Theaters In February 2018!

THE DARK CRYSTAL: Jim Henson’s Epic 1982 Fantasy-Adventure To Return To Theaters In February 2018!

Thirty-five years after it first stunned audiences and critics with its unprecedented visions and mythic storytelling, Jim Henson’s 1982 epic fantasy-adventure “The Dark Crystal,” co-directed by Henson and Frank Oz, will return to big screens nationwide in a special two-night presentation from Fathom Events, The Jim Henson Company and Universal Pictures.

Newly restored in 4K (at select theaters), “The Dark Crystal” is a visually spectacular tale of a young hero who must find a legendary relic in order restore harmony to the universe. A watershed in fantasy filmmaking produced by Gary Kurtz (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back), “The Dark Crystal” will play in U.S. movie theaters on Sunday, February 25, and Wednesday, February 28, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time (both days).

Each screening of “The Dark Crystal” will also feature a brand-new featurette with Lisa Henson (CEO and President of The Jim Henson Company), who will reflect on the making of the one-of-a-kind film and its creative legacy.

Tickets for “The Dark Crystal” can be purchased beginning Friday, January 12 online at www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. A complete list of theater locations will be available January 12 on the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

Following its two-day-only theatrical presentation, “The Dark Crystal” will debut on 4K Ultra HD™ and return to Blu-ray™ and Digital March 6 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray will be presented in an all-new collectible Digibook package, complete with rare photos and behind-the-scenes info about the making of this iconic classic.

The ambitious story of “The Dark Crystal” takes place in the world of Thra, which has been torn asunder by a fracture in a great magic crystal, causing two races to be created: the tranquil Mystics, or urRu, and the evil Skeksis, who all but destroyed Thra’s native species, the Gelflings. Now, the Mystics have summoned Jen, one of the last surviving Gelflings, to find the lost piece of the crystal. The quest sends him on an unbelievable adventure that can restore harmony and peace to Thra.

The Dark Crystal” features performances by Jim Henson as Jen (voice of Stephen Garlick), Kathryn Mullen as the Gelfling Kira (voice of Lisa Maxwell), Frank Oz as the astronomer Aughra (voice of Billie Whitelaw), and Dave Goelz as Fizzgig (voice of Percy Edwards), with Henson, Oz and Goelz also performing as the Skeksis. Kiran Shah also performs the body of Jen, Kira and Aughra. With a screenplay by Dave Odell (“The Muppet Show”), “The Dark Crystal” also features a majestic score by Trevor Jones(Excalibur, Labyrinth).

“Jim Henson created a truly one-of-a-kind experience with ‘The Dark Crystal,’ one that is rarely seen on the big screen,” said Tom Lucas, Fathom Events Vice President of Studio Relations. “Fathom Events could not be more excited about the privilege of working with The Jim Henson Company and Universal Pictures to give movie lovers the chance to see the visual splendor of ‘The Dark Crystal’ in movie theaters.”

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First Trailer Released For Robert Rodriguez’s Visually Stunning ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Film

First Trailer Released For Robert Rodriguez’s Visually Stunning ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Film

20th Century Fox has debuted the official, action-packed trailer for ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL from visionary filmmakers James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson! Check out the kickass first look at the film below!

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL will be in theaters everywhere on July 20, 2018 in 3D & IMAX!

Synopsis: Visionary filmmakers James Cameron (AVATAR) and Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY) create a groundbreaking new heroine in ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL, an action-packed story of hope, love and empowerment. Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. Everything is new to Alita, every experience a first. As she learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield Alita from her mysterious past while her street-smart new friend, Hugo (Keean Johnson), offers instead to help trigger her memories. A growing affection develops between the two until deadly forces come after Alita and threaten her newfound relationships. It is then that Alita discovers she has extraordinary fighting abilities that could be used to save the friends and family she’s grown to love. Determined to uncover the truth behind her origin, Alita sets out on a journey that will lead her to take on the injustices of this dark, corrupt world, and discover that one young woman can change the world in which she lives.

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL Official Channels
OFFICIAL WEBSITEAlitaBattleAngel.com

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First Trailer and Poster Revealed For IFC Midnight’s ‘Welcome To Willits’

First Trailer and Poster Revealed For IFC Midnight’s ‘Welcome To Willits’

IFC Midnight has unveiled the official trailer and poster for the release of WELCOME TO WILLITS. Directed by Trevor Ryan, the film is coming to select theaters, VOD, and via digital platforms in the U.S. on SEPTEMBER 22, 2017!

Synopsis: Aliens, burnouts, and clueless campers collide in this bloody and bonkers slasher freak-out. Deep in the woods of Northern California lies the off-the-grid town of Willits, a haven for marijuana growers, meth addicts, and conspiracy theorists. When a gaggle of vacationing friends unknowingly set up their campsite on the property of Willits’ most disturbed resident—a psychotic, drug-addled pot farmer convinced extraterrestrials are out to get him—they’re in for one hell of a bad time. The feature debut from director Trevor Ryan is a no-holds-barred pileup of carnage, twisted comedy, and pure crazy starring Bill Sage, Garrett Clayton, Chris Zylka, Thomas Dekker, and Dolph Lundgren.

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‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ Returns To The Big Screen For 35th Anniversary Celebration!

‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ Returns To The Big Screen For 35th Anniversary Celebration!

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” the epic science-fiction adventure that continues to captivate audiences, marks its 35th anniversary with a two-day-only return to cinemas nationwide. “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” will be presented in a digitally remastered Director’s Cut and, as an added bonus for Star Trek and movie fans, William Shatner will appear in a newly produced in-depth interview that will play before each screening.

Fathom Events and Paramount Pictures will present “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”on Sunday, September 10, and Wednesday, September 13, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time each day.

Tickets for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 35th Anniversary” can be purchased online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Moviegoers throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy this event in more than 600 select movie theaters. For a complete list of theater locations visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

“Making Star Trek II seems like only yesterday,” Shatner said. “Even back then, we knew we were creating something really special, and to have The Wrath of Khan back on the big screen 35 years later is a wonderful testament both to the film itself and to the incredible passion of Star Trek fans.”

Director Nicholas Meyer’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” was a box-office hit upon its release – the sixth highest-grossing film of 1982 – and continues to be revered and quoted by fans. The film, a continuation of the original Star Trek series episode “The Space Seed,” finds longtime Starfleet nemesis Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) alive and well, marooned on a seemingly lifeless planet. When he’s discovered by Chekov (Walter Koenig), Khan will stop at nothing to exact revenge against the man who exiled him on the barren world: Admiral James T. Kirk.

Kirk must lead his loyal crew – including Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Bones (DeForest Kelley), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Sulu (George Takei), Scotty (James Doohan) – and an unprepared group of trainees led by half-human, half-Klingon Lt. Saavik (Kirstie Alley) in a race against time to stop Khan from deploying a device that threatens the entire universe. Bibi Besch, Paul Winfield and Merritt Butrick also star in the film, which features an unforgettable musical score by the late James Horner. The Director’s Cut of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” is currently available on Blu-ray, with more than two hours of in-depth bonus features.

Star Trek II holds a special place in the hearts of Star Trek fans,” Tom Lucas, Fathom Events VP of Studio Relations, said. “Fathom is proud to work with Paramount Pictures to present it again on the big screen, with all of its excitement, action, drama and emotion.”

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SPECIES Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Set To Be Spawned By Scream Factory On July 11th!

SPECIES Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Set To Be Spawned By Scream Factory On July 11th!

Beauty can be deceiving. Loyal fans of the popular sci-fi terror classic SPECIES know well that evil lurks beneath the beauty go unnoticed, especially in the form of a seductive alien-human hybrid.  Directed by Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job, The Recruit) and produced by Frank Mancuso, Jr. (Stigmata, Friday the 13th Part II), SPECIES stars Ben Kingsley (Shutter Island), Michael Madsen (The Hateful Eight), Alfred Molina (Feud), Forest Whitaker (Arrival), Marg Helgenberger (CSI) and introducing Natasha Henstridge (The Whole Nine Yards). Charged with pulse-pounding suspense and thrills, the film features ingenious special effects from Richard Edlund (Star Wars).  On July 11, 2017, Scream Factory™ is proud to present SPECIES Collector’s Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray set. This definitive collector’s edition features new 4K scan of the film and contains insightful bonus content.  A must-have for movie collectors, sci-fi horror enthusiasts and loyal fans, SPECIES Collector’s Edition Blu-ray also includes a collectible slipcover featuring newly rendered artwork and a reversible cover wrap featuring original theatrical key art.

Avid fans and collectors please take not: Order from ShoutFactory.com and get a FREE 18″ X 24″ poster featuring our brand new artwork, available while supplies last! Also get it shipped Two Weeks early!

When a beautiful human-alien hybrid (Henstridge) escapes from observation, scientist Xavier Fitch (Kingsley) dispatches a crew of experts to find her before she is able to fulfill her horrific purpose: to mate with unsuspecting men and produce offspring that could destroy mankind. As her deadly biological clock ticks rapidly, Fitch and his team are hurled into a desperate battle in which the fate of humanity itself hangs in the balance!

SPECIES Collector’s Edition Bonus Content:

Disc One:

  • NEW 4K scan of the film’s inter-positive
  • Audio Commentary with Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen and director Roger Donaldson
  • Audio Commentary with director Roger Donaldson, make-up effects creator Steve Johnson, visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund and producer Frank Mancuso Jr.

Disc Two:

  • NEW Afterbirth: The Evolution of SPECIES featuring interviews with director Roger Donaldson, cinematographer Andzej Bartkowiak, production designer John Muto, composer Christopher Young, creature designer Steve Johnson, chrysalis supervisor Billy Bryan and “Sil” creature supervisor Norman Cabrera
  • From Sil To Eve – an interview with actress Natasha Henstridge
  • Engineering Life
  • HR Giger At Work
  • The Making Of Species: The Origin, The Concept, The Discovery
  • Designing A Hybrid
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Alternate Ending
  • Photo Galleries (Production Design, Creature Designs, Film Stills, Behind the Scenes photos, posters and lobby cards)

Shout! Factory will continue to present the on-going SCREAM FACTORY™ home entertainment series in 2017 with specific release dates, extras and key art.  Meanwhile, fans  are encouraged to visit the Scream Factory main website (www.screamfactorydvd.com), follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ScreamFactoryDVD) and Twitter (www.Twitter.com/@Scream_Factory) or to view exclusive video content on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/ScreamFactoryTV/Home

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ALIEN: COVENANT: New “She Won’t Go Quietly” Video Released!

ALIEN: COVENANT: New “She Won’t Go Quietly” Video Released!

When survival is her only option, she won’t go quietly. Daniels (Katherine Waterston) teams up with MUTHUR, the Covenant’s onboard Artificial Intelligence, to take out a hostile alien threat. Conceived by Ridley Scott and 3AM, directed by Luke Scott, and produced by RSA Films. Check out the new video below before ALIEN: COVENANT hits theaters everywhere on May 19th!

Synopsis: Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise.  The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world.  When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.

ALIEN: COVENANT hits theaters everywhere on May 19, 2017.

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ALIEN DAY Returns On April 26th! Special Fan-Focused Activities Announced!

ALIEN DAY Returns On April 26th! Special Fan-Focused Activities Announced!

Alien Day returns on April 26, a nod to planet LV-426 from the iconic ALIEN films, as the countdown continues for the highly anticipated new chapter in Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking ALIEN sci-fi thriller, ALIEN: COVENANT, releasing in theaters worldwide beginning May 10. Cast members from ALIEN: COVENANT will join fan-focused festivities including a live streaming event, an interactive trivia challenge, worldwide screenings, all-new product launches, special reveals and more.

*  ALIEN DAY livestreaming event at Fox Studios in Los Angeles: Beginning at 10 a.m. PDT on all ALIEN social channels and on the newly launched ALIEN Universe Hub (www.AlienUniverse.com), fans can interact with the cast via a question and answer session as well as view multiple behind-the-scenes segments highlighting the making of ALIEN: COVENANT.

*  Global One-Night Screening Event – Screenings of Ridley Scott’s original 1979 ALIEN starring Sigourney Weaver and his 2012 follow-up PROMETHEUS will be held across the globe on ALIEN DAY.  At participating RPX Regal Cinema U.S. theaters and worldwide partners, fans can watch these sci-fi thrillers and be treated with exclusive content from ALIEN: COVENANT and a one-of-a-kind commemorative item. Participating locations will be listed on www.AlienUniverse.com.

*  The “MU/TH/UR of all ALIEN Trivia Challenges”: Returning for only 24 hours on www.AlienUniverse.com, Fox will unveil a new quiz every 4 hours and 26 minutes. Fans will answer a series of rapid-fire questions for a chance to win a VIP trip to Ridley Scott’s upcoming Imprint Ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and incredible prizes.

*  Fan Art Contest: Submissions for a Fan Art Contest are now open at AlienUniverse.com.  The chosen artwork will be transformed into a limited edition t-shirt premium available with the purchase of the ALIEN: COVENANT Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra HD, exclusively at Wal-Mart stores and Walmart.com. Pre Order will start on May 19.

Fans can own the complete ALIEN Universe on Blu-ray featuring four limited-edition Mondo ALIEN movie poster cards. Available exclusively at Wal-Mart and Walmart.com on April 18.

Fans should stay tuned for product announcements, limited edition releases and exciting unveils to take place in the weeks ahead and through the theatrical premiere of ALIEN: COVENANT. Among the key licensees joining the ALIEN DAY celebration: Dark Horse Comics, Audible, Titan, NECA, Hallmark, PPW Toys, Cool Props, Funko and more.

Fox Consumer Products is also partnering with multiple retailers including BoxLunch, FYE/TWE, Books-A-Million, and Spencer’s Gifts, which will showcase exclusive ALIEN franchise merchandise, celebrating the day with in-store activations, and social media sweepstakes.

And look out for a special ALIEN DAY broadcast message from Madame Tussauds with further details of a terrifying arrival at one of their iconic locations this summer.

For more information on all ALIEN DAY activities, go to www.AlienUniverse.com. Fans can also join the #ALIENDAY conversation on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

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