Archive for New Films

Comedians Rule Boy Band

With comedian/actor/writer Seth Herzog

When you hear the words “Boy Band” maybe you think of The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, or New Kids on the Block. Well change that image cause from now on you’re gonna be thinking of Seth Herzog, Dave Hill, Jordan Carlos and Steve Agee, who played part of a gay couple with Brian Posehn on the Sarah Silverman Program.

(L-R) Stephen Levinson, Dave Hill, Jordan Carlos, Joel Levinson and Seth Herzog

All four of the above are comedians who thanks to first time feature screenwriters Joel and Stephen Levinson play members of a boy band called “The Heartthrob Boyz” who were wildly successful in the 90’s,  and went into the studio 15 years ago to record an album and are still there working on the same album. They’ve aged, gained weight and lost hair but didn’t lose their childish sense of humor.

Joel and Steven wrote the script together and Joel directed it. They screened it last night at the Chelsea Music Hall on West 15th Street in Manhattan and preceded the screening with a VIP cocktail party at 7 P.M. I who am never late for anything was literally the first one there which is how I got to talk with Joel and Steve, and Seth who was there early too making sure that everything went smoothly, which it did.

Stephen Levinson holding the film poster with his brother Joel Levinson

I brought the lovely, talented and amazing Jessica Robinson with me, who is kind of my muse, and we had the best time!

The Levinson boys wrote the script over a six month period and shot it in 10 days in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the home of independent film! (JK) They shot it there because it’s near Dayton where they live and because that’s where they had connections for locations and also they said that the rates of everything else were much lower. ( Lower than New York? Who would have believed it? LOL)

I always like to know how things come about so I asked them how they met Seth Herzog. They met through comedy writer Rob Kutner who wrote for The Daily Show and Conan through a project called Purim Shpiel, a sketch comedy show in honor of the Jewish holiday of Purim, and Seth always played a wicked character named Haman, who to this day is responsible for Jewish people eating what’s called Hamantashen on the holiday of Purim, actually coming up later this month. (Google it!)

They said that Seth played the perfect asshole so he was the first one cast in Boy Band to play the bad boy of the group. He’s also a producer on the film. Last May at a John McEnroe charity event at Carolines on Broadway where I covered the red carpet I got to interview my buddy Seth and he told me all about Boy Band before it was shot.

The film was loaded with recognizable faces, like David Gruber Allen and Julie Goldman, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my pal Jerry O’Connell in a pretty big role as a newscaster, opposite Seth’s wife, on-air journalist/actress Hitha Herzog, who he somehow coerced to be in the film.  (LOL) Jerry will soon have his own talk show called Jerry O.  on FOX owned stations, and it’s set to begin on August 12th. It will feature celebs and comedy for sure because Jerry is a funny guy, who appreciates the importance of comedy.

Hitha Herzog and Jerry O’Connell

They even had Questlove from The Roots in the film playing an alien, hence the horns, also appearing in the newscast with Hitha and Jerry.

Seth as you should know is the warm up comic for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and so works with Questlove on a day to day basis. Stephen Levinson is also a writer on that show. And Gilbert Gottfried’s voice made an appearance speaking as a puppet named Morty who played an accountant.

The film also featured comedian Esther Ku playing the character of Tina, Steve Agee’s character’s girlfriend. Esther recently co-hosted the AVN ( porno) awards in Las Vegas, and she had a big part in this film.

Esther looked absolutely gorgeous as she did hosting the AVN awards, and it’s so nice seeing her owning that power and not playing down her looks like many female comedians of the past felt they had to do in order to be taken seriously as a funny person. (Having to be taken seriously as a funny person is a funny concept!) And Esther had the foresight to be Asian before it was even popular!

The screening had a great turnout, and was packed with lots of industry people. I ran into comedy exec. Maureen Taran, and Ali Farahnakian founder and owner of The P.I.T. who many people may not recall was also one of the founding members of USB. He was there with wife TV producer Beth Saunders, and he showed her the photo he took of me in the street many years before that wound up, unbeknownst to me, on the wall of the Men’s Room in The P.I.T.

Funny story, … I was walking in the street at a street fair when this nice guy who I had never met before asked if he could take my photo. He said he thought I had an interesting look and because he was so nice I agreed. At the time I didn’t know who he was. So one night I’m at The P.I.T. and I had to use the Men’s Room and while I’m standing there doing my business, I happen to look to my right and see my photo staring me in the face. It was hilarious and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s just a great guy.

And when Bravo TV wanted to shoot scenes with me for RHONY, with Countess LuAnn de Lesseps and Princess Carole Radziwill for a sketch I created and co-wrote for them, Ali was kind enough to give us The P.I.T. for the shoot and after-party.

Boy Band was a fun 90 minutes with a sci-fi element and even a touch of zombie stuff, and it’s available to be seen on all platforms that show movies! Make sure to check it out.

And with that, … I’m OUT!!!

Oh yeah, … and please make sure to like this post, comment and “Subscribe” to Comedy Matters TV by clicking on the “Follow” button at the bottom of the post. Also follow Jeffrey on Twitter and IG at @jeffreygurian.

 

 

 

Posted in: Breaking News, Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Entertainment News, Jeffrey Gurian News, New Films, Stand-Up Comedy

Leave a Comment (0) →

My Friend Kali Hawk, The Movie Star

I just went to see Tyler Perry’s “Peeples”, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had quite a cast with Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, Craig Robinson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Melvin Van Peebles, (who I almost called “Van Peeples!” LOL), Diahann Carrol, Ana Gasteyer and my old friend, the beautiful, and talented Kali Hawk.

One of the posters portraying the star-studded cast of Tyler Perry’s “Peeples”!

It’s not too often that you get to have a friend who’s a legitimate movie star,… especially one that you’ve known for many years. It’s a really nice feeling to be proud of someone’s accomplishments, and Kali has worked very hard to achieve what she’s gotten. Considering how young she still is, I’m almost afraid to think of how young she must have been when I first met her! (LOL)

(L-R) David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington, Tyler James Williams, Kali Hawk, and Kimrie Lewis-Davis in Peeples!

I remember her as a teenager, and how excited she’d be about watching stand-up comedy. I have this vague memory of standing with her at The Comic Strip, in the doorway to the showroom, watching the acts, while she wondered if she could do comedy. I recall going to see her perform in plays at the Theatre for the New City on the Lower East Side.

She was in high school by the tender age of 12 and in college before she was even 16. She started out doing commercials, but as gorgeous as she was, didn’t begin modeling until she moved out to LA, where she booked magazine ads and commercials for KFC, Clorox2, MTV Europe and was in several music videos for rock band Korn, Rob Zombie, Norah Jones, T.I., and Usher. It was only a matter of time until Kali made her way to the big screen.

Some years passed between the time we spoke and then in 2007, I was out in LA for a party made by Kent Emmons for a book I wrote called “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive” based on my writings for the Friars Roasts, which are notoriously raunchy, and Kali came to support me.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Kali Hawk in LA, for a book party in his honor, in 2007!

She looked so amazing I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her! She has grown into such an elegant woman!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Kali Hawk, who’s holding Jeffrey’s book “Filthy, Funny and Totally Offensive” but he didn’t let her look inside!

Before “Peeples”, she was seen in the Lion’s Gate thriller ‘Holla’, alongside actor Michael Bergin. She would follow that project with a supporting role in the Spike Lee comedy “Lovers & Haters”, playing a scathing Hollywood diva opposite singer/superstar Mariah Carey, I saw her in “Get Him To The Greek” with Russell Brand, and Jonah Hill, and she played Trudy in “Couples Retreat,” another star-studded movie written by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau.

On TV, she has also appeared on the hit CW sitcom ‘The Game’, executive produced by Kelsey Grammer, was accepted as a cast member for the ill-fated remake of “In Living Color” that unfortunately did not come to fruition, and worked with my boy Tony Rock, on a TV project he was starring in. Tony was the featured performer in a sold out show at the Westbury Theatre on Long Island, that I co-produced starring the one and only Kevin Hart!

(L-R) Jordan Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, Richie Tienken and down in front Sherrod Small backstage at Westbury with Kevin Hart!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Kevin Hart at a promo event for their concert at Westbury!

Tony is also the new host of the Jamie Foxx remake of “Live At The Apollo”, aptly named “Apollo Live” shooting right here in Harlem, NYC! I went to the opening of the first season to cheer him on. Tony is amazingly funny, and the nicest guy you’d ever wanna meet!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Tony Roberts, Tony Rock, and Jordan Rock backstage at The Apollo!

So “Peeples” was exciting to me because Kali had so much screen time. She plays Gloria Peeples the lesbian daughter of Virgil Peeples played so well by David Alan Grier.

A cast shot of “Peeples” with Kali Hawk’s name on the big screen! Go Kali!

I hadn’t seen David since last summer in Montreal during the Just for Laughs Festival when he came in to kibbitz with Adam Carolla right in the middle of my interview with him. It was actually funny, because the door was closed, and we were backstage after Adam’s show, but nobody’s gonna tell David that he can’t come in, so he did! (LOL) And it turned out very funny, because as I recall he was trying to distract me, and we all had a good laugh!

Craig Robinson is also a great guy, and we did a cool interview together on the red carpet of the Comedy Central Comedy Awards.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Craig Robinson at a Comedy Central event at The Monkey Bar in NYC!

I’m heading out to LA in about ten days to shoot my third appearance on Comedy Central’s hit “Kroll Show” and I really hope to be able to get the chance to congratulate Kali in person!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Central, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Entertainment News, Featured, Film Festivals, Film Review, General Information, Hot Models, New Films, New TV Show

Leave a Comment (0) →

He’s Way More Famous Than You at AMC Loews

Most movies I don’t even see once, so it’s extremely rare that I see a movie twice. Halley Feiffer’s “He’s Way More Famous Than You” was the opening night film of this year’s Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, which was the first time I saw it, and I felt compelled to see it again.

Film poster for “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”, now playing at the AMC Loew’s in the East Village!

What’s so interesting about this film,… besides it being really funny,… is that some of it is based in truth with all of the characters playing themselves.

Halley Feiffer plays a sweet, sensitive alcoholic who had a small part in Noah Baumbach’s 2005 film “The Squid and the Whale.” In real life she played Jesse Eisenberg’s girlfriend in that very same film. In HWMFTY she finds herself struggling in life and her career. She loses her agent, her boyfriend, played by Michael Churnus, and what’s left of her career, and goes out to make a movie that will put her on top.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the super-funny and talented Halley Feiffer, co-writer and star of “He’s Way More Famous Than You!” To Halley’s right you can see almost every part of Michael Churnus except his face! (LOL) 

Through many funny contrivances, and lots of begging, with a touch of synchronicity thrown in, she gets an amazing star-studded cast like Ben Stiller, Natasha Lyonne, Mamie Gummer, Ralph Maccio, Jesse Eisenberg, Tracee Chimo, Michael Chernus, Liz Holtan, Austin Pendleton, and Vanessa Williams to play the roles she created with her co-writer and co-star Ryan Spahn.

Michael Urie, Halley Feiffer, and Ryan Spahn on the red carpet at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

Natasha Lyonne playing Halley Feiffer’s A.A. sponsor in “He’s Way More Famous Than You”!

And she gets Michael Urie who will forever be known as “the gay guy from Ugly Betty” to also co-star and direct.

Michael Urie and Ryan Spahn are together in real life but in the movie Ryan plays Halley’s brother!

Michael Urie, Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV and Ryan Spahn, the director and co-writer from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Ralph Maccio and Mamie Gummer in a scene from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Geoffrey Soffer is the producer of the film, who also has quite a history as a casting director! One of his accomplishments was casting the final two seasons of the hit TV show “Ugly Betty”, which is a show that quite a few people in this film are connected to as well.

From 2003 to 2008, Geoffrey was a casting director at ABC/ABC Studios where his credits include the original pilots of “Army Wives”. “Miss/Guided” produced by Ashton Kutcher, “Dirty Sexy Money”, and the Sam Raimi produced series, “Legend of the Seeker.”

This past Friday the film opened at AMC Loews Theatre on 11th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan, and I knew I had to be there to support it. Seeing a film for the second time gives you so much more insight into the action and the characters. I can see why people go to see a movie they like several times. Every time you watch it you catch something you didn’t see before.

Step into Theatre 6 to see “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Ben Stiller and Halley Feiffer in a scene from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

I’ll tell you two inside facts. The amazing scene where Halley is bicycling through Times Square was shot by producer Geoffrey Soffer from the back of his “hatchback”, as he described it, and the “film-within-a-film” shooting scene where Ryan Spahn’s character gets abruptly replaced by Ralph Maccio because according to Halley’s character “he’s way more famous than you”, was shot on Vanessa Williams gorgeous estate!

This is a fun film you really need to see, and I’m even more impressed with Halley Feiffer’s comedic chops than I was when I saw it the first time!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Entertainment News, Featured, Film Festivals, Film Review, Important News, New Films, Nightlife Events, Red Carpet Events

Leave a Comment (0) →

Halley Feiffer Scores at Opening of Friars Club Comedy Film Fest

Film festivals are fun. Even more when you have a film in one and I’ve had that experience a couple of times. A film I wrote with Scott Baio called “Face to Face” was chosen as the opening night film of the Taos Talking Picture Festival, so I know the excitement that brings.

Charlie Prince runs the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival and Eric Johnson is the Director of Programming, and they always pick a killer film for the opening. This year they did themselves proud by choosing Halley Feiffer and Eric Spahn’s “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

The film poster for “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

The film debuted at NYU’s Cantor Film Center and the place was packed!

It’s a wild story with a great cast where everyone is playing themselves, which is very unusual and where art and life can sometimes get confused. (Especially if you have ADD like me!)

I like that cause I usually wind up playing myself in things too, and it’s fun but again, can be confusing. Like when I’m interviewing Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in their trailer after our shoot, and they’re still in character as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, and I’m trying to talk to them like they’re Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, but they’re answering me as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland!

Jeffrey Gurian on the LA set of Kroll Show with Nick (Gil Faizon) Kroll, and John (George St. Geegland) Mulaney

In the story, Halley, an up-and-coming film starlet loses her boyfriend, her agent, and her career all at the same time. In her attempt to recover from that huge loss she comes up with an idea to change her life my making a movie to become “way more famous!”

With the help of a stolen script and her brother, played by Ryan Spahn, who was also her co-writer, and his boyfriend, Michael Urie, from Ugly Betty, who is also his boyfriend in real life, they set out to make a film starring Halley that will take her to the levels of success she feels she deserves. Michael Urie’s character agrees to direct this project.

(L-R) Michael Urie, Halley Feiffer, and Ryan Spahn on the red carpet for opening night of the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

And Halley stops at nothing to get the film done. In the storyline of this film, in trying to get as many celebs in it as possible, they wind up kidnapping Ben Stiller. It also features stars like Jesse Eisenberg, Ralph Maccio, Mamie Gummer, and Natasha Lyonne.

The story is great, and funny but what stood out to me was the comedic talent of Halley Feiffer. Meeting her on the red carpet for a video interview which you will see shortly, I had no idea what to expect. She was funny and charming, but not to the extent of what she does in the film. She’s like a young Lucille Ball.

Jeffrey Gurian with Michael (Ugly Betty) Urie on the red carpet waiting for Halley Feiffer who’s behind on the step-and-repeat!

She’s energetic and so totally fun! You just wish you had a friend like that, and it makes you wanna hang out with her in real life!

During the Q&A after the film screened, I raised my hand to ask a question but prefaced it by saying how much I enjoyed the film and how Halley was a “comedic gem”! A very rare find. A performer like that makes directing easy because they take the words off the page to a whole different level.

(L-R) Ryan Spahn, Halley Feiffer, Michael Urie and Charlie Prince off the the side for the Q&A following “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

I was really so impressed with her talent. I would love to work on something with her!

What I also liked was that almost everyone had some connection to the show Ugly Betty. To me that was awesome, that a group of friends got together to create a cool, really fun project! And Halley and Ben Stiller had worked together in their joint Broadway debut in the play “House of Blue Leaves”!

Following the film we all went back to The Friars Club for the opening night party and stand-up comedy show where Charlie Prince opened the show and introduced Harrison Greenbaum, who’s always hysterical and also did a set before the film came on at the Cantor Center.

Film festival director Charlie Prince on the mic at The Friars Club opening party!

Harrison Greenbaum the exceedingly “straight” comedian opening the film and show at The Friars Club!

Others on the show were Justin Williams, Bonnie McFarlane, and Rich Vos!

Bonnie McFarlane killing it as usual for the crowd at The Friars. Her film “Women Aren’t Funny” was also in the festival!

The film is having a theatrical release on May 10th. Make sure you go out and see it! And tell them I sent you! (LOL)

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Central, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Film Festivals, Film Review, General Information, New Films, Nightlife Events, Red Carpet Events

Leave a Comment (0) →

Peter Dinklage of "Game of Thrones" in Early Comedy Film

I first met Peter Dinklage more than 20 years ago, and I’m pretty sure it was through Ethan Hawke. I had been hanging out at the Naked Angels Theatre bringing my early work to be read, which is how I first met Ethan.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Ethan Hawke back in 2005 during his performance in Hurly-Burly!

I had written a play called “A Punch In The Face”, and was going to their Monday night reading series where you could get up and coming actors to read your stuff out loud. The purpose was for writers to evaluate their writing and make changes after hearing it read.

I was doing readings of ” A Punch In The Face” and a young actor who introduced himself as Ethan Hawke came over to tell me he really liked my piece. I had just read about him that very week in people Magazine about a movie he starred in called ” Alive” about people who survived a plane crash.

The Naked Angels was made up of Marisa Tomei, Matthew Broderick, Kenny Lonergan, Fisher Stevens, Sarah Jessica Parker, her brothers Toby and Pippin, and a host of others that have become household names. Somewhere along the way Ethan introduced me to Peter.

I was offered the opportunity to make some short comedy films for the Toyota Comedy Festival, and had about two weeks to get them done from start to finish, and I created what came to be known as The “Men Who” Series, based on a series of ideas I had told to Woody Allen many years before when I was still in Dental School. It was about men who did very unusual things, like ” Men Who Take A Pitchfork To The Movies”, “Men Who Enjoy Latin Dancing With Tools”, and “Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To”!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Woody Allen many years later in 2011!

In recent years when I re-connected with Woody Allen, as I was about to be re-introduced, I actually made him bust out laughing by saying, “Hi Woody, I’m a very close friend of yours!”

Anyway, back to The “Men Who” Series, … I cast them myself and when it came time to cast “Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To” I went to Peter Dinklage who kindly agreed to be in the film. He was one of three men who danced in the street wherever they wanted to, despite the fact that there were “No Dancing” signs posted everywhere.

I had my artist make up a perfect “No Dancing” sign that looked just like a “No Parking” sign and even had hours on it. I think it said, ” No Dancing Tues, and Thursdays or any other time!” We shot it on Broadway and 28th Street, where I also shot ” Men Who Dance In Traffic With The Sunday Edition of The New York Times!”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Peter Dinklage currently starring in HBO’s “Game of Thrones!”

When the shoot was over, we accidentally left the sign up, and it created quite a traffic jam for a few days, because even then parking was very difficult in the city and drivers who were looking for a place to park found it very confusing to come up against a “No Dancing” sign. It even wound up as a Page 6 item in the NY Post!

Anyway, Peter was always a very talented actor so I’m not really surprised that he went on to become such a big star. I loved him in the award-winning film “The Station Agent” in which he starred with his good friend, the amazingly talented Bobby Cannavale from Boardwalk Empire, and in about 15 minutes the new season of “Game of Thrones” is coming on and I’m running to watch.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bobby Cannavale at The Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row in NYC!

Check out below to see Peter dance where he’s not supposed to, … in a “No Dancing” zone!

Posted in: Breaking News, Broadway Show, Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Central, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Entertainment News, Featured, New Films, New TV Show, Red Carpet Events

Leave a Comment (0) →

T.J. Miller Kills It Hosting Gotham Comedy Live on AXS-TV

It makes perfect sense that Chris Mazzilli, who I affectionately call “The Classiest Man in Comedy” would be running the classiest comedy club in town! And not just ANY town, but NYC, which is really saying something!

The marquee outside of Gotham Comedy Club, with T.J. Miller hosting the AXS-TV special Gotham Comedy Live!

Plus he’s always on the cutting edge of entertainment. Whether they’re shooting the auditions for Last Comic Standing, or live streaming Anthony Anderson’s Comedy Mixtape Show, he’s always offering his audiences something really unique. Now he’s got Marc Cuban, and Ryan Seacrest’s AXS-TV shooting Gotham Comedy Live every Thursday at 10 P.M. for 11 weeks with fantastic guest hosts, and a great line-up of comics.

Helming the series are Exec. Producers Dave Goldberg and Rob Cea whose Killer Bunny Entertainment has created week after week of great shows, starting with host Orlando Jones a few weeks ago.

This week I went to see the great T.J. Miller who I had been wanting to interview for quite a while. We first met up in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival back around 2010, and have kept in touch, but weren’t able to set up a specific date to get together. So when I heard he was hosting this AXS-TV special I made sure to let him know I was coming.

T.J. Miller wiping his mouth with one of Jeffrey Gurian’s scarves in the green room of Gotham Comedy Club! Fortunately Gurian had at least three more with him, so it was no problem!

Let me first tell you a little about T.J. I could sum it up by saying he’s been in 12 movies in the last three years, but that wouldn’t be doing justice to his talent. He’s not only a talented actor, he’s also a great stand-up, and impressionist, PLUS he makes faces, which he has developed into an art form, starting with just the simplest face he made as a young boy, which was basically moving his mouth to the side like a Bell’s Palsy victim. All of this came out in the fantastic, funny, and generous 40 minute video interview he gave me, which you will be seeing soon right here!

Later on in his career, he graduated to making much more complicated faces, some of which I was able to capture in my interview and will share with you as soon as it’s finished being edited. I was able to capture a couple of them in still photos and as you can see he’s widely considered a master at face-making!

T.J. Miller making one of his more complicated faces for Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV! He claims to have worked on that particular “face” for two to three years!

Everyone has different talents, and different strengths. I for one am good at mentioning things to people! Sometimes I’ll just walk over to someone and take the opportunity to mention something, … but that’s just me!

T. J. was named one of Variety’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch,” as well as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “Next Big Things in Comedy.” Miller will soon be seen starring in the upcoming Fox comedy series “The Goodwin Games” opposite Becki Newton and Scott Foley. The show will be centered on three siblings who reconnect after the death of their father when he leaves them his fortune. Miller will play the youngest Goodwin sibling ‘Jimmy,’ who has just been released from jail.

He will also be seen this October hosting Comedy Central’s “Mash-Up,” a unique new half-hour series – an exciting mix of stand-up and sketch comedy. In addition to his work on TV, he has a popular podcast on nerdist.com “Cashing in with T.J. Miller” which turns the traditional interview comedy podcast on its head, as it’s an interview show, but host Cash Levy only has one guest: T.J. Miller.

He always plays fun, interesting and unusual characters like his recent role in the Focus Features comedy “Seeking A Friend For The End of the World” opposite Steve Carrell and Keira Knightly, and in the Warner Brothers 80’s rock musical feature “Rock of Ages”, opposite Tom Cruise.

He co-starred in The Weinstein Company’s “Our Idiot Brother”, along with Paul Rudd. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 to rave reviews!(As opposed to regular every-day reviews!) He starred as ‘Ranger Jones’ in the Warner Brothers live-action/CGI feature film “Yogi Bear”, along with Dan Ayckroyd, Justin Timberlake and Anna Faris. He also appeared with Jack Black and Jason Segel in the 20th Century Fox 3D film “Gulliver’s Travels”, and in Tony Scott’s dramatic thriller “Unstoppable” with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

I really liked him in his co-starring role in the Paramount comedy, “She’s Out of My League”, opposite Jay Baruchel, a film which really brought him to the public eye. (Which begs the questions, ” Where is the public eye? Does the public only have one eye? And if so, does that make the public a Cyclops???)

He appeared with Jay Baruchel again in How To Train Your Dragon, a talent he promised to share with me, as I have a couple of small dragons at home on loan from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, which were lent to me by Peter Dinklage, on the promise that no one could know. Fortunately no one reads this Blog so our secret is safe! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with an old friend, award-winning actor Peter Dinklage, star of HBO’s “Game of Thrones!”. Earlier in his career Peter starred in Jeffrey’s short film ” Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To” and wound up getting arrested for dancing in a “No Dancing” zone!

Dragon also starred Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson, and T.J. will reprise his role, voicing the character of “Tuffnut” in the upcoming “How To Train Your Dragon 2”! Reprising roles is another thing that T.J. is good at! The man has innumerable talents!

He also worked with Russell Brand and Jonah Hill in Universal’s “Get Him To The Greek” and basically there’s almost no TV show or film that he HASN’T been in! (LOL)

T.J. has also had two short films at Sundance, once as writer and star of the short “Successful Alcoholics” which the NY Times referred to as “hilarious”, a term that goes much better with comedy than drama, and last year’s “I’m Having A Difficult Time Killing My Parents”, which he also stars in and wrote.

He chose his home-town of Denver to record his first hour long stand-up special for Comedy Central, and he also released a comedy oriented pop/hip-hop music album with Comedy Central Records. Whenever available, he performs with his sketch comedy group “Heavy Weight,” with Brady Novak, Mark Raterman and Nick Vatterott.

Comedy Central has featured him on their “Hot List” special which focused on the top 10 stand-up comedians of the moment, and even though that moment has passed, he’s still on that list, and will remain there for the forseeable future!

I have no idea how he had the time to give me the interview he gave me what with fielding all those projects. In the short space of time we spent together riffing on all kinds of things, some of which even made sense, and were actually very funny, he fielded three different offers for new films! (While his manager was standing in the corner!)

I left him to prepare for his hosting role, which is different than his bakery roll, and even spelled differently. But not before I gave him a copy of my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock, and signed it for him by his request saying “You can never have too many scarves!” It also gave me an opportunity to get yet another photo and experience more of the range of his face-making ability!

T.J. Miller holding a copy of Jeffrey Gurian’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh” in a humorous, and original way! Even holding a book this man is funny!

The line-up of the show was fantastic, with a real variety of different comedic styles, fortunately the one thing they all had in common was that they were all funny!

T.J. Miller onstage hosting AXS-TV’s Gotham Comedy Live, produced by Killer Bunny Entertainment!

I got there early to watch the rehearsal as I always like to see what goes on behind the scenes. That to me is where the magic is. So much goes into the making of a show. And this show goes out “LIVE”, so there’s little room for error! I went down to the green room to say “hi” to the cast.

It was Calise Hawkins, who as soon as she saw me started laughing about our interview last July in Montreal up at the Just for Laughs’ Festival where for some reason she felt she was slurring her words. There’s not much time to eat in Montreal during the festival so the drinks feel more potent!

Calise Hawkins of the wonderful, big hair, (which I totally respect! LOL) onstage at Gotham Comedy Live!

Then I turned around to see Keith Robinson, who also gave me a hysterically funny interview in Montreal. He happened to be sitting with the very funny Chelsea Peretti who you can see very often on Chelsea Handler’s show “Chelsea Lately”, and who recently did a star turn on “Kroll Show” playing an aspiring singer named Farley who wants Bobby Bottleservice to manage her!

Keith is a great guy and a real talent. The audience really responds well to him and his material. He had so many great lines, but one line that really stuck out for me was when he was talking about how people are offended so easily these days, because everything is so Politically Correct. But only people with good jobs can get fired for saying something seemingly offensive. You never hear anyone say, “What happened to Earl the dishwasher?” Oh, he got fired for his homophobic Tweets!”

(L-R) Yannis Pappas, Keith Robinson, T.J. MIller, Calise Hawkins, and Bill Dawes taking their bows onstage at Gotham Comedy Live!

And then in talking about gun control, he riffed on people saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Keith was like, “Guns do kill people. You never hear of a mass choking do you?”

Yannis Pappas was also on the bill. I always mean to ask him if his background is Greek! No one dresses up in the comedy world, and Yannis is no exception. He came out in like a sweatshirt and sneakers, and said to the audience, ” I don’t know if you can tell by my appearance, but this is what an adult looks like these days!”

Yannis Pappas at rehearsal waiting to be called onstage by host T.J. Miller!

Commenting on family, Yannis went on to say that our parents and grandparents worked so hard to make sure their kids had a better life than they did, and my generation doesn’t even want to have kids so they don’t ruin our lives!”

And Bill Dawes was an LA comic who I hadn’t seen before but I was really glad I got the chance. He said Latin women tend not to get drunk cause you can’t drink when you’re pregnant!

He also told about a threesome he was invited to join. Two guys and a girl. He said, that’s basically gay sex with a witness!” (I always felt the same way! Much too awkward!) But he showed up anyway, and said he was going hard for an hour when finally he said, “Hey, when’s that girl gonna show up?” That is HYSTERICAL!!!

Yannis Pappas, T.J. Miller, Calise Hawkins, and Bill Dawes. Keith Robinson was hiding in Calise Hawkins’ hair!

So afterwards when I went looking for him to congratulate him, I found him outside the Men’s Room, talking to two of his old friends, who had just seen the show, and I had to stand on the side awkwardly waiting for them to finish their conversation so I could congratulate him. I’m sure everyone has experienced something like that. You hope the conversation will go fast, but as it drags on you just finding yourself standing there like an eavesdropper! (LOL)

You don’t want to interrupt because no one knows who you are, but at some point you have to when it goes past ten minutes and you’re feeling like an idiot standing there listening to someone else’s conversation that you’re not a part of. It’s almost funny, but mostly in retrospect!(LOL)

Anyway, I finally interrupted and got to tell him how funny I thought he was, at which point he was joined by some of my old friends including Caron Bernstein the South African model, who was there with her husband. Caron and I go back a long way, and it was great to see her!

Caron Bernstein, with Noel Ashman looking on as Jeffrey Gurian does emergency “Healing” work on Caron’s sprained ankle!

A perfect end to a fun evening!

Anyway, T.J. Miller is actually headlining Gotham for another three shows tonight, so make sure you get out and see him. The snow wasn’t as bad as they predicted, so you really have no excuse not to go! And when you get there, … tell him I sent you!

www.HyperSmash.com

Posted in: Books, Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Central, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Featured, Film Festivals, Film Review, New Films, Nightlife Events, Podcasts, Red Carpet Events

Leave a Comment (0) →

I’m In Another John Gallagher Film!!!

As a director, John Gallagher has worked with some of the biggest stars in the business including John Leguizamo, Gretchen Mol, Amanda Peet, Zach Braff, Vincent Pastore, Heather Matarazzo, and Denis Leary. All you have to do is see his film “The Deli” and you’ll see more stars than you can imagine in just one film!

Director John Gallagher after being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on the red carpet of the Soho International Film Festival!

That particular film was honored in last year’s Soho International Film Festival in Manhattan!

He’s got 15 feature films and 25 shorts under his directorial belt! His company 305 Media Group has been involved in 4 features and 14 short films in the last three years alone.

What’s cool about John though is that he takes the time to nurture new talent. Not every successful director does that. John lectures internationally, but also teaches classes and workshops at One on One NYC, and I know he has also taught at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse where the legendary acting coach Sandy Meisner also taught for over 50 years!

In his new film ” Act Naturally” which I will be appearing in as myself, (mostly because I’m the closest thing to myself that he could find!), he will be debuting two new stars Mia Pinchoff and Samantha Scaffidi, both of whom have studied with him. All three of them collaborated on this screenplay working from a series of improv writing sessions.

Act Naturally follows the sometimes comedic, sometimes heart-breaking path of two aspiring actresses struggling to make names for themselves in the dog-eat-dog world of show biz. I will be interviewing at least one of them on the red carpet of a film festival, and I am very excited to be part of this project. I was in another of John’s films called ” I Love You”, so this will be my second project with John, and I’m counting on him to direct a screenplay I wrote called “Men of Violence” that he says he loves.

Patience is key in this business. It’s not uncommon for a project to take years until it hits the big screen!

Mia is also in the comedy world and performs with a partner Anni Weisband in the comedy team Moneymaker Duo, (www.moneymakerduo.com). They wrote, produced and starred in a short film called “Appetite”, which John Exec Produced, and which was featured in between two of John’s films at this past year’s Soho Film Festival. “Appetite” went on to play in a half dozen other international film festivals.

(L-R) Mia Pinchoff, Mike Starr, and Anni Weisband at a film event in NYC!

And Mia just placed #35 out of 200 girls in IMDB’s “Hotness List”!

The lovely rising star Mia Pinchoff who I will be performing with in John Gallagher’s “Act Naturally!”

The lovely and talented Samantha Scaffidi in a pose reminiscent of sexy Italian actresses from the 60’s! Like a young Sophia Loren!

Besides the newcomers, Act Natural will star Frank Vincent (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Sopranos), Mike Starr (Dumb and Dumber, Goodfellas), Ryan O’Callaghan (Digger 3D, 79 Parts), and Brian Kelly (Blue Moon, Black Dog) and probably other films without a color in the title! (LOL)

Frank Vincent and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at the Soho Film Festival at an event honoring Frank for his body of work!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Mike Starr at the tribute to John Gallagher’s “The Deli” at the Soho Film Festival 2012 in NYC!

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project.

www.HyperSmash.com

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Film Festivals, Film Review, New Films, Nightlife Events, Red Carpet Events

Leave a Comment (0) →

Charles Durning 2/28/23-12/24/12

His face was known all over the world. Even if you didn’t know the name Charles Durning, you recognized his face. He was in more than 100 films, including “Tootsie” with Dustin Hoffman, “The Sting” with Robert Redford, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “Dog Day Afternoon” with Al Pacino, and so many more! He was a police chief in “Dick Tracy”, and sold frog legs in “The Muppet Movie”!

He starred on Broadway, and won a Tony for his portrayal of Big Daddy in a 1989 revival of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof”, and got two Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations and nine Emmy nominations. He was a beloved character, who in 2008 was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

I met him years ago at a wrap party out in LA, for a film he did with my friend Scott Baio called “Very Mean Men”, with Matthew Modine, Ben Gazzara, Martin Landau, and Burt Young to name a few of the more recognizable names. It was directed by Tony Vitale, who had just directed a film that I wrote with Scott Baio called “Face to Face”.

Scott Baio and Jeffrey Gurian in LA at the wrap party for “Very Mean Men” at Planet Hollywood! Scott was blonde for his role in “Very Mean Men”!

It was a comic drama directed by Ellie Kanner about three young men (Scott Baio as Richie, Thomas Calabro as Philly and Carlo Imperato as Al) who kidnap their emotionally distant fathers, (Dean Stockwell, Alex Rocco, and Joe Viterelli), for a weekend of forced “male bonding.” The movie won the Audience Prize for Best Comedy at the Marco Island Film Festival, the Silver Screen Accolade in the Reno Film Festival and the 10 Degrees Hotter Best Feature Award during the Valley Film Festival. It was also chosen as the opening night film for the Taos New Mexico Talking Picture Festival.

I missed a couple of those because my Dad was terminally ill at the time, and I wanted to be here for him. I made it to Taos though as well as a great festival in Sedona, Arizona. There’s nothing more exciting than having your film shown in a film festival, especially when you’re there with the stars.

I had met so many stars before, but I was really impressed to meet Charles Durning. There was something about him that always drew me to him. I had admired his talent for years and I think he even played W.C. Fields in a movie, and W.C. Fields was my favorite comedian of all time.

Scot Baio, Jeffrey Gurian, and the great Charles Durning at the wrap party for “Very Mean Men” at Planet Hollywood in LA!

Charles Durning is a talent that will be missed! R.I.P. Charles!

For more on this story and Charles Durning check out Andy Soltis’s story in the NY Post!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Celebrity Death, Celebrity Passing, Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Film Festivals, New Films, Red Carpet Events

Leave a Comment (0) →

My Special Night With Paul Williams

I didn’t even remember what a fan I was of Paul Williams until I saw the Stephen Kessler directed documentary film about Paul called “Paul Williams Still Alive”, thanks to the people at Brigade Marketing.

Poster for Paul Williams Still Alive!

For anyone under 40, Paul is an Academy Award-winning American composer, musician, songwriter, and actor. He is perhaps best known for popular songs performed by a number of acts in the 1970s including Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song”, Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World”, David Bowie’s “Fill Your Heart”, and the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun”.

I know Chuck Negron the lead singer from Three Dog Night from back in the day, and still see him occasionally. I actually got to harmonize with Chuck on the corner of 170th Street and the Grand Concourse, where we used to sing acapella doo-wop music down in the subway station to get an echo chamber going.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s Paul was such a huge TV star appearing on every major talk and variety show. He even wrote the Muppet Song “Rainbow Connection”!

But sometime in the 80’s he kind of dropped out of sight. It seems he fell victim to drugs and alcohol, which seems to affect many sensitive and creative people.

Creative people tend to be highly sensitive to everything around them, and they internalize what they experience, which is often overwhelming. It can be confusing and can cause fear, and a general uncomfortability, and when people feel things like that, they naturally look for something to take that feeling away.

Alcohol, and other substances can feel like they do the trick for varying amounts of time, until they start working against you. Once that happens, your life begins to spiral downwards, like the water going down the toilet, and that for many people is their “bottom”.

And if you’re lucky, your bottom is horrible enough that it makes an impression on you. If you’re not so lucky, you continue living in your bottom, until something really terrible happens. Your bottom can get lower and lower until one day, you just turn up dead. That’s probably the worst bottom you can have, although some people say that living in your bottom, and continually relapsing is worse.

Thank goodness Paul Williams found sobriety, and that’s a lot of what this documentary film is about. Stephen Kessler did a very sensitive portrayal of Paul who obviously trusted him enough to let him follow him around for quite a while to make this insightful film.

Director Stephen Kessler at “Paul Williams Still Alive” screening!

He first encountered Paul at an event in Vancouver, I believe, and approached him with the idea of doing this film, and then kept after him until he gave in. Perseverance often pays off!

Paul watched it with us, and as he viewed himself on various talk shows during his “active” period, he said he was struck by the ego and arrogance that he displayed. After 22 years of sobriety, that is not who he is now.

Stephen Kessler, Paul Williams, and moderator at the screening of “Paul Williams Still Alive!”

He’s now a man who exudes a sense of comfort with who he is. He owns a serenity that only comes with double digit sobriety.

He greeted me warmly when he saw me, and made a point of thanking me for coming. I was able to give him a copy of my new book with Chris Rock, and tell him what a fan I’ve been all these years. It was a special moment.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Paul Williams at the screening of “Paul Williams Still Alive!”

Posted in: Comedians In The News, Comedy Matters, Film Review, General Information, Important News, New Films, Nightlife Events, Red Carpet Events, Self Help Information

Leave a Comment (0) →

Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane Make A Movie

Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane undertook a huge project and came out with a fantastic result. They decided to make a film examining the statement made from time to time by journalists like Christopher Hitchens, and well known comics like Jerry Lewis and Adam Carolla that women aren’t funny.

Producer Rich Vos and director Bonnie McFarlane at Carolines for the debut of their film ” Women Aren’t Funny!”

This of course is a big generality, almost like saying “Men aren’t fashionable!” A lot of men are slobs, but some men are fashionable, and it stands to reason that women can be funny. I know that Bonnie Macfarlane is funny. I love watching her work. She’s sharp and can hold her own with men who try and overpower her comedically. I’ve seen her do it several times!

I guess that comes from being married to Rich Vos. And he should be thanking G-d for that every day, (and I think he does!) (LOLOL)

Rich said he called in every favor he ever had, and got a very impressive list of people in the comedy business to offer their thoughts on whether women can be funny or not! Colin Quinn, who was the MC at the premiere of the film at Carolines on Broadway, joked that if that was every favor he ever had he should be ashamed of himself!

Rich Vos, whose attention span is so short-lived he can’t even look at the camera, and Colin Quinn at Carolines for “Women Aren’t Funny!”

To Rich’s credit, he even put up his own money to do this project. That’s when you know someone really believes in their work.

Asking women who make their living being funny if women can be funny is a little touchy, and one male comic was honest enough to say that a lot of guys aren’t funny either. To verify that all you have to do is go to as many shows as I go to and that will be obvious.

So they made this documentary film called “Women Aren’t Funny” and debuted it as part of Caroline Hirsch’s NY Comedy Festival to a packed house.

As Colin took the stage to make his opening remarks, he wondered aloud to the audience several times, what he was doing there!

Colin Quinn said after thinking it over he’d rather remove his eye than MC this event for Rich! Interesting option!

He also appeared in the film as did so many people like Rosie O’Donnell, Sarah Silverman, Adam Carolla, Patrice Oneal, Judy Gold, Jim Norton, Joan Rivers, Artie Lange, Maria Bamford,Michael Ian Black, Tom Arnold, Chelsea Peretti, and literally a Who’s Who in comedy, which is an admirable feat!

Joan Rivers still looking sexy and proving that women can be funny!

Tom Arnold, once married to Roseanne, weighing in on whether women can be funny!

Sarah Silverman onscreen discussing her point of view on women and humor!

Michael Ian Black onscreen at Carolines, on whether women can be funny!

Lisa Lampanelli onscreen, … another woman proving that women can be funny!

I had to do that twice in the last few years and I can attest to how hard it is to get so many stars lined up to be in your project. In my book “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive”, based on my writings for the Friars Roasts, which was supposed to be a collection of celebs favorite nasty jokes, I got 250 celebs like Drew Carey, Jason Alexander, and Jeff Garlin, to share pure filth with me, and my pal Paul Provenza wrote the intro. After directing The Aristocrats, I think he knows a thing or two about filth!

In my latest book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with an intro by Chris Rock, it took three years to get all of the in-depth interviews with people like Chris, Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Susie Essman, Colin Quinn, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Billy Crystal, Larry Miller and so many more.

So I totally appreciate how hard it must have been to get all the people that were in this film and get them to offer their personal insight into this question.

They shot all over, and Bonnie and Rich even had footage of both of them on Opie and Anthony where Rich is a mainstay, and where in a touching scene he tried to convince Bonnie that he loved her!

(L-R) Anthony and Opie from “Opie and Anthony” on SiriusXM having some laughs with Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane!

Showing emotion is not that easy for Rich, but he tries his best with Bonnie and their adorable daughter Reina who he called out on stage, as Colin said, whenever he felt he needed more of the audience’s support! Reina was his life-saver!

Bonnie McFarlane and daughter Reina after the premiere of ” Women Aren’t Funny” at Carolines!

Bonnie opens her heart in this film, almost as if she’s wondering if she herself is funny. In one scene she even dresses as a guy, with a full beard and goes onstage at The Comic Strip to audition. It must have been one of the rare nights I wasn’t there, because I would have loved to see that in person.

Bonnie McFarlane onstage at The Comic Strip in full beard as if she was a hipster comic from Brooklyn!

Afterwards in an emotional moment, she kind of dissolves in tears, and Rich is there to console her, looking to the rest of the word as if he’s kissing a guy with a full beard. It was funny and moving at the same time.

Rich Vos in an attempt to be supportive, about to kiss what appears to be a guy in a beard!

From a psychological point of view, I have my own opinion about women and comedy. Obviously women can be funny, but as a society we don’t like to laugh at women because we’re taught to respect women. So when they try and denigrate themselves, which men do very easily, or do self-deprecating humor, the audience may not be as willing to go along for the ride.

Men are programmed to make fools of themselves. We do it effortlessly. But from the time women are little girls they’re groomed to be proper, and we’re taught that it’s not polite to make fun of girls or to laugh at them. I think that carries over to when women are on the stage.

It’s possible that the audience doesn’t like to see women talk about themselves in an unflattering way. It may make some people uncomfortable. We’re taught to respect women, and to try and not judge people by their appearance.

The audience may also find it hard to believe that attractive female comedians may have a hard time finding a date, which is a common comedic premise. It’s one of the reasons that women used to play down their looks when they went up to perform, although today there are several attractive women who go onstage looking very “hot”! I will not name them. They know who they are! (LOL)

I will however say that Lynn Koplitz joined Bonnie and Rich for the Q&A that followed the film, and both she and Bonnie are good examples of the above!

Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane and Lynn Koplitz handling the Q&A at Carolines!

But in women’s determination to be equal, which I don’t understand because they’re already superior,(LOL), they seem to be in competition with men sometimes on who can be more “gross”, as evidenced in recent films like
“Bridesmaids”.

Men are naturally gross. They don’t even have to try. Why women would want equality in that area of life is beyond me! (LOL)

Anyway, all that being said, this is a film that needs to be seen, so if you get the opportunity make sure to go and see it. Hopefully it will get distribution and get a theatrical release, but Rich and Bonnie should be very proud of what they accomplished, … and I don’t only mean Reina! (LOLOL)

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Central, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Featured, Film Review, New Films, Red Carpet Events

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 3 123