Posts Tagged “Academy Award winner”

The King of Staten Island Rocks

PETE DAVIDSON/SCOTT CARLIN WITH HIS BOYS MOISES ARIAS, RICKY VELEZ AND LOU WILSON ON STATEN ISLAND

People who know me know I don’t do “review” reviews. I write about my experience seeing a show, or a film or any type of creative performance. I write about how it made me feel, and what the characters did. And if I don’t like it I don’t write about it at all.

WITH PETE DAVIDSON THE STAR OF KING OF STATEN ISLAND

Fortunately that’s not the case with The King of Staten Island because it would have been very difficult for me to ignore this project. It’s literally packed with comedian friends and people I know for a really long time.

Kudos first of all to director Judd Apatow, for bringing this amazing cast together, and creating cinematic magic. He produced, directed and co-wrote the script with Pete, and former SNL writer Dave Sirus who all did an amazing job telling this poignant story. When I spoke to Dave he said the experience working with Judd was surreal, and opening day was “a very weird day”, … in a good way!

WITH THE KING OF HOLLYWOOD COMEDY JUDD APATOW

Just to name the comedy people first, it’s Pete Davidson, Bill Burr, Ricky Velez, Lynn Koplitz, Derek Gaines, Keith Robinson, Pamela Adlon, Rich Vos and Bonnie Macfarlane, Liza Treyger, Mike Vecchione, Carly Aquilino, and Jessica Kirson.

 
I’m particularly happy for Pete Davidson, because I think he had a lot riding on this film personally. So many people including me were waiting excitedly for it to come out, and it would have been devastating if it had not turned out as well as it did. 

Pete gets so much press about so many different things, from all different angles, but he should be very proud of this project, which is loosely based on his own life.

And Judd must have been so proud that his daughter Maude was so great in the film playing Pete’s sister, who loves Pete/Scott in spite of himself.
I called Dave to congratulate him and he said it was a really crazy, “weird” day for him. I can only imagine. 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film where I had a connection to so many people and even to a location in the film. I can’t do any spoilers so I’m going to keep this article limited mostly to the talent and the parts they played.

Pete, who stars in the film as Scott Carlin, and co-wrote it with Judd and Dave, plays a 24 year old Staten Island stoner who doesn’t have much direction, thanks to the confusion caused by his severe A.D.D.

He does have a dream though and that is to someday open a tattoo restaurant, which would be the first of it’s kind. Until that either happened or didn’t happen, he’d be just as comfortable hanging out in his basement with a few friends getting stoned.

He’s torn up about the death of his fireman Dad when he was only 7, but isn’t really in touch with that as the cause of his inner turmoil and emotional pain.

I happen to know Pete since he was about 17. He used to do my late night show at The Comic Strip. He’d come in late at night with Jordan Rock and was really shy and really funny. I had a feeling he was gonna do big things, but nobody could guess at the time where he would go, and the heights he would reach.

PETE DAVIDSON WITH JORDAN ROCK BACK IN 2011
WITH PETE DAVIDSON WHEN HE WAS 17

I shared the excitement with him when Nick Cannon took him under his wing and brought him out on the road, and Pete used to tell me how amazing it was being with Nick and Mariah.

And then some years later we shot some fun video interviews up in Montreal, when he was asked to perform at the Just for Laughs Festival two years in a row. I remember how excited he was about being up there.

Then one night at Gotham Comedy Club, where he performed pretty often, he introduced me to his girlfriend at the time, super funny comedian Carly Aquilino, and told her she could tell me anything because I was someone who could be trusted. That was very cool.

Carly also has a part in the movie as Tara, and I almost didn’t recognize her with her super blonde hair which has been many other colors including pink!

WITH CARLY AQUILINO OUTSIDE OF A COMEDY CLUB IN NYC

The last time I saw Pete was with Bill Burr when he and Bill produced Paul Virzi’s special and I drove up to watch the taping and hang out backstage with those guys.

Bill Burr, who is so great in this part, plays a fireman named Ray with a big caterpiller moustache, who winds up dating Pete’s Mom Margie, in the film played by my old friend, the incredibly talented Marisa Tomei.

WITH ACADEMY AWARD WINNER MARISA TOMEI

In 1995 I was working with the Audrey Hepburn Foundation and went to the first year of the Aspen Comedy Festival representing the foundation, whose goal was to help poor children all over the world. I knew Marisa from the Naked Angels theatre troupe, as she was one of the founding members, and I used to go every week as one of the writers whose work they’d read.

When I got back from Aspen the Hepburn foundation had a big event at Planet Hollywood and I asked Marisa to come and make a special appearance which she did as a favor. She had already won the Oscar for her performance in My Cousin Vinny, so it was a really big thing. And Bill Burr gets to kiss her in this film! #sojealous

BILL BURR WITH HIS BIG MOUSTACHE AND MARISA TOMEI

So many people had fun parts. Ricky Velez who’s one of Pete’s best friends in real life plays a best friend in the film as well, and is absolutely superb. He even gets to wear his favorite clothes, which is usually just jeans and a hoodie. He has a very big and important part in terms of what happens to him and to Pete/Scott during the film.

RICKY VELEZ JUST CHILLIN’ ON STATEN ISLAND

Derek Gaines from The Last O.G. plays a waiter in the Staten Island restaurant where Pete gets a job, and Derek is also a close friend and an old roommate of Pete’s. They actually lived together in real life and when I called him right after I saw the film to congratulate him he told me he was “so glad to work with a cast that knew how to play the line of comedy and drama together. Pete and Judd are a power collaboration that I’m so glad to be a part of.”

He went on to say ” Pete is my friend, we sorta grew up together in comedy. He was my roommate for Christ’s sake … I’m glad we stayed cool and he called me to do the part, .. and in the words of Lil Wayne, … it all worked out! (Tha Carter 5).”  In the film he even gets to show off his pop-and-lock skills!

WITH DEREK GAINES WHEN HE WAS MY GUEST ON SIRIUS XM RADIO

Keith Robinson has a funny scene playing a security guard, and Pamela Adlon who has a big part plays Bill Burr’s ex-wife, and the mother of their two adorable kids. Rich Vos and Bonnie Macfarlane have a cool scene in an Italian restaurant called Denino’s which happens to be owned by my dear friend Joe McBratney’s brother, Jimmy McBratney, and where I’ve actually eaten. Great food by the way!

WITH PAMELA ADLON STAR OF BETTER THINGS AT THE FRIARS CLUB

Lynne Koplitz has a very fun part and gets to let out her “inner Lynn” by playing a wise-cracking nurse and best friend to Marisa Tomei. All these people had a chance to act with Marisa Tomei! Amazing.

WITH LYNNE KOPLITZ BACKSTAGE AT SOME SHOW SOMEWHERE

And when I asked Lynne about working with Marisa she said, “ she was great to work with and needless to say so professional. It was very surreal at first being that it was my first role in a full length movie and there I was at rehearsal with this fantastic Oscar winning beauty, but she was very friendly and the entire environment of the movie was very family like which enabled me to get comfortable quickly.”

LYNNE KOPLITZ AND MARISA TOMEIE

She went on to say, “ I honestly can’t say enough nice things about working on this film. I adore Pete and always have and Ricky and Dave are just so generous, and fun and creative. And Judd, … well he just sets this confident and easy going collaborative tone that’s really great to work with.” Sounds like she liked it!

Liza Treyger plays a waitress in that same Italian restaurant where Pete’s character gets a job, Mike Vecchione doesn’t play a cop for which he’s so well suited, but he plays a fireman also with a moustache, and Jessica Kirson plays the owner of a pharmacy who has a very unusual interaction with Ricky Velez and his boys.

WITH STEVE BUSCEMI AT A FILM EVENT

And Steve Buscemi who has done some comedy parts in the past, like on Jim Gaffigan’s show, (where I accidentally walked onto the set while they were filming to say hello to Jim and ruined the take), plays a senior fireman as well, and adds his great talent to the already amazing cast.

But seeing Ray romance Margie stirred an emotional note with me because of all things, my parents were named Margie and Ray. That can’t even happen. When I told Bill Burr about it he said, “ What are the odds of that?” I was like “Basically zero.” And he also said he was glad I liked the film because he had a lot of fun doing it.

The film was very emotional in several spots, and ran the entire gamut of feelings. Some very funny parts and some very touching parts where Pete and I both had tears welling up in our eyes. Pete really showed that he had quite a range. He’s basically in every scene and it was very special to see him be so good and so believable in his role.

And I must give a special shout out to English actress Bel Powley who played Pete’s childhood friend and occasional hook-up in the film. She was just so good in her part as Kelsey, and she learned the Staten Island accent as if it was her own.

I read one review of the film where the writer used such big words and flowery expressions I couldn’t tell whether she liked it or not. I don’t even know how to write that way. I just write it simply the way I see it.

This is definitely a film you should see and I’m sure it will do great things for everyone who was involved in it. I sure wish I had been! (LOL)

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Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Mike Birbiglia in "Your Sister’s Sister"

I get to see a lot of films before they hit the theatres and that is one of the perks of writing Comedy Matters for so many years. This week I had the pleasure of seeing Sundance award-winning filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s fourth feature film “Your Sister’s Sister”, and when I use the word “pleasure” I really mean it. The film was great!

Interestingly enough when I heard the title it reminded me of Mike Birbiglia’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, not knowing that he was even in this film. As the film opened on a group scene where friends gathered to remember their friend Tom who had passed away, it was all about Mike Birbiglia. He had the entire opening of the film, and it was great.

An unclear shot of Mike Birbiglia onscreen in “Your Sister’s Sister”, and I think he’s wearing his own clothes in this shot!

I tried shooting some screen shots but it didn’t work out that well, mostly because I was so startled to see him up there, I couldn’t stop watching to get a grip on my camera! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with Mike Birbiglia when he first did “Sleepwalk With Me” back in 2008.

Mike was recently in Sundance showing his own film “Sleepwalk With Me” which I saw when he did it live at the Bleecker Street Theatre. The New York Times called it “simply perfect”, and it was named “Comedy of the Year” by Time Out New York.

Richie Tienken, Mike Birbiglia, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Mike filmed a scene for Sundance!

He came into The Comic Strip one night before he went to Sundance, to shoot a scene of him performing onstage to play over the credits of Sleepwalk With Me. That’s when I did this little video:

Mark Duplass is absolutely everywhere and for good reason. He’s incredibly talented, and he’s as nice as he is talented! The first time I met him was at a press junket for the film Cyrus which he wrote with his brother Jay, and which starred Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill. It garnered well deserved rave reviews.

Jay Duplass with his arm around his brother Mark Duplass at the press conference for Cyrus their hit film starring Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill!

I interviewed them both and then got to see Mark again on the red carpet of the First Annual Comedy Central Comedy Awards. He was with his beautiful wife Katie Aselton who is also an actor, co-stars with him in FX’s The League, and appeared in Cyrus as well. They assured me there was a part for me in their upcoming film “Jeff Who Lives At Home” even though it had already been shot and was ready to be released! (LOL)

Mark Duplass and his wife Katie Aselton from The League, on the red carpet of The Comedy Awards, holding up four fingers to show me how many awards they were up for!

You can see that right here in this red carpet video interview from my Comedy Matters TV channel:

When I was out in LA recently to shoot some sketches for Nick Kroll’s new show “The Nick Show Kroll” on Comedy Central, everyone on set was friends with Mark Duplass. Nick, as Ruxin, is one of the stars on FX’s hit show “The League”, and Mark and his wife Katie Aselton also star on that show as well. Mark is definitely everywhere you look these days, and deservedly so.

In “Your Sister’s Sister” Mark plays Jack, the brother of Tom who died recently. Tom’s girlfriend Iris, played by the fantastic Emily Blunt, is Jack’s best friend and because he is emotionally spent she offers him her family cabin on an island in the Pacific Northwest so that he can just chill and get back to himself.

Emily Blunt in a serious onscreen moment with Rosemarie DeWitt in “Your Sister’s Sister.”

Mark Duplass in an on-screen close-up from “Your Sister’s Sister” opening June 15th, 2012!

The cabin is supposedly empty, but when Jack arrives he finds Iris’s sister Hannah there, beautifully played by Rosemarie DeWitt, who just happens to be a Lesbian trying to get over the break-up of a 7 year relationship.

Rosemarie DeWitt in an onscreen moment, making a facial expression that makes her look like Diane Keaton in early Woody Allen movies. Tell me if you agree!

They proceed to get really drunk and despite the fact that she has no interest in men, they wind up in bed together, with some really unpredictable consequences. I really loved this scene because I have been friends with some women of that proclivity and I could swear we had an attraction to each other, which I found both very freeing and kind of exciting.

Things get even more complicated when Iris shows up unexpectedly the next day, and is thrilled to see her sister, but wonders how she and Jack spent the evening. I won’t tell you any more, because it’s too good, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Iris ( Emily Blunt) and Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) having a sisterly talk in bed in “Your Sister’s Sister!”

I understand a lot of the movie was improv’ed which is incredible because that is just so hard to do, but it tends to give you more of a real feel as opposed to someone who memorized all of their lines. It must be very draining especially during the confrontational scenes which are very powerful in this film.

The film brought out some very interesting points to me, one of the most important being that you can have a terrible, all-out battle with someone you love, and if you step away from it for a few days, it tends to resolve itself. Sometimes distance is necessary to allow yourself to think clearly and to allow your heart to heal a little bit.

This is a heart-warming, thoughtful film that definitely needs to be seen, so go out and see it! It opens on Friday June 15th. Don’t even wait till then, go figure out a way to see it tonight!

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Mark and Jay Duplass Score With "Jeff Who Lives At Home"

In 2002, Mark and Jay Duplass, writer/director brothers from New Orleans, were ready to pack it in. They hadn’t been having much success, until they decided to make one last try where Mark improvised a character having a breakdown while trying to record a message on an answering machine. This short film called ” This Is John” made it into Sundance, and got them representation, leading to two feature films.

(L-R) Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, brother writer/directors at the press junket for Cyrus starring Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, and Marisa Tomei!

Isn’t that the greatest story of synchronicity you ever heard? ( Well at least one of them??? LOL)

Just when you’re ready to give up, The Universe steps in and brings you the inspiration you need. They went on to make “The Puffy Chair” in 2005, followed by “Baghead” a horror/comedy which they made in 2008.

I met them at a press junket for their award winning film Cyrus which they made in 2010, with a fantastic cast, starring Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, and Marisa Tomei, and got a really fun interview. Cyrus was the official selection at the SXSW Film Festival that year.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei!

A short time later, I ran into Mark and his beautiful actress wife Katie Aselton on the red carpet of the Comedy Central First Annual Comedy Awards, where Cyrus was up for four awards, Jonah Hill for Best Actor, Mark and Jay for Best Comedy Director, Best Comedy Film, and Best Writer.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton on the red carpet of Comedy Central’s Comedy Awards!

Katie Aselton with husband Mark Duplass showing Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV how many awards Cyrus was up for!

During the interview which you can see below, they told me about their next film called “Jeff Who Lives At Home”, which I thought was going to be about me! At least Katie said it was! It also has a fantastic cast, starring Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, and Jason Segal, as the “Jeff” character, a 30 year old stoner who still lives at home with his Mom, and obsesses on the concept that our lives are controlled by fate. It’s a black comedy!

Mark assured me that even though it was wrapped and edited, he was still going to find a place for me in it! Maybe he meant in the audience! (LOL) You watch and see for yourselves!

Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton laughing assuring Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV that they would get him a part in “Jeff Who Lives At Home” despite the fact that the film was finished! (LOL)

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Reel Works 10th Anniversary with Steve Buscemi, John Leguizamo, Fisher Stevens, Reggie Watts, Hannibal Buress

Comedy Central invited me to cover a very special event where several of the celebs just happened to be friends of mine, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s still always tense and exciting wondering what will go down on the red carpet, knowing you have to keep it flowing and keep it funny and interesting!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Steve Buscemi star of HBO's hit Boardwalk Empire and co-host of Reel Works 10th Anniversary celebration!

Reel Works is a youth-oriented filmmaking initiative that provides high school students with the mentoring, training, and support to finish high school and then go on to college, and find job training careers in NYC’s film and television industry.

The event was at the Prince George Ballroom on East 27th Street, and I was there with my assistant and DP Tristan Griffin. Reel Works is the only youth filmmaking program that matches each student one-on-one with a professional filmmaker mentor. I wish they had something like that when I went to school!

The event was MC’ed by the hilarious Hannibal Buress who was voted one of Variety’s 10 Top Comics To Watch in Montreal last year, 2010, at the Just For Laughs Festival, which is the biggest comedy festival in the world. Hannibal has also written for NBC’s 30 Rock and SNL!

Reggie Watts and Hannibal Buress at the Reel Works 10th Anniversary Celebration!

The co-hosts were Steve Buscemi, star of HBO’s hit show Boardwalk Empire and his filmmaker wife Jo Andres!

Steve Buscemi and his wife and co-host Jo Andres, for the event honoring the 10th anniversary of Reel Works, a youth filmmaking initiative!

The honoree was Fisher Stevens who won an Academy Award for his film “The Cove”,and is currently directing John Leguizamo in his latest hit Broadway show, Ghetto Clown, which Fisher told me is about to begin a world tour! Fisher was being presented with the award by John Leguizamo, who for whatever reason was not available to do any press that night, which is unusual for John because he always makes himself available, and is ALWAYS very gracious with his time!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with John Leguizamo at a press event for his film "The Babysitters."

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Academy Award winner Fisher Stevens, the honoree at the Reel Works 10th anniversary celebration!

Plus there was a very special musical/comedy performance by an incredibly talented guy and another friend of mine, Reggie Watts, who is the opening act for Conan O’Brien’s ” The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” and winner of the Andy Kaufman Award. I had just seen Reggie in Montreal at THIS year’s Just For Laughs Festival where he performed in a show with Bo Burnham!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Reggie Watts who was performing at the Reel Works 10th Anniversary celebration honoring Fisher Stevens! ( He makes my hair look normal! Actually he makes me look totally bald! )

These are just some stills from the event. Wait till you see the videos coming soon!

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