Posts Tagged ” America Ferrera”

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)

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Fourth Annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival

The most frustrating thing about attending any film festival is not being able to see all the films you’d like to see, because there’s just too many good ones to choose from. That was the case at the Friars Club’s Fourth Annual Comedy Film Festival.

The schedule for the 4th Annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

Back in 2009, Friar Charlie Prince, an entertainment lawyer in Manhattan realized the lack of a film festival geared towards comedy. He suggested it to the Board of Governors at The Friars Club, and they agreed to give him the green light, so the festival was born. The second year they had 8 films in competition. This year they had over 40.

Charlie as the Exec. Director of the festival is aided by his indefatigable team, including Eric Johnson, head of Programming, Susanna Gora the Director of the festival, and Sue Constantine, Director of Communications. There are others as well not named “Sue”, whose names I don’t recall, but they all work tirelessly to make this festival the success that it is.

Films, (features and shorts) were shown over four nights, to packed audiences, in six different venues: the Cantor Film Center at NYU, The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, The Core Club, the SVA Theatre, The HBO Theater, and The PIT.

Opening night was fun with a film titled ” It’s A Disaster” starring America Ferrera, Julia Stiles and David Cross, which could possibly be described as an apocalyptic comedy if there is such a thing! It was directed by Todd Berger, and Todd, America, and David, along with a couple of funny actors named Jeff Grace, and Kevin Brennan, were at the Q&A that followed as well as the kick-ass opening party at the legendary Friars Club, a gorgeous mansion on East 55th Street in midtowm Manhattan.

(L-R) Moderator Charlie Prince, with America Ferrera, Jeff Grace, Kevin Brennan, and director Todd Berger from ” It’s A Disaster”!

I shot some very cool video interviews with Charlie Prince, David Cross and some of the comics at The Friars CLub which you will see as soon as it’s edited!

Other highlights of the festival for me, and there were several, were seeing my old friend, widely-loved comic Eddie Pepitone immortalized in a film about him,called “The Bitter Buddha”, as well as seeing the film “Price Check” with one of my favorite actresses, indie-queen Parker Posey, and actor Brian Berebbi, who was also there for the Q&A and for the after-party, along with director Mike Walker.

Actor/improv comic Brian (30 Rock) Berebbi, at the premiere of Price Check at the HBO Theater!

Brian played a fun role in the film and as I left the theatre, because my life usually turns into a Woody Allen movie, I fell down in the darkness, and unknowingly cut my hand. As I walked outside with my producer Rob Krieg, I saw Brian who called me over to introduce me to the film’s director Mike Walker, and producer Dolly Hall, and as I extended my hand to shake it was dripping blood.

(L-R_ Charlie Prince, Mike Walker, Dolly Hall, and Brian Berebbi on stage at the HBO Theater, for the Q&A for Price Check!

We all had a good laugh as I made my way to the Men’s Room to clean up. Fortunately it was a minor injury, but a funny visual for a film, trying to shake hands with people while you’re bleeding but trying to act very casual!

The Bitter Buddha was made by Steven Feinartz,(pronounced Fine Arts, which is about as good a name for a director as you can get! LOL.) The title is how Feinartz describes Eddie, who is often called ” the comedian’s comedian” meaning someone that other comics like to watch perform, and it was a great look into his life and what makes him tick.

Eddie Pepitone fielding questions during the Q&A for the film about him “The Bitter Buddha”!

The scenes of Eddie with his Dad, who doesn’t get to attend many of Eddie’s shows, but who unexpectedly came out to Gotham Comedy Club to support his headlining performance there were particularly heart-warming. You could see how proud he was of his son!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in the audience with Eddie Pepitone after his performance in “The Bitter Buddha” a doc on his life. I couldn’t resist holding up my book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” with a great intro by Chris Rock!

And it was particularly gratifying to me to see the turnout for the afterparties at The Friars CLub, and to see the club packed with so many young, creative people. That’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve been involved with the club for so many years, and it’s great seeing the energy that Charlie and his team bring to the club.

I attended the closing party with Shoko Tamai, a very talented, and super-creative ballet dancer originally from Japan, but who performs all over the world, and is also surprisingly very funny! I’m excited that she will be doing some comedy work with me, and we are planning some fun and unusual things together!

Friar Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, with internationally known ballet dancer Shoko Tamei, on the Step and Repeat at The Friars Club!

It was thrilling for me to be able to show her around the club, and watch her amazement at the show business history that is obvious everywhere you look in the club. There’s really no other place like The Friars Club, and it always feels good to be there.

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV, with international ballet star Shoko Tamei, in the Milton Berle room at the legendary Friars Club in NYC. Milton Berle was Jeffrey’s original sponsor in the Friars Club!

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