Posts Tagged Natasha Lyonne

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!

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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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Abel Ferrara, Shanyn Leigh, and Willem Dafoe in 4:44

The film poster for Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 in theatres near YOU!

I don’t usually like to do anything of consequence the day before I leave on a big trip, but the day before I was set to leave for LA, to shoot some sketches with Nick Kroll, and John Mulaney from SNL, for Nick’s new show on Comedy Central, I got the opportunity to interview famed director Abel Ferrara, and actors Shanyn Leigh, and Willem Dafoe for Abel’s new film 4:44, about the end of the earth.

I had to do it! First of all, Abel is an old friend and I hadn’t seen him in a while. And second of all I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to meet Willem Dafoe, whose work I’ve always respected.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with writer/director Abel Ferrara!

One of the last times I recall seeing Abel was at a great Italian restaurant called La Mela owned by a dear friend of Abel’s named Frankie C. I just happened to have a shot of us together that night, which is a cool reason to ALWAYS take photos wherever you go!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with writer/director Abel Ferrara at La Mela!

Frankie C. has since passed on, but Abel, Shannyn, and I were there to celebrate some film event. Probably of Abel’s! (LOL) I think he was working on a project about The Chelsea Hotel at the time!

Abel always gets a strong cast of people. Good actors respect his work, and the list of his films is impressive, like “The Funeral”, “King of New York”, and “Bad Lieutenant.” He’s worked with Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, and Willem Dafoe just to name a few.

Natasha Lyonne was also in 4:44 and I was hoping to see her again since I did such a fun interview with her a few months ago. It was at a New Group event honoring Wallace Shawn, but I lost her contact information and was never able to send it to her! Unfortunately she was not able to attend this interview session.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Natasha Lyonne at a New Group event in honor of actor/director Wallace Shawn!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with actor/director Wallace Shawn at a New Group event in Wallace’s honor.

I really liked 4:44, even though the concept was “scary”, to use a childish type of word! (LOL) The entire world has accepted that it will end at 4:44 A.M. the next day and that there’s nothing that anyone can do about it. It shows how people spend their last night alive, particularly a couple who live on the Lower East Side, played by Willem (Cisco) Dafoe and Shanyn (Skye) Leigh. It’s a very wild concept, and Abel’s take was very realistic. People are confused. They don’t know how to react because they’ve never had to face certain death before! (Who has??? LOL)

It doesn’t seem real. It’s all going to happen instantaneously, and as a director, I was fascinated by his creative choices, all of which I liked. He also showed some fantastic news-type footage of people gathering in places all over the world, in candle-lit ceremonies, very often to pray, as in the throngs that were shown in St. Peter’s Square.

It also examined the theme of sobriety, since Cisco has been clean for two years, but in the face of certain death contemplates “picking up” and actually goes to score some drugs. I won’t give away what happens, but it’s powerful.

Abel was surprised to see me, and after the press thing we got a chance to hang out and catch up. It was funny when I went to interview Shanyn who besides being a talented actress is also Abel’s girlfriend, she looked at me and said, “I know you!”, and I reminded her that I was an old friend of Abel’s and that we had met before socially!

Willem Dafoe is such a great actor and I was very glad to have the opportunity to meet him.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Willem Dafoe at The Regency Hotel for 4:44!

There will be a video interview to go with this as soon as I get it edited, but in the meantime, go see the film. It just came out, it’s in the theatres, and it got good reviews. I liked it a lot, and I’m sure you will too. It’s a reminder to treasure every moment!

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Bobby Cannavale in the New York Post

In today’s NY Post, Michael Riedel writes about Bobby Cannavale, who is as humble as he is talented. He was up for a Best Actor Tony Award for his role in the recent Broadway hit, ” The Motherf**ker With The Hat”, and according to Michael will most likely be in the upcoming Gershwin show ” Nice Work If You Can Get It”, in his first singing role on Broadway.

The Marquis on Broadway showing Bobby Cannavale as one of the stars of The Motherf**ker With The Hat!

He’s taking singing lessons and his girlfriend, Broadway’s Sutton Foster, currently in The Roundabout’s “Anything Goes”, will also be able to help him pull that off. Personally, I think Bobby can do anything he wants, because he has the drive and the power to back it up.

I saw him most recently backstage at “The Motherf**ker With The Hat”, and then again shortly afterwards at an event honoring Wallace Shawn where I was able to do a more in depth video interview with him.

(L-R) Annabella Sciorra, Chris Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richie Tienken, Bobby Cannavale

The M-F’er With The Hat proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that a playwright can call his play anything he wants, and if an audience wants to see it, they will have to say that name. I’m sure more than one person felt awkward calling TicketMaster and asking for 2 seats to “The Motherf**ker With The Hat” because it’s hard to put symbols in when you’re speaking. You either say it or you don’t. At least it’s better than the original name which was supposed to be, ” The C**ksucker With The Coat.”

What if that trend catches on and some guy writes a play called ” My Hand On Your D**k”. How are girls going to be able to invite a guy to see that? What girl is gonna call up a guy and say, ” If you have some free time next week, would you like to see “My Hand On Your D**k”? He’d probably be like, ” Yeh, I’d love to see that. When can we make that happen???” if names like that catch on, it could mean the end of Broadway, because if ” Hand” takes off, some other guy is bound to write ” My Lips On Your C**k”, and then Broadway would be finished, not only because of the marquis, but how is a girl gonna call a guy and say, ” By any chance, have you seen “My Lips On Your C**k”? Maybe on the other hand it would turn out to be GOOD for business, because every guy would be like, ” No, but I’ve been wanting to see that for years! ” LOLOLOL

Here’s the Bobby Cannavale video interview! Feel free to leave a comment!

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