Posts Tagged Reno 911

Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant at The Friars Club

Besides the 60 plus films screened by the The Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, they also offered fascinating and informative daytime panels for the people who attended the festival. One of the best I attended was the one with Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, (who I know as Ben Garant), one of the most successful writing teams in Hollywood.

(L-R) Ben Garant and Tom Lennon on the “step-and-repeat” at The Friars Club for their new book Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at The Box Office and You Can Too!

Back before Ben was one of the team that formed MTV’s The State, he and I and Michael Ian Black wrote an inter-active film for Sony called “I’m Your Man”. As I recall, Sony spent about half a million bucks to outfit the Sony Theatre on 19th Street and Broadway with a series of buttons at every seat, where the actors would ask the audience to make choices during the film. “Should we escape out the window or should we go to the roof?” And the audience would vote, the votes would be tallied immediately, and the course of the film would be changed to accommodate the audience’s wishes. It was the first of it’s kind at the time.

The film poster for “I’m Your Man” written by Ben Garant, Michael Ian Black, and believe it or not Jeffrey Gurian! Ben wrote a billion dollars worth of movies since and I WATCHED a billion dollars worth of movies since!

A close-up of the credits on the “I’m Your Man” poster in case any of my readers don’t believe me!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Michael Ian Black at what must have been a formal event! If not, Gurian is way over-dressed!

He went on to become one of the founding members of MTV’s “The State”, (as did Tom Lennon), and then went on to be a co-creator of Comedy Central’s Viva Variety, a short-lived but very funny pseudo-European-type variety show of sorts. From 2003 to 2009, Ben and Thomas created and starred in Comedy Central’s hit Reno 911, a take off on the FOX show COPS that ran for 88 episodes over the 6 years it was on.

As writing partners, Garant and Lennon’s films have earned over $1.4 billion in box office revenue alone. Some of their films were Night at The Museum, Let’s Go To Prison, Balls of Fury, and Herbie Fully Loaded, to name just a few.

Tom Lennon stroking an imaginary beard, while making nefarious plans with Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV at The Friars Club!

In 2010, Garant and Lennon created a pilot for FX called USS Alabama, a sci-fi/comedy set a thousand years in the future, aboard a United Nations Peacekeeping spaceship, the U.S.S. Alabama, and they screened the pilot at The Friars Club!

In 2011, Garant and Lennon released a book about their careers called¬†“Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at The Box Office and You Can Too!

The book cover for “Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at The Box Office and You Can Too!

Ben and Tom met in 1988 while students at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and have been together ever since! They are so in synch when they speak! Like an old married couple,( in the best sense!) who know what the other is going to say before they say it. They did such a fun informative panel, and these were some of the their thoughts on L.A. and writing in general:

a. LA is gross! It’s an oil rig. As you land you’re like, ” Is that a poison gas?” It’s a lonely town. It’s a cess pit!”

b. No one reads anything in L.A, … they watch it! No matter what script you’re working on it’s too long! A script length of 105 pages is best!

When they were in The State, there were 11 people and they had to “pitch” ideas every day. “It was like getting thrown in the deep end of the pool!”

When they pitch they do a 12 minute rehearsed pitch, that they practice out loud. The two of them together do a very funny pitch. They kind of did one as an example.

They told a funny story about trying to sell a pitch about a Mall Cop to the studio that was already doing Paul Blart with Kevin James,( about a mall cop, … for any foreign men who might be reading this post!) and then had to show up at 11 other pitch meetings that were already set up to pitch the same project knowing that the answer would be “NO”!

They shot “Alabama” in 3 days on a Russian submarine. They describe it as Reno 911 on a rocket ship. It was very funny. Eddie Izzard who I recently ran into in Montreal plays the villain, the ruler of Tango.

Eddie Izzard in his on-screen personna as the villainous ruler of Tango in the FX pilot “Alabama”, written by Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon!

The “real” Eddie Izzard, the way he looked at the airport after The Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal this past July!

There was a character named Mr. Magenta who looked like a really hot girl, but was actually a male on the planet she came from. They didn’t really rehearse except for practicing how they would envision themselves teleporting, and then landing at their destination in a way that looked believable.

(L-R) Ben Garant in character with Mr. Magenta in the FX pilot “Alabama”!

Matt Kiernan, interviewing Tom Lennon and Ben Garant about their new book at The Friars Club!

The host of this fun, and well attended event was Matt Kiernan!

On a personal note is was really special for me to re-unite with Ben after all these years and to be able to congratulate him on all of his success. What was even more special was to see how humble he was and how happy he is with his new wife Kathy, who was kind enough to shoot the little video you will be seeing very shortly.

I seem to be starting a trend. When I interviewed Jimmy Fallon recently,my D.P. wasn’t able to show up so Jimmy’s wife Nancy who is a TV producer, shot the interview for me!

PART 1 – http://wp.me/p1pHIm-mc

PART 2 – http://wp.me/p1pHIm-mo

This time, Ben’s new wife Kathy shot the interview for me! I should probably just limit my interviewing to celebs who are married and who bring their wives with them! Maybe my life would be a lot easier. I wonder if Kathy can edit??

Watch for the Ben Garant video coming soon! And don’t forget to buy the book!

Ben Garant in a historic, and patriotic salute from the step and repeat at The Friars Club, with Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV!

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Liv Tyler A Femme Fatale In "The Ledge"

I’ve ALWAYS been a fan of Liv Tyler. She’s elegant, great to look at, really talented, and even more impressive, exceptionally sweet and down to earth. If you want to fall in love with her immediately, watch her in Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Stealing Beauty,” which was her first lead role, back in 1996. Her character, an American teenager named Lucy Harmon loses her Mom to suicide, and she goes to Italy to connect with people who knew her Mom, and also to lose her virginity.

The film poster for "The Ledge" starring Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, Charlie Hunnam, and Terrence Howard, written and directed by Matthew Chapman!

The last time I was in her company was when she was a teenager. I thought she was 16, but she says she could actually have been 13! Don’t get nervous, it was at a party in honor of Peter Max, the world-famous artist, who is a very dear friend of mine for many years. Peter actually once “psychedelicized” ( if there even IS such a word! LOL) the outside of an entire airplane with his artwork, was the foremost psychedelic artist of the 60’s, and has had his work exhibited at the White House.

Jeffrey Gurian, at a party for Peter Max, with a young, and lovely Liv Tyler who claims she might have only been 13 at the time! Jeffrey thinks she was 16. Either way she was already a knockout! (LOL)

I have an original Peter Max that he drew for me on a dinner napkin many years ago when he attended a party for a film I wrote, with Michael Ian Black of “Ed” fame, and Ben Garant from MTV’s The State, and Reno 911. It was the first interactive film ever made, by Sony, where the audience pressed buttons that were installed at their seats to change the course of the movie. It was called “I’m Your Man”, and was shown at the Sony Theatre on 19th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.

Jeffrey Gurian with Michael Ian Black at a black tie affair, where Black was wearing a red tie!!! (LOL)

So at the party where I first met Liv, I remember being there with Jon Lovitz, who was probably still on SNL in those years, and someone brought me over to meet Liv.

As you can see in the photo above, I was in my Elton John stage at the time, complete with flowered glasses! I even had my 80’s moustache, which I now keep in my wallet just in case I ever need it! (LOL)

It wasn’t until the writing of this post that I realized that I also had a photo of Peter Max and I from that same night, which you can see below. Same outfit, same flowered glasses, and same moustache!

Jeffrey Gurian with the world-famous artist Peter Max at the party where he first met Liv Tyler!

Some time after, Peter attended a party in my honor for the “I’m Your Man” film I mentioned above. The party was also attended by celebs like Robin Leach, energy/exercise guru High Voltage, legendary music producer Nile Rogers, and baseball legend Keith Hernandez.

I can’t believe I found that photo of me with Peter as well. I had progressed to red glasses from the flowered glasses but I still insisted on having that moustache.

In this photo it looks like I was in good company since both Peter and Nile brought their moustaches out for the evening as well! (LOL)

(L-R) Peter Max, Jeffrey Gurian, and Nile Rogers at the party for Jeffrey's film "I'm Your Man" at Country Club, many years ago! All sporting very hip moustaches for the time!

So anyway, when I got invited to interview Liv for her new film “The Ledge” written and directed by Matthew Chapman, and co-starring award-winning actor Patrick Wilson, who will be starring in a new TV show on CBS, a drama called ” A Gifted Man”, Charlie ( Sons of Anarchy) Hunnam who reminds me somewhat of Brad Pitt, and Terrence (Hustle and Flow) Howard, I jumped at the chance.

Jeffrey Gurian with the amazingly talented Liv Tyler, ( in her 6 inch heels) at The Crosby Hotel for her new film "The Ledge"!

The movie, which created a lot of buzz at Sundance this year, is a thriller/love triangle, and starts out with Charlie Hunnam whose character is named Gavin, riding to work on the bus when he spots a beautiful young girl (Tyler) and they exchange smiles. Imagine his surprise when he shows up at work as the manager of a hotel, and she comes in to apply for a job. Her character’s name is Shana, which is very fitting, as I told Liv during the interview because Shana means “Beautiful” in Yiddish. Of course Gavin hires her immediately, but gives her a job as a chambermaid.

They even live in the same building. Lots of coincidences here. As a writer myself, I might have questioned that as I wrote it, but it just shows you that when you have a good script, the audience goes with the story and doesn’t get hung up on little things like that. Liv (Shana) is married to Patrick’s character Joe, who we soon find out is a Bible-thumping evangelical nut.

He and Shana knock on Gavin’s door so he can meet his wife’s new boss, and after meeting Gavin and his gay roommate Chris and inviting them both in for dinner, he begins berating them both for being gay. Shana is hiding a secret past and is in a loveless marriage out of gratitude for having been saved. As a matter of fact, all three of these main characters have had some serious personal trauma that they’re dealing with.

Gavin lost his little girl in a car accident, and thinks he is an atheist. I say it that way for a reason! It’s inevitable that he and Shana are drawn to each other. It’s done in such a subtle way that there are really no explicit sex scenes. It just shows that you don’t need that kind of stuff to have a great film. However, if I was Charlie Hunnam, I would have been disappointed! (LOL)

When Gavin winds up on a ledge high above the city and says he must jump off at noon in order to save Shana’s life, Terrence Howard, as “Hollis”, is the cop who tries to talk him down. He is also dealing with the trauma of finding out accidentally that very same day, that his kids were not his kids.

I got to interview not only Liv, but also Patrick and Matthew Chapman. I had to tell Patrick how relieved I was to see what a nice, normal looking guy he was because he played such a scary looking guy in the film. He really captured the intensity of his character’s insanity, and when I asked him if he carried that character with him when he left the set, he told me that having his wife and kids on set with him, helped him remain sane, and leave the “Joe” character behind.

Jeffrey Gurian with a very handsome and sane looking Patrick Wilson at The Crosby Hotel for The Ledge press event!

And Liv was so excited about seeing her old photo with me that we took a new one holding the old one, and she made me promise to send it to her which I’m doing right after I post this! (LOL)
She insists she was only 13 which is a scary thought when you see how beautiful and mature she looks! ( I know I remember being told she was 16, but she should know better! She probably remembers the outfit! LOL) What’s amazing is that she remembers that night at all. It’s funny what sticks out in people’s minds.

An excited Liv Tyler pointing to her old self in a photo with Jeffrey Gurian taken when she was just a teen!

Check out the clip of Liv, Patrick and Matthew right here!

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