Posts Tagged Scott Baio

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

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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

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Andrew "Dice" Clay in the NY Post

In today’s NY Post, Sean Daly did a story about the return of Andrew ” Dice” Clay, and his exciting comeback from being on HBO’s Entourage, where he’s playing an exaggerated version of himself. I think I can honestly say that Entourage is the ONLY show I watch consistently on TV, and everyone in the cast is incredible.

“Dice” is the first to admit that he’s been having career problems. He was one of the few comedians who were ever able to fill stadiums in his heyday, which was in the late 80’s, and until the Entourage thing kicked in, he was playing small comedy clubs to make a living.

I have some great memories of Dice. I don’t think he knows it but thanks to him, I wound up writing the movie ” Face to Face” with actor/producer Scott Baio. Back in 1998, I was out in LA for a month, staying at the Oakwood Apartment complex near Burbank, and meeting people left and right! ( What kind of a weird expression is that? )

Jeffrey Gurian and Scott Baio outside of Planet Hollywood in LA at the wrap party for Very Mean Men, after finishing their own script called "Face to Face"!

One night I was at The Comedy Store and wound up meeting “Dice” after one of his sets, and we stayed up talking in front of the club till about 4 A.M. I remember freezing but I didn’t want to leave because I was fascinated by “Dice”, and the stories he was telling me. He was already planning a comeback, and because of my background having written for so many Friars Roasts, he let me try my hand at writing material for him.

I gave him the material, and he liked it so much, he wound up doing it on the stage of The Comedy Store right off the paper. One bit that stands out in my mind, had something to do with his ejaculate being so nutritious that the government was building a pipeline from his “member” directly to African countries suffering from hunger, and they would spray it in a cropduster to alleviate hunger.

Anyway, Dice and I started hanging out along with a guy who was his cousin and another stand-up comedian. We would often go to Mel’s Diner on Sunset Blvd. for a snack. As a matter o f fact one day while we were there he had a terrible headache, and I opened up to him about my other career as a Healer whose specialty was taking away headaches.

The photo below shows me and Dice in the parking lot of Mel’s Diner and I’m working on taking away his headache. I have done Healing work in some very unusual places, i.e. the most crowded noisy clubs, in supermarkets, and once even in the bathroom of a gas station, although the details on that are kind of fuzzy! (LOL) Fortunately I took away his headache, and unfortunately I still had that moustache I was sporting since the 80’s, when Dice was hot! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian doing Healing work on Andrew "Dice" Clay in the parking lot of Mel's Diner to take away his headache!

Most of the time at Mel’s, Dice and I would take an outside table on the street. Anytime you’re sitting with someone well known, or a gorgeous model, people want to know who you are. It’s a given.

So Dice and I were sitting and eating and a guy came by, introduced himself as a producer, and asked me what I did. When I told him I was a comedy writer out of NY, he asked me for my card and asked if I could send him some of my scripts. It just so happened I had some in the trunk of my car, as I was carrying them around with me, because in LA you NEVER know who you’re going to run into and it’s always good to be prepared.

A few months after I got back to New York, out of a clear blue sky, ( like those expressions??? ) , I got a call one day from this producer, telling me he liked my script and that he thought he had a project for me. The next thing I knew he had me on a phone call to Scott Baio, who pitched me an idea he was working on, about three Italian cousins who wanted to know their Dad’s better. So they kidnapped them for a weekend of forced male bonding.

I liked it, and felt it was something I could do. While I was on the phone, the producer put me on hold, booked me on a flight to LA, and made arrangements for me to come out to write the script.

They picked me up at the airport, installed me in a hotel, and gave me keys to an office on Sunset where they brought in desks, and computers, and set me up so I could work at my own speed, and my own hours. I could come and go as I pleased. I remember the first day I met Scott. It was also at Mel’s Diner, and we had a nice meal and discussed the story line, and got along famously. He’s a super guy.

We wrote the script in about 10 days, and it was called ” Face to Face” one of the only Italian themed movies, with no mob scene! It starred Dean Stockwell, Joe Viterelli, Alex Rocco, Thomas Calabro, Madchen Amick, Ellen Travolta, Meatloaf, and of course Scott Baio. We were chosen as the opening night film at the Taos, New Mexico Talking Film Festival, ( as opposed to the Taos Silent Film Festival, I guess! ), and we won two festivals for Best Comedy Feature. One of them was in Sedona, and that was really cool also. It’s an amazing feeling to have a feature film in a festival and see people lining up to watch your film, especially when you do it with a star and there’s a Q&A afterwards. It was very exciting.

Scott had just finished a film with Matthew Modine, and the great Charles Durning, called “Very Mean Men” and I flew out to LA to attend the wrap party for that film at Planet Hollywood.

Jeffrey Gurian with Matthew Modine at an event in NYC!

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

Anyway, I’m so happy for “Dice” that he’s getting back into the limelight again. He still holds the distinction of being the only performer ever to be banned from MTV for life. That could be a long time.

He’s a rebel and always was.

I also remember being so impressed with how important his wife and kids were to him. He was a very dedicated father. Sean Daly says he’s shopping an autobiography, and will kick off a nationwide tour on Oct. 1, 2011, at MCU Park, which I believe is in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn!

Good for you Dice! Work it baby!!!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Featured, Nightlife Events, Page 6 Review, Red Carpet Events

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