Interview with Amber Riley and Raven Goodwin

TV Interview!

Amber Riley and Raven Goodwin

Interview with Amber Riley and Raven Goodwin of “Single Black Female” on Lifetime by Suzanne 1/10/22

This was from a Lifetime Press Day about a month ago. I enjoyed it, and this is a fun thriller. I saw the original movie “Single White Female” a long time ago, so I don’t remember it all that well, but I think it was just as scary as this one. It was great to chat with these ladies. Amber Riley was fabulous on “Glee” years ago and continues to show her wide range of drama, comedy and music. I’m not as familiar with Raven, but she’s done many movies and was also on “Glee” in a smaller role. Both women did a fantastic job in this movie. Their hair, makeup and costume people also did a phenomenal job making them look more like each other, too.

QUESTION: Well, hello, and welcome to our third panel of the day. We have both of our amazing stars Amber Riley and Raven Goodwin for the upcoming premiere of “Single Black Female.” Hi, Raven. Hi, Riley.


MODERATOR: All right. Shall we get started?


MODERATOR: Let’s go ahead and we will actually start with Noah Wilson. Noah?

QUESTION: Thanks, guys. It’s so great to be here with you. By the way – oh, my gosh – you ladies look fabulous. Can I just say it right now on the Zoom of the Zoom?



QUESTION: So, Amber, my first question comes to you. The casting was spot on, as your costar joining you right now, Raven Goodwin, could, I feel like, be your real-life sister as the two of you favor in the movie, and so many fans will watch it and think the same thing. So how is it like to work with Raven and create this movie together really as a dynamic duo?

AMBER RILEY: Honestly, it was amazing. Number one, Raven and I are already friends and have been for years, because my industry twin, and I would see her pop up on my IMDB. Like people would mix us up, or like the Getty images like when we would do red carpets and, so. And then I was already a fan watching her career coming up. So we took a picture years ago. We went to Essence Festival and literally manifested doing this, doing a movie together. Thousands of comments and likes are under that picture of us saying like, “Come on, Hollywood, put us in a movie together already.” Like so this was a literal dream come true and manifestation of something that we wanted, so it was amazing.

QUESTION: Now, Raven, a lot of fans have said to us they feel like they have been waiting for this movie for such a long time. What do you want fans to, most importantly, think about when they watch this movie through its full length?

RAVEN GOODWIN: You know, for me, having two voluptuous, like, dope, black women star in a thriller it’s kind of unheard of. So I want them to have fun watching the film. I feel like it’s, you know, that’s the thing about thrillers. We want to be spooked. We want to be, you know (fake screams), and I want them to really be weirded out and really — I want them to talk to the screen. I want them to have the experience of watching that cult classic thriller that you just can’t take your eyes off of. That’s what I want.

QUESTION: Thank you, ladies, so much. I appreciate it. Have a good day.

RAVEN GOODWIN: Yeah, you too.

AMBER RILEY: Thank you.


QUESTION: Bye-bye.

MODERATOR: Thank you. All right. And next up we have Jay Bobbin.

QUESTION: Hello, ladies. How are you?

RAVEN GOODWIN: Hey, good. How are you?

QUESTION: Thank you for doing this. Good. Thank you. You know, going back to the comment about people have been waiting for this for a long time, “Singe White Female” was thirty years ago. Are you surprised this did not happen sooner than now?

AMBER RILEY: (Laughs.)

RAVEN GOODWIN: I mean, I feel like timing is everything. I feel like it’s a good time for it. You know, “Single White Female” is a classic. It’s such a fun film. So this coming now, I just feel like it’s perfect timing, honestly. Yeah.

AMBER RILEY: Yeah. I was kind of surprised, because it is such a cult classic —


AMBER RILEY: That when I got the email, and I was reading that they were doing it I was like has there ever — like has there been a remake of this? Or is this the very first one? But, yeah, like Raven said, yeah, timing is everything, and I think it’s going to be — I think people are going to be pleasantly, pleasantly surprised. It’s worth the wait.

QUESTION: And following that quickly, if I could, being that it has been thirty years do you feel there are things that can be done with the concept now, you knowing what the full content of the movie is, do you think certain things can be done now that maybe could not have been done in the three decades in between?

RAVEN GOODWIN: I feel like the first –Like “Singe White Female” was pretty wild. (Laughs.) It was really out of control. So, no, I mean, I feel like, yeah, I feel it’s just about the same of shock value to me. But it’s just going to be during this time and, you know, black girls, (laughs).

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Jay. All right. Up next, we have Karen from SciFi Vision. Karen, you can unmute.

QUESTION: Hi, I have a question for Amber. One of the keys to this movie is your performance, which starts out pretty restrained and then gets a little crazier and a little crazier until kind of bonkers near the end, and I was wondering how much fun was it to get in touch with your inner Simone, and was she always there or was it tough to find her?

AMBER RILEY: You just asked me if I’m a little loony? I feel like that’s what you’re —

QUESTION: No, no. We all have a few thoughts now and then.

AMBER RILEY: No, actually, it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun, and there were some moments where I actually disturbed myself, because I had to tap into, I had to tap into (laughs) — Raven is like, oh, my God. No, I had to tap into uncomfortable moments that I would never do and get outside of myself, and when you can get outside of yourself you really, in those moments, feel like an actor, you know what I’m saying? And so it was fun, and we all have those sides, like we all have those thoughts, and common sense kicks in and morals kind of kick in, but I kind of I had to put all of that to the side, and even though it was uncomfortable it was also sometimes a great feeling to take years of aggression and feelings that you have and kind of just put it into that moment.

RAVEN GOODWIN: Yeah. We got into the transpo van, and she was like, “Raven, you want to see my scary face?”


RAVEN GOODWIN: It was scary, (laughs).

AMBER RILEY: Total weirdo, total weirdo.

MODERATOR: Awesome. Thank you, Karen. Did you have another follow-up?

QUESTION: I’m sure people are going to love it. Thanks.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Karen.

QUESTION: Well, I didn’t want to take too much time. I wanted to ask Raven, you had to play the flipside of that and be really afraid for your life near the end of it. I assume you’ve never been in such a position. So what was it like playing — to be really (audio glitch).

RAVEN GOODWIN: I mean it’s something I always dreamed out. I love horror and thriller films, and I always wanted to be the girl running and (gestures) like dragging my leg and looking back and falling and that’s just, you know, something I always wanted to play with. So I had a lot of fun with it, and it was really fun to be opposite of Amber and her in that — I mean, it was funny because we’ve known each other for over a decade, so there were times where we just wanted to laugh, and it was hard to be afraid of her, because she’s like a sister. So but for the most part it was just I just had fun with it. I just made sure I had a good time playing Monica. Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.


MODERATOR: Thank you, Karen. Next up we have Suzanne. Suzanne, feel free to unmute.

QUESTION: Hi. I really like this movie. It was so much fun and a good, intense, horror movie. So can you tell us what things they might have done? You said you already looked a bit alike. What else did they do to try to make you look more alike —

AMBER RILEY: (Audio glitch).


MODERATOR: You might have cut out. Can you repeat the question?


QUESTION: I’m sorry. Can you hear me now?



QUESTION: Okay. I was saying… what things did they do to try to make you look more alike besides how you already look?

AMBER RILEY: Well, in the beginning, I mean, I think hair and makeup. Shoutout to our hair and makeup team. I think that they kind of conceptualized with production, and they all had the conversation about what our hair and our makeup would look, and there were different stages, too. I know for my character there were different stages from her kind of going from a plain Jane to you’ll see her trying to kind of morph into Monica’s — wait, am I Monica or — You know the whole movie I always forgot which character I was.

RAVEN GOODWIN: You’re Simone. I’m Monica.

AMBER RILEY: I’m Simone. You’re Monica. Okay. Yeah. Her morphing into Monica. So, yeah, shoutout to the hair and makeup team. They did an amazing job.

RAVEN GOODWIN: Yes. Killed it.

QUESTION: And have you ever played a psycho girl before?

AMBER RILEY: On TV and in film? No.

RAVEN GOODWIN: Ah, (laughs).

AMBER RILEY: Ask my fiancé. He may have something else to say about that.


QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Suzanne. All right. Up next we have the “Hollywood Times.”

QUESTION: Hello. Can you briefly describe the casting process? Did you already have actors in mind?

RAVEN GOODWIN: I did. I mentioned Janet Hubert as my mother. That was like something I was very kind of adamant about. We’ve built such a amazing relationship since 2019. That’s when I met her, and we just clicked. So I wanted to work with her again, and I think we have amazing chemistry on and off the screen, and I didn’t know that Amber loved her — well, obviously, we all love her — but I didn’t know Amber loved her so much, and she wanted to meet Amber. So it was just a good collaboration and meeting of the minds. You know, Korin and Monique, they worked, our producers, they worked really hard to get Janet onboard, and then when we found out K. was — K. Michelle was joining the cast, I just though it was perfect, and then we have Devale Ellis and just new talent and classic talent, legendary talent in this film, so I just really cannot wait for everyone to see how the cast comes together and the chemistry, because it was pretty good, pretty good chemistry there.

QUESTION: Thank you, Raven.

RAVEN GOODWIN: You’re welcome.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Up next we have Ronda. Ronda, feel free to unmute.

QUESTION: Hey, hi. Congrats, Raven, on your recent nuptial. But for both of you guys what were the qualities of each of your character — for Raven, you, Monica — and Amber, you, Simone, that you like had no difficulty relating to, that was more like your own?

AMBER RILEY: That we had — I’m sorry. It dropped out a little bit for me. That we had — what was that —

QUESTION: No difficulty relating to. What characteristics did your character have that were similar to your own?

AMBER RILEY: Oh. I think, for me, it was I had to tap into insecurities that I had about myself, and I know, for me, growing up there weren’t many people that looked like me. So when I found a singer or an actor, which most of them were in theater, I wanted to model after that person, and so that insecurity that she has, that insecurity that Simone has, not feeling good enough and wanting to be Monica, I did tap into that, back into that kind of that little girl that was like I aspire to be someone else. I don’t want to be me. I don’t know who I am. So I think that kind of not knowing where you are and going back into that insecure, unmolded person, I don’t even know if unmolded is a word, it is now if it isn’t, (laughs) that that was (audio glitch @ 01:01:43).

RAVEN GOODWIN: Unmute, Amber.

QUESTION: You muted, Amber.

AMBER RILEY: My bad. That was easier for me to grab. That was the end of what I said.


RAVEN GOODWIN: For me, you know, Monica in the film, in the beginning of the film, she loses her dad. So the grieving piece for me, my dad died in July, and we shot the film in late September, early October. Was it October? So the grieving piece is where I connected with Monica, all the moments where we had to bring back that piece of her life that would never be the same. I had to tap in, and although it was difficult it was kind of healing to kind of go through that with Monica kind of at the same time and just kind of empathize and sympathize to what she was going through at the time.

QUESTION: Thank you. Condolences to you as well.

RAVEN GOODWIN: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Ronda. We actually have an email question in. We know that this movie does take a dark turn, but were there any memorable moments during filming that you both enjoyed?

RAVEN GOODWIN: Of course. Like we said, we’ve known each other for years. So if it was us taking our wigs off at random times, I mean, especially —

AMBER RILEY: Raven cannot keep that wig on.

RAVEN GOODWIN: I cannot keep my wig –I want to take this one off right now. I cannot keep the wig on. I will take my wig off in between breaks. Us playing music in the trailer. We had a scene with K. Michelle, myself, and Amber when it was kind of towards the end of production, and we just sat in my trailer, and we just we did what black women do best. We kee-kee’d. We, you know, it might have been some spirits. (laughs) And we ate, and we just had —

AMBER RILEY: (Fo’ sho @ 01:03:51).

RAVEN GOODWIN: Look, look, and we just had a amazing time. So memories like that you can’t really get back. Also, Janet being terribly afraid of the fire on set was just “huh-larious.” She looked like a little kid. All you see is the back of her head like this (gestures)(just getting @ 01:04:07). She’s ducking —

AMBER RILEY: Making sure it did not get out of control.

RAVEN GOODWIN: It sure did not get out of control. So just memories like that I’ll hold on to for the rest of my life. I’m super grateful for this experience, yeah.

AMBER RILEY: I think, for me, it’s the fact that we got to do most of our own stunts, and I — First of all, Raven is really strong. I need y’all to understand that if I ever go anywhere with Raven she’s handling the heavyweight, and I’m handling the lightweight and, period, because the girl was dragging me.


AMBER RILEY: She’s so strong. But, honestly, us being plus-size black women in a thriller, and we got to get physical, and we got to — And the team, I’m so sorry that I don’t know our stunt coordinator’s name, but our stunt coordinator and the stuntwomen that was teaching us what to do and stepped in, they were so hands-on, so amazing, professional, really taught us how to be safe but also make everything look so real, and everything looks so real and so great. So, for me, yes, the kee-keeing and all of that was absolutely amazing, which I expected that anyway, because everybody in the film was really dope. But, on top of that, just from the work that we did, that day of doing stunts was very difficult. It was really hard. (laughs) It was really hard but (audio glitch @ 01:05:42) —

Holes in walls, it was just crazy, (for real @ 01:05:45) —

AMBER RILEY: Oh, my God. Just from the stunts, it looks amazing, it looks amazing.


MODERATOR: Wonderful. Well, that is actually all the time that we have today. So thank you, Amber, and thank you, Raven, for joining us today. Don’t forget “Single Black Female” premieres Saturday February 5th at 8/7 Central. And please stay tuned for our upcoming panel, “Line Sisters.”

(Thank yous and good-byes.)

AMBER RILEY: Love you, Raven.




Reeling from the death of her beloved father and a difficult breakup, Monica (Raven Goodwin), is ready to move forward with her life as she tries to land the new hosting job for an afternoon talk show.  When she hires a new assistant, Simone (Amber Riley), the two quickly become close friends as Simone moves in next door and completely immerses herself in Monica’s life.  But underneath her sweet exterior, Simone harbors a dark secret and as time goes on cracks in her façade begin to appear.  Monica decides to sever ties once and for all with Simone, but Simone has other plans and is determined to take over Monica’s life for good. K. Michelle also stars.

Single Black Female is directed by Shari Carpenter and written by Tessa Evelyn Scott and Sa’Rah L. Jones.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Single Black Female poster

Interview with Eugene Byrd

TV Interview!

Eugene Byrd

Interview with Eugene Byrd of the movie “Immanence” and many TV shows by Suzanne 1/28/22

This was a very fun interview! I always liked Eugene in the many series I’ve seen him in since “Bones,” but this chat with him showed just how much fun he can be and why he’s such a great character actor who can do film, TV, comedies, drama, scifi, voiceovers – anything. He’s really versatile and laid-back. If you like horror, you’ll probably like this movie, “Immanence.” It has a mixture of horror and supernatural/religious phenomenon. Do make sure you watch him in “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” and the other projects mentioned.

Suzanne:   So, tell us how your role in this movie came about?

Eugene:   Well, I got a phone call from a really good friend of mine, Michael Beach (the star of “Immanence”), and Michael was like, “Hey, listen, man. I’m gonna get you. So, just come on and play with me, man; play with me. Let’s play. Let’s do this thing together. Let’s do it, and you’ll just have a good time.” And I was like, “First of all, who is this?” But then I was like, “Listen, man, if you really like this script, and you really think it’s a good idea -” because I had met Kerry and Summer at an event, and it was really great. I hadn’t seen the script. I heard him talk about it. I had no idea. Then, Beach called me and said, “Yeah, I want you to do it.” I said, “Okay, cool.” I hadn’t seen the script. I took him at his word, and his word was good, because, I ended up enjoying Davis and the idea that this script was playing with.

Suzanne:   Okay, great. So, no audition necessary. That’s good.

Eugene:   No, those are the best things, when you get that offer, when you get a friend beg you. I love when Beach has to beg me, “Come on, man, do something.” I’m like, “Yeah, I got you by the ropes.”

Suzanne:   So, did they give you any backstory at all on your character or just the script?

Eugene:   Beach gave me the backstory. Then, when I talked to Summer and Kerry, they gave me the script, but I had already signed on. I already trusted my friend, because I know he has really good taste, and especially when it comes to independent films, and doing something that’s very interesting and different. So, once I got the script, I started to delve into Davis and say, “Okay, he’s the fun guy.” He’s the guy that likes to have fun, make jokes. But obviously, he changes, as everybody does, as the script goes on.

Suzanne:   I noticed that your character is kind of the “dumb guy” who has to ask everything–

Eugene:   I don’t know that I’d call him a dumb guy [laughs]

Suzanne:   Wait, let me finish. “Dumb” in the way that he doesn’t know all this science stuff. So, they have to explain it to him, and in doing so they’re explaining it to us. So you’re that guy.

Eugene:   Yeah, I’m the audience, but it’s funny, because he still says, “So, you guys are chasing aliens?” And they’re like, “No, see, we’re after these extraterrestrials.” And I’m like, “Aliens. I don’t know why you can’t just drop it down in layman’s terms.”

Suzanne:   Right. It’s a pretty small cast. Did that make it more fun, having such a small cast?

Eugene:   Oh, it made it more fun, because at least two of the people I knew, and and then I knew Summer and Kerry, but not fully yet. I knew Asenneth’s husband, and then I just met Kasia. I think what it did for us is that everybody’s personality worked it [together] in that way. Sometimes everybody’s personality – but you’re on a boat together, for twelve hours, from 4pm to 4pm. If you don’t get to know each other and get to have fun, you’re gonna be miserable.

Suzanne:   So, you filmed on an actual boat?

Davis in "Immanence" played by Eugene ByrdEugene:   Oh, we filmed on an actual boat. This was an actual boat, and we were on the actual water. And I was not excited about it, because I can’t swim, and I don’t like boats. So, this was a lot of faith. They kinda lied to me. They kind of lied to me a little bit and didn’t tell me we’re going out on the water. Then, they kind of let it out that, “Oh yeah, we’re getting on the water,” and I’m like, “What are you talking about?” [unintelligible] on a boat. They’re “Like no, we got to go out.” Yeah.

Suzanne:   Well, I’m not a good swimmer, but I do like boats, but I guess you couldn’t have a life jacket or anything on while you were filming…

Eugene:   I didn’t wear one, because I was like, “You know what? I’m just gonna jump off the boat immediately onto the pier,” if there’s a pier. If there’s no pier, then, “Well, you know what? Life was good.” [laughs]

Suzanne:   And have you done any horror movies before?

Eugene:   Yes. Well, I guess you could call – I’ve done a couple, but the one that I did that everybody knows, Anacondas, which I guess is action, horror, comedy in a weird way. So, I had done that. And I’m a huge fan of horror films, so that was the other thing. I was like, “Yes, I’ll do this.” And I was working on a horror film with a friend of mine, too, independent. So yeah, this was right up my alley.

Suzanne:   Oh, that’s good. At the beginning of the movie, some of the characters are not religious, and some are. Where does your character fit into that range of beliefs?

Eugene:   You know, with Davis, I played a more sort of, like, he grew up with a religious background, but he doesn’t really follow anything. He’s pretty much a tech guy. He believes in money and believes in those type of things, but it didn’t take him long to fully believe, to know that something was up. I think that’s a lot of people these days. There’s spirituality, and there’s an underlying belief, but you kind of leave it away as you get older and you pursue different things, and that’s how I played Davis.

Suzanne:   And if this isn’t too personal, where do your own beliefs fit into that?

Eugene:   I grew up Baptist. I’m spiritual. I’m spiritual, because I grew up Baptist, and I have a lot of ideologies that are around me, like my manager when I was growing up was Jewish. My mom’s best friend was Seven Day Adventists. I went to Catholic school. So I mean, you could pretty much – I dated a Buddhist. So, you can put all of these pieces together and know that I had a lot of influences – oh and one of my best friends is Muslim. Do you see what I’m saying? So, for me, I don’t really follow a denomination.

Suzanne:   Okay. Yeah, I live in a Baptist town right now, a small southern town in Arkansas.

Eugene:   Wow. I don’t even know how to put that together. It’s a lot.

Suzanne:   No, I know. I’m from San Diego. So, it’s very different.

Eugene:   It’s extremely different.

Suzanne:   Yeah. Were there any particular challenges for you in doing the role?

Eugene:   No, I mean, other than the boat, and possibly having to swim? No, no other challenges. I mean, it’s always a challenge. When you’re taking on a role where science and religion are a part, and you’re playing this sort of, “How do I play this guy?” but when it came to being an actor, no challenges. When it came to me being on that boat and then dealing with different people trying to figure out how – It ended up being like smooth in that respect.

Suzanne:   What about as far as COVID? Was that a problem at all?

Eugene:   There was no COVID. Well, COVID wasn’t known yet.

Suzanne:   Oh, wow. This was filmed long ago.

Eugene:   This was the end of 2019. I think we heard that there was something, but it was overseas, but no, we had no COVID issues.

Suzanne:   Oh, well, that’s good. I can’t imagine filming in a small area with a bunch of people.

Eugene:   It wouldn’t even have happened, because well, it could have, because, some of the people stayed down in the area. They didn’t go back home. So, it would have been a version of the bubble. I guess everybody goes into this thing, and they don’t leave it for about sixteen to twenty days. So, I guess we could have done it that way, but yeah, we didn’t know anything about COVID at that time.

Suzanne:   And now you’d just all be vaccinated and tested frequently and that kind of thing.

Eugene:   Tested like crazy, but at the same time, I don’t know. If you’re in the bubble, you can’t move. You can’t go see family or friends, and you test once or twice in the beginning. I don’t think COVID would have been an issue at that point.

Suzanne:   How long did it take to film?

Davis in "Immanence" played by Eugene ByrdEugene:   It was sixteen days. I could be wrong. I’m trying to remember– I think it was sixteen days. And it was all night. All night shoots. So, it was switching straight from [day] and that’s it. So [unintelligible] every day.

Suzanne:   Wow. Yeah, it’s –

Eugene:   Six days a week.

Suzanne:   It’s a nice atmosphere, kind of claustrophobic and night and everything.

Eugene:   Yeah.

Suzanne:   It made for good horror atmosphere. I see that you’re doing some voiceover work with Spidey and His Amazing Friends. Do you enjoy doing voiceover?

Eugene:   Yeah. I loved doing voiceovers. It’s so freeing, because there’s no worry about how you look. You know, I don’t have to go through hair and makeup. I could go in in my pajamas, and not have to brush my teeth. I [did] brush my teeth though, [laughs] but I don’t have to go and be something in front of the camera; I just have to let my voice and my acting do the talking, and that’s a lot of fun. And doing Spidey and His Amazing Friends for Disney has been a lot of fun, just because I could play in a comic book world. I’m a nerd. I grew up a huge comic fan. The fact that I’m playing Miles Morales’s father is crazy to me. It’s fun.

Suzanne:   That’s good. And you’ve been in so many shows, including The Cosby Show, when you were just a teen. Do people recognize you for that, or mostly for your newer shows and movies?

Eugene:   I think if you grew up on The Cosby Show, or you grew up on the shows I did when I was younger – you know what, I do get called out for it quite quite a bit, but they’re usually either older, closer to my age, or just a little – but closer my age, but rarely do I get younger people like in their twenties going, “You were on Cosby,” because it’s been off the air for so long, and there’s no way they would know, unless they watch TV Land, and then I’ll be surprised they know it.

Suzanne:   How old were you when you started acting? You were pretty young, right?

Eugene:   Yeah, I started off when I was seven years old. So yeah, it’s been a long time. This year – wow – will be my fortieth year.

Suzanne:   You’re lucky that not only do you still look very young and can play really young roles and have most of your career, but you’re not one of those child actors that either had terrible problems or look unusual. Some of the child actors, they look like children, and then when they grow up, they look kind of weird.

Eugene:  I do look kind of weird. I got lucky in the fact that I never took this business – you know, I looked at it as fun. Then, when it became a job, I had to reorder, because I think every child actor has to reorder exactly what it is, because when you’re a child actor, your job is your life. You know, you’re an actor, so you kind of identify yourself as an actor and then what all those things mean. But I can’t sit there and say that I haven’t had my own issues with it, because you’re trying to re-identify yourself, and you’re trying to make sure you have longevity. I think a lot of people [are] trying to be stars, or they were stars, and then they are no longer stars, and they had to deal with that aspect. Luckily for me, I’ve always been sort of in the middle. I’ve been a known actor, but I’ve never hit the stardom level where I can’t walk down the street, and then all of a sudden [I can’t].

Suzanne:   Yeah, I’ve seen you on a lot of shows, but I don’t think I really – no offense – didn’t notice you until –

Eugene:   I appreciate that, though.

Eugene Byrd as Andy Diggle in "Arrow"Suzanne:   – until your role in Arrow. That was such a great role for you. Even though it was a superhero show, did you feel that challenged you more than some of your earlier roles?

Eugene:   Roles are challenging, because they’re a role I haven’t played. So, there’s always a different psychology attached to each character that I enjoy, or I try to push myself a little further in certain roles when I get them. And by the way, I did not take offense to that, because I pride myself on people not knowing, because the fact is I try to disappear in my role. I try to play my roles honestly, and if you don’t remember me, that’s cool, but if you start going, “Wait a minute…” that means there’s some recognition, but you don’t know what it is, and I’m fine with that, just because I’d rather keep my anonymity a little bit. I think that’s [where] a lot of actors, a lot of people have issues. That’s what happens; they lose that anonymity, and they can’t move around the world the way they would like.

Suzanne:   It’s got to be difficult, a lot of pressure on people.

Eugene:   I know a few people who have exploded, and it’s been difficult for them. Yeah.

David Ramsey (John) and Eugene Byrd (Andy) in "Arrow" btsSuzanne:   Getting back to Arrow, I mean, it was a great role with you and and the guy that plays Diggle, your brother?

Eugene:   We’ve played brothers before.

Suzanne:   Oh, you did?

Eugene:   Yeah. We did a pilot together called The Proud Family, and it was with Gabrielle Union and  Essence Atkins and Selma Hopkins, and it was a really great cast. We just didn’t get picked up, but David and I kept in touch as friends. And then one day…he was like, “Hey, I want you to play my brother,” and I was like, “Oh, Okay.” I knew he was in Arrow, but I was like, “Man, that would be a dream come true.” And it was fun, because I got to play a duplicitous character, which I feel like I’ve [done] a lot [laughs], but it’s like I’m like playing the duality of a guy who’s evil, and then all of a sudden, he’s good, but he never was good. He was always [evil]. So, that was fun. That was fun.

Suzanne:   Yeah, it was good. It is very surprising. We never knew he was, but he was always sympathetic, because you were playing him, and you’re very likable on screen. I also loved your character on Bones, that seemed very similar to the role you played on Crossing Jordan.

Eugene Byrd as Clark in "Bones"
BONES: Brennan (Emily Deschanel, R) and Dr. Clark Edison (guest star Eugene Byrd) continue to investigate who framed Booth for murder in the “The Lance to the Heart” episode of BONES airing Thursday, Oct. 2 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jordin Althaus/FOX

Eugene:   Right, which, I think, helped me, gave me a quick way to jump in. Because Sydney is a little bit – actually, Sydney was way more open than Clark ever was. Clark was always super buttoned up very much like Bones, you know, and the fact that “I don’t share my personal life; this is about the work,” and then as time goes on, he starts letting himself be loose and being more of a personable person in that show. I love that show. That was like one of my favorite shows I ever did. I did it for ten years, and I have two of my best friends from that show.

Suzanne:   Okay, can you tell us which ones?

Eugene:   Pej Vahdat, who was Arastoo, and Michael Grant Terry, who played Wendell. So, they’re two of my closest friends.

Suzanne:   He’s on another show. I can’t think of which one.

Eugene:   Pej?

Suzanne:   No, Michael.

Eugene:   Michael did Roswell.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I think just something else though. I can’t remember it. Never mind.

Eugene:   He did a Lifetime – was it a Hallmark or a Lifetime show? I want to say it was Hallmark.

Suzanne:   I think it is something on Showtime or STARZ, but I can’t remember.

Eugene:   He’s got something he was doing, but those are only two I know we’ve talked about. If it’s something else, he’s gonna be mad at me that I don’t know.  [laughs]

Suzanne:   It’s fine. You can’t be expected to remember all these shows.

Eugene:   Pej right now is doing like a thousand things. Sometimes I’m like, “Which one is this again?”

Suzanne:   Well, I’m glad to hear that the Squints are still friends.

Eugene:   We all are. You know, the beautiful part about that show is we all had great chemistry with each other, and that’s rare. That’s rare where the recurrings have great chemistry with the regulars, and it feels like we’re all regulars.

Suzanne:   No, definitely. And do you have any other projects that you’re working on that you can tell us about?

Eugene:   Oh, that I could tell you about? Well, you know, actually, they’re all on right now. They’re all coming out. Today is The Legend of Vox Machina, a cartoon for Amazon Prime, where I play Captain Jared. And then Secrets of Sulphur Springs. Just everything else I can’t even talk about yet.

Suzanne:   I love that show. You’re coming up on that?

Eugene:   My character showed up fully last week, and today –

Suzanne:   Oh, I haven’t watched last week’s yet.

Eugene:   You see him way more today.

Suzanne:   Okay, cool. I haven’t watched last week’s yet. I know it’s a kid’s show, and I don’t have any children –

Eugene:   But here’s the funny thing, I watched it. It’s more for everyone. I’ve realize that, because before I even did it, I was like, “This is a kid’s show. All right, I’ll just do it.” Then, I worked with the kids, and I worked with the other actors, and two of them I knew, well, three; three people I knew on that show. And I was surprised. I was surprised how accessible it was for adults and that the kids were just natural. I got to work with Elle Graham most of the time; she plays Savannah, the little blonde girl. Well, she’s not little, that girl’s tall. [laughs] I had such a great time working with that cast and that crew. So, I’m glad you like it. It just surprised me.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I don’t remember why I started watching. Oh, because the people who wrote it used to write in soap operas, and I watch soap operas.

Eugene:   Ah, yes. That’s right. I think Tracy did – I don’t know about Charles. Charles did 90210, which is what I did. I did the original 90210.

Suzanne:   He’s been on a lot of those types of things, and I think daytime briefly too. But yeah, I like that show. I’m always telling people watch the show.

Eugene:   The funny thing is because they think it’s a kid show, they’re not thinking that you’re going to watch something that’s still appealing to you as well and that’s wholesome and interesting. I wouldn’t have believed that either. If you asked, if you told me.

Suzanne:   Yeah, well, I have a lot of science fiction friends, and so, I would tell them, “it’s got time travel!”

Eugene:   It does, and I’m curious what you’re gonna think about this season we’re doing right now, this season that just came out. It’s interesting, and it deals with, obviously, time again, but there’s an even deeper mystery now.

Suzanne:   Well, they’ve got to change it up every season. And anything else that you’d like to say to your fans?

Eugene:   Thank you for supporting me all these years, and there’s some stuff coming up. I can’t talk about it, but it should be very, very interesting.

Suzanne:   All right, great. Well, thank you for joining me today. I really enjoyed it.

Eugene:   I had a great time.

Here is the video version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of



Poster for the movie "Immanence"Buffalo 8 has announced the acquisition of IMMANENCE from filmmaker Kerry Bellessa. The thriller/horror film will be available on demand a several digital streamers, including iTunes, February 4.

While investigating a meteor strike in the Bermuda Triangle, a team of radio astronomers discover a mysterious signal in the deep sea that could be the world’s first contact with extraterrestrials. After witnessing various impossible phenomena, the team becomes convinced that something is trying to communicate with them.

Aboard their boat is Jonah (Michael Beach, Aquaman, “S.W.A.T.”), a loner with a mysterious past and cryptic motives. His faith leads him to suggest that this communication may be a manifestation of divinity, a hypothesis which the scientists immediately reject.

Soon the communications go from inexplicable to terrifying, threatening not only the team’s beliefs, but also their lives. When chaos culminates in an ominous revelation that makes everyone a threat, the team must fight for sanity and survival in a nightmare against the ultimate evil.

IMMANENCE: Fast FactsRelease Date: Friday, February 4, 2022
Genre: Thriller/Horror
Rating and Run Time: Not rated (R equivalent), 90 mins.
Short Summary: Radio astronomers discover a mysterious signal in the deep sea that could be contact with extraterrestrials. After several terrifying manifestations threaten their beliefs, the team must fight to survive the ultimate evil.
Director: Kerry Bellessa
Writers: Kerry Bellessa And Joshua Oram
Producers: Kerry Bellessa, Summer Bellessa, Michael Beach
Cinematographer: Oscar Ignacio Jiménez
Starring: Michael Beach, Summer Bellessa, Eugene Byrd, Anthony Ruivivar, Kasia Pilewicz,  Asenneth Del Toro, Jamie Mcshane

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Eugene Byrd

Interview with Ryan McPartlin, Jana Kramer and Maria Menounos

TV Interview!

Ryan McPartlin, Jana Kramer and Maria Menounos in Lifetime's "The Holiday Fixup"

Interview with Ryan McPartlin, Jana Kramer and Maria Menounos of “The Holiday Fixup” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This is a fun movie, particularly if you like DIY projects, and the press panel for the movie was highly entertaining. These are some very attractive people, for one thing. Ryan was on “Passions” years ago, and he still looks great! Of course, it goes without saying that everyone’s acting is top of the line, too. I’ve enjoyed all of the Lifetime holiday movies this year. I hope you do, too.


Hi, everyone. Our next panel is “The Holiday Fixup.” Please welcome EP and stars, Jana Kramer, and Ryan McPartlin, and star Maria Menounos.


Hi. Hi, guys. Hi, Ryan. Hi, Maria.


Hi, guys.




Hi. Can you guys hear me?


The team’s all back.


I know.


Before we get into the questions, today we have a pre-submitted question. What was it like filming a holiday movie all together in the dead of summer in Connecticut?




(Laugh.) I love your laugh.


Exactly that. Exactly that.


It’s perfect. That’s it.




It was hot. It was so fun though. I love these guys so much. Jana and Ryan are gems, and we just have the best time.


Yeah. I will say that, I feel like we got pretty lucky guys. Like it could have been —




I mean, we had a few (hot) days, but the days that we were outside I felt like we were blessed with not like, you know (not too hot)– And I think there was only one day, I was like “I think I might pass out.” But, Ryan, it doesn’t matter if it was sunny or not, Ryan was going to always have a fan —


Oh, yeah.


Whether it was sunny, not sunny. I mean, that man sweats so much, like, thank God it wasn’t hotter —


It didn’t help that I was taking a supplement that I found out afterwards —




— causes excessive sweating.


Uh huh.


And then we’re in sweaters in the dead of summer, and I’ve done this multiple times, as Jana has as well, — so I’m always preparing the crew and production saying, hey, we need some ice packs. We need fans standing by. I need dryers to dry the hair. I didn’t want to hold up production…and somehow it’s always like the afterthought, right? And then when the sweat starts coming and you’re holding up production everybody’s like send as many people to the store as possible. We need to get fans. We need dryers. We need everything.


I needed Gatorade. That was my ask. I was like I need a Gatorade. I’m feeling lightheaded…but it was so fun —


I was a little upset that when I was pouring sweat, I’d look at you guys and you’re like, no, not a drop.


We glisten. Ryan sweats. Maria and I didn’t —


Yeah. That’s right. That’s right.


Suzanne. Please let us know your question.


Oh, hi, guys. I enjoyed the movie. I’m not really into DIY, but what about you? Ryan, do you do DIY in real life? (Laughter.)


Wait, can I answer that, please?


Go ahead. Go ahead.


Because the first time that I ever met Ryan — Suzanne, thank you for watching the movie — but the first time that Ryan and I actually Facetime’d he was trying to hang blinds, I think it was, and doing a terrible job. So, Ryan,  —


And that was the last time I’ve done anything around the house. Well, no, no, no…I had to fix a doorknob last night. I went to Home Depot and then Loew’s – had three different people explain to me how to do it, and I was like, I’m just going to hire somebody. It’s not my jam.




Okay. Well, and the snowball fight was the most fun of all the movie, I thought. Was that as fun for you to shoot as it was for us to watch?




It was super fun, and that was the hottest day, too, you guys. That was the only day that was excruciating —


It was the hottest day.


Yeah. That was the hottest day, and then I feel like, Maria, you and I became a little competitive. Like we were legit pushing each other at the start of doing that. We’re like “it’s going down” —




That was Brian Herzlinger, our director – he wanted to have his “Saving Private Ryan” moment where he was going to get all this camera action and get the really artistic movement as — Well, you see it in the trailer as Maria and Jana are just unloading on each other and getting very competitive with each other.


It was so fun




Oh, thank you.


It was kind of funny, too, Brian wanted a “Saving Private Ryan” moment. Like you do know this is a Christmas movie, right? But it was so much fun —


Oh, and actually these guys championed my husband having a cameo in the movie, and that was the scene he made the snow. He’s Nick the Snowman.


Nick the Snowman.


Um hm.




Oh. Great. Thank you so much.


Thank you.


Thank you. That’s awesome. Damina, your question next?


Oh, you’re muted, sweetie. Can we unmute her?


We can come back. We’ll come back – – Oh, there you are. Damina? Okay, we’ll come back. Steven, you’re up next. Steven.


How’s the photo, Ryan? Do you need your ID?


I got you. I got you. You always get me every time and I never know it until later.


Did you guys call me?




Yeah, it’s your turn, buddy.


Thank you. Here we go. All right. So, yes, talk to us about this amazing film. Ryan, I see that you’re doing your thing. You’ve still out here ever since the “Passions” days.


Thank you for that.


Oh, yeah. You look amazing. All of you look great.


Thank you.


Happy holidays.


Yeah. Happy Holidays to you. Go ahead, Jana.


So, talk to us about the film, and how is it? Is it challenging coming up with the chemistry between cast members? How long does that normally take?


Ryan, you kick it off.


Well, we got to Zoom…Jana and I, fortunately, had all these Zoom’ing sessions with our writer who is amazing, Jessica Etting. And so there was a couple times that Jana and I were on the same page — but not some of the other voices, because there’s a whole lot of voices — and you just look at the camera in one of these Zoom meetings and you’d kind of look at each other and try and stifle a little of laughter…it was like being in class and just locking eyes with somebody who was in on the joke. And so Jana and I felt like we were in on the same joke that everybody wasn’t in on, and that kind of kicked off our friendship.


Yeah. No, we had…I mean, pretty much instant chemistry. The same with Maria and I. Every time I’ve been with Maria, we had that and I’m like, oh, that’s going to be easy to play best friends with her, because every time I see her I feel like she’s such a close friend. And then with Ryan it’s like we had that kind of, you know — that brotherly/sister, fun banter, fun – it’s that good energy. So that part was really easy, to have the chemistry. And then we were all teammates together. We all helped each other out, and when I got super tired, Ryan was there to pump me up.


There was no pumping you up when were that tired. When you’re that tired nobody can do anything about it. But I will say, back to the chemistry with Maria, too — Maria and I started talking about trying to do something in the Christmas space together at least two years ago, right? Sometime around two years ago…


Oh, yeah. Yeah.


And when I saw her at a Christmas party, I was like, oh, my God, I got to talk to Maria about being in this space…and Maria and I have known each other for years. I threw a touchdown pass, or was it you to me? No, it was me to you, right?


You to me, yeah. (I throw it back @ 00:28:34) —


Yeah. It was, yeah, we have the footage. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


I’m such a giver.

Ryan McPartlin and Jana Kramer in "The Holiday Fixup" on Lifetime 11/8RYAN MCPARTLIN:

Yeah. Well, you did throw an extra point then. You were playing quarterback and played like — did a two-point conversion. It was amazing. I got the footage.


Oh, you’re right.


Yep. But, no, Maria — when I saw her at this party that we were at, I was like, Maria, you have to be in this Christmas space and then…you go, Maria, I don’t want to monopolize this conversation.


Not at all. Yeah, I’ve said this, I think it was just super cool. Ryan saw a little doc that I did on my experience with my parents getting COVID at the same time, and I did this little like 19-minute piece, and he saw it and sent me this beautiful email about how much it moved him, and how he was going to really kind of cherish those moments with his family even more, and it was just a beautiful letter…and one thing led to another and all of a sudden, I was getting on a plane to Connecticut to make this movie with them. And it was very much needed for me at the time. I just lost my mom, and I got to go back to Connecticut, and stay in my bed, and be with my dad, and get to have fun with these guys every day. And I do think that it’s super rare to have just such instant chemistry with everybody, and we all just clicked so fast and so easily. I was doing Jana’s makeup at one point. Jana’s fanning Ryan. Like everybody was helping each other, and it was really special. So, I told them, I’m like, I just want to be able to do this every summer with you guys, because I love them so much, and we have just such a great team all around.


That’s really beautiful. Thank you. Thank you so much. And, Jana, wow. Ryan really coming for you about being tired on set. We have your back.


Thank you.


And, Jamie, the next question is from you. Jamie Ruby, sorry. We have another Jamie.


I was going to say which Jamie.


Sorry, Jamie Ruby.


It’s okay. And, Maria, I think you sort of just answered this partially but maybe you can add more to it, but for all of you, what was it originally though that made you want to do this film?


I’ll start — because I had had a meeting about a different movie a few days prior to talking to Ryan and the producers of this film, and it was something about… Well, one of the reasons I really wanted to do it, because I’ve always wanted to work with Ryan and it was cool because there wasn’t a script, so I was able to kind of put my two cents into it. This is Ryan’s idea that he’s had for a long time, so it was cool to be able to actually collaborate and help bring the story to life as opposed to showing up on the page. Because usually we just get the script and we read it, we like it, or we don’t. But to be able to kind of have a say was really cool and one of the main draws of doing this film. I was like, okay, cool, I can actually have a little bit of a say in it, and Ryan was open to all of that. So that was neat.


She had a lot of say in it, not just a little bit of say, because when — It’s not that you’re that over opinionated, Jana –It’s like I really respected her opinions and she had very good input, ideas, story points. She’s done this, you know, she’s done as many of these as probably I have, I’d say. And you don’t want the redundancy of doing the same story over-and-over-again. So, you look for ways to say how can it be different? How is it different than the other stuff out there, and that’s what I’m really proud of — especially how we would talk out some of these things, if it was a real relationship and a real life and we were playing real exes. And the way that I saw the story ending is not necessarily the way that Jana saw it from her perspective. So, when our writer, Jessica Koosed Etting, heard her response if I said one thing and then Jana said, well, I would say this — it just turned everything. So, you got to kind of play like you would in, you know, onstage in a theater, in a class together. And you go, oh, that’s interesting…if that’s how you would really react let’s work that into the story and still tie it up nicely to deliver to the audience what they expect, but in a different way than that expect it.


Sure, yep.


Our next question is from Jamie Steinberg.


Hi, thank you guys so much for your time. Jana and Ryan if you could talk about how you stepped in as executive producers. Was this something of a passion project that came across your desk, or did they offer you a role of EP after you singed on to the film?


No, this was something where if you are involved creatively as an actor, from the get-go, like we both were you know — this started with Jessica Koosed Etting and I flushing out a different story, but then we adapted it towards Christmas a little bit, and then quite honestly the whole thing changed when Jana came onboard. We just started talking about the movies we loved. Jana, if you want to talk about that and some of the romantic comedies, some of the Christmas movies we loved…and we started saying, okay, what are those themes that we want to play with.


Yeah, and that’s something, too, because Ryan and I have done so many of these Christmas movies it was something that I had a conversation with Lifetime about and was like, I really want to be able to bring my ideas to the table. So, I would like to moving forward be able to executive produce, just so that way I, you know — because making Christmas movies are so much fun. They’re easy. They’re light. They’re fun — but I also want to bring a little bit of complications to things, or a little bit of my own touch to things and to have that voice, and that way. I don’t know, Ryan, if it felt the same way for you, but I felt really, really, really, proud of this one, because I felt like I had so much more to…I offered so much more in this film than I have in the other ones. And, yeah, I loved all the other ones, but this one…I was like, man, this is — It’s the first thing I’ve ever executive produced! So that was kind of cool to just be like — I was proud of myself and I was proud of you. It was fun.


Yeah. And I feel like, you know, Maria, hopefully, you felt your voice was the heard the same as, any producer or actor would be — come on in if they had ideas and wanted to play. It was nice because it was like a safe artists’ space, you know. That’s what we wanted to create.


A hundred percent. I will say they were amazing executive producers. Not only did they feed the crew, got coffee trucks — they did all the things that really great producers do to keep everybody happy, keep everybody going. They always say it starts at the top and literally it was a perfect experience all the way through for everybody. We all loved it. We all had the best time. Everybody was excited, and everybody was onboard with making the best movie we could while having fun. So that is why I’m committed to how do we do this every summer together? How do we add in some time where we always can make a movie together, keep the same crew, keep the same thing…


Yeah. I’d love that. And we also got to give credit to Stephanie and Margaret, our other executive producers —




— they really gave us that freedom to jump in and produce alongside them. They did a lot of the hard, dirty work, I’d say, as producers dealing with the budgets and the overtime and the schedules and all that stuff since we really want to stay in the creative space, and that’s what we were able to do, thank God.


Although, I think that part’s fun, but I’ll do that later.




Thank you. Our next question is from Jay Bobbin.


Hello, everyone. Maria, have you ever interviewed Jana? Is that where this friendship started, and if that is where it started, how do you remember the interview going?


Well, I will say that I have zero memory. This is where I throw my brain tumor card down. I can’t remember anything. My husband’s my USB drive…but, yes, I know I’ve interviewed Jana — but we were also friendly just in the business and with Ryan the same thing. So, I can’t say I remember the first moment I laid eyes on this beautiful woman.


I remember you helped me out with “Dancing with the Stars” because I remember you were there at “Dancing with the Stars” and Val was your partner, right? He was like you —


Yeah. No, Val, he was like the fake doctor on the set.


Yeah. He’s like you need to talk to Maria, because she also hurt her ribs or something like that. So, I just remember you being so nice and just so willing to… I mean, we talked for a while and then it just, again, it just felt like — man, we’re talking like we’re real friends. It was such a friendly conversation —




I just remember hanging up on that and being like, wow, she’s special, a special person.


Thanks. Thanks, friend. Yeah, I never remember how I meet anybody, to be honest, because I am just I’m so excited to see everybody and meet people when I meet them that it just floats away.


Except for when someone throws you a touchdown pass.


Yes. But you just had to remind me that I threw you a two-point conversion. I don’t remember —


Yeah. That’s right.


Thank you.


Thank you.


Thanks, (Jay @ 00:38:09).


We have time for one last question. Samantha.


Hi. Jana, I’m really curious about with the social media aspect of this role, I loved how you all really leaned into the positive aspects of it just with the world complaining so much about the problems, and I’m just curious about the intention behind making that such a large part of your character’s job in the film.


Yeah. It was fun. I mean, especially because I’m like “I don’t know how to do this.” Meanwhile, my whole entire life is social media, so that was kind of fun to do that. But also, I think what I learned…actually, yes, we showed how it can bring people together. But, for me, personally, what I took away from the movie the most is actually about putting the phone down. It’s what we always talked about, the one character, Rita’s character — where it’s back in the day when we didn’t have the cell phones and we were able to just disconnect and be in a room together and not be glued to Instagram or the phone. And that’s what I took away from it the most – it is just having that distraction away to really just be present with the people in front of me. So that’s something that I would like to lean more into.


I think that social media caught us all by storm, you know, and there were no rules. There was no teaching moment. We didn’t come up in school with teachers saying you should compartmentalize this. And then the job of these apps and the social media companies is to see how many hours they can get out of your day spent on these apps. So, there is a lot of benefit to it and there’s a lot of, you know, businesses that thrive from it. Our small business that we have came about because of social media and there’s a lot of charities that do very well — but it is a danger, and it’s going to be. It’s interesting that the back-and-forth that our characters had about compartmentalizing and what to use it for, and how to use it, and I think that’s a real conversation that should be had in every household right now.


Um hm.


Thank you so much. Thank you to the cast and Eps of “The Holiday Fixup.” Please make sure to tune in on December 11.


Thanks, guys. Appreciate it. Thank you very much —


Thank you.


Thank you very much.




Do we hang up now? Okay. Bye, guys.


Bye, guys.


Okay, bye.


We’ll talk to you all later.





Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFETIME Programming Event Beginning November 12th, Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual


Programming Event Beginning November 12th

Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days

Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Talent Around the Tree This Year Includes

Kelly Rowland, Reba McEntire, Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, Jana Kramer, Marie Osmond, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Tatyana Ali, Roselyn Sánchez, Jacky Lai, Mýa, Ryan McPartlin, Thomas Cadrot, Bresha Webb, Candice King, Emeraude Tobia, Aimee Garcia, Haylie Duff, Ricki Lake, Kirk Franklin, John Schneider, Maria Menounos, Chad Michael Murray, AnnaLynne McCord, and Many Others

Los Angeles, CA – September 28, 2021 – Get ready for the most cheerful holiday season yet! Lifetime announces its largest holiday movie slate ever for the network’s annual It’s a Wonderful Lifetime programming event, kicking off November 12th with five new movies Fridays and Saturdays, and a premiere on Sunday, November 21st.  Then, once the Thanksgiving feast is over and for the first time ever, Lifetime will premiere 30 new movies, in 30 days, with a new movie EVERY DAY from November 26 through December 25. As the #1 holiday movie destination, Lifetime’s 2021 It’s a Wonderful Lifetime slate will feature 35 new movies and over 1000 hours of holiday programming.

In case that’s not enough excitement for you – get ready for It’s a Wonderful Lifetime Holiday Movie Preview hosted by Tia Mowry (star of this year’s Miracle in Motor City)! This special will preview Lifetime’s upcoming 2021 Christmas Movies and will be available on VOD beginning October 24 and will premiere on Lifetime November 7 at 10am ET/PT. In addition to sneak peeks and cast interviews, Tia will share a special holiday treat or cocktail recipe to go with each movie previewed!

At Lifetime it’s never too early to get in the spirit! Beginning October 15, Lifetime VOD will have 10 of your favorite holiday titles available to screen. And if you just can’t get enough – starting November 12, LMC will have 50 of Lifetime’s best holiday movies available to stream!

The Holiday Fix Up

Starring Jana Kramer, Ryan McPartlin & Maria Menounos

12/11 at 8pm / 7c

When Sam (Jana Kramer), the designer behind a popular home renovation show, returns to her hometown during the holidays to help renovate the Bell Harbor Inn, she gets paired with Coop (Ryan McPartlin) as her lead contractor. The only problem – he’s the guy who broke her heart and she’s the one who got away.  Sparks fly as they work closely to get the renovations done in time for the inn’s annual Christmas Eve Harborfest. Will they be able to fix the mistakes of their past to build a future together? Maria Menounos also stars.

The Holiday Fix Up is produced by Off Camera Entertainment with Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston, Jana Kramer and Ryan McPartlin as Executive Producers. Written by Jessica Koosed Etting and directed by Brian Herzlinger.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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poster for "The Holiday Fixup"

Interview with Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor

TV Interview!

Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of "Miracle in Motor City" on Lifetime

Interview with Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of “Miracle in Motor City” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This is a fun movie, set in Detroit. In most ways, it’s your usual holiday TV movie, but the Motown music makes it a little extra-special, as does using Smokey Robinson as a major plot point. The acting also elevates it above the usual films we see this time of year.  Tia Mowry-Hardrict (Sister, Sister; Family Reunion) is effervescent as busy social worker and foster mom Amber (who’s volunteered to take over the church Christmas pageant), and Canadian Mark Taylor (Coroner, Frankie Drake Mysteries) is great as her ex-boyfriend, Eddie.  Smokey doesn’t appear right away, and he has a relatively small part, but the real star that outshines them all is Markeda McKay, the adorable young actress who plays Lily, Amber’s foster daughter.

Lifetime had a press day for some of their upcoming Christmas movies, so it was great to be invited to be there and ask questions. I had a fun time chatting with them. Make sure you watch the movie Sunday, November 28 on Lifetime.

MODERATOR: Hi, all. Thank you for joining us for our last panel. Please welcome our panelists, executive producer and star, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor.

TIA MOWRY: Hi, guys!


SMOKEY ROBINSON: (Makes kissing face.) Back atcha!

TIA MOWRY: Oh my gosh, I miss you guys!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I miss you, too. Yeah.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, you guys look so great!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You’re the one.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: How you doing, Mark?

MARK TAYLOR: I’m good, man. Good to see you again.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Good to see you, man. Yeah.

MARK TAYLOR: How you doing?

MODERATOR: Thank you all for being here. Our first question is from Suzanne.

TIA MOWRY: Oh. We’re — right off the gate.


TIA MOWRY: Hi, Suzanne!

SUZANNE: Hi, guys. Happy holidays.

MARK TAYLOR: Happy holidays.

TIA MOWRY: Happy holidays to you.

Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of "Miracle in Motor City" on LifetimeSUZANNE: I just finished watching your movie this morning. I really enjoyed it.

TIA MOWRY: Yay! (Claps.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Wonderful. Yeah.

SUZANNE: I like that it was set in the city because so many of the Christmas movies are set out in the country somewhere, and they imply that the city is bad and the small town or country is good. So… I’m a city girl, I like that yours was different.


SUZANNE: Mark, I love your character in “Coroner,” and I really love that show.

MARK TAYLOR: Oh, thank you. Wow, thank you.

SUZANNE: The singing and guitar playing that you did in the film, was that something that you’ve done a lot of before?

MARK TAYLOR: I sing in the shower and…

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I know that tune.

MARK TAYLOR: And guitar, I used to play guitar when I was about 12. I did that for maybe a couple of years and, you know, real minute stuff, so…I had to take lessons and kind of relearn it.

TIA MOWRY: But you guys, here’s a little kind of behind-the-scenes situation. I thought what was really cool about Mark is he’d always walk around with the guitar. Like, when you weren’t on camera, behind the scenes, he was always walking around with it. I guess was that an actor’s choice to just feel really comfortable with the guitar?

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, I just wanted to get it as good as I could and make it as realistic as possible.


MARK TAYLOR: And it was fun. It was also fun, you know? So it was good to learn some songs and connect.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You know, I’ve tried to learn to play the guitar about three or four times. I cannot do it.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: It just would not — and the tricky part was my favorite instrument.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: The guitar is my favorite —


SMOKEY ROBINSON: And I wanna play it so badly, but I just can’t get it. My right hand and my left hand do not coordinate on the guitar, you know. But my guitarist told me, he says, “Man, if you wanna learn how to play the guitar, keep it in your hands at all times.”

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, yeah.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: I understand what you were talking about, man. But I did that and that didn’t work, either. So…

TIA MOWRY: I don’t — you guys, I don’t know how to play any instruments. Like, I…I’m terrible.


TIA MOWRY: That is one thing — no. Like, that’s — sports and music is I just — I can’t. So kudos to you guys.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Not sports, don’t say sports.

TIA MOWRY: Oh God, no, I can’t even — when I was a kid —


TIA MOWRY: No, no, no sports. Like, when I was a kid, my dad, he tried to put me in what is it t-ball? You know, where the ball is like teed up for you?


TIA MOWRY: I would strike out on that. So I’d like —


TIA MOWRY: What is it, hand and eye coordination? No. Not good. Thank God, you know, I have other things that I can do.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, t-ball is over, honey, by the time you’re six or seven.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: You don’t even play t-ball anymore, so that was way back when.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.) Okay?

SUZANNE: Tia, can you sing at least?

TIA MOWRY: Yeah, you know, I can sing.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: She’s got a good voice.

TIA MOWRY: I mean, I grew up with singers in my family. My mother, she actually sang in the choir at church. So I can sing but what’s so funny about this character, Amber Dupont, she doesn’t know how to sing. And actually, Eddie, he picks on me throughout the movie about how I can’t carry a tune. So I thought that was pretty funny. But yeah, I mean, I can carry a tune.

SUZANNE: Well, the voice is an instrument, so it counts.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Yeah, she can. She’s got a good voice.


SUZANNE: Thank you, all.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Suzanne.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you! Thank you!


MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Jamie Ruby.

QUESTION: Hi, guys.

TIA MOWRY: Hi, Jeannie.


TIA MOWRY: Or Jamie, is it Jamie?

JAMIE: Jamie. Jamie, yes.

TIA MOWRY: Hi Jamie!

JAMIE: Hi. This is for all three of you. I was wondering, is there anything filming this that surprised you that you found out? Like, what was the most surprising thing?

TIA MOWRY: How hot it was in Canada.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: My most surprising thing was that I could do it at all.

TIA MOWRY: Aw. I mean —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: That was my most surprising.

MARK TAYLOR: You were great. You were great.

TIA MOWRY: Look, y’all, Smokey —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I love you, too, Mark.

MARK TAYLOR: You were great.

TIA MOWRY: You were fantastic. I mean, you’re a legend, you know what I mean? Come on, Smokey.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: (inaudible @ 01:26:29)

TIA MOWRY: You’re awesome. You’re wonderful. Go ahead, Mark. You wanna answer?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I had a wonderful time.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: I had a great time. And everybody was so beautiful, you know? Before it even happened, I was looking forward to seeing Tia because Tia is like my daughter. I mean, you know, I just —


SMOKEY ROBINSON: …I love her so much and so happy to see —

TIA MOWRY: Aw, I love you, Smokey!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: …that she was gonna be there. That was great. And then, meeting everybody and getting the chance to — everybody. I mean, the crew, everybody was just fantastic. So I had a wonderful time.


TIA MOWRY: Aw. What about you, Mark? Was there anything that you were surprised about?

MARK TAYLOR: What was I surprised about? Um…you know what? I don’t know if I was surprised, but it was just an amazing experience.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, I like that.

MARK TAYLOR: Everyone’s so cool and everyone had a good time. And it was just — I guess maybe the experience I didn’t know was going to be so amazing you know?


MARK TAYLOR: But I’m definitely happy that I was a part of it, and I feel like it was meant to be.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, that’s awesome.


TIA MOWRY: I think, yeah, for me I think the most surprising part — I mean, I don’t know why it’s always surprising but I think a lot of people, they expect for — you know, these Christmas movies they’re — it’s supposed to be snow on the ground, it’s supposed to be wintertime. But in reality, we film a lot of these movies during the summertime. So we’re wearing jackets, and coats, and scarfs, and it’s so incredibly hot. So you have to —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Except for at night.

TIA MOWRY: Except for nights. Yeah, except for night.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: It was like the instant drop, like it’s 75 until six o’clock and at 6:01 it’s 30. (Laughs.)

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.) No. Wait, I will say this though, too, you guys. I think we film these movies in such a short period of time, right? So when I first started doing these Christmas movies, I think the thing that I was most surprised about is how many scenes you shoot in a day. Just for perspective on some movies, most movies, you’ll shoot maybe two-to-three scenes a day. But with these movies, you’re shooting, like, eight or nine scenes a day. So it’s a lot of dialogue to memorize and you’re working long hours. So that can be kind of surprising I think for viewers to know about.

MARK TAYLOR: It’s a grind.

TIA MOWRY: It’s a lot of work.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, it’s a grind.

TIA MOWRY: We shoot these movies in such — I think it’s what, 15, 16 days? When a lot of movies go for 21 maybe even 30 days. So it’s a grind. But it’s a good grind.

MARK TAYLOR: Oh, yeah.

JAMIE: I was gonna say, too, coats in the summer may be better than wearing a bathing suit when it’s freezing out or something. I don’t know.


JAMIE: I guess it depends.

MARK TAYLOR: They’re both bad. They’re both bad.

JAMIE: Yeah, that’s true.

TIA MOWRY: You know what? I’m with you, Mark. I think they’re both just ew. But I mean, hey, you know, you do what you love.


TIA MOWRY: And I love what I do, so…it’s all worth.

JAMIE: Alright, thank you so much.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Jamie.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Jamie. Our next question is from Mike from TV America.

MIKE: Yeah, for Smokey. One of the good things about this movie is it reminds us of how important those church Christmas pageants are. So could you recall, back when you were a kid and so forth, what was important to you about it? Did you do church Christmas pageants? What did they mean to you?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, you know what, Mike? I was involved in a few of them but my mom was one of those people that went to church three, four times a week, you know? She was a real lady, though. She would cuss you out in a minute but she would go to church three, four times a week.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: And actually, to be truthful with you, when I was a child, man, church used to scare me because of the fact —

MIKE: (Laughs.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I’m serious about that, man. I was scared to death at church because the church that I went to was a Baptist church, Baptist preacher. And he’s preaching and hollering and hooping and just falling out. And the women are coming up there and they’re putting smelling salts and they’re passing out. I was afraid to death of church, man, until I got to be grown. I really was. I wasn’t really, like, a church-going person as a kid. I went if my mom made me, if she made me. So when she made me go, I went. And she would send me to Sunday school in the morning and then I’d have to go back to church with her in the afternoon. That was really a grind for me, man. But like I said, after I got to be grown and I understood a lot more spiritual things, I understood it more. And so I got to be more relaxed with it. But as far as growing up, man, I was…it was a trip for me.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.)

MIKE: Thanks. I wanted to ask you one other thing, Smokey. Even though you shot it in Canada, this gives Detroit a really good look because it used a lot of stills, second unit shots. It makes life in Detroit look very attractive. Do we kind of underestimate how good Detroit is right now?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I hope so, Mike. I really do because Detroit has been devastated for a while. But it’s because of the economy, because of no jobs and all that. See, Detroit is a job city. And when I was growing up, the auto industry was what kept Detroit going. Detroit was the auto industry, really. So after all the auto plants moved out and the manufacturers and stuff and then we had Motown and…I’m so proud of the fact that right now, they even call Detroit Motown. So we created a lot of jobs and things like that in Detroit, also. And we left and the auto industry left, so Detroit suffered for a long time. And I’m very, very happy to see that it is kind of on the rebound.

MIKE: Oh, thanks.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mike. Our next question is for —

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Mike!

MODERATOR: Thank you. Noah, you’re up next.

NOAH: Hello, everyone. It is so great to be here with you guys. By the way, Tia, I feel your holiday energy. I have the holiday energy, too. I feel like you’re just gonna bust out into a Christmas tune. Yes, yes, oh yes!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Go, Tia. Bust it out, Tia.

NOAH: Come on, Tia.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, thank you.

NOAH: Give us a little “Jingle Bells”.

TIA MOWRY: No! Oh my God! Jingle bells, jingle bells. I’m, like, nervous to sing in front of Smokey.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you, Noah.

TIA MOWRY: You know, Christmas happens to be one of my favorite holidays. I really look forward to it every single year and that’s one of the main reasons why I love doing these movies. It’s something that my family — especially my mom, like, she’s a huge fan of every Christmas movie I do. And we sit down and we have hot cocoa, glasses of wine, and just really enjoy ourselves. So…

QUESTION: Now, Tia, I want to ask you first off, what attracted you to wanna be part of this? Because we have seen you and your sister, Tamera, be part of a lot of Christmas movies. And I just must say I love watching you two on screen.

MARK TAYLOR: Aw, thank you!

QUESTION: I’ve been a longtime fan since “Sister, Sister”. I just recently binged that, by the way, just aside.

TIA MOWRY: Really? With — yes. Okay, yeah, because it’s in syndication right now.


TIA MOWRY: Thank you! You know, what really attracted me with this script in particular is Mr. Smokey Robinson. You know, they had told me that he was going to be a part of it and I was like no way. I didn’t believe them at first. I was like I have to see it to believe it. I’ve known Smokey ever since I was a young, little girl and I’ve been a huge fan. And I just feel like Motown, it’s been very influential, especially within the African American culture and the community. So to be able to have that Motown flair and to have, like, Smokey be a part of the story, I was on-board from the beginning. And then when they told me that Mark was gonna be a part of it, Mark and I, we had done a movie over 20-something years ago, like aging ourselves but —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: When you guys were babies? You did a movie when you were babies?

TIA MOWRY: A baby! A baby! We were, like, in our 20s.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Twenty years ago.

TIA MOWRY: Yeah, basically. So I just — when I found out who the cast was and all of that and then just the story. I’m a huge believer in just giving women an opportunity. And Rhonda Baraka who is the writer of this movie, she wrote such an incredible script. And she’s also an African American woman which I just think is so phenomenal. So yeah, I was really excited about this project and I hope people enjoy this movie as much as all of us did making it.

QUESTION: Now, Mark, you have worked with Tia and Tamera on a movie in the past titled “17 Again”. I don’t know if that’s what you were just talking about, Tia, but that’s the movie that I’m talking about.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, it is.

TIA MOWRY: Yes, it was. “17 Again”, that was what I was talking about.

QUESTION: So now, we see you and Tia, you have feelings for each other in this holiday movie that we’ll see on Lifetime. What was it like to personally work with her once again for this project?


MARK TAYLOR: I mean, Tia, you know, she got the big, bright energy, you know? Her spirit is so giving and bright and caring. She’s always checking in with you, making sure that you’re alright.


MARK TAYLOR: And she just makes everyone feel involved, like everyone’s on the same level. So it was great. Like I said, it was a great experience.


QUESTION: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. You have a good day.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Noah!



QUESTION: Bye. Happy holidays.

TIA MOWRY: Happy holidays.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We have time for one final one. Jay, you’re up.

JAY: Oh, thank you very much. Hi. Smokey, my question is for you. You’ve got such a catalogue of songs, obviously, and quite a few of them actually are Christmas songs. What kind of conversation went into exactly what you would perform in the movie?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You know, Jay, not too much because I was gonna be on board — see, first of all, they sent me the script. And it’s a beautiful, warm, wonderful, warm story. And it was like Tia said, about Black people and about how they celebrate Christmas and what they do and all that. So that got me right there. And then, they told me Tia was gonna be involved. I hadn’t met Mark before filming this, but Tia like I said is my baby. I love her. And they told me she was gonna be involved and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. And then, it’s about Detroit and all that. So I was on board from getting the script and finding out all that information about what was going on. And like I said, the script is beautiful. It’s a warm, wonderful, Christmas story and I was very flattered to be a part of that.


JAY: Just to follow up, when it came to the songs, did they ask for your input about what you might like to perform, maybe from your own catalogue?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: No, no, no, no, no, man. They had some songs in mind that they wanted me to do and I did those. Because whatever they wanted me to do, like I said, I was gonna be on board for. And so I didn’t really pick any songs to sing or anything like that. I just wanted to be a part of it because it seemed so wonderful.

JAY: Thanks very much, Smokey.

TIA MOWRY: You know, wait, Smokey, I have to say one of my favorite moments in the movie is when you walk through the church doors. And you have this — I mean, you have this, like, swagger to you, the way you’re just walking. (Laughs.) Down the aisle. And then you start singing. It is just — I just cannot wait for people to see that moment. I mean, I just started bawling and I just started crying because it’s just — it’s such a beautiful moment. And I know that you’re saying that you’re very grateful to be a part of this movie, but I just want to say thank you for being a part of this movie. I mean, you’re such a legend. And Mark and I, we talk about you all the time. You’re just — you’re so — I mean, you’re a legend, you know what I mean?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: (Over-talking @ 01:38:44) And so I really, really want to take this time — I’ve already told you so many times before, but thank you for lending just your energy and your talent to this story because you did an incredible job. So thank you.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, thank you, sweetheart. I appreciate that. And I got your vitamins, too. I got the vitamins.



TIA MOWRY: Yay! I love that!


MODERATOR: That’s awesome. Thank you so much to the cast of “Miracle in Motor City”. Make sure to tune in November 28th at 8/7 Central only on Lifetime.




Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFETIME Programming Event Beginning November 12th, Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual


Programming Event Beginning November 12th

Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days

Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Talent Around the Tree This Year Includes

Kelly Rowland, Reba McEntire, Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, Jana Kramer, Marie Osmond, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Tatyana Ali, Roselyn Sánchez, Jacky Lai, Mýa, Ryan McPartlin, Thomas Cadrot, Bresha Webb, Candice King, Emeraude Tobia, Aimee Garcia, Haylie Duff, Ricki Lake, Kirk Franklin, John Schneider, Maria Menounos, Chad Michael Murray, AnnaLynne McCord, and Many Others

Los Angeles, CA – September 28, 2021 – Get ready for the most cheerful holiday season yet! Lifetime announces its largest holiday movie slate ever for the network’s annual It’s a Wonderful Lifetime programming event, kicking off November 12th with five new movies Fridays and Saturdays, and a premiere on Sunday, November 21st.  Then, once the Thanksgiving feast is over and for the first time ever, Lifetime will premiere 30 new movies, in 30 days, with a new movie EVERY DAY from November 26 through December 25. As the #1 holiday movie destination, Lifetime’s 2021 It’s a Wonderful Lifetime slate will feature 35 new movies and over 1000 hours of holiday programming.

In case that’s not enough excitement for you – get ready for It’s a Wonderful Lifetime Holiday Movie Preview hosted by Tia Mowry (star of this year’s Miracle in Motor City)! This special will preview Lifetime’s upcoming 2021 Christmas Movies and will be available on VOD beginning October 24 and will premiere on Lifetime November 7 at 10am ET/PT. In addition to sneak peeks and cast interviews, Tia will share a special holiday treat or cocktail recipe to go with each movie previewed!

At Lifetime it’s never too early to get in the spirit! Beginning October 15, Lifetime VOD will have 10 of your favorite holiday titles available to screen. And if you just can’t get enough – starting November 12, LMC will have 50 of Lifetime’s best holiday movies available to stream!

Miracle in Motor City

Starring Tia Mowry, Mark Taylor & Smokey Robinson

11/28 at 8pm / 7c

Amber Dupont (Tia Mowry) bites off more than she can chew when she takes charge of her church’s annual Christmas pageant and inadvertently promises to deliver a special performance by Motown Legend Smokey Robinson. When her best friends secretly enlist Amber’s former flame Eddie (Mark Taylor) to help – the pair reconnect in a quest to find Smokey and convince him to appear. With the clock ticking, family, friends, and superstar Smokey Robinson come together to stage the most special pageant yet.Miracle in Motor City is produced by Cineflix Media with Tia Mowry, Charles Tremayne, and Jeff Vanderwal serving as executive producers. Gaylyn Fraiche consults on behalf of Tia Mowry. Alfons Adetuyi directs from a script by Rhonda Baraka.

Markeda McKay, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor in "Miracle in Motor City" on Lifetime

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Interview with Dean Winters and Shawnee Smith

TV Interview!


Shawnee Smith and Dean Winters of "Christmas Vs. The Walters"

Interview with Shawnee Smith and Dean Winters of “Christmas Vs. The Walters” – in theaters now by Suzanne 10/28

This movie is very funny and warm – great for the holidays! These two fine actors play the husband and wife of the Walters family. Shawnee is the main star of the film, but she has a wonderful cast surrounding her. Go see the movie because you’ll enjoy it! We had a fun chat here. I hope you like it as much as I did.

Suzanne:   So, when was the movie filmed, and how long did it take? Either of you?

Dean:   We shot the movie last November.

Shawnee:   Last year, yeah.

Dean:   Yeah. It was about a three and a half week shoot, and we shot it in Long Island and Melville. It was a real run and gun production, and we were able to capture the atmosphere of Christmas on Long Island. We just had a really, really good time shooting this film. I had been a massive fan of Shawnee’s for years and had a big crush on her. And when I met her, I melted. So, it just kind of added to the joy of making a film. She’s very easy to work with, and the film is really her film. So, we were all there to support Shawnee, and Shawnee is just, I mean, she’s just one of the really good ones, you know?

Shawnee:   Oh, what a good husband, right? I love him.

Suzanne:   I watched it yesterday, and I enjoyed it. It was it was funny, and it made me cry in one part.

Shawnee:   Right, I watched it. I watched it on my phone with my headphones late at night. The kids were all sleeping. I woke them up laughing. I was laughing out loud. I cried. I thought, you know, we’re not going to win any awards, but like, grab your family and go to the theater and have a ball. It sets a good tone for the rest of the holidays.

Suzanne:   It does. And you two seem very natural as a husband and wife. Did you do anything beforehand and sort of get to know each other better to prepare for that?

Shawnee:   We got married and pregnant.

Dean:   [laughs]

Shawnee:   Now we have three kids, because we are method actors.

Dean:   No, we actually met the day before filming, and it was just very, very natural. You know, good casting.

Suzanne:   You could tell. There’s a great cast anyway. I mean, you had so many great character actors.Paris Bravo, Gianni Ciardiello and Dean Winters of the movie "Christmas Vs. The Walters"

Shawnee:   The cast just kept filling out and filling out. I was like, “Who’s playing my doctor?” I mean, it was like, just when you thought it can’t get any better, you know, and then down to our ingenue, Paris Bravo plays our daughter, who’s amazing and a badass triple Black Belt. I mean, she’s like a future action star.

Dean:   Then, you have guys like Richard Thomas, and Bruce Dern and Chris Elliott. I mean, they really filled the room with great character actors, and it just kind of adds to the atmosphere.

Suzanne:   What was the both the best and worst, or most challenging things about making the movie?

Shawnee:   Definitely the most challenging was filming during COVID protocol. Rehearsing with masks on is just different. You can’t really rehearse like that. I mean, you do the best that you can, but all the windows and doors are open for ventilation, and it’s November. In November in New York, in Long Island; you’re freezing. God love the crew; they were masked up all the time, and we were testing every other day. Far and away that was the most challenging. Everything else was pretty easy.

Dean:   Yeah, we were one of the first movies to actually shoot during COVID. So, I think last October is when films really started to kind of dip their toe in the water again. So, it was a real[ly] new experience for everybody. So, that was the most challenging part. The fun part was just, we all just love each other very much. So, working with each other was really a no brainer, and that chemistry, you know, in real life, I think kind of parlays on screen.

Suzanne:   And [Shawnee], do you actually get stressed out at all on Christmas?

Shawnee:   Oh, listen, of course! I’m a mother. There’s so much pressure to be a family, have a meal, and then the presents, and you’re like, “We’re gonna keep it simple this year.” Somehow, Christmas Eve, just the momentum of the thing builds up, and it’s like that tension is just a fun thief, you know? Like, the fun part of Christmas Vs. the Walters is that circumstances all around just break everybody down to the point where they just let go of the reins, and then everyone exhales and starts to have fun together, you know, take the pressure off. So, I think my good technique for taking the pressure off this Christmas will be just put on your pajamas and go to the theater and watch Christmas Vs. the Walters.

Suzanne:   And Dean do you get most recognized for that Mayhem commercials or for a show you a movie that you did?

Dean:   Pretty much Mayhem sums it up. [laughs] Yeah, in New York, it’s like, you know, yesterday, I was walking down the block, and within the span of walking down the block, I got Oz, Sex and the City, Law & Order, and then Mayhem, but it’s really just Mayhem all day long.

Suzanne:   Well, you do such a good job of it. I hate your character. I hate those commercials – not that guy! But I like you, and I loved you in Law & Order: SVU.

Dean:   Oh, thank you.

Suzanne:   Anything else? We’re almost done… anything else you’d like say about the movie?

Dean:   I think that this movie has a tone for a Christmas film that I haven’t seen before. Every great Christmas film has its own tone, whether it’s Elf or Scrooge or It’s a Wonderful Life, whatever, and this movie has a different tone to it, and I think that’s what is going to hopefully make it have its own little kind of special niche. It’s really just a lovely film about showing you what’s important, which is usually right in front of your face.

Suzanne:   And Shawnee, final words?

Shawnee:   You love this family. I love this family; that’s a marriage that I want to be in, and I root for them. Last Christmas, we were all in the middle of this pandemic, and we couldn’t go to the theater, and we couldn’t be with our families, and so this year, let’s do it and have a ball. Looking forward to it.

Suzanne:   Thank you guys. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.

Here’s the Video!

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


Official Website   Trailer

"Christmas Vs. The Walters" posterDiane Walters, an over-burdened mother of two with a third child on the way, strives to create the perfect Christmas while her loving but dysfunctional family falls apart around her.

CAST: Shawnee Smith, Dean Winters, Caroline Aaron, Betsy Beutler, Paris Bravo, Nate Torrence, Richard Thomas, Jack McGee with Bruce Dern and Chris Elliott

DIRECTED BY: Peter A. D’Amato

WRITTEN BY: Peter A. D’Amato and Ante Novakovic

PRODUCED BY: Rob Simmons, Ante Novakovic, DJ Dodd and Jared Safier

COMPOSED BY: Rhyan D’Errico, and Jared Forman

EDITED BY: Pete Talamo

DISTRIBUTOR: Safier Entertainment

RUN TIME: 101 minutes


Dean Winters of "Christmas Vs. The Walters"Dean Winters is an American character actor. He is known for his role as Ryan O’Reily on the HBO prison drama Oz and had roles in TV series Rescue Me, 30 Rock, Sex and the City and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as portraying “Mayhem” in a series of Allstate Insurance commercials. He co-starred in one season of the CBS Network cop drama series Battle Creek and had a recurring role as the Vulture on the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine.Shawnee Smith of "Christmas Vs. The Walters"

Shawnee Smith is an American actress and singer. She is known for her portrayal of Amanda Young in the Saw franchise and for starring as Linda in the CBS sitcom Becker (1998–2004). She co-starred as Jennifer Goodson, the ex-wife of Charlie Goodson on the FX sitcom Anger Management (2012–2014). In addition to acting, Smith once fronted the rock band Fydolla Ho, with which she toured globally. Later, with actress Missi Pyle, she served as half of Smith & Pyle, a country rock band.

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Cast of "Christmas Vs. The Walters"

Interview with Gloria Reubens

TV Interview!

Judy Reyes, Gloria Reuben, Fatima Molina, and Camila Nunez of "Torn From Her Arms" on Lifetime

Interview with Judy Reyes, Gloria Reuben, Fatima Molina, and Camila Nunez of “Torn From Her Arms” on Lifetime by Suzanne 9/14/21

I haven’t seen this movie yet, but it sounds like a good one. I enjoyed chatting with the women on the panel.  The little girl was super cute! Don’t miss it October 30.

MODERATOR:  Hi, everyone.  Thank you for joining us today.  Please welcome our panelists: Judy Reyes, Gloria Reuben, Fatima Molina, and Camila Nunez.


MODERATOR:  Before we get to some of our questions for today, Camila, can you tell us a little bit how you prepared for your role in this film?

CAMILA NUNEZ:  Yes.  Hi, everybody.  I did with my acting coach, with the director Alan and (Mama Fati @ 01:14:49) in the movie (inaudible @ 01:14:50) and do a good job.

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Thank you so much.  Suzanne, you’re up.

QUESTION:  Gloria, can you tell us something about your character in this movie, because I didn’t get to see it?

GLORIA REUBEN:  Well, Ginger Thompson is the journalist who broke the story.  I don’t know how much I’m able to disclose, but I will — You know, it’s common knowledge that a tape was leaked, and Ginger got hold of the tape from inside the detention center, one of them, that’s all I’m going to say, and she broke the story.  She, as soon as she heard the tape, she was up all night documenting it, writing about it, and submitted it to “ProPublica” and, yeah, the rest is history.  The whole world ended up knowing about what was exactly going on.  It’s great.  She’s amazing.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Great.  I can’t wait to see it.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Suzanne.  Jamie, you’re up next.

QUESTION:  It’s such an incredible movie.  Judy, for you, what was it that really drew you to this project?  I mean to have four strong female leads is probably enough, but also the subject matter has to be a little strenuous on you as well though.

JUDY REYES:  I mean, I was immediately attracted to the story.  I’ve been a huge follower of the issues on the border for the last four years since it gained all that attention, and it really mattered to me as a mother.  I’m completely heartbroken by the fact that a government would separate the children from their parents.  I can’t imagine what it’s like and the thought of it always made me cry.  It felt like a bit of a gift to me when it came in my direction to be able to participate in the telling of the story, and I was just excited and really honored to be a part of it along with, you know, if — The truth is if women don’t do it, it don’t get done.  And so this particular film with all these women fighting for each other, for themselves, for the truth, and for what’s right.

QUESTION:  And for Camila, you have to cry on camera so much.  It was so sad watching you with all those tears —


QUESTION:  How did you get into that frame of mind to be so sad?  And then how did you shake off those sad feelings?

FATIMA MOLINA:  It was really easy, you know, when you know the part, when you know the characters, and I had the possibility to talk to Cindy Madrid, who is the real character in real life, and when she told me what she had to — what happened to them, to her and her daughter, it was like so painful.  It was like really, really strong for me and you cannot go in, into that kind of part, into that feeling knowing everything what them was going through.  And, I don’t know, for me and for actresses, actors, it’s I know that what we do is to entertain, but if we can leave a message to the world this is ideal.  And I think this movie, it’s doing a risk.  For me, it’s really, really important that the world know this story, this history, and I know it’s a great, great movie and that you will enjoy it.

QUESTION:  Actually, my question was for Camila.  Camila, can you hear me?


QUESTION:  She’s on – – I was asking you it must have been very difficult for you to have to cry so much during the movie.  How did you shake off all those sad feelings?

MODERATOR:  Camila, we can come back to you if you want to think about it.  Judy, do you want to answer in the meantime —

CAMILA NUNEZ:  (Speaks Spanish.).

JUDY REYES:  She said she felt it.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

JUDY REYES:  And it was, I mean, it’s the simplest way to put it.  She’s a really extraordinary young actor and who has a real, real understanding and a connection of the story that she’s telling, and it was a real thrill to be around her.


JUDY REYES:  And a real inspiration.  I mean, she’s a very powerful young actress.

GLORIA REUBEN (?):  She is.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Jay?

QUESTION:  Hello.  My question is for Gloria.  Actually, a two-pronged question for you, Gloria.  Did you actually meet Ginger and, if so, how did you find her?  And, also, journalism, as we know, is going through the times it’s going through, and reporters are being regarded and the way they’re being regarded.  Did you feel a special responsibility to portray journalism in the positive light that the story reflects?"Torn From Her Arms"

GLORIA REUBEN:  Right.  Well, I think the truth of the story reflects that kind of positive light on its own.  And, unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to meet Ginger in person.  I came on quite late in the process just prior to the film starting production, but I did end up meeting with her via Zoom shortly thereafter.  And, again, needless to say, she is extraordinary.  She’s a Pulitzer Prize winner and has been a journalist for I don’t know how many decades now, but she is extremely committed to the truth, and as you said, journalism has been under attack, particularly under the leadership of the same person that implemented Zero Tolerance Policy, right?  So I think that that both kind of goes hand-in-hand with the destruction of the truth and humanity and what many of us experienced either as unfortunate witnesses or part of the destruction of those two things as the story reveals.  So, again, Ginger, as you can imagine during that time when the story broke and she did travel to Texas, that she was not the only journalist who wanted to get the story, needless to say.  That’s how our story unfolds, but there was, and I believe very strongly, a continuous effort and dedication and drive and commitment to true journalism making its mark, because eventually the truth is revealed.  Now whether people choose to believe the truth we have no control over, but for those journalists like Ginger Thompson the fight continues.  So it was — I know this is said a lot, and I have portrayed actual living people before, but this one is — it’s pretty cool, if you will.  It’s too general a term, but she’s kind of a rock star in my book, so that says a lot.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.


MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And there is some Spanish dialogue in this movie.  Can you speak to how important that was?  Anyone can take that.

JUDY REYES:  For me, it was very important.  It speaks to the authenticity of the story that we’re telling although it challenges the audience to actually keep up, but the fact is is that’s probably part of the challenge of the situation that caused this so-called Zero Tolerance Policy when people are not familiar.  But it gives us an opportunity to step into a world, into another’s person struggle through their very experience.  So, for me it was exciting to have a film that presents the Spanish and that we struggled to keep it in.  It was very important to all of us, everybody that you see on the screen, for the very reasons that that’s the story that you’re telling, and there’s really no reason not to.  Obviously, you have to allow a balance but I think that we did a really, really wonderful job, and I appreciate Life time for bringing the story to you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Howard, you’re up next.

QUESTION:  This question is for Judy.  As Gloria stated, the previous administration instituted this policy of zero tolerance and a separation of family, but that situation still is instituted.  It’s still occurring.  How many families are still separated and the reparation of the family members, how is that coming along?

JUDY REYES:  I can’t speak to the actual number, but it’s an unacceptable number.  It is in the thousands of the families that are still being separated from their children.  Some have been sent back.  Others are still here.  It’s been such a chaotic and disorganized and dreadful process that a lot of parents are having trouble seeking and finding where their children are.  I know that the current administration is doing what’s in their power to reunite the children, because they do acknowledge it.  We all wish, I know I wish, that it could be done faster, that more attention can be given to it, but I’m hopeful because attention, a light has been focused and given of the story of Cynthia and Jimena, and how the truth about the reasons that people come here, the struggle that they have getting here, the attempts that they make, the multiple attempts because things back home where they live are that bad, and the desensitization of the people who are in charge of these facilities, for lack of a better term, and always looking for that one light, because people who actually risk coming here are of extraordinary hope and faith and because they don’t want to surrender to the struggle, to the crime, to the threats, especially with their children, and I do appreciate the efforts that are being made by the current administration.

QUESTION:  Do you find any irony in the fact that this is a nation of immigrants and the fact that the person who instituted the policy was the son of a — a grandson of an immigrant and, yet, there seems to be a thought process that my family should be the last family that’s entered?

JUDY REYES:  Of course it’s absurd and it is rooted in a lot more than irony, and I also, as well as Fatima, got to speak to the people who play.  I got to speak to Thelma, and the thing about Thelma is that she’s been doing this for decades, because she knows that’s how it is and that’s how it’s always been, and our attempt in telling a story like this is it is that it changes, because it’s simply wrong.  It can’t be that because you came here before me or because your people came here in another way, on a boat, on a plane or whatever the heck, or undocumented, that you get to be the last one.  It speaks to a lot of the things that we have to pay attention in other countries where people leave for this very reason.  Nobody wants to leave their own land.  They want to leave fear and crime and danger.


QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  (Makeesha @ 01:27:29).

QUESTION:  Yes.  I had a question for Fatima, Fatima.  Am I saying your name right?

FATIMA MOLINA:  Fatima, yes.

QUESTION:  Fatima.  Yes, I love your name.  Yes, I loved you on “Who Killed Sara,” and I wanted to talk about how —

FATIMA MOLINA:  Aw, thank you.

QUESTION:  Yes.  This is a very different motherhood role for you.


QUESTION:  And thankfully because we didn’t even get a — Well, I don’t want to ruin it for anybody.  But, anyway, can you talk about is that one of the reasons you wanted to take this role? And are you hoping to sort of broaden your audience and get more exposure on this side of the mat?

FATIMA MOLINA:  Well, I have no doubt of this story, you know.  I think this is a (call about @ 01:28:17) has happened and continue happening, and for me it’s real important that so many people can watch this movie, this story.  It’s really, really important for me as a Mexican.  I know that we are speaking for a lot of people, and this is really important for all the team that we are part of this.  And I’m so sure that so many people are going to understand what we want to say, this is not correct, and we want that things change in these kind of situations.  We really need changes in all the world, and I’m so glad to be a part of this project.  I’m so happy to share with these amazing people.  They’re amazing actresses, and I’m just so happy to present this.  I know this is a big, big call to a lot of people, and I feel good.

QUESTION:  Me too.  Thank you so much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And our final question before we go is for everyone.  If you could tell us what it was like filming on location in Mexico.

GLORIA REUBEN:  No comment.  No, I’m just kidding.


JUDY REYES:  You know, for me, because there was so much Spanish in the film it spoke to — it really challenged me.  Spanish was my first language, but I’ve communicated in English most of my life, and I’m from the Caribbean, and this is a, obviously, a Central American country.  There’s something palpable about the struggle that shooting on location brings you.  It kind of almost puts you in that place.


JUDY REYES:  I think as actors we also have a tendency to create it.  It’s not like we’re dramatic or anything, but it was — I thought it was really essential.  It brought a lot to me and that I’ll always have with me, and the wonderful people that we work with just worked really hard to realize this film.  I think they received a challenge as well through the story that we were telling.

GLORIA REUBEN:  Yeah, no question.  I just have to say, Judy, to echo that, for sure, the crew was awesome.  It was amazing.


GLORIA REUBEN:  And I didn’t do a lot of exterior stuff but of course to have that kind of, you know, the stuff, the scenes that I know were shot exterior, you had to have it there and you had to film I there, because it’s literally in the air.  Everything looks different.  Everything feels different when you’re actually on the ground in the areas where, you know, that are very indicative of the true story so, yeah.  But, again, the crew, awesome, amazing, hard working and it was terrific in that regard, for sure.  Great director, too, so.

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much.  Thank you to all our panelists today, and stay tuned for our next panel.

JUDY REYES:  Thank you.


Trailer Lifetime Site

Torn from Her Arms is the timely story of Cindy and Jimena Madrid, a mother and daughter who fled violence in El Salvador, only to be separated at the U.S. border. Detained in different centers, Cindy and Jimena’s story gained national attention when a gut-wrenching audiotape of six-year old Jimena crying for her motherwas leaked, helping to alert the world to what was happening to undocumented immigrant families at the border. Torn From Her Arms shines a spotlight on the harsh child separation policies in place as part of the zero-tolerance policy and the struggle to reunite families.

Lifetime Partners with KIND (Kids In Need Of Defense) on New PSA Featuring The Cast of Torn From Her Arms


PSA to Run on Air and Be Featured on Lifetime and KIND’s Social and Digital Platforms
To Help Bring Awareness to the Ongoing Family Separation Crisis

View PSA Here.

Los Angeles, CA (October 14, 2021) – Lifetime is proud to partner with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), the country’s preeminent nongovernmental organization devoted to the protection of unaccompanied and separated children, on a PSA featuring the cast from the network’s upcoming film Torn from Her Arms.  Additionally, Lifetime is donating $10,000 to KIND, to help in their efforts to raise awareness to the ongoing issue of family separation at the border.  The PSA, which features stars Judy Reyes, Fatima Molina, and Vicky Araico, will air on Lifetime following the premiere of Torn from Her Arms on October 30 at 8/7c and will run on both the network and KIND’s social and digital platforms.

“KIND is grateful to Lifetime for reminding audiences of the needless suffering caused by family separation. It’s pain that continues to this day as many children remain separated from their parents and live each day with this trauma,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “Lifetime’s generous support will help KIND’s continuing family reunification efforts and our representation of separated children. Torn from Her Arms depicts a policy that must never happen again and encourages us to consider a more humane treatment of the most vulnerable seeking safety at our borders.”

Amidst the ongoing crisis at the U.S. border, Torn from Her Arms depicts the harrowing true story of a mother and daughter who must find their way back to each other after being separated. Judy Reyes (Devious Maids, Claws) takes on the role of Thelma Garcia, a Texas Immigration lawyer who works tirelessly to reunite the pair, and Gloria Reuben (Mr. Robot, ER) portrays Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist ProPublica reporter, Ginger Thompson, who broke the story. 

The movie follows Cindy Madrid (Fátima Molina, Who Killed Sara?) and her six-year-old daughter, Ximena (Camila Nuñez), who fled violence in El Salvador for safety in the U.S., only to be separated at the border as a part of the Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy. Detained in detention centers in different states, Cindy and Ximena endured inhumane living conditions and inadequate medical care, but that was nothing compared to the emotional toll of being apart. Their story would gain national attention when a whistleblower leaked a gut-wrenching audiotape of six-year-old Ximena crying for her mother. The onslaught of media attention incited by Ginger’s story alerted the nation to the cruelties being committed against undocumented immigrant families at the border.


Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is the preeminent U.S.-based nongovernmental organization devoted to the protection of unaccompanied and separated children. KIND envisions a world in which every unaccompanied child on the move has access to legal counsel and has their rights and well-being protected as they migrate alone in search of safety.

In 2008, KIND was founded by the Microsoft Corporation and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie to address the gap in legal services for unaccompanied minors. KIND now has offices across the United States and in Mexico that provide unaccompanied children with holistic care that includes legal assistance and social services. Through strategic partnerships, KIND provide pro bono legal representation for refugee and migrant children across the country. Since its inception, KIND has received referrals for more than 27,000 cases and now serves over 5,900 children annually in partnership with nearly 700 law firm, corporate, law school and bar association partners.

Beyond U.S. borders, KIND’s Mexico-based offices and its programming in Central America works with partners on the ground to address the root causes of migration, protect children during migration, and connect repatriated children to essential services. Through its European Initiative, KIND and partners in Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, and the United Kingdom work to ensure access to high quality pro bono legal assistance for unaccompanied children in Europe.

Each of these efforts informs KIND’s robust state, national, and international advocacy and public education work to champion policies and laws that protect unaccompanied children on the move no matter where they are in their migration journey

Celebrating 35 years of entertaining audiences, Lifetime is a premier entertainment destination for women dedicated to offering the highest quality original programming spanning award-winning movies, high-quality scripted series, and breakout non-fiction series.  Lifetime has an impressive legacy in public affairs, bringing attention to social issues that women care about with initiatives such as the long running Stop Breast Cancer for Life now in its 25th year, Stop Violence Against Women which relaunched in 2018, and Broader Focus, a major global initiative dedicated to supporting and hiring female directors, writers, and producers, including women of color, to make its content. Lifetime Television®, LMN®, Lifetime Real Women® and Lifetime Digital™ are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks. A+E Networks is a joint venture of the Disney-ABC Television Group and Hearst Corporation.

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"Torn From Her Arms" poster

Interview with Elisabeth Röhm, Justina Machado and Skyler Samuels

TV Interview!

Elisabeth Röhm, Justina Machado and Skyler Samuels of "Switched Before Birth" on Lifetime

Interview with Elisabeth Röhm, Justina Machado and Skyler Samuels of “Switched Before Birth” on Lifetime by Suzanne 9/14/21

This was from Lifetime’s “Fall Press Panel” last month. It was great to speak with these amazing actresses and directors. I’m a huge fan of Elisabeth, not only from “One Life to Live,” but also from “Angel” and “Law and Order,” among many other movies and shows. She directed this movie rather than appearing in it. It’s her second time directing. She seems to really enjoy it. It’s a good movie, which Machado and Samuels star in, so make sure you check it out 10/23 on Lifetime.

MODERATOR:  Our next panel for today is “Switched Before Birth” starring Justina Machado and Skyler Samuels and directed by Elisabeth Rohm.  Hi, ladies.  Thank you all for being here.  Our first question is from Suzanne.

QUESTION: My question is for Elisabeth.  I remember you on “One Life to Live” by the way, so.  I’ve been watching you a long time.

ELISABETH ROHM:  That definitely dates me by a couple of decades.

QUESTION:  Aww… So how often does this sort of thing happen, the IVF switching thing that they show in the movie?

ELISABETH ROHM:  Well, you know, statistically speaking 15% of couples will struggle with getting pregnant naturally.  I was one of those and you know, look, it’s a not-regulated industry, federally regulated industry, so it’s hard to say percentage-wise what kind of mishap, how many times a mishap like this will happen, but you know it’s frequent enough that we really hope that this film makes you take a good, long hard look at the fertility industry.

QUESTION:  And as a follow up, do you prefer directing over acting or do you like both?

ELISABETH ROHM:  Well, if I get to act with women like this, I want to be acting.  No.  But directing, listen I feel really privileged that Lifetime has the Broader Focus program and Tanya Lopez created this opportunity for me to pivot in my life and career.  And I really love directing, especially when you get to direct a friend like Justina Machado who I starred opposite and just, you know, Skyler Samuels and all the actors in it.  So, I have a big place in my heart for directing right now.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Our next question is from Jay Bobbin.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Elisabeth, my question is for you, too.  You have taken some very big and emotional swings with your directing so far, “Girl in the Basement.”  I remember the last one of these you talked about how emotional it was to work with the actors on that.  For your second project, were you looking for something as emotional in a different way or would you have been satisfied with something like “Psycho Intern” which is also in the Lifetime can?

ELISABETH ROHM:  Well, to be honest I probably would have accepted any job from Lifetime.  I have a deep gratitude to the network and I’m excited about developing other projects with them.  Justina and I have some exciting things that we’re working on together.  But I felt very privileged to be given the opportunity to direct something about IVF because I really went through my own journey, and it was painful and difficult.  And these actresses really captured what is deeply personal to me and it’s like lightning in a bottle to watch these two act in this movie, so I was lucky I got a good second swing.

QUESTION:  As a follow up, knowing the subject as you did personally and also having gone through the prep for the first film, did you find it — I’m using the word “easier” hesitatingly, because I’m sure subject-wise it’s not necessarily easier.  Did you find it a smoother process this time around directing for the second time?

ELISABETH ROHM:  Maybe ignorance is bliss.  I think the first time was a little bit easier.  The second time you know all the things that are required in a different way.  But I think it was easier because I had actresses that were my friends playing the lead roles and I felt really supported by them to just thrive and succeed.  And it really does take a village.  And, you know, I have the utmost respect for these two.  So, I would say — I guess I would say it’s easier.  It’s just I knew the stakes were high.

QUESTION:  Thanks very much.

MODERATOR:  Thanks, Jay.  Our next question is from Jamie Steinberg.

QUESTION:  For Justina and Skyler, what kind of research did you do on this kind of surrogacy and the pain, both of — on both sides of the women’s viewpoints?

JUSTINA MACHADO:  I can’t see anybody.  I never know.  I guess I’ll go first.  You know, we all know people — we all know women.  I mean, I certainly know women who have struggled with fertility, who have had to go through these cycles to try to get pregnant and the ups and the downs and all of that that comes with wanting a family. You know, it’s a very, very human story which is why I was so attracted to it.  But also, I think the second part of your question was how our characters — was that the second part of your question?

QUESTION:  Yes, the pain that a woman on either side feels in this situation.

JUSTINA MACHADO:  Right.  And that’s what’s so beautiful about this movie because you really get those two points of views.  I mean, no one is wrong here.  No one is wrong in the movie.  You know, Olivia’s character is — this is what she feels, she carried this baby.  My character is like this is my egg.  So, no one is wrong, but we’re both so passionate, both those characters are passionate about their point of view.  I was all for Anna’s point of view. I truly believe that if that were to happen to me that would be my point of view. I want my baby. So the beauty of this is you get to see two very valid points of views.

SKYLER SAMUELS:  Yeah, I completely agree with what Justina said.  There is no right or wrong.  It is complicated and messy. I watched it. I still don’t know, and I pray to God I’m never put in a position where I would have to choose that.  But you know like Elisabeth was saying, IVF mishaps happen far too often.  It’s not regulated.  And the fact that anybody could be put in that position is unthinkable.  And as far as research for the role, interestingly enough, I have a couple of close girlfriends who throughout 2020 had been going through some real fertility struggles.  And in the pandemic of it all, you know, I think that was another tier of isolation.  You know, being in a pandemic is isolating.  Fertility struggles are isolating.  Put those together, and it’s a really, really challenging time. And you know getting to sort of be on that journey with them trying to be supportive and trying to understand how they feel both physically and emotionally and the fact that there are things that women who go through this process can’t explain to their husbands or their partners.  Like as much as they want them to know there’s something that’s happening in you that’s just so raw and confusing and complicated that it can be hard.  And there was a really beautiful thing which happened which was on our first day of filming.  I’m in my sort of funny pregnancy, you know, my fake pregnancy belly.  And I had sent a picture to my best friend being like, you know, look who’s got the belly.  And she sent me a picture with a positive pregnancy test.  So, my girlfriend who had been struggling all year and had gone through this process, I found out that she got pregnant the day we started this movie.  So that kind of felt like my good luck charm going into this.

QUESTION:  And then you had to start bawling and ruin the scene.

SKYLER SAMUELS:  Well, yes.  I do a lot of bawling. This is true.  Skyler cries a lot in this movie.  And while I’m, you know, not a mother myself, I hope one day.  I’m very familiar with what grief feels like and with loss.  And I think that that is universal to all of us.  So, though this movie is about motherhood, I think more than anything it’s about a sense of belonging and a sense of grief and how to sort of live with loss that you just — you can’t make sense of.  And I think that’s something that everybody can relate to.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Our next question is from Steve Gidlow.

QUESTION:  Hey, my question is for Justina and for Skyler.  I’m just wondering what it like is being directed by somebody who has acted as opposed to someone who’s just a technically trained director.  And how different is it again, on top of that having a friend direct you on the project?

JUSTINA MACHADO:  I always — I don’t necessarily think you have to be an actor to be a great director, you know.  But I do think that that’s a big plus.  And there’s just things that they understand, actors-turned-directors.  I feel like there’s an understanding with how to deal with different personalities on set — how to speak to people on set because they know how they like to be spoken to.  They know how they like to be dealt with.  And like the little kookiness that sometimes we as actors can have that they will understand and not think it’s a different kind of behavior.  That always helps because somebody has been there.  And then when you’re working with a friend, it’s just even more — you’re even more free and more vulnerable.  I felt I could be freer and not be judged by certain things that I thought or was thinking, or nothing was a dumb question, or nothing was something that that they didn’t have time for.  And Elisabeth and I are dear friends.  I mean, we met doing “Family Pictures” a couple years ago for Lifetime.  So just being able to work with somebody that I already have such a great rapport with, just made work a lot easier and fun as much as we had to cry.

ELISABETH ROHM:  I was going to say.

JUSTINA MACHADO:  And we got to feel like this.  It was fun.

ELISABETH ROHM:  No more crying.  You did it perfectly.  Now it’s done.

JUSTINA MACHADO:  So that was my experience.

SKYLER SAMUELS:  Yeah. I think there’s always a benefit having someone direct you who’s been in your shoes.  But I think there’s actors-turned-directors, actors who are friends and there’s Elisabeth Rohm.  Elisabeth is my biggest girl crush of all time.  She knows this.  I announce it wildly to the world.  I met her over Zoom last year and I got off the call and I said to my reps, “Yeah, so I want to grow up to be her, so let’s figure out how we can be best friends” because I absolutely adore this woman and what she’s done.  And how absolutely poised and creative and intelligent and thoughtful she is in everything that she does.  No question this was some of the hardest work I think I’ve done in my career to date.  This is the closest character I’ve played to myself which is a lot more challenging than I anticipated.  And I don’t think I could have done the work that I did without Elisabeth.  She gave me permission to take up space and be free in a way that no one has before, and it’s been a gift moving forward.  I don’t know that how I feel about my job and my abilities would be the same without Elisabeth.  She’s just — I don’t know she’s my acting guardian angel always.  She’s a magical person.

ELISABETH ROHM:  I love you guys.  I think I’m going to —

QUESTION:  Your turn to cry now.

SKYLER SAMUELS:  I can’t help but cry.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.

ELISABETH ROHM:  And so really, it’s a love story between these two, you know?  That’s really — outside of it being like a film that’s also — Lifetime’s so good at making not just movies, but movements.  This is a movement in a sense, but it’s really a love story between friends.  So, the friendship between them is really felt and like they both said, navigating grief and finding each other through it all.  So thanks, thanks for that, you guys.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.

MODERATOR:  Thanks, Steve.  Our next question is from Jamie Ruby.

QUESTION:  Hi, guys.  Thanks for talking to us.  Skyler, you started to say how like playing something more towards yourself was more difficult.  Can you kind of talk like expand on that?  What was it that you found difficult about bringing that?

SKYLER SAMUELS:  Yeah, I mean you know I’ve been very lucky that I’ve worked for many years and gotten to play many parts, you know, a lot of which have been you know sort of like supernatural or superhero and I’m kicking ass and doing all kinds of fun things.  And I’ve loved those parts.  They’re wonderful.  But I think there’s something that when you prepare as an actor to play a role that feels like you, when I read the script, there are things that Olivia Crawford says that I’m like, “Oh god, that’s like straight out of my mouth.”  Or just like the way that she moves through space, it felt like me.  And I think what was both challenging and liberating about that experience was that I had to work through my own grief in real time doing this movie.  That there is no barrier between sort of — the barrier between Olivia Crawford and Skyler Samuels was like paper thin.  And I’m not used to being that close to the character.  And I think that it made — everything emotional that happens in the movie is as real as can be.  I had to really be okay with bringing my own real-life grief and experience and struggles and triumphs and just sort of putting it all out there in a way that I haven’t had to do before.  And like I just said, I couldn’t have done that without the guidance, love and support of Elisabeth Rohm and Justina.  What a partner to just like let you do your thing because it’s challenging.  But it’s also really liberating to be able to do that.  It sort of sets a part of you free.  That’s the best way I can describe it.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We have time for one more question and that’s going to be Jay Bobbin.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Justina, this is for you.  You’ve been at this career a long time.  And sometimes it takes that one galvanizing thing like “One Day at a Time” where things really break open and opportunities like this come your way.  Is it safe to assume this is an especially sweet time for you now?

JUSTINA MACHADO:  You know, it’s so bizarre because it’s so not a sweet time in the world with everything that’s happening.  But it’s kind of been, you know, I’ve been okay.  And I’m grateful.  I’m grateful for that.  And you’re absolutely right, I’ve been at it a long time.  So, I’m grateful to still be here, still at it.  And “One Day at a Time” did open this whole new world to me, for me.  And it feels good.  It feels really good to be in a place where you’re not just the person behind the camera, that people really — I mean, in front of the camera.  People really want to know your opinion, you know.  It’s valued what you have to say.  It’s more of — it’s the most I’ve ever collaborated in my life in my career, this time in my career.  So, it’s been wonderful.  And these movies — this movie that we did, Elisabeth and Skyler and I, and then Elisabeth was talking about the fact that we’re also working on some other things — it’s been liberating, exciting.  And yes, I’m happy because I’m getting old — so I’m happy.

ELISABETH ROHM:  And everybody’s who loves you is dying for you to direct.  That’s what’s going to happen next.

JUSTINA MACHADO:  Exactly.  I want to move to that, too.  I want to direct.  I want to do all these things.  Yes, that’s how I feel so yes.  It feels very good, Jay.  Thank you, it feels good.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  A big thank you to all our panelists.  Ladies, we really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today.



SKYLER SAMUELS:  Thank you, guys.


Preview and more

Switched Before Birth
Premieres October 23 at 8/7c

Switched Before Birth follows Olivia Crawford (Skyler Samuels) and her husband Brian (Bo Yokely), who after multiple miscarriages, numerous failed IVF trials and stretching themselves to the limit financially, finally receive the joyous news that she’s pregnant with twins.  While going through her latest round of IVF, Oliva meets and becomes fast friends with Anna Ramirez (Justina Machado), who is struggling to have a child after years of focusing on her successful restaurants.  When Anna becomes pregnant as well, the ladies celebrate and begin to prepare for their babies.  Olivia is also there for Anna when she suffers a devastating miscarriage and struggles to move forward while her marriage to restaurateur Gabe Ramirez (Yancey Arias) crumbles. When Olivia and Brian finally welcome their twins Olivia’s life feels complete, but the happy couple’s world is turned upside down when they discover that not only are the babies not twins, but one of the babies is also biologically Anna and Gabe’s that was implanted into Olivia by mistake.  Now pitted against each other, Olivia will do anything to keep the baby that she carried, while Anna will stop at nothing to bring her son home.

Switched Before Birth is produced by Big Dreams Entertainment and Swirl for Lifetime.  Leslie Greif, Laurie Pozmantier and Stacy Mandelberg serve as executive producers and Elisabeth Rohm directs a script from Kelly Fullerton. Eric Tomosunas also serves as executive producer and Alex Kerr and Ron Robinson serve as producers.

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"Switched Before Birth" poster

Interview with Shannen Doherty, Favour Onwuka, and Jenika Rose

TV Interview!

Shannen Doherty and Favour Onwuka star in "Dying to Belong" on Lifetime

Interview with Shannen Doherty, Favour Onwuka, and Jenika Rose of “Dying to Belong” on Lifetime by Suzanne 9/14/21

This movie is a remake of a 1997 film. It’s very sad that sororities and fraternities still have hazing, even all of these years later. I enjoyed the movie, which airs Saturday, 10/9. I hope you do, too.

LIfetime had a press day, which included this movie and part of its cast.  Shannen Doherty plays the mom of a girl, Riley, that is hazed at her university’s sorority. Favour Onwuka plays the girl’s friend, Olivia, who is also hazed and tries to get information about the sorority for a newspaper article. It was great to speak with them all, and the executive producer, Danielle Von Zerneck. Shannen has been battling cancer for a while, but she looked great!

My question has my name on it. All of the other questions are from other journalists.

MODERATOR:  Our next panel is “Dying to Belong.”  Please welcome back Shannen Doherty alongside executive producer Danielle von Zerneck and our stars Favour Onwuka and Jenika Rose.  Thank you guys for being here.  We really appreciate your time.  Our first question is from Jamie Ruby.

QUESTION:  Hi, guys.  Thanks for talking to us.  This is for the actors.  I’m just curious did you know how many people die from hazing at sororities, because I definitely learned about that after watching this, and how did that affect how you played your characters?

JENIKA ROSE:  You go first.

FAVOUR ONWUKA:  Yeah, that was something I found out about while researching on this project, because being in Canada you don’t really have sororities here, so it was a new thing for me to learn about, and it’s so sad to find out that people are still dying.  It’s still happening.  It’s terrible because it’s so senseless.  It’s such a senseless way to die.

JENIKA ROSE:  And in the ways that they die, how they’re provoked by their so-called “sisters,” it was just it was really chilling to read and learn about.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Our next question is going to be from Suzanne.

Suzanne:  Hi.  I was wondering, Shannen, you’ve been acting since you were a little kid.  There are a lot of young women in this movie.  Did you have any particular advice for them?The girls in an initiation on "Dying to Belong" on Lifetime

SHANNEN DOHERTY:  I don’t think so.  You would have to ask these two, beautiful girls.  Yeah, I don’t think so.  I got very, very, very lucky this year in the people that I got to work with.  Danielle and I have done a movie before together, and as a producer she’s phenomenal and she’s caring.  She understands you.  She hears you.  She never gets flustered.  You don’t.  I mean, she’s really, really, really special and wonderful.  Our director, Gail Harvey, who I’ve also worked with before, it’s just I love her madly.  But working with these two girls was sort of a, you know, I’m going to be brutally honest, you never really know what you’re getting with people this age, you just don’t, and what I encountered was not only two hard working girls who constantly were putting their best foot forward, but they’re also kind and considerate and intelligent.  I don’t know if this is answering your question, but I just felt like I had to say that about everybody in this room right now, because I was really taken aback by how wonderful — and I think I said something to Danielle like maybe first or second day — I was like, God, like they’re really talented — really, really talented.  So I don’t know.  Did I give you any advice?  I didn’t have to.  Like they’re pros.


You did.

JENIKA ROSE:  You did a lot without like specifically being like, “Hey, here’s a hot tip.”  It was more just like observing you, and then you’d just like come over to us and just say something and then walk away, and it was wisdom, but I don’t know if you knew that it was, but it was very helpful, and there are lots of like little things that just pushed us forward.

FAVOUR ONWUKA:  Yeah.  And to add to that, it was a lot of modeling, at least for me, because this was my first lead, so I was taking notes from you.  I was like, “Oh, okay, that’s what Shannen’s doing, and she looks relaxed.  I should be relaxed.”  You know, I was just watching you and learning, and there were times where I’d come up in between — There was one particular time where I came up in between and I was like, “How do you do it,” and you were just like, “Well, this is what I’ve learned,” and you told me that, honestly, it takes time.  It’s something you build up over the years and, yeah, I really — I wrote, I took down notes.  Everything you said I was like, “Must do this.”  So, yes, thank you for all your advice.  It was amazing to have you.

JENIKA ROSE:  Thank you so much.

SHANNEN DOHERTY:  Thank you for being, like, the absolute, you know, beautiful, dedicated actors that you both are.  You honestly blew me away, and I have seen the movie.  I understand that neither one of you have yet.



SHANNEN DOHERTY:  But I have seen it and you guys are phenomenal in it.  Everybody did a great job and, Danielle, obviously, you should be proud, which I know you are.

DANIELLE von ZERNECK:  Very proud.  And I just, sorry — not to make this a love fest — but, at the same time, Shannen, like, the generosity of spirit that you bring, obviously, to every frickin’ thing you do was so — It was a beautiful thing to see all of these really newer to the form actors — (phone rings.) Oh, shit.  Sorry, guys.  And —


DANIELLE von ZERNECK:  Oh, my God.  I’m sorry, guys.  Okay.  Newer to the form, but watching you, they were so in awe and you just, as they said, watching that kind of generational thing, it was gorgeous.  Okay.

SHANNEN DOHERTY:  Did I start this by saying that she never gets flustered, because we just saw her get all flustered.


Suzanne:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, guys.  Our next question is from Jay Bobbin.

QUESTION:  Hi.  My question, actually, is for Danielle, and if your phone goes off again feel free to say anything you want; I’m fine.  Your dad is one of the prolific greats in this field, and when you tackle a project, and I know you’ve been on this side of the camera for a while, do you consult with him about the projects you want to do?  And then I’ve got a follow up for you.

DANIELLE von ZERNECK:  Okay, yeah, yeah.  I mean, how many people can get mentored by their father and it be meaningful?  I mean I feel very, very grateful to have that human in my life, and I love that Shannen’s been a part of both of those as well; like, that’s crazy, you know.  And, yeah, no, I love — Yes, I did always talk to him and not just about sort of — I think for me it was a little like, “Oh, I really think that there is a new way for this story to be told,” so that was like always my impulse with both movies and, especially this one, I was like (makes noise.)  I was talking to Favour and Jenica about this.  Like it’s like sorority movies are like female-ish — male gaze, normally and really thought like, “Oh, let’s put a female gaze on this all around.”  And my dad has always been incredibly supportive.  He loves it.  He loves that TV movies are still have something to say, and I think are really having an interesting renaissance, and I love that the definition of a TV movie is changing, and it’s nice to be part of that and to sort of still have my dad be here to see it.

QUESTION:  My follow up for you is – you did so much work in front of the cameras, what do you feel your arc was as a producer, because you knew what it was like to have the camera on you, how was it for you to be behind the camera?  When I say calling the shots I mean that loosely, not like a director, but how was that transition for you?

DANIELLE von ZERNECK:  It was long and arduous and the only thing I can say is that being an actress for a small amount of time the best thing about it is that every time you do an audition you’re basically selling yourself.  You’re selling, right?  And so when you move into producing and you’re selling a project it was so much easier to sell something that wasn’t me.  And, so, that, in a weird way, the acting stuff was really, really helpful, all the skills I learned.  And what’s crazy now, like I really don’t remember being an actress, it feels very foreign to me, so I’m always like so in awe of actors, because they have to — I don’t know.  I just feel like the work that they have to do is sometimes not noticed as much because they have to keep it different.  It’s like I get to go and I sign things and I run around, but actors sort of have to keep their emotional sanity about them, and these skills that now I just feel like I don’t know how you do it.  I really don’t.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We have time for one more question and that’s going to be Jamie.  Jamie.

QUESTION:  Sorry.  I’m just going to say did you guys research anything like into mental health?  I was just curious kind of how you prepared for that part of it.

JENIKA ROSE:   Yeah.  My character has severe general anxiety disorder, and I didn’t know too much about that.  I just sort of knew about people have anxiety, but this was a specific heightened part of anxiety, and I actually have a severe learning disability, so a lot of my character’s experiences were things that I’ve experienced myself in the past when I was younger and being around girls, especially.  So a lot of the situations that my character was in like really rang true, and I did have a best friend that I’ve had for a really long time, that was sort of Favour’s character, that helps one through those times and those people are really special.  So I really connected with that part of the anxiety and just I really wanted to show it in its true light and represent it properly, because I’m sure some people that have it, I didn’t want them to watch it and be like, “Mm, I wouldn’t be like that in that situation.”  So I just really wanted to do my best to make it as truthful as possible.





Los Angeles, CA (August 10, 2021) – Lifetime brings the classic film Dying to Belong to a whole new generation, with Shannen Doherty, Favour Onwuka (Supergirl) and Jenika Rose (iZombie) starring.  Revealing the harsh realities of toxic friendships and sorority hazing culture, Dying to Belong is a remake of the 1997 film of the same name, which starred Hilary Swank, Sarah Chalke, Jenna von Oÿ and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Dying to Belong will debut this fall on Lifetime.

When journalism major Olivia (Onwuka) meets Riley (Rose), a shy freshman who suffers from anxiety, they become fast friends. Riley, whose mother Katherine (Doherty) was a legacy Pi Gamma Beta, decides to rush in hopes of following Katherine’s footsteps and is ecstatic when Olivia joins her. Sensing the opportunity to go undercover to write a story about hazing practices, Olivia soon discovers there are deadly secrets involved in being part of the “sisterhood.”

From 1959 to 2019, there has been at least one hazing death reported each year, and thirty reported within the last decade1. 95% of students hazed do not report it to officials2. Due to the pandemic, 2020 was the first year no hazing deaths were reported. Within the first two weeks of students returning to campus in 2021, two hazing deaths have already been reported.

Dying to Belong marks Doherty’s second movie for Lifetime this year as she also stars in List of a Lifetime, the network’s centerpiece of the Stop Breast Cancer for Life campaign, for which Doherty directed special content that will roll out in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

As part of Lifetime’s commitment to hiring women in key production roles under the Broader Focus initiative, Dying to Belong is produced by Pink Buffalo Films and Wishing Floor Films with Danielle von Zerneck (The Christmas Set Up) executive producing, Gail Harvey (Gone Mom: The Disappearance of Jennifer Dulos) directs from a script from Caitlin D. Freyers (Wynona Earp). Shawn Angelski (Story of a Girl) also serves as executive producer. The original film’s producers included Frank von Zerneck, Danielle von Zerneck’s father.




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Shannen Doherty and Favour Onwuka star in "Dying to Belong" on Lifetime

Interview with Kelley Kali and Deon Cole

TV Interview!


Kelley Kali and Deon Cole of "I'm Fine, Thanks for Asking."

Interview with Kelley Kali and Deon Cole of the movie “I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) by Suzanne 7/27/21

This was a fun interview! These two are so talented and amiable. We had a great time chatting. I look forward to Kelley’s next film, too. She’s a DGA winner, and he stars in two ABC shows, along with being a hard-working standup comic.

Video of our chat!

Suzanne:   I watched it last night. I enjoyed it. I liked how you made us really feel what she was going through, how she was hot, tired, and having a bad day and worried, and all that made me anxious to watch it. I was like, “Sell the ring! Sell the ring!”

Kelley:   I know, right?

Suzanne:   “Don’t do that!” But that I’m glad the way it turned out.

Kelley:   Thank you so much for saying that.

Suzanne:   I don’t– I don’t watch a lot of independent movies, because so many of them are sad and depressing and boring, but I liked yours so much.

Kelley:   Good. Thank you. We tried to have a balance of that indie sad, depressing, but this is why Deon’s here, because he brought the funny to it.

Then, even the characters, like Brooklynn’s character, [she’s also] one of Deon’s closest friends, so, you know, he brought her along, and so he definitely was the light in the storytelling of serious social matters.

Suzanne:   Yeah. No, it was nice and positive. I like that. I’m more of a popcorn movie person. Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter.

Kelley:   Good choices.

Suzanne:   But I enjoyed it. I loved the dream sequence and what you did with that, because I’m watching going, “There’re really big holes of water there…?” and you had me. You got me.

Kelley:   The greatest parts to wake people up, and it’s a great metaphor to show that she’s drowning in so much trouble that she’s trying to get through and just to protect her daughter’s innocence.

Suzanne:   Right, and it really does grab you in the, “Oh my gosh, what’s gonna happen next, if she loses her money and the ring and all that stuff? Is she gonna drown?” So, I like that. And it really showed LA really well, too. I love that. It was almost like LA was another character in the movie.

Kelley:   It was, yeah; that city is where I grew up. It’s a suburb of LA, in San Fernando Valley, Pacoima, and so it was also just paying homage to a town that helped raise me.

And even Danny Trejo, the actor, is from that town. So, that’s why we named the character Danny. We even are featuring his mural, because he’s just one of the one of the many artists have come from that city that represent that town very well.

Suzanne:   Right. Yeah, I noticed his face on the mural. So that explains why you set it in Pacoima. I’m from San Diego, but I didn’t know. I had heard of Pacoima, but that was about it. I actually thought it was in Washington State. I’m like, “Wait, that’s LA.”

Kelley:   It was also our resource, because we were shooting during a pandemic and had to find places we could film safely, and so, I just used my hometown. My dad was a pastor there. So, I was really connected to the community. In fact, where Deon pulls up [and] his character talks to me, that’s the steps of my church, the church that I was raised in where my dad was a pastor. So, when he says, “Are you are you a pastor?” I love it. It’s one of my favorite scenes.

Suzanne:   So, how did you come up with the idea for this film?

Kelley:   So, just, it was in the middle of the pandemic, the middle of 2020, I woke up, and was like, “I’ve got to do something,” because we weren’t allowed to do anything. And one of the things that I have been noticing is that there were a lot more women on the streets here in Los Angeles. You know, we already have a large homeless population, but this increase was due to houselessnes, which was a new term that I was learning. So, it just really showed how paycheck to paycheck we are as a society, [during] this pandemic. So, a lot more people ended up in their cars or sleeping on a friend’s couch or family member’s couch, or heaven forbid, in a tent, temporarily, while they were just getting back on their feet, because maybe they do have a job and maybe the job shut down or whatever it may be.

So, I went to my writing partner, Deon Cole, and went to my girls from USC, Angelique Molina, who’s my co-director; Roma Kong is producer, and then also our other producer, Capella [Fahoome], and we came up with this concept to reflect what we were going through during 2020 and what is even more prevalent now. There’re still so many people who are houseless currently.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I can’t even imagine what it must be like there. I grew up in poverty in San Diego, and I still have plenty of relatives who are in poverty. I had actually one who, before the pandemic, was camping with her husband – no children, thankfully, but she and her husband were camping all through LA and Bakersfield where they had lived in a car, basically. So, I know how that is. So, the film did remind me of those things and make me really feel it.

So, was Danny based on a particular person that you know or just…?

Kelley:   No, no, Danny was a reflection of the women I’ve seen on the street. So, there is one story, it’s not based on her, but one thing that really triggered me was I was actually driving to get a COVID test, and I got off on the 110 [accidentally]. It’s like you exit along the side of the overpass, and I saw this beautiful black woman who just looked like she came out of a business meeting, look perfectly put together, but had her suitcase and everything. And she was dragging this chain link fence, this old fence that was kind of laying around under the freeway, and boxing herself in, because it looked like she was about to stay there for the night. And I just couldn’t believe [it]. Like she didn’t look – you know how people are like, “Well, you don’t look homeless.” A lot of people don’t look [homeless], and that’s one of the things we talk about. We want the movie to reflect it or to evoke empathy for people, to let them see it, because you don’t know people’s stories. People have this concept of others on the street being lazy or like they put themselves there, and that’s not the case of the majority of the stories.

Suzanne:   And I assume you had a certain vision for the movie before you made it. Did the finished product live up to that ideal?

Kelley:   It was better, and that just comes from a team effort. This not just from my head. It just was a team. It was Deon watching it and giving notes and catching things that I didn’t see.

And then we’d go back to the editors. We had two editors, Angelica [Lopez] and Katie [McClellan], and just the input that they gave, because, you know, when Angelique, my co-director, and I are in the grind, you’re too much in it, and you need other eyes around you, other creative eyes, to help. And I just think, as a team, it became better than I could have even imagined.

Suzanne:   That’s great. And Deon, can you tell us how your role came about? Was it just like she said; she came to you and said, “I want to put a movie together?” And you said, “Sure,” ?

Deon:   Yeah, it was just another obstacle added as far as to heighten her decision making on what she needs to do for the character and just bringing lightness to a heavy situation. Yeah, basically, that was it.

Suzanne:   And can we assume that after Danny got her apartment that she went to her friend Brooklynn and told her all about running into Chad, I hope?

Kelley:   I don’t know. Does Danny kill Brooklynn’s joy? Does she just let it ride? I’m gonna leave it up to you to decide.

Suzanne:   Honesty, I would like to see a sequel all about Brooklynn and Chad.

Kelley:   Wouldn’t that be fun?

Suzanne:   Maybe a TV series. Get your own sitcom based on that. I would like that. That was so funny, that part.

And what was the most fun thing for either or both of you about doing the movie? I know it was a lot of work, but what was fun about it?

Kelley:   For me, it was the roller skating, because I’m obsessed with roller skating. So, although I was on skates for like, ten or more hours a day, every day, I just was having a blast. And my favorite part was, I had to bomb this hill. It’s in the opening credits. You can’t even really see the grade of the incline that it is, but it is extremely steep and dangerous. And we decided just to get the drone shot and bomb it, and it scared the crap out of my co-director, Angelique, and my producers. It was just fun seeing them freak out as I’m going this hill. They talk about to this day how traumatized they were, but thank God, I made it. No little pebbles or twigs got in the way.

Suzanne:   That’s right, because you weren’t wearing a helmet? Were you wearing protection?

Kelley:   I was in a half top and biker shorts, which wasn’t going to protect a thing. So, that’s why they call that hill Devil’s Hill, because it’s one of the hardest hills to go down.

Suzanne:   I’m surprised you got the insurance to sign off on that.

Kelley:   You know, sometimes you ask for forgiveness.

Suzanne:   What about you, Deon? What was fun for you?

Deon:   Like, waiting around, and us just laughing in between takes and just laughing in that situation and coming up with different ideas. And there was a lot of funny stuff that we didn’t use.

Kelley:   Oh, yeah.

Deon:   So, it was just fun creating all these different scenarios. You know, it was great.

Kelley:   Deon’s improv, it was so hard for me to keep a straight face [with] the stuff that he was saying to me on the steps. We could just cut a whole series of all of the stuff that he shouted out of that car, because we couldn’t put it all in there, but he was hilarious.

Suzanne:   That was all improv, that whole part?

Deon:   Yeah.

Suzanne:   Okay, and I was told the movie will be on BET, will it be in theaters as well, or just on BET?

Kelley:   It’s going to be in theaters at Film Festival. So, we’re going to Gina Davis’s Film Festival next week, and we’re going to be screening there in the theater on August 5th and virtually as well. So, if you want to check it out at the Bentonville Film Festival, but other than that, yeah, we’re going to be premiering on BET Her on August 7th.

Suzanne:   Okay, good. And do you have any other films that you’re working on, besides this one? Like are you’re thinking of one, or are you working on one already?

Kelley:   Well, we have one that we wrote together. It’s what we actually started with as writing partners, and then this one kind of just wiggled its way in again, but we have a script that we finished. It’s a pure comedy. It’s hilarious; it’s so hilarious. And it’s now with Macro, the producers of Judas and the Black Messiah, Sorry to Bother You, Mudbound, and all of that stuff. So, we’re working on getting that out, but Deon has a lot of other great things [coming] in.

Suzanne:   Yes, and that was my next question. You’re still on Black-ish and Grown-ish, right?

Deon:   Yes.

Suzanne:   And you have you have some other movies coming out. Have you started shooting Black-ish season eight yet?

Deon:   We start next week. We had a second table read yesterday, I think. And yeah, we start next week.

Suzanne:   Oh, cool. And you have some other movies coming out? Is there anything particular that you wanted to tell us about?

Deon:   Yeah, a movie on Netflix called The Harder They Fall. It’s coming out soon, probably in the fall. Yeah, that’s just about it right now.

Suzanne:   I watched some of your Netflix comedy special last night, that was funny.

Deon:   Thank you so much Yeah, I’m working on a new one now.

Suzanne:   Oh cool. And who would you say your comedy influences are?

Deon:   So many, from Eddie Murphy to Richard Pryor to [unintelligible] to Ellen DeGeneres to Steven Wright to George Carlin.

Suzanne:   Cool. That’s great. That’s probably why I thought it was funny. I grew up listening and watching all those people.

Deon:   Yeah, I [was influenced by] all of them.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


movie posterHere’s your chance to get in on one of the few critically lauded, award-winning feature films at the upcoming gems premiering on BET HER in a couple weeks, Saturday, August 7th at 7pm ET/PT, 6pm CT.  Filmmakers KELLEY KALI and DEON COLE (Black-ish star) talk about their critically lauded film, I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking).  The 2018 Oscar, DGA winning young director, Kelley Kali, also stars in this Pandemic-era indie along with Deon and we have them available together next Tuesday morning, JulyKelley Kali 27th (Pacific).

The important movie, which incorporates humor into the most important issue of our recent times, is as refreshing of a film seen you’ll see emphasizing a reason this early 30 year-old filmmaker has been kept an eye on by the biggest names in Hollywood over the past year. Add to the attraction the riveting Deon Cole, a truly authentic cast and a gifted crew to a compelling story which addresses issues within often marginalized communities by using the art of filmmaking to create dialogue and action towards positive change.

Deon Cole as Chad in "I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking)"Filmmaker Kelley Kali, one of the breakout talents in Hollywood, won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Film for her narrative short, Lalo’s House, and brought in  a number of talented filmmakers including co-director Angelique Molina, fellow USC Cinema School graduate Roma Kong as well as award-winning producer Capella Fahoome. Kelley developed the plot line of I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking)”  looking around Los Angeles as the Covid crisis started to shutter businesses, diminish earnings and jeopardize so many single parents ability to pay rent and feed their families late last spring.  The storyline centers on a recently widowed mother who becomes homeless and convinces her 8-year-old daughter that they are only camping for fun while she works to get them off the streets.Variety Review

As the whole crew with this gem of a film rise to the apex of both Hollywood and the What To Watch at 2021 film festivals, we are certain coverage in wide-reaching outlets is a win-win. To see how brilliant some of the press has been, scroll belowto read a couple rave reviews or click on this recent interview with Kelley and Deon:

Read the review:

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SXSW Review

Read the review:

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Deon Cole and Kelley Kali

Interview with RJ Mitte

TV Interview!

RJ Mitte of "Triumph" - photo by Bobby Quillard

Interview with RJ Mitte of film “Triumph” by Suzanne 4/27/21

RJ has a great energy that not only comes through in his acting, but in this interview. He’s a nice young man with much intensity and positivity. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Make sure you catch his movie, which comes out tomorrow in theaters. It will be available on VOD June 15th! It’s a very entertaining and inspiring film. I’m sorry I said “Cool” so many times….

Normally I don’t interview actors solely about their movies, but most of the actors in this movie are those I’m familiar with via their TV series. RJ Mitte played Walter White, Jr. in “Breaking Bad.” Terrence Howard starred in “Empire” and “Wayward Pines.” Colton Haynes was a regular on both “Teen Wolf” and “Arrow.”  Johnathon Schaech played Jonah Hex in “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” among many other roles. Grace Victoria Cox  has been in many series, such as “The Society.”

Here’s the video of our chat!

Suzanne:    I watched your movie last night, and it was really good. I enjoyed it.

R.J.   Thank you. Thank you so much.

Suzanne:   It’s very inspiring, and I hope a lot of people get to see it.

R.J.   I hope so too.

Suzanne:   So, how much did you do to prepare for your role?

R.J.   I did a lot of training in the midst of the role. We had a couple months before doing a lot of physical training and getting ready for the moves and a lot of choreographed wrestling, so we made sure that it was right, because this is first and foremost a wrestling movie, so it’s very physical. People, when they hear wrestling, they don’t think of of Greco-Roman style wrestling. They think of like WWE and all those types of [wrestling] and [unintelligible] and different types of that style, and they don’t realize how intense Roman style, Greco style wrestling is. It’s very physically draining and mentally draining, and it’s really, to me, one of the pinnacle strengths in sports when it comes to sheer willpower and you’re wrestling someone of equal strength to you that you’re [unintelligible]. It’s really a power struggle. It’s an immovable force meets an immovable object type of mentality. Yeah, it was a lot, but I like physical stuff, so it was a great opportunity for me.

Suzanne:   Yeah, you you went from, at the beginning the movie, you were this kind of skinny guy, and at the end you’re this sort of big hulking mass. Did you have to change your diet? Bulk up? What did you have to do?

R.J.   A little bit both. I mean, really, I just worked out. I’m fairly lazy right now, so my working out hasn’t been so much, but with that project, I just really kind of worked out. I was focused on what I was eating and then just kind of how I held myself, really, when it came to the project. It was really about distribution of weight and the way that I walked. The way that my character held himself and held his arm and the type of foot placement and gating made a very big difference. And this is loosely based on a real person, Michael Coffey, and he was a part of the set. He was a writer and then part of on the set. So, I really used his mannerisms and his body movement to try to utilize and match it on par with Mike the character.

Suzanne:   Okay, that must have been helpful.

R.J.   I mean, it came in handy. If he didn’t like something, it came in handy. You definitely knew.

Suzanne:   That’s good. Yeah, that’s a rare opportunity probably for most biopics or things that are based on real people.

R.J.   Yeah, well, usually those people are deceased, right? They’re not there, or they’re not really a part of the project. So, it was quite nice to have a biopic with the artist there that it’s about.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I bet. And had you met any of the cast and crew before you were on set, before you started this thing?

R.J.   Yes, I did. I met a lot of the producers; I knew some of the producers beforehand, because I worked on them with other projects, and I carried one of them with me to this project as well. Then, I met some of the others in passing, but really got to know everyone during the production.

Suzanne:   Oh, cool And had you ever done any wrestling before?

R.J.   I hadn’t; this was my first time. I had done martial arts, like karate, jujitsu, and some other stuff of that nature, but [this was] very different, very different techniques, very different forms. Even the rules and type of skills are night and day from other martial arts and other sports like that.

Suzanne:   Oh, cool. So, I guess you answered my next question. It was whether you played any other sports, but you did martial arts.

R.J.   Martial Arts and soccer and quite a few other things. I’m a big believer in the sports. I think everyone should have played a sport at least once in their life, a team sport, because it really, definitely builds camaraderie and mental mental stability and strength in numbers, and it’s a great opportunity. I’m a firm believer of that.

Suzanne:   Cool. And where was the film shot?

R.J.   So, we shot the majority of it and now outside Nashville, Tennessee, where it was kind of based. Then, we shot the teaser and some pickup scenes in Los Angeles.

Suzanne:   Okay, and how long did it take to shoot?

R.J.   So, the first more than half of it, we shot pretty much everything except for like a handful of scenes with Terrence [Howard]. We tried [to shoot] everything but Terrence’s stuff in three months, and then four years later, we shot the rest of it.

Suzanne:   Wow.

R.J.   So, we had a massive hiatus.

Suzanne:   Was that because he was busy, or…?

R.J.   Well, actually, it was originally cast with a different character. Originally, we had a different entity, and Terrence wasn’t involved, and [we had] some other stuff with the production. We had to halt production and were able to utilize the project and come back to it. And this project almost didn’t get made, to be honest.

Suzanne:   Okay, what happened?

R.J.   Many different things. Producer, error, and [we] no longer have those producers [as] part of this project. And just timing. We couldn’t find the right coach. We couldn’t really – just logistics, a lot of logistics, a lot of bureaucracies and different aspects of industry life initially halted the project. Then, when you halt a project, it takes takes time and money to start back up. Then, we had to go and get investors and new funding and restructure the film. You know, it’s one of those things where it’s like, “Is it gonna come back?” You do a project, and you’re like, “All right, well, we still have, like, more than a quarter of the film to shoot.” You’re like, “Okay, well, yes, yes, yes, we’re going to film it; we’re going to film it; we’re going to film it,” but then you hear that for like 20 years. And luckily, we were able to come back and finish the film, and now we have this great project.


Cool. So, how is it working with the Terrence?

R.J.   Great, you know… Terrence was great. Johnathon Schaech and Grace Victoria Cox and Colton [Haynes], you know, we had such an interesting lineup of actors. And everyone who was a part of it was just so behind this film and believed in this film so much to make it happen. It really was a unique and humbling experience to be able to create this film and have the support that we did behind this film.

Suzanne:   Great, and what do you hope the film achieves?

R.J.   I hope the film achieves entertainment. I really think that’s the overall goal. I hope people are entertained when they watch this film, that they can take something away from this film, be it great or small, but really, first and foremost, enjoy it.

Suzanne:   Yeah, good. It’s enjoyable. And was it mostly filmed before the pandemic?

R.J.   Oh, yeah, we shot two years ago.

Suzanne:   That’s when you finished it?

R.J.   Two a half years ago. That’s when we finished it. And then five years before that.

Suzanne:   That’s a long time. You’re like an old man now.

R.J.   Yeah, I was 21, 22 when I started it; I’m 28 now. I’ll be I’ll be 30 soon. So, I very happy that we have this film out before I turned 30.

Suzanne:   Yeah. So, you said you’ve been traveling during the pandemic. So, there was never a time when you were just like stuck at home bored or wondering what was going on? That’s great.

R.J.   No, I mean, most of my work, when it comes to philanthropic and community outreach and development, when a pandemic or something like this happens is usually when I get the busiest. This is a time where people need moral support; they need they need industry meters; they need helping hands. My job right now, through the foundation, is an everyday job where it’s online, yes, but then it’s also a lot of in person information and kind of guiding through it, because it’s a community development project. So, it’s construction and all kinds of other things.

Suzanne:   Oh, tell us about the foundation.

R.J.   So, it’s called the Roy Frank and Joann Cole Mitte foundation. We focus on elder care, education, disability services, youth development and aging in higher ed as well. We have a scholarship and grant program. Right now, we only have around 12 applicants on scholarship at the moment that we’re reviewing, but at any time we have 12 to 30 students, but right now, we restructured the grant program to focus on this community development build in Brownsville, Texas. So, that’s been the focus of the grants for the past four years. So, we’ve given money in donations to many charitable organizations, primarily focusing in Central and rural Texas. So, being in philanthropy and philanthropic endeavors are something that are a very big part of my life, and I was very happy to be able to link this movie to a charity, which is actually called United Cerebral Palsy nationally based out of Central Florida, and we actually gave points of this film to that organization. So, they’ll get money in perpetuity.

Suzanne:   That’s great.  So, do you have any other acting projects coming out that you can tell us about?

R.J.   I do. I have another one called The Oak Room. It’s on VOD right now in the US; we just got released in the UK. It’s a Canadian film, but we haven’t released in Canada yet. So, we’ll be releasing Canada soon. And that’s a story, in a story, in a story, in a story narrated by a story, and it’s a very unique film, and I’m very excited to be a part of that. [I’m] really focusing on getting Triumph out there. I’m just supporting that wholeheartedly. I have another film that I’m in the middle of production on – we got halted by the pandemic – called Issac. We’re gonna be coming back to that, possibly next month, but, really, we’ll see how that goes. You just never know. And then I’m just looking for new projects, looking for other things. I work with the Film Commission in South Texas and am doing some stuff there. So, I’m doing a lot of community outreach and leadership.

Suzanne:   You sound busy.

R.J.   I work every day.

Suzanne:   That’s great. And who would be your role models in life?

R.J.   My grandparents were very big role models to me. One was a marine oil worker guy and the other one was a coach, businessman type mogul and was in a wheel chair, was fully paralyzed on this left side from a stroke in the early 90s and could only say, “Shit, damn, and 123,” but very big role models, both of them to me, and my grandmothers as well. They taught me a lot, and I definitely still look up to them today.

Suzanne:   What about your acting role models?

R.J.   I didn’t really have any acting role models. It wasn’t really something that I was pursuing when I started [in] this industry. There’re a lot of actors I respect very much, but I’m kind of one of those people that most of my role models are deceased, so they can’t let me down.

Suzanne:   That’s true. That’s true. So, two of your co stars have played superheroes on The CW and your character mentioned superpowers in the movie. What is your favorite superhero?

R.J.   Oh, I’m a Batman guy. I’m a Batman-Joker guy. Yeah, I always thought he was a great character. Yeah, so, Batman, Green Lantern, the whole Justice League vibe, I enjoy that. Spawn. I don’t know if you know Spawn.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I’ve heard of it.

R.J.   Cool.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I grew up with comics, but I don’t remember if Spawn might have been after my time, but I stopped reading in the early 80s.

R.J.   Late 90s. Yeah.

Suzanne:   I heard of [it]. I think there was a movie, wasn’t there?

R.J.   Yes, there was a movie. It’s like, he’s kind of like a devil, but he’s like a good devil. But, yeah, I like super [heroes]. I’m a big fan of the the superhero franchises. So, yeah, I like comics. I used to read a bunch of comics.

Suzanne:   Cool. And do you watch the ones on The CW? Were you familiar with your costars’ work on those shows?

R.J.   I am. I am familiar with Arrow and some of the other CW stuff. I actually auditioned for a couple of superhero shows. Didn’t get the parts, but definitely was an honor to be able to audition for them. And yeah, I enjoy them.

Suzanne:   And Johnathon played…Jonah Hex.

R.J.   Jonah Hex. Yeah, I really liked him as Jonah Hex.

Suzanne:   And that comic I definitely read. I remember that. He’s great in it.

R.J.   I’m a big western guy. I’m a big western guy. So, I loved Jonah Hex, and then, I thought he was great on The CW. Yeah, he’s such a character. Johnathon is such a wealth of knowledge and talent, and out of all the actors I worked with on Triumph, he was the one that I’m the closest to.

Suzanne:   Cool. Well, he played your dad; that makes sense.

R.J.   Yeah, he was definitely a great father figure in them and was a tremendous individual to have on set. He definitely raised the vibration high.

Suzanne:   Cool. Is there anything else that you’d like tell us about the movie or your role in it?

R.J.   Yeah, [I’m] just very excited that it’s out; this was a labor of love. It’s based on real events. And, you know, people, the whole team, really cares about this project and believes in this project and in really pushing forward for it. So, we’re very excited to be able to share it with everyone, and I hope everyone enjoys [it].

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


RJ Mitte Biography

Best known for his portrayal of Walter “Flynn” White Jr. for five riveting seasons of AMC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning dramatic thriller “Breaking Bad,” RJ Mitte is an actor, advocate and philanthropist who has carved out his niche in Hollywood by breaking down stereotypes and changing people’s mindsets with his easy going demeanor and positive outlook. As Walt Jr., referred to by fans as “The Breakfast King,” Mitte acted as the cerebral palsy afflicted son of Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Skyler White (Anna Gunn). As Walter continues his descent into drug manufacturing and trade, Walt Jr. finds himself torn between his father’s deceit, his mother’s protectiveness, and his own developing sense of independence as a disabled teenager. Walter Jr.’s cerebral palsy on the show was embellished, as he had to learn how to walk on crutches and slur his speech to create a more dramatic version of his own disability.

At the age of three, Louisiana native Mitte was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but that has never deterred his drive to succeed in television and film. A chance encounter with a casting director led to his move to Los Angeles and Mitte quickly landed roles on various shows such as “Weeds,” NBC’s “Vegas,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and co-starred on ABC Family’s primetime hit show “Switched at Birth,” until being cast in his life-changing role on “Breaking Bad.” Mitte has since made his way to the big screen, starring in multiple indie films in the past few years, including DIXIELAND, starring in his first non-handicapped leading role and TIME SHARE, winner of Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting in 2018.

Never one to shy away from an opportunity to take his talents to new avenues, RJ was thrust into the global spotlight as the celebrity face and model of GAP International’s “Lived in Spring” campaign; with his image appearing on mediums such as billboards, buses, and life-sized posters in cities across the world from Tokyo to the US,. He has since cemented himself as a face to know in the fashion world after walking in Men’s Fashion Week in Milan, Berlin and New York City for Vivienne Westwood, soPopular and Ovadia & Sons. He’s also a member of Kenneth Cole’s “Courageous Class;” for talent recognized for using their platform for advocacy and creating social change.

Throughout the years, Mitte has been an inspiration to his peers around the world by championing his cerebral palsy in hopes of removing the stigma associated with disabilities. In order to bring awareness to his own issues with bullying and prejudice, Mitte has engaged in public speaking and serves as the official Ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and partners with Shriners Hospitals for Children to spearhead their #CutTheBull campaign to advocate on anti-bullying measures. He’s also involved with SAG-AFTRA as a committee member of the union’s IAPWD (I Am a Performer With Disabilities).

Inspired By Screenwriter Michael D. Coffey’s True Story
Inspired by a true story, a bright and determined high school senior strives to be a wrestler despite having cerebral palsy. Going to extreme lengths, he crushes obstacles and inspires others along his journey to prove his abilities.
Directed By: Brett Leonard
Written By: Michael D. Coffey
Starring: RJ Mitte, Terrence Howard, Colton Haynes, Johnathon Schaech, Grace Victoria Cox
Produced By: Massimiliano Musina, Michael Clofine, Michael D. Coffey
Executive Produced by: Terrence Howard, RJ Mitte, Jonathan Bross, Mira Howard, Raz Winiarsky, Tyler W. Konney and Gabrielle Tuite
Distributor: Relativity Media

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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RJ Mitte of "Triumph" - photo by Bobby Quillard

Interview with Cybil Lake

TV Interview!

actress Cybil Lake

Interview with Cybil Lake of the film “Central Park Dark” by Krista

Cybil was very nice and excited to talk to me. She is so enthusiastic about her work and seems to be a hard worker. She talks about how she is always pitching an idea and always coming up with new ideas. I think some of the ideas she is pitching are interesting, and I hope they will come to fruition. I wish her the best in all her endeavors.

Krista: How did you get started in acting and how did you decide you wanted to write and direct?

Cybil: I have always loved performing. I have always loved acting and writing. I kind of like, even as a kid, you know, and as soon as I could, like even in high school and junior high [break in audio] …Everybody’s student films. I was at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and then, from there, I started making my own films, because I [knew] a lot of actors at that point, and I saw how it was really hard for them to find any roles. So, since I was a writer, I just kind of wrote my own part. Most of the things that I think about I create, so I can act in them. I usually don’t get story inspirations with other characters, not always. I’m more excited when it’s a female lead that I can play, because thus far those roles haven’t been given to me. Thus far.

Krista: Well, hopefully that will change.

Cybil: Yeah.

Krista: For your new movie Central Park Dark, I see you directed as well as acted, portraying Anna. How did the idea for that movie come about and the idea to direct as well as act in it?

Cybil: I was actually working on a serious project. I was writing sort of a serious project, and then I decided I wanted to write something that was light and fun and entertainment. It was like I just wanted entertainment after that more serious project that I was working on. I thought, “You know, that’s why I like movies.” I like movies to kind of – well, for two reasons. One is for entertainment…which is educational, which is like documentaries, but the rest is really entertainment and having the chance to have an adventure.

So, I love the dynamic of the three characters. You know, I love a love triangle. Love triangles are like my thing, because I think at the heart of everything, a lot of arguments and a lot of stories always boil down to a love triangle. And this initially started as a love triangle, because Tom (Tom Sizemore) is married to a friend that is having an affair with [my character]. That has drama inherent in it. 100% there’s drama inherent in that situation, because there’s going to be problems. Someone’s going to get hurt; someone’s going to get mad.

Krista: What was your experience like directing and acting in the movie? How did you balance that?

Cybil: Since I’m sort of used to it, I enjoy it. As long as I give myself a second to switch gears, it’s okay. There are some times in the movie when I can tell that I didn’t, if I remember that I didn’t. So, I think I can see it on the screen, but I don’t know if other people can. So, if I give myself the same time that I give other actors, then I’m good.

Krista: Without giving anything away, can you give a short summary of what the movie is about?

Cybil: Yes. So, the tagline that we’ve been using, is it’s a one night stand that turns into a never ending nightmare. So, basically, Tom is an alcoholic married doctor who during a relapse reconnects with Anna, my character, and I’m an unstable woman with whom he has a past. We start up again; I think we’re gonna have this great relationship, and then he kind of lets me know that’s not going to happen, that it was just a mistake. So, in a heated argument, I jump out of the window, and then I begin to torment him. So, it’s unclear if I’m alive or not. So, that’s when it kind of shifts into more horror elements. And a part of the story…Anna appears to Tom in his dreams and lets him in on a secret about the long history of dark forces in Central Park. Then, she uses these forces to take revenge on Tom. Then, Tom is trying to get back to his normal life and keep a secret from Brenda (Margaret Reed), and it’s sort of a descent into more of a nightmare.

Krista: Oh, wow, that sounds like a great movie.

Cybil: Thank you. Thank you.

Krista: What was it like working with Tom Sizemore? Did you know him, or had you worked with him before?

Cybil: No, I didn’t. I didn’t know him. I reached out, and it was perfect timing. He had a window before another project, and I was pregnant at the time, so I had to shoot now as well, so we shot ASAP. You know, there wasn’t much pre production or anything. I wish there was a little more planning; we jumped into it. He’s a great professional. I kept my eye on him most of the shoot, that was the biggest job that I had. He was [did] professional work. He knew his lines, and he was very good with showing up when he needed to.

Krista: I just didn’t know if you had known him in the past or if he was a new contact.

Cybil: It was a new contact, and we hit it off well. We had things in common. We both struggled with addiction, so that’s a good bond. That kind of levels the fear, and you can talk to each other with a common language and have an understanding and compassion for each other. We were lucky. Actually, I think looking back, there was sort of a rapport that we had immediately, and that’s actually just luck too. You know, with having never met somebody, that’s not always achievable. You see it even on movies and TV shows. You’re like, “Those people don’t look like a couple.”

Krista: What was the biggest challenge for you for Central Park Dark, and did the pandemic impact any of the filming or anything?

Cybil: The biggest challenge was definitely the budget, because we didn’t have one. When that ended up being a bigger problem, because I also rushed to [into] shooting, and so I had problems with the script. I probably could have done a rewrite, but there wasn’t a time for it. So, I tried to fix it in the editing process and [with] reshooting, I think, two times. I did what I could, and I kind of rewrote the story when I was editing. But, for sure, in an independent film, always I would say that answer is going to be cash flow. You’re just not able to do certain things with with a small budget, but I also think that sometimes those constraints open up the project to creative answers instead of monetary ones.

Krista: Think outside the box.

Cybil: Yeah, exactly.

Krista: What was your favorite moment from Central Park Dark, either on screen or behind the scenes?

Cybil: Because I’m a mushy mother now, I would say the ending – this isn’t giving it away, don’t worry. She’s holding a baby. That was my three month old baby, which I had in reshoots. So, seeing him, that was the best.

Krista: I can imagine.

Cybil: But I also love the scene when we have a really heated argument, and that was definitely my favorite stuff. The horror stuff I enjoyed. I surprised myself, and I liked that stuff, but I really liked the heated, you know, one person to another person argument, because as an actor, that’s the most fun, because it’s sort of alive. It is on fire. He was really angry at me, and it’s kind of fun.

Krista: Well, how does acting and directing in Central Park Dark compare to the other work that you’ve done in the past?

Cybil: You know, I think that [for] this I had to learn all the ugly technical details. I knew some things, like I knew how to edit, you know, rudimentary, and things like that. But it taught me to really persevere in complete, like completion became the option, because I could I could quit. I could set it aside, knowing it has issues, but instead, compelling myself to complete it was the biggest challenge. It really shows me there’s something to be said about finishing a project, even if it’s going to be imperfect, because actually, things that have a $200 million budget are also super imperfect. So, just finishing it. And now, I feel that I’ve had a lot of opportunities with the press, and it’s something I get to talk about while I move forward, and I’m ultimately proud of accomplishing it, of completing it. Completing a film is probably the hardest thing. As an actor, you go, and you do a few days here and there. When you’re done, you don’t even hear again [from] the TV shows and network stuff, like I rarely even hear people say, “I saw you on such and such.” I’ve never seen most of my work, because there wasn’t any communication. It’s interesting. So, it’s night and day. This is maybe too much control, because there’re too many details. This is, for me, personally, wearing too many hats. I love just showing up and acting. I think that’s what I’m going to be looking forward to more of. I think that’s hopefully within my future, because the nitty gritty technical stuff can be rough…

Krista: I understand that.

Cybil: Yeah.

Krista: I see that you recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles. How’s that been?

Cybil: Oh my gosh. I mean, talk about crazy timing. I guess I moved here seven months before the pandemic, and now I can’t believe it, because I’ve been here for a year and a half. So, I can’t believe that now, the majority of my time in California has been pandemic life, which is different all around. It’s a big shift, because I’ve been in Manhattan, in Brooklyn, in New York City for a long, long time, 22 years. This is – I’m used to [unintelligible], but people say, because of the pandemic, that’s not really there now, but I really thrive in – I like the feeling of a crowd and that there’s lots of people around. I like the activity, it gives you this sense [that] there’s always something that’s about to happen, even if there’s not. And that’s what’s actually kind of weird, is that now, living somewhere different, I’m like, “Oh, wow.” Like, even then, if you want to make something happen, you actually just have to do it, but with New York, you sort of think you’re just gonna be swept up and something’s gonna happen. Here it’s just like flatline. It’s just not loud. There’s not that energy. Just, especially with the pandemic, it’s like you and your mind, and me and my mind and my two tablets.

Krista: [When you moved] to Los Angeles, was it for an acting career to hopefully give you more opportunities?

Cybil: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And actually, both, ironically, fell through. It’s funny, but not graceful, actually, because I do really like LA, and I’ve been out here for different things, but even with those opportunities, I was bummed out that they fell apart, which, that’s what happens with projects. I mean, in fact my project would be one of those many that fall apart, if I didn’t say, “Let’s reshoot.” [unintelligible] It’s so interesting, because now I really see how easy things can just fall apart, you know, because problems come up.

Krista: Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Cybil: Yes, I have a feature film that I wrote. It’s called White Lies and Darker Ones, and I can tell you that’s about Nina, a mother who seeks revenge for her daughter’s death, [but] instead uncovers the small town’s darkest secrets, including those within her own marriage. So, that’s a dark thriller.

I was pitching that for a little bit, and then people were kind of saying, “You know what? We’re not doing dark stuff.” So, then, I wrote a dramedy, you know, because I think the pandemic people were like, “We need lighter stuff.” That was the feedback I was getting from different people I pitched it to. And pitching now is 100% on Zoom and Skype. So, then, I wrote a dramedy called by Bicoastal, and that’s a fish out of water drama about a New Yorker who moved to LA to become a talent agent while struggling to stay sober and reconnect with her husband and find forgiveness. So, that’s a little bit lighter.

So, those are some of my options. Then, I also started writing something called Really Light, because I was like, they keep saying “light.” I’ve got to write something lighter. I started writing something called the Malibu Mother of Two. I just started writing that one.

Krista: Oh, well, they all sound good. I hope they all come to fruition.

Cybil: Thank you, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Krista: What do you do when you’re not writing, acting, or directing? What do you do in your free time?

Cybil: I was going to say, I start pitching, pitching people the ideas. I meditate and [unintelligible]. I meditate, and I go to the beach, and I take care of my two toddlers. I also paint; I love painting.

Krista: I like the beach too.

Cybil: The beach is the best. I grew up in Rhode Island, which is on the East Coast, and now I’m on the west coast. It’s different. It’s different but equally beautiful, but it’s really different. Unless you were near the beach in the pandemic when everything shuts down. We can still go and sit in the sand, and that’s something really to do, and go for a long walk or run. So, I do that a lot. Yeah, even when things are closed, and there’s mountains here, which is really cool. We go hiking as well. It’s just the quality of life in California is superduper high. It’s a quality, beautiful place. It’s expensive, and it’s gorgeous.

Krista: Sounds pretty peaceful, and it probably helps a lot to clear your head and give you some inspiration.

Cybil: Absolutely, totally, totally. I think I’m actually more creative here, and I am so surprised, because I don’t know, like I’ve just been creative in this pandemic and over here in California. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know what’s contributing into it to it, but I’ve been feeling like I just have a lot of different ideas.

I wrote another project called Moontown, and I was pitching that, but that was too big budget. I’m just always trying to hustle these days, because I think that’s the only way that things can happen. I actually I want to believe that things will just kind of roll towards me now peacefully. That would be nice.

Krista: What is the most memorable piece of advice that you’ve ever been given that has helped you in your career?

Cybil: I would say it’s really simple, but it’s be inside your own skin, because as an actor, that’s really good advice. Be inside your own skin, because that’s sort of like a ground view. So, I always find that very powerful.

Krista: Be yourself.

Cybil: Yeah, totally.

Krista: What piece of advice or tips would you give to someone who wants to get into a career with acting or directing?

Cybil: Definitely, I would say, start making your own work. You know, learn the mistakes, because I remember when I made my first short films, you make a film, you make so many mistakes and learn so much quickly, and then you do it again. And then you do it again. That’s the same feature that shows you just that you – it is always learning. Be willing to be learning. Be open to always be learning. It doesn’t stop; you have to keep working. You have to keep working on your own development as an artist, and you can choose to anytime give up, but if you really want to succeed, you have to really just stay on the path. You have to really stay on the path.

What I regret is I got discouraged when I was in my 20s. I made a feature film that was really good selling myself. In today’s market, I could totally sell it, [but] back then, there weren’t too many options. It was like you either get in Sundance, or you just sort of have a few small things and that’s it, but today, it’s so different. I mean, there’re so many outlets. And I got discouraged, and I kind of didn’t do stuff in film and TV for a few years. I really regret that time. I should have just kept going, but it pulled me back in anyway. I got cast in a commercial, and then I remembered how much I enjoyed acting, and I kind of got roped back into the business. When I did that, when I decided to come back, I was like, “Okay, but you have to understand, it’s unfair, and you have to deal with that.”…It’s an unfair business; you’re going to have a lot of failure. I have had so much failure that I don’t like to even tell people who are starting out. People ask me for advice. I don’t even want to tell them the truth. You don’t want to know. You don’t want to know, because the people who achieve it really young and continue to do so forever are real exceptions. You have to love it, and if you don’t love it, don’t do it; do something else.

Krista: I would say that you probably have to achieve your dreams and go for your dreams, but you probably have to also learn to accept the word “no.”

Cybil: Totally, totally, totally, totally, totally. Yeah. It’s all you’re gonna hear. In fact, I heard a producer, and I was like, I hope that’s not true, but I once heard a producer say, “You have to hear 1000 no’s before you even get a meeting.” I was like, “I don’t want to hear that.” I don’t know if I believed him. I hope he was exaggerating.

Krista: Well, that’s all the questions that I have for today. I thank you very much for talking with us. Talking was me today. I really did enjoy it. I hope that Central Park Dark will be very successful for you, and I hope all your upcoming projects will come about as well.

Cybil: Well, thank you so much. I am so happy we got to talk. It was super fun…It’s on Amazon and iTunes. Central Park Dark is on Amazon and iTunes now.

Here is the audio version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


Cybil Lake stars in the horror/thriller film CENTRAL PARK DARK, about a one-night stand that turns into a neveCentral Park Dark posterr-ending nightmare. Cybil is also the director of this mind-bending horror film that follows ‘Thomas’ (Tom Sizemore), an alcoholic married doctor who has a one-night stand with ‘Nina’ (Cybil).

Please see new trailer here: Central Park Dark Official Trailer

CENTRAL PARK DARK is a ‘Fatal Attraction meets Blair Witch Project set in Central Park’. Cybil recast Central Park as a darker place of unknown forces. The picturesque parts of the park are displayed, but Cybil’s film digs into the park’s underbelly, the off-limits woods that might as well be in the middle of nowhere. This film illustrates how individuals can be completely isolated in a city of nine million people.

Cybil Lake in "Central Park Dark"Cybil Lake is an American actor and filmmaker who has significant experience in the TV and film world. Her TV credits include “The Black List” with James Spader on NBC, “The Following” with Kevin Bacon on Fox, and “Show Me a Hero” directed by Academy Award Winner Paul Haggis for HBO. She has written, directed, and acted in numerous shorts, including An Echo Remains, which she screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Cybil was selected by NBC for a new filmmaker’s program, The Screening Room in 2010. She’s a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she majored in film and acting.Tom Sizemore in "Central Park Dark"

Tom Sizemore who stars alongside Lake, has established himself as an unforgettable tough-guy actor, sought by the most respected directors in Hollywood. His first break came when Oliver Stone cast him in BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Sizemore wowed audiences and critics in Michael Mann’s crime thriller, HEAT. He was then cast in Martin Scorsese’s BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, RED PLANET, PEARL HARBOR. He then starred in Steven Spielberg’s WWII epic SAVING PRIVATE RYAN followed by another leading role in BLACK HAWK DOWN directed by Ridley Scott. Recently, he starred in “Shooter” on USA Network with Mark Wahlberg and the reboot of the TV series “Twin Peaks” directed by David Lynch.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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actress Cybil Lake

Primetime DVD Review: “Gunsmoke Movie Collection”

DVD Review!

Gunsmoke Movie Collection DVD cover

“Gunsmoke Movie Collection” Review by Suzanne 8/30/20

If you enjoy the classic “Gunsmoke” TV series, then you’ll probably enjoy these movies as well.  Even though the cast is older, they still do a great job on these later movies. The stories are solid. It’s not my favorite show, but I’ve seen many of the episodes because my dad used to watch it.  It’s fun seeing Matt Dillon with long hair and acting like John Wayne in these films. Sadly, the actress who played Kitty (Amanda Blake), died after the first movie.  Michael Learned stepped in to play an old romance of Matt’s.

There are 5 total Gunsmoke movies, but this collection only has the first three. It doesn’t appear as if the last two movies have come out yet. I wish I knew why. At any rate, if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll enjoy these movies. They have twice the action of the Gunsmoke TV series.

I wish they had more features on the DVD set. It has none. This set was clearly done cheaply.


The classic ‘Gunsmoke: The Complete Movie Collection’ featuring James Arness in his  Emmy®️ -nominated role as Marshall Matt is coming to DVD, featuring all three movie sequels: Return to Dodge, The Last Apache, and To The Last Man on August 25 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment.

Gunsmoke: The Complete Movie Collection

Street Date: August 25, 2020

Format: DVD

The Gunsmoke Complete Movie Collection will feature all three movie sequels, starting off with the Return to Dodge, where Will Mannon (Steve Forrest) is released from prison and looking for revenge on Marshal Matt Dillion and Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) for putting him there. Following the second film, The Last Apache, Matt Dillon responds to a letter from “Mike” Yardner (Michael Learned), an old friend where they discover a ranch has been raided by Apaches and Mike’s daughter, Beth, is kidnapped by ‘Wolf’, a rogue Apache. The film follows Dillion as he begins his search and rescue for Beth. Lastly, To The Last Man, retired Marshal Matt Dillion finds trouble in regards to rustlers stealing his cattle. Dillion tracks down rustlers in Pleasant Valley, Arizona, where a land-grab war arises.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

The opinions in these articles are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of TVMEG.COM or its other volunteers.

Gunsmoke movie DVD covers

Primetime DVD Review: “G-LOC”

DVD Review!

G-LOC DVD cover

“G-LOC” Review by Suzanne 8/30/20

I really wanted to like this movie because it stars Stephen Moyer, who was so great in “True Blood” and “The GIfted.”  Also, I like scifi. However, the movie is a mess. If you like action, maybe you’ll like it, but it has a lot of slow, boring parts as well.  The name of the movie is based on what happens when you lose consciousness in space, due too much G-force.

The basic “universe” the movie is set in was interesting.  Earth is facing a new ice age in the future. A mysterious worm hole dubbed “The Gate” appears over the Earth, so humanity builds space ships to fly through it, to get to another world, Rhea.  Time is different on the other side, however. By the time the remaining humans decide to go through, the earliest human settlers of Rhea have decided not to take any more refugees. That part is interesting (and, of course, timely).  The hero, Bran (Moyer), is stranded in space on a dying ship, with just his A.I., Edison (who sounds a bit too much lik C-3PO).  They board another ship, but most of the crew is dead.

At this point, I was thinking, “How many times have we seen THIS scenario before?”  Answer: a lot, especially on “Doctor Who,” but also in many movies.  Then Bran (dumb name) meets a Rhean woman named Osha. Now, “Bran” is bad enough, but Osha? As in, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration?? No. Terrible names. Bran and Osha spend a lot of time trying to kill each other.  Throughout the movie, we can’t figure out if they’re going to have a romance or not.  The problem is, Moyer looks a lot older than her.  She seems closer to the age of his daughter.  In the end, though, they never become more than friends.  That question remains unanswered, and it’s not the only one.

One of the interesting parts of the movie is when Bran is thinking back to his family on Earth.  Unfortunately, that’s a pretty sad story.  John Rhys-Davies has a small part as his father-in-law.  The movie has a good ending, except we never get to see Rhea.  Most of the movie happens on a claustrophobic spaceship set.

I think this could have been a good movie in the hands of an experienced filmmaker.  Unfortunately, it moves too slowly and has a little too much going on at once.  It seems to be trying to be a dark, grim movie, but it has a facile ending that doesn’t match the tone of the rest of it.


G-LOC Lionsgate PR


An epic sci-fi adventure set in a distant world, G-LOC premieres on DVD, Digital, and On Demand August 18 from Lionsgate. Fan favorites Stephen Moyer and Casper Van Dien star in this poignant, allegorical story set in a fantastic otherworld where humans are pitted against one another for survival. Also starring Tala Gouveia, Toby Osmond, and Shayne Ward, the G-LOC DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.98.


With Earth virtually destroyed, Bran Marshall flees to the Rhea, a planet hostile to Earthlings. Escaping onto a Rhean supply ship, he finds the crew slaughtered, with the only survivor a female warrior named Ohsha. As the two try to kill one another, the ship is damaged by meteorites. Bran (Moyer) and Ohsha must join forces to salvage the craft before it impacts the planet below — and the humans that live there. This gripping sci-fi epic stars Stephen Moyer, Casper Van Dien, and John Rhys-Davies.


  • “Making Of” Featurette


Stephen Moyer                       TV’s “Fortunate Son,” TV’s “The Gifted,” TV’s “The Bastard Executioner,” and TV’s “True Blood”

Tala Gouveia                          Cold Feet, Before We Grow Old, TV’s “Scream Street”

Toby Osmond                         TV’s “Game Of Thrones”, Summerland, Black Ops

Shayne Ward                          TV’s Coronation Street, You Are Beautiful, Black Ops

with Casper Van Dien             Alita: Battle Angel, TV’s “All American,” Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow

and John Rhys-Davies           The Lord of the Rings franchise, Indiana Jones franchise, TV’s “Once Upon a Time”



Year of Production: 2020

Title Copyright: Program Content and Package Artwork © 2019 Goldfinch Science Fiction Limited. All Rights Reserved. Package Design and Summary © 2020 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Type: Home Entertainment Premiere

Rating: PG-13 for violence and some strong language.

Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Fantasy

Closed-Captioned: No

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish Subtitles

Feature Run Time: 93 Minutes

DVD Format: 16×9 (1.78:1) Presentation

DVD Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

The opinions in these articles are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of TVMEG.COM or its other volunteers.

G-LOC poster