Interview with Larry A. Thompson, producer of “Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas” on Lifetime by Suzanne 10/23/23
In a normal year, I would have been able to interview one of the great actresses in this movie, or possibly all of them. However, this interview was during the SAG-Aftra strike, so I was only allowed to speak to the movie’s executive producer. However, it was a great chat because he’s been around a long time. He worked with the Beatles when he was just starting out as a lawyer for EMI! He’s not only a producer, but a manager. In fact, he manages William Shatner, whom I love and would very much like to interview one day. It was awesome to hear his stories in this interview. I hope you enjoy it, too!
The movie is very fun – especially if you enjoy romantic Christmas movies, or if you watched primetime soaps like “Knots Landing,” “Dallas,” “Desperate Housewives,” etc. because the “ladies” of the title are LInda Grey (Sue Ellen on “Dallas”), Loni Anderson (Jennifer of “WKRP in Cincinnati, among other roles – the only “lady” not known for soaps), Morgan Fairchild (of Falcon Crest, Paper Dolls and many daytime soaps), Nicolette Sheridan (Paige of “Knots Landing” and Edie of “Desperate Housewives”), and Donna Mills (Abby in “Knots Landing”). It was great to see them all in this charming film. Thompson’s daughter, Taylor Ann, is the ingenue of the movie. Christopher Atkins has a small role as Grey’s son (This is hilarious to me because in “Dallas,” their characters had an affair!). I enjoyed it. It’s fun and very Christmasy. The male lead, Travis Burns, is very handsome and has a killer Aussie accent. Happy Holidays! Don’t miss the movie tomorrow, December 2nd, 2023!
In Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas, five glamorous ‘80s soap opera stars reunite to share the spotlight to shoot the final Christmas episode of their long-running soap opera. The producer, Alex (Travis Burns) and director Nell (Taylor Ann Thompson), old college friends, do their best to keep things on the rails but as the ladies come together, old rivalries resurface that threaten to tear the whole production apart. With the show nearly canceled before it even begins due to the ladies’ famous diva behavior, they reluctantly agree to set aside their differences and past secrets to “act” as if they all still love each other. When old sparks reignite between Alex and Nell, the ladies become eager to play cupid and conspire to bring the couple together. Along the way, the divas also discover that the love between them all is still very strong too.
The movie’s theme song Ladies of the ’80s was written by Song Writer Hall of Fame’s Steve Dorff and Michael Jay, produced by Steve Droff, and performed by ’80s pop sensation Tiffany (I Think We’re Alone Now).
Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas is executive produced for Lifetime by Larry A. Thompson (Liz & Dick, Amish Grace). Christie Will Wolf (Christmas on Candy Cane Lane, The Art of Passion) directs from a script by James Berg & Stan Zimmerman (The Golden Girls, Gilmore Girls) with Robert G. Endara II and Ed Polgardy producing.
Interview with creator/producer Joseph Kay of “Transplant” on NBC by Suzanne 10/10/23
It was great to speak with the creator/writer/executive producer of such a good show as “Transplant,” which returns for season 3 October 12th! It’s a Canadian show, and they’re watching season 4 right now (which, unfortunately, is the last season). You don’t want to miss this one! If you haven’t watched the first two seasons, go watch them now on Peacock! You’ll be glad you caught up on some a unique show with interesting characters.
New Season Premiering Thursday, October 12 on NBC (9 p.m. ET)
The new season of “Transplant” finds Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq, “My Salinger Year”) continuing his journey to start over, but with each new milestone comes a new challenge. While pursuing Canadian citizenship for himself and his younger sister, Amira (Sirena Gulamgaus, “Orphan Black), Bash closely examines who he’s becoming in his adopted country.
Bash, still being asked repeatedly to prove himself, works closely with his colleagues as they move forward following the dramatic conclusion of season two. Everyone continues to find themselves looking to adapt to change and understand how they fit in, both within and beyond the walls of York Memorial Hospital.
After Dr. Bishop’s shocking departure, the team gains a new boss with the forward-thinking Dr. Neeta Devi (Rekha Sharma, “Yellowjackets”). Dr. Devi has big ideas when it comes to overhauling the emergency department at York Memorial.
“Transplant” also stars Laurence Leboeuf as Dr. Magalie “Mags” LeBlanc, Ayisha Issa as Dr. June Curtis, Jim Watson as Dr. Theo Hunter, Torri Higginson as head nurse Claire Malone, Gord Rand as Dr. Mark Novak and Sirena Gulamgaus as Amira.
Creator Joseph Kay serves as showrunner and executive producer. Rachel Langer, Josée Vallée, Jocelyn Deschênes, Bruno Dubé, and Stefan Pleszczynski also executive produce.
“Transplant” is produced by Sphere Media in association with CTV and Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group.
Joseph Kay is creator, showrunner and executive producer on the NBC drama “Transplant.” He has served as showrunner, writer and executive producer for each of its seasons, winning four Canadian Screen Awards in his roles as writer and producer.
Prior to “Transplant,” he adapted and served as executive producer on the CBC drama “This Life.” Previous credits include the World War II drama “Bomb Girls” for Global TV and the CBC hit action/comedy “Republic of Doyle.”
Kay also co-created the single-camera comedy “Living in your Car” for HBO Canada.
Before becoming a screenwriter, he worked as a transactional lawyer at one of Canada’s foremost securities law firms.
Interview with producer Deborah Pratt of “Quantum Leap” on NBC by Suzanne 9/26/23
What makes this interview interesting is that Deborah worked on both the classic “Quantum Leap” as well as the new one. In fact, she was married to the creator of the show, Donald Bellasario. I’m sure she has many stories beyond what she revealed in our interview. I love both versions of the show, and I can’t wait to see what happens the rest of the season.
Suzanne: So, how many episodes are filmed already for the season?
Deborah: Eight. Are we lucky or what?
Suzanne: Oh, that’s good. Yeah, there’s so few scripted shows right now.
Deborah: Yeah, I think it was a great idea of NBC Universal, Martin, Dean, everybody said, “Let’s just keep moving forward.” And I’m really excited that we did.
Suzanne: Yeah. I just watched the first two episodes, I enjoyed them a lot.
Deborah: Oh, thank you.
Suzanne: I’m a big fan of the old Quantum Leap and the new Quantum Leap, and I know you’ve worked on both.
Deborah: I did. I was there from the beginning.
Suzanne: Wow. You should write a book about that?
Deborah: You know, I can’t tell you how many people have asked me to write a book about my experiences and how I got to where I got to, and when I brought Quantum Leap to Don and how it evolved the way it evolved. It’s exciting. I was very young and got to learn how to make a series.
Suzanne: And seems like now would be a good time to come out with a book since you‘ve got the new show.
Deborah: Yeah, yeah. Well, I have two new books coming out.
Suzanne: Oh, cool. That’s right.
Deborah: I’ve got Warrior One, and I’ve got the fifth book in my Vision Quest series. And truthfully, I started a Quantum Leap book, but it was not the history of. Matt Deal has that covered. I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of his books. He’s so good. He goes into all kinds of detail, and he just had a sequel come out. So, it’s really worth checking into. He’s from London.
Suzanne: It’s about Quantum Leap?
Deborah: There are things I read in those books that I either forgot.
Suzanne: So, he’s got a second book about the making of the original Quantum Leap, or is it about the new one?
Deborah: I don’t know if it’s come out yet. It’s called Beyond the Leap. And it’s the revival, so it gets into the new show.
Suzanne: Great. So, how have the strikes affected filming other than the obvious way?
Deborah: Well, yeah, of course, we shut down, which is the obvious way. In that sense, you know, how quickly will we be able to – knock on glass; I have a glass desk – How quickly will we be back up and running? And we’re standing by the the Screen Actors Guild, in that they have a lot to fight for…in the sense that creativity needs to be protected. But your voice, your face, your body are, are on the line here, and you need to have your rights to control them.
Suzanne: And now that they’ve got a tentative agreement with the Writers Guild, will the writers be returning to make more Quantum Leap scripts?
Deborah: Well, it’s got to go through the process of the legalese straightened out. The board of directors – I used to sit on the board of directors for the Writers Guild – will meet and vote on it, and then it goes out to the membership. All of that happens.
Suzanne: Does that take a few days, a few weeks, few months?
Deborah: It’s a process, it can be as short as, you know, this is, I think, my third strike that I’ve been involved with in my career. So, sometimes it happens quite quickly, and other times there are little snigs and snags. Right? I have great hope that the AMPTP is going to understand that they can’t make anything without us. Right. And truthfully, AI can build a streamer for you. [laughs] So, it’s not like it’s not in danger.
Suzanne: So, what can you tell us about what’s going on with Ben and the rest of them this season?
Deborah: Ben didn’t get home at the end of season one. I can tell you that. If he did get home, we wouldn’t have a series. Ben did not get home. You got to see Episode One and Episode Two you said. So, he’s got a real reality check. He’s been out there by himself. He hasn’t seen anybody. He’s still asking for Addison. So, he doesn’t realize or understand why. “Why am I alone on this on this leap?”
Suzanne: And would you say would you say things are ramped up more this season? Usually the second season is like more action, more this, more that, more twists and turns.
Deborah: Well, we certainly got a lot of that in in those first episodes. I know if you looked at the trailer, which is wonderful kudos to marketing at NBC Universal, we went to Egypt, literally got on a plane and went to Egypt. So, that’s really fun and exciting. We also went further back in time then the show has ever gone. I won’t tell you when. It’s further back.
Suzanne: Yeah, I think I saw that in the trailer. I don’t remember the date. But I remember seeing an old [unintelligible]
Suzanne: Yeah, that was it.
Deborah: I know. I’m supposed to remember all that stuff. [laughs]
Suzanne: That’s fine.
Deborah: I have to remember all that stuff. So, those things are really exciting and very adventurous, but the bigger things and what is Quantum Leap, is the heart of the show that the story’s really not just the the leaps. But the the stories with our main characters, Ben and [Addison], and Magic, Ian, and Jen. We get to know more about them, which is the fun thing. We get to know what’s at stake. You know, now that he’s been found, how did he get found? Those mysteries. Because we have the opportunity to solve those mysteries. And the first mystery, which was why he left in the first place, we solved it. We find out it’s to save his woman and ultimately, maybe even the world, and he gets to be a real hero in the first season. And Ben is so likable.
Suzanne: That’s true.
Deborah: Raymond Lee, I give huge props to him. Having worked with both Scott Bakula and Raymond Lee, I think the show will only accept exceptional people. It’s just how Quantum Leap is, you know.
Suzanne: And it was nice to go in a different direction then having to try to find a Scott Bakula clone, if you could even do that.
Deborah: If you could even do that. I don’t think you could even do that. But I think it, you know, it’s one of those things of time, space, Ziggy. I get to play a piece of artificial intelligence that, you know, needs more control than we know, that has more control than we know.
Deborah: So, all those things we get to play with, and we get to find out more of what happens to them when they go home at night. There’re two new characters. We know that Peter Gadiot, who’s now Tom Westfall is the United States officer, we meet him in the second episode and try to understand what magic had to give up to get the project going again, once they found him and then what Ian did to locate him and what Jen knows or doesn’t know. So, there’s all these arrays that are that are being set up to set the story threads for the tapestry that is Season Two.
Suzanne: Okay, and is there any chance – this is something that I’m sure all the fans have asked a million times, but is there any chance that we’ll get to see Sam Beckett again?
Deborah: There’s always a chance. You know, again, and I say this 100 times that, that I personally am working on this Quantum Leap movie. I think Sam could come back in a $100 million super star. I think that we have the opportunity to do what Star Trek has done. There are nine Star Trek spin offs and nine Star Trek movies. So, let’s expand the franchise to video games and motion pictures and rides. I always say, “Did you go to Comic-Con? Did you see the Quantum Leap ride?” I think the opportunity to really see what the show can do and let the imagination of not just the writers but also the fans write back and participate in it as they have always done, the stories that I’ve gotten, the letters that I’ve gotten, the important moments in history that teachers have used from the the original series to to teach history that is, in some cases, intentionally being forgotten. It is, I think, a great opportunity for conversation. And I think what the show has always done, and I so grateful for Martin and Dean is to give you both sides of the story. So, you have those two sides to figure out where do you stand on this emotional issue, this political issue, wherever we are in storytelling, right? And maybe you just stand in the middle as an observer. Maybe you’re just, you know, Addison now, and you are looking at what’s happening, but you’re looking at it from the perspective of a present day mind that knows some of this history. Then, there’s the fun of, you know, there’s a show, and it happened to be the year you were in high school. You get to hear the music and see the clothes, because it’s a little movie every week.
Suzanne: That’s true. There was an actor I recognized in the second episode we’ve just seen briefly. Vincent Irizarry. Will he be coming back? Do you know?
Deborah: The two characters that are coming back are Peter Gadiot, Who’s Tom Westfall, and Eliza Taylor comes into it. She’s Hannah in episode three. So, those are going to be our reoccur[ing] characters that are coming back. I don’t think Vince is –
Suzanne: He’s from the poker game. So, he’s not in the history part of it.
Deborah: Right. Right. Right. I remember him. And he’s wonderful, by the way. Are you a fan?
Deborah: He’s very, very good. You know, that’s the cool thing about the show. You never know. We can go back and find a character. That can be really fun to tell the story, because they have that recognition of time. So, it could happen.
Suzanne: Okay, I hope so. I hope so. You know, who would play poker with Jen? Do they not know what kind of brain she has?
Deborah: Thank you very much. Represent. Yeah, she’s smart. I love the women on this show. In that Addison and Jen and – And you want that opportunity. And then Sam gets to be a woman 50% of the time. I mean, that’s the other thing that is, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he leaps into, 50% of his characters are women.
Suzanne: Wow. I know he went often, but I didn’t know it was that high.
Deborah: It was funny. They did the episode where he was the stewardess, episode 107. And I’ll never forget, they came down in these incredibly comfortable shoes. And I said, “Those weren’t the shoes those women had to wear in the 60s. They wore pointy toes, spike heels. And Genevieve who’s a wonderful costume designer, said, “Oh, I was just trying to be kind.” And they did a whole bit on it in one of the episodes, but, you know, we as women wore those shoes, and it’s fun to let men experience it, you know, vicariously, more than vicariously, he gets to do it for real, and that’s some of the fun stuff. And again, I go back to Raymond’s physical comedy is just delightful.
Suzanne: It’s great.
Deborah: He went to school and studied clowning…If you look at his physicality and how he can interpret some of those characters, it’s magical. That’s a lost art. You look at people like Robert Downey Jr. and people like that, who have great physicality in what they do, and I think that Raymond has that. He’s a real find. We’re very blessed to have him, besides being a really nice person.
Suzanne: That’s good to hear. That’s always good to hear. So, any outstanding guest stars that you can tell us about?
Deborah: Well, the pilot we’ve got, oh my gosh, Melissa Roxburgh from Manifest. François Arnaud from Midnight Texas and Aaron Abrams from Hannibal and Blind Spot, and [PJ] Byrne.
Suzanne: I was trying to remember where I knew him from; it’s from Blind Spot. I remember now.
Deborah: [PJ] Byrne from The Boys and Shazam. And Peter Gadiot from Yellowjackets and Eliza Taylor. You know, these are going to be our reoccurs, our regulars.
Suzanne: Well as as executive producer, do you have any control over the writing or the stories or anything like that?
Deborah: I give notes; I give my thoughts. And I say this with great humility, in the sense that I want Quantum Leap and the franchise of Quantum Leap to expand. I want the fact that Star Trek has nines spin offs, three concurrently, right now. It had nine major motion pictures, and I fought 30 years ago to have that and could not get the team to see the potential that’s there. This is very exciting to me. And it’s very important for me to keep the lore and the core of the show true to what Quantum Leap is about. But it’s very important for me to let someone create it into a new entity, to create [unintelligible] But but let’s see what it can be. And in my mind, I know multiple other directions that the show could go. So, this is just the beginning of what Quantum Leap’s comeback could be if the fans are there, if people like you love the show and support it. We’re very blessed to have the press, who had their own childhood experiences, growing up watching it with their parents and their grandparents and having the opportunity to talk about what happened in time. So, to come back and have those those little morality plays that Quantum Leap can do sometimes, and little glimpses of history from a whole new side experienced through Ben, where we the audience, or Ben, when he steps into someone’s shoes, whether they’re high heels or flats, we get to feel what it feels like for him to to experience being a white female or a black male or a woman. And those are the things that I think will carry us into great storytelling, and then the story threads that are being created and pulled through. They’re going to weave a beautiful tapestry of what this Quantum Leap is and can be. It’s a great time.
Suzanne: I hope that you get your wish, because that would be great to see Quantum Leap go on for quite a while.
Deborah: I’m hoping so too, as well. You know, I’m being very judicious about bringing Ziggy back, letting Ziggy come back, other than doing her job.
Suzanne: Right. All right. Well, it’s nice to talk to the voice of Ziggy.
Deborah: Thank you very much. Thank you. Yeah, it was it’s it was really fun to create it to, to write that dialogue that people hear and get chills, because it brings back so many natural memories.
Suzanne: Right, right. Well, I appreciate you talking to me today. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Deborah: Thank you so very much. I am grateful for you and what you’re doing.
Season Premiere Wednesday, October 4 (8-9pm ET/PT) on NBC. Streaming next day on Peacock.
It’s been nearly 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, a new team, led by physicist Ben Song (Raymond Lee), has been assembled to restart the project in the hope of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.
Everything changes, however, when Ben makes an unauthorized leap into the past, leaving the team behind to solve the mystery of why he did it. At Ben’s side throughout his leaps is Addison (Caitlin Bassett), who appears in the form of a hologram only Ben can see and hear. She’s a decorated Army veteran who brings level-headed precision to her job.
At the helm of the highly confidential operation is Herbert “Magic” Williams (Ernie Hudson), a no-nonsense career military man who has to answer to his bosses who won’t be happy once they learn about the breach of protocol. The rest of the team at headquarters includes Ian Wright (Mason Alexander Park), who runs the Artificial Intelligence unit “Ziggy,” and Jenn Chu (Nanrisa Lee), who heads up digital security for the project.
As Ben leaps from life to life, putting right what once went wrong, it becomes clear that he and the team are on a thrilling journey. However, Addison, Magic, Ian and Jenn know that if they are going to solve the mystery of Ben’s leaps and bring him home, they must act fast or lose him forever.
Martin Gero and Dean Georgaris serve as executive producers along with Deborah Pratt, Chris Grismer, Alex Berger, Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt.
Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, produce in association with Quinn’s House Productions.
Interview with Elizabeth Blake-Thomas of the film “Evie Rose” on Amazon Prime by Suzanne 4/13/21
This was an interview via email, so there is no audio or video. I enjoyed watching her short film on Amazon, and I look forward to her upcoming feature film.
Suzanne: You were a theater director, I see. Did you work in a particular city?
Elizabeth: I was based in the center of England, but we toured around. I enjoyed taking theater to smaller places that didn’t have easy access to theater or the arts.
Suzanne: How did you get involved in making films?
Elizabeth: My daughter has been in the film and TV industry since a young age, so when she was about 11 or 12 I thought I could help her by producing a short film that she could star in. After we completed that film, “Broken Wings”, which is available online, I realized I had the knowledge to make more, as well as try my hand at directing instead of just producing. On top of that, the whole experience was so enjoyable, working with my daughter and creating art, it just made sense. It reminded me of being a theater director. So I made the conscious decision to get into the film industry myself, writing something with my daughter to have her star in. From there, the projects just kept flowing.
Suzanne: I enjoyed your movie “Evie Rose” on Amazon. I assume that’s what’s referred to as a “short film”?
Elizabeth: That’s correct, a film that’s less than an hour. Some festivals qualify a short as being no more than 50 minutes. The Academy says no more than 40. A short film’s length though can greatly vary, like features. To me, it’s about what length helps tell a story most effectively. If it takes 2 minutes or 2 hours, it doesn’t matter. As long as it best serves the story.
Suzanne: Are there any plans to expand it into a full-length film?
Elizabeth: All of my shorts have this potential. I let things happen organically to tell the story of Evie Rose as best I saw fit, so I need to give this film time to breathe as a short before making any drastic changes. I need to see what happens this year first. I’m currently waiting to hear back from several festivals on the short, which could dramatically change the next course of the film.
Suzanne: Do you know yet where “Will You Be My Quarantine” will be shown (which network or streaming service)?
Elizabeth: No official announcement yet, but it is being pitched to all the major platforms. It really is a fantastic, fun, sweet movie. Something we all really need right now.
Suzanne: Is it finished?
Elizabeth: Yes, it is. All original music has been placed, all visual effects are finalized, and I’ve watched it through thoroughly. I’m very proud of it.
Suzanne: Will this be another short film, or full-length?
Elizabeth: Feature length film.
Suzanne: Can you tell us what it’s about?
Elizabeth: Dating in the pre-Covid world was hard for people, endlessly swiping trying to find “the one”. Once quarantine hit, this became even harder. Swiping was easy, sitting on your couch in your PJs, but meeting anyone in person was impossible. “Will You Be My Quarantine?” is a heartwarming, yet comical, story about finding real love in tricky circumstances, getting to know someone for who they truly are and finding an authentic, genuine connection.
Film Logline: Vanessa has always had trouble in the dating world, never mind now being confined to her home. She soon discovers just how much you can get away with dating via webcam, but is the love she feels true or only a distorted version of reality?
Suzanne: Anything you can tell us about how it was developed?
Elizabeth: It was based on my real experiences during the start of quarantine, when I came to the realization that dating could no longer happen as it did before. How was I going to meet people? Online meetings and dates began and I realized I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could show only the bits of me I wanted that person to see. I could have a nice top on, but baggy sweatpants just off screen. My hair could be greasy, but they’d never know! Which led to my idea of having a fun, relatable romcom about a new couple that are not being truthful with each other. Highlighting how dating online can only show us so much, and raising the important question of, “How can we truly find someone and something that’s real, if we aren’t honest?”
Suzanne: What about the casting process?
Elizabeth: Most of the cast are friends or close contacts, who I immediately knew were perfect for their roles. After everyone accepted, I was thrilled, for I truly feel the entire cast is stellar and represents such a diverse group of individuals that the audience can relate to. Having that proper representation was key for me, as we all have been affected by this “Great Pause”. I wanted everyone who watches the film to be able to connect with someone that looks just like them or relate to something a character does that they too did while stuck at home. Casting this project was fun and honestly a breeze since each actor was ideal for their role.
Suzanne: I’ve interviewed Eddie McClintock a few times before, and he’s very funny as well as quite a good dramatic actor. Which side does he get to show off in this movie?
Elizabeth: In this film he shows off his fantastic comedic side. He totally embraced this character and brought something even more than I could have imagined. He is a true artist.
Suzanne: Joe LoCicero was just recently on “The Bold and the Beautiful.” His character was killed off on that show, and now there’s a murder mystery. What is his character like in your movie?
Elizabeth: More details on his character once the film is released, but I can say that Joe was so adorable. I auditioned him originally for a smaller role, but he impressed me so much with his tape, I gave him a bigger one. He is very talented, and I can’t wait to put him in my next feature film.
Suzanne: Were you a fan of Jodie Sweetin’s before she was cast?
Elizabeth: Who wasn’t a fan of “Full House?” Jodie is the perfect girl-next-door and such a talent. She can play all levels of characters and everyone connects to her, making her perfect for this film’s role.
Elizabeth: I’ve always been a storyteller. Across mediums, across time zones. When I wanted to make films on my own timeline, I created my entertainment company Mother & Daughter Entertainment. I’ve also always mentored, guided and helped people. During the Covid Great Pause, I was able to put some time into really finessing who I am and what I want to do. The clarity I was given enabled me to create Medicine with Words, a “spring cleaning” journey of your mind, encompassing everything from your emotions and surroundings, to your purpose and desires. Through guided studies of intention and reflection using pen to paper, meditation, stories and your senses, my “stars” (clients) learn to lead a more purposeful, contented, peaceful life. They learn to free themselves from the unnecessary noise that the world muddles their mind with, and start living intentionally, without fear. I already have many “stars” that I help guide to transform their lives. Think of it as yoga for the mind. It is something very unique and special to me and I feel very blessed that I have been given the tools to share this.
Suzanne: How did you become a philanthropist, and why did you pick human trafficking as your focus?
Elizabeth: It was a natural progression through my company Mother & Daughter Entertainment. Our motto “making content that matters” is something my team and I believe strongly in. The cause of human trafficking awareness actually just found me. Upon meeting an individual who escaped being trafficked and hearing her story, I was inspired to write and produce a short film called UNSEEN. This film was purely made to distribute for free and educate others of the potential lure tactics of traffickers, especially those used through social media. The film was viewed by the non-profit Awareness Ties and I became their Ambassador for Human Trafficking Awareness, working with them and others to raise awareness and end human trafficking. Seeing the assistance that storytelling can bring to philanthropic work, I now strive to have an impact with everything I put my time into. This also includes mentoring fellow filmmakers and storytellers, especially women. It’s important to me to give back.
Suzanne: Reading your bio and your website, I was very impressed. What you’ve achieved is amazing. Most people would be too scared to do half the things you’re doing, with the major changes in your life. What age were you, if you don’t mind my asking, when you left the UK and came to the US?
Elizabeth: It is a scary thing to do. I was 32 when I first experienced LA and then was 34 when I officially moved over from the UK. I won’t sugar coat it. It wasn’t easy. It cost me my marriage; it took all my strength to continue on this path. But I did it for my daughter, and then ended up finding my calling in LA as a storyteller as well. I have not one single regret about making these changes. In regards to my industry achievements, I like to use the phrase “filmmaking with fear”, as sometimes you just have to go for it and live each day intentionally.
Suzanne: How long after that did you get into either theater or film?
Elizabeth: I was a theater director from aged 16, running my theater company in the UK for almost 20 years. I became a film director 5 years ago once in LA. In just the past 5 years, I feel I have completed a huge amount in the film industry, pushing myself to make things happen no matter what others around me said or did.
Suzanne: Do you have a favorite type of movie or TV series you like to watch for fun?
Elizabeth: I love procedurals. My brain is constantly thinking of new storytelling ideas from the moment I wake up at 4 or 5am. When I feel I need my brain to turn off, a procedural is the perfect outlet that allows me to sit mindlessly and still know what’s going to happen. They are so formulaic with the story that they are easy to follow along and often the story is wrapped up with a perfect bow by the end of the 45 minutes. A different story each episode, but with characters I can still love and enjoy seeing snippets of their lives.
Suzanne: What is your next project?
Elizabeth: I have a couple of fantastic feature films that are in pre-production. I will be filming both this year. My environmental short documentary Consume As Little As Possible will also be released in a few months, and is something I believe we all need to watch. My book “Filmmaking Without Fear” is set to release later this month. My podcast and featurette of the same name are already available to stream, documenting my career thus far, as well as storytelling tips and tricks
ELIZABETH BLAKE-THOMAS is a British award-winning storyteller and philanthropist based
in Los Angeles, having recently directed her latest feature film during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will You Be My Quarantine? is a romcom starring Full House/Fuller House star Jodie Sweetin
and is set to release in 2021. Elizabeth’s recent film Evie Rose, starring Oscar-nominated actress
Terry Moore, is premiering on Christmas Eve 2020. Elizabeth is the founder and resident
director of entertainment company Mother & Daughter Entertainment, whose motto is “Making
Content That Matters”, putting focus on each project starting a conversation amongst viewers.
Through MDE, Elizabeth established the MD Foundation Initiative, a campaign to mentor and
employ undiscovered filmmakers through fellow philanthropic pledges.
An Official Ambassador of Awareness Ties for Human Trafficking, Elizabeth hopes to raise
more awareness to the horrific nature of human trafficking and help put a stop to it. Her award-
winning short film UNSEEN, which addresses the role technology plays in the facilitation of
child trafficking, is being used to educate children on the dangers of lure tactics. A regular on
panels at Sundance, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festival, Elizabeth mentors wherever
possible, ensuring she sends the elevator back down to all other female storytellers. Directing ShowreelAwareness Ties Ambassador Page
The Self-Made Triumph of Director, Storyteller and Philanthropist, Elizabeth Blake-Thomas
Single mum of a 10-year-old, 6 suitcases total for the both of them, packed and headed from the UK to LA. That was 8 years ago.
Cut to now, living happily on a houseboat in sunny Redondo Beach, California, a successful 18-year-old daughter who just starred as one of the leads in the latest Disney+ movie Secret Society of Second Born Royals, and a fruitful, self-made directing career. To top it off, Elizabeth just wrapped her latest feature film, a romcom, safely shot during the COVID-19 pandemic!
Elizabeth and her daughter Isabella are a resourceful mother-daughter team, who in light of wanting to forge their own path in the LA industry rather than waiting around for a big break to be handed to them, founded a company together, Mother & Daughter Entertainment. Through MDE, they develop, write, produce, and direct everything from feature films to short films to episodics. Isabella even stars in a few. Their team is on fire, with over 12 projects under their belt in the last four years, finishing off 2019 with an award-winning short film UNSEEN about child trafficking and educating kids on the dangers of lure tactics. Just in 2020, they have filmed two additional feature films, created three pilots, completed a documentary and created and written pitches and teasers for several other projects.
Against all odds, they have become a successful team in LA.
Even COVID couldn’t stop them from creating. Following SAG’s safety protocols, they worked together and completed their latest romcom, Will You Be My Quarantine?, starring Full House and Fuller House alum Jodie Sweetin and David Lipper. The entire cast and crew safely tested throughout filming, social distanced and wore masks. Many thought it would be impossible to get the industry back on its feet, but Elizabeth pushed forward and succeeded through her resourcefulness and inspiring tenacity.
During COVID and 2020, Elizabeth has also completed and released the first season of her new podcast “Filmmaking Without Fear”. The podcast episodes are available to stream on all platforms (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify). Her book of the same name, documenting her success in the industry from ground zero up, is also due to be published end of the year. Elizabeth also directed and produced a movie titled Evie Rose, starring Oscar-Nominated actress Terry Moore (Come Back, Little Sheba), which is set to screen on Christmas Eve.
All of this has been accomplished by Elizabeth and Isabella whilst living on their 34ft boat with their Maltese Chai!
If anyone can prove LA is possible, Elizabeth can!
Take it from Elizabeth’s friend and mentor Sean McNamara, Emmy-nominated Producer, Director, and Co-Chairman of Brookwell McNamara Entertainment, “I’ve honestly watched in awe, and even used several of Elizabeth’s excellent ideas. She has actually taught me a thing or two, even though I’ve been in this industry as a director/producer for over thirty-five years. Elizabeth is always bringing fresh new approaches and ideas to filmmaking that are inspirational for me as a fellow filmmaker.”
Elizabeth’s drive to learn as she went and create her own opportunities, forged her path to success. LA is the land of dreamers and Elizabeth Blake-Thomas is proof that you can do whatever you set your mind to and accomplish your goals.
Interview with Author David Gerrold of “Star Trek” and many other shows 6/20/20
David Gerrold is a renowned author, screenwriter, producer and more. He first grew to fame writing “The Trouble with Tribbles” for the original “Star Trek” series. He also wrote other episodes and wrote some books about the show, including “The World of Star Trek.” He has published many scifi short stories and novels, as well as co-created “Land of the Lost,” and wrote for “Babylon 5” and quite a few other series. He’s been my Facebook friend for many years. He is very thoughtful, eloquent and passionate when writing about anything, including politics and news. I’m very grateful that he allowed me to send him some questions!
In 1977, after “Star Wars” came out and was a huge hit, especially among scifi and fantasy fans, my friends and I were in love with that groundbreaking movie and its characters. I dressed up as Princess Leia many times. My friend Cindy and I, and my high school boyfriend Tony, went to Starcon 77 in San Diego. I walked into David Gerrold’s panel late, and he proceeded to make fun of my “huge buns.” As a shy teenager, I was both a little embarrassed as well as thrilled that someone so famous, and connected with “Star Trek,” my favorite TV show in the world, would notice me. I had no idea, of course, that years later we’d be Facebook friends and that I’d get to interview him.
Here’s the interview!
1. Thank you for the interview! I knew you had written for Star Trek, but I had no idea you were so young when you did! Before that, had you already been writing scifi? Were you one of these people who just started writing early on, or not? Or did Star Trek just inspire you in a way nothing else had, to write?
I grew up with science fiction. The Van Nuys Public Library introduced me to Robert A. Heinlein, A.E. Van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Murray Leinster, Groff Conklin’s wonderful anthologies, and too many others to list here. I was reading a book a day, so by the time I wasa 19, I had pretty much scoured almost everything that was available, including back issues of the major magazines and everything I could find in used book stores. And I had been fumbling my way through my own stories for a while as well. But it wasn’t until college that I began to learn how to structure a story and how to phrase a coherent paragraph. Star Trek was a lucky opportunity. I knew science fiction and I knew scriptwriting.
2. You have written for many TV series over the years, but you haven’t written quite as much this century. Is there a reason for that?
That is a long involved story — but the major part of it is that I adopted a little boy in 1992 and put much of my television writing aside so I could work at home and be there to be a full-time dad. I still did a few scripts here and there. Babylon 5 and Sliders were most notable.
3. I was surprised at all of the mention of tribbles in “Star Trek: Discovery.” Do you watch that show? If so, do you like it?
I haven’t seen Discovery. I didn’t know they included tribbles. Nobody at Star Trek ever picks up the phone and says, “Hi, David. What are you up to these days?”
4. Have you seen the “Short Trek” episode about tribbles (second episode -“The Trouble with Edward”)? And if so, what did you think of it? Do you approve of the tribble backstory they created?
No, I have not seen it. The only tribble backstory is that they evolved on a planet with such voracious predators that they had to evolve to reproduce rapidly for the species to survive.
5. By the time “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” came around, Gene Roddenberry had passed away. How did it come about that you did a tribbles episode (“Trials and Tribble-ations”) for that series? Did you have the idea and submit it, or did they contact you about writing it?
I didn’t do that tribble episode. The entire staff of DS9 collaborated on it and they wrote a brilliant script. The cast and crew did an amazing job. I was invited to be an extra in the episode.
6. Have you watched “Star Trek: Picard?” And if so, what do you think of it?
I haven’t seen it. I’ve been too busy with other things. I hardly watch much television these days. There are a lot of great shows I’ve missed.
7. A lot of fans of the original Star Trek were not too thrilled with the Star Trek reboot movies they made. Did you see them? I thought the first one was “just okay,” the second one was awful, and the third one was pretty good (most like the original). What did you think?
I haven’t seen any of the recent Star Trek movies. So I can’t really comment...
Of the older movies, I thought Star Trek: The Motion Picture was ambitious. I thought The Wrath of Khan was great fun. But after they destroyed the Enterprise in Star Trek III, it wasn’t the same Star Trek for me anymore. Star Trek IV was a very good film, but I missed the original TV series because it wasn’t about villains, it was about exploration and discovery.
8. You’ve written so many different stories and novels, as well as TV. I read an interview with you from the 1980’s where you said that you had to come to terms with the fact that you were probably always going to be known as “the tribble guy.” How many years did it take you to become comfortable with that idea?
I never thought about it until someone asked the question. I do know that the tribbles opened a lot of doors for me. I’m grateful for that. Not every author gets to have that big an impact.
9. I know it’s hard to choose, but which story, book or series do you like the most? Which are you most proud of?
It’s not hard to choose at all. “The Martian Child” is about how I met my son, how I adopted him, and how I fell in love with him and became his dad. That’s the most personal story I’ve ever written and I doubt I will ever write anything that surpasses that.
10. For a scifi fan that is not too familiar with your written work, which story, book or series would be the best to start with?
I would recommend starting with the Dingilliad trilogy — JUMPING OFF THE PLANET, BOUNCING OFF THE MOON, and LEAPING TO THE STARS. From there, the newest book, which takes place in the same universe, HELLA.
11. What was the first book you ever read (if you remember)?
The first science fiction book was Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein. Before that, Dr. Dolittle, Mary Poppins, Freddy The Pig.
12. Which author had the most influence on your writing?
Probably Heinlein, but also Harlan Ellison and Theodore Sturgeon.
13. You write a lot of Facebook posts, many of them about politics/news. Have you ever had any political essays published elsewhere?
I’ve been quoted and published in a lot of places. I did columnns in Starlog and Future Life that touched on political issues.
14. Since you do write a lot online…do you think that this writing ever detracts from your wanting to write books or stories? If you get an idea, for instance, how do you know whether it’s something you want to talk about on Facebook or put into a novel (or do you sometimes do both)? I know that you started writing long before the internet, so I’m curious if you think there is any difference in how your writing is affected by being on the net or not?
Social media is a necessary connection to other people. Other people are source material — how they speak, act, think, and feel.
It’s also valuable research, I have a lot of skilled people on my friend list who will share a lot of interesting insights.
15. On that same note… Many people find the net or social media distracting from work. Do you?
16. Do you read all of the comments on your Facebook posts (or any)?
I skim most threads. I read the longer comments because those are usually substantial.
17. What writing are you doing right now (what are you working on)?
I’m working on A NEST FOR NIGHTMARES and HELLA II.
18. What TV shows do you watch for fun now?
Mostly, I’m watching movies.
19. On Facebook you’ve often mentioned you like redheads and chocolate. I completely understand the chocolate part. Why redheads (if there is a reason)?
It’s a tribute to someone who once made a huge difference in my life.