Andy Greenwald & Chris Ryan – The Hollywood Prospectus InterviewOctober 01, 2013

Andy Greenwald & Chris Ryan – The Hollywood Prospectus Interview

The Hollywood Prospectus (Grantland)

As the media is evolving, including how consumers are enjoying their digital content, so is the coverage of what is available. Fans aren’t just reading up on new movies, shows, books and music, they’ve begun to listen to podcasts on their favorite topics. The emergence of Podcasts, or Audio On Demand, is a nice compliment to Video On Demand as both formats allow us to determine when and where we want to enjoy our selections. 

 

Podcasts may have gotten a reputation initially for the guy in his basement talking about a niche subject, but the medium is breaking out. From comedians (ex: Marc Maron) and talk show talent (ex: Adam Carolla) reaching larger audiences to the hottest show’s (“Breaking Bad”) producers having their own shows, podcasts have really came into their own in 2013.


One of the more popular hosts and ambassador of the podcast platform is ESPN’s well known sports writer,
Bill Simmons (The B.S. Report). In 2011, he launched Grantland, a website dedicated to sports and pop culture. In addition his staff writing for the website, they also have podcast shows and video segments for the Grantland Network.

 

The podcast that caught our attention the most was The Hollywood Prospectus with Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald. And we're not alone. “Increasingly podcasts, and especially targeted ones such as The Hollywood Prospectus, are becoming an important medium for awareness in the on demand world,” Eamonn Bowles, President, Magnolia Pictures.

 

On Demand Weekly’s Britt Bensen spoke with Chris and Andy about how The Hollywood Prospectus came to be, why their chemistry works so well and their thoughts on the VOD industry.

 

 

On Demand Weekly (ODW): What were your first jobs in media?
Andy Greenwald (AG):
My first job was interning at SPIN the summer of ’98 and then I got hired to be an editorial assistant the following summer and then switched to the website in ’99. It was so misunderstood, they allowed me at the age of 23 to be the Director of New Media at Vibe and Spin. Chris and I had been good friends since ’96 and he came to New York and started contributing to Spin.com.

 

Chris Ryan (CR): My first job in the media was working for Andy. I worked regional jobs. In ’99 I started writing music record reviews and working for really small publications, zines, back when they used to have zines. Andy was moving to New York to work at Spin and I joined him down there for a brief, but glorious run at Spin.com.


AG: We had actually become friends for our shared love of music magazines and thinking about them and wanting to write our own reviews and pretending to make our zine, which we never actually did, but we talked a lot about.

 


ODW: It’s easy to tell from the podcast you know each other well. When did you first meet? 

CR: Andy and I went to rival Quaker schools in Philadelphia. We ended meeting each other through some people I went to high school with…
 

AG: …who I went to college with. Chris was in Boston for college and I was at Providence. I was going to college with one of his friends, and she said you like Pavement, I have a friend who likes Pavement and it was love ever since.

 


ODW: Alan Sepinwall (Hitfix.com) went to college in Philly. What is in the water there that is turning out TV critics?
CR:
There’s definitely something in the water.


AG: You should not drink the water.

 


ODW: ESPN sportswriter Bill Simmons had been crossing over into pop culture from his start. He then founded Grantland two years ago. When did you first become aware of Bill and Grantland and when were each of you hired?

AG: I think we both read Bill’s first column. The minute he started writing for Page 2 (ESPN’s former sports blog), it was a revelation for everyone more or less our age to see someone write that way and...

 

...making it seem effortless and

natural to care about different types of things.

To really want to joke about the movie ANCHORMAN

and talk the World Series.

 

To bring all of those worlds together was really remarkable. If the Spin.com email addresses still existed I could find us emailing his column back and forth.

 

CR: When Bill was writing for Page 2 in the late 90’s, reading Bill was sort of the highlight of the internet. I don’t mean to say that because he’s our boss. He captured the imagination of a certain generation of readers where sports influenced pop culture and pop culture influenced sports and you could be a fan of both things.

 

As for starting at Grantland, I came to it through Chuck Klosterman, who was a friend of mine back in New York. He came to me the summer before and said Bill was looking for a soccer writer and I had been doing some writing about the World Cup and English Premier League. I wound up meeting Bill in New York and it went from there. I moved to LA to work as an editor.

 

AG: I knew about it in advance of it launching due to my friendship with Chris and Chuck, but I didn’t have any in on it. I was looking to get out of freelance writing about music and get in to writing for TV. I went to get a beer with Chuck and he mentioned there might be a place to contribute something for this site that didn’t have a name yet. And I was like, no thanks, I’m good.

 

Then in April, 2011, another friend from Spin, Lane Brown, who was the founding cultural editor of the site and had edited my first TV recaps for Vulture, reached out to me saying he had permission to being on someone on a part time contract to help with the cultural coverage. And I thought, that was too good to pass up. I went from a part time contract to a full time TV writer.

 


ODW: What are you exact roles at Grantland?
CR:
I’m a Deputy Editor and I am in charge of the Triangle Sports Blog. I oversee the editing and assigning and writing on that side.

 

AG: My title is Staff Writer, but I am essentially the TV Critic, although the last couple of weeks, Bill has decided he doesn’t like the word critic, so he’s trying to come up with a different title. One of the great things about Grantland is if I get agitated about the Phillies, Chris will let me write something or I have written about books and movies, but TV is my primary beat.

 




ODW: The Hollywood Prospectus podcast is a must listen every week for me. Whose idea was it?

VOD Spotlight On Wonder Mike & Master Gee (I WANT MY NAME BACK)August 25, 2013

VOD Spotlight On Wonder Mike & Master Gee (I WANT MY NAME BACK)

Rapper's Delight Featuring Wonder Mike & Master Gee

I WANT MY NAME BACK highlights the rise, fall, and rise again of original members of The Sugarhill Gang, Michael  Wright (aka Wonder Mike) and Guy O'Brien (aka Master Gee). One of the most influential songs in the history of the music industry and #2 in Rolling Stone’s Top Hip Hop Songs of all time, "Rapper's Delight" was the first commercial hip hop release, forever changing the face of the music industry. 

 

“Rapper's Delight” is still, to this day, the number one selling single in hip hop history. The group followed up their first hit with another song still played today called “Apache”. Their first three albums went platinum. While this success should have cemented the legacy and careers of the original members, reality tells a much different story--one that most people, including those in the hip hop world, are not even aware of.

 

A story of unprecedented identity theft, copyright and trademark violations, Master Gee and Wonder Mike fight a more than 30 year battle against their label to get their names and legacy back. The film also features Grandmaster Caz (The Cold Crush Brothers), Melle Mel (Grandmaster Flash), and Vinnie and Treach (Naughty by Nature).I WANT MY NAME BACK is the journey of two men who want what was taken from them: their names, their legacy and their music!

 

ODW: How did you get the name Wonder Mike?
Wonder Mike (WM):
The first name I came up with was Savoir-faire. But I didn’t like the way it was spelled. It was too close to Savior. Back then rappers names were on a super hero trend. I’m in my cousin kitchen finishing a sandwich and I’m looking around and I see a loaf of Wonder Bread. It hit me right there: Wonder Mike.

ODW: How did people respond when you first used it?
WM:
They dug it. 

 

Master Gee (MG): I got the name from my great grandmother. When you’re a young man, a boy, you’re considered a master. When you grow up and become an adult, you’re considered a mister. My grandmother used to send me cards and letters, entitled Master Guy Anthony O’Brien. I was into the Renaissance. Kings and queens and knights of the round table. I liked how regal Master Guy O’Brien sounded. And I took the first initial to my first name G and added two “ee”s to it and that’s how I came up with Master Gee.

 

ODW: When did you meet Master Gee?
WM:
In ’79. We used to battle. We were called Sound on Sound and he was Phase Two.


I found out about an audition with Sylvia. When I got there, Hank was there. Master Gee was there. We used to battle all the time. He used an echo box to rap in. It was supposed to be for one guy, but she liked how our voices contrasted and blended together. And trios were popular from the Supremes to ZZ Top.

Where did Sugar Hill Records get its name? How was it decided Sugar Hill Gang would be the band name?
MG:
It all came in one sitting after in studio, we talked about names of the group, Sylvia, myself and Mike. She decided to call it Sugar Hill Gang, an affluent area in Harlem in the 30’s and 40’s. she always wanted to give us that distinction.

 

WM: They had other labels. Turbo. All Platinum. They started a new label and named it Sugar Hill and we were Sugar Hill Gang. 

 

ODW: Who were your influences?
WM:
Rap wise, I really didn’t have any influences, except for my cousin, Daddy Right. I was on my front stoop, and he came down the street with a boom box. He said check out my show at the Teaneck Rec. His group was telling stories with inflection and tone. I found myself making up rhymes on my job and approached him to join his group. 

 

MG: My influences were Jazz.and Funk related. Miles Davis. Max Roach. Funkadelic. Rufus and Chaka Kahn. That’s what I was listening to at the point in my life. 

 

ODW: How many records did “Rapper’s Delight” sell?
WM:
We lost count after 10 million. I heard from different people at the studio it was up to 14 million by 1994.

 

ODW: When did you first realize something was wrong?
WM:
We went on an extensive tour in 1980 (5 months after Rapper’s Delight was released). Before we left, we were told the foreign royalties should be when we got back. When we did get back, we asked where was the money? And they said, ‘what money’?

The label couldn’t concentrate on more than one band at a time. 

 

MG: I knew the records were doing well. I knew I wasn’t getting the money the record company was getting. I couldn’t prove what was going on, but I knew something was going on. 

 

ODW: When did you leave the band?
MG:
I wasn’t involved with Sugar Hill situation from 1985 – 2005. But I was always involved with Mike as a friend. And we always agreed that if Mike stepped away from the sugar Hill situation that we do something together. He called me in 2005 and made all of this happen. 

 

WM: Guy left in early ’85. I left in Fall of ’85. That was it. I didn’t see any point in staying with the label not being to focus on all of their groups.

ODW: But you returned to the band? During what years?
WM
: In ’94. Angie Stone called to tell me Hank and Joey were performing. I went to the show and performed. Joey told me they had other shows lined up. I stayed. One show lead to another and another. That lasted until 2005. It wasn’t a bad run. By March, shows were dying out. I called to tell him I had a good run and it was time for me to bounce.

ODW: When did the current band’s rebirth begin?

VOD Spotlight On Andrew Sayre (WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY)June 23, 2013

VOD Spotlight On Andrew Sayre (WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY)

Andrew Sayre

Exploring the all too common trappings of dissatisfaction and infidelity in the relationships of urban twenty-somethings, "WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY" tells the story of Anna and Alex, two fundamentally different people. Anna is a practical and bookish grad student. She lives a comfortable, yet safe life of study, friends, and her long-time boyfriend Kevin. Alex is a laid back musician, living the carefree urban hipster lifestyle, perfectly happy to coast through life unencumbered or work too hard for anything. Everything changes when by chance Anna and Alex meet through friends and connect in a way neither of them expected. This unlikely pair start a fiercely heated affair, putting both of their worlds in jeopardy. Is what they have together enough to survive the damage it causes?

 

 

See the latest Independent Movie On Demand (IMOD) Trailers here...

 
 
On Demand Weekly (ODW): How did you get started? Film school?
Andrew Sayre (AS): Wel lI'm sure like most filmmakers, I decided on the career pretty young, back in high school. I went to college with only that goal in mind, and recieved my BA from Keene State College in Keene, NH. With a minor in philosophy, to keep it interesting.

 

ODW: You shot WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY in 2010. When did you write the script and how did you finance the production?
AS
: I started writing the script in December of 2009, and had a finished ready to go script around late May/ early June of 2010. Which is lightning fast- I've ever had a film script come out that fast in my entire life. Usually its at least three times longer if they survive the writing process at all, which most never do. But this one just flowed out like water.

 

WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY


I self-financed the film with a combination of thorough belt tightening and collecting a year or two of my tax returns. Even with all that we are talking bare bones nothing production- I spent less on my whole film shoot than even low budget indies will spend on their craft service table. But, it got done, and done well. Better than films with 20 times its budget.

 

ODW: The film then played in several film festivals in 2011? How did you select which ones to enter and at this point what was your distribution strategy?
AS:
I took pretty much a scorched Earth policy towards festival submitting, as I submitted to pretty much as many festivals as I could afford to. I did of course do some looking into each one of them, to weed out ones that were clearly one type of scam or other (and there sadly a lot of them), and I didn't waste time with genre specific fests that my film didn't match: sci fi comedy, horror fests etc.

 

There were also some of the more prominent big name fests

I didn't submit to because I felt the chance of being accepted

at them were so remote...


...(if not outright nonexistent) that my limited funds were much better used at other smaller fests that might actually seriously consider programming my work.

 

ODW: The film is now available via Amazon, Createspace, and Online Movies Box. How were these outlets chosen and how is the film doing?

VOD Spotlight On Tim Roth (BROKEN)June 10, 2013

VOD Spotlight On Tim Roth (BROKEN)

BROKEN (Film Movement)

Summer has just begun, leaving 11-year-old Skunk’s (newcomer Eloise Laurence) days filled with dreams and curious wanderings. The one obligation placed on her by her devoted, single father (Tim Roth) -- she must always remember to regularly check her diabetes. The bond between Skunk and her father is loving and full of trust. It makes Skunk feel invincible.

However, when Skunk witnesses one neighbor savagely beating Rick, a psychologically-troubled boy from the neighborhood, her innocence begins to vanish. Despite the best attempts by her father to shield her, Skunk is unwittingly drawn into her neighbors’ unfolding melodrama of violence, sex, and illness. Filled with fear and doubt, Skunk’s happy childhood threatens to fall away leaving a broken, complex future unless she can be saved by the intense love of her father. BROKEN (Film Movement), is on Ultra VOD & Theatrically and iTunes/VOD on July 19th. Read our review

 

 

See the latest Independent Movie On Demand (IMOD) Trailers here...

 
 
On Demand Weekly ODW: BROKEN is a complex story about a middle class British neighborhood in a small cul-de-sac. What drew you to the role of Archie?
Tim Roth (TR):
A friend of mine produced it and I was wondering what she was working on. She sent me a script to look at and I thought it was wonderful. I thought the character (Archie) was warm, loving and a very good parent. It’d be interesting to play someone like that, have something disastrous happen to him and how he deals with it. 

ODW; Were you familiar with the book by Daniel Clay BROKEN is adapted from?
TR:
No. I had no idea. It completely missed me. The same as well with the director, Rufus Norris, because I’ve been living in America for so long. Fascinating the world he moves in. 

ODW: When you’re working on a role in a film adapted from a book, do you ever pick up the book in advance, or do you just base the role on the adapted script?
TR:
No, try not to. We did an adaptation on Rosencratz and Guild’s a long time ago. The temptation was always to go back to the play and see how Tom Stoppard had changed it. We found ourselves asking him, ‘can you put that back in?” and he’d say, we’re making the film not making the play. Which is a pretty good point. The same applies to books. 

ODW: Your character’s profession is a Solicitor. Could you explain to Americans what that is?
TR:
A Solicitor? He’s a lawyer. 

ODW: What type of lawyer is Archie? A criminal defense attorney?
TR:
Nooo… We thought of him more of mundane. Low end lawsuits. Fraud. Someone gets injured at work. Good at it. Bit of a cheap suit.

ODW: Speaking of suits, you’re wearing an overcoat throughout the movie. Is that a choice you made?
TR
: I picked the ugliest thing I could find. Often when working on something, I like to have one costume. To keep the visual of the character as simple as possible for the audience. It was really an unflattering suit and tie and deeply unflattering coat. I quite liked it. I found it to be very appealing (laughs). 

It’s exactly in his price range. Functional. If he has to be called down to the police station, it is his uniform. He’s in it at home. He’s that kind of working man. 

ODW: It seems he always just arriving or just leaving the house for work. 
TR:
It’s all for the better of the children. It’s all for them. He’s constantly busy.

ODW: The film intersperses scenes of your character Archie and his 11 year-old daughter Skunk with clips of them right after she is born. Do you think the image of her as an infant represents humanity before we’re damaged in one way or another?
TR:
Possibly yeah, Also, you get the strength of the bond between them (Archie and Eloise)....
 
It’s a portent. It’s a strong bond to break.
And it’s never broken. The bond between them never breaks. 

ODW: Have you ever worked with a young actress as talented as Eloise Laurence?
 
Skunk (Eloise Laurence) / BROKEN (Film Movement)

VOD Spotlight on STAND UP GUYS Director Fisher StevensMay 23, 2013

VOD Spotlight on STAND UP GUYS Director Fisher Stevens

Fisher Stevens

Hollywood legends Al Pacino (The Godfather), Christopher Walken (Catch Me If You Can) and Alan Arkin (Argo) star together on the big screen for the first time in Stand Up Guys. The action comedy about three ex-gangsters who reunite for one unforgettable evening.

Directed by Academy Award® winning producer Fisher Stevens (Documentary Feature, The Cove, 2009), and co-starring Golden Globe® winner Julianna Margulies (TV’s “The Good Wife), the tough but touching film centers on three retired gangsters who reunite for one epic final night. However, one of the friends is keeping a dangerous secret – and his time to find an acceptable alternative is running out. As the sun rises on the guys' reunion, their position becomes more and more desperate and they finally confront their pasts once and for all.

 

 

See the latest Independent Movie On Demand (IMOD) Trailers here...

 
 

On Demand Weekly (ODW): STAND UP GUYS has a g reat cast. Had you worked with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken or Alan Arkin before?
Fisher Stevens (FS):
I knew Al. I used to play poker with him and had done a lot of readings with him as an actor with him, but we had never officially worked together. Alan Arkin and I did a movie together 20 years ago, FOUR DAYS IN SEPTEMBER, in Brazil. I had never worked with Chris.

 

Fisher Stevens. Al Pacino / STAND UP GUYS (Lionsgate)


It was a joy and one of the greatest experiences in my life.

ODW: Who came onto the cast first?
FS:
Al came on first. Al and Chris were attached to play the opposite roles with another director. It fell apart. I got involved a year-and-a-half later. I executive produced a Woody Allen documentary for PBS. Al saw it and called me to say it was great. I told him I was directing this film he knew, he said ‘Oh’. And that was it. And when Al said yes, Chris said yes. And when Chris said yes, Alan said yes.

ODW: Can you tell any memorable stories from the set?
FS:
It was just trippy to have the three of them sitting around waiting for me to tell them we’re ready. I’m looking at the three of them, Jesus, three legends.

There was one moment in the car where the scene just wasn’t clicking and they looked at me like ‘Make this work Fisher’. That was a scary moment. I’m like,

 

‘let’s do this together guys.

You’ve been doing this a long time.’

And it did. It worked beautifully.

It was a wonderful collaboration.

I got to rehearse with them every week. On Saturdays. Al would have Chris come over to his house, just the three of us. I got to hear stories from the old days. And when Alan came in, the four of us, I kind of went to heaven.

It’s the three actors at their best and it’s amazing to see them on screen together.

 

 Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Al Pacino / STAND UP GUYS (Lionsgate)


ODW: It’d be great to be a fly on the wall.
FS:
Oh yeah. Being the documentarian at heart, I wanted to videotape, but they would never let me.

ODW: Who is on your shortlist of actors you’d like to work with you never have yet?
FS:
There is a lot of them. I’d like to work with those guys again. I just got to act with Ralph Fiennes in a movie. I’d like to direct Ralph. Vincent Cassell. I’d like to work with Jamie Foxx. Robert Downey Jr.

ODW: The film has a rich soundtrack. Were you involved in selecting any of the songs?

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