Showing posts with label press junket. Show all posts
Showing posts with label press junket. Show all posts

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Today is Dr. Seuss's birthday! No coincidence that it's also opening day for The Lorax. There were so many parts of the interviews that I loved, but meeting Betty White and Danny DeVito was my highlight. I left Zac Efron to Mary and the other cougars. (Kidding!)

DeVito could not be more perfect as the voice of The Lorax. I've tried to think of who else would have fit the role but I can't. He has just the right amount of gruff to make it work. Ken Duario, one of the writers said of DeVito that, "once that name came up as a thought and then, that was it.  That's all we ever had in our head because he's The Lorax."

DeVito has done voice work in animation before. He's done characters in My Little Pony, Matilda, Space Jam, Hercules and a cat in Last Action Hero. But, he didn't think about doing The Lorax until he was approached by the film makers. "I didn't identify with the character as much as I dug him," he said. "I thought he was really cute and cool. And it wasn't until two years ago or so when Chris Melandandri [Producer] called me and asked me if I would be interested."

When the interview was over, I told Mr. DeVito that he is the Boris Karloff of our time. Whenever I think of iconic Seuss, specifically The Grinch, I hear Karloff in my head. Now, when I think of The Lorax I'll hear Danny DeVito and I'll bet many others will too.

As for Betty White, could she be any cuter? I want to be just like her when I'm her age. She was so warm and funny in the interviews. She voices Grammy Norma. We all loved that her character was strong, sassy and cunning rather than doddering. Grammy Norma is actually instrumental in saving the day. 

I loved the Golden Girls and being in the same room with Betty White and listening to her tell her stories was so awesome. Between her television career, books and her work with the Morris Animal foundation, she's incredibly busy for a 90 year-old!

I promise this is the last time I'll say it, but I loved this movie. Dr. Seuss' words resonate just as much today as they did when he wrote The Lorax in the early 1970's. I love it that a whole new generation is getting to know Dr. Seuss and the lessons he shared.

Celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday by visiting to see all the sites participating in The Lorax blog hop. The Lorax opens in theaters today.

Thank you to universal Pictures for providing access during the press junket.

Toe Tappin with The Lorax Soundtrack

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This past weekend I took my family to see an advanced screening of The Lorax and I've been humming some of the songs ever since. Tyler has politely asked me to stop several times but I can't help it!  

The music in The Lorax is fantastic. The songs are catchy and help tell the story and fill the holes from taking a 45 page book and turning it into a feature length movie. When we interviewed the directors and actors, Renee and Chelsea both brought up how good the music was. Chris Melandandri (one of the producers) said that, "when music works, it's such an engaging, uplifting aspect of a film with that chemistry between imagery and song, there's nothing like it in terms of just immersing you in the emotion of a scene in a movie." The music definitely works in this movie.

In the middle of The Lorax, when one of the turning points happens, Ed Helms moves the story along by having the character he voices, The Once-ler sing about his morals and ethics. Helms had an interesting dilemma in voicing The Once-ler. For consistency, the directors wanted him to do both old and young Once-ler.

So in addition to speaking in two different tones, Helms had to sing as the young Once-ler. Despite the challenge, he had fun. He said it was  "fun and silly and ridiculous and campy." He echoed my sentiments that the music is "amazing," and that John Powell (the composer) "just knocked it out of the park with the opening."

I should have known I'd still be singing the songs days later because Helms has been singing too. "I got (composer) John to give me an advance of the soundtrack," he said. "You see me at a stop light and I'm singing, 'Everybody needs a thneed!'"

Me too, Ed. Me too.

I asked the writers (Cinco Paul and Ken Duario) how they determined what parts of a movie to use songs over dialogue.

"The definition," Cinco said, "is generally, does it sing? And so, you want to sort of find the moments when it's almost demanding that the characters burst into song. But, also we used the songs really narratively to sort of tell a lot of story in a little time. And so, the first song was just a way of how can we introduce everybody to the world as quickly as possible and have them tapping their feet while they're introduced to the world, and those two moments were ways to sort of compress time and to cover a lot of ground."

During the opening sequence of The Lorax, when the townspeople of Thneedville were singing and dancing, I thought, "you know, I bet this would be great on Broadway." Then later in the movie, when the three Hummingfish harmonized for the first time, I was sold. I think the fish are my favorite inhabitants of Truffula Valley. Between the bold, colorful scenery and the songs, I think The Lorax should be a musical and I said as much to the writers.

Me: "It was the fish that made me think that this would make a very good stage production. I can see these amazing sets and more musical numbers. If somebody came to you and said we want to do The Lorax on Broadway, would you guys write it?"

Mr. Ken Duario:  "Yes ma'am."

Mr. Cinco Paul:  "Yes, please.  Yes, I am a huge fan of musicals.  So, I would love that."

If The Lorax becomes a stage production, you heard it here first. I think The Lorax would have been a very different movie without the music. It would have been easy to get lost in the environmental message and it may even have been a little sad, but the songs interspersed with the humor keep it so entertaining and fun. The Lorax opens this weekend on May 2nd.

Follow The Lorax on Twitter and Pinterest and play games on the official Lorax movie site. The Lorax soundtrack is available on Amazon for $9.49. (as of 3/5/12)

Thank you to Universal Pictures for providing travel and accommodations to a press viewing of The Lorax. Affiliate link used.

Candy Buffet and Truffula Trees| Word{ful} Wednesday

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Phil has re-arranged his schedule twice so I could attend recent events and I wanted to give him a little thank you gift. His sweet tooth is almost as bad as mine when it comes to certain treats. Well, there was a whole candy buffet of all his favorites in the press lounge for the Lorax.

I made a little goodie bag and left it so he'd find it on his way to work in the morning. I figured he would eat it all in one sitting, and I was right. I told him I could have brought more home for him, but I didn't want to be 'that person' with an assembly line of candy bags in front of me. Then I showed him the picture of the buffet.

He said, "oh man. Next time, please be that person!"

Thanks to Universal Pictures for the invitation to attend the press event!

More Interviews with the Big Miracle Cast | Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristin Bell

Thursday, February 2, 2012

There were so many good moments during our interviews with the Big Miracle cast. We laughed a lot and the atmosphere was relaxed and casual. We were told many times that our panel room was "the room" to be in. Kristin Bell was in the middle of answering a question but interrupted herself to say "can I just say how lovely the energy is in here, because I do a lot of these things, and sometimes I'm secretly slitting my wrists underneath the table. And this is just such a lovely group of estrogen, that it's really refreshing."

It was nice to hear, especially since I almost ran Kristin over as she was coming out of the elevator and I was going in. I was just about to reach out and grab her arms to make sure she didn't fall when I realized who she was. My hands were left mid-air and it was awkward. Then, to make the situation worse, I called her sweetie when I apologized.

Getting to talk with the cast is good for people like me who behind the scenes kind of people. One of the things I liked hearing from the actors was what they did to prepare for their roles. Kristin's dad worked in broadcasting as a news director. I asked if his background helped her get ready to portray journalist Jill Jerard. "Without question," she said. "That was one of the reasons, in my first meeting with Ken Kwapis, that I said wanted to do this, because I grew up playing with a teleprompter and knowing the local celebrities who were the news anchors. But, it felt very at home playing a journalist, I guess, because I have gone to work with him so many times."

Since the events took place in the late 1980's, I couldn't help but compare how different the national media coverage of saving the whales would be today compared with back then. During the session with John and Drew, John, who played Adam Carlson, said something that segued very nicely into one of the questions I wanted to ask.

"I personally believe that the time to believe in speaking up and having a voice and what can I do to help and all that is now.  One Tweet, one Facebook page, one anything can start an entire movement for your favorite charity.  You can get a pothole filled on Main Street.  You can do whatever you want.  Or, you can go all the way and start a revolution and be out in the streets of New York and start a national campaign, you know?"

So I asked, if this story were to happen today, in terms of social media what do they think their characters might have done differently? John made us all laugh with "there's an app to save whales."

Drew spent a lot of time with Cindy Lowry, the woman she portrayed as Rachel Kramer. She answered my question with, "I would need to ask her [Cindy] that because that's not something we discussed, how would you respond to social media. I know she's not like, tech savvy.  But, she loved having a voice, and she really did pull out a bullhorn in the middle of an auction to sell off the Bristol Bay Auction. So, she really was that person. And she's a bit of a bull in a china shop in that way.  And I think people who don't know what the boundaries are and sort of do whatever they need to do to get their point across probably would love a social media platform."

As a military wife, I would be remiss if I didn't say a little about Bonnie Carroll played by Vinessa Shaw. There's a love story in Big Miracle between Vinessa and Dermott. It's not a big part of the movie, but it's a huge part of Bonnie's life and it was so amazing to hear.

The way the events happened in the movie are not too far off from real life. Bonnie and Tom met, fell in love and agreed to marry over the phone.

Vinessa Shaw and Bonnie Carroll
"The phone call, the first time we talked, President Reagan had asked me to [make a call]. He was so cute. He said, 'Bonnie, since you're in the National Guard, call someone you know. Don't call the Pentagon.'

"And so, I called someone I knew in the Guard who called someone who called someone who called someone, and ultimately, they got up to Barrow, Alaska. And I was still at my desk working, not waiting for a phone call, just at my desk working at two in the morning when the phone rang.  And that was the first time that he [Tom] called.

And we talked for a few minutes about the whale rescue and how things are going, and it just took my breath away. And we just stopped, and I just wondered, “Where have you been?”

And we knew each other.  I can't explain it. Literally, we were together from that moment, inseparable, absolutely together.  And we were together right up until the morning that I saw him off on that flight. And he didn't come back. It's one in a million, but it really, really, really, really happened that way. We agreed to be married before we ever met in person."  

I knew about Tom's death from researching the characters before I saw the movie. Bonnie started TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) after Tom died. There is more about the two of them and their lives together on the TAPS site. It really is amazing to read about.

As I said in my earlier post, I really enjoyed this film. It's a good family movie, though younger kids may not be able to understand everything. If you homeschool, there are a ton of things to talk about: whales and migration, The Cold War, Alaska and the Inupiat tribe, technology today versus the 1980's and how different media coverage is today. Big Miracle opens this weekend!

Watch and share the Big Miracle trailer on Facebook and Universal Pictures will donate $1 to Oceana. Thank you again to Universal for inviting me to participate!

Interview With Big Miracle Director Ken Kwapis

Monday, January 30, 2012

Last weekend I spent a wonderful few days in Santa Monica for the press tour of the new movie, Big Miracle starring Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristin Bell, Ted Danson, Dermot Mulroney and Vinessa Shaw. Even though the film is based on real events that took place in the late 1980's, I don't remember any of the news stories catching my attention at the time. 

The story takes place over two weeks in Barrow, Alaska. Three California grey whales were late in their migration and got trapped when temperatures dropped faster than normal and the ice froze very quickly. An Alaskan reporter, played by Krasinski, taped video of the whales breaching in a small hole in the ice and the footage ended up on Tom Brokaw's national evening newscast. Soon, saving the three whales went beyond the locals of Barrow and became a matter for the US and Russian military, the White House, Greenpeace and a large oil company.

Mom Blogger Big Miracle interview panel
I'll admit, I was expecting Big Miracle to have a high cheese factor. Sometimes, true events that get converted to the big screen are more exaggeration than real (like The Blind Side). But thankfully that wasn't the case here. There are so many different elements to the movie, it could have been easy to get lost in all the story arcs but Director Ken Kwapis pulled them all together really well.

"A lot of people want to know what it's like as a director working on a film that has so many characters on it," Ken Kwapis said. "In addition to so many characters, there's so many sort of story strands. For instance, there's a geopolitical aspect. It's sort of a tale of the end of the Cold War. There's, what it's like to live in Alaska. It's a young boy's coming of age story. There's a kind of not quite romantic triangle in the middle of it. And all these things kind of hover around a rescue adventure."

Watching the movie and knowing what we're seeing on the screen happened, it's hard to tell what parts are for show and what was real. To me, that's a sign the movie is doing its job of pulling the viewers in.

The director admits one of the more emotional scenes in the movie was invented but adds that, " and large, the most unbelievable events in the film did actually happen. People did carve a path of holes for five miles. I have no clue how they did it. There was an actual event in which a search and rescue chopper pilot brought a flammable generator across the ice, and it was so cold because they had to open the doors that his eye did freeze shut, yes. That actually happened."

Other than the actors, the real stars of Big Miracle were the whales. It was refreshing to see a movie that could have gone heavily CGI choose to use animatronics instead. Fred, Wilma and Bamm Bamm really do look like live whales. All of the actors were able to forget they weren't actually real and lose themselves in the scenes with the whales.

"Yes, the animatronic whales were really unbelievable," John Krasinski said. "They were so well done. These guys from Australia built them and engineered them and then were working them. And it was kind of insane because you really did not believe that they were robots. It was very overwhelming to see one of these things pop out. And while you were acting, to have these things continuously coming out of the water was phenomenal."

Kristin Bell even joked that, "they were more real than some actors I know. Not in this movie, but they were so well made from their scarring to their barnacles. From action to cut, you genuinely felt connected, as if they were animals."

I really liked this movie and hope to read the book it was based on, Freeing the Whales, soon. I know my son will enjoy the movie too. More interview snippets to come!

Click here to watch the trailers for Big Miracle. The movie opens Friday, February 3rd. Follow #BigMiracle on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you to Universal Pictures for including me on the press tour! 

(Universal provided accommodations, meals, access to the actors and director and entertainment)

The Hop Junket: A Real Housewife in Beverly Hills Pt 2

Friday, April 1, 2011

You may have heard there's a new Easter themed movie opening today. I went to see HOP a few weekends ago as part of a press junket. I'll be honest, my expectations were low. The early trailers were not inspiring. Live action and CG hybrids that both kids and adults enjoy seem to be a rare breed. I'm hoppy (get it?) it to say that HOP is one of those rarities. 

Parents will enjoy it because it's humorous, has great music and dialogue and is well cast. Kids will love it because of the sight gags, music, drumming and colors. 

Blogger-Press-Junket-for-the-movie-HOPThe movie has themes we've seen before: finding one's passion, living up to the expectations of our parents, the relationship between fathers and sons, believing in magic and the need to find your own way in life. One of the good things about HOP is it doesn't beat us over the head with the themes and lessons.

We were lucky enough to get some time to interview James Marsden, Russel Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Tim Hill and Chris Meledandri. I enjoyed speaking with all of them just as much, if not more, than watching the movie itself.

It was easy for me to not get caught up in the messages of the movie because director Hill and producer Meledandri did such a great job with the visuals. The scenery in HOP is beautiful.
Mr. Chris Meledandri: One thing that Tim was very intent on was that, if we were going to be peeling back the curtains of this mythology that you’ve never seen before, that just the depiction of the world itself visually had to be spectacular.
Tim Hill in between Catherine and Dan; Chris Meledandri kneeling
It had to have the scale of spectacle that you would associate with a part of our cultural mythology. Tim worked for months and months and months with our teams of artists in really trying to visually define what this magical place underneath Easter Island has, what it would look like.
He [Tim] then had to figure out how to immerse the audience in it. He’s done a fantastic job. The virtues of these mediums that we’re working in are that world is just marvelous and fantastical, but on the other hand, you really believe that you're in it.
I grew up in a pretty religious household, but my parents hid a basket for me and we went to Easter egg hunts. I was curious how the movie would treat the role of the Easter bunny and if parents who have children who still believe would need to do any backpedaling to keep the magic alive. That's not the case with HOP.
Blogger: My two oldest children are the same age as your children and I’m wondering how you deal with the magic of holidays. Is your 10 year old son mumbling things to your five year old daughter?

James Marsden between Renee and EB
Mr. James Marsden: No, because my 10 year old son is a believer. He hears things from kids at school, but my wife has been really good about that. My wife still believes. She’s said, “My father taught me that if you believe in it, it’s there.”
Tyler still believes in magic though I have a feeling that will change in a few more years. If, after seeing HOP, he asks me if the Easter Bunny is real I can paraphrase Russel Brand (who voices EB):
Blogger: Did you ever or do you now believe in the Easter Bunny?
Mr. Russell Brand: I believe in the possibility of all things because of the nature of infinite space. If the universe is infinite, that means, inevitably, all possibilities exist.
So, somewhere, there is an Easter Bunny. Somewhere else, there's a one-legged Easter Bunny. Somewhere else, there's a robot Easter Bunny. There’s an Easter Bunny crossed with a Darth Vader because of infinity. With infinity, everything would occur.
Me, Meredith Sinclair and Kim Grundy
Who knew that a discussion of a family film would evolve into something so existential? 

I won't recommend Hop for kids under 5. It's not scary but there is a scene they might find disturbing (think Fatal Attraction), but I can honestly say Hop is a movie I won't mind seeing a second time.

Other recaps of the movie, junket and interviews:
Matt from Geek Dad
Renee from Cutie Booty Cakes
Meredith writing for Mom in the City 
Dawn writing for 5 Minutes for Mom
Catherine from Her Bad Mother
Kim writing for She Knows
Sara writing for Baby Center

My own photos from the HOP press junket on Flickr. Photos in this post courtesy of Chris and Kristen Photography. Thank you to Universal for hosting me for the weekend and providing hotel and meals.

A Real Housewife in Beverly Hills

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two weekends ago I headed up to Beverly Hills to stay at The Four Seasons and attend the HOP movie press junket. You know, a typical weekend. Before I left I did a little grocery shopping, a little straightening up and made a pot of chili for the boys to have leftovers. I tried to squeeze in a mani/pedi too. I told Phil I was heading out to get one and I got an eye roll back.



"Well, I don't want to show up in Beverly Hills looking like a stay at home mom."

"You are a stay at home mom."

"Yes, but that doesn't mean I have to look like one!"

In the end I decided replacing my foundation was more important than my having my nails done. I left Friday afternoon and almost the entire drive up to LA I was obsessing over my appearance. My gray hairs were out in full force, I was in desperate need of a good blow out, I'd broken two nails and my stress acne was flaring up big time (thus the need for new foundation). 

Hi Russel Brand, nice to meet you. I'm Hot Mess Housewife.

Alright vanity, you win.
Instead of heading to the hotel when I got off the freeway I went straight to Beverly Center and the nearest MAC counter*. I had my face done, complete with fake eyelashes.

Now, I didn't have it done because I was worried about what everyone else would think of me. I did it for myself. Sure, I could wear makeup every day. But, why? I'm home alone all day. It's not the same as being out and about.

When I was a "working mom," putting on makeup and curling my hair was part of the package. I looked nice. Now, my standard uniform is a ponytail, jeans, wedges and a comfortable top. When I see other ladies all made up to go to Costco, it seems kinda silly.

For one night, I wanted to feel confident and self assured. I wanted to feel pretty. If you haven't tried them out, fake eyelashes do it for me, every time. 

When I got to the hotel, I pulled on my Spanx, my new shirt and boots and walked out of my room feeling like a million bucks.

L to R: Catherine, Kim, Dan, Meredith and Sara

Seana and Renee
I met new people, made new friends and was able to do it with a real smile. Not a self conscious one.

What do you to make yourself feel like a million dollars?

*I saw Amy Adams at the Clinique counter. She is just as pretty in person and tiny! I'm not used to being taller than anyone else! Thank you to Universal for the royal treatment (and my hotel, movie tickets and awesome food)! Photos courtesy of Chris and Kristen Photography
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