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Jul 19

McCartney and MichalkaLife is a whirlwind for Jesse McCartney, with his new “Expecting Amish” Lifetime movie, his new “In Technicolor” album, and his five-week House of Blues tour about to get underway. The timing of it all sounds like smart strategy, but according to McCartney, “It was a happy coincidence. The album release was set back around the end of January, and the movie came up very last minute.”

In the made-for-television film, McCartney plays an L.A. disc jockey who mixes
it up with an Amish girl (AJ Michalka) who is confronting worldliness for the
first time on a Rumspringa trip.

“It was all very new for me. I knew very little about the Amish culture,” says
McCartney. And while “Breaking Amish” and other reality shows in recent years
have put the spotlight on young members of the religion getting out and mingling
in the 21st-century world, he hadn’t seen the subject in a drama.

“I talked to the director; he really knew what he wanted. I liked the script.
I’d known AJ for years and I knew it would be fun to work with her,” he adds.

When his character meets AJ’s at a party. “He’s struck by her reaction to her
surroundings, and when she says she’s never been to a party before. There’s
something sweet about it. Before he knows it, he’s falling madly in love.”

And more. The drama centers on the choices she’s forced to make when she finds
herself pregnant by an outsider.

Meanwhile, it’s a huge week for McCartney, musically speaking. He released a
teaser EP of “Technicolor” late last year, and says he was happy to find an
appetite for his venture into disco/pop.

“These fans were waiting for it. People seem very excited about it, genuinely
excited about the new sound. Honestly, I thought they would like it. I think
music on pop radio is on its way back,” he says.

He doesn’t mind admitting he was influenced by his parents’ music. He thinks we
all are, “Big time. Whatever your parents listened to is your foundation of
music.” In his case, that meant Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees.
“I was singing at an early age,” notes the 27-year-old, who performed in
community theater musicals at 7, joined the boy band Dream Street at 12, and was
a bona fide teen heartthrob with his own solo success, as an actor as well as
singer, by 16. He feels he found his best voice doing blue-eyed soul.

McCartney says he wants to “push the album as long as I can and then get into
the production side of things in television by the end of the year.” He has
several projects on the burner.

And … what of the fourth Alvin and the Chipmunks movie? “There’s talk about
it. I’ve heard rumors but no official word,” says McCartney, who voices Theodore
in the feature series. “I’m sure they’ll make another. We work with the
Bagdasarians and they’ve been great about doing these.” Voice work, he adds,
“really is such an easy job — way less stress than being on camera. I went in
to work on ‘Alvin’ in sweatpants.”

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Jul 11

miles adcoxThere’s nothing like aiming high. Nashville-based therapist and life coach Miles Adcox says that when it comes to dealing with the personal problems of real-life people on TV in a non-exploitative way, “the best example of that, who was great at it, is Oprah Winfrey — and anybody who is even thinking about doing a talk show uses her as a reference.”

He’s certainly had occasion to do more than just think about Oprah of late. Come July 14, the handsome wellness workshop entrepreneur and entertainment industry favorite will be seen co-hosting Fox’s new “The Daily Helpline” with radio advice talk show host Spirit. Everyday folks with problems from overcoming abuse to battling cancer, coping with teen pregnancy to confronting sexual woes show up in person in the studio, or contact Adcox and Spirit via social media.

(Requests were already streaming in weeks ago.) Celebrities including Marie Osmond, Tom Green, TLC’s Tionne Watkin, Loni Love, Tabatha Coffey and Brandy guest in segments to weigh in with their own opinions and experience.

So there is quite a bit of potential for exploitation — depending upon how the show is done.

Adcox admits, “The therapy world is often scared of the media world and vice versa, because we feel like media is about sensationalism and we don’t want to do that. But the truth is we can reach way more people with a media platform than we could ever do one person at a time in our office, so that’s why I wanted to be involved” — in a healthy, Oprah-esque way.

“She didn’t come across as another expert dropping advice from 10,000 feet and hoping something would change. She was real. She was vulnerable. She connected with people,” Adcox points out. “And people had healing experiences on her show because of how good a listener she was. I haven’t seen that recreated since she left, and that’s what I’m excited about — stepping in in a way that can help people. I believe there is an audience interested in seeing human connection, and seeing real people helping real people and holding people in pain.”

Real people in New York, L.A., Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina will be able to see “The Daily Helpline” test run on TV. Elsewhere, viewers are being invited to sample via YouTube. A week’s worth of shows are in the can and more are being shot.

Adcox, who has guested on a number of shows in the past, including “The Doctors” and “Dr. Phil,” says he was initially asked to come in and help vet prospective hosts for “The Daily Helpline.” However, as the weeks went by, he went from being asked about other candidates to being asked how he would feel about taking on the hosting chores himself.

“It wasn’t my dream to do this, but it’s a neat opportunity for me to step into,” he says.

According to him, the celebs involved so far have been taking to the show as a neat opportunity as well. “Daily Helpline,” he says, is “not there to get the dirt on movie star. These celebrities are coming and sitting in our chairs to share an experience in order to help someone else. I was surprised — the few I had relationships with that I asked about doing the show, it wasn’t a hard ask. They were pleasantly excited about it.”

He says that Tom Green, for example, “was able to help someone probably more than we were because they were going through same experience Tom had and he was able to share how he got through it.”

That particular episode had to do with cancer and its accompanying stresses on personal and work relationships. Green, a testicular cancer survivor, has been a guiding light for countless men going through that ordeal for since his own battle in 2000.

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Jul 10

christine baranskiTelevision is in the midst of a new golden age, as this year’s Emmy nominations attest. Actors go where the best writing can be found, and TV is that place to judge by the flood of movie star names among this year’s Emmy nominees, including Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Billy Bob Thornton, Jessica Lange, Jon Voight, Jane Fonda and Julia Roberts.

It’s especially true for actresses, as Halle Berry has been pointing out on the promotional trail for her new “Extant” series. The women’s categories this Emmy year represent an array of meaty characters — Taylor Schilling’s prison inmate in “Orange is the New Black,” Lizzy Caplan’s sex researcher in “Masters of Sex,” Kerry Washington’s D.C. fixer in “Scandal,” Claire Danes’ CIA agent in “Homeland,” Margo Martindale’s Cold War era Soviet spy in “The Americans,” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ U.S. vice president in “Veep” to name a few.

Christine Baranski, up for Emmy honors (her 12th nomination) for playing law firm partner Diane Lockhart on “The Good Wife” is quick to attest to the multi-dimensionality of her character. “What I really love? She’s a powerful, well-educated woman, very well-spoken, and she can just go toe to toe with the guys. Women love that, they love to see it,” she told us. “There are so many powerful women in the world now, running companies, running countries, running the international monetary fund. They know how to talk to guys. They don’t, you know, bend and try to be all cute to try to deal with the guys. It’s a new world, and I love that Diane is totally comfortable with men. She actually likes men. You get the feeling, this is a woman who can sit down and drink scotch with the guys and talk sports.”

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Jul 05

KeenePhillip P. Keene — that’s hunky surveillance expert Buzz Watson to fans of “The Closer” and “Major Crimes” — plays things close to the chest when it comes to divulging what is ahead for his hugely popular TV homicide investigating team. As the current season continues to unspool on TNT, “I can say we will see dead people,” he notes playfully.

The actor and former Pan Am flight attendant also plays things close to the chest when it comes to chatting about his work life at home and vice-versa. “It works out best that way,” he says — especially since his husband happens to be show creator/executive producer James Duff. They’ve been together for 21 years.

“I have an interesting position here, being one of the cast members and also being so close to one of the executive producers and creators of the show. I’m one of the godfathers to other creators’ children. I’ve got to walk pretty nimbly,” he notes. “I really do try to keep things as separate as I possibly can.”

How does that work? Well, some cast matters never leave the soundstage — not with Keene, anyway — according to him. Duff, meanwhile, “is in the office most of the time, not down on the set,” Keene points out. “When it’s time to be at home together, we give each other space. There are a lot of ways. Sometimes he’ll start conversations on the telephone, and I’ll just walk away. If I don’t see it, I don’t know about it, I can’t talk about it.”

At this point, such I-know-nothing moments are second nature for the affable actor — after seven seasons of “The Closer” and three of “Major Crimes.”
He’s enjoying his gig as much as ever, even after 10 years. “I guess the best part for me is I get to stay and play with the people I like being around,” he says. “We’ve really bonded as a family unit.”

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Jul 01

bergeron pbsTom Bergeron expects to touch down in Washington, D.C., today, July 1, to start the whirlwind of activities leading up to his hosting of this year’s “A Capitol Fourth” gargantuan Independence Day concert on PBS. “I’ll do some satellite TV interviews alongside Kermit the Frog on the 2nd,” he reports, speaking of the greenest member of his talent line-up. “On the 3rd we do a dress rehearsal to which the public is invited, which is the whole show except the fireworks. And on the 4th of July, obviously, we do the live show.”

Bergeron credits the “Capitol Fourth” team for doing “all the heavy lifting, all the hard work” in preparing the concert that’s beamed around the globe each year. This year, the affable “Dancing With the Stars” and “Funniest Home Videos” host will be joined by Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle, Phillip Phillips, Jordin Sparks, Michael McDonald, Sara Evans, Kendall Schmidt, Kelli O’Hara, the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jack Everly — and John Williams in a special tribute to the National Anthem — plus The Muppets’ Miss Piggy as well as Kermit.

“There are so many lures involved in doing this. The fact that it’s live TV is certainly one. The fact that it is America’s premiere birthday party on PBS is another,” Bergeron says.
When the party is through, Bergeron and wife Lois will be taking a vacation on the West Coast for three weeks, and then he will shoot his final season of “America’s Funniest Videos.” He announced earlier this year that he was going to call it a wrap as host of the show that, as he’s pointed out, often revolves around someone taking a hit to the head, gut or groin. His feelings about ending his run now?

“Well, you know, it was my decision,” he says. “It’s the show’s 25th year. It will be my 15th year hosting, and it just felt like a good time to, as I’ve said, pass the pinata stick to somebody else.” As for who will be the new host, he says, “I’m hoping that will be part of what plays out during the season. They’ll be auditioning people, some tongue-in-cheek and some legitimately.”
Then it will be on to season 19 of “Dancing With the Stars” — coming off one of its best and best-rated seasons in recent years. The team is still enjoying the afterglow of viewer adoration for winners Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis, and for dazzling Paralympian Amy Purdy. “There were a number of other elements that people brought to their hearts this season, but I think those two were the key,” Bergeron says.

He does hear rumblings about celebrities who may become contenders for next season, but “I always play dumb,” he admits.

“It’s always better to unveil them all at once if possible. In late August, I imagine, we’ll announce the new cast. And they’ll have about three weeks to rehearse and get ready. Typically, it’s the middle of September that we premiere.”

When it comes to celebrities he’d like to see on “DWTS,” Bergeron thinks of “a friend of mine who I’ve often cited — he’ll never do it — William Shatner. I thought he would be great. He has said he’s willing to be a guest judge, but he’s not willing to put himself through all that hassle of actually competing. I can understand why. It becomes all-consuming, and more so as you get deeper into the run of the season because you’re doing more dances and it takes more of your time and commitment. But he’d be a riot.”

How about a Shatner guesting on “America’s Funniest Videos”?

“I would love to have him,” says Bergeron. “The stage we’re on is right next to where ‘Boston Legal’ used to shoot, so he’s familiar with the neighborhood.”

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Jun 29

103576_D0106bKim Wayans has little doubt that at some point she and her famously funny siblings will work together again — but it won’t be for awhile. “Everybody is really off doing their own projects and raising their families and things of that nature,” says the actress, who debuts as sleuthing paralegal Vi in CBS’s sizzling summer series “Reckless” tonight (6/29)

“Part of the artist’s journey is fulfilling your own personal desires and everybody has different ideas about things they’d like to accomplish creatively. But we do love working together and we have such a good time doing it, when the right things come along we’ll get back together.”

“Reckless” reunites Kim with director Catherine Hardwicke, who was production designer on
Keenen Ivory Wayans’ wacky 1988 “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” blaxploitation film spoof. “Catherine was just the best — such a fun, kooky, creative individual. I always really dug her,” notes Kim, speaking of the talent who would go on to direct the first “Twilight” movie among other credits. “She was really one of the primary reasons I got in on ‘Reckless,’ which is a whole different direction than some of the projects I’ve been working on. I thought the script was great, well-written. Then when I heard Catherine was going to be directing it, and she wanted me to come in and read for her, you know, I couldn’t say no.”

The legal drama, set Charleston, S.C., stars Anna Wood and Cam Gigadent as super attractive
sexy legal eagles set on opposite sides of a police corruption case involving a gang rape. The steaminess quotient, including the camera’s long, lingering shots on bodies beautiful, is mighty high — including beefcake such as a shirtless Gigadent.

“That’s the wonderful thing about a woman director. You get to see both sides, so to speak — good for the goose, good for the gander.” Kim laughs. “This is the new world. With cable the way it is, I guess the networks are trying to push the envelope as much as they can so they can stay competitive with these shows where it’s like, everything’s out there.”

She’s hoping that her character gets a chance to expand if there is a Season 2. Meanwhile, viewers will get to see more of Vi’s story toward the end of this season. While waiting for word on the series’ future, Kim has her plate full of her own creative projects, including big and small screen comedies she’s written, and expansion of the Amy Hodgepodge children’s book series that she writes with husband Kevin Knotts. They’re working on an animated “Amy Hodgepodge” project as well as interactive digital possibilities for their multiracial school girl character.

Should “Reckless” be picked up for a second series, the Knottses wouldn’t mind at all going back to Charleston. “My husband and I just loved living there. It was so peaceful. You don’t even realize how much stress you’re under living in a big city until you pack up and go somewhere else for an extended period of time. It was so stress-free and peaceful and beautiful. I mean, it was like being in a little European town every day walking down those cobblestone streets, looking at those beautiful old buildings from the 1700s, the 1800s. It was a magical six months.”

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Jun 29

Johnathon Schaech photo/Alan Mercer

Johnathon Schaech photo/Alan Mercer

Fatherhood has made Johnathon Schaech a better man. At least, the actor, whose wife Julie gave birth to son Camden last September, certainly feels that way. “It puts life in a whole different perspective. In my relationships, in my career path — everything,” he enthuses. “Trying to achieve success now is so I can make Camden’s life better, give him more opportunities. It’s adding to my courage. I’ll ask for something that I never would have asked for before. Maybe my ego would have kept me from doing it, or I was scared. Now I’ll step forward and try to make it work.”

Work has been the operative word of the last two or three years for Schaech, whose performance as movie-star-in-trouble Sean Walker on Showtime’s acclaimed Liev Schreiber series, “Ray Donovan,” has him among names being bandied as Emmy prospects this year. He’s been going from assignment to assignment.

“I was doing ‘Ray Donovan’ the same time I was doing ‘The Client List’ with Jennifer Love Hewitt. Talk about a purpose-driven life! I had a baby on the way. I knew I had to get back into the business,” he says, referring to a spell of disappointments he went through a few years ago.

He has certainly gotten back.

The character of Sean Walker, who lived in the valley of the shadow of a 20-year-old murder throughout Season 1, gave Schaech several gifts as an actor. One was the opportunity to work with Voight, whose slimy ex-convict, Mickey Donovan, was the very last person Sean Walker wanted to see.

“The experience of working with Jon Voight was the most amazing thing. I think we’re kindred spirits. I think we’re like the same guy, you know? Every time we played a scene, we raised the level of stakes,” he says. “It was like he was going to make me take a chance on doing something I wanted to do — and then he would counter that. It was everything I’ve ever learned about acting to the highest degree — to be free and playful and discover. Even in the saddest moments we were still trying to change things and make things happen. It invigorated me, gave me hope again.

“He’s the most generous actor,” Schaech goes on. “Even when he was off-camera, he was giving me stuff that was helping my performance.”

Also adding fuel to his performance was the fact that Sean Walker was “trying to save his family, the new little baby that he had” — motivation to which Schaech obviously related.

From “Ray Donovan,” he went on to the CW series, “Star-Crossed.” Then it was on to film roles including “Vice” with Bruce Willis and “Ray Donovan” actress Amber Heard. “There’s nobody like Bruce Willis. I learned so much. What a movie star!” he extols.

“Vice” takes the sin city concept of Las Vegas to a souped-up futuristic science fiction level. It’s “a magical place where you can do anything you want in the world, good or bad,” Schaech explains. That movie’s due next year.

As we speak, Schaech is on a break from production of the History Channel’s eight-hour limited series about Texas’ revolution from Mexico and the birth of the Texas Rangers, “Texas Rising.” Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta and Chad Michael Murray are among his cast mates. They’re shooting in Durango, Mexico, former stamping grounds of John Wayne.

“It’s been like a great big play,” says Schaech, who plays Col. Sidney Sherman in the series from the same producers who gave us the violent and vaunted “Hatfields & McCoys” mini of 2012. This saga, “is one of the bloodiest chapters in history,” adds Schaech. “This is a movie about war, about how people deal with it, about how they overcome and go back to their families, about how they fight in a noble way — or not.”

He has three more months of shooting ahead. “Three months — I know, it’s too long. I fly back as often as I possibly can,” he says.

And after that? Schaech makes it clear his work drive is still on high. He’s been fully booked for so long, but says, “I wish I was more fully booked. One thing about my job is, when the good work is coming, you want to work around the clock.”

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Jun 19

 

Fortune Feimster green cardiganby Stacy Jenel Smith

Before Fortune Feimster became a rising late night star as part of Chelsea Handler’s motley troupe on “Chelsea Lately“… before she taped her June 27 midnight “Half Hour” special for Comedy Central…before Fortune hosted the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards in NY… before she became a hot ticket on the comedy club circuit…before Tina Fey hand-picked her for a starring role in the highly-buzzed mid season comedy for Fox, “Cabot College” — before all that, she was part of another veritable carnival of fun, the Beck/Smith Hollywood Exclusive team, a.k.a., a “Beck-ette.”

Stacy and Fortune en route to press room at 2009 Academy Awards

Stacy and Fortune, 2009 Academy Awards

Yes, for more than five years, Emily Fortune Feimster toiled as an entertainment journalist, even as she was sharpening her comedy skills in off hours, doing stand-up at the L.A. Comedy Store and improv with The Groundlings. That’s why I can tell you a couple of things about Fortune that other people don’t know. For instance, there’s even more talent there than viewers have had a chance to see as yet. I have witnessed her pull off hilarious musical improv (yes, she has a voice) and pitch-perfect drama onstage. And don’t let that Mayberry accent, the generous integumental upholstery and stubbornly untamed hairdo fool you. The North Carolina native is a world-wise sophisticate, and super smart. She has a great big heart. Viewers will learn more by watching her stand-up special come the 27th. In the meantime, here’s what went down when the tables were turned on this former interviewer:

Q:  You’re a woman who is not afraid to put on a too-small Hooters outfit and wear it with pride. What pops into your head when you think of your gutsiest moment as a performer so far?

A:  On ‘Chelsea Lately,’ I started doing this ribbon dance, where they put me in a leotard and whenever we didn’t really have a topic and we were really busy, they’d be like, ‘Hey, Fortune. Go do a ribbon dance.’  And I would throw on this tiny, tiny leotard and run out on stage and dance for like 30 seconds in this ridiculous outfit. I would have to say that is probably my ballsiest move, because, as we know, my body is not built for leotards.

Q:  Have you always been so fearless?

A:  I’ve had moments of it. I was really shy growing up. It’s like, every now and then I would really surprise my friends and family. There was like this band playing at the beach when I was about 10, and all of a sudden I just got onstage and started dancing. And my family is like, ‘What?!’

Q:  Three of your most memorable characters on “Chelsea Lately” have been Rachel Zoe, Honey Boo Boo and her mom. Have you met any of them?

fortune as boo booA:  No. I actually really like Rachel Zoe. I really liked that show a lot. I thought it was hysterical how she abbreviated everything and was so dramatic. We invited Honey Boo Boo and her mom to come on ‘Chelsea,’ and they had seen my impression and didn’t care for it, so they said, ‘No, thank you.’

Q:  You mean, the thing about selling her neck gravy did not go over?

A:  She did not care for the neck gravy.

Q:  Who is the best celebrity to make fun of?

A:  Chelsea is the one who makes fun of everybody. I like to think I’m a little bit nicer, because I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We used to make fun of Lindsay Lohan and then she hosted the show and was really cool, so now I’m like, ‘She’s nice. I don’t want to make fun of her.’

Q:  What is your favorite item in your wardrobe right now and why?

A:  I have a denim shirt, a button-up shirt that I’ve been wearing a lot lately, and I usually wear it with denim jeans because I’m just really into the Canadian tuxedo look at the moment.

Q:  You’re moving on from “Chelsea Lately” — which is now marked for an August 26 finale show — to take on this new Tina Fey series at Fox. What is the status of “Cabot College”?  Will we see it in midseason?

A:  They’re still negotiating, and I don’t quite know what the holdup is, but hopefully we’ll know something by the end of the month.

Q:  Your character is very sunny and outgoing — and an out lesbian. Out and outgoing, and it’s all good. Tell me about her.

A:  My character is very boisterous and kind of the party girl and she makes no apologies for who she is. It’s a nice role because it’s not too far of a stretch for myself, and I get to pop up in scenes and do something ridiculous and get a laugh and leave. It’s pretty great.

Q:  Would you like to marry one day?

A:   I think so. It’s not something that I’ve really put a lot of stock into up to this point because I’ve been so busy trying to get my career off the ground. But I’m finally getting to the point where I think that would be nice, because you can have all the success in the world but if you don’t have someone to share it with, well, I just think it would be better to have that kind of partner and that support.

Q:  Have you had any encounters with fans, younger people who look up to you perhaps, who you were able to give a little encouragement?

A:  I’ve had a number of people coming up to me, younger people telling me that. One girl told me that she was gay and she’d never told anyone before. The fact that she chose me to tell was like such an honor because I’ll be part of her coming out story for the rest of her life. That’s a big moment. I’ve had people tell me they appreciate what I do because it makes it okay to be gay. I’ve had parents come up to me and tell me they lost a child, and they came to my show and it was the first time they had laughed in months. It’s pretty amazing, but that’s the power of laughter. Sometimes my job seems so silly — Oh, I’m putting on this ridiculous outfit and running around like a moron — sometimes you just forget it can have that effect on people.

Note:  After publication of this story, Fortune Feimster was named to Variety’s list of 10 Comics to Watch in 2014.  As the trade publication reports:

Selected by a team of Variety editors based on extensive polling of the professional comedy community — those who scout, book, represent, produce and cast comics on a daily basis — the group will be profiled in the July 22 issue of Variety and honored with a cocktail party and panel July 24 and 25 at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal.

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Jun 18

joey kingShe talks like a seasoned adult professional and has a list of credits to match — so when chatting with Joey King, it’s easy to forget she is only 14 years old.

Come June 28, the wunderkind actress will be seen as Elissa Wall, the girl who helped bring down a polygamist sect leader, in Lifetime’s “Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs.” “Scandal’s” Tony Goldwyn stars as the venerated and feared head of the rogue Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a man who had 79 wives — 24 of whom were under the age of 17 — and who wound up convicted of child sexual assault. He also performed dozens of weddings of underaged girls, including coercing Wall into marrying her abusive 19-year-old cousin when she was only 14. In that case, he was charged with accessory to rape.

King says she wasn’t aware of the FLDS case until she started researching Wall’s story. “To think that it was an actual true story is mind-boggling,” she notes.

It’s pretty revolting stuff.

“I know,” she admits. “But the thing is, Tony is so good. He’s not like that at all. He’s like the coolest person, but he plays the creepiest guy in this film. It’s incredible to see him make that transformation, because he is nothing like that. I look up to him so much. I’m a huge fan of ‘Scandal’ and I’m a huge fan of him as a person, too. He’s so sweet and such a good actor.”

Did she feel creeped out by the end of a day’s shooting? “I didn’t, because I knew Tony and I knew that he was such a nice guy and this is all just — we’re trying to tell a story that’s make believe for us. Of course, it wasn’t make believe for someone else. But it never really creeped me out,” says King.

“Outlaw Prophet” came in the midst of a string of productions for King, including her recurring role as Colin Hanks’ daughter in FX’s acclaimed “Fargo” series adaptation — and movies by Zach Braff and James Franco, each of whom got to know King while making last year’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”

First up is Braff’s July 18-opening “Wish I Was Here” with Braff, Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin. The dramedy has Braff as a 35-year-old actor struggling to make his dreams and family obligations coexist, and to figure out his purpose in life. It was hailed as a “Garden State” for grownups at its Sundance premiere.

King recalls that doing voice recording duty on “Oz,” she and Braff “were stuck in this little booth for six months together, so we became real close. He was so much fun and I loved working with hin as an actor. Then when he approached me for this film, I was very excited and intrigued to see how it would be working with him as an actor-director-producer and writer and it was nothing short of geniusness. I mean, I learned so much just by watching him.

“What’s so great about this film is it’s so relatable,” adds the precociously poised young woman, who started her career with a Life Cereal commercial at age four. Combining work and school has been a way of life for King through most of her life, which has seen her on sets ranging from episodic TV shows (“Entourage,” “Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” “CSI,” etc.) to features (including “The Dark Knight,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love”” and “Ramona and Beezus”). She lives in Los Angeles with her parents, two older sisters, three dogs and Jay-Jay, the potbelly pig gifted to her by Jay Leno.

“Everybody has family issues no matter who you are, no matter what you do. Everyone has family problems, there’ s no denying it,” she goes on, speaking of “Wish I Was Here.” “It really shows you that when you’re in your final days, you’re going to want to spend time with your famly. You’re not going to want to go drive that fancy car that you bought, or wear those really expensive shoes. No, you’re going to want to spend time with the people that matter to you. So if relationships matter most to you at the end of days, why shouldn’t they matter most now?”

At one point in the film, King was required to shave her head — and did it. “It was incredible and really, really crazy and scary, but anything for Zach, right?” she says with a laugh. “Getting to wear a pink wig was so much fun. I didn’t want to part with it.”

She says she’s debating whether to keep her current pixie cut or let her hair grow longer again.

King plays Miss Quentin in James Franco’s forthcoming big screen adaptation of William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury,” a book that’s hard to follow, as she points out. She feels sympathy for Miss Quentin, who “just wants someone to understand and accept her.”

“It was very cool to see James working not just as an actor, but as a director as well,” King says.

She’s just returned from production of “Stonewall” — another film that marks a reunion with someone who wanted to work with her a second time. In this case, it’s director Roland Emmerich, with whom she made last year’s “White House Down” thriller. King points out that the drama, set against events leading to the 1969 Stonewall riot that marked a watershed moment in the gay civil rights movement, is a changeup for the filmmaker (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) who has been called the Master of Disaster.

“Really, it’s an acceptance story about gay rights,” says King, who plays the accepting little sister of Jeremy Irvine in the film that also stars Ron Perlman and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. “A lot of people don’t like to talk about this. It’s very touchy. We’re talking about it. We’re making this film to help make the hate and non-acceptance stop. I think it’s very risky, and also very good. It’s not your typical Roland Emmerich film. I think people will really see this amazing side of him, doing something serious he really cares about.”

King will go back to complete her role in the film in a few weeks. Until then, she says, she wants to enjoy some summer time and chill.

After all, she is only 14.

 

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Jun 14

donald and kieferFollowing in the footsteps of a successful father is a journey fraught with challenges in any profession, but when Dad’s a movie star, the advantages — and disadvantages — are on a grand and glaring scale.

Colin Hanks has built a highly-enviable career of his own, with FX’s critically-hailed series version of “Fargo” the latest in a string of solid credits that include Broadway (33 Variations), film (“Orange County”) and television (“Dexter,” “Mad Men”). He’s a family man with two young daughters. And yet, he still gets questions about his father, the legendary Tom Hanks, in every interview he does. At least Colin seems to maintain a positive outlook about it — though he does confess at the outset of his career he naively thought those questions would die down after a couple of years.

For others, it’s more serious. Consider Peter Fonda. Every time Peter went on an audition, it seemed, they wondered why he didn’t possess the same natural skill as his dad, the late, great Henry Fonda. Then there were the other actors and directors who resented him, assuming his surname had given Peter an unfair advantage.

His relationship with his dad was hardly picture-perfect. Henry Fonda was far better at acting than he was at being a family man (he married five times), and when Peter became famous in his own right, as a drug-taking, chopper-riding delinquent-cum-counter-culture symbol in “Easy Rider,” his father was none too pleased. “I dig my father,” Peter once said. “I wish he could open his eyes and dig me.”

Kirk Douglas was one of the biggest stars of the 1950s and 1960s (“The Bad and the Beautiful,” “Spartacus”), and his son Michael became both a bankable mega-star and a respected producer. But for the Douglas family, there is a darkness as great as its brilliance.

Eric Douglas had all the advantages of a fine education (Pitzer College, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the London Academy of Dramatic Arts) and his famous father, Kirk opening doors in Hollywood. He worked with Kirk, made movies and TV shows. But he was never as successful as Kirk or brothers Michael, Peter and Joel. Disappointments and a disastrous stint doing standup comedy gave way to a painful 10-year struggle with drug addiction. At one point, Kirk said that he’d taken Eric to 20 rehab centers through the years. It ended with Eric’s 2004 overdose at age 46.

And then there is Cameron. Few who saw it will forget last year’s Emmy show, with Michael Douglas using the platform of his Outstanding Lead Actor win (for “Behind the Candelabra”) to protest his son, Cameron’s treatment in prison. Incarcerated until 2018 on a conviction of heroin possession and conspiracy to distribute narcotics, Cameron had been kept in solitary confinement for two years, said his father. He was reportedly returned to the regular prison population some six months later. Cameron, the veteran of four feature film roles, once appeared to be headed toward an acting career. Michael has publicly blamed himself as an absentee father for Cameron’s failures.

On a happier note, there is the saga of Kiefer Sutherland and his father, Donald. The two have had their ups and downs, certainly. When the “24″ star was just two years old, “He ran in circles and hit his head against the wall,” according to Donald. “I told  him to stop, but he said he was just trying to make me laugh.”  It took decades before Kiefer was able to achieve the relationship with his father that he must have craved.

A product of divorce, Kiefer lived with his mom, actress and social activist Shirley Douglas — years when there was an emotional as well as physical distance between him and his dad. After Kiefer’s acting career began taking shape in the 1980′s, father and son reconnected, appeared together in “Max Dugan Returns” and “A Few Good Men” — and became the mutually-admiring duo they appear today.

Last year, they filmed the forthcoming Western, “Forsaken” together as a pair of gunslingers. It’s their first go at jointly toplining a feature, which Kiefer told a British talk show audience is “something I’ve been looking forward to and nervous about for 25 years.”  Keifer said that when his father admitted that he was nervous as well and they could laugh about it, “It really broke the ice for us and it was just a fantastic experience.”

There are father-son performers who make the whole movie whirl look fun. Will Smith and 15-year-old rising son Jaden quickly come to mind. On the set of their 2006 “Pursuit of Happyness,”  Will was “teaching me along the way: This is how the camera works. You do several takes. Like, literally everything you need to know about movies,” Jaden told Vulture.

With two more Smith & Son ventures under their belts since then (“The Karate Kid,” “After Earth”),  Will now treats the 15-year-old like the seasoned veteran he is. Jaden sees himself and his dad working together again. They’re a team, he says, like Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, or Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.

Another father-sons combination in which fun played a regular role are the Bridges. When they were just kids, Jeff Bridges and his older brother Beau were tutored by their dad, the late Lloyd Bridges, who cast them on his hit TV series “Sea Hunt.” And at home, Lloyd taught them how to “stage fight,” and one of their favorite boyhood pranks was to start a fake brawl in public, attract a big crowd of spectators, then hurry away just before police arrived.

Jeff has made it clear that his father was always a big supporter of his acting ambitions. “He encouraged his kids to go into show business, he loved it so much. He taught me all the basics: how you always play a scene like it was the first time, how to let what the other actor is saying form your response, how to be part of scene and live it. All of it came from him.”

James and Josh Brolin are another example of father and son stars, in which pop has imparted hard-earned wisdom. As the senior Brolin mentioned in a chat last year, he and Josh have talked about the importance of avoiding troubled productions. “I’ve given this advice to Josh, and he’s really heard me now, that what you don’t do is more important at this stage of your career, so choose carefully. He’s done very wisely I believe,” says James proudly.

Show business fathers from Jerry Stiller (Ben’s biggest fan) to Alan Thicke (Robin’s chief booster) seem to enjoy nothing more than boasting about their offspring.

Perhaps no clan of actors has more stories to tell than the family of esteemed former “West Wing” star/political lightning rod Martin Sheen. The actor’s eldest son, Emilio Estevez, was a signature member of the Brat Pack, and went on to a respectable career as both actor (“Men at Work,” “Mighty Ducks”) and indie filmmaker (“The Way”).

“The most significant thing my father has taught me is that my job is no more or less important than someone else’s,” Emilio once declared. “When I realize there are a billion people in China who don’t know I exist, any flightiness is swept away.”  Emilio got some attention in the tabloids back when he married Paula Abdul and again when they split, but of course, nothing can compare to his little brother Charlie Sheen’s decades of booze-soaked, violence-riddled, rehab-studded, porn star and prostitute-loving shenanigans.

Martin Sheen has supported his kids (another son, Ramon, and daughter Renee, are also actors) in their thespian endeavors and their personal lives. The love and heartbreak he feels for Charlie has been out in public for all the world to see. Here’s hoping there’s a happy ending.