Tag Archives: Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise Talks Memorial Day Concert, ‘Forrest Gump’ Re-release

 mantegna sinise           Never say never. A few years ago, an online movie pundit declared that “the theatrical re-issue is dead” — and added, “Do not expect to see ‘Forrest Gump’ on its 20th anniversary back on the screen.”  It turns out, a theatrical re-issue is in the cards for the iconic film that was originally released July 6, 1994 — and went on to win six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Zemeckis and Best Actor for Tom Hanks. “Paramount Pictures is going to re-release the film for its 20th anniversary celebration in the fall,” reports Gary Sinise, who, you’ll recall, was also an Oscar nominee for the film. “It will first be coming out in the IMAX theaters and then it will be rolling into theaters across the country as a special 20th anniversary look at ‘Forrest Gump’ again.”
            Sinise already celebrated “Gump’s” special year the way he does best: his Gary Sinise Foundation coordinated a multi-day “Hollywood Salutes Heroes” celebration in February, with some 100 wounded service members being flown to L.A. for a VIP holiday. They made trips to Disneyland, enjoyed Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. feasts, and were honored at a big celebrity-filled party and “Forrest Gump” screening at Paramount Studios that reunited Sinise with Hanks and the movie’s “Bubba,” Mykelti Williamson. A concert by Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band followed.
            “Gump,” of course, is the film that started a life’s work for Sinise — with the real-life military, especially wounded warriors, embracing his Lt. Dan character as their own rough-hewn phoenix rising from the ashes of the battlefield. Today, Sinise is constantly involved in efforts to support such veterans via his Gary Sinise Foundation and a never-ending string of fundraisers with his band. He hasn’t acted since “CSI: New York” wrapped production in February 2013 — and doesn’t foresee himself acting again for awhile. “I’m too busy now. It’s very full-time for me with the military support work and the Foundation work we’re doing,” he explains.
            He will, however, be seen on PBS Sunday (5/25) as he cohosts The National Memorial Day Concert from Washington, D.C., with his long-time pal Joe Mantegna.
            “This will be my 10th year, my 9th year as cohost,” says Sinise. “They always have extraordinary-talented performers. Whoever wins ‘American Idol’ will sing the National Anthem, the winner of ‘The Voice,’ will perform, Megan Hilty will perform, Gerald McRaney, a wonderful actor, Dianne Weist, General Colin Powell — he never misses because he knows how important it is to keep awareness up of all the sacrifices that are made to maintain our freedom. That’s what Memorial Day is all about — honoring those who have served. That’s why I won’t miss it.”
            Looking back on some of the most memorable moments in the concert’s history, Sinise says, “One that comes to mind is Charles Durning who was on this concert for so many years, and who passed away last year. Charlie — one year he told the story of hitting the beach at Normandy and fighting his way into Germany. He told his own story. It was so powerful and so moving. These are the stories we need to keep reminding people. This freedom is precious.”
            The Concert’s Executive Producer, Jerry Colbert, also recalls the special peformances that have highlighted the event. “There have been many over the years, but a few that have stood out for me include Forest Whitaker, who did a story about a gentleman with PTSD and TBI that was an incredibly moving performance,” he says. “Katie Holmes and Dianne Wiest told the story of Jose Pequeno, about major traumatic brain injury, which showed tremendous sacrifice and dedication of the families. Also Colleen Dewhurst, who was on the first Memorial Day Concert 25 years ago.”
            According to Colbert, probably the biggest challenge he’s had to face came not from performers or their handlers, but from mother nature — “the rain that happened in 2012. There was such severe lightning and thunder that the program was closed down half-way through and the grounds evacuated. But with the great support of the crew, we were able to edit together the first half of the 2012 concert that aired live, followed by a seamless transition to footage of the full dress rehearsal from the night before. So viewers were still able to see the entire show.”
            Sinise is fresh from a Lt. Dan Band concert to raise funds for the building of an adaptive home for a wounded veteran in Lancaster, CA, when we settle down for a morning’s chat. The vet, he says, is “confined to a wheelchair. He’s paralyzed. He’s missing an arm. He has limited use of his right arm. He’s got traumatic brain injuries. He has two kids and he’s living in this cramped up trailer,” adds the actor. “The local high school kids out there found out about him and they started raising money to build him a house. I found out about it. My foundation is involved all over the country in building homes for the wounded. I called him up and volunteered to do a concert to raise money.”  Additionally, Sinise’s foundation reportedly kicked in $60,000.
            As far as “Forrest Gump” and its re-release, Sinise notes, “Having traveled all over the world performing for troops — you know many of them weren’t even born or were just being born when ‘Forrest Gump’ came out.  But even with that, I’m always hard-pressed to find a young person who hasn’t seen the film.
            “So there’s an entire generation of folks who’ve never seen the film on the big screen, so this will be an opportunity for them to see this beloved film. I think folks feel it’s a great time to put it out in theaters.”

Joe Mantegna Talks Memorial Day Concert, ‘The Fallen’ Follow-UP

hosts-vert01 (2)Don’t be surprised if there’s a follow-up to Joe Mantegna’s acclaimed “The Fallen” episode of “Criminal Minds” when the show returns this fall.

The November, 2012 segment that got into his character, David Rossi’s, background as a Vietnam vet also shined a spotlight on the problems of homeless veterans — with Meshach Taylor guest starring as Rossi’s former Marine officer whom he finds living on the streets.  Mantegna, who suggested the original, envisions a follow-up “that kind of shows what happened and how he has thrived, how he recovered from that situation, which will give hope to those in similar situations.”

He notes that Taylor “has been my dear friend for over 40 years.  He’s the godfather of my daughter, I’m the godfather of his son.  Our relationship in the episode mirrors the relationship we have in life.”

The episode also showcased the work of veterans’ organization New Directions in Los Angeles, which Mantegna was delighted to be able to do.

Right now, the brilliant and beloved actor is in Washington, D.C., getting ready for The National Memorial Day Concert, which he is cohosting with Gary Sinise for the 9th time.  In fact, Mantegna has been a part of the annual event honoring the military’s fallen since 2002.

“I had absolutely no idea it would become such a part of my life,” he tells us.  “It started when Charles Durning, a dear friend, asked me if I’d come in and read a segment for the concert.  Just the experience of doing it changed my life.  It had such an impact on me I said, ‘Look, I’d be glad to participate as long as you’d like me to.”  His third year, after former host  Ossie David passed away, he was asked to continue on as host.  “On the fourth year I decided I’d like to bring someone in on this who feels as passionate about it as I do.”  That was Sinise, who brought along his Lieutenant Dan Band. “Afterwards, he said, ‘Joe, this is so important, I’d like to be involved as long as I can be.”

And so it is.

This year’s concert features Ed Harris, “American Idol” winner Candice Glover, “The Voice’s” Chris Mann, Broadway stars Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe, Colin Powell and many more.  There will be a special segment in tribute to Korean War service members on the 60th anniversary of that conflict.  And, Mantegna reports, there will be a segment on the difficult subject of the high incidence of suicide among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’ll highlight that — there are some important things that will also be helpful, hopefully, for people watching the show. There will be highlighting of ways to get assistance for those going through these troubles associated with their time in the military.”

Hosting such segments is difficult, he acknowledges. “That whole thing of being in front of a live audience of 300,000 people, let alone the television audience.  It’s pretty awesome, an awesome responsibility.”

Once the concert is through, he’s taking his family to visit his cousin, who owns a resort in Southern Italy.  Then he’ll be shooting episodes of his antique firearms show for the Outdoor Channel in Italy and Germany, then on to Monte Carlo and London to do “Criminal Minds” promotion work.

As for “Minds” future — Mantegna is confident that the show will not only get an early pickup next year, but that his popular CBS drama will go right on through both Season 9 and Season 10.

He saw this year’s slower renewal coming, he says, “just because of the sheer volume of things that had to be worked on.  All of our contracts — all the actors and the showrunners’ contracts — were up.”  But now they’re all tucked in again with two-year deals.

“After that, we’ll see,” he says.

Mantegna never thought that the wrangling would lead to the series’ demise.  “I’ve been in this business long enough to know the value of certain things.  In this instance, even if CBS had for some reason said, ‘We don’t see you on our schedule,’ ABC would have picked us up in a heartbeat because we’re carried by ABC internationally.”

The nice guy actor always seems to be lending his celebrity to veterans’ and autism causes (one of his daughters is autistic) when he isn’t working.  He says that’s partly because the older he gets, the more he feels “I want to give something back, to leave something behind.  I read a quote that the noblest thing you can do is leave the planet in better shape than when you go there, and that’s what I think about.  Of course there are people doing infinitely more than I am in any of the areas I’m involved in.  I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be able to do something.”

Gary Sinise a Busy, Busy Patriotic Star Memorial Day Weekend

It’s going to be hectic time for Gary Sinise next week in Washington, D.C., when the “CSI: NY” star headlines back-to-back events.  On the 26th, he and his Lt. Dan Band will perform as part of the Rolling Thunder XXV motorcycle run festivities, by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

“Then I’ll leave right from there, race over and rehearse for the Memorial Day Concert the next day,” he tells us.  “This will be my seventh year in a row doing the National Memorial Day Concert.”  Sinise cohosts the concert Sunday, May 27 with Joe Mantegna.  Sharing the bill are an eclectic lineup including Colin Powell, Dennis Franz, Ellen Burstyn, Natalie Cole, Selma Blair, Trace Adkins and  “American Idol” finalist — and maybe winner — Jessica Sanchez. (Check your local PBS station for air times.)

Sinise has a full calendar of Lt. Dan Band dates this summer — before he goes back to work on “CSI: NY.”  Talk about an eleventh hour reprieve.  Up until last weekend, Sinise didn’t know whether the show would continue into a ninth season or be cancelled.  Last Friday night’s season finale, in which his Mac Taylor character had a near-death experience, was designed to work either as a season-ender that opens up new territory for stories next year — or as goodbye.

“I thought the writers did a good job with that,” he says.   Since it was a “reflective episode, there were a lot of wonderful scenes between my character and all the principle characters on the show” — including Mac’s new girlfriend, Megan Dodds.

Sinise had made it clear he wanted to go on with “CSI: NY,” and that the writers feel they have a lot more to say.  Viewers can look forward to Mac opening up his personal life, now that he has finally been able to let go of the anguish of losing his wife in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Asked whether he’ll be involved in endorsing or campaigning on behalf of any candidate this election year, Sinise says, “I stay away from all that.”  Though he is known to have strong political views privately, he takes a nonpartisan posture in deference to his ongoing, tireless charitable activities.  His Gary Sinise Foundation to benefit military service members in 2010 is the latest.

“We’re out there all the time,” he notes.  “We have to remember, each and every day should be Memorial Day when it comes to supporting and acknowledging those who fight for our freedom.”

Clinton-Blair Film Could Never Have Gotten Made for Big Screen, Says ‘Special Relationship’ Director Richard Loncraine

Dennis Quaid, Michael Sheen "The Special Relationship" HBO photo

Esteemed filmmaker Richard Loncraine reports that his ‘The Special Relationship’ movie — debuting on HBO tonight (5/29) — is being released theatrically in countries around the globe, save for the United Kingdom, where it will be shown on the BBC.

‘It will be interesting to see how a cinema audience accepts this subject,’ he says of the drama that sheds behind-the-scenes light on the relationship between President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair in the ’90s. ‘Is it the kind of film people will spend money on a babysitter to go see?’

With dazzling performances by Dennis Quaid as Clinton, Michael Sheen as Blair, Hope Davis as Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Helen McCrory as Cherie Blair, ‘The Special Relationship’ will undoubtedly be remembered at awards time. However, Loncraine doubts it could have gotten made for the big screen ‘in the present studio or independent film environment.’ He feels the same way about his Emmy-laden ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Gathering Storm’ as well. ‘This is the fourth film I’ve done for HBO and they’ve been a real pleasure,’ adds the director, whose feature credits include such fare as ‘The Missionary,’ ‘Richard III,’ ‘Firewall’ and ‘My One and Only.’

He candidly tells us that ‘The Special Relationship’ ‘really wasn’t much of a challenge for me, to be honest. It was an odd one for me. Peter Morgan decided directing wasn’t for him on this project, and I came in four weeks before principle photography,’ he says, referring to the play and screenwriter, who’d been planning to make his directing debut with the cable film. ‘Usually, directors have been working six months on a production before shooting starts, the last three months of which are very stressful and involve things like not enough money, or arguing with the studio. I didn’t have any of that, so I wasn’t as exhausted as directors usually are.’

He points out that HBO insisted everything be vetted for accuracy, which he did find demanding, especially since, ‘I’m not a particularly political animal.’ Much of the material was new to him, in fact. ‘I was struck by the realization that without Clinton’s infidelity, the world be a different place today. Obviously it was harmful to his wife and family, but it wasn’t like he declared war on South America. It’s stunning to think that such a relatively small event had such enormous repercussions from then on.’

MEANINGFUL DAY: Joe Mantegna, who marks his ninth year of hosting PBS’s National Memorial Day Concert before a crowd of hundreds of thousands on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol this weekend, has been met with much appreciation from veterans, active service members and their loved ones. But he’s not one to take thank-yous for his participation in the music-filled event that celebrates and memorializes the sacrifices made by troops past and present. ‘I mean, look, there’s no reason to thank us. The whole point of this is to thank them. I realize this is probably the most important thing I do all year,’ says the ‘Criminal Minds’ star.

‘The fact I have a career and have a good life and all that is due to the fact that we have people in the military who’ve been out there protecting us. There’s nothing to thank us about. I’m glad to do it.’

For the fifth year in a row, he co-hosts with pal Gary Sinise. This year’s event (check local listings) will include Lionel Richie, Brad Paisley, Blythe Danner, Dennis Haysbert, Yolanda Adams and Colin Powell.

THE VROOM VROOM ROOM: Supermodel-turned-super mogul Kathy Ireland has now turned to the world of super motors.  She has become the most recent celeb (David Letterman and the late Paul Newman come to mind) to become part owner of a major racing team — and car 43 will be carrying her brand out onto the Indie 500 this Sunday (5/30) with none other than John Andretti at the wheel.  The Kathy Ireland Home division of her Kathy Ireland WorldWide design and marketing empire is joining racing legend Richard Petty and Window World as sponsors of this top Memorial Day 500 entry.

Joe Mantegna Proud of ‘Chip Off the Ol’ Block’

Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinise PBS photo

Joe Mantegna couldn’t be prouder that his daughter Gia has her own series, ‘Gigantic,’ coming up on TeenNick this summer. ‘There’s a chip off the ol’ block going on here,’ notes the nice guy ‘Criminal Minds’ star with a smile.

‘She’s a very talented girl, in many way more advanced than I was at that age, from having been around the business all her life,’ he adds of the 20-year-old. ‘I think she’s ready. She’s already done a lot of other things — movies and television. They don’t give you these jobs just because you’re related to someone, you know.’

Mantegna, who heads to D.C. next week to cohost PBS’s The National Memorial Day Concert with buddy Gary Sinise, has commented in the past about how supportive and loving Gia has been with elder sibling Mia, who is autistic. ‘That’s another reason she’s mature for her years, because of growing up with her sister,’ he tells us now.

Gia Mantegna

He reports that Mia has become the first autistic person to graduate from MUD makeup school and is now involved with Joey Travolta’s Inclusion Films, aiming to be a makeup artists. ‘He’s doing great work with kids who have all kinds of disabilities. She’s knee deep in all that and just loves it. I feel very fortunate.’

This will be Mantegna’s ninth year as host of the National Memorial Day Concert — this year with a bill including Lionel Richie, Brad Paisley, Blythe Danner, Dennis Haysbert, Yolanda Adams and Colin Powell.

He recalls, ‘The first year I did it, I had to read the words of four New York City firemen who had lost their sons, who were also firemen, in 9/11. It was life-altering for me.’ Sinise came aboard the always-moving event a few years later. ‘He was touring Iraq with his Lt Dan Band, and I called him and said, ‘You and your band would be a perfect fit for this event. Why don’t you come check it out?’ …When he got in front of 300,000 people and saw how big the whole event was, and how meaningful, he said, ‘Joe, look — as long as you want me to be involved in it, I’ll do it.’ And I said, ‘Why don’t we host it together from now on?’