Tag Archives: Lifetime

Jesse McCartney in the Midst of a Whirlwind

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.”

Wunderkind Actress Joey King Talks Playing Battered Teen Bride and More

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.


Sharon Lawrence Talks About Body Image Challenges In and Out of Hollywood

sharon lawrence starving in sub

“Starving in Suburbia” debuts on Lifetime tonight

The potentially deadly consequences of eating disorders have been well known for decades, but that knowledge hasn’t made a dent in the incidence of anorexia and bulimia. “Starving in Suburbia,” Lifetime’s new movie about a teenage dancer in a down spiral of affliction, sheds light on a sickening twist that has been added with the advent of online communities that “encourage each other in this destructive, self-inflicted illness” as Sharon Lawrence, who plays a therapist in the film, puts it.

The well-spoken actress, who gained four Emmy nominations between her roles as Sylvia Costas Sipowicz in “NYPD Blue” and as Izzie Stevens’ mother in “Grey’s Anatomy,” tells us she was eager to join the “Starving in Suburbia” cast for several reasons. One of those was writer-director Tara Miele.

“I love supporting female filmmakers. It goes along with my work with the Los Angeles chapter of Women in Film. When I can support a female filmmaker, I’ll work very hard to make that happen,” she says.

Another reason: “I read the script and was so impressed by what Tara had written. It was created in such a clear and artistic way. It’s not easy to get both qualities to work together, but she has done that,” notes Lawrence of the movie that has moments the grow darkly surreal.

Laura Slade Wiggins of “Shameless” stars as the troubled teenage dancer Hannah. “She is somebody I admire so much,” Lawrence says. “You realize she has a depth of capacity for the sensitive nature of a role like this — and she has the professional skill to play such a demanding role in such a short amount of time we had to shoot it. I think we had 18 days. I’m sure Tara would say she would not have felt comfortable proceeding without an actress of Laura’s caliber.”

Of course, Hollywood — show business — is notably full of people struggling with eating disorders, or at least extremely questionable dietary habits, in their relentless pursuit of acceptably thin bodies. But Lawrence believes that the problem is “rife everywhere, not just in our industry.” It’s not only performers who find themselves attacked by haters on the internet if they gain a few pounds, says Lawrence. “It’s cheerleaders in high school, it’s dancers in competitions. Body image is one of the biggest challenges that face young women today. This knows no socio-economic boundaries. I don’t know that it’s as prevalent in other cultures, but our American culture is such a blend of access and imbalance.”

It’s hard to imagine, but drawn from reality — girls compete online to see who can get the thinnest. Lawrence has a positive take on that, however. “I’m grateful that they’ve sort of declared themselves, because that’s part of what brought it to the light.”

In the wake of a well-reviewed run with Bruce Davison in Noel Coward’s A Song at Twilight at the Pasadena Playhouse, Lawrence has a string of projects coming out that are related to issues she cares deeply about: Besides “Starving in Suburbia,” there’s the feature “Grace,” that deals with alcoholism. It recently debuted at the Nashville Film Festival. “That’s a beautiful story about recovery and the recovery community,” she says. Now being unveiled at the Newport Film Festival in California is “Una Vida,” a movie that “is really letting the community that’s affected by Alzheimer’s not just tell their story, but seek support and hope.”

Lawrence says she can’t remember a time “when all my interests have coalesced this way.”

On top of that, there is her Amazon Studios series, “The After,” a post-apocalyptic thriller created by Chris Carter. She smiles at mention of the show.

“We shot the pilot, which is still available on Amazon. The Amazon users watched and chimed in as to whether they wanted to see more,” she recounts. It turned out that “The After” was one of four series picked up for this new-fangled enterprise, in which the online sales giant is offering up its own productions.

“It’s great — not just as a new model for how the gatekeepers are shifting with control over what will find its way to the public,” she comments, “but also, I believe that the public will have influence over the way these shows will spool out. The viewers may have input as we shoot the rest of the episodes. It will be interesting to see how filmmakers like Chris Carter incorporate that.

“I’m so happy to have more outlets for material like this. This is a compelling show,” she continues. “It’s about eight strangers who are trapped in a parking garage when a very odd and deadly phenomenon strikes Los Angeles, and we are left to our own devices to survive. I’m thrilled at this kind of storytelling. And it’s a challenge particularly for me, because I play an 80-year-old woman.

“It’s interesting, not only to find the emotionality, but the physicality — not only to go through the prosthetic makeup process, but to find how this character walks and talks and speaks and breathes and all these things,” she says.

For a woman who in real life is a lovely and beautifully-maintained 52-year-old, that is quite a change indeed. As they say, that’s why they call it acting.