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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Thursday
Apr202017

Call Answered: Matthew Montelongo: "Daniel's Husband" at Primary Stages

Matthew Montelongo, Photo Credit: Manolo DoresteAfter seeing Michael McKeever's new play Daniel's Husband I couldn't wait to find out more about it. I was thrilled when I called, and Matthew Montelongo answered. I was so taken by his performance, it's great to delve into Matthew & his portrayal of "Mitchell."

In Daniel's Husband, "Daniel" and "Mitchell" enjoying life as the perfect couple. Perfect house, perfect friends, even a mother who wants them to wed. What isn't perfect is that "Daniel" longs to be married and "Mitchell" does not. A turn of events forces both men to face the consequences of their opposing views, and they learn that they are living in a world where fundamental rights aren't always so fundamental. Daniel's Husband takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot. Or not.

Daniel's Husband plays at Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street) through April 28 only! Click here for tickets!

For more on Matthew follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I wish I had an inspiring story to share. You know those stories. A story of discovering my deep desire to act after witnessing a life-altering, transformational performance by some lauded performer of yester-year. Rather, and this is utterly boring (the truth usually is), I auditioned for a play in college and a kind director showed interest, telling me that I had potential. In that moment, for better AND for worse, I became enamored of that rare, thrilling moment when you are told that you’ve done something well. I’m a sucker for a Gold Star. Always have been. As I’m sure you and your readers are well aware, getting approval is a ridiculous reason to do anything. I am nothing, if not ridiculous.

2. After starring in the regional production of Daniel's Husband, you are now performing with it again at Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC. What initially made you want to be part of the show and what made you want to continue on with it? (I mean, after seeing the show, I can tell why would want to continue with it). I loved Daniel’s Husband when I first read it last August. It moved me deeply. And it’s been my experience that when that happens whilst reading something that I may or may not even get cast in, I know it’s something really special. Beyond the emotional connection, the play checks all of my boxes: new play (check), great theatre (check), great director (check). Lastly, I thought the arguments for and against marriage equality made in the play were both provocative and grounded in reality.

As for moving the play to The Cherry Lane, I think this simple rule applies: If given a chance to work with Joe Brancato, Ryan Spahn, Lou Liberatore, Leland Wheeler, and Anna Holbrook: YOU SAY YES.

Matthew Montelongo in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse3. What do you relate to most about "Mitchell"? What is one characteristic of his, you are glad you don't have? Like "Mitchell," I don’t shy away from sharing my opinions. This is often one of the ways in which people describe themselves (perhaps especially in interviews) that’s more of a humble-brag than an honest criticism. I don’t mean it like that. "Mitchell," and on occasion, I, can get obnoxious when it comes to proving a point. My mother, when I was younger (okay, like yesterday) used to yell "Life is not a debate!" whenever we argued. It can get tiresome, especially when the stakes for every argument are life-and-death. I’ve learned in the many years (cough cough) since being on my high school’s debate team, that some points don’t need to be proven. Like whether gluten allergies are real; or whether it’s better to stand at the front of the C-Train; or if Cargo Shorts are cool. (My answers, by the way, are: I don’t care. Yes. And YES).

4. What do you think is "Mitchell's" greatest strength and weakness? "Mitchell" is brought low in Daniel’s Husband by his fervent opposition to gay marriage, but is buoyed (perhaps even saved) by his equally unyielding love for "Daniel." I admire the strength of his convictions, even if he is almost destroyed by the consequences of having them.

Ryan Spahn and Matthew Montelongo in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse5. In Daniel's Husband, "Mitchell" is not pro marriage because he doesn't want to conform to societal standards. When have you been pushed by friends and loved ones to do something that so many others do, but you say, "No, I'm not going to do this and be like everyone else"? I can’t think of a time when I’ve been pushed by my friends and loved ones to do something that I didn’t want to do. I’m not counting, of course, the fact that I refuse, much to the chagrin of my friends and loved ones, to stop wearing Cargo Shorts (see answer to question #3). For the most part, my friends and loved ones are FAR smarter than I am. If they think it’s a good idea, it probably is.

6. Without giving too much of the play away, there is a turn of events that makes "Mitchell" regret his decision not to get married. What is something in your life that you regret not doing or wishing you made a different decision than you did? I regret eating as much as I did for breakfast. Aside from that, I tend to not let myself dwell on past choices. If I make a wrong choice, I try to learn from it. If I’m able to do that, then perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that wrong of a choice. All that being said, I DEEPLY regret what I had for breakfast.

Matthew Montelongo and Leland Wheeler in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse7. "Mitchell" is also a fighter in that he really goes after what he wants, both personally and professionally. What is something you haven't done yet or still want to achieve in your personal & professional life? Professionally, I just want to work. More plays, more TV, projects that I like and that also allow me to pay my rent (I know, I’m a dreamer). For what it’s worth, I’ve always wanted to play a corpse on an episodic television show. Can one of your readers make that happen?

Personally, I want to eat well, work out more, be a better friend, son, and partner. But I’ll settle for eating fewer bagels (my weakness) and spending more quality time with my boyfriend (he comes in a very close second to bagels).

8. What are some stories you've heard at the stage door afterwards? I haven’t been privy to many stage door stories. In general, I duck my head and run. But this show moves people, and I VERY MUCH appreciate their willingness to share that with me after the show. I’ve gotten hugs from strangers on my walk home from the theatre, which is lovely. I’ve also been asked, more than once, if I’m related to Ben Affleck, which I take as a compliment (so long as it’s Argo Affleck and not Daredevil Affleck).

9.  I'm just going to put my cards on the table and say, when the play first started, I thought, "Oh great, this is going to be another stereotypical play about a group of gay friends at a dinner party and their lives afterwards." Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. This show has so much depth and deals with some really important issues such as gay marriage, gay rights, what makes a family, & crossing boundaries. It made me think a lot about my life. From starring in this show, how do you feel it has changed the way you look at your life and what you want from it? I have spent a great deal of time in my non-actor life working for marriage equality (I help pay the bills by freelance writing, frequently for LGBTQ nonprofits). Before living in "Mitchell’s" skin eight times a week, I wouldn’t have been able to be in the same room with him – or anyone who so vehemently opposes marriage in general and gay marriage specifically. Now, however, though I still disagree with his opinions, I respect his reasons. And even more so, I respect that his opposition to marriage doesn’t in ANY way compromise his love for "Daniel." Seeing that in "Mitchell," and "living" it every night, has changed the way I interact with others in my non-actor life who don’t share my support of marriage equality or belief in the protections of marriage in general.

Matthew Montelongo, Photo Credit: Manolo DoresteMore on Matthew:

Broadway: A View from the Bridge and The Ritz. Off-Broadway: One Night (Cherry Lane), This Backstage Life (Atlantic), His Daddy (EST), Whore (SPF), God’s Ear (Vineyard Theatre/New Georges), Five Flights (Rattlestick), The Mineola Twins and Arms and the Man (Roundabout), and Tartuffe (NYSF/Public Theatre). Television: Forever, Gossip Girl, Law & Order: SVU (x2). Film: Bear City 3.

Thursday
Apr202017

Call Answered: Caesar Samayoa: "Come From Away"

Caesar SamayoaThere are certain dates that will forever be embedded in everyone's mind: One of those dates is September 11, 2001, the day the Twin Towers were struck. 

Now, there is a new Broadway musical, Come From Away, about the 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that put their lives on hold and opened their homes to this world of strangers. On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all.

Caesar Samayoa is one of the actors who gets to share these stories eight times a week. Out of tragedy comes unity. And through this interview, Caesar reinforces how Broadway comes together to uplift during difficult times. It's hard to find the good when there is so much evil out there, but Caesar and the rest of the cast of Come From Away have found a way to share the love that took place in Newfoundland.

Come From Away plays the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Come From Away and tickets visit http://www.comefromaway.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Caesar be sure to visit http://www.caesarsamayoa.com and follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I really owe it all to one of my teachers way back in grammar school, Mrs. Reynolds. I’m a first generation American and theatre was not really a part of our lives. My parents were extremely hard workers trying to get their family settled in a new country. My teacher approached a neighbor who had a child in an acting program and said she should bring me to it one day. And that was it. That was 5th grade and I was involved in the arts ever since. For some reason though it never occurred to me that I could do it professionally. I was in college majoring in International Relations when I happened to come to NYC and saw Anna Deavere Smith in Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Her performance shook me to the core. Multiple characters and each one completely transformational with such simplicity. A story that was so human and so relevant. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. The lights came up and I absolutely knew that I had to do THAT with my life. I transferred into a conservatory acting program and have been performing ever since. So thank you Mrs. Reynolds and Anna Deavere Smith!

2. What made you want to audition for Come From Away? What went through your head when you found out you booked the show? All my agent had told me was I have a script for you about a musical dealing with the week following 9/11. I’m a New Yorker - I was here during 9/11 and know people that were lost that day. I couldn't fathom what this was, and to be honest, was very trepidatious about even reading it. I never say no without reading so I sat down in my living room and from the first page I could NOT put it down. Even in that first version - the story, the characters, the heart - it was overwhelming. It was extremely moving and then there was the whole premise of playing multiple characters. I called my agent and said "I don’t know what I have to do to be a part of this but please get me an audition!"

My auditions and callbacks spanned about three months and when I finally got the call that I booked it I couldn't believe it. It’s exactly the kind of work I love to do. And there was no talk of Broadway, no talk about anything other than a developmental run at La Jolla at that point. I was going to be working with this dream team, telling such an important human story. I felt like I had hit the jackpot - and to be honest, I did!

3. Of the characters you play, what do you identify most with about them? I relate so strongly to "Kevin J." He’s one of the few characters that struggles with his time in Gander. And I get it. Like I said, I’m a New Yorker and had that been me stranded in Gander; YES I would have deeply appreciated what that community had done, but all my thoughts would be with my family back in NYC. I would try to do anything I could to get back home. And I also tend to be the guy that blurts out jokes in tense situations so there's that too.

There’s a gentle kindness about "Ali" that I love. I think of my Dad when I’m playing him. My Dad always chose kindness first, even when he was looked at as an outsider. And we were for a big part of my childhood. It’s hard to imagine it now, but when we moved into our neighborhoods growing up we were always the first Latino family moving in. We were outsiders and experienced everything that came along with that. I identify so strongly with that part of "Ali’s" storyline.

Cast of "Come From Away"4. What do audiences tell you at the stage door after seeing this show? Our stage door interactions have just been incredible. The conversations are different with this show. It’ not so much about how good you or the show are, but about thanking us for just telling this story. It’s so humbling. Two stories stick out:

I remember this one young woman approached me and told me she was Muslim and never realized how much her parents lives changed after 9/11. Her parents always made her feel that being pulled out of security lines was just normal growing up. She promised to bring her parents back to the show and she did. Her father said "Thank you for telling this story. We see ourselves in your show and we so rarely do."

I’ll never forget this one night though. This woman stopped me and said "This is my second time seeing this show and I would like to give this to you." She handed me what looked like a card. She had worked in 1 World Trade Center and survived that day. One of the fortunate people that got out. It was her ID from 1 World Trade Center. She said "I finally have a different story of that day in my head. Thank you."

These are the kinds of interactions that are happening. They are so beautiful.

5. In rehearsing for this show or during the run of the show so far, what has gone through your mind as you play out this real-life story? Every time I take a step back to really look at what’s happening I get overwhelmed. I am so deeply grateful to be chosen to tell this story. I feel a great responsibility to every person that we are playing. To honor them and to do them proud. For me, doing the concert in Gander was the most important part of our two year journey to Broadway. We did a concert version of this show for 5000 people, IN the actual town the show takes place. The real people that we play were there. To experience the pride this community had of having their story told. I’ll never forget it.

"Come From Away"6. Because Come From Away is about events that took place on 9/11, is there something special the cast does together either before or after each performance? What is so beautiful about this cast is that our two year journey with this extraordinary show has made us into a solid family. We couldn't be more different than each other, yet there is a connection between us that I don’t think I’ll experience again. This show is so much about community that we simply take a good amount of time to connect with each other before the show. We’re usually at the theatre early and just spend time with each other. This kind of connection translates onstage. There is a flag from Gander that flew over the Town Hall that is now hanging Stage Left and we all get to see it before the show. A reminder of the real people that we are honoring and the real stories we are sharing. Also, half the cast starts the show on Stage Left and the other Stage Right. Each side has a special tradition that they do to kick off each show. But that’s secret. :)

7. How do you prepare yourself each night to tell this moving story? We are ALL IN with this show. So my days are focused around being ready for the performance. I take my health and fitness very seriously in order to do this. I’m very careful about what I eat and I workout regularly, especially boxing. My part of the dressing room is filled with things that remind me of our journey and of the people that are part of this show. The real life people, the audiences we have met along the way, the experiences we’ve had. I take about five minutes to myself to focus and right before I step onstage I say a little Thank You. It’s different every night but my Dad is always part of it. He would have loved this show and he would have especially loved the characters I play in it. I always thank him right before I step out on stage.

Caesar Samayoa rehearsing for "Come From Away"8. On Come From Away's website's it states "On September 11, 2001 the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all." What is a story, not necessarily about 9/11, that has moved/changed you? Last night I left the stage door and a woman approached me and said "I’m 73 years old and I have never waited by the stage door. I need to thank you and your cast for telling this story. We need to be reminded these days that people are good and all we want to do is help each other out." She gave me a hug that I will not forget and walked away.

9. You say as an actor, you never know when the next gig is coming and it’s always a surprise. What is something that you love about this lifestyle, but at the same time you hate it, but the positive outweighs the negative? The uncertainty. I remember hearing Meryll Streep say on Inside the Actors Studio- “As an actor - I’m always wondering what the next job will be."  And it’s true!! And this was Meryll Streep of all people!! The uncertainty can make you crazy if you let it. But then there's the flip-side. This is one of the few careers where your life can literally change over night. You’re feeling like all those years of hard work and jobs and momentum aren't getting you anywhere, and all of a sudden - Boom!, you are in one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Like Come From Away. Come From Away is absolutely one of the most amazing experiences of my life and it came out of nowhere.

10. I read that you live to inspire life, love, excitement, power and creativity. Well, I too live to inspire. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Kindness. Living in NYC can be overwhelming. Just walking down the sidewalk. Thousands of people that refuse to look at each other. But have you noticed what happens when you just take a second to smile at someone? And if you take another extra moment to be kind in some way. To acknowledge someone or to help a stranger. You can physically feel the effect kindness has.  It completely changes the energy. And other people notice it too. I try to simply be a kinder person. And it has a beautiful ripple effect. Be 1% kinder in your daily life and watch how your life can change.

Caesar SamayoaMore on Caesar:

Broadway: Sister Act, The Pee Wee Herman Show. Select Off-Broadway: Love's Labour's Lost (Delacorte Theater), Shakespeare's R&J, Bernstein's Mass (Carnegie Hall). Credits include leading roles in Film, TV, Off-Broadway and Regional Theatre Companies including The Public Theatre, Yale Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Goodspeed Musicals, and Tectonic Theater Project. Caesar has also appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center and various national and international concert tours. BFA, Ithaca College.  

Monday
Apr172017

Call Answered: Tom Malloy: "Fair Haven" and "Midtown"

Tom Malloy, Photo Credit: Birdie ThompsonIt's always exciting when an interview I did with one person leads to an interview with another. It was because of my interview with Fair Haven filmmaker Kerstin Karlhuber, that I found my way to actor/writer/producer Tom Malloy, who produced and co-starred in the film.

It was great getting to learn more about Fair Haven from Tom (a film about a young man who returns to his family farm, after a long stay in ex-gay conversion therapy, and is torn between the expectations of his emotionally distant father, and the memories of a past, loving relationship he has tried to bury) as well as all the intricacies of his career including the other films/TV shows he has produced/starred in, including the Amazon comedy series Midtown (co-created with his friend stand-up comedian Scott Baker) about the banter that happens between cops.

For more on Tom be sure to visit http://tommalloy.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

1. After my interview with Kerstin Karlhuber, I am so excited to have the chance to speak with you! So, let's start with Fair Haven, which you produced and co-star in. What attracted you to this story? Why did you want to produce the film & co-star in the film, as opposed to just one or the other? What were some of the challenges of being both producer and actor? From the moment I read it, I thought the quality of the screenplay was top-notch. I was attracted to the project because it was such a sweet story, a story of a father and his son, and, at the end of the day, was all about love.

Kerstin asked me to produce, and she wanted to shoot it in Vermont. I initially turned it down because I didn’t have the bandwidth to get away and didn’t want to be away from my kids for too long. But then I called her back and asked if she’d be able to shoot in Rochester, NY, where I have a lot of family, and the rest is history.

As for producing, almost all of the projects I’m involved in have me as an actor somewhere. I believe, in 14 films, I’ve only not played a role twice. Acting is still my greatest passion. On set, with a film like this, since I was the sole producer, I only took a small role, a day-player type role. I believe I shot for 2-3 days. That’s the only way to do both. In the films (like Love N’ Dancing or The Alphabet Killer), where I was the lead role, I was lucky enough to have other producers involved who were able to cover for me!

2. In addition to Fair Haven, you also star in and co-write/produce the comedy series Midtown on Amazon, which is the brainchild of you and former NYPD Cop/current stand-up comedian Scott Baker...about the banter that happens between cops. First of all, how did you and Scott come to know each other and how soon after did you go, we should create this show? What do you love about working with Scott? Do you have any real life cop stories you can share with us? Scott and I met on the set of the movie Anger Management, with Adam Sandler. We were both playing NY Yankees in that movie, no lines. He and I hit it off right away, and the banter you see on Midtown is the exact banter between us in real life! We just play off each other so well, which is why I love working with him.

My favorite times are when I throw something out comedy-wise, and he picks up on it and throws it back to me. That’s when I know we’re in total comedy synergy on stage or in the show…which is completely improvised.

As for real-life cop stories, Scott wrote the book The Funniest Cop Stories Ever, which were true stories of the NYPD, so he’d be a better one to ask!

3. Who or what inspired you to become an actor, writer, producer? I remember when I first came up with that concept, around 2004. I told my agent at the time that I was going to be an actor/writer/producer, and she told me I was foolish to not focus on one of them. I claim that the same agent today is telling her actors: "You need to be all three." So much has changed with the business, and I have so many actor friends out of work or taking jobs in other industries because they can only do one thing. Being a "triple-hyphenate" has allowed me to not work anywhere outside the business and thrive! Plus, intrinsically, I’m an action-oriented person, so sitting around was never an option. I always just wanted to create my own projects.

4. Another film you starred in is Hero of the Underworld, where you play the overnight manager of an upscale hotel who takes it upon himself to become the savior of a guest who's been nearly beaten to death by her boyfriend. There is a line I love in the trailer that says "Every man gets a chance to be a hero or a coward." When in your life have you been the hero and when have you been a coward? Yes, I love that movie and it was based on true events. But good question about hero/coward. I’ve played the hero many times, I believe…broken up fights, helped people on the street, etc.  As for coward, I can’t think of the last time where I really felt that way. I try to live my life with the "no should’ves" rule. I never want to walk away and think "I should have done that," or "I should have said that." Not to say that I don’t get scared! I have tons of fear, but I just NEVER let it stop me. That’s a key to success right there…never let fear get in the way. Accept the fear and just do it anyway!

Tom Malloy5. You are also starring in the upcoming series Dropping The Soap with Jane Lynch, which is a behind-the-scenes look at a failing soap opera. With all the shows and films you've been in, what is the juiciest behind-the-scenes story you can tell us from a project you just knew was not going to do well? Such a great show, so ridiculously funny! I’m so proud of the show. I knew from the moment I watched it that it was going to be a hit. As for juicy stories, those would have to be after the premiere because my distribution company (Glass House Distribution) acquired the series after it was finished.

6. Let's just play with the show's title for a moment...If you were to "Drop the soap," what would you hope to find after you picked it up? Hopefully not a naked guy behind me in a prison shower. I think that’s where that expression came from!

7. You got to work with one of my idols...Betty White! What was that experience like? What did you learn from her? That was the highlight of my career so far!. She was so incredible…everyone on set immediately wanted her to be their grandma! 

As for learning something, it was just great to watch her have fun! A lot of times actors take life too seriously, and she was having fun with her lines and that was so great to watch. So I guess the lesson there is to have fun with your performance, and the audience has fun with you.

Jack Black & Tom Malloy at the Renal Support Network annual Charity Poker and Bingo Tournament8. When you are not acting, you enjoy playing Celebrity Poker Tournaments and participating in the West Coast Swing Dancing competitions. In poker, the highest win is a Royal Flush. What, in your career thus far, would you consider to be a Royal Flush? And when was a time you were like, "I fold"? Yes, I LOVE poker. A Royal Flush in my career would be the first day we started shooting Love N’ Dancing. That movie was a nightmare to get going, and it was such an accomplishment to actually make it happen. I’m still hurting that it didn’t become a major hit, and I’m developing a new dance film/romantic comedy that I hope to produce and star in this year.

As for, "I fold," that would have to be the time I had all this money from Beijing to shoot three movies and the people funding it just disappeared. I was in the middle of shooting a film, and, though I was able to finish it, the money was gone. I had to shut down production offices and let people go…a nightmare!

9. What do you feel the rhythm of dancing has taught you about the rhythm of life? Again, I think the intrinsic lesson is to have fun. Your body stores so much of your emotion, and expressing emotions through movement is a fantastic feeling.

10. As an actor who has be interviewed time and time again, what is one question I didn't ask that you wish I had (and please provide the answer to that question)? Q: What’s an important lesson you teach your kids?

A: Never grow up. Always have the innocence and wonder and joy and laughter of life to keep you going. People who "grow up" are just beat down from society and negative reinforcement, and imposed "rules." I’m still a kid and will never change that.

11. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? My goal is to start drilling down my focus as specific as possible. Sometimes I get spread too thin, and I have to keep telling myself not to say yes to everything coming at me because then I won’t be able to truly be 100%. So I’m going to focus more and more everyday!

Tom MalloyMore on Tom:

An award winning and critically acclaimed actor, Tom wowed Hollywood with his stunning turn in the indie-cult favorite GRAVESEND in 1998, which was produced by Oliver Stone.

Most recent films include: SCREAMERS (Coming Fall 2017), HERO OF THE UNDERWORLD (on VOD everywhere) directed by John Vincent, starring Tom, Nicole Fox, and Quinton Aaron (for this film, Tom won BEST ACTOR at the Chain NYC Film Festival, and BEST ACTOR at AC Cinefest, FAIR HAVEN (Coming to SHOWTIME Summer 2017) directed by Kerstin Karlhuber, starring Tom Wopat and Michael Grant, ASHLEY, directed by Dean Ronalds, which was in theaters in 2013, and is now on VOD, LOVE N’ DANCING, which was directed by Rob Iscove (She’s All That), and stars Amy Smart, Tom Malloy, Billy Zane, Rachel Dratch, and Betty White; the psychological thriller THE ALPHABET KILLER, directed by Rob Schmidt (Wrong Turn, Crime & Punishment in Suburbia) and stars Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Tom Malloy, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside, and Oscar Winner Melissa Leo; and a thriller directed by Mary Lambert called THE ATTIC, starring John Savage, Malloy, and Elisabeth Moss.

Tom is currently starring with Comedian Scott Baker in the improv cop comedy MIDTOWN, which can be seen on Amazon, now in it's second season.

Tom is a graduate of the famous Improv Olympic (IO) Training Center in Los Angeles (former graduates include Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Steve Carrell). Tom has also appeared in principle roles on LAW & ORDER, THIRD WATCH, KIDNAPPED, THE SIEGE (with Denzel Washington) and ANGER MANAGEMENT. As a Stand Up Comic, Tom has appeared at Caroline's Comedy Club and the Broadway Comedy Club in NYC, and at the LA Improv.

In addition to his work as an actor, Tom is an accomplished author whose book BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films is considered the "gold standard" of indie film financing instruction. A second edition came out in 2012.

Tom has also competed and taught classes in the smooth, hip-hop dance style known as West Coast Swing. He was trained by seven time U.S. Open Champion Robert Royston.

Tom has trained for years in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, first training with Royce Gracie back in 1992, prior the UFC even existing! He currently trains in Beverly Hills with the legendary Rigan Machado. He is also a professional poker player, and for over a year was one of the highest ranked celebrity players on the now defunct MegaFrame Casino.

Finally, Tom worked for 10 years as a nationally known motivational speaker for adults and kids. He traveled across the country spreading his positive message to students of all ages. Over the years, he has spoken to more than 100,000 students.

Saturday
Apr152017

Call Answered: Facetime Interview: Michael Zam: "Feud: Bette and Joan" Writer

"Call Me Adam" and Michael Zam at The Algonquin HotelLive from The Algonquin Hotel, "Call Me Adam" goes face to face with Feud: Bette and Joan writer Michael Zam! From the story lines to the characters to clearing up misconceptions about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, I get the inside scoop on what it takes to bring the hit FX show to life. 

Michael & I had so much fun together that we had to divide this interview into two parts. The second half, where we discuss left out plot lines, the show's brilliant intro, and other cutting room floor items, will be released soon.

Feud: Bette and Joan airs every Sunday on FX at 10pm!

For more on Feud: Bette and Joan be sure to visit http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/feud and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

"Call Me Adam's" interview with Feud: Bette and Joan writer Michael Zam:

Michael ZamMore on Michael:

Michael Zam, BFA/MFA, author of the Black-Listed screenplay, Best Actress, has been developed into the hugely popular and highly-acclaimed 8-part miniseries, Feud, for FX, starring Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. He has also written scripts for DreamWorks, Plan B, and many others. Michael wrote the book for the Off-Broadway musical The Kid, based on Dan Savage’s memoir, which won the Jerry Bock Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre and the Outer Critics Circle Award. The musical was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Awards, and GLAAD Media Awards. Michael has been honored twice with the SPS Award for Teaching Excellence. He teaches screenwriting, film, and television writing at NYUSPS in the Center for Applied Liberal Arts.

Friday
Apr142017

Call Answered: Robert L. Camina: Upstairs Inferno Documentary

Robert L. CaminaThe thing I love most about Facebook is the way it connects people. Robert L. Camina and I have been friends for a few years, so when I found out he was a filmmaker and that his new documentary Upstairs Inferno, about the deadly 1973 New Orleans gay bar arson was the subject, I called Robert and he answered. It was really great connecting with Robert in this way. From this interview, I learned so much about him, his filmmaking process, and more about this tragic time in gay history that is not very well known.

Upstairs Inferno is a poignant and timely documentary chronicling the deadly 1973 New Orleans gay bar arson: an event that remained the Largest Gay Mass Murder in U.S. History for 43 years. Upstairs Inferno is the most comprehensive and authoritative film about the fire and its aftermath. Upstairs Inferno brings humanity to the headlines by shining a light on the very painful effect the tragedy had on survivors, witnesses and loved ones. Their interviews are gut wrenching, yet insightful. Some of the people interviewed in the film haven't publicly discussed the fire until now, especially on camera. The film is narrated by New Orleans' own New York Times Best Selling Author, Christopher Rice.

Upstairs Inferno will be making its NYC premiere in the Manhattan Film Festival on Monday, April 24 with two screenings: 5pm (just added) & 7pm (SOLD OUT) at Cinema Village (22 East 12th Street). The 7pm screening will be followed by a Q&A conducted by Robert himself. Click here for tickets!

For more on Robert be sure to visit http://www.caminaentertainment.com!

For more on Upstairs Inferno be sure to visit http://www.UpstairsInferno.com and follow the film on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Your latest documentary, Upstairs Inferno, documents the deadly 1973 New Orleans gay bar arson that was the largest gay mass murder for 43 years, until Pulse Nightclub. Why did you want to make a documentary about this tragic event? When I first heard about this tragedy a few years ago, I was shocked. I had never heard of it. The arson was a benchmark moment in history, but it wasn't part of the common LGBT history narrative. I felt that needed to change.  I wanted to educate audiences about this little known event and honor the victims and people affected by the deadly fire.

I didn't want to create a stagnant documentary, with only an exposition of facts. Through very honest and intimate interviews, I wanted to humanize the story and show the real impact the fire had on the victims' friends, families and the LGBT movement. It's easy to trivialize a situation when you gloss over a headline in a newspaper (or a Facebook post). There is something about SEEING and HEARING the story from those who experienced an event, that truly makes it "real." That's what possesses the potential to create change.

The victims are more than statistics, more then names in a newspaper clipping or even names on a plaque. These were unfinished lives, tragically cut short by a senseless act. The victims and their families and friends left to cope with the aftermath deserved better treatment than what they got. I thought, if I have an opportunity to provide any sort of legacy or light for them, I wanted to try.

Up Stairs Lounge2. The arson of the Up Stairs Lounge was the largest gay mass murder for 43 years. Why do you feel this story is not talked about as much as say The Stonewall Riots? You're right. This story hasn't been talked about much and I believe it was nearly forgotten. But why? I think it was because people directly affected by the fire didn't want to talk about it. The impression that I got was that people were embarrassed or ashamed to talk about the tragedy. The fire did not launch a revolution and the little activism that was spawned from the tragedy, fizzled out very quickly. I'm told that it didn't take long before New Orleans saw an indifference within the community after the fire. (However, there are mixed opinions on whether the fire was a birth of gay rights activism in New Orleans, which is something we explore in UPSTAIRS INFERNO.) Also, you have families that didn't claim their dead children. As a collective community, that is shameful and embarrassing. You also have a prime suspect who is a member of the LGBT community. Evidence points to the fact that this horrific crime was committed by one of our own. Furthermore, there isn't any official closure. Police weren't able to charge anyone with the crime. While the evidence points to a primary suspect committing the crime, there is no justice. Lastly, I think few people know about the story because it's been too painful for victims to talk about.

Up Stairs Lounge3. How do you feel the arson of the Up Stairs Lounge and the shooting at Pulse Nightclub are parallel of each other? For nearly 43 years, the June 24, 1973 arson at the Up Stairs Lounge, an event that claimed 32 lives, was considered "The Largest Gay Mass Murder in U.S. History." It’s with tremendous grief, we recognize that's no longer the case. With 49 patrons dead and families shattered, the June 12, 2016 mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub now holds that dubious title.  No one wanted to pass that moniker on and see a horror of this nature again. It was a stark reminder that while the LGBTQ community has achieved a lot in its fight for equality, there are many people who still feel that LGBTQ lives are expendable.

What we learned in the wake of the Up Stairs Lounge arson, is that this tragedy will have a tremendous psychological impact, not only for those directly impacted by the shooting, but throughout the entire LGBTQ community.

Unlike after the 1973 New Orleans gay mass murder, most political leaders expressed compassion, grief and determination for justice after the shooting. Communities across the country and world held vigils, standing in solidarity with Orlando. That didn't happen in 1973. Nearly $8 million dollars was raised for Pulse victims through a GoFundMe account. In the aftermath of the Up Stairs Lounge arson, only $17,900 was raised through the National New Orleans Memorial Fund. Adjusted for inflation, that equals $96,951.90. That's a huge difference! And while the outpouring of compassion is far greater than in 1973, there are still community and religious leaders callously turning their backs to the victims and the LGBT community.

Upstairs Inferno4. What did you learn from making this documentary, both about that fateful night and in your directing skills of how you wanted to tell this story? The more I learned about the tragedy, the more important this project became. I believe it is crucial to acknowledge, preserve and honor our history as LGBT people, no matter where you live. The LGBT dialogue has changed SO much in the past few years. As popular attitudes shift around the world on LGBT issues, we risk losing the stories of the struggles that got us where we are today. It's our responsibility to honor the memories of those who came before us, including those who died at the Up Stairs Lounge. The people who experienced this tragedy paved the way for the freedoms enjoyed by the New Orleans LGBT community of today, as well as the overall LGBT movement. I wanted to create a film that honored their forgotten stories.

Making the film underscored the importance of sharing our stories. We must be visible. It's easier for people to hate and fear things they don't understand. No matter your background, in the end, we are more alike than we are different. I think stories like UPSTAIRS INFERNO reminds of us that.

5. Upstairs Inferno is going to make its NYC's premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival with a screening on April 24 at Cinema Village. What excites you about having this film show in New York City? It's NEW YORK CITY!!! I love this town! About 10 years ago, I was fortunate to live in Manhattan for a summer. (I must admit, I left a little piece of my heart there and I miss it a lot!) I attended a film program while living in New York, and the short film I directed there launched my professional filmmaking career. It's great to come full circle -- screening this full length film in the city where my journey began.

In addition, New York is considered by many to be the epicenter of the modern U.S. Gay Rights Movement.  A film about gay rights and gay history belongs in New York.

6. The narrator of Upstairs Inferno is New York Times best selling author Christopher Rice (son of legendary author Anne Rice). How did you approach him to be the narrator for this documentary? When looking for a narrator, I wanted someone who was passionate about LGBT issues and passionate about New Orleans. Chris immediately came to mind. Chris considers New Orleans his "hometown" and is very passionate about keeping its history alive! I knew that passion would come across in his narration. It's not something you can fake. As a New York Times best selling author, much of his writing is heavily influenced by the years he and his Mom (legendary vampire chronicler, Anne Rice) lived in New Orleans. I contacted him and he was immediately on-board!

"The View Upstairs" Off-Broadway7. With the hit Off-Broadway show The View Upstairs currently running, how do you feel this film compliments the show and vice versa? Theater is such a powerful medium! The View Upstairs, which is inspired by the Up Stairs Lounge fire, has introduced theatergoers to a tragic event in LGBT history that few people knew about. It has undoubtedly left audience members wanting to know more about the deadly arson, the actual people it affected, the devastating aftermath and its rightful place in LGBT history. There's so much more to the story. That's where UPSTAIRS INFERNO comes in. The documentary features the real life stories behind the deadly arson and its aftermath. The interviews with survivors and the family/friends of victims are gut wrenching, yet insightful. Some of the people interviewed in the film haven't publicly discussed the fire until now, especially on camera. I believe UPSTAIRS INFERNO brings humanity to the history-making headlines by shining a light on the very painful effect the tragedy had on survivors, witnesses and loved ones.

I am thrilled that the creative team and cast of The View Upstairs are planning to attend the UPSTAIRS INFERNO screening. I am glad that we get to share the city for one night, uniting to educate people about this nearly forgotten tragedy from our history.

8. I read that you hope Upstairs Inferno helps remind people to seize the day. What event in your life reminded you to seize the day? And since that event, how have you seized the day? Earlier this month, I had a friend suddenly pass away. He was my age. I get really caught up in my work, but his passing was a stark reminder that tomorrow is not promised. With each passing day, I do my best not to be a workaholic, step away from the computer and spend more time with my partner, our puppies and my family and friends. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Life is fickle.

Brian Long and Robert L. Camina9. Upstairs Inferno is your second full length documentary, the first one being Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, which recounts the widely publicized and controversial June 28, 2009 police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas gay bar that resulted in multiple arrests and serious injuries. Before that, you wrote, directed and produced several short films. What made you want to switch from short films to documentaries? At my core, I am a storyteller. I am drawn to stories of the human condition. Whether it be through comedy, drama or documentaries, I prefer telling stories that fight for the underdogs and ultimately inspire us to be better people.

The switch from narrative short films to full length documentaries was not a premeditated decision. June 28, 2009, is a date that changed my life forever. That's when police and law enforcement officials violently raided a Texas gay bar, resulting in multiple arrests and serious injuries. That happened to be the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and the parallels were haunting. I had many friends in the bar that night. As the day went on, the facts surrounding the raid were unclear and the future was uncertain. However, my instincts and outrage told me that I needed to capture what was happening on video and potentially create a short film. Little did I know, that decision would define my life for the next 2.5 years. Over the next few months, the story grew. It was quickly apparent that this project wouldn't be a short film, but a feature length film. Since the film's release, RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE has helped educate and enlighten audiences around the world. It's been a training tool for law enforcement and city officials across the nation. The film also received attention from the Office of the White House, Department of Justice and a division of the U.S. State Department. Documentaries are powerful tools. They possess the power to create change.  That's one reason why I like them and why I decided to take on the story of the Up Stairs Lounge arson.

10. If you could make a documentary about a living and dead celebrity, who would choose for each? Living celebrity: Dustin Lance Black. First of all, we have a few things in common: Not only do we share a passion for LGBT history, but we both grew up in San Antonio. But beyond that, I greatly admire him. He has done so much for our community through his activism and his storytelling. For years, he has been fighting hard to make our stories more visible. I'm sure that hasn't been easy and it'd be a privilege to tell his story.

Dead celebrity: Morris Kight. "Morris Kight" is not a name a lot of people know, but they should. We wouldn't be where we are without him. He was one of the architects of the modern gay rights movement, spearheading a non-violent movement for social reform.  Kight co-founded the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front in 1969. He went on to co-found the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center (now known as Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center). He was also a co-founder of the first Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade in 1970. He also conceptualized and co-founded many organizations that were created to advance the quality of life for all GLBT persons. More people need to know about Morris and his contributions to our fight for equality.

Robert L. Camina, Photo Credit: Gerry SzymanskiMore on Robert:

Robert L. Camina wrote, directed and produced several short films before premiering his first full length documentary, RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE (2012) to sold out audiences, rave reviews and a media frenzy. RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE recounts the widely publicized and controversial June 28, 2009 police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas gay bar that resulted in multiple arrests and serious injuries. The raid occurred on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid. The film, narrated by TV icon Meredith Baxter, screened during 33 mainstream and LGBT film festivals across the United States, Mexico and Canada. The film won several awards including 5 "Best" Film and 3 "Audience Choice" Awards. The film also received attention from the Office of the White House, Department of Justice and a division of the U.S. State Department. At their invitation, the Library of Congress hosted a screening in October 2014. (www.RaidoftheRainbowLounge.com)