2 Degrees of Alie is a podcast about peoples' stories of breaking into Hollywood.


TV & Film





July 2013
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Writer/Director Sanjeev Sirpal Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with writer/director Sanjeev Sirpal ("Screw Cupid," "iHeart," "Lovepocalypse,"). You can currently find one of his films, "Screw Cupid," on Sundance, IFC and Amazon. We talk about everything from writing about dirty cops to surviving working at an agency to directing an independent feature.


Sanjeev Sirpal, like 90 percent of all first generation Indian-Americans, was born near Chicago, IL and was immediately accepted into med-school. The details of his upbringing in sunny South Florida are captivating and poetic and were adapted into a series of successful films starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

Since watching Back To The Future at an early age, Sanjeev always knew that he wanted to make movies, and drive a Delorean, and he has been obsessed with them (movies that is, Deloreans turn like they're underwater) ever since. He cannot ever remember where he parked but he can quote Spaceballs from start to finish. He broke up with a girlfriend on-site because she told him she didn't like The Matrix. The only movie he has ever cried at was Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. For some reason, when the ant was killed he lost it. It is still a touchy subject.

Sanjeev can discuss Roland Barthe's Third Meaning as it relates to cinema at length and at the same time, will always think that the word "poop" is funny.

After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in literary journalism and a minor in disappointing his parents, Sanjeev took a job with the Associated Press covering the Cops and Courts beat for the Southeast (lots and lots of meth labs). Sanjeev figured he had two choices: Go on a cross-country series of daring adventures, righting wrongs and capturing the hearts of women everywhere, or move to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of becoming a writer. Due to his aversion to planning and a small bladder, he chose the latter.

Sanjeev's first film, SCREW CUPID, a romantic comedy Steve Persall of the St. Petersburg Times called "crisply written and full of wit," and ReelTalk dubbed "a winner," was made for less than Chris Evans' codpiece budget for THE AVENGERS and screened at the Delray Beach International Film Festival (AUDIENCE AWARD - BEST FEATURE), Florida Film Festival, Sunscreen Film Festival, and Seattle International Film Festival before being purchased by the Sundance Channel and IFC.

When he's not writing, Sanjeev enjoys revising his bio and elaborately setting up carefully controlled, extreme backgrounds to make his profile pictures look badass.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_43_Jeeves.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 3:07pm PDT

Funny Or Die's Darryl Gudmundson Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this podcast, I have the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Darryl Gudmundson. If you've ever laughed while watching a video on Funny Or Die, you probably owe that laugh to Darryl who serves as the Director of Digital Programming for the comedy site. We talk about everything from having Michael Shannon read a sorority girl's letter to Cat Video Festivals to meeting Will Ferrell. 


Darryl Gudmundson is the Director of Digital Programming at Funny Or Die, where he oversees and curates FunnyOrDie.com. He also assists in the production of anywhere from 25-50 videos a month and is also a contributing producer of Funny Or Die's digital magazine, The Occasional. He can't be president because he was born in Costa Rica, he is a graduate of Ithaca College, currently resides in Los Angeles, loves the internet, music, taking pictures and high fiving.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_42_Darryl_G.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 9:56am PDT

"New Girl" Showrunner Dave Finkel Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with showrunner/writer/producer/actor Dave Finkel. Dave is a hilarious guy whose many TV credits include: "New Girl," "30 Rock," "Pinky And The Brain,"  "Animaniacs," "Just Shoot Me" and "United States Of Tara," just to name a few. We talk about everything from performing nude on stage to making the transition from animation to sitcoms to what goes into running a hit show like "New Girl."


Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Dave Finkel is a native of Los Angeles, but after a series of aborted college tries, he ended up at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the Experimental Theater Wing (from which he also dropped out).

After meandering around New York for several years, trying his hand at several things and just wasting everyone’s time and energy, he eventually dragged himself back to Los Angeles, hat in hand, where he made his way to the ACME Comedy Theater. There, he met his writing and producing partner, Brett Baer. Soon after, the pair began writing on Steven Spielberg’s animated programs “Animaniacs” and “Pinky and The Brain,” for which they received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination.

Finkel and Baer transitioned into primetime television, where they have written for a wide variety of shows, including “Just Shoot Me!,” “Happy Family” and “Norm.” In 2007, they won their first Emmy and Writers Guild Awards as co-executive producers on “30 Rock.” Most recently, Finkel served as writer and executive producer on “United States of Tara.”

Finkel currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Marni, and his two sons, Roscoe and Clyde. He still has yet to graduate. 

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_40_Dave_Finkel.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 12:30am PDT

Screenwriter/Producer/Director Daniel Petrie Jr. Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

You can find my podcast with Screenwriter/Producer/Director Daniel Petrie Jr. here.

In this episode, I have the honor of chatting with screenwriter/producer/director Daniel Petrie Jr. ("Beverly Hills Cop," "Big Easy," "Shoot To Kill," "Turner & Hooch," "About Cherry," "The 6th Day," "Dawn Patrol"). He's worked with actors such as Eddie Murphy, Tom Hanks, Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sidney Poitier. We talk about everything from starting out in the mailroom at ICM to how the script for "Beverly Hills Cop" was developed to what goes into directing an action scene with multiple helicopters.


Screenwriter, producer and director Daniel Petrie, Jr. was nominated for an Academy Award for his first produced script, the box-office hit Beverly Hills Cop, starring Eddie Murphy. Next came Petrie’s original screenplay of the romantic thriller The Big Easy, starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin. Petrie then served as producer of the thriller Shoot to Kill, starring Sidney Poitier and Tom Berenger, and as executive producer of the comedy Turner & Hooch, starring Tom Hanks; Petrie co-wrote both films. Petrie also served as executive producer of The 6th Day, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2011, Petrie was executive producer, showrunner and co-creator of Combat Hospital, simulcast on Canada’s Global TV and ABC in the U.S. The 13 episode TV series, a coproduction of Canada’s Sienna Films and the U.K.’s Artists Studios, featured an ensemble cast headed by Elias Koteas, Michelle Borth, Luke Mably, Deborah Kara Unger, Terry Chen and Arnold Pinnock.

Petrie's directorial debut was the film Toy Soldiers, starring Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, and Louis Gossett, Jr., which he also co-wrote. Petrie also directed the HBO film Dead Silence, starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, and adapted and directed the TNT movie Framed, starring Rob Lowe and Sam Neill. Recently, Petrie wrapped principal photography on the indie feature Dawn Patrol starring Scott Eastwood, Jeff Fahey and Rita Wilson; the film, which Petrie directed and executive produced, is slated for a 2014 release.

In 2006, Petrie and producing partner Rick
Dugdale founded Enderby Entertainment, an
independent film, television and digital media
company with an old-fashioned emphasis on
storytelling, on the creative side, and
transparency, on the financial side. In addition
to financing and producing
Dawn Patrol, the
company arranged the financing and co-
produced writer/director Stephen Elliot’s film
About Cherry, starring James Franco and Heather Graham, which premiered at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival. Enderby’s thriller division, Tony-Seven Films, has also financed and produced five genre pictures: The Speak, Vile, 5 Souls, A Haunting at Silver Falls and No Tell Motel.

Petrie inherits a tradition of volunteer service to the motion picture and television industry from his parents: Petrie’s father was the late, Emmy-winning Canadian director and long time Directors Guild of America board member Daniel Petrie, Sr.; Petrie’s mother is the Emmy-winning television producer and long time Producers Guild of America board member Dorothea Petrie. Daniel Petrie, Jr. has an extensive history of service to the Writers Guild of America West, Inc., serving two terms each as President (1997-99 and 2004-2005) and as Vice President (1995-97 and 1999-2001). In 2013, Petrie was the recipient of the Writers Guild’s Morgan Cox Award, given to that “member whose vital ideas, continuing efforts, and personal sacrifice best exemplify the ideal of service to the Guild.

Petrie also served as a Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1997-1999), as a Trustee of the American Film Institute (2004-2011), and is a long time member of the Academy Foundation’s Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Committee (1996-2004, 2006-present).

Petrie currently serves as Vice President, Programs, of the Writers Guild Foundation. In that capacity, Petrie provides general support for all the programs of the Foundation, which include a High School Literacy Program and screenwriting workshops for veterans. Petrie created and moderates the Foundation’s annual “Notes on Craft” program, a series of six evenings discussing various aspects of the screenwriting craft for an audience of both WGA members and aspiring screenwriters.

Petrie has also long been an active volunteer for the Austin Film Festival and Screenwriting Conference, sitting on the Festival’s Board of Advisors. In 2012, the Austin Film Festival announced the addition of a new “Enderby Entertainment Award” to the festival’s screenwriting competition. The new award is open to feature screenplays in all genres with an original concept and distinctive voice that can be independently produced with a production budget under $5 million. Finalists and winners are selected by Petrie and Dugdale.

Petrie, who has dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife of over thirty years, Constance Petrie.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_39_Daniel_Petrie.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 9:30pm PDT

"The Good Wife" Re-Recording Mixer Larry Benjamin Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with re-recording mixer Larry Benjamin, whose credits include: "The Good Wife," "Swingers," "Bones," "CSI," "NCIS," "Gossip Girl," "Foo Fighters, Back And Forth," "Babylon 5," just to name a few. If you're looking for a sound guru, Larry's your man. We talk about everything from creating a cable Bingo show as a kid to working for Dick Clark to mixing a documentary for the Foo Fighters.


My name is Larry Benjamin, I come from a suburb of Boston.  I've always had an interest in sound and used to bounce sounds between two cassette recorders when I was a kid.  We did radio shows with sound effects and music.  I've always played keyboards and was in various bands in high school.  My interest in sound and picture grew went off to Emerson College in Boston.  I worked at the campus radio stations and cut together audio for the clips used in our school's local comedy troops.  After college I moved to LA and started in the biz as a runner delivering tapes to a post house that I later ended up working for in the tape vault.  These entry level jobs were good training in learning about the entire post production process.  I then became a recordist (audio assistant) and later a sweetening mixer where I mixed trailers, promos and variety shows such as the American Music Awards, music specials and pre-produced packages for the Oscars.  After a few years of this, I moved into dub stage mixing where I started mixing music and foley and then later moved into the dialog chair where I am today mixing dialog and music.  I mostly mix long form and episodic television shows but have mixed a variety of documentaries, indie films and other passion projects.  I really love what I do and am currently a partner and employee of Smart Post Sound in Burbank.  I'm grateful to work with so many talented people and am working on "The Good Wife" and "Bones" as well as a variety of TV movies.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_41_Larry_Benjamin.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 4:38pm PDT

Direct download: 2_Degrees_1_Year_Anniv.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 10:44pm PDT

Producer/Director David Lincoln Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with producer/director David Lincoln ("Reno 911," “Reno 911 Miami," "Hell Baby," “Balls Of Fury," “The Hunger Pains," “Funny Or Die Presents"). David worked his way up from set PA to producer on the show “Reno 911" and has been heavily involved in bringing more laughter to the world since. We talk about everything from slating on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer" to directing for Funny Or Die to being complimented by Robin Williams for a very particular performance.


David Lincoln is a producer and director with very serious eyebrows. Born in Manhattan and raised in the San Fernando Valley, he studied at Hampshire College and taught English in Toyama, Japan, before returning to Los Angeles for a career in film and television. 

He is producing partner to Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant and has worked with them for almost a decade on projects such as the Comedy Central series Reno 911!, Focus Features’ Balls of Fury, and the Fox film Reno 911!:Miami, as well as pilots for NBC, FX, and more. He wrote and directed a number of FunnyOrDie shorts, as well as the “trailer" for the Harvard Lampoon’s The Hunger PainsRecently, he Executive Produced and Directed 2nd Unit on the forthcoming Millennium film Hell Babywhich stars Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb as an expectant couple moving into a very haunted house, Garant and Lennon as elite Vatican exorcists, and Keegan-Michael Key as their maybe-neighbor, maybe-sleeping-in-their-crawlspace-guy. The film debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

He is currently in pre-production on @Midnight with Chris Hardwick, coming this fall on Comedy Central.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_38_Dave_Lincoln.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Jane Espenson Writer/Producer Of "Once Upon A Time" And "Husbands" Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I have the immense pleasure of chatting with the very talented writer/producer Jane Espenson. Jane’s name tends to pop up in the credits of a large number of my favorite television shows. Her many credits include "Once Upon A Time," “Battlestar Gallactica," "Husbands," "Game Of Thrones," and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer," just to name a few. We talk about everything from writing for Snow White to working with Joss Whedon to co-writing an award winning online sitcom about a married same-sex couple.


Jane Espenson created the award-winning online comedy Husbands with her producing partner Brad Bell. She is also known for her work as a writer/producer of shows including Buffy the Vampire SlayerAngelFirefly,The O.C., Gilmore GirlsBattlestar Galactica, and Game of Thrones among other series.She is currently proud to be writing for ABC’s Once Upon A Timeas well as for it’s spin-off, Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, while producing new episodes of Husbands with Bell for The CW Digital Studio.

Coming up: New episodes of "Husbands" will be available on the CW Digital Studio in August.

You can also find a comic book version of “Husbands" on Amazon.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_37_Jane_Espenson.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 12:56am PDT

"Kroll Show" and "Arrested Development" Writer/Producer John Levenstein Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I get to chat with the very funny John Levenstein. John is an Emmy-winning comedy writer whose credits include: Kroll ShowArrested DevelopmentPortlandiaThe John Larroquette Show and The Life And Times Of Tim. He also plays a judge on Kroll Show and voices John the Rat on Portlandia. We talk about everything from how an economics major gets into comedy to Emmy parties to writing for Michael Cera. 


John Levenstein graduated from Yale in 1981 and has been a professional comedy writer since then. In the 1980s, he wrote screenplays for Paramount, MGM, Warner Brothers and other studios, along with sketch comedy and music videos for Michael Nesmith. His work with Nesmith culminated in the NBC show “Television Parts,” featuring Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, Arsenio Hall, Bobcat Goldthwaite and many more.
Starting in the 1990s, he mainly wrote half-hour comedies, including "The John Larroquette Show," "The Secret Lives of Men," and "Arrested Development," for which he won an Emmy as a writer and co-executive producer.
More recently, he has returned to sketch comedy, including "The Life and Times of Tim," "Portlandia," and "Kroll Show," on which he serves as an executive producer.
John is a regular reader in the Los Angeles first-person narrative forum Sit ‘n Spin. He plays Judge Levenstein on the upcoming season of "Kroll Show." On "Portlandia," he can be heard as the voice of John the Rat in a series of stop-motion cartoons.
Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_36_John_Lev.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 12:30am PDT

 Actor/Writer/Comedian Fred Stoller Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with the very funny Fred Stoller ("Fred & Vinnie," "Seinfeld," "Friends," "Everybody Loves Raymond,""The Penguins of Madagascar," "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide"). Fred has guest starred on many a TV sitcom, so he's probably found his way into your living room on numerous occasions. He's a character actor who describes the characters he plays as usually "the guy who just misses or is off." He also wrote on "Seinfeld," and used that experience to write a Kindle Single called "My Seinfeld Year." Fred also used his own life experiences as inspiration for the feature film "Fred and Vinnie," which played at Slamdance and The Austin Film Festival. And now he also has a new book out entitled: "Maybe We'll Have You Back: The Life Of A Perennial TV Guest Star." Fred and I talk about everything from having Larry David ask to read his spec script to winning the Audience Award at The Austin Film Festival to having Dick Van Dyke follow him on Twitter.  

There is a book release party for Fred's book "Maybe We'll Have You Back: The Life Of A Perennial TV Guest Star" in Los Angeles on Thursday June 20 at Nerdmelt Theater.


As a stand-up comedian Fred was known for his dating woes, and his thrill-seeker persona. (I drank milk that expired yesterday!) He appeared on Late Night With David LettermanThe Tonight Show, and HBO’s Thirteenth Annual Young Comedian’s Special

Fred then guest starred on countless sitcoms, establishing himself as TV’s go-to nebbish: most notably as Ray Romano’s mopey cousin Gerard on Everybody Loves Raymond, Elaine’s forgetful date on Seinfeld, and Monica’s bossy co-worker on Friends. He’s appeared in the films Dumb and DumberRebound and Little Manamong others. 

Fred & Vinnie, the indie feature he wrote and starred in, won the Audience award at The Austin Film Festival. 

Fred wrote for the animated series Handy Manny, where he also voiced the character Rusty The Wrench. He was a staff writer for Seinfeld and the author of Maybe We’ll Have You Back--The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star published by Skyhorse Publishing. 

Fred's been traveling to colleges, theater groups, and other venues telling stories from his book about his life and the acting world.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_35_Fred_S.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 1:00am PDT