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

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"30 Rock" And "Arrested Development" Writer/Producer Ron Weiner Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I am lucky enough to chat with the hilarious and talented writer/producer Ron Weiner. Ron is a 2-time Emmy Award winning comedy writer and his credits include such shows as "30 Rock," "Futurama," "Arrested Development," "Newsradio," "Father Of The Pride," and "The Weird Al Show." Besides writing for some of TV's funniest shows, Ron has also written a musical about internet dating that had international acclaim. We talk about everything from the vermin at the "30 Rock" writers' offices to writing for Weird Al to how amazing it is to work with Tina Fey. 

RON WEINER BIO

Ron Weiner is a two-time Emmy Award winning comedy writer.  He has written for such shows as 30 RockArrested DevelopmentFuturamaNewsradio, and The Weird Al Yankovic Show

Ron is also a composer and lyricist.  His songs have appeared on Futurama and Help Me, Help You, a short-lived but much loved sitcom starring Ted Danson.  He also wrote a stage musical entitled Internet Dating: The Musical, which was an LA Times Critic’s Pick.  It was later produced in Seoul, South Korea (!).  Ron can attest to this because he flew there with his parents and Aunt Rhoda and saw the Korean production, which was totally professional, quite excellent, and clearly had a larger budget than the LA original. 

Ron grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts.  While an undergrad at Harvard, he joined the Harvard Lampoon comedy magazine, at which point he learned about the possibility of an actual career writing comedy for TV, and not just being annoying in line for food in the dining hall. 

Ron lives in Los Angeles, California.  He urges anyone reading this to get up and walk around, because research is showing that sitting is worse than smoking.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_27_Ron_W_-_30_Rock.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 12:30am PDT
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Cinematographer/Director/Writer Tom Callaway Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with cinematographer/director/writer Tom Callaway, a very talented fellow whose credits include: Broke SkyFeastRoad House 2: Last Call,  Undead Or AliveWho’s Your Caddy?National Lampoon’s Gold DiggersCritters 3 and 4, A Warrior’s HeartHeebie Jeebies and The New House Party, just to name a few. Tom is a hard working guy, he has over 82 credits as a cinematographer on IMDB. You may have also seen him on TV working behind the scenes of the Feast, a Project Greenlight movie. His directorial debut, Broke Sky, was an official selection of the South by Southwest Film Festival, won the best narrative feature at the Memphis Indie Film festival and won the Grand Jury award at the Dances with Films Festival. Variety had the following to say about Broke Sky: ""An exceptional example of American indie filmmaking...begins on a ghoulishly jaunty note and then audaciously shifts gears into a powerful noir." Tom and I talk about everything from how he built a dark room in his closet as a kid to shooting a movie in 3D to how to make your own opportunities.

 

THOMAS L. CALLAWAY'S BIO

Tom is a native of Waco, Texas. He grew up with 6 sisters, who provided eclectic
influences for Tom in his childhood. He attended Catholic school, and after surviving evil nuns and loquacious priests, he enrolled at Sam Houston College.

Tom was always interested in movies, and three in particular always stuck with him. COOL HAND LUKE, MIDNIGHT COWBOY and IN COLD BLOOD. It was the work
of Conrad Hall in the latter film that inspired him to become a director of photography.

After a stint in the Navy Reserve, Tom made the big move to Los Angeles in 1982,
finding employment in the movie industry two weeks after he arrived.

His start as a cinematographer came in 1986, with the Texas-shot movie GHOST
RIDERS, and then the mighty cult epic ASSAULT OF THE KILLER BIMBOS. That
led to a string of genre movies, with increasing budgets and higher profile casts. To date, Tom has worked with such talents as Leonardo DiCaprio, Alan Arkin, James Coburn, Christopher Plummer, Richard Chamberlin and Angela Basset.

He has photographed over 80 feature films. He has also shot several network television shows, and a number of TV movies. He added to his impressive resume recently by appearing in the reality TV show PROJECT GREENLIGHT, which chronicled the making of John Gulager’s FEAST.

Tom is presently at work developing his next project as a director.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_24_Tom_Calloway.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 12:30am PDT
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Documentary Filmmaker/Writer/Director/Producer Grace Lee and Actress/Comedian/Writer Jane Edith Wilson Share Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I chat with two very talented ladies: documentary filmmaker/writer/director/producer Grace Lee and actress/comedian/writer Jane Edith Wilson´╗┐Grace Lee is an award winning filmmaker whose credits include: The Grace Lee ProjectAmerican Zombie and Janeane From Des Moines. ´╗┐Her work as appeared on the Sundance Channel and at festivals such as Slamdance and the Toronto International Film Festival. You may have seen Jane Edith Wilson performing standup on Comedy Central or on many a TV show or feature film. Her credits include: Curb Your Enthusiasm, FrankTV, ER, Eight Legged Freaks, Seinfeld, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, American Zombie, Significant Others, TV Guide Letter Theater and Janeane From Des Moines, just to name a few. Grace and Jane first met when Grace directed Jane in the feature American Zombie. They also recently worked on a second feature together, Janeane From Des Moines, a mockumentary about the 2012 Iowa Caucuses (Janeane From Des Moines is now available on iTunes). We talk about everything from making Larry David laugh to creating a movie about the softer side of zombies to making the national news alongside Mitt Romney. 

GRACE LEE'S BIO

GRACE LEE (Producer/Writer/Director) Lee's most recent feature film JANEANE FROM DES MOINES had its world premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Grace Lee was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri. She has a BA in History from the University of Missouri and an MFA in Film Directing from UCLA Film School where she won DGA and Student Academy Awards for her thesis film, BARRIER DEVICE, starring Sandra Oh.  Her first documentary THE GRACE LEE PROJECT was released in 2005, broadcast on the Sundance Channel and is distributed by Women Make Movies. She also co-wrote and directed AMERICAN ZOMBIE, a feature film, released in 2008 by Cinema Libre.  She is the recipient of the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Digital Media, a Rockefeller Media Arts grant, the PPP Pusan Prize as well as funding from the Ford Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, Chicken and Egg Pictures, and the Armani Directing Fellowship through Film Independent. Other documentary credits include BEST OF THE WURST, which is permanently featured at the Currywurst Museum in Berlin and CAMP ARIRANG. She is currently in postproduction for AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS about a 97-year-old Chinese American philosopher and activist in Detroit.

JANE EDITH WILSON'S BIO

Jane Edith Wilson acts, writes, produces, and can tell a joke or two. She welcomes anyone who wishes to give her money to make her next film. Tweet her @JaneEdithWilson

Random fun fact about Jane: She appeared as one of the "NCIS dancers/singers" in an episode of my web series TV GUIDE LETTER THEATER.
Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_22_Grace_and_Jane_3.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 12:00am PDT
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Category:general -- posted at: 10:23pm PDT
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Comedian/Writer/Actress Tess Rafferty Shares Stories Of Breaking Into Hollywood

In this episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with comedian/writer/actress Tess Rafferty. Tess is a hilarious lady that you've probably seen performing in countless sketches on "The Soup" or you may have seen her discussing pop culture on the TV Guide Channel or VH1. Besides writing for and performing on TV, Tess recently wrote her first book, "Recipes for Disaster: A Memoir." We talk about everything from her inspiration for her book to playing a dancing maxi pad on TV to the importance of a beehive. 

Also, in honor of the Golden Globes coming up next weekend, Tess was kind enough to allow us to share an excerpt from "Recipes For Disaster: A Memoir" with some great ideas/recipes for throwing an awards show party (which I am pasting below).

TESS RAFFERTY'S BIO

For 7 ½ years Tess Rafferty wrote on the cult comedy show The Soup, where she skewered pop culture, parodied celebrities and helped her co-workers pick out gifts for their wives. She was frequently seen on camera as herself, Posh Spice, a Succubus, a “Guidette” from Jersey Shore, and perhaps most notably The Dancing Maxi Pad. Her first feature film, Thicker Than Water, is scheduled to begin filming in early 2013.

While at Emerson College, Tess started performing stand-up comedy at the clubs and Chinese restaurants around Boston, and, when not holding herself to ridiculous standards at dinner parties or learning to speak Italian, continues to perform stand up in Los Angeles. She is also a regular performer at the storytelling show, Public School, and frequently reads her essays at the Pez show. She can also be seen discussing pop culture on the TV Guide Channel and VH1.

A drinking “enthusiast,” Tess enjoys wine, specifically good wine. She’s tasted wine from the Napa Valley to Long Island to the island of Ischia, and at every airport bar in between. Her travels have led to an appreciation of good food, which she attempts to bring home and recreate for her friends, with varying degrees of success.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their three ungrateful cats, a modest wine collection and a pool. So nothing bad can happen here.

FYI: Tess will be participating in a book signing in Santa Clarita on February 7th at 7:00pm at the Santa Clarita Public Library.

EXCERPT FROM "RECIPES FOR DISASTER: A MEMOIR" - AWARDS SHOW PARTIES

Awards show parties are difficult to plan food for and your guests will need to eat The broadcast lasts as long as a flight to Europe and at least there people get 2 meals and a snack. Only it’s not a sit down event and everyone will want to eat at a different time or at least find a distraction from the categories they find particularly uninteresting. We’ve frequently served The Husband’s Chili (Formerly The Boyfriend’s Chili) during the Oscars as you can keep it hot in a crock pot or on the stove top and set up a buffet of cheeses, sour cream, hot sauces, tomatoes, raw onion, jalapenos…whatever you think people might like on their chili. Put out some bowls and spoons and let people help themselves whenever it’s convenient for them.

Likewise, the grilled cheese bar works well for the event. It’s not like you and your guests have to worry about fitting into those dresses.

The Husband’s Chili – The Colonic You Can Drink With

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1 large onion

2 lbs ground beef 

2 hot sausage links

2 cups water

1 12 oz. beer

4 tsp paprika

2 tablespoons plus 2 tsp cumin

1 cup chili powder

2 tsp cayenne pepper

8 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

About 2 inches of pepperoni, cut into small pieces

Salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste

Cheddar Cheese

Sour Cream

Chopped tomatoes (optional)

The Husband has been making this recipe for years, largely by heart, which means he often changes things up and doesn’t measure accurately, preferring to adjust his spices to taste. So, if you are worried about it being too spicy, use only half or so of the spices at first, adding as you go along to your own desired flavor.

Heat oil in a large stew pot. Dice the onion, then sauté it for five minutes over medium heat in the pot. When the onion starts to brown, add the ground beef. Keep “chopping” the beef with a wooden spoon so the beef breaks up into little pieces, which is how The Husband likes it best, just tiny granules of beef. Once the beef is browned and chopped into the preferred consistency, add water, beer, beans, paprika, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, vinegar and garlic. In a separate pan, sauté the sausage and then add that to the chili pot, as well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 2 hours, stirring it every so often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and making sure the liquid isn’t boiling off. If it does, add more beer or water.

At the start of the second hour, dice up the pepperoni into 1/4”-1/2” cubes. “Don’t be anal about it,” says The Husband, “They don’t have to be perfect cubes, Just don’t make them too big.”  Sear the pepperoni in a pan with a little oil and add pepperoni to chili. Now’s a good time to start tasting and adjusting the spices, too. If it’s too hot, add more water. If it’s not hot enough, add Tabasco or more cayenne pepper. Continue to simmer for the second hour.

Serve with cheese, sour cream and chopped tomatoes.

When we want to be healthy we substitute dark ground turkey instead of beef.  You could use ground white turkey, but it’s dryer and we don’t want to be that healthy. Conversely, when we want to just stop our hearts for an afternoon we use only 1 1/2 lbs of ground meat and 1/2 a pound of stewing beef, which we let cook until it starts to fall apart. Also, you can add an 8 oz can of tomato sauce or tomato paste to thicken your chili, but we don’t since I can’t eat tomatoes.

Setting Up A Grilled Cheese Station or How to Make Your Guests Cook Their Own Food

This is so easy, you’re going to feel guilty. You’re going to feel guilty hell as you merely decant bread from its bag or simply stick a spoon into an open jar of mustard. And if you feel guilty then, you will feel Single-Mom-Leaving-For-Business-Trip guilty when your friends rave about it and ask for seconds and tell you it’s the best thing they’ve ever eaten.

But you know what else you will feel? Relaxed. And probably pleasantly buzzed.

All you need is one or more panini makers and lots of counter or table space for your sandwich station. Then all you have to do is go to the store and use your imagination. Start with your bread and your cheese. Choose some basics: a hearty white or sourdough bread for purists; a neutral cheese like a mild cheddar or provolone. You want something for less adventurous eaters, however that doesn’t mean this is the time for cheese that comes individually wrapped. (It is never the time for individually wrapped slices of cheese!) After that’s out of the way, get some blue cheese, some goat, some sharp cheddar, some Gouda. You can buy this whole and slice or grate yourself or you may be able to find gourmet cheeses such as these already sliced, at places like Trader Joe’s. Get some wheat breads, something a little eccentric like olive bread or cinnamon. Remember to buy the appropriate amount for your guests. There may be six loaves at the store you’re dying to try, but if you’re only serving 12 people that may be overkill. What are you going to do with the leftovers, besides create the biggest flock of foodie pigeons on your block?

Next, if you want, you can always add different meats like prosciutto or salami or braised short ribs. But braised short ribs take work so you may want to skip this. Or do as we do, and next time you braise some short ribs, throw a little meat and gravy into the freezer for days like this.

After that, pick some spreads: mustards, honeys, aiolis, tapenades. The gourmet food section at the grocery story is your oyster! Raid the gift baskets you got last Christmas for those condiments you never thought you’d use. Depending on how much work you personally want to do, you could slice up some tomatoes, fry some bacon or carmelize some onions. Pick up a few things like walnuts or currants or raisins. Put a bowl of potato chips out so that people can crush up potato chips on their sandwich like they’re five again. Remember, if it sounds good to you, it will probably sound good to others as well. And if it doesn’t, it still sounds good to you, so who cares?

Arrange everything in some semblance of easy to get to order and try to have a separate spoon or fork for everything for people who are allergic to half of those things, such as myself. Then just plug in the panini makers and you’re all ready to go! I know, it’s so simple but so delicious, people won’t even mind that you’re making them cook their own food.

Direct download: 2_Degrees_Ep_23_Tess_Rafferty_FIXED.mp3
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 1:00am PDT
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