Mystery Science Theater 3000. Photo credit to YouTube
Thirty years ago in 1988, local Minneapolis, Minnesota station aired the first episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (Commonly abbreviated as MST3K), a television series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc. After the pilot season, the show got picked up by Comedy Central. The show would be on Comedy Central until season seven. The show then moved to the Sci-Fi Channel (now just SyFy) before its cancellation in 1999 at the end of the series’ 10th season. Nearly thirty years later in 2017, the series was revived and aired a new 11th season on Netflix.
The catchy theme song details the premise of the show: In the not-too distant future, there was a guy (starting with Joel Hodgson as Joel Robinson, then replaced by Mike Nelson, and then followed by Jonah Ray as Jonah Heston) who has been kidnapped and forced to watch really bad movies by the evil mad scientists (Trace Beaulieu as Dr Clayton Forrester, J. Elvis Weinstein as Dr. Laurence Erhard followed by Frank Conniff as TV’s Frank, then replaced by Mary Jo Pehl as Pearl Forrester)on the spaceship the Satellite of Love.
In the Joel Robinson episodes, Joel created four robots friends to help talk back to the movies (known as “riffing”). These robots include Cambot (who films the show), Gypsy (who performs the higher functions of the ship; voiced by Jim Mallon then Rebecca Hanson), Tom Servo (voiced by J. Elvis Weinstein, then Kevin Murphy, then Baron Vaughn) and Crow (voiced by Trace Beaulieu, then Bill Corbett and then Hampton Yount). In the Mike and Jonah episodes, the robots are there to keep them sane.
The appeal of the show has always been making fun of absurd and bad movies with a Midwestern snark and charm. Laughing at bad movies has been around long before the advent of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” and with its pace of funny quips, off the wall humor with funny commentary on the film, it has created a huge cult following that continues strong to this day.
AMC just launched its new documentary series called “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics”, and all the buzz is focused on Monday’s episode “The Trials of Superman.” Nerd Alert News chatted with actors Blaine Anderson and Brendan Taylor who play comic book Visionaries, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. The episode takes a close look at the origins of “Superman” and the legal battles that faced its creators. The actors who play these roles both bring unique career backgrounds. Taylor has a recurring role on “The Arrangement” and has had spots in “Supernatural,” “Arrow,” “The Magicians,” and more. Anderson can boast guest roles in “Rogue,” “Psych,” and “Fringe” along with his producing credits for the recent horror film “Residue.” Get to know them both and find out why being a part of this project was so special.
“The Trials of Superman” airs Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 at 10 PM ET on AMC.
Colleen Bement: This is for both of you. Two questions: How cool was it to play “Superman” creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, and are you big fans of comics yourselves?
Blaine Anderson: Thank you for having us! Being part of this project was so much fun! “Superman” was the first movie I saw in theatres, and I have been hooked on superheroes ever since! There was no better feeling than to bring my three bucks to the comic shop and grab a fresh comic off the shelves. Now, I unearth my old comic books for my kids!
Brendan Taylor: It was so cool! I love comics – I grew up with them, collecting cards and posters too, even inventing superheroes and playing with my buddies when I was a kid. “Superman” is just so iconic, so to be associated in any way with him is a dream come true. I was so honored to be asked!
CB: Who is your favorite superhero? Mine is “Batman,” although “Superman” holds a special place in my geeky heart.
BA: Wow, that’s a tough one. I can’t place a straight-up favorite, it has changed throughout my life. At any given point, “Batman,” “Superman,” “Thor,” “Hulk,” “Wolverine” were all favorites!
BT: I have a definite go-to, and it’s very specific: Gambit, from the “X-Men.” He’s an unsung hero in my mind, always neglected in the films (let’s not talk about him in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”!) I just gravitated towards him as a kid – he’s Cajun, so his accent is awesome, and he’s badass, charming, and kinda dangerous. And the love story with Rogue is perfect!
CB: Brendan, you’ve been a part of the “Supernatural” crew for several episodes. My readers would love to hear any stories that you have from the set. What can you share?
BT: I have! I worked in Set Decoration for over 10 years and worked on the show on several episodes, but I’ve also been on the show acting. I was on the show in Season eight, but they cut the scene! But then I got another chance: You’d know me best as Officer Doug, in Sheriff Donna’s storyline. Tons of stories to share, but to summarize, the “Supernatural” set is a really special place. Now 13 seasons strong, there’s a reason for that. The crew is so great, Jensen and Jared are great guys, and so hilarious. To the “Supernatural” fans, all I will say is: don’t miss any future episodes.
CB: Blaine, you’ve been involved some cool horror films as an actor and producer. What would you say is the most challenging aspect of creating something super scary?
BA: If I only could harness how scary it is to produce a movie, that would be the scariest film of all time! But I digress…
I’d say the hardest part about creating anything indie – horror or not – is the lack of time that you have to get it done. I always try and give the production as much time as possible to think things through. Making sure you get all your shots and of course, capturing anything spontaneously is critical! One element that relates to horror is to use practical effects to keep it real!
CB: This question is for both of you. What’s next on the horizon?
BA: More superhero projects would be great! My horror-action film “Residue” is out on Netflix at the moment. I co-produced it and played a doctor who unearths a nefarious book! My next film as a co-producer is another horror film, “Selfie From Hell”! It’s due in 2018. Check out BlaineActor.com and @blaineactor for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for all my upcoming projects!
BT: I’ve been very busy on multiple projects, especially over the past few weeks! I’m back on E!’s “The Arrangement” as my character from the first season, and also the upcoming season of “The Magicians” on SyFy! Follow me @MrBrendanTaylor on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for all the latest, and check out Brendan-Taylor.com!
Denver Comic Con’s All Hallows’ Eve Bash lit up Brookyn’s in downtown Denver, CO last Friday night Oct. 27, 2017. This all-ages event had adults and kids alike showing off some of their best creative cosplay. Log Lady was there. Itchy and Scratchy were there, and a stunning La Muerte from the ” The Book of Life” movie strolled the floors. An entire “Lego Batman” family was a definite favorite. There were plenty of homemade costumes including an incredible “Iron Man” made completely from cardboard and paint, and a prom dress turned a stabby blood red. Clearly, the Halloween vibe was in the air.
The event had two floors of fun. The downstairs had music, a dance floor, and a costume contest. Guests who explored the upstairs strolled past huge original Denver Comic Con guest banners that were auctioned off and then found plenty of space to mingle. The spotlight of the second floor were tables upon tables of video games to play. Brookyn’s did a fine job hosting with some tasty eats and delicious drinks. Throughout the night there were giveaway opportunities with DCC and Pop Culture Classroom T-shirts, posters, concert tickets, and even weekend passes to Denver Comic Con 2018. Some guests drove home with original DCC celebrity guest banners went to the silent auction’s highest bidders.
Denver Comic Con 2018’s dates are set for June 15-17, 2018 again at the Colorado Convention Center. 2018 guest announcements will soon be headed our way and tickets, and tickets will follow. Stay tuned, Denver nerds!
In 1986, video game company Konami introduced us to Castlevania. In this horror-themed series of video games, you take the part of a vampire hunter out to take care of Dracula. The very first games were Castlevania (known as Akumajyou Dracula (Devil’s Castle Dracula) in Japan for the Famicom. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Vampire Killer for the Arcade. The series was enormously popular and spawned many sequels.
Inspired loosely on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, in the 1986 original game you play as Simon Belmont, a descendant of the Belmont clan, a long line of vampire hunters. You make your way into Dracula’s castle fighting zombies, giant bats, medusa heads, mummies, Frankenstein’s Monster, and even the Grim Reaper himself (complete with sickle)! The game would be followed up with Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (NES), and then Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES). In fact, the Netflix anime series “Castlevania” (written by comic book author Warren Ellis) takes place before the events of Castlevania III.
Castlevania moved over to 16-bit systems such as the Super Nintendo, Turbo Duo, and Genesis with the titles Super Castlevania IV, Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, and Castlevania: Bloodlines. The series would go through the 32-bit era of systems with games on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, including the highly regarded classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The series also had titles on the Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
The series has a cult following among fans, many enthralled with its mix of gothic horror borrowing motifs from classic horror movies, and monsters from mythology and folklore. The artwork and phenomenal music are also big draws for fans of the series. Castlevania has endured due to it engaging gameplay, graphics, and artwork heavily inspired by gothic imagery and classic horror cinema. For over thirty years, this series is still widely celebrated by gamers throughout the world.
Peter Macon puts his almost 30 years of stage and Yale School of Drama experience to good use with his fabulous portrayal of Lt. Commander Bortus on FOX’s new hit show “The Orville.” Fans will also know him from his roles in “Shameless,” “Bosch,” and “NCIS.” What they don’t know is that he is a huge nerd from way back. Macon was in to “Robotech,” Japanese animation, and could often be found playing BattleTech after school. Get to know this super talented actor and find out why he hates ants.
Colleen Bement: Geek and non-geek viewers alike are loving “The Orville.” How has the experience been for you so far?
Peter Macon: Fantastic. I studied at the Yale School of Drama and have been performing on stage for almost 30 years (I started really young), so I can say that the language is great because Seth is a wordsmith. He’s written most of it, and he is very particular about every pronoun. He writes it to a rhythm. If you watch “Family Guy,” or “American Dad,” or “Ted,” you can hear the cadence of his where his sense of humor generates from. There’s not a ton of improv–pretty much none, but we’re all goofing around and we’re all laughing. Some days there are 18-20 hour days, and after hour 14 you’re just nothing, so goofing around was always high and we kept each other in stitches play jokes on each other. It’s very family oriented. The make-up department that did my prosthetics every day were great. It was like a zen time for me.
CB: What’s it like being on “the ship”?
PM: So it was very structured, but very freeing in that because everything is right there. On our bridge, our viewscreen that we’re looking at is about 2,000 panels of all LED screens. We’re watching as we go through wormholes and dark matter, and with all of these great CGI effects; we’re actually seeing them as we film. Sometimes it’s blue screen, but most of the time it’s actual imagery that we’re playing to. It felt very much like he built a giant scale model spaceship and we get to play in it. Seth (MacFarlane) works really hard and it’s great to somebody at the helm of everything. He still works seven days a week in post-production and I have a lot of respect for that. It’s so much fun and I can’t wait to get back to work.
CB: Tell us a story or two from the set of “The Orville.”
PM: It’s funny in watching them and remembering the antics, like when Scott Grimes‘ character loses his leg, and he comes back in with that foot (laughing). It still cracks me up because it’s so gross. We had to keep a straight face because the stakes were high, and it was impossible. I think we did like ten extra takes.
There wasone moment where we had an ant problem. California ants can be pretty rambunctious and relentless. I fell asleep in my trailer. I go back to set, and they seal me up, and like two minutes I feel this sensation. There were ants inside! It was a nightmare because it’s literally glued to my skin. I had no recourse but to beat myself until I killed them all. It’s like rats in the skull and bugs in the brain. It was the worst sensation. I was running around screaming I have ants in my head!
CB: Your character Lt. Commander Bortus is from a planet that is “almost all” male. The third episode ‘About a Girl’ was as thought-provoking as it was hilarious. How did you feel about tackling such an important issue?
PM: It’s so rare to get that opportunity; I mean especially now with the administration trying to set us back like 75 years, it’s great when art and life; or politics when you can comment on it without spoon-feeding or beating you over the head. It was very thoughtful and very smart. There are many levels to this guy, and you will see that there’s an arc. It’s not a light thing. Imagine your child being born with a deformity and you’re not allowed to change the deformity. He wants to have the child undergo the procedure, and then as wack-a-doodle as this is, if that’s even a word, he watches “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” This shows the gravity of the situation and the zaniness of watching “Rudolph.” When I was at the table read I was like oh wow; this is so great. Not only does it tackle such a serious issue, it doesn’t have this Hollywood end to it, ya know? There’s disappointment.
What’s great about this show is that it balances comedy and drama. I studied clown for two years in grad school and my clown teacher said, “Without the possibility of tragedy, comedy cannot exist.” I feel like I’m really getting a good workout as an actor being able to play this range of emotions. It feels good to be a part of the conversation. It’s one thing to have my own political views, but it’s another to be paid to turn it on its ear that 400 years in the future we’re still dealing this issue of tolerance and acceptance. We’re not just entertaining; we’re engaging the conversation of gender politics. You will see what happens to his character as a result of that episode. episode 12 is going to be a doozy! It all comes back around. You heard it from me first. It’s so unexpected what happens. I can’t wait for the phone calls: WAIT; are you serious?
CB: Are you a sci-fi fan and if so, what is your “go-to” TV series to watch?
PM: I’m a nerd from way back. I played BattleTech after school. I was into “Robotech” and Japanese animation and building models and science projects. I love reading science fiction- I love watching science-fiction. I’ll even watch bad sci-fi just to see a spacecraft you know, doing its thing.
CB: What is your go-to sci-fi series?
PM: I’m all over the map. I really like “Black Mirror,” I re-watched “Star Wars” and my wife thinks I’m crazy. I haven’t had the chance to catch the new “Star Trek.” I’m a fan of “Firefly.” I think I get to see “Blade Runner 2049” tonight and I’ve probably watched “Blade Runner” like 50 times. Sometimes I listen with the sound off just for the visuals.
CB: It’s World Series time. If you were a baseball player what would your walk-up song be?
PM: I’m all over the place with music. Bortus dances a lot off-screen. We do a lot of radio trivia games. I mean the raunchier the better! There’s disco 70s song called “Ain’t gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)” I think Bortus goes to the disco tech on Moclus.
Jason William Day can be seen on Dwayne Johnson’s Instagram post putting “The Rock” in an all too realistic choke hold. Known for “Deadpool,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” this former UFC fighter turned actor/stunt actor is making his mark on film and television. Day has stories to tell, including a chat about the hot new Netflix series “Altered Carbon.”
Colleen Bement: I saw Dwayne Johnson’s Instagram post and I just have to ask: Exactly how badass were you that you made The Rock’s eyes glaze over? WOW. Also, tell your fans about filming that scene for the film; “Skyscraper” is it?
Jason William Day: I can’t say too much about the film, it’s a pretty tight operation they run so you will have to watch to find out! But that pic was all the big guy, he wanted realistic so he got realistic! It was a great experience, the toughest part about it was getting my arms around that massive neck; he is one solid man. He is just how you think he would be; courteous, modest and a damn hard worker.
CB: “Altered Carbon” is one of the most talked about sci-fi shows in the works. What can you share about your experience on the set?
JWD: “Altered Carbon” is going to be an epic series. The time they spent planning and capturing each shot was worthy of feature films. Joel (Kinnaman) is an awesome guy to work with and very intense on set – in a good way! We put in some grueling hours to get the shots they needed, I think this series is going to blow fans away.
CB: Just curious: -What did you love the most about being a UFC fighter
JWD: The actual fight itself. Stepping into that octagon felt like stepping in the Coliseum. Nothing else matters at that point. I got to test myself against the best in the world. It’s a feeling I can’t describe and that few get to experience. I’m grateful for every fight I’ve ever had.
-What did you love the least about that gig?
JWD: The weight cut. Always the weight cut. Time slows down. All you can think about is food. At that point, a naked supermodel could walk by eating a piece of broccoli and all I would think about is how good that broccoli would taste right then. I don’t miss that part one bit.
CB: “Deadpool” has to be one of my favorite films. What was it like as a stunt performer on the set?
JWD: I was actually cast as an actor on that one. I think my coverage is sitting on the cutting room floor! It was a fun experience all the same although I didn’t get on set with Ryan Reynolds. I think he was intimidated by my good looks!
Actor JP Manoux has a mile-long filmography filled with comedy, drama, and everything in between. The Santa Barbara, CA raised actor is known for so many roles including “The Librarians,” “Veep,” “ER,” “The Wayne Brady Show,” “Phil of the Future,” and many more. Lately, he can be spotted playing Lou on the hilarious series “Swedish Dicks” on PopTV or driving around LA with his license plate that actually says IMDB ME.
Colleen Bement: What can you share about new projects in the works?
JP Manoux: I should be appearing in upcoming episodes of “Swedish Dicks.” Not sure if they have announced a premiere date for season two, or not. If you didn’t catch season one on PopTV, you can find all episodes on PopTV.com. Peter Stormare, Johan Glans, and this promising young talent, Keanu Reeves, are hilarious!
CB: Tell fans about your experience filming the season four episode of “The Librarians?”
JPM: That was a blast! I was already a fan of the TNT series and films. Noah Wyle wrote a terrific episode that should delight fans of Steve Martin’s “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.” I got to play three different characters for director Jonathan Frakes. My scenes from this gig alone could serve as a new demo reel.
CB: You played Congressman Clark in the fantastic series “Veep.” What was it like to play alongside such a crazy-talented cast and crew?
JPM: Working at all is good fortune. But, getting to play with that cast and those writers is like winning the lottery. “Veep” is the most consistently brilliant and funny show on television. To have my name included on that call sheet? I would have let Jonah Ryan actually crush my foot with a sledgehammer.
CB: Does your license plate still read IMDB ME, because that’s fabulous!
JPM: It does. Thanks! A lot of pictures taken at red lights; and my car gets keyed every few years by someone who doesn’t get the irony. But I’m sticking with it.
CB: Let’s talk comedy. I see you have a ton of improv experience. I hear comedy is more difficult than drama. What do you think?
JPM: There really shouldn’t be a difference. If you can analyze a script and execute the dynamics of a scene, you should be able to do either. I think when performers say that comedy is harder, what they really mean is that with comedy; there’s no grey area. It’s less forgiving. You immediately know whether or not you hit the mark because the audience laughs, or they don’t. (At least on stage.) In film and television, you don’t find out until after the director says, “Cut!” because nobody wants to ruin a take by laughing. But with drama, your audience might be on the verge of tears, or only somewhat sympathetic, or just sitting there silently criticizing. It’s hard to tell exactly how your performance is resonating. This question has been asked of much more astute talent than myself. What did Meryl Streep say? Let’s go with that. With regard to improv, I’m enormously grateful to my teachers, coaches, and teammates at Northwestern University, IO West, Impro Theatre, and The Groundlings. I recommend everyone study improvisation, regardless of age or occupation. Not just aspiring actors. Everyone.