Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Weird Al Yankovic

FEW WOULD HAVE GUESSED that “Weird Al” Yankovic – who as a shy, accordion-playing teenager got his start sending homemade tapes in to the Dr. Demento Radio Show – would go on to become the biggest-selling comedy recording artist in history and a pop culture icon. Now in his fourth career decade as America’s foremost song parodist, he has been honored with four Grammy® Awards and fifteen nominations, including his most recent win in 2015 for Mandatory Fun, the first-ever comedy album in history to debut at #1 on the Billboard charts, capping a career’s worth of accolades for classic song and music video parodies such as “Eat It,” “Like a Surgeon,” “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Amish Paradise,” “White & Nerdy” and “Tacky.” Following his wildly successful 2015 Mandatory World Tour, traveling to more than 100 cities in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, the tour continues beginning on June 3, with Yankovic bringing his high-energy comedy rock show to another 80 cities across North America including New York City’s Radio City Music Hall and two nights at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles where he will be performing with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In the wake of his 1989 cult-hit feature film UHF, his late 1990s CBS Saturday morning series The Weird Al Show and numerous AL-TV specials he’s made for MTV and VH1 over the years, Yankovic has remained a staple of film and television, from appearances on The Simpsons and 30 Rock to a musical production at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards. Most recently he has guested on ABC’s Galavant (as a singing monk) and The Goldbergs (as the ‘80s version of himself). This spring Yankovic joins the fifth season of IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! as its new co-host and bandleader, and this fall he will be heard as the voice of the title character in Disney XD’s new animated series Milo Murphy’s Law (from the creators of Phineas and Ferb), in the wake of other voiceover work for Gravity Falls, Wander Over Yonder, Adventure Time and the DC animated feature Batman vs. Robin. His live performance on George Fest: A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison was recently released across all formats, while Legacy Recordings is planning a career-spanning box set featuring all 14 “Weird Al” Yankovic studio albums digitally remastered later this year. Also, NECA will debut the first in a line of retro-clothed Weird Al action figures in May. In the last decade, Yankovic’s music and videos have only become more popular. His 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood spawned the Billboard Top 10 single “White & Nerdy,” the video for which spent two months at #1 on iTunes and garnered over 150 million web hits. In 2009 he wrote, directed and starred in the themed attraction Al’s Brain: A 3-D Journey through the Human Brain featuring cameos by his mother-in-law and Paul McCartney. Two years later, in tandem with the release of his album Alpocalypse, Comedy Central aired the concert special “Weird Al” Yankovic Live: The Alpocalypse Tour, filmed at Toronto’s venerable Massey Hall, and released the unedited version of the concert on DVD and Blu-ray. In 2012, The Nerdist Channel debuted Face 2 Face with “Weird Al” Yankovic, a web series where Al got to “interview” some of his “close, personal friends” in the entertainment biz. In July 2014 Yankovic released his 14th studio album, Mandatory Fun, which would go on to win Best Comedy Album at the 2015 Grammy Awards. The album features parodies of some of the biggest hits of the previous year, including Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” (“Tacky”), Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (“Word Crimes”), Lorde’s “Royals” (“Foil”), Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (“Handy”) and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (“Inactive”). The album also features several inspired originals and pastiches (“Lame Claim to Fame,” “Sports Song,” “My Own Eyes,” “Mission Statement,” “First World Problems” and “Jackson Park Express”) along with Al’s latest accordion-fueled medley, “NOW That’s What I Call Polka!” Mandatory Fun debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, the first time a comedy album debuted at #1 and the first time a comedy album reached the top of the chart in more than 50 years (the last one being Allan Sherman’s 1963 release My Son, the Nut). On Spotify, Yankovic set the U.S. record for having the most tracks from one album in the viral top 10 at one time, taking the first four spots. Internationally, the album debuted in the Top 10 in both Canada and Australia (#3 and #9 respectively). In addition, ”Word Crimes” debuted in the Billboard Top 40, making Al one of only three people to have had Top 40 singles in each of the last four decades, the other two being Michael Jackson and Madonna. For Mandatory Fun, Al released eight music videos (“Tacky,” “Word Crimes,” “Foil,” “Handy,” “Sports Song,” “Lame Claim to Fame,” “First World Problems” and “Mission Statement”) across eight days, resulting in more than 46 million views combined in its first week. For the videos he teamed up with various production partners such as Nerdist Industries, CollegeHumor, Yahoo!, Funny Or Die and TruScribe, as well as talented auteurs like Liam Lynch, Jarrett Heather and Tim Thompson. Yankovic added “New York Times bestselling author” to his resume with the release of his 2011 children’s book, When I Grow Up (HarperCollins). The following year came Weird Al: The Book (Abrams), an illustrated hardcover on Al’s life and career, followed by another Al-penned kids’ book, My New Teacher and Me! in 2013. Currently in the pipeline is a television show based on his children’s books, being developed with the Jim Henson Company. Among other publishing milestones, on April 21, 2015 Weird Al had the honor of becoming MAD Magazine’s cover boy and the first guest editor in the magazine’s 63-year history. Al’s social media fan base currently sits at over 4 million followers on Twitter (@alyankovic), 1.76 million fans on Facebook (weirdal), 183,000 followers on Instagram (alfredyankovic) and more than 970,000 subscribers on YouTube (alyankovic). For more information on Weird Al, and for a full list of Mandatory World Tour dates, please visit weirdal.com. THE RETURN OF THE MANDATORY WORLD TOUR 2016 Friday, June 3 - Saint Petersburg, FL - Mahaffey Theatre Saturday, June 4 - West Palm Beach, FL - Kravis Center for the Performing Arts - - Dreyfoos Hall Sunday, June 5 - Fort Myers, FL - Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center Tuesday, June 7 - Mobile, AL

Scotty McCreery

Scotty will be talking about his new book, Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream, which was released this week on May 3. The book tells stories from all areas of Scotty's life: • Discovering Elvis at age 5 when his grandmother gave him a book – How To Be Like Elvis – and how Elvis has remained his main musical influence • Scotty is 25% Puerto Rican – his paternal grandmother is 100% Puerto Rican and met his paternal grandfather when his grandfather was in the service. • He wouldn't go to the Nashville audition for "American Idol" because it interfered with his church camp that year. • Instead, he and his mom and dad went to the Wisconsin "American Idol" audition on a whim. They didn't tell anyone, even his sister (who was at church camp that week) that they were going. • He was prepared for his audition with Josh Turner's "Your Man," Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight" and Jamey Johnson's "In Color." But after remaking it through a couple of auditions, he had to learn Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." • The importance of his faith to his life, and how it helps him make his decisions. How it helped him stand up for himself when he decided he wouldn’t sing a song on the show that the producers wanted him to sing. How it gave him strength and confidence. • His strategy for picking songs while on "Idol" so he could communicate something about himself to the audience • Being robbed at gunpoint in his friend's apartment • Touring with Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts as well as on his own • Bonding with his band members • Meeting President Obama, Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Josh Turner, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, Tim McGraw, Charlie Wilson, and so many others. • Staying true to himself, keeping himself grounded by remaining close with family and lifelong friends • Going back to finish high school and remaining a regular guy while being a celebrity • Attending college for 2.5 years and balancing that with his career • Finding his girlfriend of the last four years, Gabi – they've known each other since kindergarten but began dating during their senior year in high school • The importance of sports in his life – his love and passion for baseball (he was a baseball pitcher in high school) and golf • The importance of giving back – Scotty has worked with several organizations from the 12.14 Foundation to Operation Christmas Child and more

Monday, May 23, 2016

Matthew Palmer

Twenty years after the Srebrenica massacre that claimed the life of his friend and colleague, Eric Petrosian is back in Sarajevo at the American embassy, and the specter of war once again hangs over the Balkans. The Bosnian Serb leader, who had for a time been seeking a stable peace, has turned back to his nationalist roots and is threatening to pull Bosnia apart in a bloody struggle for control . . . and behind him is a shadowy mafia figure pulling the strings. As Eric is dragged deeper into the political maelstrom and uncovers a plot of blackmail and ruthless ambitions, Eric is faced with an impossible choice: use the information he’s uncovered to achieve atonement for the past or use it to shape the future. In an interview, Matthew Palmer can discuss topics including: • The very realistic threat of new armed conflict in Bosnia amidst decades of simmering tensions and complex politics • What still needs to be done on the road to reconciliation between Serbia and Kosovo – the April 19 Agreement (which Palmer helped to broker in his diplomatic career) is just one piece • Refugee pressure on the Balkans: How conflict could be renewed in the region if the E.U. moves forward with its idea to close the Macedonian-Greek border • Radovan Karadzic: The former leader of the Serb Republic in Bosnia was recently sentenced to 40 years in prison after being found guilty of genocide and other crimes against humanity during the Bosnian War. These crimes including the Srebrenica massacre, in which more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed by Bosnian Serb forces (and the opening scene of THE WOLF OF SARAJEVO) • Matthew’s career as a diplomat – elaborating on the TIME.com article he wrote on the realities of diplomacy • His excellent writing pedigree coming from a renowned writing family, including father Michael Palmer (touches upon in Q&A with Publishers Weekly) Follow Matthew on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MatthewPalmerAuthor ABOUT THE AUTHOR Matthew Palmer is a twenty-five-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and is currently serving as the Director for Multilateral Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of Asian and Pacific Affairs. Palmer has worked as a diplomat all over the world. While on the secretary of state's Policy Planning staff, he helped design and implement the Kimberley Process for certifying African diamonds as "conflict free." Praise for Matthew Palmer “Foreign Service officers often are heroes in real life. Matt Palmer has given us all the fictional hero worthy of the people with whom I worked. If I had known Matt Palmer could write like this I’d have asked him to do even more than he did.”— Madeline Albright

Jim Breuer Realizes Rock Dream

Accomplished comedian Jim Breuer understands that comedy and heavy music have long made for great bedfellows. On his first musical full-length album, Songs From The Garage, Breuer delivers both in his inimitable style with longtime backing band The Loud & Rowdy. Announced via Rolling Stone, the album is set for release May 27 via Metal Blade Records. With the support of special guests such as Brian Johnson (AC/DC) who provides vocals on two tracks and producer/guitarist Rob Caggiano (Anthrax, Volbeat), Breuer has created a record that is pure, unadulterated fun while remaining true to his rock sensibilities. Breuer says, "Going into the record the music had to be killer and have great hooks, that was most important, and I wanted to balance that with something that's funny. I wanted to bring the smile back to hard rock that has a nice punch to it.” From crunchy opening romp "Thrash" through the swaggering "Who's Better Than Us?!" to the gloriously deranged excitement suffusing "Sugar Rush", his exuberance is infectious, and he challenges you to keep your ass from shaking and the corners of your mouth twitching while it thunders from the speakers. Backing Breuer up is The Loud & Rowdy with Mike Tichy on drums, Joe Vigliotti on bass, and Metal Mike on guitar. Initially known as the Jim Breuer Band, without even having a record under their belt it did not take long to turn a lot of heads. After finding themselves on massive festival stages, the band headed into three different studios to record - Metrosonic Studios Brooklyn, Clear Track Studios, and Sonic Debris Recording Studio. With Rob Caggiano (Anthrax, Volbeat) on production and guitar duties, the album was filled with eleven musically badass tracks featuring lyrics that are not only funny but also relatable, reflecting Breuer’s position in life: "A dad with three kids who loves family life yet is still a metalhead at heart." The inspiration for all of this comes from Breuer’s adolescent immersion in the world of heavy music, falling in love with Judas Priest and AC/DC, alongside the likes of The Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, and Van Halen. The fire to start a band was soon lit under him, though he wouldn’t begin his musical career until he was older. Having finally made the album that has been burning to get out of him since his teens, Breuer couldn’t be happier with the result. Though he has fulfilled one rock and roll dream with its completion, it certainly does not mean he's about to kick back and leave it at that. "I plan on making great, funny videos for every song and have videos up during the concerts. I want pure entertainment when you come see this live, and now my rock and roll dream is to play this not only here in America, but anywhere else in the world that will accept it! I'm taking it one day at a time, living the dream."

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Jessimae Peluso

It's about fun and laughter and everything that makes such a place a great hangout. The last time Jessimae and I were together she was promoting MTV's Girl Code. To see her grow within the ranks of total respect on the open fields of live comedy is mind blowing.

Chonda Pierce

Emmy® -nominated and best-selling comedian Chonda Pierce has been making audiences laugh for more than two decades with her winning combination of fierce wit and southern charm. Pierce is fresh off an incredible year after debuting her movie “Chonda Pierce: Laughing In The Dark,” to rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. The limited engagement documentary-style film was so well received that it was brought back for a very special encore performance and in total was viewed by nearly 100,000 people over the course of just two nights. A stand-up comedian, television hostess, author and now actress, Pierce has channeled her life experiences into positivity, bringing laughter to audiences around the country. As the RIAA’s best-selling female comedian, her hilarious take on life is easily relatable as she publicly opens up to her listeners about times of darkness and depression in her own life, drawing humor and good from every situation. In October 2015, Pierce took her humor to the big screen with her first film “Chonda Pierce: Laughing In The Dark,” based on her personal struggle to overcome depression. The film is a behind-the-scenes journal chronicling Pierce’s downward spiral dealing with the devastating loss of her mother, an estranged daughter and the tragedy of her husband’s battle with alcoholism and subsequent death, all over the course of three years. Yet she remarkably makes her way through the adversity, heart-wrenching loss and her own depression with the gift of humor! Pierce made the film in hopes it would serve as a vehicle to inspire others who may be hitting points of darkness and depression in their lives. “Chonda Pierce: Laughing In The Dark” opened October 27, 2015 at 500 theaters throughout the country for a one-night special event and was so incredibly popular, it returned to nearly 800 theatres for an additional one-night encore showing. The film topped charts and competed with some of the year’s biggest films. The DVD and digital versions will debut on April 5, 2016 and will be available nationwide. Pierce got her start working at Opryland Theme Park in Nashville where she performed as “Grand Ole Opry” star Minnie Pearl. Pierce recalls being a terrible dancer and being told by her boss to “find a new talent.” In order to keep her job, she memorized three pages of jokes from Grinders Switch, TN and went on to impersonate Minnie Pearl for six years. While Pierce enjoyed singing and dancing, it was at this time that she truly fell in love with her craft. After deciding to pursue comedy fulltime, she recorded “Second Row, Piano Side,” a collection drawing material from her childhood growing up as the daughter of a preacher in South Carolina. Pierce’s material resonated with people from all walks of life, and she credits her southern upbringing both for her warped sense of humor and her solid roots. From there, Pierce turned her gift of storytelling into a successful comedic career, selling more comic albums than any other female comedian. In addition to her 10 successful albums to date, she has also authored eight books, most recently “Laughing In The Dark” (Simon&Schuster/Howard), the inspiration for her upcoming film, and appears at venues big and small throughout the United States making audiences laugh with her ability to find the positivity in any situation. Pierce received five Daytime Emmy® nominations for her work co-hosting talk show “Aspiring Women” on the Total Living Network and her first television special, “This Ain’t Prettyville!” on CMT (Country Music Television). She is ranked amongst Pollstar.com’s top-selling live performers and five of her DVD’s have been certified Gold by the RIAA, signifying sales of more than 50,000 units, and three have been certified Platinum, signifying sales of more than 100,000 units. In addition to her accolades, Pierce is a frequent guest on famed “Grand Ole Opry” and has served as host of the Inspirational Country Music Awards and Christian Music Hall of Fame Awards and also co-hosted the GMA Dove Awards in 2012. She has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “The View,” “Fox News Channel,” “Wanda Sykes,” and her comedy is regularly featured on XM and Sirius satellite radio. Variety raved about her ability to draw audiences for an encore performance for “Chonda Pierce: Laughing in the Dark.” In addition to her comedic work, Pierce has used her success to help others, and in 2006 founded Branches Recovery Center, which offers counseling and treatment to those with depression, anxiety, addiction, regardless of their ability to pay. She has also raised several million dollars for international relief organizations Compassion International, WorldVision, Food for the Hungry and Feed The Children. Today, as the RIAA’s best-selling female comedian, Pierce continues to bring the laughs with her unique blend of music and comedy. ABOUT CHONDA PIERCE PRESENTS: STAND UP FOR FAMILIES Emmy® -nominated and one of the top-selling comedians of all time- Chonda Pierce has been making audiences laugh for more than two decades with her winning combination of fierce wit and southern charm. "Chonda Pierce Presents: Stand-Up For Families" is clean stand-up comedy safe for the whole family! This 3-part series premiered on The Dove Channel April 5 and carry through June. Each episode features Chonda and other hilarious comedians including Bone Hampton, Brad Stine, PJ Walsh, Nazareth, Joby, Saad, Michael Joiner, Taylor Mason, Anthony Griffith, Sandi Joy, Kay Dodd, Lisa Mills, Chinnitta Morris, Cleto Rodriguez, Michael Jr. and Rik Roberts. The series is the first of a new original programming initiative launched by the network. Additionally, “Chonda Pierce: Laughing In The Dark,” which was a booming box office hit last year, released April 5. The film is a take on life as she publicly opens up to her listeners about times of darkness and depression in her own life, drawing humor and good from every situation. Families struggle finding ways and time to spend time together thanks to our mobile devices and other distractions of life, but "Chonda Pierce Presents: Stand-Up For Families" is designed for families to safely enjoy together without worrying about offensive language or subject matter it’s all positive and HILARIOUS comedy so they can be encouraged and spend time with each other!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Molly Quinn

Molly Quinn plays Castle’s daughter, eighteen-year-old Alexis, his only child from his first marriage. Alexis is an old soul who is wise beyond her years and never ceases to amaze Castle with her wisdom and insight. As early as she can remember, Molly has been a part of the performing arts. Early ballet recitals and continuous stage productions from K-3 through 6th grade set the stage for performing in front of the camera by age 12. Quinn recently starred in the Newline Cinema film, "We're the Millers," directed by Rawson Thurber and also starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis and Emma Roberts. Prior to that, she played the starring role in "Hansel and Gretel Get Baked" from director Duane Journey and producer Mark Morgan ("Twilight" series, "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief"). Quinn's past credits include working alongside RenĂ©e Zellweger and Logan Lerman in "My One and Only," and with John C. Reilly in "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," directed by Jake Kasdan for Sony. She also worked for acclaimed director Robert Zemeckis in the motion-capture version of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol." When Quinn's not in front of the camera, she works on numerous projects as a voice-over artist. Most recently cast as the voice of “Supergirl” for Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics, she has voiced roles for Cartoon Network's hit series "Ben 10: Ultimate Alien," and is currently the voice of Bloom in the Nickelodeon global hit, "The Winx Club." She also narrates and brings to life each character in the audio-books for Simon & Schuster's YA series, “The Mortal Instruments,” by Cassandra Claire. Currently residing in Southern California, Quinn stays close to her roots by regularly traveling home to visit family and friends in Texas. ABOUT WELCOME TO HAPPINESS, OPENING IN THEATERS AND ON DEMAND MAY 20TH WELCOME TO HAPPINESS is a quirky new fantasy/drama with an all star cast of Kyle Gallner, Olivia Thirlby, Nick Offerman, Molly C Quinn, Josh Brener and more. FilmBuff is releasing the film in theaters and on demand on May 20th. In WELCOME TO HAPPINESS, Woody (Gallner), a children’s author, rents a strange apartment from his landlord, Moses (Offerman). There’s a magical door in Woody’s closet that allows those who go through it to erase mistakes from their past. While he was once happy to facilitate the passage of the random strangers summoned to his apartment, Woody soon begins to question why he himself is not allowed to go through. The film has been awarded ‘Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking’ at the Newport Beach Film Festival, ‘Excellence in Producing’ and ‘Producers Choice’ at the International Festival of Cinema, ‘Best Narrative Feature’ at the deadCENTER Film Festival, as well as ‘Best Ensemble Cast’ at the Phoenix Film Festival.