The NY Comedy Festival had so many star-studded shows, but the one that stuck out for me as being the most meaningful, besides being just entertaining was the Stand-Up For Heroes event, at The Beacon Theater on 75th and Broadway, produced in conjunction with the Bob Woodruff Foundation, honoring our brave servicemen and women who have been injured while serving our country overseas.
NY Comedy Festival poster highlighting all the big stars attending!
The line-up of talent was impressive including on the musical end John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, and Roger Waters, and on the comedic end Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Jon Stewart, and Mike Birbiglia. Also on the style end were the two gorgeous style experts Ann Caruso and Mary Alice Stephenson, who you know from TV!
Stand-Up For Heroes Poster for event at The Beacon Theater on November 8, 2012!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV having a grand old time with two gorgeous style experts, Mary Alice Stephenson on the left, and Ann Caruso right in the middle! (LOL)
Covering a red carpet is difficult at times, because the huge TV networks tend to monopolize the stars as they make their way down the red carpet, so that by the time they get down to the independent press people like us, very often they’re out of time to speak, because the event is starting. And it’s difficult for the press people running the event to hurry everyone along.
Luckily I know a lot of the red carpet honorees so they stop off to say “Hi” even briefly. Besides getting to speak to Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais, who asked if I did my hair like that for him, (LOL), I got a very cool interview with Ann Caruso and Mary Alice Stephenson who styled the wives and female soldiers for this great event, and managed to get clothing donated from The Limited and even from Dior.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Ricky Gervais on the red carpet of Stand-Up For Heroes!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Style Experts Mary Alice Stephenson and Ann Caruso on the red carpet of "Stand-Up For Heroes!"
One of the biggest honors I had was getting to speak to some of the “wounded warriors” themselves. In the video accompanying this post you’ll see interviews with Lance Cpl. Michael Martinez, USMC who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan, but walks so well with his prosthetics that you wouldn’t even know. He walks with a limp, but walked the red carpet proudly with his girlfriend Megan Waters.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing hero /Wounded Warrior Lance Cpl. Michael Martinez of the US Marine Corps at Stand-Up For Heroes!
I also got to speak to Capt. Pat Horan, U.S. Army who was there with his wife Patty Horan. Capt. Pat had a bullet explode under his helmet, which within an hour destroyed his ability to walk, the coordination of his body, mouth, and his vestibular system which controls your balance. He lost all sensation on the right side of his body, and the ability to speak, read, and write, but as you’ll see in the video through lots of hard work in rehab has made an incredibly miraculous recovery.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviews Capt. Pat Horan, US Army on the red carpet of "Stand-Up For Heroes" at The Beacon Theater!
It was truly an honor to meet these brave men and women who sacrificed so much for our country, and who were escorted down the red carpet by various stars in attendance. You can see the video right here:
Nancy Savoca’s new indie feature “Union Square” starring Mira Sorvino, Tammy Blanchard, and Michael Rispoli, is a great example of the beauty and freedom of independent film.
The poster for Nancy Savoca's film "Union Square, starring Mira Sorvino and Tammy Blanchard!
As a writer and more specifically a comedy writer,I know the feeling of having someone who thinks they have an incredible sense of humor try and change what you wrote. More often than not, their sense of humor is easily surpassed by their sense of smell!(LOL)
With independent film you don’t have to worry about a studio handing over your script to someone who doesn’t get it! With independent film YOU’RE in charge!
It’s a natural extension for a writer to want to direct, since the writer has the vision in the first place, and sees the movie in his/her mind. In the case of this film, it’s birth came about in a coffee shop, with Nancy, producer Neda Armian, and co-writer Mary Tobler commiserating on how hard it is to get an independent film made.
A smiling Nancy Savoca at the press junket for her new film " Union Square!"
Neda offered her apartment, which is just one room, made to look like two, and said, ” Let’s just shoot something! Anything!” and they all agreed. Nancy said that Mary was “fearless” and over a summer they hashed out the script. They even believed in it enough to put up the initial financing. Once you’ve got the money, it’s a go! That’s the one ingredient that keeps everyone from making a film! (LOL)
They chose locations they could walk to from Neda’s apartment which was one block from Union Square. They purposely wanted a small cast, maybe two principal characters and two or three supporting characters.
You’ll see in the attached video how excited Nancy was to get the cast she wanted. Casting is always key, and when you get the stars you want, especially on an indie budget, you know they’re doing it because they believe in the project, and not for the money!
The film was also shot using less equipment than many student films. They had a very small crew, almost no lighting equipment and shot on a Canon 5D, which is a still camera, capable of shooting high def video.
Again, the beauty of independent film does away with the necessity of using crews of 50 or 60 people, and trailers, and truckloads of equipment. Most of the time they didn’t even use a tripod!
Nancy Savoca and Mira Sorvino at the press conference at The Regency Hotel for "Union Square"!
Mira plays Lucy, a free-wheeling, sexy, but confused girl on the verge of a nervous breakdown over a relationship with a married man, gone wrong before our very eyes. She virtually has a meltdown in Union Square Park, in front of innocent passersby, some of whom had no idea she was shooting a film, which is another funny story you’ll see Mira describe in the video below.
Director Nancy Savoca with Tammy (Jenny) Blanchard at the press conference for "Union Square!"
With her life seemingly in shambles, on a whim she decides to drop in unannounced on her estranged sister Jenny, (Tammy Blanchard) who she hasn’t seen or spoken to in three years. On the surface they couldn’t be more dissimilar.
Mira, as I told her in the video, totally nailed her inner “Bronx-girl”. The accent was perfect as was her style of dress. She dressed really sexy, and with all due respect, she has the body to pull it off too! (Even Tammy said that, … but a lot more graphically! LOL)
Tammy as Jenny, on the other hand played a woman who had seemingly gotten away from her “Bronx past”, and was leading a quiet sedate life with her fiance Bill, played by actor Mike Doyle. In real life, Tammy is a beautiful, stylish woman. In the film she plays kind of a frumpy part, to the point where she said she didn’t even want to look at herself in the mirror!
Writer/Director Nancy Savoca with a very stylish, "un-frumpy" Tammy Blanchard, one of the stars of her new film "Union Square!"
Lucy announces that she would like to stay with Jenny for at least a couple of days, and begins to wreak havoc in Jenny’s life and with her relationship. Lucy drags Jenny out to a club, where Mira’s character Lucy, gets to dirty dance with a guy who turns out to be her own real-life husband, Chris Backus, with whom she just had her fourth child about a month ago. You’d never know it because she’s in such great shape!
Lucy and Jenny’s mom in the film is played by Patti LuPone, and it’s a great, and funny part, and actor Michael Rispoli also plays a wonderful part, as a very stable down-to-earth guy, which he’s so good at. Michael is an old friend, who’s been in so many films, like “Kick-Ass”, “Invincible” with Mark Wahlberg, Spike Lee’s “The Summer of Sam”, and of course he was mob boss Jackie Aprile on HBO’s hit show “The Sopranos.”
He played the lead in the film “Two Family Home” which won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award back in 2000, which is when we took the photo that appears below. It was a party for “Two Family Home” and many of the Sopranos’ cast were there like Aida Turturro, Michael Imperioli, and Drea De Matteo. I was so happy to see him in Union Square.
What will make this film even more popular, is the fact that so many people will relate to the theme of estranged siblings. Unfortunately, it’s all too common.
I was most happy to meet Mira as I’ve admired her talent for years, ever since “Mighty Aphrodite” with Woody Allen in 1996. I actually wrote a film with her in mind for the lead, about a tough biker chick who falls for a stand-up comic. A very unlikely couple to say the least!
So I was so happy to be able to meet her and interview her in person. It was also special for me because I know her Dad, Paul Sorvino for a very long time as evidenced by the photo below taken at Columbus Cafe back around 1991.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Paul Sorvino at Columbus Cafe, circa 1991!
Mira and I had a good laugh about how her Dad bursts out into song at a moment’s notice,(or sometimes without any notice at all! LOL), very often while you’re seated with him in a restaurant.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, philanthropist Karen Koeningsberg, and Paul Sorvino at a party for Karen's birthday at The Standard Hotel! Paul graced us all with a song, and his magnificent voice!
She says he’s been doing that all her life, and Paul has a beautiful, operatic voice, which you can easily hear from several blocks away. She says such nice things about her Dad, which you’ll also hear in the video I keep talking about. I think it’s time for you to watch it, right here.
And after you watch this, run out to the theatre on July 13th and watch Union Square. You won’t be sorry!
Nancy’s work is also an inspiration to all filmmakers. If you have something in you that needs to be said in film, just go out and do it! These days if you want to get it done, there’s always a way!
I get to interview lots of people but every so often I get to interview someone of whom I’m a genuine fan, which makes it even more exciting. I’ve enjoyed all of Chazz Palminteri’s work, and his new film Mighty Fine really shows off his range as an actor.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chazz Palminteri!
Known for playing tough guys, in this film he plays Joe Fine, a tough Jewish guy from Brooklyn in the “schmatte” trade who relocates his family from Brooklyn to New Orleans in order to be closer to his factory. Every major character in a film needs a fatal flaw, and Joe’s fatal flaw is his unpredictable anger and uncontrollable rage.
An Adopt Films feature, written by writer/producer/director Debbi Goodstein, it’s a semi-autobigraphical drama based loosely on her own Dad, about a father’s love for his wife and two daughters, and how they are affected by his sudden, unexpected bursts of anger and rage.
Joe’s wife is played by the incredibly talented Andie MacDowell, who plays a Holocaust survivor, and I understand that Andie worked very hard to get her Polish accent down pat which she certainly did. It takes a very strong and talented performer to be able to stay in character even for a short sketch, but for a whole film it’s really quite an achievement.
The daughters superbly played by Jodell Ferland, who played Nathalie the youngest daughter, and Rainie Qualley who played Maddie the older daughter were both very endearing and had great chemistry as they had to support each other through the trials and tribulations of living with a father who constantly embarrassed them with his behavior, and probably needed to be medicated, but was living in denial about his problem, and refused to seek help.
Rainie Qualley is actually Andie MacDowell’s daughter. It must be so fun to act in a film with one of your kids!
The story is supposedly told in the voice of Nathalie as a grown woman, which turned out to be the voice of Janeane Garofalo. I knew it sounded somewhat familiar to me!
When Joe Fine did finally give in to his wife’s demand to seek help he wound up charming the psychiatrist into thinking it was all a distortion of his wife’s thinking since she suffered through the Holocaust. Joe refuses to face the fact that his business is on the brink of collapse, and struggles to turn that around with the unwilling, coerced help of his partner well-played by Arthur Nascarella.
When I started this video interview Chazz asked me how long I would like to speak with him so he could guide himself on how long or short to make his answers. I told him I was at his disposal. I would stay for as long as he had things to say. We spent 30 minutes together, and it was an insightful interview into the mind of the Academy Award nominee, who gave us among too many to mention, A Bronx Tale, the Academy Award nominated role of Cheech in Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway”, and his starring role in “The Usual Suspects.”
If you’re a Chazz Palminteri fan, and who isn’t, … I think you’ll really enjoy this!
For the past 15 years Rob Goldstone and David Wilson founders of Oui 2 Public Relations have been creating HUGE events and representing even bigger stars! They have a national and international network of connections.
Even in his early days, Rob was a force to be reckoned with. Originally from the U.K., (which is where he got that great accent! LOL) he traveled with Michael Jackson, as the only journalist personally chosen by Michael to cover his “down under” tour in Australia, and was chosen to accompany Bob Geldof to Ethiopia for his Band Aid Relief Fund concert back in 1985.
While living in Australia Rob represented almost every major international artist touring that country; from Cyndi Lauper to Julio Iglesias, James Taylor, Tracy Chapman, BB King, Marianne Faithful and Poison! Among his corporate clients were Saatchi and Saatchi, The Hard Rock Cafe, Chess: The Musical, Richard Branson’s Virgin Megastores, and HMV Music Stores.
After returning to England in 1991, he moved to The States the following year as the Head of International Marketing for HMV Group, (part of EMI Records)- a position he held until 1998. In this capacity, he oversaw the international marketing for the world’s largest music retail corporation, from the U.S. and Canada, to the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Japan, and Australia. His work led to close working relationships with artists, managers, and record labels across the globe.
David Wilson made similar moves, starting out in Northern California where he grew up, and winding up in Sydney, Australia, where he began his PR career at Rob Goldstone’s company, Crawford Goldstone Corporation, which at the time was one of the leading entertainment/lifestyle PR firms in the country. He moved first to London and then to NYC where he worked with a cross section of both music and entertainment heavyweights including Joe Cocker, Lisa Stansfield, Warner Bros. TV, Atlantic Records, HMV Records, and the New York Friars Club.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Yesterday I personally witnessed the talent of these two Oui 2 guys as they pulled off two HUGE events in the same day! I first attended the red carpet event for the Friars Club Roast of Betty White, and finished off the day by covering the red carpet for the Caron Foundation event at Cipriani’s on 42nd STreet, in honor of Clive Davis and Judy Collins.
Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Gilbert Gottfried at the Betty White Roast!
Needless to say, (then why am I saying it? LOL) both were star-studded events, and packed with press. David and Rob made sure that everything ran smoothly, and you could see how hard David was working by how wet his shirt was! LOL Despite the tremendous pressure, and various demands made on him, he was still very accomodating.
The actual red carpet was so crowded with photogs and press, that David was kind enough to set me up with a spot at the end, so I could get some great video interviews for Comedy Matters TV with legends like Dick Cavett, Larry King, and Abe Vigoda, as well as Prior of The Friars Club Stewie Stone.
Larry King, making a point to both Uggie from The Artist, and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV at the Betty White Roast!
Old friends Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV and actor/singer Dominic Chianese at the Friars Roast for Betty White!
Although I didn’t get to talk to Betty White or some of my old pals like Norm Crosby,(who just didn’t hear me when I called out to him! LOL), and Liza Minelli, I did get to talk to Donny Deutsch, who was shocked that I had met his parents at a comedy event I produced at the Westbury Country Club, Dominic Chianese who was shocked that we hadn’t seen each other in so long, and legendary talent agent Don Buchwald who was just plain shocked that I wanted to do an interview with him, (he’s just very humble!LOL)
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Donny Deutsch at the Friars Club Roast of Betty White!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the legendary Liza Minelli at an earlier event! I missed her at both the Roast and the Caron event!
After the Roast, I went home to change my clothes so I wouldn’t be dressed the same in both events, got hold of a second DP to shoot the Clive Davis/Judy Collins event, and headed over to Cipriani’s where I got to interview not only Clive, and reminisce with him about the time I got him invited to his first Friars Roast, but also Laurie Dhue the MC for the evening, my old friend Chris Lawford, Geraldo Rivera, and Judy Collins, who pleasantly surprised both Geraldo and I by coming over to join us during our red carpet interview. It turned into a fantastic three-way, you should excuse the expression!
Patrick McMullen's photo of Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing both Geraldo Rivera and Judy Collins at the same time!
MC Laurie Dhue with Stephanie Seymour on the red carpet for the Caron Foundation event honoring Clive Davis and Judy Collins!
Geraldo Rivera with his wife Erica at the Caron event honoring Clive Davis and Judy Collins!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with honoree Clive Davis at the Caron event at Cipriani's!
I also got to reminisce with Geraldo about an evening we spent with Salvador Dali many years before at the St. Regis Hotel in the King Cole Lounge where Dali held court whenever he was in New York!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV reminiscing with Geraldo Rivera at Cipriani's about an evening long ago with Salvador Dali!
You’ll see lots more when the video is posted, in the meantime I just wanted to give props to Oui 2, and Rob and David, for their amazing accomplishment!
The third annual Soho International Film Festival at the Sunshine Cinema Theatre on Houston Street, was amazing and had lots of star power.
Some of the celebs that showed up were Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, multiple award winner Danny Aiello who was honored with a retrospective of many of his 90 films, Kevin Jonas of The Jonas Brothers who I kept calling “Nick”, as you’ll see in the video, Armand Assante, Eric Roberts, and Mike Starr who also starred in John Gallagher’s film “The Deli,” which celebrated it’s 15th anniversary since it’s release in 1997.
Danny Aiello with Exec. Director of Soho Film Festival Sibyl Santiago!
My old pal Danny Aiello, who looks fantastic, graced me with a 20 minute interview. I also got to interview Exec. Director Sibyl Santiago, about her background and how she’s helped the festival grow in the two years since she’s been there.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with multiple award-winning actor Danny Aiello on the red carpet of the Soho International Film Festival!
I kept accidentally calling Kevin Jonas “Nick”, which is his brother, because I’m in the process of producing another comedy fundraiser to fight Diabetes, and for the last month I’ve been focussing on trying to get in touch with Nick Jonas seeking his support, to ask him to be involved in some fashion, so I have Nick Jonas on my brain!
Kevin was there to support the film “Forgetting The Girl” which was produced by his wife Danielle’s brother. Kevin thought it was funny that I kept calling him “Nick”, as you’ll see in the video!
Kevin Jonas and his wife Danielle at the Soho International Film Festival!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Kevin Jonas, who I kept insisting on calling "Nick"!
Thanks to Marie Driven PR, and her Team Execution, I’ve been to some very exciting events from hip outlets like The Source, and Hot 97, but this one last night at LQ on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, was really exceptional!
If you’ve ever been to Jamaica you know that wherever you go, people greet you with the word ” Irie”, which is a word in Patois that describes a state of feeling great!
Covergirl, super-model Carla Campbell hosting Irie Fashion Rave at LQ!
So this event was the Irie Fashion Rave featuring lots of gorgeous Jamaican models wearing designs of several hot designers like Carlos Williams of Original Stush, John Paul Pierre, Hope Wade Designs, RepJA Clothing, which is a blend of Caribbean and American, Riddim Driven, (which I assume translates to mean Rythym Driven in regular English! LOL), and a line called MeeNeSsHouz, which I will need help with pronouncing, never mind understanding what it means! I’ll ask Marie to translate for me! (LOL)
I love the way Jamaican people speak! Sometimes you can almost figure out what they are saying! (LOL)
This was a really super fashion event. Most fashion shows are over in 10 minutes. This one went on for hours. It was hosted by Sports illustrated swimsuit Cover Model Carla Campbell, and an hysterically funny lady with shockingly red hair, who came in all the way from Jamaica, Miss Kitty,known as “The Fluffy Diva!”
Miss Kitty, the "Fluffy Diva" in all her "fluffiness" on the mic at LQ for Irie Fashion Rave!
I think she may use the term “Fluffy” the way comic Gabriel Iglesias uses it, to describe a “big” person! Miss Kitty was not only proud of her “belly” she flaunted it by wearing a tight white dress that accentuated her curves. She openly stated that “beauty doesn’t stop at Size 2!” A remark that got huge applause from the audience!
Now there’s a woman who owns her power! She even did kind of a “booty-shake” dance-off with Carla Campbell who has a smoking hot body, and even Carla couldn’t compete with Miss Kitty’s moves! Probably cause she was laughing so hard! (LOL)
There’s something really nice about a person who “owns” who they are. People come in all shapes and sizes and it’s nice to see people not only comfortable with who they are, but proud of it!
The Jamaican community seems to embrace the differences between people, and I like that!
The place was PACKED with press, from Getty, Wire Image, Vibe, The Source, Splash, AP Images and more, and was also packed with a really upscale, good-looking crowd, which I can also attribute to the hard work of Marie Driven!
The event drew a very upscale, good-looking crowd! No metal detectors were necessary! (LOL)
I myself spent a lot of time on the red carpet getting photographed, and ran into my old buddy Steve Mack as well as my pal nightlife guru El-Malik who was there “stylin” as usual, as well as shooting the event!
El-Malik's hand on the camera shooting two gorgeous Jamaican dancers!
Also in attendance was Guest Model Oraine Barrett, and awards were given honoring record producer Robert Livingston, and female radio personality Pat McKay, who was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The screen honoring Pat McKay!
They also presented what they referred to as “Reggae Soldier” Awards to former Rapper Music Executive and Actor Heavy D and music producer Joel Chin, and the hosting duties for that part of the show were shared by Jabba from Hot 97!
Honoree Pat McKay and Jabba from Hot 97 at LQ for Irie Fashion Rave!
I think everyone’s favorite part was the bikini fashion show, … or maybe I should just speak for myself! (LOL) No matter where you come from, it seems that both men and women appreciate beautiful women in hardly any clothing! (LOL)
Hot lingerie and bikinis, a great mix!
Gangs of women in bikinis roamed the runway! (LOL) But no one even thought to call the police!
Bikinis not only look good from the front, they look good from the back too!
And as you can see by the photos, everyone had a blast! Can’t wait till the next event!
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