Interview with Actress Adrienne Barbeau By Jesse Striewski

No matter how many interviews I might do in my lifetime, I never tire of having the chance to get inside of the minds of celebrities I’ve admired for most of my life. Actress Adrienne Barbeau is no exception; from watching her at an early age in reruns of Maude, to late night viewings of horror/action classics such as The Fog, Escape From New York, Swamp Thing, or Creepshow, she has always been a standout figure in my world. So it was with great honor I was able to ask her a few brief questions recently for Rewind It Magazine.

I wanted to start at the beginning, and asked if she’d enlighten me just how she began acting, and landed her first role on the previously mentioned ’70s show Maude alongside Bea Arthur (and if she was ever approached to eventually guest star on her later series The Golden Girls). She informed me; “I started acting on stage in a community theater in my hometown and eventually moved to NYC to (hopefully) work on Broadway. My first Broadway show was Fiddler on the Roof; then I went on to play Rizzo in the original Broadway production of Grease. That led to my being cast in Maude. I was incredibly fortunate to do such an important, ground-breaking sitcom; I loved every minute of it. Especially loved playing Bea’s daughter. She was the absolute best in every way. But, no, I was never approached about appearing on The Golden Girls. Not sure how they would have worked that out.”

As far as how she eventually came to be known as a ‘scream queen,’ starting with the inclusion in then-husband John Carpenter’s 1980 film The Fog, Adrienne explained; “I never set out to act in horror films specifically. I wasn’t even aware of the genre, really. But I was offered the role of Stevie Wayne in The Fog and in those days, if you were known for your work on television, you couldn’t get hired to do movies. So when The Fog came along, I jumped at the chance. None of us knew, back in 1979, that the film would still be as much loved today as it was then.” And as far as the 2005 remake goes? “I haven’t seen the remake. Probably never will.”

Having worked with the legendary late Donald Pleasance on the 1981 classic John Carpenter film Escape From New York, I had to know what it was like to be on that set. She told me; “One of the best parts about filming Escape…was getting to know Donald Pleasance. He was so witty, so funny, there were times I couldn’t start a scene because he had me laughing so hard. All the men on that set were great to work with, every single one of them.”

One role Barbeau will perhaps always be remembered for is the obnoxious booze-pounding Billie in 1982’s Creepshow. I was curious not only what it was like working with the late Hal Holbrook, but also having special effects maestro Tom Savini “off” her on screen (and what it was like revisiting the series on a semi-recent episode). She stated; “I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you with my answers about Creepshow. I loved working with Hal, and with Fritz, but I honestly don’t remember anything about Snuffy (Tom Savani) and the special effects. I was pleased to be asked to appear in the recent series and so enjoyed working with Greg Nicotero. Obviously my role in (the episode) “Grey Matter” wasn’t as memorable as Billie, but it was fun to work with Tobin Bell again (our third time working together – we played incestuous siblings in an episode of Criminal Minds!) and getting to know Giancarlo Esposito. Aside from our episode, I haven’t watched the series – I’m not a big horror fan – but glad to know it was picked up and is so successful.”

Barbeau has also done her share of voice acting work, starting with 1982’s The Thing, and continuing into bit parts in such films and animated shows as Demolition Man, Judge Dredd, and Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. When asked what drew her to this field, she noted; “I was drawn to voice acting when my son Cody (Carpenter) was born. It was something I could do and still be a full-time mom; I wasn’t about to leave him for 14 hours a day to do a TV series. John asked me to voice the computer in The Thing, and, if I remember correctly, the other three films you mention were simply offers that came through my voice-over agent. I did have to audition for Catwoman, though, in Batman: The Animated Series. I remember because it was just a thirty-second recording I did in my agent’s office, and they called me about a month later to say I’d been cast.”

Also an accomplished author, Barbeau explained where some of the inspiration has come for her writing; “Ali McGraw has an autobiography titled Moving Pictures. I was taken with the style in which she wrote; not a soup to nuts detailing of every minute of her life. That’s the only book that influenced me when time came to put my stories down on paper. I cared more about how I said what I had to say than the content of what I was saying. Since the memoir, I’ve written three vampyre novels about a scream queen who is the head of a vampyre clan of A-list Hollywood actors. Sort of a comedy – romance – thriller.  And I’ve just finished co-authoring a collection of stories and memories from over a hundred actors who appeared on Broadway and in the national touring companies of the original production of Grease. Grease…Tell Me More, Tell Me More! will be published by the Chicago Review Press next year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show. It’s funny and moving and fascinating.”

And as for what’s coming up for Barbeau?…”Well, I have several horror films in post-production, and Unearth, a film whose release got waylaid by the pandemic, is now streaming on the major platforms. The next thing you’ll be able to see me in is Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, scheduled to air in November.”


 

Interview with Actor Keith Coogan By Jesse Striewski

Chances are if you grew up in the late ’80s/early ’90s such as myself, you remember actor Keith Coogan. Not only did he appear in numerous commercials (his first acting job was a spot for McDonnald’s), and popular shows on TV at the time such as Knight Rider and Silver Spoons, he was also lucky enough to work alongside two of the most memorable bombshells of their time, Elizabeth Shue in 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting, and Christina Applegate in 1991’s Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Recently, I was able to sit down and speak with Coogan during a candid phone conversation about these experiences, and so much more.

I instantly wanted to start at the beginning and discuss what it was like making his first movie, a voice role in the 1981 Disney film The Fox and the Hound. He told me; “Yeah, no real huge memories of that! I came from a real big showbiz family with my great-grandfather in Vaudeville, then my grandfather in silent films and television, and my mother was a comedy writer, so they knew it’s a hard way to make an easy living. And I had worked my way up through TV, doing lots of commercials and guest appearances on great shows like CHiPS, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Eight is Enough, Mork & Mindy, and Laverne & Shirley. My mom, or “momager” was the one that took me around, and almost everything with a kid in it I auditioned for. And we got a voiceover job for Disney when I was eight; it was thrilling, but really only like three or four days of work spread over months and months. And they recorded the voices singularly…it wasn’t until Robin Williams was doing Aladdin years later that they decided to bring in whoever he was doing a scene with due to his improv nature.”

He continued; “We started in ’78, and of course the hound was played by Corey Feldman, who I’ve been friends with for decades now. And then Don Bluth left the production and took a lot of animators with him, and they had to shut down before hiring new people to finish the film. And by the time it came out in ’81, I was eleven and had been doing more TV and stuff, so it was kind of an after thought like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s out’ (Laughs). I know how grateful I am to be in a Disney movie, and some say it’s their last classically-animated film before they used computers full-blown on their next production. I think it’s a terrific, sweet film, and I think it made $64 million dollars at the box office, which was a record for them at the time, too.” He added one final thought; “And despite what it says on IMDB, Kurt Russell did NOT record his dialogue wearing Snake Plissken’s jacket (Laughs).”

I also wanted to get into some of those old TV roles he took part of, starting with working with the late Robin Williams on Mork & Mindy; “Oh gosh, working with him, and Jonathan Winters, and of course the anchor holding the show down, Pam Dawber, was so great! And this was actually the last episode to ever air, and they knew they weren’t necessarily going to get picked up for another season, so the set kind of had a dire mood to it. But there was still that spark of creativity there from Williams and Winters, although Jonathan was much more on his own planet (Laughs).”

Of course I had to ask him about Silver Spoons as well; “Rick managed a rock band called Splat, which I was the keyboard player for. And they were going to go on a Star Search kind of thing before their singer got sick, and so Rick had to sing, hence the title of the episode, “Rick Sings.” It was kind of a precursor to future roles I would play, but it was more surfer rather than stoner. I also got to work with Alfonso Ribeiro and Billy Jayne, and it was a welcoming, fun set with the video games and the train, and I think I got about ten feet into the house before three guys came up to me with their satin ’80s jackets (Laughs). And all of the video games on the set had unlimited credits, so you could just walk up and play any one of them! But they didn’t typically have the train out and lying around, so there was probably a ‘no riding the train’ rule!” He went on; “But the audiences on sitcoms used to throw me off. I probably did six or seven more of them, too, including Growing Pains and Just the Ten of Us. And they always were nerve racking in front of a live audience! I remember my entrance I did for the Laverne & Shirley episode I did; I opened the door and just cracked up, so we had to re-shoot it at the end of the night (Laughs).”

And aside from sitcoms, he was also on another favorite ’80s show, the previously-mentioned Knight Rider; “That was amazing! David Hasselhoff was particularity awesome and fun to work with, and I worked with my uncle Don Stroud, who played one of the biker gang members. We shot around southern California, and one of the coolest shots we did was at Mockingbird Square, which was Clock Tower Square at Universal Studios. And the bait shop we filmed in was the diner from Back to the Future. So that was fun to not only get to shoot there, but also ride around in K.I.T.T.!”

As far as his movies go, I asked if he felt Adventures in Babysitting is the one he will always be best remembered for; “It’s entirely subjective to people, but I think for me, it’s a split between that and Don’t Tell Mom...And regarding its 2016 remake, he said; “It was the one-hundredth Disney Channel original movie, and I went to the premiere when it came out, and it was great, lots of fun! The original was stretching the PG-13 and was limited to a certain audience, whereas the G-rated version was more for a younger generation. But it rings a lot of nostalgia bells with some of the little Easter eggs in there. But still, totally different story and tone, but I loved it! And Coogan even explained a little what co-star Elizabeth Shue has been up to recently (despite not having kept in contact with her); “She was involved with a recent article on all the things you ever wanted to know about Adventures in Babysitting answered, and it’s fantastic! They cover everything from the dance scene in the beginning, to the Playboy, to “Babysitter’s Blues.”‘

I also wondered if he had kept in touch with his former Don’t Tell Mom…co-star Christina Applegate, who recently announced a MS diagnosis; “We actually spent some time running in the same circles before shooting the movie, so it was a great pleasure to get to work with her, having already known how talented she was. She’s a total professional, and it’s interesting that both of these films kind of rest these huge budgets on the shoulders of teenagers! But I know that she’s gone through a lot, but she’s a trooper, and just fantastic, and I wish her all the best…sending out good vibes to her. And as far as how close Coogan was in reality to his character Kenny in the film? He tells me; “I was a nerd, a geek, and a “Dexter” as we used to call it in middle and high school (Laughs). So I wasn’t much like my character at all, I didn’t listen to the rock music like Kenny, or the punk music like Mitch in Cousins. But director Stephen Herek was very supportive in helping me find my character. But I loved it, and there was no way I was passing up the role of Kenny.”

One thing often somewhat forgotten about Coogan are his brushes with the action genre, such as the 1991 film Toy Soldiers; “I think they wanted to forget it when it came out (laughs), meaning it did good business, but you know, nothing to write home about. But Louis Gossett, Jr., what a legend, and Denholm Elliot, another legend! I had a great cast to work with, from Sean Astin to Wil Wheaton, and Shawn Phelan who has now passed. There was also Andrew Divoff who is pretty “method,” I don’t think I saw him smile once until we were done shooting (laughs). And the late R. Lee Ermey; at this point I had already done Adventures in Babysitting with Vincent D’Onofrio from Full Metal Jacket, but now I’m working with the Gunnery Sergeant himself, so I was just over the top! But it was an interesting mix-and-match movie…basically Die Hard meets Dead Poets Society (Laughs).”

In more recent times, Coogan even appeared as himself in the 2019 Kevin Smith film Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, and I asked him to briefly tell me about the experience; “Kevin had said something interesting along the lines of, ‘before I started making movies, I watched a lot of movies.’ So he really has a soft spot for nostalgia and for anyone that came before him. And having Chris Hemsworth at the end credits say – as Thor – “The dishes are done man,” I crapped my pants a little when I first saw that! (Laughs).”

While I could continue even further with more from our hour-long conversation, I’ll end things on this note due to time (perhaps I’ll get to the rest in future pieces), but those in the New Jersey area can actually catch Coogan at the Chiller Theatre Expo in Parsippany from the 29th-31st of this month. Regarding this event he stated; “It’s their anniversary for the convention, and it’s going to be a riot and a huge blowout! A lot of great guests, cosplay, and screenings, so it should be amazing!”

Interview with Film Producer/Writer Paul Maslansky By Jesse Striewski

When legendary film producer/writer Paul Maslansky originally agreed to speak with Rewind It Magazine, I doubt he knew the extensive knowledge I had on such films of his like Police Academy and Ski Patrol. And no doubt he was unaware how endlessly I watched these films when I was hospitalized for many months after a freak car accident when I was just eleven years old (something I rarely mention), or how I wanted to be a police officer for the longest time “when I grew up” thanks to the Police Academy films (I would come close, working many years side-by-side with law enforcement in the security field, in addition to journalism).

So when Maslansky begun recounting to me recently over the phone the story of how he initially came up with the idea for Police Academy on the set of 1983’s The Right Stuff after seeing a group of misfit police cadets, I was already prepared with a question, and asked if he thought he still would have came up with the idea or not that would ultimately spark an entire franchise had he not been there that day to see those inspiring recruits. He seemed genuinely surprised and impressed; “You know, that’s a damn good question…I’ve never been asked that before! But I I always wanted to make “gang” comedies ever since Animal House, which I thought was extraordinarily good, and that was an inspiration in many ways. So I don’t know whether or not I would have ever come around to it. It was really the moment, when I saw what was happening right in front of me that inspired me to write the story. Damn good question, though.”

I also wanted to know just how it was possible to churn out so many films in one series six consecutive years (from 1984-1989) in a row. He informed me; “It was almost like a sitcom; You had Hugh Wilson who came from WKRP in Cincinnati, and then Jerry Paris who was of course Gary Marshall’s guy. And that’s really why we were prepared for it; we had a cast that was steady, and every year everything was just serendipitously there, and the studio kept asking to make another one because the results were just so damn good, and the costs for these pictures was not that much. It was just really smooth operation, and I had the right directors, production managers, and just overall people in general all of the time.”

And does he have a film in the series other than the original that’s his personal favorite?; “I do have a favorite other than the first, and it’s because it was under great difficulties making it, and that was the last one in Russia. I made a number of films in the Soviet Union, and then I decided to bring Police Academy there for Mission to Moscow, and Warner Bros. said they wouldn’t finance it. But eventually they agreed, and then we went over, and it was then they had the counter revolution in the middle of the picture (Laughs). But we managed to complete it, and it’s really a silly movie that a lot of people seem to enjoy.”

I also asked a little about his background and how he got into filmmaking. He informed me; “I went to one year of law school at NYU, and I have to admit it wasn’t my calling, so we decided it would be best to part company (Laughs). But I met some terrific people at that time, and up until even quite recently they remained friends of mine, but sadly most have passed on. But I did go to an extraordinary undergraduate school, Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, before I went to Kansas City University after I got out of the military. But I was a C student at best, because I had so many other interests, especially music, and played jazz trumpet.”

He continued; “Once I left school, I decided to play music in Paris, and I was successful at that. I eventually met a young Danish film student, Benny Corsone, who was studying in film school at the time. He had to make a documentary film for his class, and he asked me to produce it. The film won a modest prize at Cannes, and in any event, a producer by the name of Charlie Schneer, was working on a film called Jason and the Argonauts, and had seen my film, and called and asked me to interview…and from there I became his assistant and we shot it in Italy. And that was really my baptism by fire and start in serious filmmaking. And eventually I decided to produce myself, and made a picture in Rome with Christopher Lee called Castle of the Living Dead with a guy named Warren Kiefer.”

But the whole reason for my conversation with Maslansky in the first place was thanks to recent interviewee and Ski Patrol star Roger Rose, who told me of their plans to remake the film. Maslansky filled me in a bit more; “Roger came to me a couple of months ago and said there were some people really interested in getting Ski Patrol going again, and I said, ‘Why not?’ So now we’re in the process of trying to get MGM, which we discovered wound up with the underline rights to the film. It’s gone through a couple of different hands over the years, and MGM is in the process of being taken over by a different group, so it’s been difficult to get to the right people there at the moment. But I have a feeling that ultimately, we’ll be able to pursue it properly. And we’ve also got the interest in of group called the Workaholics; it was one of their favorite films, and they would very much like to do that.”

He then gave me some background on how the original film came to be; “One of my neighbors at the time, Wink Roberts, was a stuntman and a damn good skier, and said, ‘Let’s make a movie called Ski Patrol,’ and the next thing you know, we’re making the movie (Laughs). It helped at that time that the Police Academy films were a great success, so it was easy to produce another gang comedy. And that’s really the genesis of it all. And then Roger came to me about doing it again with the Workaholics guys, and they were so enthusiastic about doing it that I said, ‘Let’s proceed!’ But I think nearly any ski resort in the country would be happy to have us film there right now, because I think unfortunately there’s been a bit of a decline in the sport recently, certainly because of Covid.”

And when asked if Rose will show up in the new film or not, he assured me; “Oh yeah, I very much want Roger to appear in it, and maybe get some of the older guys from the original film to make appearances, too. A lot of them are still around, but it’s different with Police Academy, every year we seem to lose more. We just lost a wonderful guy, Art Metrano (Captain Mauser from the second and third installments, who passed away earlier this month on September 8 at age 84), who lived down there in Florida. We’ve lost so many more of them, including Bubba Smith, George Gaynes, Marion Ramsey, David Graf, and said directors Hugh Wilson and Jerry Paris.”

I asked Maslansky to tell me a little about Metrano, with which I’ll end on; “Art was a tough Brooklyn guy, and had one of the quickest wits, but also had a wonderful comedy act. He was a religious man, and a damn good father. We were buddies and used to hang out, and he was as brave a man that you could find after his horrific accident that paralyzed him in the late ’80s. But through it all, his sense of humor was infectious, and he used it to make people laugh during the many months he spent in that hospital ward. It was remarkable the amount of good cheer there was as a result of Art’s presence. And working together with Lance Kinsey in the two Police Academy films he did, they were just a terrific pair. I sure will miss him.”

Interview with Actor Roger Rose By Jesse Striewski

Roger Rose is one of those celebrities you’ve just got to love; although he may not be as big of a “name” as such leading stars as say, Steven Segal or even the late John Ritter, he’s got his fair share of stories with the likes of both of them (and many more) from more than four decades of crossing paths and working in the “biz” with them. During a recent phone conversation with Roger, I was able to hear firsthand accounts from many of his encounters over the years, often resulting in uncontrollable, side-splitting laughter (did I mention he’s also extremely quick-witted?), making for one of the most hilarious – yet still enlightening – professional interviews I’ve ever conducted.

Right off the bat, Rose helped give some insight on both how he got started, and what he’s up to now; “I got real lucky! My parents were both broadcasters; my mom was on NPR, and my dad was a radio talk show host in L.A. and San Francisco. So I grew up around voice over, and I’m the voice of a bunch of TV stations around the country (Rose himself has lent his voice to everything from Scooby-Doo to Tiny Toon Adventures). I’m lucky enough to do some work for CBS network and things of that sort. And then I’m also producing a couple of things right now. There’s a couple of movies I’m actually working on too with the guy who made Police Academy and Ski Patrol, Paul Maslansky. He’s 87, and has so many stories about all these movies he’s done over the years. He’s just the best!”

Rose’s first on-screen role came in a 1981 episode of the Sci-Fi show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Regarding the experience he told me; “That was my very first SAG job, and I auditioned for the role and got booked, then had to run and give them my membership money because I lied that I was a even member! (Laughs). But the best part about that whole experience was, we shot during Christmas week. I had to cry in my ‘big scene,’ and there were special effects and all that, and they saved everything for the last day of shooting, which was December 24. And on a set, there’s a crew of maybe 150 to 200 people, and they all want to go home because it’s Christmas Eve, and it all comes down to me. My first professional television experience, and everybody is hating me. I could’ve basically not even said my lines and they probably would’ve said, ‘Great, print it, let’s go!’ (Laughs).”

Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Rose appeared on a number of other notable TV shows, including Knight Rider, Mr. Belvedere, Married…with Children, and Seinfeld. I asked if he would briefly shed some light on what it was like to be a part of all these shows as well, and he explained; “You know, it’s funny. CNN recently did that show, History of the Sitcom, and now I know I’m old because I’ve been on half of those shows (laughs). The one that you don’t know that I’m on that’s probably more historical though is Three’s Company. They were shooting the intro for it, and someone came up to me and said, ‘Hey kid, want to make a grand?!’ And then I’m suddenly in the opening credits. I was the guy dressed as a woman when Richard Kline jumps on the bumper car, not realizing I was actually a guy! I was lucky enough to be on a couple of huge shows, but I have to say that John Ritter, far and away, was the nicest, most professional and wonderful guy I’ve ever worked with in the business, period.”

He continued; “When I guested on Mr. Belvedere, he (the late Christopher Hewett) actually gave me a Saint Christopher’s medal, which was really nice and I was very honored, and still have it to this day. And Bob Uecker was of course great. I also did an episode of Too Close for Comfort with Ted Knight, and the thing about Uecker and Knight was, by that time I was already doing stand up, and someone told them I did impressions of them. And they both basically said the same thing along the lines of, ‘I hear you do impressions of me,’ and then they would each try to do their own impressions. I remember Knight doing Clint Eastwood, and you just had to laugh! Both very nice guys though!” Going back to Married…with Children, he stated; “I was really lucky on that. I did two episodes, and then the last two seasons I did most of the voice work on that show, too. But those people on that show knew they had it good, and they could not be nicer and more excited about being there. Ted McGinley (who played Jefferson) and I were hanging out on the set maybe the year before its final season, and said to me, ‘I’m the luckiest guy in show business!,’ and then they cancelled the show (Laughs).”

He digressed again; “And Seinfeld? Everything you’ve heard or read is true. I was lucky enough to have already met Jerry through my VH1 show, and then a couple of other times after that. I played the George character initially, and they cut a lot of my stuff out because I ad-libbed like crazy at the audition. Anyway, when they hired me they basically said, ‘Just do what you did at the audition.’ And then I realized, what makes these people so great is they actually hire you for you. And it was so great to do, just so much fun. Oh, and Knight Rider I don’t really have a great story about doing it, but I have come across Hoff (David Hasseloff) a couple of times since over the years, and he is exactly what you think he is; just a very nice guy! I actually tested for Baywatch after it went from NBC to syndication, which no shows did at the time! I tested for the role of like, Joey the stand up comedian lifeguard, and Hoff was there at my final audition. One of the things I had to do was a scene from the TV movie Norma Jean, which was about Marilyn Monroe. During my last line – and this was to show I could do drama, mind you – Hoff stands up and just starts signing (the lyrics to the Elton John song), “Goodbye Norma Jean!” And the producers are looking around like, ‘Just let him go with it!’ (Laughs). So then they offered me the job, and my manager at the time convinced me to turn it down, which I did. And the rest is history (Laughs).”

He then offered some unexpected insight on another show; “But I’ll tell you one that was terrible, which was Gimme a Break! with Nell Carter. They hired me, and told me they were probably going to fire me by the end of the week, because they fired everyone on that show! But I was trying to talk to other people on the show, and they wouldn’t talk to me because they were all terrified. She (Carter) was nice to me, but we were in the middle of camera blocking rehearsal, and the assistant director suddenly screams, ‘hit the deck!,’ and everybody, cast and crew, just hit the floor, and she starts throwing props and screaming! And then she walks off, and some guy goes, ‘Okay, lunch!’ (Laughs). And I didn’t make it to they end of the week, just like they told me. That one was actually devastating, and really upset me.”

Another role Rose will forever be remembered for was Steven in 1986’s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. As previously discussed in our recent retrospective piece on the film, Roger recalled some of his experiences on the set; “The movie had already been shot, and the phone rings and it’s Paramount calling (Director) Tom McLoughlin, saying there weren’t enough deaths in the film and they needed more, so they were going to go back and kill two more people. Tommy hangs up the phone and says, ‘I always wanted to do this…kid, I want you in my movie!’ And that weekend we shot my scenes. I said to Tommy, “Man I’d love to die brutally on film, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do (Laughs)!”

He then filled me in on how his time as a VH1 VJ came about; “I had a screen test to be a VJ at either MTV or VH1, and I told a much more elaborate story of my audition for Friday the 13th, and that’s what got me the job. About a year after I got the gig, the guy running MTV and VH1 at the time came up to me and said, ‘You know, you were going to be on MTV, but I’m the one who said ‘No.’ And when I asked him why, he said, ‘You wore a sports coat, and no one’s gonna want to eff a guy in a sports coat.’ (Laughs). It was one of the best experiences of my career though.”

Working on VH1 for over two years in the ’80s no doubt awarded Roger with many stories of celebrity encounters, including a three-parter with action superstar Steven Segal. He told me; “He came on my show with his then-wife Kelly LeBrock, and I told her how she was my “free pass” from my wife, and she loved that! So then we took all of these suggestive Polaroids, which Segal loved too – they were both characters! But needless to say, my wife was not pleased (Laughs).”

He continued his story; “So then I’m on some back lot of Warner Bros., having just gotten Ski Patrol – and I hadn’t seen Segal in a couple of years since he was on my show – and I hear him calling my name. He brings me over to some table and he’s with all these women and says to them, ‘You know what I like about this guy?’ And then he looks at me and goes, ‘You popped a chick and had a stain on your pants right before you interviewed me, and I respect that about you.’ My response was of course, ‘Listen dude, I know me, and that was probably just cream cheese from a bagel I was eating at the time!’ (Laughs). And another year or two after that, I did another thing with all these cameos with major movie stars in it, and one of them was Segal. He’s standing there next to the food table, and I say to him, ‘Look man, I don’t know if you remember me,’ and he interrupts me and says, ‘You know, it’s funny, people think I have a really bad memory…but I remember you all the way down to the stain on your pants.’ (Laughs).”

While the previous story might have been enough to end things on, I had to dig a little deeper about his most well-known leading role in the previously mentioned Ski Patrol. He said, “It was three months filming in Alta Park City, and I got to work with the likes of George Lopez (in his first film role) and Leslie Jordan, so how bad could it be? (Laughs). But what’s the weirdest thing that’s happened – and I never thought it really had any hold on anybody (except maybe my mom), because it had been around for awhile – but I was doing the NHL awards a couple of years back, and Anders Holm from Workaholics (another show Rose has guested on) was there, and when he saw me he said, ‘Ski Patrol! You altered my life.'” With praise as high as that, it’s hard to argue with a legacy as vast and influential as Rose’s.

And as far as those ‘projects’ he alluded to co-producing with Paul Maslansky earlier on? He did let me in on one of them; “I can tell you that one of those films will be a remake of Ski Patrol, which I’m very excited about, because I’ll be producing it with Paul!”

Interview with Actor Sean Kanan By Jesse Striewski

There’s no doubt been a resurgence of interest in The Karate Kid franchise ever since the characters were brought back to the screen in 2018 for the hit sequel series, Cobra Kai. Actor Sean Kanan is no stranger to the Karate Kid universe, portraying Cobra Kai member Mike Barnes, who to date remains the final member of the revered dojo to officially take on Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) in a match in 1989’s The Karate Kid Part III. Today, Kanan is not only still acting, he’s also an accomplished writer, having recently published his latest book, Way of the COBRA, last month. In a recent phone conversation, I was able to speak to him regarding highlights from earlier in his career, up to his latest published work.

But before he ever donned the famous Cobra Kai Gi outfit, Kanan had already trained in martial arts, and was one of only a handful of actors to have actually studied karate before being cast in one of the films. So one of the first things I wanted to ask him was what it was like to get into karate around the young age of thirteen. He explained; “You know, it really had a profound effect on me. I was kind of this undisciplined kid, and I definitely needed some discipline. Martial arts gave me confidence, and taught me humility and respect, and how to deal with people empathetically. It really had a significant impact on my life.”

He continued; “My martial arts school was eventually transformed into a larger organization, and at the head of that was a man named Master Fumio Demura, and he was actually Pat Morita’s stunt double. And when I came back later to finish my degree at UCLA and pursue acting, he told me they were going to be hiring the new ‘bad guy’ for the latest Karate Kid movie, and that I should try to audition. Long story short, I went to an open call with about two thousand people, and John Avildsen – who had directed the first two films as well – plucked me out of the line. I eventually went in and did a screen test with Ralph Macchio, and got the role. And that significantly changed the trajectory of my life.”

I also had to ask whether or not he had been a fan of the first two films prior to landing the role of Barnes in The Karate Kid Part III. He informed me; “Oh, yeah! I was the guy who paid for his ticket and sat in the theater like everybody else. And to suddenly be on the lot at Columbia Pictures staring in the third one was surreal, and just an incredible experience!”

Few may recall, but Kanan’s first film role had actually been in a low budget horror film the year prior to appearing in The Karate Kid Part III. I asked how he felt looking back on that experience, and he told me; “I did a horrendous horror movie called Hide and Go Shriek! Every actor’s got a couple of those in the wood pile, I suppose. But you know, I got to cut my teeth a little bit.”

Going back to his time filming The Karate Kid Part III, I wanted to know what it was like working with the previously mentioned, legendary late actor Pat Morita. He informed me; “Before I ever learned about The Karate Kid films, he was Arnold who ran the diner in Happy Days to me. He was great…very kind, very funny. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a chance to see the documentary about him, but he also had a lot of adversity in his life. For example, he had a crippling disability when he was young, and he also struggled with alcoholism, too. So he was kind of a complex guy.”

Kanan is also not oblivious to the fact that the third Karate Kid film will no doubt remain the least favorite entry of the original series to some. He stated; “Well, first of all, I think a lot of people feel the third one should have been the second one, and vice versa. You know, there’s a lot of issues with the third one. For one, Martin Kove I believe was supposed to be the only main bad guy in it, but he ended up doing a TV series, which minimized the days I guess he was able to shoot. And if I’m not mistaken, that’s when they decided they needed to bring in another bad guy, and created the role of Terry Silver (played by Thomas Ian Griffith). And then for some reason, the female lead played by Robyn Lively, didn’t have a romantic relationship between her character Jessica and Daniel. And then Jessica just kind of leaves like halfway through the film, which was kind of weird. So there were some issues for sure.”

After The Karate Kid Part III, Kanan kicked off the following year with some notable TV work, including a brief stint on the short-lived series The Outsiders, as well as an appearance on the hit show Who’s the Boss? I was curious what each experience was like for him, and he informed me; “As far as The Outsiders, there was a lot of bad behavior that went on on that set (and I’m proud to say I wasn’t involved in any of it), and the network just pulled the plug on it. In retrospect, the show seemed to really be cursed; two of the actors committed suicide, then another one died tragically early. But I grew up on the book by S.E. Hinton, so to be able to portray a character from something like that was incredible for me. And then you know, Ralph Macchio ironically had starred in the earlier film, so him and I have really had some weird intersections in our careers (laughs). And as far as Who’s the Boss? goes, it was a huge show when I did it. It was great working with Tony Danza, he’s a great guy. I’ve had the fortune of seeing him over the years, and I’m such a huge fan of his. It was a great experience.”

Kanan then went on to star in numerous soap operas over the years, including such popular hits as General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful. I asked him which one was his personal favorite to appear on, and he explained; “I would say The Bold and the Beautiful, because I was able to originate a character that no one else had played. Then I was able to crossover and play the same character on The Young and the Restless. At one point I think the show was syndicated in almost one hundred countries, so it gave me sort of an international presence, which opened up a lot of opportunities for me.”

Regarding his new book, Way of the COBRA, he said; “Way of the COBRA is set up with the structure that you are a student of my dojo – the dojo of cobra life – and I’m the sensei. And ‘cobra’ is an acronym formed from the words character, optimization, balance, respect, and abundance. And a ‘cobra’ is really somebody who is living their best, most authentic life. Somebody that has unleashed their inner bad ass, which everybody has inside; it might have gotten lost, or yet to be discovered, but everybody has one. And in the book I say, I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news, and let’s do the bad news first; I don’t have this magic silver bullet that’s going to turn you into this incredibly successful individual. But here’s the good news – it was already there. Everything you need to achieve that is already within you, you just have to learn to get in touch with it and let it out.”

He continued; “The genesis of the book was about three years ago. I found myself at a place where I had some pretty significant success, and some epic failures. And I was looking in the mirror and thinking to myself, ‘Okay, what’s next?’ I was thirty-five pounds overweight, I didn’t have any prospects for acting work, and I realized I needed to do some things very differently, very fast. And I decided rather than wait for my ship to come in, I was going to build the damn ship, but I just had to figure out how I was going to do that. And I started doing things very differently, and in that year, I co-authored my second book, Success Factor X, which became an Amazon books bestseller. And I created a show called Studio City, which is on Amazon Prime and was nominated for eight Emmy’s, and one won (and was recently just nominated for two more). And I say this not as a way of impressing people, but impressing upon them, what can be done when you follow some of the strategies that I discuss in Way of the COBRA.”

As far as his thoughts go on the Cobra Kai series, he states; “Oh, I think it’s terrific. I think these guys really did a bang-up job, and I think it’s great they’re introducing it to a completely new generation of kids, a lot of whom have gone back and watched the original films after seeing the show. I’m completely humbled that all these years later this role I played so long ago seems to still have some relevance for so many people, and it’s great.” And when it comes to whether or not we’ll see Kanan reprise his role of Mike Barnes on the next season of Cobra Kai? He simply replied; “Ah-ha, I can neither confirm nor deny, my friend!”

However, Kanan definitely could confirm that he had just completed shooting two different films with Bruce Willis, produced by Emmet Furla and directed by James Cullen Bressacks, that you will be able to catch him in in the very near future!

Interview with Enforcer Vocalist/Guitarist Olof Wikstrand By Jesse Striewski/Photo By Brooke Striewski

While I’ve said this many times already in the past, allow me to go completely ‘fan boy’ here again for just a second; I cannot stress it enough how Sweden’s Enforcer are the real deal, and possibly the best, true heavy metal band to emerge in the past two decades. It was an absolute blast to finally catch them live and review one of their shows for Rewind It Magazine back in 2019 (see attached photo above), and even more of a thrill meeting frontman Olof Wikstrand (among others) shortly after the show. It was just as much of an honor getting a chance to pick Wikstrand’s brain recently about the band’s latest release, Live By Fire II, which was actually recorded on the same 2019 North American tour in Mexico City.

One of the first things I asked him about was why the band choose Mexico City to record a live album, and he explained; “I think Mexico City is one of the greatest places in the entire world to play traditional metal. It has a great scene for it, and the people are incredibly enthusiastic about music in general, so I’m very grateful to go there as an artist. We also had the full lineup for it – we’ve been touring a little bit with session musicians lately – so this was a good chance to capture a show that we had the entire lineup of the band together for once. We also had good ticket sales for this one, so we knew that it was going to be something special.”

He continued; “Another reason was we had a good venue that we could set up exactly how we wanted, both in terms of sound, as well as stage. And we had a full headline slot to preform, so we could basically do anything we wanted with this show, and it was a great opportunity not to miss. I think we decided that same week that we were going to record the show, and we flew in our Swedish light guy about five days prior, just to do the show. So it was a spontaneous decision, but it worked out really well. When you get so much back from the audience and you really get the energy flowing, it makes you play so much better. I think we did a pretty good show, I think it was the second out of fifty-eight shows that we did in North America in 2019.”

Something about Enforcer’s style, and Wikstrand’s songwriting, has always struck me as uniquely authentic. So I wanted to know just where some of that inspiration came from. He told me; “I’ve been into heavy metal for the majority of my life. I think when I was like three or four I started to get into The Rolling Stones because of my dad. And then a year or two after I was introduced to Metallica by an older cousin, and that must have been around ’91 because it was right around the time of The Black Album. My parents come from a very musical background, so I had the interest for music already, and when that interest met with heavy metal, I thought that that was the coolest thing in the universe; it was like this mixture had set something special on fire.

He explained a bit further; “It started with a little bit of a thrash wave in the beginning (Megadeth, Slayer, etc…), and then I got more into death metal for awhile, and then I wandered out into Scandinavian black metal when I was a mid-teenager, before going back to thrash, heavy metal and classic rock more recently. So it’s been a lot of different phases throughout my entire life, and I’d say that I’m inspired by pretty much everything that’s ever touched me musically.”

I was curious what some of the tracks Wikstrand enjoyed performing live the most were. He stated; “I think the best songs to perform live are the ones where you get the most instant feedback from the crowd. Usually songs like “Destroyer,” “From Beyond,” or “Die For the Devil” create so much movement from the crowd, and you can feel so much energy coming back from them to you on stage.” I was also wondering if there were any forgotten songs in the band’s catalog that the band might consider resurrecting someday. He said; “I used to really liked “Roll the Dice” from our second album – that’s one that I would personally like to get back. But it’s also a little hard to bring them back if the crowd doesn’t want to hear them. So if it’s songs that haven’t really made an impact on people, then it’s hard to play them live because it will kind of kill the vibe. I think the track list that we have right now is the product of years of trial and error to find the right songs that work the best live.”

I couldn’t help but notice how the piano-driven ballad “Regrets” from their last studio album, Zenith, had not made it into said live sets, and inquired why this was. He replied; “We tried to it with the piano backtracked first, but it didn’t really feel genuine. Then we tried to do a guitar version in place of the piano, but it didn’t feel the same, really. So we have not yet been able to find a way to perform that live in a genuine way. We might still play it in the future , but it also depends on the demand of the song. And with a song seemingly so deep, I wanted to know if there was any meaning behind the lyrics. He stated; “The lyrics weren’t really inspired by anything in particular, but the original idea was to make it as dark as possible, with the thought of the love for something being beyond reach.”

With concerts slowly creeping in again, yet still up in the air for nearly any band on the planet, I of course had to ask what the band’s future live agenda looked like. He informed me; “We’ve had a European tour scheduled that has moved forward twice now. I think I’m in a state where I don’t want to book anything right now because it just feels so frustrating to keep having to move it forward and forward. I guess we have to wait this out and keep trying to come up with other creative ways of putting exposure towards the band. I think this year has shown that you don’t necessarily have to be touring on such a high level to create exposure for your band, and you can do that on social media instead. But we’ve had great responses from almost everything we’ve been doing on social media, and the contact with the fans has been the greatest thing. That’s something we’re definitely going to focus on in the future.”

But that has not slowed down Wikstrand’s creativity much. As far as the band’s future goes, he assured me; “I’ve been writing songs, and I think I’ve been more creative these last twelve months than I’ve been in the past twelve years. So it’s been very nice to have all the pressure off of touring/playing live and that whole aspect of the band, and hopefully we can actually get into the studio soon and record the follow up to Zenith. We have focus on growth almost everyday with every step we do as a band, and I hope to be able to keep taking this concept to the next level and get the music out there. That’s the only focus that I have, and it’s always been.”

Interview with Actress Julie Piekarski By Jesse Striewski

For the rest of my days, I will most likely always associate the girls from The Facts of Life with the ones in my own life at the time. Growing up in the ’80s with three older sisters and countless cousins – all around the same age as the girls on the show – it was impossible for me not to make some sort of connection whenever the show was on in our household.

Recently, I was able to chat with one of the original stars of the show, Julie Piekarski, who, after a successful first season, found her role of Sue Ann Weaver (among others) drastically cut down by the following season, before ultimately exiting the show all together. Piekarski continued acting through out much of the ’80s, appearing on such popular shows at the time as Quincy, M.E. and Three’s Company before finally stepping away from acting by the end of the decade to focus on motherhood. But in recent years, Piekarski has stepped back into acting again, and I was able to discuss both her past and present career highlights over the course of our conversation.

Before she was even on The Facts of Life, Piekarski first made her mark as a member of The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1977. One of the first things I wanted to know was just how a girl from St. Louis made it to Disneyland exactly. She explained; “Well, you have to remember, this was back long before we had American Idol, and Disney was going on it’s first “nationwide search” for kids to be the next group of Mouseketeers. My mentor/dance instructor, who I’m still friends with to this day, had heard about this, and sent in a resume and pictures. And they replied back and said, ‘come to Chicago’ – the closest to St. Louis they came – for an audition. So we went, and honestly we were just hoping for a guest spot at best. We came back home, and two weeks later got a call saying they had a couple of things they’d like to film me doing. And they filmed me in front of like a green screen pretending to talk to Mickey. And two weeks after that, I got a call that pretty much changed my life. Working with Disney at thirteen years old was an incredible childhood, and a dream come true.”

In between The New Mickey Mouse Club and The Facts of Life, Piekarski appeared on an episode of the hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes in 1979 with her future Facts… co-stars. I was curious how much she knew at the time that the appearance was going to lead to it’s own spin-off, and she informed me; “We had already been picked to be on The Facts of Life, and they made that sort of ‘transitional’ episode to kind of get Mrs. Garret (the late Charlotte Rae) off Diff’rent Strokes and segue her onto the new show, which is something I think they still do to this day. But they did that to ‘introduce’ us, and get us to crossover to The Facts of Life, and that was so fun because it was great to work with all the girls for the first time, and I had also known Kim (Fields) before that as well.”

I also wanted to know what it was like working with the likes of the late Gary Coleman and Dana Plato on the set of Diff’rent Strokes, to which she replied; “Dana Plato I didn’t really know that well personally, but on the show, she was really sweet, and it was kind of like just being with any one of the girls since we were all together. And Gary Coleman…well here’s the thing, you did kind of forget how old he was because of his size, and he could be a bit of a, what’s the word I’m looking for…stinker? (Laughs). I remember us girls were in like little runner shorts on the set, and every once in awhile you’d feel the slightest tickle right above the back of your knee, and you’d say, ‘Was that you Gary?!’ And he’d just look up at you and say that famous line, ‘What you talking bout?'” (Laughs).

Regarding her time on The Facts of Life (which also began in late 1979), Piekarki noted; “I loved being on the show, and Charlotte Rae was just like our mother hen who looked out for all of us, and wanted the show to mean something. We also got to do outside things like charity work, where we’d all show up for baseball games and events like that. And although it may have been PR work, when we got to go out and do things with the public, I thoroughly enjoyed that, because I felt like I was using this great gift that I was given to help others. It was just such a wonderful experience.”

But after just one full season on the show, the writers removed or reduced several characters from the show, with Piekarski’s being one of them. When asked how she dealt with this and if she harbored any resentment at the time, she stated; “When they went to cut the cast, it wasn’t like a major, devastating shock, because life does go on. But it was a bit of a surprise, considering in a lot of those early episodes, Sue Ann did have a lot of, if not major, at least secondary parts in there. But I guess the writers just felt they only wanted to develop certain characters, which is interesting considering when you look at a show like, say Friends, and how many characters that had. I’m sure that I was upset, but in the meantime, I had done other things, like a pilot for a show that didn’t get picked up called The Best of Times, which also had Crispin Clover and Nicolas Cage in it before they were known! But it was never like, ‘oh, I’ll never watch The Facts of Life again!’ I’m sure I watched it from time to time. But at the same time, I was still living my life and moving on.”

Piekarski and many of her former co-stars did return to the show from time to time in guest roles, including the 1986 ‘reunion’ episode, “The Little Chill.” But notably missing from any of these shows is the presence of Molly Ringwald, who after appearing in the first season of The Facts of Life, went on to star in such blockbusters as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. Regarding Ringwald’s absence, she said; “It’s interesting, and this would only be based on and what I’ve heard and speculation over the years, but I would imagine it’s because she was pursing that path of movies, and I think at that time TV was considered a little less-than. But now a days, it’d be no big deal, and all of that has changed!” With the late Cloris Leachman also passing away earlier this year, I was also curious what it was like spending time with her during that reunion episode. She informed me; “I can’t really say that we got to send too much time together during our downtime. But when we were together, she was always kind, friendly, and encouraging.”

Another standout moment on her resume was her appearance on a 1983 episode of Three’s Company, where she worked with the late John Ritter. Regarding the experience, she explained; “I was so excited that I actually got to work with John and Joyce (Dewitt)! John was such a sweet and kind gentleman, and so humble about giving suggestions. In a way, I was bummed that we did our scene so well and it was done in just a couple of takes…it was almost like I wished I had messed up more so that I would’ve been able to stay longer on the set! (Laughs). From what I could tell by just briefly stepping into it, they had created such a great ‘family,’ which is what you end up doing when you’re on a series with a long run. But John had such a great positive energy to him, and it was just a sheer gem working with him. I will always feel blessed for that.”

In more recent times, Piekarski has begun slowly but surely acting again after nearly three decades away to focus on her family. She informed me; “When I moved back to St. Louis to raise my family, I always knew in my heart that I would not step completely away from acting. And even when I was in St. Louis, I did different industrial film work and things like that. But once I had my kids, I wanted to be a full time mom, which I was blessed to be able to do. It just so happened that I went through some different things in my life, one of them being a divorce, which I never really imagined myself going through after thirty one years of marriage. But unfortunately it did happen, and my kids really convinced me to go pursue what I wanted to do. And I really felt this strong calling telling me to go back and see what’s out there for me, and things kind of slowly fell into place for me. I’ve actually had some scripts fall into my lap, and it looks like I may even be getting into the aspect of movie producing, which, I wasn’t really looking into doing. But again, doors keep opening, and I’m learning to kind of keeping my options open.”

For example, she was recently involved in a new series titled Pilot Season, which she explained; “They approached me and said they were trying something new. It was almost like doing that ‘cold’ reading with a group of people, but instead, they shot it, and made it like a pre-pilot. The episode was called “The Nuclear Option,” and it was crazy because I had never met any of these people, and they filmed us all by Zoom. So we were all on our own laptops, and then the way they edited it was really creative, editing in different backgrounds and scenes. It was a really unique experience.”

She continued; “Things have changed a lot since the way we did things back in my day. I still keep in touch with Kim, Lisa (Whelchel), and Mindy (Cohn) from The Facts of Life, and I was talking to one of them recently about how much things had changed since then. If you did TV, theater, movies, whatever it may have been, you never crossed over back then. But now that’s changed, and there are no boundaries. And now with things slowly kind of opening back up, I also have a new project coming up that I can’t share too much about right now, but I’m going to start filming it soon. I can say that it’s an eight episode show, and I know I’m involved with at least two episodes right now. I’m really excited about that!”

Reflecting on her career as a whole, Piekarski spoke candidly to me; “Now that I’m older and I’ve lived my life, I’m actually coming back into the industry, with a fresh perspective. I might get asked sometimes why I went down this path or that path. But there were a couple of times I turned down different roles because maybe they contained nudity. And what if say, my father, or my priest went to see it? I just couldn’t do it. You have to stay true to yourself. Education was always important to me, my values were always important to me, and I was always very grounded, with my faith being a huge factor. I think that’s really important for any young person no matter what industry, to just have a good identity of who they are and to not surround themselves with ‘yes people.’ But my favorite quote that I’ll never forget – my nun actually told me when I first came out to Hollywood – she said, ‘What you are is God’s gift to you, and what you make of yourself, is your gift to God.'” I couldn’t come up with a better way to end our conversation than that if I tried.

Interview with Ex-Queensryche Vocalist Geoff Tate By Jesse Striewski

There’s no doubt in my mind that Queensryche played an integral part in my own personal life; long before we were married (and formed Rewind It Magazine), Queensryche were the first concert my future wife and I ever officially worked together as a writer/photographer team back in 2013 (and we have since covered an additional one of their shows for Rewind It as well in 2019). But even after watching the band’s current lineup – which is more than competent in it’s own right with current frontman Todd La Torre – it still felt as though something was missing each time we saw them live. That something was of course original vocalist Geoff Tate, who I was more than honored to get the chance to speak to last week via phone.

At the time of our conversation, Tate was in the middle of traveling on the road to his next destination. Tate has indeed kept on the busy side in his post-Queensryche days, writing, recording, and touring either as a solo artist, with Operation: Mindcrime (who he is in the midst of performing the classic Queensryche releases Rage For Order and Empire on the road in their entireties), and most recently, with Sweet Oblivion, who are about to drop their second album featuring Tate at the forefront, Relentless.

One of the first things I wanted to ask Tate was just how he first became involved with the latter Italian metal act. He informed me; “After spending thirty years working with the same people when I was in Queensryche, I was ready for something new. I was talking to Mario at Frontiers (Records) about maybe branching out and doing something different, and collaborate with some new people. A couple of years later he introduced this idea, which was exactly what I wanted really, and introduced me to Simone Mularoni, who we did that first album with. This second record here is lead by Aldo Lonobile, and then we actually have a third one that’s going to be happening too, but I don’t know who’s going to be involved with that yet, so that’s going to be a nice surprise for me.”

I also wanted to know if the first single from Relentless, “Another Change” – which struck me as an extremely personal song – had any specific meaning behind it. He told me; “Well, I don’t really like to explain my music too much, because everyone hears and interprets music differently, typically based on their own experiences. So I like to leave it up to the listener. I have to say though, the album came together nicely. It was a great session despite the fact that we recorded it in different parts of the world.”

Another thing interesting about Relentless is the track “Aria,” which Tate sang completely in Italian. I asked how much of a challenge that was for him to do, and he explained; “Well, I’m really good at ordering off the wine list in a restaurant (laughs), but not so much at conversational Italian. But with the song, I was able to get used to it for awhile first and perfect it, which I think makes the album much more interesting.”

With live concerts slowly beginning to become the norm again, Tate has upcoming tour dates scheduled, including several tour dates in the U.S. beginning in the fall. I inquired what it was like playing live gigs post-Covid, and he explained; “Well, different places have been opening up again at different times with various precautions, and we’re finally picking back up where we unfortunately left off last March, when we were playing the Rage For Order and Empire albums for their respective anniversaries. But I did a show in Florida last December, and I believe that was actually the first live show we had done since last March. Then I did one up in New Hampshire, which was a matinee show. I haven’t done one of those since I think Japan in the early ’80s (where it’s customary to do them), so that was pretty challenging to do at my age (laughs). And then most recently, we did a show in Seattle back in February. But we’ve got U.K. dates starting in June and July, and then we’ll be back in the States again in September. Which I’m not complaining about – I’d much rather stay busy than just sit around!”

And with roughly four decades worth of material to draw from, I was also curious if Tate had any personal favorite tracks in his repertoire to perform live. He replied; “That’s hard to say, I like them all (laughs)! Well, doing the Empire tour that we’re doing now is really pleasurable for me, because this is the first time I’ve gotten to sing and play quite a few of the songs on that record. When the album came out, we only played a certain amount of them live, so now playing the whole album is a real treat, because I’m able to play some of the songs I’ve never played live before.”

As many of you may already know, Tate had a messy split between his most well-known former band in 2012. Before letting him go, I wanted to know if there was at least a chance for him and the other members to ever reconcile on a personal level, if not a professional one. He informed me; “Well, I talked to them a couple years ago. We were both playing the same festival, so I went out early to check them out, because I had not seen them play before. It was kind of a weird scene hearing them play, I felt like I was maybe watching a science experiment or something (laughs). And it was funny too, because I was actually standing backstage talking to someone when I heard Queensryche start to play, and in my subconscious, I thought, ‘Oh, they’re playing one of our songs on the PA or something,’ and then I realized the band was actually playing on the stage (laughs). But when you’ve played with a band for so long, and then see them perform without you, it’s just kind of a strange feeling. But I talked to everyone that was there in the band at that time, and it went well.”

Interview with Sex Pistols Bassist Glen Matlock By Jesse Striewski

I’ve said it many times before in the past, how when I was a kid learning to play the bass guitar, there were two bands I specifically cut my teeth to more than any others; punk outfits the Misfits, and the Sex Pistols (to the best of my knowledge, “Anarchy in the U.K.” was actually the first song I had ever learned on the instrument from front to back). So to get a chance to pick the brain of original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock (who was in the band from 1975-77 before being replaced by the infamous Sid Vicious) from his London home last week via a Zoom meeting was as surreal as it gets for me.

Matlock is so much more than simply a bass player though; he’s an accomplished songwriter (Glen had a hand in co-writing the majority of tracks from the one and only official Sex Pistols album, 1977’s Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols) and an all-around talented musician whose first love before he ever picked up a bass was the guitar (Matlock even mentioned in our conversation how playing the bass was more or less a ‘skill,’ but not his ‘art’). And one thing I had not anticipated was how much of a sense of humor Matlock has as well, causing for one of the most painfully hilarious interviews I have ever done.

Case in point, his latest work. Matlock recently released a limited edition, two-song single with longtime friend and collaborator, Earl Slick (best known for his guitar work with the likes of John Lennon and David Bowie) on Stay Free Recordings. Glen informed me that said new single, “Consequences Coming” (which also features a cover of KD Lang’s “Constant Craving”) was recorded last year in his home when he and Slick suddenly found themselves ‘stuck’ together after the lockdown first took effect. He explained; “We were in the middle of the tour in the U.K. at the start of last year, and then all of this started happening. and he got stuck with me, a bit like The Odd Couple. We did a couple of live streams and people started to like it, but you can’t do the same thing every week, so we had to learn four separate, hour-long sets.”

He continued; “So we had all of this stuff, and I figured, ‘well, we’ve got the computer out, let’s just hit record.’ And we did, in a very basement-tapes sort of way. And it’s just me and him, playing, shooting the breeze – I mean there’s some really funny stuff in between songs! We’ve actually got a full album in the can, but it’s not out yet, just the single. And that’s it really!” I also asked Matlock what made the pair decide to cover said KD Lang ’90s hit “Constant Craving,” and he replied; “Because I told him that we were going to do it (laughs)! But no, I’ve always liked that song. You know, it’s kind of about yearning and love lost, and I thought it kind of fit the mood for what’s going on for a lot of people right now.”

Of course I had to ask Matlock some questions about his former band the Sex Pistols – even if he has heard them all before. And his initial reaction to my forewarning of this was, appropriately, “Oh here we go!” (Which of course was proceeded by more laughter!). Still, I inquired what it was like watching the Pistols from the sidelines with Sid Vicious in his place, and he told me; “There’s a good expression in England that goes, ‘If that’s what you want, that’s what’s going to happen.’ I saw the train coming, but I wasn’t that concerned about it. It had all gone a bit, ‘tits up’ to me anyway, and I didn’t like the way it was going. But I was really busy, I had the band Rich Kids quite soon afterwards, and we were off writing and recording a record, so I wasn’t too concerned at that point. They (the Sex Pistols) were out plugging the songs I had co-written, and I was still earning money off of them doing their thing.”

I also wanted to know what he thought of some of the work that came in the aftermath of the Pistols, such as the 1980 film The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, and the 1986 hit, Sid & Nancy. He revealed to me; “I thought the Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle was a load of rubbish, and Sid & Nancy I didn’t think was too far off from that. But I did a little work on that one when I became friends with Alex Cox. He always maintained he should be paid by the government for making an anti-drug advertisement, which seemed reasonable to me (laughs). The funny thing with bio pics though, is everybody can pick holes in it. In a way, the whole Sid & Nancy thing was very Shakespearean, in a Romeo & Juliet sort of way.

After releasing one studio album with his post-Pistols group the Rich Kids, the band broke up, and Matlock briefly played with legendary frontman Iggy Pop. He enlightened me some on how that happened, and why it didn’t go past recording the one album with Pop; “Iggy’s agent was also the Rich Kids’ agent, and he knew they had just broken up, so he suggested me to Iggy and got me the gig. And when I started working with Iggy, he had a proper crew and road manager, and the equipment worked! We never had any of that stuff in the Pistols (laughs). It was fun, the way it should be. But it was great working with him, and I wish I had stayed working with him a bit longer. But he was in his ‘flashing’ stage at the time, and I definitely didn’t miss that at all after I had left…some things you can’t un-see (laughs).”

Fast-forwarding to when the Sex Pistols reunited in the mid-’90s, I asked if it was a sense of validation for him at the time to step back in to his original role as bass player. He said; “Yeah, I got the last laugh! (laughs). I think I actually caused it, because in ’95 I got to L.A. to do a project with a mate, and the guy I was staying with, Calvin Hays, gave me (Sex Pistols guitarist) Steve Jones’ phone number at the time – and I hadn’t spoken to Steve in fifteen years. We went back-and-forth for about a week, and when I finally reached him, he said, ‘I heard you were in town, come on over!’ And when I did, he said, let’s go see (Sex Pistols vocalist) John,’ and I said, ‘Oh, here we go!’ (laughs). And when all three of us were together, we decided to call (Sex Pistols drummer) Paul up in England. And the next thing, we got a world tour out of it, and if I hadn’t made that phone call in the first place, I don’t know if it would’ve ever happened.”

And lastly, I had to ask Matlock that question that will likely follow him for the rest of his days; with all four original members of the Pistols still walking the Earth, will there ever be another tour, or even just one huge ‘farewell’ show? His reply; “Well, I’m not holding my breath. But I liked the James Bond series, and when Sean Connery came back and made one more movie, it was called Never Say Never Again. We’ll see.”Matlock however did assure me, Sex Pistols or not, we will see him on stage again, someday; “We’ve got a festival gig over here (in England) in the summer, and I’m hoping for maybe a U.K. tour by fall, but I really don’t know if it’s going to happen or not yet.”

Interview with Actress Khrystyne Haje By Jesse Striewski

For several weeks, actress Khrystyne Haje and I had been playing a game of back-and-forth before our schedules finally aligned right for a phone conversation. And as soon as I got her on the phone, I knew it was worth the wait. Almost instantly, it felt as though I had been transported back to being that same 9-year-old kid who would tune in every week to watch her play Simone Foster on Head of the Class (one of my personal favorite TV shows at the time, which originally aired from 1986 to 1991) and developed one of my very first, and very real (albeit innocent) celebrity crushes. Since the show, Haje has gone on to do numerous acting, voiceover, and various humanitarian work. But with Head of the Class about to turn thirty-five this year, I focused heavily on the show that originally put her on the map.

Early on in our conversation, Haje gave me some insight into just what it was like growing up and simultaneously going to high school in real life, while also doing so on the small screen. She explained; “It was such a life-changer when I got the role! I had been working as an actress prior, and was an emancipated minor, so I was one of the only people on the show going to ‘real’ high school (at North Hollywood High), and what I called ‘fantasy school’ (laughs). It has just created so many opportunities for me since though, and what I consider some life-long friendships.”

Although I may have never been part of an honors class like the students on the show, I always admired the sense of camaraderie that the characters seemed to share together, something Haje informed me still exists with many of her former cast mates to this day; “Kimberly Russell (Sarah on the show) is still one of my best friends in the world. I was also super close with Dan Schneider (Dennis) – we actually met at a call back, and became friends instantly. Dan Frischman (Arvid) and I are forever friends; I lived in New York for a couple of years, and he moved there not long after I first did, so that was really fun having him there. Lara Piper (who joined the cast later as Viki) and I are still close as well. And Tony O’Dell (Alan)…I used to stop doing my homework to watch him on the show Otherworld, so when I saw him at the very first table read, I just couldn’t believe it! (laughs). But I still probably talk to him and Kimberly the most, a couple of times a month, if not more.”

Knowing that previously-mentioned former co-star O’Dell had recently appeared on the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai, I was curious to hear Haje’s thoughts on The Karate Kid revival show. She reveled; “Even though it was ‘super secret’ at the time, I was SO excited when he went to film Cobra Kai! And because of Tony, I actually got to meet the Cobra Kai guys back in the day! It was so fun randomly getting to hang out with William Zapka or Martin Kove back then, and I’m so happy for all of them right now!”

Of course I had to ask what it was like working with such a legend as Howard Hesseman as well; “I was a BIG fan of WKRP in Cincinnati! And at one of my final call backs, I actually got to read with Howard, and was just so starstruck! But I thought, ‘well, even if I don’t get the role, at least I got to read with Dr. Johnny Fever!’ (laughs). I always admired Howard’s work though, and he became just such a mentor to us all. He’s not only a gifted actor, but he’s also a great comedic actor, and was a great example to me as well. He was really invested in the character he played, and it was an honor to get to work with him.”

Towards the end of the show’s run, Hesseman left to be replaced by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. I asked Haje what it was like still being on the show after such a drastic change, and she told me; “Billy just showed up with a huge heart, ready for the adventure. It was different, because his approach was different. And there were definitely some shifts as far as the writing went – at the time, it seemed like the writers were leaning on his stand up comedy skills, as they should have. I was personally grateful to get the opportunity to work with Billy and see what that was like. He was just so kind, and already had had such huge life experiences, with so many stories to tell about all of his U.K. adventures that were so different from anything else to any of us at the time!”

Aside from Head of the Class, Haje has also made appearances on such other iconic shows as the ’80s juggernaut Growing Pains, and the quirky, oft-forgotten Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. I asked Haje how these experiences were in comparison to working on Head of the Class, and she explained; “When your job is to make somebody laugh, you only have good days! Growing Pains was a similar style to Head of the Class, in that it was a five camera sitcom. And I knew the kids, we kind of all grew up together at Warner Bros., so the environment was very familiar, and very family-esque. Parker Lewis on the other hand was a single-camera show, so it was shot very differently, and the approach was different and ahead of it’s time. But I was already a big fan of the show, so it just felt surreal to drop in and get to be on it, and to be able to maneuver those different techniques and skills, too.”

There’s also been some talk of a Head of the Class reboot, which of course I had to inquire about. Haje informed me; “I have heard about a reboot! It looks like HBO Max, who’s airing the original series, is also working on a reboot, and they want to flip the script a little bit. So I think they want to have a young, female teacher, with possibly younger, middle school-aged students – though I’m not entirely sure. But they definitely have – let’s call it a re-imagination – of Head of the Class brewing, and it would be fun if they had us guest star in some way! I think that fans of the original always love to see what the original cast is doing, but we really have no idea right now what they’re looking to do exactly at this point. We all loved that show so much though, so it’d be fun to revisit that world officially. It’s going to be great no matter what though!”