ENLISTED/IAVA Contest Winner: Lewis Nelson

3 02 2014

EnlistedLogoENLISTED on Fox and IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) teamed up to send three lucky winners to some Super Bowl parties in the New York area with some of the show’s stars. Lewis Nelson was one of those people. I was eager to know about this wonderful veteran and his adventure.

IAVAI noticed that you were part of the 101st Airborne Division of the Army. That has such a noble history going back to World War II. How did you become part of this division? Is it someplace you apply to or some place you are asked to join based about your skills?

The Army always tells soldiers assignments are based on the “Needs of the Army.” That being said, every soldier can fill out a sort of ‘wish list’ of assignments they’d like to have. It’s not a specific unit, but a base or geographical area. I majored in history in college and for one of my WWII class assignments, I wrote a paper on the Battle of the Bulge, particularly the role of the 101st Airborne Division. Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated with the unit, especially after reading Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers (later released as an HBO miniseries). I put Fort Campbell, KY, as my top choice and luckily they were in need of a junior solider in my career field!

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Parker Young, Lewis Nelson, Geoff Stults

You are a combat veteran so you have seen action I presume in Iraq and/or Afghanistan? How many times have you been deployed?

Yes, I deployed twice to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. I first arrived to the unit in 2003 after they had already departed for Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom I or OIF I). I joined them near the end of that deployment mainly participating in convoys and redeployment operations (the process of moving a deployed unit from combat back to their garrison base). I returned in early February 2004, almost exactly 10 years ago today. Later that year, the 101st Airborne created a 4th brigade combat team flagged the 506th Regimental Combat Team (Currahee). This was the same unit that was featured in Band of Brothers. I volunteered to join the new brigade and in late 2005 deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, for a full 12-month tour, returning in November of 2006 (OIF IV). I was medially retired from active duty as a staff sergeant (SSG) (E-6) in 2008, but have also deployed to Afghanistan twice as a civilian, for six months in 2012 to Kabul and four months in 2013 to Jalalabad (I just returned mid-December 2013).

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James Marsden & Lewis Nelson at the Shape Magazine and Men’s Fitness Super Bowl Party at Cipriani 42nd Street

Did you have family at home while you are deployed? I have family in various branches of the Armed Forces and it has always been difficult to see the sacrifices they make at home while their loved one is away.

The quick answer is yes. When I left for Iraq in 2003, my son was only two weeks old. Leaving him was hard, especially with all of the unknowns that first year of conflict in Iraq. When I deployed the second time, we also had a little girl, who was only six months old when I left. I unfortunately missed her learning to crawl and learning to walk, but through the beauty of the internet, I got to see it virtually! Their mother is true hero to me. She’s been so strong, able to essentially handle being a single-mother every time I leave the country. She also stayed at home with all three of our kids during my two tours to Afghanistan. To further prove she’s a hero, she’s now a volunteer firefighter and training to become a paramedic.

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Geoff Stults, Lewis Nelson, Erin Wilkinson, Craig Washington & Parker Young at the Shape Magazine and Men’s Fitness Super Bowl Party at Cipriani 42nd Street

How did you hear about the ENLISTED contest?

I follow @EnlistedonFOX and the main actors of the show on Twitter and saw the contest advertised by the cast. I’ve also been an avid supporter of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), who helped sponsor the contest, so I may have seen it through one of their tweets as well.

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Terry Crews & Lewis Nelson at the Shape Magazine and Men’s Fitness Super Bowl Party at Cipriani 42nd Street

Did you watch the show prior to this?

Ironically, I was almost a vocal dissident of the new show when they started advertising it. I fully assumed the show would mischaracterize the service, and I didn’t want to watch. But then I heard Geoff Stults talk to a Washington, DC, morning show, Elliot in the Morning, and was impressed with what he had to say. After being convinced the show was making a great effort to support the military, I gave it a shot and loved it! I immediately followed the show and their main characters on Twitter; I even downloaded the ENLISTED iPhone app and wrote a short review of the show on my own, very neglected blog http://baghl.com/2014/01/20/heres-why-i-couldnt-hate-enlisted-on-fox .

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Craig Washington, Lewis Nelson & supermodel Bar Refaeli at the Leather and Laces 2014 Super Bowl Party, Liberty Theater, Times Square

When did you learn you had won and what was your and/or your family’s reaction?

I received a phone call from IAVA just after lunch-time on Wednesday, the day after the contest ended. Funny story, I actually thought the contest included a trip to the Super Bowl. Some of the initial tweets about the contest made it seem like the contest included the game. I even jokingly tweeted that I’d definitely win since I didn’t like either team! When I got the call from Christina at IAVA, someone I had actually worked with at an IAVA event in Baltimore back in 2011, I just remember saying, “No way, really? I actually won?” It was my birthday that Saturday and I already had plans with my best friends to go to Atlantic City, so I had the mixed emotions of happiness, combined with the “oh no, what about my other plans?” Luckily my friends were excited for me, and we all decided to reschedule our Atlantic City trip. I was still pretty excited after getting the email from Christina confirming it did not, in fact, include tickets to the Super Bowl.

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Model and actress Brooklyn Decker, Craig Washington, & Lewis Nelson at the Leather and Laces 2014 Super Bowl Party, Liberty Theater, Times Square

Were you the only winner or did they pick others?

There were three winners, all of us Iraq or Afghanistan veterans that are no longer on active duty.

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Nelly performing at the Playboy Super Bowl Party at the Bud Light Hotel

Had you been on active duty how would that have worked? Because it was a special event, would you have asked for special leave of absence, or something else?

All three of the contest winners are civilians, but if it had been military, we would have just told our leadership about the contest and requested leave. Unless there was some crazy circumstance, almost any command would willingly authorize the time off!

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Wristbands from Leather and Laces, the Maxim Big Game Weekend Super Bowl Party at eSpace, and the Playboy Super Bowl Party at the Bud Light Hotel

Had you ever been to New York City before?

This was my fourth trip to New York City, with all three prior trips being focused on hitting all of the tourist sites. My first and second trips to New York City were in 2000 and 2001, so I visited the World Trade Center prior to 9/11 and then again in December of 2001, while I was on leave from basic training for Christmas (I enlisted the day after 9/11). I also took my two girls to the city just last June. I absolutely love New York City, the culture, the city, the restaurants, and the events. Now that I realize I can get there and back for $60 on a bus from Washington, D.C., I may be going back more often! It helps that I have a cousin and a few friends in the immediate area.

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ESPN First Take

Who picked you up from the airport (or did you rent a car to get to the hotel?)

The contest included round-trip airfare on Southwest Airlines provided through IAVA. Being so close here in DC, I didn’t see a reason to fly. I instead came up a day early (I booked a room at the same hotel IAVA provided for Friday through Monday) and took the DC2NY bus. While IAVA provided instructions for how to get from the airport to the hotel, we were pretty much on our own to get there and be ready at the hotel lobby Friday night.

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Cam Newton at the ESPN First Take filming

Can you share which Super Bowl parties you attended?

Sure! The Shape Magazine and Men’s Fitness Super Bowl Party at Cipriani 42nd Street, Leather and Laces 2014 Super Bowl Party hosted by Bar Refaeli and Brooklyn Decker at Liberty Theater, Times Square, the Maxim Big Game Weekend Super Bowl Party at eSpace, and the Playboy Super Bowl Party at the Bud Light Hotel.

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Desean Jackson at the ESPN First Take filming

Were there any standout experiences for you?

Hanging out with Geoff and Parker was definitely a great time, so let’s just assume that was the best experience in itself. Other highlights included a five-minute conversation I had with Terry Crews about football and the military (he’s really a stand-up guy), and then a very similar five-minute conversation with Brooklyn Decker. She is definitely a supporter of the troops, and I got to talk to her about some of her time on the show The League, which is one of my favorites.

Many of the celebrities we met throughout the night, including Terry Crews, James Marsden, Ari Sandel, Josh Hopkins, Brooklyn Decker, and Bar Refaeli, were very supportive of the troops and happy to meet us. We felt very welcomed in the VIP sections of these parties, places I never imagined I would ever be sitting. It was a far cry from a plywood tactical operations center adjacent to Sadr City in Baghdad.

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A T-shirt ESPN First Take gave out depending on which team they wanted to win.

Who from the cast of ENLISTED were with you? What are they like?

It was just Geoff Stults (SSG Hill) @geoffstults and Parker Young (PFC Hill) @parker_young. We were also accompanied by two of Geoff’s friends who were also wonderful people! I was just telling my best friends at home Geoff and Parker were just like most of my other guy friends and if they lived here, and weren’t celebs, we’d likely be friends. Both are very personable and fun to talk to about life, military, their show, etc. They were really great around their fans (who often recognized them on the street and asked for pictures) and also wonderful about introducing us to people and explaining we were Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. And of course, just like the show, Parker is definitely just like a younger brother to Geoff! I actually feel bad because I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Parker at the end of the night – if you’re reading this, thanks for the fun evening brother!!

How long was the trip, from the trip day up to the return day back?

I didn’t necessarily follow the program because I came up a day early and then left a day early. The contest itself provided a hotel from Friday to Monday, with the activities starting at 9 pm Friday night through 2 am Saturday morning. One of the other vets and I actually stayed with Geoff and Parker until 4 am before catching a taxi back to the hotel. IAVA provided the transportation, hotel, vehicle and driver for the night, and met us at the hotel Friday night to make the introductions. Saturday through Monday we were provided a hotel room and just encouraged to go enjoy being in New York City! Since the contest didn’t include game tickets, and since I’m not a Denver or Seattle fan (Go Packers!!!), I actually took the bus back to DC and watched the game with my friends in Virginia.

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Lewis Nelson, Geoff Stults & Craig Washington saying goodbye after a night of Super Bowl parties (4:00 a.m. by the way)!

The show has gotten some feedback from people on the internet in the service who are upset that it is not respecting the Army (for a wide variety of reasons). What would you say to them?

I was one of them, but I changed my mind. The actors attended a short boot camp at Ft Bliss with actual drill sergeants they could watch on FOX’s YouTube channel through a series of webisodes. They also have a crew including multiple military advisors—both former commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers—who joined the show after the Pilot episode (so I’d tell them not to judge the show on the Pilot alone). They also have to remember this show is a comedy and I’d hope they can look past the obvious parts of the plot that would never happen in the military and focus on the characters. If they were straight male soldiers, I would point out the fact that they could just enjoy Angelique Cabral as SSG Perez—she’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the show! The show has already hit a few topics very close to home, even for me… such as the more subtle signs of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) shown in “Pete’s Airstream” or the sadness and joy of family separation and reuniting from combat deployments shown in the episode “Homecoming.” There are also quite a few comical moments many soldiers should instantly relate to from garrison life. Finally, I would encourage them to watch the show because the show’s writers and producers, Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce, really respect the military. They and the cast are working with veterans’ organizations, such as Operation Gratitude and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, to support the troops and help raise awareness for military issues.

(You can help support these great organizations by clicking on the links above or below).

Biography

armyLewis Nelson is a 36-year old former Army staff sergeant with two combat tours to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. He enlisted in the Army in Charlottesville, VA, the day after 9/11 and served seven years active duty as a cryptologic linguist before being medically retired in 2008. He is a father to three children age 10 and under and now resides back in Charlottesville, VA, where he works as a DoD employee and freelance web designer and social media strategy consultant. In addition to supporting IAVA, he is also an active member and webmaster for an American Legion Post and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). You can follow Lewis in Twitter at @lewisnelson or Instagram @baghl

All pictures were provided by Lewis Nelson and I wish to thank him for letting me borrow them for the blog post. 





Celebrity Corner: Bart Montgomery: Promotional Wizard (Part 2)

4 11 2013

Please read here for Part 1 of the interview:  https://pbmom.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/celebrity-corner-bart-montgomery-promotional-wizard-part-1/

How long do you get to work on a particular preview before it goes to air? Have there ever been close calls to deadlines? Can you share anything specific if you did?

Usually you get a week to work on promos for a show during the regular television season. You want to finish promos for an episode at least a week before the episode airs so there’s time for viewers to see them. On launch promos for new shows you get a longer time frame, perhaps weeks or months because you have the pilot episode already. For returning shows, you have to wait for production to start before you can get material to cut promos with.

There have been some close calls when it comes to a promo making air. Back in the day when I was doing promos for “America’s Most Wanted,” we would promo the specific fugitive that the show was looking for and sometimes viewers would see the promos, recognize the fugitive, call the police and the fugitive would be arrested before the actual episode could air. This would throw everything off and we would quickly have to produce new promos featuring a different fugitive. I remember having an hour to produce a new promo and finishing just in time for the new promo to be slapped into a tape machine and broadcast. Haven’t had to do that in a long time, thank God.

(X-Files Promos)

How do you decide which way to take a preview? I noticed that just recently on Twitter you asked viewers what they wanted to see in a preview and you got a pretty good response–no spoilers, action, explosions, relationships, which I think pretty much covers all aspects.

Ideas on how to approach doing a promo will usually come to me while I’m watching an episode. I take lots of detailed notes on dialogue and shots that I like. For “Fringe” alone I’ve taken around 2000 pages of notes. Notes make things move faster during an edit session because it’s easier to find what you need.

During most of my career I’ve never really had an occasion to ask fans of a show what they’d like to see in a promo / trailer. Twitter provided the perfect opportunity to learn what fans thought about how a favorite show is being sold to them. I asked fans questions when I was working on “Fringe” and the responses were very helpful. The music we used in the final “Fringe” promos was suggested by a fan. Fox has always been a leader in embracing new technology. Twitter is a wonderful tool for promotion and linking fans together and with “Fringe” it really showed. There are some AMAZING “Fringe” fans in the Twitter-verse and I am still awed by what they were able to pull off.


(Fringe Promo–Thanks @NataliaQuique)

I think that in some aspects part of your job is sales. You have to sell a show in a very specific short period of time. I think it is very reminiscent of commercials for products except people are usually flipping through commercials on their DVRs. Would I be right to think that while flipping through these commercials they have to see this preview of an episode and want to stop and look at it before they continue flipping through the products to get back to their show? If so, that’s pressure!

Television promos and trailers can be considered an art form but in the end yes, you are selling something. Promo producers are acutely aware that viewers are very adept at wielding the DVR remote. I try to have at least one shot in whatever promo I’m producing that will entice a viewer to stop fast-forwarding through a commercial break and rewind the DVR to watch the entire promo. Sometimes a few frames of a promo will be all you have to promote a show so you’ve got to really think about what you’re putting on the screen. It has to be interesting. It has to be compelling because most everyone is an expert at watching television and people know when you’re messing with them. The audience knows when you’re not being honest. They may not be able to quantify exactly why something in a promo or trailer isn’t quite right but they know something’s wrong. Make sense?

Alcatraz Promo

Have there ever been moments where after a piece airs you feel you could have done things a little differently, or is there no second guessing yourself in this line of work?

Yeah, I have thought of better ways to do a promo after the fact. Sure, there are a times when I feel that I absolutely nailed it but they’re rare. Given time you can find a million different ways to make a promo so there is some second guessing, I suppose.

I remember a particular promo I did for “The X Files” that had a shot in it that I thought was really cool. I didn’t stop to consider that younger viewers might be frightened by this shot. It was just a cool creepy shot to me. So the promo aired and I got a few irate e-mails from some parents who didn’t appreciate having to explain the “coolness” of this particular shot I’d used to their children. They were right. I learned from that mistake and don’t think I’ve ever repeated it.
Second guessing has its merits the trick is to do your second guessing before the promo airs.

With all the changes coming so rapidly in the way people view television, do you have any thoughts about the future for promotional clips?

Yes, things are changing fast in the world of television viewing. I think the future of what a promo will look like and how it will be viewed will evolve depending on one thing and that is when a viewer records a show on a DVR or streams it off the internet, will that viewer be able to fast-forward through promos. We all know that right now if you record a show on DVR, you can blaze through anything by fast-forwarding. Will that continue to be possible? We’re already starting to see disabled fast-forwarding in video on demand and streaming. Will that extend into all viewing options? Only time will tell.

Regardless of what happens, my personal philosophy regarding promos is this: Most everyone who watches television is an expert at watching television. Even if they can’t quantify why what they’re watching promo wise feels wrong or out of place, they will know something is not right. Viewers know when they’re being messed with because they’re experts at watching television. So, if you’re viewing a recorded show and a promo begins to play, that promo had better somehow grab your attention from the first frame and be compelling enough so that you don’t fast forward through it, you just have to watch it. It’s as simple and complex as that.

The future of promos will be interesting. I suspect there will be many new options explored for enticing viewers to watch new shows as well as established ones. Ten years from now who knows what the promo world will look like? It’s certainly changed a lot in the last ten years. One of the most exciting things to me is fan participation. It’s amazing to see fans up-loading promos of their favorite shows to the internet and sharing them with others or creating their own fan made pieces. It’s really cool. When fans get involved in this way, great things happen and as a promo producer, it’s really a lot of fun to watch!

Bart next to the Headless Horseman costume from Sleepy Hollow

Bart next to the Headless Horseman costume from Sleepy Hollow

I’d like to thank Bart for being SO generous with his time and his answers and to @NataliaQuique for being the ultimate uber-Bart-fan who gave me an idea and a push in the right direction.  I hope you enjoyed getting to know him better.  I sure did!





Celebrity Corner: Bart Montgomery: Promotional Wizard (Part 1)

1 11 2013

For a brief period of time from August 2008 until November of 2008 I had the tremendous opportunity to be part of a live newscast for Fox 26 Houston for a segment once a week called “Your Family Matters.” Other women within the community were also invited. While I was not on every week, because I had a unique perspective of being a mother of a child with a disability or politically because of my no-party affiliation, I was often selected for a particular topic as part of a group. I was captivated by all the elements that went into a production of a newscast. Every job is important. About the same time, I found a blog by Joseph Mallozzi who was an executive producer and writer on the series Stargate. Oftentimes he would feature a Q&A of different people working on the show. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more of all the elements that went in to creating a popular series. Occasionally I get a chance to ask questions of people working on a show. Occasionally they graciously indulge my request for an interview. What I am learning is that their stories are far more fascinating.

One such person is Bart Montgomery. Many of us on Twitter got to know him as the man behind the promotional pieces for Fringe on Fox Broadcasting. He became a rock star to us (although the modest man he is, I imagine that he would blush that I have said that). I wanted to know more about his career and how he makes certain decisions that lead him to create the videos that lead the viewer to decide whether or not it is something they might want to view. The answers were so terrific that I had to break this up into two parts. Here is the first of two. Enjoy!

What is your official title at Fox?

Senior Writer/Producer, Fox On-Air Promo Creative.

How long have you been with Fox?

I’ve been with Fox for 16 years, first from 1990 – 1999 then from 2006 to present.

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Where the magic happens!

How did you get into this particular field of work? Was it something you studied for in college, or something that you got on-the-job experience? If you didn’t study for this particular field in college, what was your major?

I studied Film and Television production at the University of Missouri-Columbia. There isn’t a university level course that I know of that deals with producing television promos. It’s kind of a specialized thing that you learn on the job. I mean, you can learn the basics of television and film production in college and that will help you in promo work but in my university experience, I never studied anything as detailed as promo or trailer production.

To tell the truth, I kind of fell into producing promos by chance. I had moved out to Los Angeles to get into the film and television business in some capacity. I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet but just wanted to get involved. Unfortunately I arrived in L.A. during a writer’s strike so there was no work to be had. Every show and film set was shut down. After a couple of weeks looking for work, a friend of mine from college who was living in Florida and knew I was looking, told me that a friend of hers in Florida had a sister who was working at a promo / trailer production company in Hollywood. She told me that I should contact her friend’s sister so I did. I met her the next day and she hired me on the spot for the high profile job of runner / tape librarian. I had a masters degree and I was running around Hollywood picking up and delivering video tapes. Exciting huh? It does prove, however, that when it comes to getting a job in Hollywood, it IS who you know.
After several months working as a “runner” I was delivering tapes to an edit session for one of the company owners, a man named Geoff Calnan, who is a legend in the promo business. I kid you not, he is a promo master and anyone reading this has seen his work. I had dropped off the videotapes that were needed for the session and Geoff turns to me and asks me what I wanted to do in the company. Without thinking I replied, “I want to do what you do, produce promos and trailers.” I remember he looked at me for a moment and said, “Okay, you’re doing the next promo for “Superboy.” “Superboy” was a syndicated show that we had the promo contract for at the time. So, that was the first show I ever produced a promo for and it launched my career. I’ve even found some of my “Superboy” promos on YouTube— Go figure.

You do/have done the previews for episodes like The Following, Sleepy Hollow, Fringe, Almost Human, Touch, and X-Files. What are some other shows?

Well, in addition to the shows you’ve listed, I can give you a short overview. I’ve produced promos for “America’s Most Wanted” “Beverly Hills 90210” “The Simpsons” “Married with Children” “Millenium” “Harsh Realm” “24” “Family Guy” “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles” to name a few.

Is it a team effort to produce the one preview or do you work on a particular project/episode by yourself while others are working on other episodes?

Usually each producer is assigned a show to write and produce promos for. Sometimes, especially when a show is first launched on the network, several producers will be assigned to produce multiple launch promos. But, most of the time, there is a single producer for each show.

Fox is a very creative place to work. They give you a lot of freedom to try different approaches. I’m biased of course but I think Fox is the best network on television and I’m proud to work here. There, I said it.


(Space Above And Beyond within a commercial block)

Do you get to choose the music for a particular preview? If so you must have to listen to quite a variety and be very knowledgeable about current trends. Do you hear something and think, “That would be great for such-and-such show” or do you file it away for a different time in the future?

Yes, as a producer I usually select the music for the promos. There are times when someone at a higher level will have a specific music idea or there may be a new music track being offered at a reduced rate by an established band looking for exposure that we’ll use but most of the time it’s me listening to various production music libraries. I’m always listening to current popular music tracks looking for ways to use songs that that I think would be good for a show I’m working on. More often than not, I’ll find something really good that I’ll file away in my mind for possible use later. I remember listening to Pandora one morning on the way to work and hearing a song by the band Collide called “Am I Here? I just had to use it and it became the track I used for the “Fringe” Season 4 launch promos so sometimes it’s just pure luck that you find exactly what you need musically. I’ve used music from Trent Reznor to Johnny Cash and everything in between. One band I’m dying to use in a promo / trailer is Garbage, just haven’t found the right situation yet.

(Come back for Part 2 in the next day or so.  The best is yet to come!)





Reflections on Cory Monteith

15 07 2013

There are some deaths that you hear about that hit you in a vulnerable spot sometimes more than others. It does not seem to matter if you knew the person or not. I had a moment like that when John Ritter died. To this day, I am not even sure why. After tweeting for hours about the injustice for Trayvon Martin, thinking about a child who died that did not have to die, news came in that a “Hollywood star” had died in Vancouver. Then it was rumored that it was the star of Glee, Cory Monteith. I watched the Vancouver Police Department’s live conference feed on their web site which confirmed this. It compounded the sadness of the day. Speculation arose that perhaps he died of a drug overdose since he had been battling these demons and went into rehab earlier this year. I pray that it was something else–maybe a brain aneurysm–maybe sudden cardiac death–anything else but drugs. An autopsy will be done today, Monday, July 15, 2013, although I do not know if they will necessarily have the results.

Twitter was abuzz with tweets from people who knew him as a friend, knew him as a colleague, or people who met him at one time or another. His co-star Lea Michelle and he were in love with rumored speculation that they were engaged (although no statement had been released saying such). When he checked himself into rehab, she stated, “I love and support Cory and will stand by him through this. I am grateful and proud he made this decision.” Based on the Twitter response from those who were friends or worked with Cory, his behavior was quite the opposite of a typical person using drugs (self-centered, erratic mood swings, careless about grooming). Indeed every time you saw him in a public forum, he always emanated a light that surrounded his being, an aura that was unmistakable.

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Recently I saw him in a Masterchef episode where the contestants cooked for the cast of Glee. He was playful with them. He got to carry the flag for the team that won–the red team.  You can watch the entire episode here.

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Cory is carrying the winning flag for the red team

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Cory holds the winners’ flag

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Cory with his trademark cool shades

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Cory enjoying his meal.

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Cory teasing the contestants on Masterchef

Long before Glee, I knew of him from the Stargate series (both Stargate SG-1) and Stargate Atlantis. He was not a big star then, but I noticed that the camera just loved him. There was something about him–something you could not quite put your finger on.

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Cory playing a young Colonel Mitchell in the episode “200” on Stargate SG-1

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Cory in another shot on the show Stargate-SG1

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Cory playing a Genii soldier on Stargate Atlantis in the episode “Storm” from season 1

The character of Finn evolved into one of the more complex people on the show. When the writers put Finn on a course of becoming a teacher, you knew that perhaps they were grooming him to take over for Matthew Morrison’s character as the new teacher at William McKinley High School. The question will be how do they write these tragic circumstances into the Glee storyline? It has been renewed already for 2 additional seasons and I do not know how far in they are filming season 5 yet. There was going to be a long hiatus with a “creative twist” long before these tragic set of events unfolded. Is it better to just have the relationship end off screen for Finn and Rachel so Lea does not have to pour the real-life grief she is feeling into a scene where Finn suddenly dies on the series? Time will tell.

In the meantime, we are left with that fact that someone so young and so vibrant, a talented young man who has had great success in his career, who was adored by so many around the world, tragically died. The cause of death does not matter. It does not change the fact that he is gone. The world has become less bright without him in it.

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Rest in Peace Cory. The world will miss you.





Celebrity Corner: Alex Ruiz of “Touch” Pops In

10 04 2013

TOUCH fans will recognize him from the episode “Enemy of My Enemy” as Vicente Corliss. He took the time to talk to the fans about TOUCH on Fox and other exciting events occurring in his life.

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Courtesy of Alex Ruiz

Your resume mentioned that you started acting at a very young age. Do you remember your first role?

Yes. Well, professionally, it was a Best Buy commercial. I remember I had to read for the employee part but I had grown a thick mustache for a play I was in called The Bald Soprano so they asked me to read for the father instead. It was until afterwards, shooting the commercial, where I found out that one of the main reasons I got the part was because they found my look hilarious with my mustache.

You have been in commercials, on stage and on television shows. Do you have a preference? And if so, why?

Well, it’s a tricky question for me because they’re all different. It’s a whole different atmosphere and work ethic for each one. I love being on camera, that’s what I really really enjoy and I know how difficult and fun and exciting and thrilling and rewarding being on stage can be but when it comes down to it, being on camera in a show or movie is what I really love and embrace.

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Courtesy of Alex Ruiz

Within the world of acting, do you have a preference as to drama or comedy that you think enhances your talents best?

Another tricky one. Well, I love comedy and I thought that comedy was what I would excel at. And it has, in a way; certainly in the commercial world. But, throughout the years, I learned how acting, in truth, is really feeling and living and I very much enjoy that. I’m a very private person and it seems that I open up completely when I’m acting, and I do that more often with dramatic parts. I’m not scared of comedy at all and I’m not scared to jump around and go toe-to-toe with comedy because that’s what I do most anyway. It’s like a defense mechanism for me and I use it instinctively in a lot of situations so I’m kinda used to it. But drama is something that really pushes me and makes me discover a lot of things in myself that I wouldn’t’ve noticed before. It’s weird, I know, but I guess other actors might know what I’m talking about.

The role of Vicente Corliss on Touch. Was this an open audition or a part for which you were recommended?

Both, kinda. I was called in after being submitted by my agent and fit the description. I came in, read, and immediately was asked to come in later that day to read for the director. I went to Fox Studios a few hours later and read for the main guys. Apparently, they loved it and offered me the part immediately.

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Alex Ruiz as Vicente Corliss on TOUCH

Had you watched the show before you got the part? If not, did you go back and watch season 1, or did you want to approach the role without that knowledge?

Yeah, I was told to watch the show before I came to read for the part to have knowledge of the premise. I don’t ever watch shows or movies or plays before or afterwards because I want to give my own interpretation, unless, of course, I’m asked to. I feel it’s best if you come with your own idea and choice for the part without any prior knowledge. Only if you have pure understanding of what’s being asked of you. But yeah, I watched two episodes and once I got the idea I stopped. I liked it though. But then again, I pretty much like anything Kiefer Sutherland’s in.  [Editor’s note:  ME TOO!]

What were some unique things that happened on this set that you have not encountered on other sets before?

Professionalism. In every way. I’ve been in a lot of sets and worked with a lot of people and the way everything was handled was so professional. From the way they treated David [Mazouz] to how Maria [Bello] came in and rocked her scene to how I was directed. It was a very boom-boom-boom-check the gate process and before I knew it the scenes were done and ready to go. We rehearsed once on a closed set and once we nailed it everyone was brought in to shoot it and bam, the scene was done. They expect you to come prepared and you appreciate that level of professionalism because everyone respects everyone else’s work and time.

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Maria Bello, David Mazouz, and Alex Ruiz’s scene in TOUCH

I like to think of every experience as a learning moment. Did you learn anything on the set (as an actor or on a more personal level) that you can share with us?

I feel like I learn something on every set that I’m a part of. I’m not sure if I can pinpoint exactly what that is but I know it and utilize it the moment I’m there. I think it’s really just listening. Not only to the director but to everyone around you. Literally everyone. The sound guy putting the mic on you has heard a billion things about everything that’s happened on every set he’s worked with so I listen to what (s)he says. On break I’m drinking coffee and the lighting guys talk about work and I infiltrate their conversation and just listen. I try to learn every facet of my job as possible by listening and being aware of how everything works. From the director, they’re all astronomically different and if you listen carefully and adapt to his world then you’ve got another little safe of knowledge stored in your brain that you can open up and use in another situation. The entire process is learning so I can’t really give something specific when it’s there from beginning to end.

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Maria Bello and Alex Ruiz in TOUCH

You know I have to ask…have you had a Touch-like moment in your life, something you felt was more than coincidence?

Of course! My family and I have an apartment that we stay at in Mexico that used to belong to my grandma who’s been deceased for about 15 years. I slept in her bed one night, which we do every time we’re there anyway, and I had a very strong dream about her. My brother was going through some tough times and I vividly saw her in my dream. I won’t go into specifics but it ended with her saying “he’ll be okay, he’ll be okay,” and I woke up screaming and crying. I’ve never had a dream like that before nor since and I’m totally convinced that it was my grandma talking to me directly. It was definitely Touch-like in the sense that my brother is completely happy and somehow my grandma calmed me by knowing it would be so.

Do you have any current projects on the horizon?

I do. I’m doing a Mexican novela called Dama Y Obrero in Miami right now. It’s a remake from a Chilean novela of the same name which had enormous success in Chile. The anticipation for it is quite big and I have one of the starring roles so I’m very excited for that. It’ll air on Telemundo later this year. I’m also in negotiations to star in a film which might have some big distribution but hopefully I’ll be able to film it after the novela. I also did a short called Best of Both Worlds directed by amazing director Michael Dunker a little less than a year ago which has made a big splash in the festival circuit and it’s getting financed to be made as a feature where I’ll be playing the same character. So yeah, lots of stuff this year, thankfully.

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Courtesy of Alex Ruiz

RAPID-FIRE QUESTIONS

What is the most played song on your IPod or MP3 player?

I just looked it up and it’s Cruel Summer by Bananarama. Imagine that. I’m a huge 80’s guy so I guess it doesn’t surprise me.

What is the last book you have read?

I read “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs. It’s creepy as all hell because photographs visualize the narrative. Not a bad book. Right now I’m trying to finish “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. A friend of mine recommended it and it’s pretty damn good so far.

Best advice that was ever given to you?

Lots of good advice throughout the years. But the most basic and impactful was my mom saying “oye, ve, y calla,” which means “listen, watch, and don’t say a word.” Works in every situation you’re in if you really think about it.

Sunrises or sunsets?

Definitely sunsets.

Favorite sport to watch?

Basketball. Been a Pistons fan all of my life.

Singing or dancing?

I do a lot of karaoke but my voice is terrible (to me, at least). Dancing I like. I’m talking salsa or mambo or anything that moves your hips without you knowing they’re moving.

Favorite TV show (besides Touch, of course 🙂

The British Office is absolute genius. Anything Gervais, really. I’m also a big fan of Forensic Files and crime shows of that sort.

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Courtesy of Alex Ruiz

Thank you so much, Alex, for the generosity of your time and your thoughtful answers. TOUCH fans: Help support Alex by liking his Facebook page and following him on Twitter.

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1991503/?ref_=fn_al_nm_2

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alex-Ruiz/159956814141798?ref=hl

Twitter: @alex54ruiz





Chatting With Marci Michelle from “TOUCH”

8 02 2013

MarciMichelle1Not only does Marci Michelle Peters-Keirn help other actors learn their lines and sometimes perform their scenes during takes, she also can be found as several different characters in the “24” world, and also in the premiere episode, “Event Horizon” on TOUCH which premieres Friday, February 8, 2013 at 8/7 central on FOX. Look for her in the news staff scenes.

From her website, “Marci Michelle grew up surrounded by the stage and screen. Her grandmother, Charlotte Peters, starred in a variety show from 1947 to 1969 and was dubbed the First Woman of St. Louis Television. Her father, Mike Peters, is a Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist and creator of the comic strip, Mother Goose & Grimm. Sunday afternoons were regularly devoted to black and white movies and she claims “The Women” as one of her favorite films.

After graduating from Ringling School of Art & Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Marci found her way to CA by way of a family friend and immediately fell back in love with being on set and all of the processes of filmmaking. Starting out as a background actor and stand-in, she quickly became a member of the SAG Union and fittingly her first SAG job was as on the movie “Looney Toons: Back In Action” which was endearing to her as the late cartoonist Chuck Jones had been her father’s mentor.”

How did you become a dialogue coach?

I don’t really coach, it’s more of a ‘dialogue consultant’ job and it started back on “24”. That show had copious amounts of scenes where actors were delivering most their dialogue on the phone, on comm, into a walkie, speaker, etc. so instead of figuring out complicated scheduling for actors to come in and deliver their off-camera lines to the actor on camera, it just became easier for me to deliver the lines to them. Especially for Kiefer [Sutherland}. Kiefer had such a heavy load of technical dialogue to get through in every scene that it worked well for us to run the lines thus getting the fast-paced rhythm down. And then, on rare occasion, when he was unavailable, I could deliver his rapid-fire lines to the other actors when they performed on camera.

What are the attributes that make a dialogue consultant outstanding in their field?

From what I have been told by the actors I have worked with, to deliver lines to actors with enough of a “heart-beat” without verbally dictating where the scene should go emotionally seems to be my forte. If, on occasion, an actor asks for the scene to be read with more life I can do that, but most of the time, reading the dialogue with just enough inflection to enable them to make their own artistic choices works best.

What is one memorable moment (a positive memory or a valuable lesson) that you can share with us?

Memorable moment: Kiefer’s uncanny ability to read the nerve level of young actors and instantly and subtly figure out a way of taking their mind off their nerves thus allowing them to give excellent performances. This virtue of his has helped numerous times he has worked in scenes with children especially. He’ll break out coloring books and get down on their level, running the scene with them while keeping them occupied with crayons.

What surprises have you encountered being a dialogue consultant that you did not expect when you entered the industry?

What surprises me and what I adore about my job is seeing the way different actors prepare for their scenes. I’m dyslexic–no joke–so it fascinates me to see the way people memorize anything! Kiefer is an auditory learner. He just needs to hear the words out loud and it locks into that sponge of a brain of his. Some need to run the lines continuously, others need to run them fast just a couple times before a take, and some need lots of props within a scene to play with. Just fascinating.

Besides your parents, who have been great influencers in your life?

Probably my husband of 22 years for being such an incredibly hard worker all the time and my paternal grandmother for being such an outspoken strong woman.

Are there any set differences between working on “24” and working on “TOUCH?”  For example, the pace, the tone, the location, your interaction with the actors or extras in your capacity on set?

The biggest difference between the two series, especially in the first season of “TOUCH” was the pace of the show. Season 2, you will find, picks up pace in a GRAND way. The dialogue is, of course, different as well, not as much technical military vocabulary happening. And the emotional range of where Kiefer’s character, Martin Bohm, has had to go is much broader than that of Jack Bauer I think.

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Marci Michelle & Kiefer Sutherland in TOUCH, Season 1, “Safety In Numbers”

The premise of “TOUCH” expands the Chinese legend of the red string of fate of soul mates into a larger theme of tying the destiny of people together. Do you believe in destiny?

I believe in the connectivity of life. I believe that we are connected on a vibrational level and that when you tap into that idea you can see glimmers of those connections.

Do you have your own “TOUCH” story?

You have no idea. SO MANY! Here’s one: When I first moved to Los Angeles I worked as a Massage Therapist. My car had recently gotten broken into, and while finishing up paperwork at the spa I worked in, I was telling the receptionist this crazy story of how when I went to the car dealer to have my CD changer replaced. He told me to head to the parts department. I went over to the parts department and told the man that I needed a new CD changer. He went into the back and said they were out. He said “Write your name down with your number and I’ll call you when it comes in.” I write my maiden name down, Marci Peters. He looks at me and asks “Are you related to Mike and Marian Peters?” I dumbfoundedly replied, “YES?! How would you know that?” He said “I was stationed with your dad in Okinawa. You look like your parents.” I said “So you’ve kept in contact with them?” He replied “Nope. Haven’t talked to them in 30 years!” WHAT!! Now while I’m telling this story to the receptionist, there is a man that I had worked on [therapy], sitting in the lobby of the spa hearing all this, waiting for his wife. He interrupted and said “Your dad is Mike Peters, the cartoonist?” I said, “Yes”, to which he replied, “My sister used to babysit you and your sisters back in Ohio!” I KID YOU NOT!!

Do you believe in karma? Do you have examples from your own life of a positive or negative karmic experience?

Definitely. I’m a pay-it-forward-type person and definitely live my life with much respect to KARMA. My life is proof of positive energy begetting positive energy.

RAPID-FIRE QUESTIONS

I really wish I knew...how to sing better, play the guitar, and speak fluent French.

I’d love to spend a lazy Sunday... with my family watching old black and white movies.

My secret talent is… I’m a book binder, yogi, and massage therapist.

Best spontaneous decision was… moving to LA.

The best advice someone gave you was… to do what I love and the money will follow (my father).

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Marci for stopping by today to give us some insight into how things work behind the scenes. Tune in to TOUCH on Friday nights, starting Friday, February 8, 2013 at 8/7 central on FOX.

You can follow Marci on Twitter:   @MarciMichelle





Comicpalooza Houston 2012 — Battlestar Galactica Panel Part 3 of 3

3 06 2012

Richard Hatch and Anne Lockhart answer questions.