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MEGAN LEAVEY: Speaking with Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday is a film about a young woman who joins the Marines looking for something to give her life purpose. Not a very social person, Megan Leavey finds a spark when she meets a dog named Rex – an equally tough nut to crack.

Through patience and training with the canine unit, Megan and Rex are sent into combat to sniff out explosives buried in the Iraqi dirt roads. This is their story of a bond that even combat can not break.

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite has previous brought some of the most amazing documentaries to the attention of audiences making an impact with her work. In television she has produced for the History Channel Shootout: Fallujah, Shootout: Battle Cry Ramadi and Hunt for Bin Laden. In films she directed CITY LAX: An Urban Lacrosse Story and a little film about a big whale in the still talked about piece BLACKFISH. 

Her currently film MEGAN LEAVEY has already won the Truly Moving Picture Award from Heartland Film and I suspect there will be more accolades to come. I spoke with the films director Gabriela Cowperthwaite about the many issues tackled in the film from the emotions and being a woman in war to the struggles of our military returning with PTSD. 

Jeri Jacquin: Good morning Gabriela, thank you for speaking with me this morning about the film.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite: Absolutely, thank you too.

JJ: What drew you to this project?

GC: I think it was an opportunity to really understand the war from a female Marine’s access point. That was an incredible opportunity for me as I have worked on documentaries on the Iraq and Afghanistan war and never really remember an interview with a woman. I never really got to know their thinking in these situations so for me that was a tremendous opportunity. Addition to that I never knew about the canine unit, I knew nothing about it working on those other documentaries. So suddenly I’m coming into this war on two different perspectives that I don’t think we have heard a lot from before. What a great entry point into the context of war that can maybe access more people teaching them about loyalty, friendship and sacrifice.

JJ: What was your impression when you first read the script?

GC: I thought I can do this. I think honestly because it is a true story and I’m a true story buff coming from making documentaries. It was a female protagonist and a cool one. For me it was important for me to depict a woman that I feel like I know and that represents my friends and family members. Someone who is making a brave decision and has some witty comebacks and isn’t just a wall flower that smiles on cue. I just wanted to see myself and my friends in this kind of film and this seemed like the opportunity. 

JJ: The film addresses PTSD which is an important issue for the military, was that an interest for you as well?

GC: I am very interested in PTSD and for me that was one of the most important things that I could address in the film. It is very special to me because I think trying to understand what it is like for our military to come home is something we don’t have very much experience with in the civilian world. I don’t think we can truly know what they went through and I think it’s hard to understand what they need. I think we are getting to be better listeners in that way along with the help of PTSD groups. For me to pull back the curtain on what that is like to come back physically and mentally in tact but a little bit broken is very important. Megan shows that she needs her partner back with her to help her with PTSD. For some of our military it is not that specific.

JJ: You are dealing with so many different issues here. You are dealing with a war, Megan’s character who has obviously issues of her own, dealing with the dog unit and PTSD, that had to be a challenge to focus all of those into the film to make each issue heard?

CG: I appreciate that, it was definitely a challenge and the even bigger challenge are all the things you leave out. There are so many important story threads, what about the political commentary about the war one could make or about a ton of things regarding women Marines and dealing with their situations. There are so many levels and layers so you have to have story discipline within this and to focus on this world from Megan’s perspective. You have to hone in on that relationship and how that bond gets built because that is really what the story is – loyalty and friendship.

JJ: Speaking of the relationship, everyone watching the film fell in love with Rex. How was that for you especially in this context of loud and intense?

CG: He was such an amazing animal and so sharply focused and he was treat driven. He loved doing things and a beautiful animal. I knew he was going to knock it out of the park with his performance. I mean you look at that face and look at those eyes that stare right at you and you feel the impact on an emotional level. He was going to give us the take. This is where my documentary training came in handy because it was get on your feet and get ready to film what ever Rex does because it’s going to be magic. We were not going to put these dogs through a lot of takes and not do anything that would tax them. So to get our side of things in gear was important because it was only going to happen once. 

JJ: I always think the best performances are with actors that can speak volumes with their face – Rex can totally speak with his face. He was charming and cute and very, very intense when he wanted to be.

CG: Exactly! He was amazing that way.

JJ: The challenge of working around the scenes with explosives, that had to be difficult. That scene of the firefight is particularly intense.

CG: It’s so weird to say this but it was the least challenging of all things. Having worked on the documentaries in the past I kind of knew what firefights looked like. I wanted this all to feel real and not go flashy Hollywood. It had to be gritty and look, I was not a Marine and I have never been in country so I relied on what I have seen in my own work. Making it easier for me were the pros I had there helping me which is something you don’t get in documentaries. There were heads of departments who knew how to create the base, the arms guy who knows what he is doing and they all give you what you want. 

JJ: Did you have a lot of military specialists helping?

CG: Yes, we had Megan who was in the boot camp scene as a drill sergeant but from beginning to end of production we had two Marine consultants the entire time. Specifically we had two female Marine consultants during the boot camp training and we had two canine unit Marine consultants with the canine unit. 

JJ: Having Megan there must have really been an awesome experience for you as well.

CG: She rips into Kate in this one drill sergeant scene and it’s so awesome <she laughs>. Its Megan doing what happened to her except it’s directed at Kate. Megan is so formidable and her presence is very grounding. She keeps it real and gave us amazing notes for boot camp and because there are things that the male military consultants wouldn’t know. Megan brought a whole other level of consulting with authenticity. 

JJ: Megan leaves home because she is along and goes into something she think will help but is still alone. When she is in the barracks I am waiting for her to get Rex because you start to feel that connect for her. Throughout the movie you let us go slowly into each step of Megan’s journey along with all the emotions. I appreciate you letting us go with her instead of grabbing us by the nose forcing us to go. Your cast is stellar – where do you start?

CG: Edie Falco is a cast member where I thought ‘did someone give me a Bugatti or a Ferrari or something?’ I thought someone just gave me this amazing gift and her portrayal of her relationship with Megan was more than I could have asked for. She brings it times ten and is such a consummate pro. The key to directing Edie is to just get out of her way and let her do it. Bradley Whitford is so lovely; he is such an amazing person and the roles he has played in the past, man, like being the smartest guy in the room or fast talking witty comebacks. This role for him was so different because he is a dad that doesn’t know what to do. Watching Bradley channel this whole other person is beautiful.

JJ: Until he gets to the point of telling Megan to fight.

CG: Yes, telling her that she is being a shell and to fight for what she wants was so beautiful. Common as Gunny Martin…wow.

JJ: All you can say is – I’m done!

CG: Right? I am so grateful for his performance and he is such a surprising actor. I mean he is larger than life and he’s won an Oscar so here he comes in with his crazy humility. He knows he’s depicting a Gunny Sergeant who has sacrificed and served and he does it to the best of his ability with humor. His role is so unexpected and I told him to go with that. Of course he screams and such but he cracks wit.

JJ: And there is the moment of humanity that one wouldn’t expect from a Gunny.

CG: Yes, he respects that Megan has bonded with her dog. I loved watching him in this.

JJ: And Kate?

CG: Oh please! I think my single favorite thing about watching this film is watching Kate just because I think she does things in this that I’ve never seen her do before. Understanding how far she has to emotionally travel in these 90 minutes of the film, I think she is masterful. She does so much to bring humanity to this story and you can’t take your eyes off of her.

JJ: Finally, when people, especially military, leave the theatre what do you want them to take away after seeing Megan Leavey?

CG: Thank you for your service is always there. I think we say that but I’m not sure we always know exactly what we mean when we do. I hope this film gives you an idea of what is meant when we say it as we watch all these service people doing their job. This movie specifically shows you the canine unit and their handlers and how these people are in the front of the front lines. They are clearing the way for the soldiers that are behind them and Iraqi civilians. There is this thing, this beautifully humane thing that these units are doing and these dogs are doing that just deserve our understanding and gratitude. Also, dealing with PTSD when they come home and how we can maybe look at it different and pay attention and be better listeners in that context. I think that would be a great thing.

JJ: I get that, thank you Gabriela and for making an amazing film about a difficult subject.

This Friday in theatres is your chance to experience a story that can teach us all about friendship, loyalty and what it means to say ‘thank you for your service’ with MEGAN LEAVEY.

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FX Brings US all THE STRAIN Returning for its Final Season: 
Speaking with Cas Anvar

Jeri Jacquin

The wait is over! FX has kept us waiting long enough for all the answers to their highest rated sci-fi television show filled with vampires and human endurance for survival from THE STRAIN.

For those who may not know about this fantastic series, let me catch you up. Guillermo del Toro’s hands decided to bring the novel to series and enlisted the help of Chuck Hogan. In 2009 fans were introduced to The Strain followed by The Fall and The Night Eternal in 2010 and 2011.

Bringing the story to FX was an incredible idea that brings this storyline – a jet landing at JFK International Airport is filled with people who are infected with a parasitic worm. Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) investigate finding four people alive. What they don’t realize is that in the cargo hold is a large mysterious box that holds the key to everything.

Enter Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), an elderly man who informs them that the bodies on the plane must be immediately destroyed as well as the intricately carved box that was found in the cargo hold. That isn’t about to happen as far as Thomas Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) is concerned as he takes control of the box.

From that moment on the city and the people begin to change as a fight for survival begins. A race of vampires are on the lose and no one is safe as it becomes every human for himself. That includes Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) a very sick man who will do anything for immortality and makes a deal with Palmer and The Master, an Ancient vampire who is out for revenge and the world.

Eph and Vasility Fet (Kevin Durand), a vermin terminator, begin a quest to save who they can and find a way to destroy The Master and all vampires before there is nothing left of the human race.

Cas Anvar is returning to reprise his role as Sanjay Desai, right-hand man to the evil freaky eyed blinking Eichhorst played by the amazing Richard Sammel. Sanjay is a character who knows how to get the job done in bringing world domination to the vampires. This is a character that is hard to read because he keeps his emotions away from the vampires staying in survival mode every step of the way. 

This actor has been keeping the pace with roles in both film and television. In film he began in 2000 as Zakir in the film SEDUCING MAARYA with his most recently film AS Deep Panday in MISS INDIA AMERICA. 

In television I first saw him in 2010 as Omer Jarrah in another series I can watch a million times over with LOST. This year he has been doing double with is role as Alex Kamal in the series THE EXPANSE and now his return as Sanjay Desai in the FX final season of THE STRAIN. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Cas about his role, returning to finish the job (so to speak) and all things THE STRAIN and a bit of THE EXPANSE!

Jeri Jacquin: Hi Cas, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, especially since you are doing double duty between THE STRAIN and a new season of THE EXPANSE. You are a busy man.

Cas Anvar: Yes, it has been a very good year and I’ve been very fortunate. I’m enjoying it all.

JJ: You have to tell me how did you get involved with THE STRAIN? I am really a huge, huge fan of the series.

CA: Yes? You are a little bit of a dark horse are you?

JJ: Yes, really dark. I have the Masters head on my desk does that tell you anything?

CA: Oh my gawd.

JJ: But he’s next to Yoda so it’s kind of a yin/yang thing, good and evil you know?

CA: That is so weird, I don’t think even Guillermo has the Masters head on his desk.

JJ: Well, there is Darth Vadar, Buddha, Yoda and the Master all lined up.

CA: Buddha? What! Oh my gawd. 

JJ: See how it evens out?

CA: The duality, no I get it. I actually don’t really want to know what’s going on in your head; it’s kind of scary <laughing>

JJ: Here’s the thing, I’m 56 years old but I’m young and twisted at heart.

CA: You sound definitely, definitely…something <still laughing>

JJ: So you know with Comic Con coming it’s the light of my life.

CA: I can only imagine.

JJ: Back to business sir, how did you get involved with THE STRAIN? 

CA: I was very lucky; I was working on THE EXPANSE and April Webster, a casting director that knows me very well casting me in LOST and a few other things. She knows my work and they were looking for someone to play this character in THE STRAIN. Desai wasn’t originally the character written for the show and they changed it for me. She pitched me to the producers Carlton Cuse and the gang. I don’t know how it happened but they offered me the role without me reading for it. They saw my work and by the time they got to me they changed the character from what ever it was to Sanjay Desai. They modified it and customized it for me. From what I understand the character is a copulation from a couple of different characters from the books. It was suppose to be a completely different name and they thought I could do a good job of this and the rest is history. I walked in and was excited about the role because it’s the antithesis of what I’m doing on THE EXPANSE. Everything about it fell into place, the shooting seasons were completely opposite so as one show is ending the other begins, the characters are the opposite and the shows are very different. It is a wonderful gift as an actor to play these totally diverse and different characters.

JJ: What did you think when you read not only your role but the part he plays in this crazy world that is THE STRAIN?

CA: I was excited because I think this is one of the darkest roles I’ve had to do. I’ve played a lot of bad guys but this is a very fleshed out, very realistic bad guy, not some two dimensional villain going on a killing rampage. This character truly believes in survival and will do what ever it takes to be on the winning team. What’s scary about it is how realistic it is. If you look at our world right now, we are surrounded by examples of self-serving individuals that will do or say what ever they have to to get what they want.

JJ: Palmer is a prime example of someone we all know <both of us are laughing now> that will say one thing to one person and do something different to another. Anything to get that one thing that he wants – in his case immortality.

CA: Absolutely. He reinvents history in every different situation to just suit their own selfish needs and agenda. It is an important show in that respect. Sure it is a horror genre and fantasy world but the issues they are dealing with and the people they are dealing with are very realistic and very much based on the world we are living in today.

JJ: The thing about the way the cast works together is that not only do you see this survivalist mode, whether good, bad or indifferent, but you see that they also haven’t forgotten how to be human. Like when Eph is dealing with his drinking and the traits before all of this went down.

CA: Yes, they’ve kept all their human flaws.

JJ: Exactly. For your character, were you surprised when they said ‘hey, come on back’?

CA: I was both surprised and excited because it ended in a very questionable way and we didn’t know what was going to happen. I think they just liked what I did and they gave me a complex character and I attacked it. I mean I loved doing it, I loved the people and working with Richard Sammel who plays Thomas Eichhorst. That combination of the writers, directors and producers and co-stars was very inspiring and I had a really good time. I put my heart and soul into making this a very-well fleshed out nasty three dimensional character. I think by the time we came to the end of season three there was room for him to come back. I think there are things in the book they decided to merge with my character.

JJ: Sometimes that’s a really good idea because not everything translates really well from book to screen. You have to be willing to compromise.

CA: I think in a book it is a lot easier to have more characters for a reader to follow a more complex story line. On television you tend to consolidate a little more by having a cast of characters a little more manageable. 

JJ: I know you can’t tell us anything about what is going to happen but for you and your character, do you feel like everything is wrapped up neatly for fans or is there a little opening?

CA: Lets put it this way, we all knew season four was coming and the last season of THE STRAIN. The writers had free reign to have the best story possible while honoring the characters. They are no longer restricted by the restrictions of an ongoing series; they have the books as a guideline.

JJ: There is something freeing about that don’t you think?

CA: Yes, it allows you to take it and push the boundaries of a story and what ever happens to the characters happens but it honors the over all story. It allows for you to do some really amazing dramatic work. In the case of Sanjay, man oh man, they took him on a roller coaster. What I can tell you is that this character is based on and what excited me about this character in the beginning was it was based on real people that existed during the World War II. They were called “collaborators”; these are people who worked with the Nazi’s to set up what would become Nazi Germany, the Reich and the concentration camps. These are people that betrayed their own people for their own good, their own survival, wealth and status. Fifty years later when they are interviewed, these collaborators who were never put in the camps, they can’t face what they did. They won’t admit that they did anything wrong and somehow have managed to convince themselves they did not wrong.

JJ: A mental survival mode.

CA: Yes, they have somehow told themselves they made the best of a bad situation. They attitude of ‘at least I saved a few people’ but they participated in it and betrayed their own people to survive. That to me fascinated me, this character who can go there and do that staying that completely oblivious – a willful oblivion. Sanjay is a highly intelligent guy; he’s a smart man who is driven and passionate.

JJ: But you also can’t see on his face what is going on. For me it was hard to know what he was thinking or planning. Some characters you can see on their faces the hamster turning the wheel and you go along with a characters thought process; with Sanjay I couldn’t really do that because he showed … nothing!

CA: Because he knows who he is dealing with and he knows how incredibly perceptive the Strigoi (the vampires), especially Eichhorst are. Sanjay is such a survivor so he doesn’t show his cards because he knows the Strigoi can smell it. If he is scared he knows they will smell it. If he is planning his own thing he knows they will smell it. He knows he has to keep everything close to his chest and only give them bits and pieces so nobody knows what is really going on in his head. The Strigoi are too smart, they are too perceptive.

JJ: Absolutely, that’s what makes it all so difficult.

CA: Yes, he has to protect himself. In season three when Eichhorst demonstrated the inefficiency of the machinery using my assistant, that was a very brutal scene.

JJ: Absolutely brutal!

CA: If you watch that scene again you will see a bit of a reaction, you can see some stuff going on but by the end of the scene when Sanjay realizes who he is dealing with because he hasn’t had a lot of experience with Eichhorst up to that point. He hasn’t spent a lot of time with him or really seen him demonstrate his true power till that moment. So being a survivor is like being in prison right? They tell you ‘don’t look scared’ or ‘don’t make eye contact’ – you have to look somewhere in the middle so that people don’t target you. You have to learn this language of survival that makes you not a threat but not prey either. Sanjay is a survivor, Sanjay is the guy who knows how to read people and keep himself outside of the zone where people are targeted. He had to think really quick in that scene as to how to interact with Eichhorst so as not to show weakness and not lose his sh*t because of what just happened.

JJ: That’s an amazing way to sum it up because with these characters by the end of each season you become aware of their strengths and weaknesses, every one of them. To have Sanjay come back it’s going to be ‘great I have to figure him out for sure now’!

CA: Exactly, you are going to get a lot. They gave me a gift in season four in terms of what they gave Sanjay to do. You aren’t going to like him, far from it, but you are going to understand him a lot better.

JJ: That’s going to be fun, I’m excited. 

CA: He gets put through the ringer I can tell you that.

JJ: And I’m okay with that! If I’m going invest my time in a series, it better be dang well worth it. I’ve met Guillermo and he is one of the most amazing people you can sit and talk to about creativity. This series didn’t surprise me and he was first talking about it, but to see how far it’s come from concept to book to series has been just an awesomely fun, intense and gruesome ride.

CA: You’ve liked it I see. 

JJ: Absolutely, anytime you can get something that’s original and filled with talented actors giving every bit to a storyline that is just plain jaw dropping? Oh yea, I’m in. I know there is horror and gore, and it may sound strange for me to say this but Guillermo puts it in THE STRAIN and it isn’t senseless gore – wow that does sound strange.

CA: No, you are right, absolutely, it is a violent and dark show but it’s surrounded by an amazingly rich crafted story. It’s not just gratuitous stuff, the violence in his shows … it’s very poignant in that it’s all there because it’s meant to shock and it’s meant to be difficult. The world is not as pretty as we want to believe and sometimes that’s an important slap in the face that we need to feel. You don’t want to be facing that 24/7 but it’s not necessarily a bad lesson.

JJ: It’s an amazingly crazy world that has been created that’s for sure. I’m going to be sad to see it go.

CA: Yes, I know, but it ends only for something new to take its place.

JJ: And we still get to see you on THE EXPANSE, how is that going?

CA: Amazing, we just finished the first few days with episodes one and two. We are already stoked and nervous because season two went really well and we delivered a powerful season two finale. The show is a big show and it’s really hard for us wondering how to top it. I mean how do we go to the next level? Season one is an introduction to all of the characters and absorbing all the information and feel the universe and provide action that doesn’t overload people’s brains. Then season two was nice because it was all character and explore them and further the action in the plot. Now in season three we have built the universe and really explore the characters because we have got the plot going. How do we take it to the next level? Season three is going to be about the characters everyone has fallen in love with and being metaphorically split apart. We have fought to stay alive and fought to stay together and we needed each other to survive. Now we are all grounded and rooted in our life and in our world. We are surrounded by chaos but we are no longer fighting just to breathe and survive, we are actually going to make choices for ourselves. Everyone has individual believes and personalities and they are able to come into play in terms of the direction the characters take. It’s not just about the family that has come together to survive but individuals in the group who have a voice. 

JJ: So now you have gone from THE STRAIN knowing you can go freely because it’s a final season, you are back to the other side where you are restricted a bit trying to keep the story going from season to season.

CA: I know, exactly.

JJ: What a rollercoaster ride for you!

CA: Yes, it’s an actors dream right? To be able to play these characters that are so different. I mean how different can Sanjay Desai and Alex Kamal be. Its two completely opposite ends of the spectrum.

JJ: And you are digging it every step of the way.

CA: Oh man, I’m loving it. I was so lucky because the shows shot at exactly opposite ends of the schedule. There was no overlap with THE STRAIN starts Sunday and when it ends THE EXPANSE begins. One is horror and one is sci-fi and I’m thrilled.

JJ: And you were meant to do both.

CA: I was meant to do both and it was wonderful and a gift for me. Now what am I going to do? 

JJ: Sit back and enjoy it a little.

CA: <insert colorful outburst here> I mean what am I going to do once THE EXPANSE is done shooting? Jeez

<this is the time where the laughing has gotten contagious with seriously good humor as if it hasn’t been the case the whole interview right?>

JJ: Look dude, I think playing both these roles and being seen, I don’t think you will be sitting around on your butt for too long.

CA: Awwww, that’s very sweet. I have huge aspirations for THE EXPANSE. We have material for like ten seasons and there will be nine novels by the end of it. There are already six or seven that have been written. It’s like GAME OF THRONES; there is a huge bank of material and huge fan base. I think we have the potential of having a series that will last a long time.

JJ: So what are you worried about?

CA: Every year, every year it’s the waiting game. It’s like the lottery; fingers crossed waiting with baited breath waiting to hear. But that’s my hope with THE EXPANSE, that we go for a nice long successful run and then – feature films! I’m talking THE EXPANSE to go into feature films. Can you imagine going the STAR TREK route? We are doing amazing work, when you look at it on the big screen it looks like a feature film. I watched the premier of season two in New Jersey at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre on this gorgeous massive like IMAX screen with Dolby surround sound and amazing imagery and I walked into the theatre and I was like this looks like a feature film! Holy moly! I wanted everyone who watches on their phones to get a huge flat panel t.v. to see the awesomeness of show at the very least!

JJ: A series like THE EXPANSE and THE STRAIN…the bigger the t.v. the better and put a sound bar on that puppy and crank it up. 

CA: Go big or go home!

JJ: I don’t care if my neighbors ask ‘what’s all that screaming’? 

CA: Yea, call the cops!

JJ: You are hilarious!

CA: So feature film, that’s my call so you come back in eight years and say ‘you were right’!

JJ: Trust me; I don’t plan to go anywhere for a few years so I’m going to keep my eye on your happy little self. It was such a joy talking to you this morning and I appreciate you letting me geek out a little bit.

CA: Oh absolutely!

JJ: Congratulations on both THE STRAIN and THE EXPANSE. Both shows are uber-cool and you can take a bow for your part in both.

CA: Thank you so much Jeri. You have to let me know what you think of Sanjay.

JJ: I’ll make sure to do that. I can’t wait, it’s going to be nuts. 

And that my friends was the conversation I had with Cas Anvar this morning filled with craziness, fun, insight, doing good work and all without spoilers – we don’t do that here folks. I’m always saying it because it’s true, talking to an actor who not only loves talking about a project and character but has a sense of humor it just priceless.

After this talk I will not only be watching Cas doing his Sanjay thang in the final season of THE STRAIN beginning this Sunday but am excited about the next season of Alex Kamal in THE EXPANSE. Well done sir!

This Sunday on FX is the final season of one of the craziest and not-teen-angst vampire stories with a ride through history and intensely complex characters I’ve ever seen or experiences with the final season of THE STRAIN. 

Prepare to get your Strigoi on because it’s going to be epic!

The Final Day of San Diego Comic Con International 2017 – Try to Keep Up!

Jeri Jacquin

Here we are, at the final day of what has been a test of endurance for all but fun none-the-less. We are going to jump right in so you know where to go and what is going to be happening.

The morning is going to be amazing as the Star Wars Fan Clubs: Rebel Legion, Mandalorian Mercs, RS Builders and the 501st Legion bring a special tribute to actress Carrie Fisher with PRINCESS LEIA STAR WARS FAN CLUB TRIBUTE PRESENTATION. This is an amazing opportunity for fans to have tell their stories and say goodbye to the universes’ Princess!

In Hall H, the best Sunday morning ever and a year event as the cast and producers of SUPERNATURAL hit the day running. Season 13 is promising to be even more amazing but first there are questions about the two part finale that fans will be lining up to ask. Of course I will be waiting for the gag reel which gets better and better every year.

The TNT series THE LAST SHIP is back! The U.S.S. Nathan James helps with the global recovery of the Red Flu but there are other problems that need to be addressed as well. Eric Dane, Adam Baldwin, Bridget Regan and Steven Kane gives us all a sneak peak of what is it come.

DOCTOR WHO is making it’s BBC America appearance at Comic Con with Peter Capaldi and a bit of the DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special. Also on panel is Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Michelle Gomez, Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffatt and moderated by Chris Hardwick.

After the Doctor has left the building, the convention hall is the place to be for one more go around and play in the exhibits. Hey, a girl’s got to have some fun too! When I’m done with that I plan to get out of the air conditioning that is the convention center and go outside to hit up all the playful and exciting exhibits that have been waiting for me to return. 

That’s it sports fans – San Diego Comic Con International 2017! It’s time to go home, say hello to the cat and soak my feet for the next year. Just joking! This week is meant for fun, excitement; doing all the things we love from the comic world as well as film, television and animation. 

It is the one week a year where everyone has something amazing in common with every person you meet, reconnect with friends and make new friends. There isn’t anything more exciting for the city and those who come from afar like San Diego Comic Con International.

See you in 2018!

Comic Con 2017: Day Four Keeps Everyone on the Go!

Jeri Jacquin

We are on Day Four and the magic keeps happening. This definitely has been a Comic Con filled with surprises, a lot of fun and aching feet that are ignored (hey, a good soak does wonders). Being this is a Saturday; families will be out in full force to enjoy the outdoor experiences but also hitting the convention floor to find more one-of-a-kind toy or comic book.

The amazing day begins with MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: The Return. This show was the highlight of my weekends and I will admit that I have not laughed that much in a long time. A panel will be held at the Horton Grand Theater so be there! Later Joel Hodgson along with Felicia Day, Jonah Ray, Hampton Yount and Rebecca Hanson will talk all things MST3K!

Hall H begins with a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation to include what they have coming and exclusive footage. Chris Hardwick talks Steven Spielberg’s READY PLAYER ONE with Spielberg Tye Cheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn and Zack Penn to talk. Also on hand is BLADE RUNNER 2049 directed by Denis Villeneuve. Don’t think that the superhero universe goes without a blip on the radar as Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher are in it for JUSTICE LEAGUE. Want an early look at Aquaman? Well I’m sure you will be accommodated.

On television, ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME brings teases for its seventh season and Henry all grown up with a daughter of his own! That’s going to be an interesting story to be told. Cast and crew will be on hand to talk about those moments we are all wondering about. 

My guilty pleasure is the CW show THE ORIGINALS! Returning for another season there are so many questions I need answered and only the show’s executive producer Julie Plec can answer them – but she won’t and I know that. I’m still watching! The series RIVERDALE will also bring a presentation along with a Q&A that gives a take on small town life and a new season coming October 11 on the CW. 

FOX brings the bad boy back for a Q&A and the series that has everyone talking LUCIFER. This is a show that isn’t exactly what one would think when hearing that name, Lucifer, which is probably why it is a smash hit. It is a world like no other!

STAR TREK: Discovery is the new show on CBS this fall that follows another crew on voyages. A panel with cast and the minds behind the new series will be there to ask all things Star Trekky!

DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW offer up the story of 2017 Los Angeles where dinosaurs seem to be taking up parking spaces and Big Ben is there. Breaking time the superhero’s need to find answers and do what super heroes do!

THE EXPANSE comes to Comic Con as SyFy has once again created a world that is amazing and hundreds of years into the future. Catch up if you will as another season is here and the panel is eager to talk about it all.

What would Comic Con be without THE SIMPSONS. Matt Groening, Al Jean and Matt Selman are ready to share secrets, surprises and what’s coming in the new season. 

FOX brings another favorite with FAMILY GUY with Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mike Henry and John Viener preview next season and an exclusive look at their 300th episode. I mean seriously, 300 episodes means they level of epicness will be amazing. Following up is AMERICAN DAD! As the Smith’s of Wendy Schaal, Scott Grimes, Rachael MacFarlane, Dee Baker and executive producer Zack Rosenblatt talk about the July 24th season premier.

NBC rolls out its new show of the supernatural with MIDNIGHT, TEXAS. Fans will see the premiere episode along with a Q&A session with cast Francois Arnaud, Dylan Bruce, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Arielle Kebbel, Jason Lewis, Peter Mensah and Sarah Ramos as well as the author of Midnight, Texas Charlaine Harris. 

HBO brings their mega-hit WESTWORLD with a panel discussion including Ben Barnes, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Ed Harris (gawd I love that man!), Luke Hemsworth, James Marsden, Simon Quarterman, Rodrigo Santoro (okay I love him too), Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton back to talk all things dark and western!

NETFLIX brings the crazy hit STRANGER THINGS to Comic Call with a panel discussion on what is to come for Season 2 and giving fans of the show a look at footage of what is going to happen come this October! Are you kidding me…I have to wait that long??

Marvel Studios is also bringing president and producer Kevin Feige in to talk about the expanding Marvel Universe and I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises for everyone. 

Finally, bad-ass Charlize Theron heads up the Entertainment Weekly panel of Women who Kick Ass. Theron has made her popularity in diverse roles in such films as MAD MAX: Fury Road, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN and PROMETHEUS. Her new film ATOMIC BLONDE is on my list of don’t miss…ever!

There is only one more day of Comic Con and basically that means there is still a ton to see and do as well as make time to charge my cell phone – nah, let it go because there is too much fun to be had.

A good nights sleep and it’s off for the final day – stay with me kiddies!

Comic Con 2017: Your Friday Outlook is to Make Sure to Wear Comfortable Shoes!

Jeri Jacquin

Day three (I count preview night because man, that’s a full day wrapped into a few hours) of Comic Con 2017 and it is a full one so let’s get right to it as television rules Hall H.

AMC rolls out the zombies in Hall H with AMC’s FEAR THE WALKING DEAD with Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Daniel Sharman and Michael Greyeyes along with David Erickson, Robert Kirkman, Gale Ann Hurt, Dave Alpert and Greg Nicotero. The panel will of course be moderated by Chris Hardwick and talk about what is up in the midseason finale and what is coming in September.

Not enough zombie for you? Well, Hall H follows up with the gang that began it all with the AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD panel. Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, and Chandler Riggs are on hand along with Scott M. Gimple and Robert Kirkman to talk about what is coming for the group and will Neegan get what we all think is coming to him! Celebrating the upcoming 100th episode – seriously can you believe that? – the cast will hint at what is coming in season 8 and October can’t come soon enough!

AMC continues to kill it with fans and their panel for another hits series AMC’s PREACHER. Seth Rogen and Garth Ennis bring Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, Ian Colletti and Graham McTavish in to talk about mid-season 2 and a sneak look at the next episode.

Television has the undead of their own with the series iZOMBIE as the zombie is out of the bag in Seattle. Executive producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright are on panel that follows a video presentation with the stars that have made the CW series a hit!

Adult Swim (and you know it’s going to be good) brings an exclusive look to their new animates series The Jellies! They invite everyone to see an exclusive look at their animated series. They are also bringing fans more of RICK AND MORTY and if you haven’t checked it out we may not be able to continue to be friends. Beginning their third season, do me a favor and check it out – you won’t be sorry. Also on Adult Swim’s agenda is MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES. 

FOX joins the fun with BOB’S BURGERS and the cast including Jon H. Benjamin (did I ever mention I love this guy?), Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman and more showing never-before-seen-footage and a Q&A to follow.

ARCHER – that’s all that really needs to be said because fans lose their animated minds when the world’s best secret agent is on the move. FXX bring their award winning fun with Season 8 and the voice cast of H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter (she is hilarious), Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Amber Nash and Lucky Yates to talk all things spy-like.

STREET FIGHTER is celebrating its 30th anniversary at Comic Con 2017 and that just made a gray hair pop out of my head. It has been 30 years since Capcom brought their fighting game to the world and they are taking a look back and ahead to what it in store.

SPIKE & MIKE’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation is always one that I can not miss. It probably has something to do with the ‘sick and twisted’ part of it all. Fans now have the opportunity to be part of it all as voting on the films they see is a must. Spike will be in attendance so get your cameras ready. 

HBO is driving us all crazy with their universally beloved series (I’m sure they watch on Mars!) GAME OF THRONES. The seventh season began July 16th as fans wait for the big question to be answered – who will take the Iron Throne? The panel will have Alfie Allen, Jacob Anderson, John Bradley, Gwendoline Christie, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Conleth Hill Isaac Wright and the ever lovely Sophie Turner. There is no telling who will moderate but fans are going to be thrilled no matter who it is! See me front row dead center for details!

SHOWTIME is bringing my all time favorite ultimate geek out television series to cable with their limited series and the return of TWIN PEAK: A Damn Good Panel. The cast and creator will be there to talk everything Agent Cooper played by the guy who gets me every time, Kyle MacLachlan.

Speaking of cable, STARZ is geared up with the panel many of us are waiting for as OUTLANDER returns to drive us all crazy with questions. Executive producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis along with author Diana Gabaldon are joined by cast Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughnan (I’m sorry, if he’s wearing a kilt I’m going to fall out of my chair), Tobias Menzies, Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin.

Netflix brings MARVEL The Defenders with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. A panel will be on hand to share along with an exclusive look into August 18th launch. 

HISTORY’s VIKINGS returns to Comic Con with an exclusive peek at the new season along with Katheryn Winnick, Gustaf Skarsgard, Alex Anderson and Alexander Ludwig who will set the room to screaming with excitement. Also writer Michael Hirst will be on hand and boy do I have some questions for him!

Am I exhausted? Absolutely! Will I continue? Is that even a question? This is just a small look at what Friday brought and continues to bring well into the wee hours. Tomorrow is another long day as many people are thrilled with Saturdays as downtown booms even more with the hustle and bustle of all things Comic Con!

Be prepared for Saturday’s onslaught as more people have the opportunity to come downtown and experience all the outdoor exhibits because no badge is required! Don’t you love that? I certainly do as San Diego Comic Con International wants everyone to come down and enjoy the experience so dress accordingly, drive carefully, be safe crossing the streets and bring plenty of water. Once again San Diegans know this is the warm time of year so if you are visiting our fair city from out of town, heed our advice!

With that – Happy Comic Con 2017!

COMIC CON 2017: Preparing for Thursday’s Offerings

Jeri Jacquin

Lets be realistic here, there is no way to cover everything at the amazing and huge Comic Con 2017. So I will do my best to bring you what I can but also let you know there is so much more with something for everyone. 

Comic book alley in the main convention hall is always abuzz with the latest stories, amazing art with authors and artists always ready to talk about their work. To this day I have an original water color from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON that hangs on my wall. It is rich in color and a story in itself so please stop by and see what made Comic Con what it is today.

Also in the main hall there are offerings from film, animation, television, cable and the fantastic set ups that are there for everyone to enjoy. Be careful around meet-and-greet time as fans just explode when their favorite actors and actresses sign their posters!

So let’s start off with where Thursday takes me and for more of what we manage to photograph, it will all be available at Here we go to Comic Con 2017!

Beginning with 20th Century Fox the panels include KINGSMAN: The Golden Circle with Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges and, ready for the screaming – Channing Tatum can be found in Hall H. Along with MEDINAH with a World Premiere Sneak Peak and Sony Pictures Classics THE FANTASTICAL WORLD OF BRIGSBY BEAR. 

IFC bring John C. McGinley, Janet Varney and executive producer Dana Gould for a peek at season 2 of STAN AGAINST EVIL. 

From the world of television, Carlton Cuse, the creator of LOST and Ryan Condal host COLONY: Season 3 Revealed with a question and answer session with a look back at the season’s shocking finale. MTV’s mega hit TEEN WOLF comes back to Comic Con to take a look back at where wolfing began as the show comes to an end after this season. 

SYFY: Battlestar Galactica Reunion brings Ron Moore, David Eick, Tricia Helfer, Marcy McDonnell, Grace Park, Michael Trucco and Aaron Douglas back to discuss the shows iconic run and – the truth about Cylons! Also on stage is VAN HELSING Season 2 with exclusive footage of the new season. Z NATION is currently in production for its fourth season as Kellita Smith, DJ Qualls, Keith Allen and Russel Hodgkinson are on panel to talk about it all, or at least what they are allowed to talk about.

FX is giving us all more of THE STRAIN with a screening and Q&A with Carlton Cuse, Chuck Hogan and stars Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Kevin Durand (hold me back!), Ruta Gedmintas, Miguel Gomez, Richard Sammel (is he not the best evil?) and Max Charles.

FOX’s seriously amazing hit THE EXORCIST is heading back for it’s second season and Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, Kurt Egyiawan and producers Jeremy Slater and Sean Crouch bring a fan tribute panel and highlights for the new season. 

Netflix brings its showings with BRIGHT as a story set in present time with humans, orcs, elves and fairies starring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace directed by David Ayer. Yes, there will be footage so be prepared for that! DEATH NOTE. Also, CASTLEVANIA brings a video game franchise to the screen. Hear the behind the scenes story from Jessica Tseang, Sam Deats, Kevin Kolde and Adi Shankar. MEDINAH as the first sci-fi series to be staged in the Middle East. It is a story of survivors both human and not so human with stars Eric Roberts, Natasha Henstridge, Rick Ravanello, Tamoh Penikett and Eyad Hourani. 

The animation and television have their own offerings with UNIKITTY! who has become a fan favorite from THE LEGO MOVIE. A new episode will premiere followed by a Q&A. CALL OF DUTY: WWII Nazi Zombies are the new dark chapter for the Call of Duty fans. 

DreamWorks brings VOLTRON: Legendary Defender as a Netflix Original Series to fans who also get a debut look at the first episode of season 3 and an exclusive poster by the Voltron crew!

THE NERDIST PANEL with Chris Hardwick returns with Jessica Chobot, Kyle Hill, Dan Casey, Rachel Heine, Andrew Bowser and John Ford to talk about everything Comic Con!

Finally, an amazing ADAM WEST CELEBRATION brings Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman, James Tucker and Gary Miereanu along with more celebrate my Batman – Adam West. 

If you miss any of the action or a panel you were really wanting to see, Comic Con has come up with a fantastic solution. Hall H and Ballroom 20 replay the panels so you have an opportunity to hear from all your favorites and on the big screens it’s just like being there, sort of.

That’s what we have so far for Thursday and we will make sure to have Friday’s craziness ready for you as soon as possible. This year we are going to be outside as well because even though inside the convention center is amazing, outside is spectacular with so much to see it’s geek-overload!

Please visit for scheduling that will tell you everything you need to know and show you exactly where to go – and for me that’s important. It’s also a great way for the family to get together and form a game plan to divide and conqueror! 

So if you happen to see us round and about please say hello, of course you know it’s like playing ‘Where’s Waldo?’ to do so but it is interesting to see how many people actually do. Thank you for that – it means the world to us!

Happy Comic Con 2017!

Preview Night at San Diego Comic Con International Sets the Pace for the Week!

Jeri Jacquin

It’s here and it’s as epic as ever. San Diego Comic Con International begins the next four days with Preview Night and it always brings in the crowds. Everyone is looking for something special, one of a kinds or hitting all the fun exhibits and hands on attractions that are pretty darn cool.

Everything in the main hall at the Convention Center can be found up and down each of the aisles. To give you a bit of a heads up of what you can expect to find, I’m going to run down as much as possible. Here we go!

Warner Bros., Lionsgate and ABC are in the 4500-4200 block of the hall with their offerings of what is coming in theatres and on television. Sharing real estate is AMC and their fantastic programming and 20th Century Fox ready to give you a shocker or two.

BBC America always captures my attention as I am a huge ORPHAN BLACK fan and it is also the home of the famous DOCTOR WHO. Next door is STARZ and you can be sure your favorite OUTLANDER series will be represented to the maximum. Netflix is going to grab the attention of fans of so many of their original programs and if you haven’t seen STRANGER THINGS, well I have to wonder what planet you have been on.

Lucasfilms is close by and that’s where many people I know are going to be stationed to get word on what is to come and all the new goodies for fans. Seriously, I couldn’t walk past that exhibit if I wanted to as most know I’m a huge fan from before time was time. I plan to go to the Princess Leia gathering to celebrate the life of our own unique Princess – Ms. Carrie Fisher.

Animation isn’t about to be left out of the loop as Funmation brings their characters out to play, Cartoon Network is equally loved and you can be sure I’ll be looking for my favorites as well. Nickelodeon always brings the family fun and this year is no exception. 

If it’s toys you happen to be looking for – you know – for the kids and the kid in all of us, well Hasbro, Mattel, Lego and Toynami can help you fill your bag so you might want to bring a couple of extra. You will probably find me in the Funko section because I have to get the Game of Thrones Funko’s, it is a moral imperative.

Video games are high on the list of places to visit in the hall as PC Games, Nintendo, Capcom, Xbox and more will tease and tempt the gamers with their latest adventures.

Of course what would Comic Con be without – comic books! There are plenty represented by DC, Marvel, Dark Horse Comics, IDW publishing, Torpedo Comics and so many more. I don’t know how anyone is going to have time to go through them all but a way will be found because once a die hard comic fan, always a die hard comic fan.

Of course please visit the artists that bring their work to Comic Con each and every year. I have found some of the most amazing illustrators from superheroes to action, fantasy and more. They are always so gracious and excited to talk about their work. Support them by stopping by and seeing all the amazing pieces and stories.

Making my way outside I knew it was time to have a little fun. First I began with the BLADERUNNER 2049 Experience and let me tell you – go there! It is an immersive experience that will give your more to look forward to with the films release.

Also, the sci-fi outdoor experience THE EXPANSE is right next door so you can jump from one awesome interactive bit of fun right to the other. THE EXPANSE is celebrating it’s second season and I had the chance to interview Cas Anvar about his role so being part of their outdoor experience was uber cool.

Then, Amazon Prime welcomed me to THE TICK experience. THE TICK is a series coming August 25 and I couldn’t be more excited. Going through their interactive offerings I had the chance to test my knowledge about THE TICK and then challenged armed with my super wrist band to tap my way to find out what kind of superhero I am. In case you are wondering, I’m a “Super Citizen – When Destiny Calls You Answer!” so back off me man I’m a super citizen according to THE TICK!

There are so many interactive exhibits to visit and you can be sure that I will let you know about everyone one of them. In the mean time, eat a hearty dinner and then rest up because tomorrow brings a day with a little something for everyone.

Here we go!

We’re excited to be releasing new episodes from the hit kids’ series

 P. King Ducking: Seize the Day!

as seen on Disney comes to DVD on September 12

We have your chance to win so click the link -->> with IT'S DUCKY in the subject line and your name and address in the message. We will contact a winner soon!

The Girls are Back!

Coming to DVD from SHOUT! Factory Kids and Hasbro Studios is 

MY LITTLE PONY Equestria Girls
Magical Movie Night

When the girls try to raise money to help make repairs at Camp Everclear, their usual mayhem and fun ensue! Want to add the girls adventure to your home library? You know what to do! Email with 
My Little Pony in the subject line and your address in the message. Good Luck!

We have 2 coloring sheets available for download at


This is a story that is now iconic and beloved and it's time he came to your home! We have one in our giveaway so email with "ET Come Home" in the subject line and your name/address in the email. This is a great prize pack!

When a playful octopus named Deep gets his undersea fish colony in trouble, the tribe’s stern leader Kraken orders Deep to go find help. Joined by his splashy BFFs—a sassy shrimp and a silly anglerfish—Deep takes an epic, colorful journey through submerged cities and sunken ships, where they meet outrageous creatures that help the trio on its way. Throughout the adventure, Deep and his buddies laugh, sing, and bond with one another, proving that friendship can be a very “deep” subject. 

The ThinkLab, UMedia, and Silver Reel present a The ThinkLab production in coproduction with The Kraken Films in association with Grid Animation Ufund with the participation of Televisión Española with the support of ICAA with the financing facilities of ICO with the support of Media.

Directed by Julio Soto Gúrpide the cast includes Justin Felbinger as Deep, Stephen Ezra Hughes as Evo, Lindsey Alena as Alice, Elisabeth Catherine Gray as Maura, Anna Vocino as Norma, and Dwight Schultz as Kraken.

DEEP will be in theaters and On Demand August 25 from Lionsgate. 
A New Hero Will Rise from the DEEP