Some people have all the luck. I get to interview those people.
From: Los Angeles
Winner: Viator's Dream Travel Job: Team Europe,July 2012–August 2012
In addition to a feature story in the October issue, I have a few fun, smaller items, including:
A round-up of Q&As with local YA authors
Judy Blundell, Katonah
Author of Strings Attached and National Book Award winner What I Saw and How I Lied
What’s the biggest difference between the YA audience and an adult audience?
Their age. That might sound like a flip response, but it’s true—the boundaries can be so blurred now, and a gripping story that happens to a teenage protagonist can be just as resonant for an older reader.
How do you feel about vampires?
I tend to avoid vampires. Yes, they exist! I’ve met a few! They’re the people who suck life and hope out of any situation, poor things. Vampires are only glamorous in fiction.
I did a short Q&A with Tim League, the founder and CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse. The theater chain is opening its first Westchester location in Yonkers in July.
You can either read the PDF, or see the story online here.
I interviewed Ben Schwartz about his TV projects: Parks and Recreation, House of Lies, and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, but this was my favorite question I got to ask:
Finally, when certain people in this office are in kind of a down mood, it's possible they use this video of you and Zooey Deschanel signing "You Belong to Me" to cheer up. Can you say how that came about?
That’s amazing! That’s so sweet. That came about because my friend Sophia Rossi created a website called HelloGiggles with the talented Zooey Deschanel and Molly McAleer. Sophia asked me to do a video for them around the time when they launched, and I asked Zooey if she wanted to sing an old song that Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters sang from The Jerk. Zooey is a professional singer and amazing at just about everything, so I was so lucky when she said yes. She learned the song on her ukulele in two seconds. We hit record on Sophia’s laptop, sang it a few times, and picked our favorite take. I love that people are watching it. The trick is to get someone who is an amazing singer to sing with you, then hopefully she sings loud enough to make everyone forget that you are singing, too.
Click here to read the full interview.
Photo: DISNEY XD/RICK ROWELL
This seems like the opposite of Next to Normal. What made you want to get involved? I love musical comedy, and Bring It On is a natural fit for a musical. But I also felt there was something emotional in the story, especially being set in the world of high school—high school is a loaded time for everybody. So even though the emotions are different than Next to Normal, there was still something moving about Bring It On, and it brought out a lot of feeling.
You worked on the music with Lin-Manuel Miranda of In the Heights. How are your styles different, and how were you able to combine them? It was wonderful to feed off each other. We started by doing the first number together, and we tried to capture that cheer energy in that electronic/pop world. Then we wrote the songs for the Jackson school, and he has that hip-hop vernacular that comes into play—he’s a virtuoso at it. But we wanted to make sure that every song had character development, and by the end it morphed so that it felt like Lin-Manuel, [co-lyricist] Amanda Green, and I all wrote the score together as one piece.
The musical is partially about finding what you love to do in high school. What was your big extracurricular at Byram Hills? I was into music, so I performed in the musicals. But I was also into sports, and I did soccer and baseball. I guess I was like the character of Randall in that I didn’t really do just one thing; I tried to run in all the different crowds.
Next month, the movie Pitch Perfect comes out, and you also worked on that. Were you already familiar with that a cappella world? I was in an a capella group at Columbia, and I’ve been wanting to do something about a cappella groups for a long time. My friend [and director] Jason Moore told me about the movie, and I told him I had to work on it. I arranged songs with people who live on the West Coast and work on The Sing-Off. One set piece that I worked on and am particularly proud of is the ‘riff-off,’ where you have to ‘steal’ songs by singing another song with the same lyric in a certain category. From the trailer, it looks like it really came off.
Bring It On is currently playing at the St. James Theatre.
New to Neu
The Neuberger Museum of Art gets a new executive director
Rufus Wainwright, Chris Isaak, a Dark Shadows festival, and more.
For the "How I Did It" cover package in our ancillary business publication, I profiled two local business owners who faced obstacles and turned their companies into unexpected successes.
How I Did It
11 Inspiring Tales of Unexpected Success
Featured on the Cover:
President, Bartizan Connects; Chairman, Addressograph Bartizan
...“If I had any brains, I would’ve said that I’m not going to compete with these other companies,” says the Yonkers resident. “I knew nothing about manufacturing. I didn’t have any money. I wasn’t bright enough to evaluate my obstacles. But not knowing anything meant anything was possible.” Armed with no knowledge and diving headlong into his company, Hoff was able to create a business that sold millions of credit-card imprinting machines and today employs more than 20 people.
After graduating with a degree in economics from UMass Amherst, Hoff did a four-year stint in the Air Force and held a couple of sales jobs when he returned. When one of the companies went under in 1970, Hoff and coworker Ed O’Reilly decided to form their own business. “He had an idea for a portable credit-card imprinting machine,” Hoff says. Though they knew nothing about manufacturing, the duo jumped into an industry that already had stiff competition; indeed, two businesses that made the same devices were Fortune 500 companies. “Out of the five companies that made these machines, we were number five,” Hoff says.
Hoff and O’Reilly manufactured the machines out of a converted stable on 76th Street in Manhattan. Hoff also lived there, illegally. A floating crew of friends, actors, and the unemployed worked at assembling the machines, and Hoff and O’Reilly got jobs waiting tables at nearby O’Brien’s Tavern to make ends meet. “I’d work at O’Brien’s until four am and get home at four-thirty,” he says. “The people who worked for us would show up at about eight am. I’d have to be up when they arrived. Then I worked with them until I had to be back at O’Brien’s.”
Owner/Operator, Creator’s Media Group
...Trama’s accomplishments become all the more impressive when you consider his background. When he was 9 years old, his parents went through a rough divorce—one that was especially tough on his mother. He was sent to live at Andrus, a residential school in Yonkers. “It’s tough being so young and without your family,” he says. “It’s like going to college when you’re nine years old. I had to take on a lot of responsibilities and learn how to take care of myself. When I left, I was twelve, and I was pretty self-sufficient.”
That sense of independence led Trama to start working when he was 13, caddying at a local golf club. “It was one of the best jobs you could have at that age.” He caddied every summer while he attended Valhalla High School. Then, in 1999, when he was 19, he enrolled in night classes at The Westchester Business Institute (now The College of Westchester) so he could intern at Creators, shooting and editing videos, which almost immediately became a full-time job. “Video was the medium you could do the most with,” he says. “It tested my creative skills.”
Click through to read the rest of the cover package online, or download the PDF of Lew Hoff's profile above.
My profile of a local resident who went from near-homelessness to starring in regional theater.
Big River, Big Journey
...Though FaTye is a natural singer and performer, he still had a lot of ground to make up in his training. Luckily, the Westchester theater community embraced him. “Ninety percent of my training happened in Westchester,” he says. FaTye worked with the Broadway Training Center in Hastings-on-Hudson, the Actors Conservatory Theatre in Yonkers, the Lighthouse Youth Theatre in Thornwood, and the Lagond Music School in Elmsford, among others. “He’s incredibly hard-working,” Mallah says. “At Children’s Village, on one snowy day, he just got up early and shoveled all the walks.”
After high school, he studied at the American Musical Dramatic Academy and the Collaborative Arts Project before attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Not wanting to give up his apartment in Elmsford, he’d wake up at 4 am to commute to his 8 am classes. “I was never late,” he says.
Now, he’s starring as Jim in Big River, a show he calls “the pinnacle of my life” because of its parallels to his personal history. “Jim tries to get away from hardship, knowing something better is out there for him,” he says. “That’s who I am. I was always looking for the light, for the freedom.”
Click through to read the rest of the profile online, or download the PDF above.