If you only think of Clint Howard as Ron Howard’s kid brother, it’s time to reassess. He and his older sibling recently wrote a joint autobiography called The Boys which explains their loving relationship and points to their actor-parents as lifelong role models. Early on, Clint embraced his destiny as a young-ish character actor; right now he’s appearing with Nicolas Cage in The Old Way, a Western playing in selected theaters and available on VOD. It’s Cage’s first Western but not Clint’s. There’s almost nothing he hasn’t done in his sixty-one years in show business, from the original Star Trek to The Cat in the Hat (one of many Ron Howard movies in which he appears.) He still lives in the San Fernando Valley not far from Leonard and Jessie, because he’s just folks—like his parents.
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1:00:02John Badham directed Saturday Night Fever and even after decades of other good work (WarGames, Whose Life Is It Anyway, et al) that remains his calling card. But he and John Travolta had an uncomfortable standoff during production at 2 a.m. in freezing weather on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in NYC, as he recounts in his lively book I’ll Be in My Trailer—which is available for the first time as an audiobook. He’s been drawing on his vast experience while teaching at Chapman University in Orange, California for the past 19 years. Leonard and Jessie learned useful “life lessons” from John during our hour-long conversation.
58:08While retaining his leading-man looks, Josh Duhamel has branched out into writing and directing, having just piloted the ultra-raunchy comedy Buddy Games: Spring Awakening, which hits theaters today and VOD on June 2. (He also costars in the film.) But it doesn’t take long to learn that he has an old-fashioned work ethic. It helped to earn him a daytime Emmy twenty-some years ago for All My Children and it stood him in good stead on the recent Disney TV series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. Leonard and Jessie talked to Josh about working with Michael Bay, turning to a fellow school parent for advice before making his first comedy, and much, much more.
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1:09:47Tom Sito is a master animator and a walking encyclopedia of animation—not only for his credentials, which range from Who Framed Roger Rabbit to Scooby-Doo—but for seeking out pioneers and masters of the art form and telling their stories. He’s a teacher, a scholar, a union leader, an author and also a terrific guy who used to drop in to Leonard’s animation class at the New School for Social Research in NYC back in the 1970s! Jessie marvels at the longevity of their friendship, which shows no sign of ceasing anytime soon. Tom’s books include Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson, Moving Innovation, A history of Computer Animation, and Eat, Drink, Animate: An Animator’s Cookbook.
George Tillman, Jr.
1:00:53He directed the new theatrical release Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World. But George Tillman, Jr. is as much a film enthusiast as he is a filmmaker. It was seeing Michael Schultz’s Cooley High and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver that set him on his career path, which began with Soul Food and Men of Honor. Now he is in a position to give other talented young black filmmakers a helping hand—and he does just that, as a prolific producer of films and television. Leonard and Jessie thoroughly enjoyed talking movies with someone who is so clearly passionate about what they do.
1:06:37It’s hard to believe that forty years have gone by since John Pizzarelli recorded his first record album (on vinyl). He has a delightful new collection drawn from movies and Broadway shows called Stage & Screen (Palmetto Records). It reaffirms our opinion that he is the most engaging jazz musician and entertainer working today. A guitar virtuoso, he learned his craft from his Dad, the late Bucky Pizzarelli, and carries with him great memories of music legends he met while growing up. John believes that good music should be entertaining, too; Leonard and Jessie heartily agree.
49:51One of the architects of improv comedy at Second City in Chicago, Paul Sand is still going strong at the age of 93, having just written and directed a play called The Pilot Crashes the Party (info at www.onstage411.com/Pilot) and stealing scenes in the indie film Loren and Rose starring Jacqueline Bisset. He studied in Paris with the great mime Marcel Marceau and landed one of his best movie roles (in 1972’s The Hot Rock) because the director was so impressed with his Tony Award thank-you speech! Leonard and Jessie were charmed by a man who has always marched to his own drummer.
56:53Yes, Greg Laemmle is related to Carl, the movie pioneer and founder of Universal Pictures. But he is—more to the point—the third generation owner of Los Angeles’s celebrated Laemmle Theaters chain. The history of this business and how it narrowly survived the pandemic is the subject of Raphael Sbarge’s documentary Only in Theaters, which is still making the rounds of film festivals. (Leonard appears in it as an interviewee.) When it comes to running a movie theater, there is very little that Greg doesn’t know and he speaks with the easy authority of a veteran. Leonard and Jessie are among his many loyal customers.
55:38Scott Caan didn’t intend to follow his late father James into show business; he was much more interested in sports, then hip-hop. It was working in the theater that finally got his juices flowing. In addition to the successful TV series Alert: Missing Persons Unit, he stars in a dynamic new movie, One Day as a Lion, which he also wrote and produced. It is now playing in select theaters and available on VOD. From the opening scene it’s clear that he has a formidable presence, as well as fundamental acting talent. Is some of that due to good genes? Leonard and Jessie suggest that you watch the film and decide for yourselves.
57:00Her first acting gig was on a soap opera. Kyra Sedgwick went onto costar with Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July and amass an impressive list of credits before landing the starring role in The Closer, which earned her an Emmy award and a kazillion fans. In the midst of this she also raised two children with her husband, Kevin Bacon. She has most recently turned her hand to directing, first on TV (with episodes of Ray Donovan and Grace and Frankie, among others) and now a feature film called Space Oddity that opens today in select theaters and is also available on VOD. Leonard and Jessie enjoyed reviewing highlights of career and hearing interesting stories about everyone from Gena Rowlands to Paul Newman.
Revisiting Melanie Lynskey
51:58Before Yellowjackets introduced her to a new flock of fans, longtime admirers Leonard and Jessie sat down with Melanie Lynskey in 2017 to talk about her enduring career, which was jump-started when director Peter Jackson cast her and an equally unknown Kate Winslet in his exceptional film Heavenly Creatures. Seen by millions of viewers on the network comedy Two and a Half Men, she has never forsaken her indie roots, and we discussed her latest Sundance sleeper I Don’t Feel at Home In This World Anymore. And yes, Melanie is as nice as she is talented.