Archive | July, 2012

SHeDAISY: Ready to start blooming again

19 Jul

Kristyn, Kelsi and Kassidy Osborn, SHeDAISY, are back creating and performing the music that made them superstars.

It’s been a while since audiences have been able to enjoy SHeDAISY in concert, or hear songs from them on a new album. But these talented sisters, who’ve had hit after hit on the country and pop music charts since 1999, are back. Armed with a new career plan, new partners and new energy, SHeDAISY is about to begin blooming again.

                Kristyn, Kassidy and Kelsi Osborn are doing their first concert in more than 2-1/2 years in their native state of Utah this Saturday (July 21). It begins a renaissance for the trio that has earned gold albums and numerous awards, performed at sold out concerts and sporting events around the world, including the Grand Ole Opry; and written and recorded songs for music videos and a film soundtrack. They are striking out in a new direction, while at the same time returning to their roots, both literally and figuratively.

                Kristyn, who has established herself as a successful songwriter for both SHeDAISY and other artists, says the group has gone through a number of changes since they left their record label, Lyric Street, just before it folded in April of 2010.

                “We’ve spent the last little while evaluating where we want to go, what we want to do,” she said during a telephone interview from her home in Nashville. “We’re working on new music—I’ve been writing for a few months. Frankly, we’ve been able to work more freely, with fewer boundaries and less restrictions now that we’re truly on our own. It’s been much more inspiring.”

                Like all performers do over time, SHeDAISY felt the need to regroup, to “embark on something we’re really excited about,” Kristyn said. The group has connected with a new team of performers, developing a business plan to move forward, and acknowledging that the entertainment industry has changed greatly since their first album, “The Whole Shebang,” went gold in 1999.

                “The world is a much different place now in getting your music to the public,” she said, referring in part to the proliferation of the Internet and the ability of the public to download. “In some ways, you need to adjust and embrace it; but it’s much more exciting, more freeing, even if it’s a bit terrifying. We’ve had to redirect our efforts, and probably become more of what we should have been doing in the beginning.”

                SHeDAISY released five albums over 10 years—all of them hits, several earning awards and even garnering Grammy nominations. Though there are currently a couple of major developments in the group’s future that Kristyn isn’t free to discuss quite yet, it’s clear from her comments that all three sisters are excited about the future direction of the group.

                “It’s a new process for us—experimenting with music, playing songs together until we find the ones that stick. We’re building our plan in a very organic way, step by step. It’s sort of like building a house—the framework first, then the dry wall, the installation…We’re letting the songs lead us, and not zeroing in on something to try to fit into a mold.”

                That doesn’t mean the classic SHeDAISY sound will disappear. At the Utah concert, as well as others they will be playing in the months ahead, some of SHeDAISY’s all-time favorite hits will be an integral part of their performance.

               “I’m sure there will always be elements in our music of where we’ve been for 20 years,” she said. “We respect that and still appreciate that. But we’ll have new stuff as well that we’re very excited about and energized to perform.”

               If you live in Utah, their performance on Saturday night will be at American Fork High School, starting at 7:30 p.m. (Ticket information at smithtix.com.) News of the group, including updates on songs and concert performances, can be found on the SHeDAISY website at http://shedaisy.com.

 –Tom Haraldsen

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Actress Erinn Hayes: Super busy–and loving it!

17 Jul

Erinn Hayes may be one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood. The fourth season premiere of her hit TV series, “Children’s Hospital,” is August 9 on Adult Swim. She is one of the stars of the new indie film “It’s a Disaster” that has played to rave reviews at the Los Angeles Film Festival and Comic Con. And she was just added to the cast of “Guys with Kids,” the new Jimmy Fallon-produced NBC comedy series that premieres this fall.

                But that didn’t keep this mother of two young daughters from her scheduled telephone interview with us for ON AND BEYOND, even as she was driving to pick them up from their Los Angeles area preschool. Hayes can multi-task with the best of them.

                That bodes well for the San Francisco Bay Area native, who plays quirky, looking-for-love Dr. Lola Spratt on “Children’s Hospital.”

             “It’s getting better each year,” she says of the series, a great comedy that has very little to do with medicine, but is laugh-a-minute hilarious. “I think we have an amazing cast (which includes Henry Winkler, Malin Akerman, Rob Corddry, Megan Mullally, Lake Bell, Rob Huebel and Ken Marino), and the shows are written so well for all of us. It’s finally getting its due out there—permeating pop culture and getting a huge following, and it’s fun to be a part of.”

                The cast does 14 shows per season, each show 15 minutes long.

                “It’s a pretty grueling production schedule,” Erinn says. “We do one episode every two days over six weeks—three weeks in December before the holidays and three weeks in January afterwards. I’m always thinking, ‘just six weeks for 14 shows?’ Pretty condensed.”

                In “It’s a Disaster,” director Todd Berger (highlighted in a story at ON AND BEYOND last week) centers his doomsday comedy on four couples facing the possible end of the world. They are forced to hole up together in a small home as the final hours draw near. Erinn plays Emma Mandrake, one of the home’s owners. The film has already generated a lot of interest on the Internet and in entertainment media, and Berger hopes to find a distributor shortly. Erinn co-stars in the film with Julia Stile, David Cross, America Ferrera and Rachel Boston.

Erinn Hayes, third from left, stars along with Rachel Boston, Kevin Brennan, Blaise Miller, Julia Stiles, David Cross, America Ferrera and Jeff Grace in “It’s a Disaster.” Photos courtesy of Sweeney Entertainment.

           “I’m very excited about [the film],” she says. “One of the things that attracted it to me is that it’s an anti-disaster movie. No one is trying to be a hero, we’re just trying not to die and we’re dealing with our own problem relationships.”

                How would Erinn handle such a situation in real life?

                “There are two different answers to that,” she says with a laugh. “As a mother, I’d snuggle with my two children. But then there’s the non-children answer, which is to be totally in America’s character—get drunk and pass out until the end of the world! Last December, we had some really bad wind storms here—power was out for days—and it really opened my eyes, kind of kicked me in the butt. Shamefully, it showed how unprepared we are for something like that. My husband bought a BB gun, and I said jokingly, ‘What good is that doing to do?’ I realized that living here in California, I’m become so blasé about earthquakes that I don’t even worry about disasters anymore. Maybe I should.”

                Her career is far from disastrous (movie pun intended). On “Guys with Kids,” she’ll play Sheila, the ex-wife of Chris (actor Jesse Bradford) and a type A attorney. The comedy centers on three 30-something dads who are trying to hold on to their youth. She also recently booked a supporting role in “They Came Together,” a new film starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Chris Meloni, Ed Helms, Jessica Perez, Colbie Smulders and Jack McBrayer now in pre-production inNew York City for a 2014 release.

                “I’ve been trying to do some different roles,” Erinn says. “TV has been an easier road for me, and you get known and get to more stuff, but I also like film work. It’s just nice to have a variety of parts to play.”

                Especially when, like talented Erinn Hayes, you can multi-task.

–Tom Haraldsen

Director Todd Berger’s newest film: “It’s a Disaster”

11 Jul

Todd Berger

It’s probably safe to say that Todd Berger figured out his calling in life pretty early. He started making movies with his friends while still in high school in his native New Orleans, creating Johnny Voodoo Productions. That company is still in business in Los Angeles, where Berger recently debuted his latest film, “It’s a Disaster,” at the LA Film Festival.

                In this doomsday comedy, which Berger wrote and directed, four couples you’d never want to meet gather for a Sunday brunch, as is their tradition. On this particular Sunday, however, they find themselves stranded in a house as the world is seemingly about to come to an end.

                “You never know when a disaster is going to strike,” Berger said during an interview with ON AND BEYOND on the eve of the festival. “You could be in your office, your car on a freeway, or at 7-Eleven getting a Slurpee. We all think we know when ‘ITS’ going to hit. It’s always interested me about disaster movies that people are usually trapped in one place. Everyone seems to get together in a crisis, and I thought it would be cool to shoot it as a comedy.”

                Berger has a history of successful independent films. “The Scenesters,” which he premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival inPark City,Utah in 2009 (and where he and I first met), won critical acclaim and has played in art house theaters across the country. Together with longtime friends Kevin Brennan, Jeff Grace and Blaise Miller, he created a comedic film group called The Vacationeers. Each of those three actors, as well as Berger himself, has a role in “It’s a Disaster.”

                Berger attracted a bevy of name stars for the film as well: Julia Stiles (SAVE THE LAST DANCE), David Cross (“Arrested Development”), Erinn Hayes (“Children’s Hospital”), America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) and Rachel Boston (“In Plain Sight”). (READ MY INTERVIEW WITH ERINN HAYES NEXT MONDAY AT “ON AND BEYOND”).

                “America suggested David, and he really liked the script,” Berger said. “Because we had made ‘The Scenesters,’ he knew we had feature film experience. And because he plays a normal guy in this film, he loved the part.”

Berger met Stiles through a friend, “and she came on board as soon as she was finished with a Broadway production. I think she liked it because it was a very different part for her—a neurotic person—someone kind of out of her wheelhouse.” Hayes and Boston were familiar with Berger’s work in “The Scenesters” as well, and joined the cast for a very intense 14-day shoot in one location, in a house inLos Angeles last September “during one of the hottest stretches of days on record in L.A.” Berger said.

         “Part of the fun of this movie is that it shows how wildly unprepared we really are if something like this happens,” Berger said. “Your cell phones, TV, Internet all off—people would be freaking out.”

          Each of the characters that Berger wrote is based on one of the stages of grief, and each responds in a different way. “If we all found out we were going to die—what would we do? We’d probably want to get some stuff out of the way, off our minds. No final meals in restaurants,” he said.

          “It’s a Disaster” is being shopped to a number of distributors, and may also be available on iTunes. Critics loved the movie at its Los Angeles premiere. It will also be part of Comic Con in San Diego later this month. Berger is currently working on a couple of other projects, including a “Where’s Waldo” movie concept for MGM, and “The Happytime Murders” with actress Katherine Heigl. He feels the reason so many name actors and actresses are attracted to indies like “It’s a Disaster” is really relative simple.

“It lets them act. A lot of movies have them running from CG dinosaurs. Indies give all of us a chance to stretch, whether as an actor or a director.”

You can follow “It’s a Disaster” on imdb.com, or on Facebook. Images are courtesy of strategypr.

–Tom Haraldsen