Monday, September 20, 2010

“Garden Grove actress stars in 'Fred: The Movie' -” plus 2 more

“Garden Grove actress stars in 'Fred: The Movie' -” plus 2 more

Garden Grove actress stars in 'Fred: The Movie' -

Posted: 19 Sep 2010 05:08 PM PDT

Whether the name Fred Figglehorn means anything to you depends largely on one of two things -- your age and the amount of time you've spent clicking on viral videos on YouTube.

Fred, the eternally immature boy with the nails-on-a-blackboard screech, broke out as one of the first YouTube superstars a few years ago as millions of viewers, most of them tweens and teens, laughed their way through episodes of the short homemade comedy clips.

Now, though, the character created by Lucas Cruikshank four years ago, when he was a 13-year-old kid with a camcorder at home in Nebraska, is about to reach a whole new audience when "Fred: The Movie" debuts on Nickelodeon on Saturday.

Cruikshank, whose costars in "Fred: The Movie" include Orange County actress Jennette McCurdy, one of the stars of "iCarly," says it's weird for him to look back at how quickly he's jumped from Omaha to Hollywood.

"From the Fred series online a bunch of people from Hollywood took notice, producers and writers and a bunch of people," Cruikshank says using -- thankfully -- his normal voice. "People wanted to make it into a TV show or a movie, and at first I didn't want to because I wasn't sure that I wanted someone to take it over.

"But after I got more comfortable, I thought it would be awesome for my fans to see everything come to life in Fred world," he says.

See photos from "Fred: The Movie"

In the movie, Fred's world expands far beyond the blow-up pool and rooms where he shot the original 62 YouTube episodes. He lives now on a cul-de-sac shared by the families of his crush Judy, his nemesis Kevin, and the closest thing he has to a real friend, Bertha, the character played by McCurdy, who says she jumped at the chance to make the "Fred" film.

"My brother Scott had shown me the Fred videos and immediately I thought they were hilarious," McCurdy says. "I was cracking up. I went through and watched all his videos, they were so random and bizarre.

"Lucas has such a unique sense of humor," she says. "But at the same time he's universal."

Before long, she got to meet and work with their creator, too. After Cruikshank started receiving overtures from Hollywood -- 1.3 million subscribers to your YouTube channel do get noticed -- the first traditional acting job he did was as a guest star on "iCarly."

"It was awesome," Cruikshank says of shooting the episode. "I was really nervous because I'd always wanted to be an actor, but it was also really fun because everyone on that show is really nice."

Not long after that, as the "Fred" movie started taking shape, McCurdy says she got approached to meet with the director and producer about acting in it.

"I was psyched just because of working with Lucas on 'iCarly' we became really good friends," she says.

The filmmakers considered her for two parts, Judy, which eventually went to British pop star Pixie Lott, and Bertha, the hip misfit kid who lives next door.

"I always gravitate to the more bizarre character," McCurdy says of her happiness at landing Bertha. "I tend to enjoy peculiar people. I really wanted Bertha to be an outsider, and sort of in her own world. She's spontaneous and she's hip. And she's kind of innocent -- I think that's why she and Fred get along so well."

As for the story of the film, Cruikshank breaks it down quite simply: "(Fred) obsesses over this girl named Judy, who lives next door, and she moves away and it becomes this epic quest to find her."

Along the way he gets picked on by Kevin (Jake Weary), more or less ignored by his seemingly-in-recovery mother (Siobhan Fallon), and coached on manning up by his imaginary father (John Cena). There's lots of ear-piercing screeching and shrieking and throwing of fits -- grownups in the room may need to cover their ears -- as well as the typically immature behavior that made Fred a favorite online.

"I think the reality of Fred is that he's a 14- or 16-year-old but he's still in the mental mentality of a six-year-old," Cruikshank says.

He and McCurdy have their biggest moment near the end of the movie, when they throw a party dressed in one disguise after another in order to make a YouTube video that looks like Fred just threw the best party ever.

"The whole party montage took up two entire days," McCurdy says. "It was really trying for Lucas and I because we had to whip on wig after wig and all these different wardrobe styles. It was intense."

As for what comes next, for McCurdy it's another season of "iCarly," the release of her debut album, "The Story Of My Life," and the release of "The Best Player," another Nickelodeon film, this one with her "iCarly" costar Jerry Trainor.

For Cruikshank, there's a "Fred" soundtrack album coming out next week, and he's hoping that "Fred: The Movie" does well enough that a second "Fred" film gets made.

"I definitely don't want to be stuck in this character," Cruikshank says of Fred, though he continues to make it clear how much he loves -- and appreciates -- the opportunities Fred has given him. "It's definitely really weird knowing that when I first started making videos I always wanted to be an actor, but I lived in the middle of nowhere."

From the sound of it, he won't be stuck as Fred, either -- already he's signed with Nickelodeon for a series in development called "Marvin, Marvin."

"Marvin's like this alien, and he comes to earth and he doesn't really fit in," Cruikshank says. "I thought that would be a cool idea. Sort of awkward -- like Fred, but not like Fred."

Contact the writer: 714-796-7787 or

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Jimmy Piersall likes his Red Sox honor more than he liked the movie - Union-News & Sunday Republican

Posted: 17 Sep 2010 05:39 PM PDT

Published: Friday, September 17, 2010, 8:37 PM Updated: Friday, September 17, 2010, 8:42 PM

Jimmy Piersall was always a stickler for baseball detail, an approach that earned him a place in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.

That attitude extended to the movies as well. Piersall's emotional struggles were the subject of "Fear Strikes Out,'' a 1957 film that assured his enduring place in American sports culture.

"I didn't like the movie that much. The guy who played me (Anthony Perkins) had absolutely no idea of how to be an athlete,'' Piersall said bluntly in a phone interview on Friday.

"The guy who played my father (Karl Maldin) did a wonderful job. I think they overdid (the dramatic nature of his troubles), too.''

"But a lot of people liked the movie, and that's what counts.

Piersall, 80, was in Boston as the Red Sox honored the former centerfielder and several other standouts.

Tommy Harper, John Valentin, Eddie Kasko and Don Zimmer joined Piersall in the Red Sox Hall of Fame class of 2010.

Tom Brunansky's sliding catch to clinch a 1990 division title was honored in the hall's "Great Moments'' category.

Modern movie critics would tend to agree with Piersall in some respects.

An accomplished dramatic actor, Perkins nonetheless looked awkward in baseball settings, which was typical of sports movies of the day.

Even so, "Fear Strikes Out'' was a groundbreaking film. It dealt with serious personal issues at a time most sports films were of the gee-whiz variety.

In the modern day, Piersall's condition has often been described as bipolar disorder. That is not his analysis.

"I was mentally and physically tired. They can call it what they want, but I just needed a rest,'' he said.

Piersall grew up in Waterbury, Conn., and dreamed of playing for the Red Sox.

He did so from 1950-58, then played for four more teams before finishing up with the Angels at age 38 in 1967.

In various years, Piersall led the American League in games played, doubles, sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies.

His real legacy, though, was defense. Piersall won two Gold Gloves.

"I had the good fortune of knowing how to play the outfield,'' Piersall said.

"Guys today are strong and fast, but they don't know how to coach themselves. And not that many (coaches or managers) know how to coach outfielders.

"This is really a thrill. I'm joining guys like Ted Williams and Jackie Jensen, my teammates in the outfield, in the team's Hall of Fame,'' Piersall said.

Piersall thinks today's players have changed from his day, and not necessarily for the better.

"We used to go out at 6 at night and practice catching and throwing in the outfield before a game. They don't do that now,'' he said.

"At the plate, they don't move around in the box. They get the breaking ball away and they strike out.''

It is widely acknowledged that by openly and successfully dealing with his turmoil, he inspired countless others to do the same.

The movie was part of that process, but Piersall said he had no role in the making of the movie.

More than upsetting him, that seems to puzzle him, even today.

"I wanted to teach Perkins how to throw,'' Piersall said.

Perkins was a natural left-hander. He still got the role to play Piersall, who is right-handed.

"They picked (left-handed former Boston Braves star) Tommy Holmes to teach him. But the problem was that they got an actor with no experience in being an athlete.''

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Dayton remembers Marilyn's last movie - Reno Gazette

Posted: 19 Sep 2010 02:21 AM PDT

Toni Westbrook-VanCleave was only 6 at the time, but she still remembers Marilyn Monroe strapping on a toy gun belt and playing cowboys and Indians with her young brother during a break in filming of "The Misfits."

Like other residents of the small Northern Nevada town of Dayton, she had no clue of the demons that drove Monroe to be consistently late on the set, causing frustrating delays for director John Huston and co-stars Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.

"She was gorgeous, very sweet, naive," recalled VanCleave, who was a $10-a-day extra during a rodeo scene.

In testimony to the public's enduring fascination with Monroe, VanCleave and other locals will gather Saturday and Sunday in Dayton, about 40 miles southeast of Reno, to mark the 50th anniversary of filming for the last complete movie for both Monroe and Gable.

The celebration will include a Monroe and Gable look-alike contest, a display of photographs of the stars taken in Dayton, a session of old-timers' reminiscences about the filming, and tours of the old bar where a light-hearted scene was shot of a bouncing Monroe playing paddleball to the delight of male patrons.

Residents of Dayton, then an agricultural community of about 250, turned out en masse in 1960 to serve as extras or watch the filming, and those who are still around rave about the cast's friendliness and accessibility.

"It was a big deal to have these Hollywood legends in town for a month or so. It's a source of pride for us," said Laura Tennant of the Historical Society of Dayton Valley, the celebration's sponsor.

A look back

Filmed almost exclusively around Dayton and Reno in July-October 1960, the movie was plagued by almost daily delays caused by Monroe's pill-popping to fall asleep and wake up, said Curtice Taylor, a New York photographer and son of "Misfits" producer Frank Taylor.

The producer would occasionally send his 12-year-old son to her trailer to check on her readiness, thinking a child would be less threatening than an adult, said Taylor, who witnessed most of the filming with his family.

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Eli Wallach, 94, the only surviving cast member, said Huston told the actors not to complain about Monroe's tardiness because it would cause her to cease functioning.

"Huston got us together and said he couldn't make the movie without Marilyn," Wallach said. "Marilyn had a lot of problems with time, but I never said anything that would make her unhappy. What could I do? She tried her best."

Years later

The film has developed a cult following since the deaths of its stars, who played characters much like themselves, said Guy Rocha, a Nevada historian.

"What happens over time is this movie begins to get a following because of what happened after the filming," Rocha said. "The movie freezes Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable in time, and has a haunting quality."

Just 12 days after filming ended, Gable died of a heart attack at age 59. Less than 21 months later, Monroe died of a drug overdose at age 36 in what was ruled a suicide.

Wallach hailed the trio's performances, called the movie "extraordinary" and said it was one of the most fascinating experiences of his long Hollywood career.

"I was working with marvelous actors like Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, great, great people," he said. "I was captivated by the role Marilyn played in the movie. Clark Gable was an extraordinary man, gentle and sweet. I feel lucky to have been in the film with them."

VanCleave said she and other Dayton residents also cherish their brush with the actors.

"We thought the whole cast was wonderful, larger than life," she said. "But to be honest, I never thought it was a very good movie."

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