Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Meet The Man, That Meets The Stars (Part 1)

Today's interview is a biggie.

His name is Anthony Breznican, and he is a local
boy, living it up in Hollywood.

And before we start telling you all about him.

You should just continue reading.

(Anthony's official staff photo)

theNewk: What is your name, and what do you do?

A.B.: My name is Anthony Breznican, and I am a film writer for USA Today. I watch movies, go to sets, interview actors and directors. The job is to try to tell the story of storytellers. Fun work. Especially if you like that sort of thing.

theNewk: Whereabouts were you raised, and where did you go to school?

A.B.: I grew up at 411 Vernon Street, on Mount Vernon in New Kensington. Went to St. Joseph's grade school in New Ken, where I was one of only five boys in the class -- Billy Peters, Chad Fularz, and the twins, Matt and Mark Junod were the others. Despite the high girl-to-us ratio, they always seemed more interested in the St. Pete's guys. For high school, I put on a blue blazer and red tie and rode a bus over to St. Joe's in Natrona Heights.

theNewk: When you visit home, what are some of your “must stops?”

A.B.: Mazziotti's Bakery in Arnold. They have some of the best bread to be found anywhere on the planet. I'm also happy that P&M Pizza came back. I love that stuff, though it's an acquired taste -- and I still can't figure out how it goes from mouth-scaldingly hot to ice cold in an instant.

If it's warm weather, I have to hit Glen's Custard. All of the flavors are good, but above all, their banana custard is sublime. Something is going on there that I have been unable to replicate in my home ice cream maker. They roast the bananas or something. I have a theory they use baby food banana to make it. Is that possible?

This one's a little weird, but my favorite cookie is the chocolate fudge walnut thumbprint at the New Ken Giant Eagle. The NEW KEN Giant Eagle. I've hit other Giant Eagles, and the crew in New Ken is doing something different. I once tried to pay one of the bakers $50 for the recipe. She wouldn't give it up. "Anyway, it makes, like, 200 cookies a batch." She didn't understand how much I liked those cookies. (Or that I could do long division.)

I'm always on the hunt for homemade pierogies. If you want to capture me, put a sign saying "Pierogies" in front of a church and wait by the back door with a net. I love going down to the Church Brew Works because they make weird pierogies, not just the usual potato-cheese kind. If they renamed it Church Pierogie Works, I'd be just as happy.

theNewk: How did you hear about theNEWK.com, and how has it changed your life?

A.B.: I think I found it searching around for news about New Ken. I like to keep up on what's happening in my old hometown. And I keep waiting for the reappearance of Lizard Man.

theNewk: Better movie: Red Dawn or Young Guns?

A.B.: Red Dawn. I got a copy at work a few years ago and put it in the DVD player as a joke, since my wife had never seen it. I thought we'd watch about 15 minutes and turn it off. It's cheesy as hell, but … a bunch of kids turn themselves into an armed militia and set off suicide bombs in their hometown to fight off an invading force? It was actually pretty chilling. Watch that movie and you'll understand the mind of an insurgent. It doesn't justify anything they do, but it makes you see things from their perspective. Funny, because that was never its intention. It was just a rah-rah right-wing "Fight the Commies" movie from the '80s. It sort of accidentally becomes a deeper movie by showing violence as a viable option for people in an occupied country. "AVENGE ME!" and all that. They're remaking it now. I wonder what that movie will be like.

Anyway … Young Guns is good, too. I don't remember much about it, actually. But I about freaked when that school teacher gets machine-gunned at the start of Red Dawn, and the dead kid is hanging out the classroom window. Remember THAT vividly.

theNewk: We understand you travel a lot. What is the coolest place you have ever been?

A.B.: This may sound like pandering, but if I was being honest -- the coolest place, the place I'd wish I could be at any given moment … That would be my Nunie and Pap's house in New Ken or my Grandma B's house in West Tarentum. Those were my vacation spots as a kid. Get away, nobody hollering at you, just sit, read, eat, watch TV, hang around with the grannies …

But I know what you mean. I do get to travel a lot for this job, and that's a nice perk, though going somewhere for work isn't the same as going just to visit. I go to the French Riviera for the Cannes Film Festival, and Park City, Utah, for Sundance each year. If I weren't trying to see 30 movies at Sundance, I would try the skiing, but that hasn't happened yet. That's a cool, scrappy get-together, where big-names, no-names, fans, wannabes, and up-and-comers all mingle instead of existing behind the usual walls or velvet ropes. A guy bumps into you coming out of the bathroom, and you're like, "Uh … hi, Al Gore."

My greatest Sundance experience was about two years ago. U2 was there to premiere U2 3D, and I was lined up for an interview. But then the guys cancelled everything. It was a Saturday, their movie premiered that night, and Bono and The Edge decided to skip press and have lunch with Robert Redford at his resort waaaay out in the mountains. I talked them into letting me meet them at Redford's place, and ride back to Park City for the interview. It was just me, The Edge in the backseat, the driver, and Bono riding shotgun. Cool, right? Plus, they'd just done some shots with Redford, so they were really loose and chatty. It was like a road-trip. Took more than two hours to get there, and they played me rough-cuts of songs from No Line on the Horizon, which was then about two years away from release. By the end, I was out of questions and we were just shooting the sh*t about movies, books, music they were listening to. Their music means a lot to me, so that may be my favorite interview.

U2 Writes Sundance Soundtrack -- http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/movieawards/sundance/2008-01-21-u2-sundance_N.htm

And outtakes from the interview -- http://u2.interference.com/f285/great-bono-edge-interview-183672.html

Cannes is beautiful, but to truly enjoy that city you need to be super-rich, which I'm not. I am merely a barnacle on the yacht of the famous. But chatting in a French coffee shop about lost movies with Martin Scorsese, or sitting Indian-style on a giant bed in a 5-star penthouse, shooting the breeze with Angelina Jolie while a Mediterranean breeze comes in the window. She's cool. Very funny, and easy-going. Tomboyish, like the cool girl in school who hung out with the guys, instead of the girls. You know what I mean? That became the focus of the interview -- she's this terrifying, sexual presence onscreen, but much more goofy and regular as a person, despite the whole image thing fleeing from the paparazzi.

Okay, I'm rambling. But a few other places -- This crazy, remote spot in the Atacam Desert of Chile where they filmed the climax of the 007 movie Quantum of Solace. It's this deep space observatory located 70 miles out in the middle of the red-rock Martian moonscape, where it never rains (perfect for looking at the stars.) James Bond series takes 'Quantum' leap: http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2008-04-03-bond-quantum_N.htm

And going to the Bahamas to watch them shoot Casino Royale -- Bond reloads Image -- http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2006-03-09-bond_x.htm

The best set-visit, though, was Transformers 2. Michael Bay is a nutcase, but we get along. So he let me hang around in White Sands at the Army missile base, where they built this Egyptian city to blow-up. I was given such great access, that I could easily have blown-up myself. They used real military people, too, firing tank rounds into the set, and divebombing from the sky in F-22s and A-10 Warthogs. I wrote two cover stories out of that, which are among my favorites. (I'm also a child of the '80s and just love Transformers. Still have a lot of the original toys.) Also, White Sands was gorgeous. Miles and miles of pure white dunes, which look like giant piles of sugar. But it's a missile range, so you couldn't wander off into them -- they used minesweepers to clear the area where they filmed, but the dunes beyond that were marked with signs warning of potentially unexploded bombs buried everywhere.

Transformers recruits military to break out big guns for sequel -- http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2008-12-28-transformers-main_N.htm

Michael Bay likes to blow things up -- http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2009-06-18-transformers-main_N.htm

Be sure to stop back tomorrow, and read part 2
of this interview.

Where we ask hard hitting questions like:

theNewk: You really have a great head of hair. What’s your secret?

And just so you know, this is really what
Anthony looks like.

(We can kinda see the Koko B. Ware resemblance.)


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Thanks for the input. Keep it real.