Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Meet The Man, That Meets The Stars (Part 2, The Final Chapter)

Yesterday, we introduced you to Newker
Anthony Breznican.

Read Part 1 here.

This interview was so good, that we decided to
split it up into 2 parts.

We apologize for not reminding you to go to the lobby.Let's get right back into it, shall we?


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

A.B.: Just good Slovak genes, I guess. I don't do anything else. Maybe a little Dapper Dan now and again when I'm looking like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. For most of my life, I had a third-grader haircut. When I turned 30, my wife suggested I let it grow long. So it grew for more than a year and went down to the middle of my back. I was just experimenting, but that was a bad look. No pictures of that are allowed to be displayed in our house. Now I look like a '90s era hockey player.

theNewk: You are going to a deserted island that has a blu-ray player. Which 3 movies do you pack in your satchel? (Men in California wear satchels, right?)

A.B.: We call them purses. Okay, so three movies … I won't be a smart-ass and be like, "How 'bout a documentary about how to build a lifeboat, n'at?" So I'd say Avalon, this 1990 Barry Levinson movie with Elijah Wood as a little kid, and this German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl (you'd recognized him) as his grandfather. It's about an old-guy storyteller, and the little boy's connection to him, and it reminds me a lot of my own grandfather, who was a housepainter, but in his later years that was just an excuse to go to people's houses and gab and tell stories. It's my favorite movie. The end of that flick … Jesus. For me, it's always Niagra-f**king-Falls.

After that … Gremlins. It's my favorite Christmas movie, and we'll need something for Desert Island Christmas. You laugh, but Gremlins is deep sh*t. Those little green guys represent greed, and our consumerist culture, where even our holiday is overrun by our need for gifts and gadgets. The Gremlins show up and f**k all that up, causing havoc and unhappiness for everybody. Everybody would be better off without all that stuff, maybe. Especially Mrs. Deagle. It's Walden, man, with green scaly monsters. (I'll shut up now.)

Third movie -- Citizen Kane. Is this a cop out? Everybody says it's the best movie ever made … yeah, yeah, yeah. You know why? Because it f**king is! Believe me, when I saw it for the first time as a teenager, I was like 'Oh great, a classic black and white movie from forever ago …" But Charles Foster Kane is totally gangster! Forget Rosebud, and all that … The greatest line in that movie (and there are a lot of them) is right after the rally with that giant photo of Kane. He's running for governor, and winning, but his rival has the dirt on him and his mistress. He gets word that news will break in a rival newspaper, and goes to the mistress' apartment, where his opponent Gettys is going to blackmail him to drop out of the race. Kane refuses, the story is published, and his political campaign is ruined anyway. Gettys says to him: "I can see you're a man who's going to need more than ONE lesson … And you're going to GET more than one lesson." I use that line all the time.

theNewk: Do you have hobbies (other than being awesome)?

A.B.: I'm not awesome. I'm weird and goofy. I love birds. Show me a bird from North America, and I'll bet you I can identify it. My Nunie and Pap had all these birdfeeders when I was a kid, and I used to go collect the feathers -- bluejays, cardinals, goldfinches -- and keep them in a photo book, all labeled and everything. I don't do that anymore, but I still love birds. There's a feeder outside my office window. The bluejay comes around and squawks and knocks over the feeder, and irritates all the other birds. My wife says she understands why I like those.

Otherwise, I like to garden, and I like to cook. So the best is pulling in a bunch of tomatoes and then making them into sauce. Hiking is fun, though I don't get to do it too much. It's not like growing up on Mt. Vernon, where you just walk a couple of blocks and all the sudden you're in the woods on Farm Hill, climbing around the middle of nowhere. If my favorite thing was sitting in traffic, I'd be one happy motherf**ker because I do way more of that out here in L.A.

I write fiction in my free time. I just wrote a book all set back in the Valley. Maybe it'll be published someday.

theNewk: We now invite you to namedrop. Let’s hear some of the famous folk you have met.

A.B.: I've already done enough of that uninvited. The truth is, I've met a whole lot of people. I've been doing this for quite a few years and in that time you get to talk to pretty much everybody who is working in movies. For example, I've interviewed the Olsen Twins! (Boring interview.) And The Crocodile Hunter. (Great fun, but he was nutty.) But I do have some favorites …

The thing is, a lot of entertainment reporters get their interviews from junkets -- these press days at a hotel, where 1,000 reporters get a few minutes with the people in a movie. I hate those, however, because you get terrible interviews. So, working for a large paper, I try to negotiate separate, longer access. Interview at the person's office, or home, or wherever … a museum. Anywhere but a hotel, and anytime except on a day where a million other reporters are talking to them. To get that kind of access, you have to have a lot of good relationships. I'm kind of proud to have reached that level. And it makes for better stories.

You should never expect to be remembered (these folks deal with a lot of faces) but it's nice when you interview someone multiple times and can build a rapport. I feel like I've done that with Spielberg. I can't just call his cell and be like, "Hey, Steve-O! Turn on VH1! They're playing that Chumbawumba song!" But if I need him for an interview, I can usually get him. And that's flattering -- that he takes you seriously, and will make himself available.

This is a good one with him: Spielberg's family values --

Also, Clint Eastwood has always been one of my favorites, and I've gotten to interview him many times. People are very intimidated by him, because he is soft-spoken. Not shy, just a quiet man. Since he is Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name, that silence makes people wig out and get nervous and giggly and loud when they talk to him. So he gets quieter, because who wants to talk to a reporter like that? He doesn't do a lot of interviews, so I feel lucky (ha ha, no pun intended) that he seems to like me and will talk to me. That came from many years of interviews going well. Each one builds on the other, and the publicists see you get along and aren't an idiot and that leads to other good interviews with other people who are hard-to-get. In college, I had a poster on my wall of Eastwood from The Outlaw Josey Wales, where he has two giant guns crossed over his chest and a mean squint aimed right between your eyes. When he sees me now, he smiles and says "Hi Anthony, how've you been?" I play it cool, but I always want to be like: "WHOA! CLINT EASTWOOD SAID MY NAME!!!!"

Eastwood Stares Down War --

I like doing interviews with difficult people. Kristen Stewart from Twilight is known as kind of a morose presence in interviews, but she's actually intelligent and fun to talk to if you do it well. I mean, who wouldn't be sullen when every middle-aged Jiminy Glick-esque reporter sits down and is like, "OMG, what's it like to kiss a VAMPIRE!?" We met to talk about Adventureland (filmed in Pittsburgh at Kennywood!) and had a great talk.

Kristen Stewart and the secret life of teenagers …

Tommy Lee Jones -- awful interview. Hostile, nasty, just looking for a reason to give you sh*t and call your questions dumb. I made it through by playing it all formal and business-like. Not an easy interview at all, but I got good, controversial stuff out of him about the war and his movie In the Valley of Elah.

Tommy Lee Jones is so ready for a fight he doubts there'll be much of one:

What guy doesn't dig Harrison Ford? But he's very tight-lipped. Not known as a good interview. I thought if I got him outside of a hotel, he might be a little looser, and it worked great. He agreed to meet me for a hike in Santa Monica to talk about Indiana Jones 4, temple of the crystal skull, or whatever. Kind of wild walking up this trail with Han Solo and seeing the faces of the people: like, WTF? He was awesome. Cracked a couple Chewbacca jokes, told me about how a studio tried to get him to change his name when he was just starting out as an actor, and said Han Solo should have died in Jedi. Sweet! Best line, talking about being embarrassed when he flew the helicopter that rescued a lost Boy Scout in Wyoming: "Suddenly, I'm swanning around as some kind of (expletive) hero." THAT'S what I consider a great interview and a good day at work.

Take a Hike, Harrison Ford --

Sidebar: Why Han Solo should have died --

theNewk: Wow, that’s an impressive list. But be truthful for a minute…you were more nervous to talk to us here at theNewk, than any of those people, huh?

A.B.: Oh yeah, always better to be the interview-ER, rather than the interview-EE. Though, I apologize for rambling. I don't mean to be the Grandpa Simpson of interviews.

This is fun though, because I love my hometown and it's always good to talk to a fellow Kensingtonian. New Ken is a part of my DNA. I have lived in LA for 12 years, been doing THIS job for about 8, and L.A. is not home. Home is back there. But I think that has helped me in my work. I don't go into interviews popping my fingers, and winking like a slickster. I'm not Billy Bush. I just try to be a regular person, a movie-fan, but not a suc-up, and never forget that I'm just a kid from Pittsburgh. I don't go around starstruck, but treat the famous and unfamous (and in-famous) just like people. And I try to be myself. I'd like to think that they respond to that, and that makes for better interviews.

There are certainly times when I feel like I don't belong. Some big party, limousines pulling up, and everyone is trying to strike a pose, and I feel like … okay, clearly I am an infiltrator here. I'm just a New Ken kid. But in a place like Hollywood, where everyone is trying to be someone, it's a good thing to already know who you are.

theNewk: Now is your chance to tell all of our readers where they can find your work. Plug away, my friend.

A.B.: I think I did that already. If anyone wants to read those stories, I hope they like them.

theNewk: Let’s get down to brass tacks. Would you have any interest in becoming theNewk’s West Coast Correspondent? (Let it be known that this position doesn’t pay anything. Also, we aren’t really sure what the term “brass tacks” means, so we hope we didn’t offend you.)

A.B.: I'm ready. Let me know what you need. (I'm not sure of the etymology of that phrase either. If only there were some resource where you could type in something like that and "search" for some kind of answers within, like, some kind of inter-connected web of date. Call it like an, I don't know … INTER-web, or something.)

theNewk: We would like to thank you for taking time out of your day to talk with us. We only have one final question. Any chance of you wearing an I <3 Biff t-shirt (available at the site) to the Oscars?

A.B.: You bet! But I'm writing this ON OSCAR DAY, and I'm heading to the theater in a few hours. So … send me one and I'll do it next year. Damn … send Biff! I'll bring him, too.

Once again, we would like to thank Mr. Anthony Breznican
for taking the time to humor us with an interview.

We know that we're not a real news source.

Which makes this piece all the more special.

We hoped you all liked it.
As we are quite proud of this one.


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Thanks for the input. Keep it real.