Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for Gridiron Gang

If I said I interviewed Dwayne Johnson, few people would raise an eyebrow. If I said I interviewed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, you’d know which eyebrow I was talking about. Until now, Johnson mainly has stuck with action films such as “The Rundown” and “Walking Tall.” His new film, “Gridiron Gang,” puts him in unfamiliar territory, playing a correctional officer trying to change the lives of juvenile inmates through football.

I sat down with Johnson at the Four Seasons Hotel while he was in town promoting the film. While talking with him, I realized this is the one film of which he is most proud, and it sounded like he really appreciates his role’s potential for helping turn kids around.

“Gridiron Gang” is based on the true story of detention camp probation

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Aaron Kaplan the producer of You, Me and Dupree

Aaron Kaplan had a dream – to make a film about the friction created from a slacker who moves in with his newlywed friend. Time for a new dream, Aaron.

Kaplan is the executive-producer of this summer’s comedy “You, Me and Dupree,” starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon. He’s also a Chicago native. Kaplan grew up in Old Town, made the move to Highland Park in his teenage years and then went to Northwestern University.

Now Kaplan is half of Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment (along with Sean Perrone). He manages writers and directors in TV and film and has six other films in development. In the future look for a comedy named “Made of Honor” and a horror film called “Dead Asleep.”

Kaplan found a moment in-between his Hollywood lunches to have a

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Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, directors of Little Miss Sunshine

Co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have been working together for more than 20 years doing videos for R.E.M, the Ramones, Weezer and the Smashing Pumpkins. They’ve shot commercials for Volkswagen, Apple and ESPN. Now their first feature film, “Little Miss Sunshine,” is generating some huge buzz.

This ensemble dramedy features Greg Kinnear (“As Good as It Gets), Toni Collette (“About a Boy”), Steve Carell (“The 40 Year Old Virgin”), Alan Arkin (“Slums of Beverly Hills”), Paul Dano (“Fast Food Nation”) and Abigal Breslin (“Signs”).

The film is about a dysfunctional family which goes on a road trip to help Olivia (Breslin) enter the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. It took Dayton and Faris 5 years (and only 30 days of shooting) to put together. Amazingly, the directors were able to get

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Larry Clark the director of Wassup Rockers

Director/screenwriter Larry Clark, who broke into the movie business with his controversial 1995 film “Kids,” is back with another film about the youth of America.

“Wassup Rockers” is set in South Central and Beverly Hills, focusing on a group of Latino kids who wear tight pants, skateboard, listen to punk rock and who inevitably don’t fit into the hip hop culture that surrounds them. The story is based on real life experiences, and none of the kids in the film has acting experience.

Before Clark started making movies, he was a photographer, capturing teen subculture with his photo books Tulsa and Teenage Lust. He never strayed far from controversy, teenagers or trying to make authentic films.

Clark sat down with Bayer early one morning at the Peninsula Hotel to talk about the film

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Patrick Creadon the director of Wordplay

Chicago-native Patrick Creadon’s first feature film, a documentary called “Wordplay,” shows us the world of crossword puzzles and the puzzlers who attempt and obsess over them. Will Shortz, New York Times puzzle editor and the NPR Puzzle Master, is one of them. We meet him as well as famous faces, such as Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton, who’ve fallen for the crossword.

The culmination of “Wordplay” is the 2005 Crossword Puzzle Championships. But Creadon’s personal high point of making the film might’ve been seeing his movie on the marquee with “Mission Impossible 3” and the “DaVinci Code.”

Creadon runs through a list when asked about some of his favorite Chicago things, including: cheeseburgers at Billy Goat, Wrigley Field, 16-inch softball leagues in River Forest, Johnny’s Beef and Duey’s Pizza. He grew up in Riverside and attended Fenwick High School in

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Top 7 TV Series Finales

Every show must come to an end (besides “The Simpsons”).

>When talking about series finales, inevitably (older) people bring up “Newhart,” “MASH” or something else that was on 30 years ago. And of course the series finale is a difficult beast to tame.

Trying to make everyone happy and stay true to the show is a lot to ask. Remember all the gut-busting laughter from the “Friends” last hoorah? Neither do I.

But over the past 15 years we’ve gotten some pretty good send-offs. Here are the Top 7 series finales of the past 15 years.

7. Seinfeld (nine seasons)
Recap: Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer witness, laugh at and videotape a crime of an overweight man being robbed. They are charged with a Good Samaritan law for not helping. The trial

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Jason Reitman the director of Thank you for Smoking

I sat down with the writer/director Jason Reitman to talk about this new film Thank You For Smoking. He was in good spirits and he should have been, the film is getting great reviews and for a first time director to pull off this fantastic ensemble piece is quite an accomplishment.

On Smoking

Reitman doesn’t smoke. He tired it when he was 15, but he said it just hurt too much. After this film he said sarcastically that he got some inside information and it turns out smoking isn’t good for you. But then again he said the Giordano’s pizza he had for lunch would probably kill him sooner.

On being a first time promoter

Reitman has been on tour with this film for quite a while. The best part for Reitman is the food

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4th Annual TSR Movie Awards – 2005

Don’t worry cowboy, you can cry on my shoulder. The results of the 4th Annual TSR Movie Awards are in and it was a banner year. Now, if you are the type that just needs the numbers feel free to scroll down and get your fix.

TSR Movie Awards were just like the Academy Awards in the fact that they both had a wide variety of winners. The big difference was movie of the year and the host. While the Oscars were lucky enough to get Jon Stewart (and should have him hosting for years ala Johnny Carson), TSR Movie Awards were once again stuck with a tall blond movie geek shouting out award winners during the commercials.

This is normally the time when I attempt to have witty banter about the

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‘Tsotsi’ interview with Gavin Hood

I sat down with writer/director Gavin Hood of the Oscar nominated foreign film “Tsotsi.” Hood had the energy of a kid of a sugar-high even though he had been talking to the press for five hours until I showed up. We talked about the film, the characters, the Oscar buzz and even MacGyver. Hood is quiet the talker, and we […]

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3rd Annual TSR Movie Awards – 2004

3rd Annual TSR Movie Awards – 2004 MOST LAUGHS 3. Shrek 2 – 7.38 3. Napolean Dynamite – 7.38 2. The Incredibles – 7.42 1. Dodgeball – 7.47 MOST TEARS 3. Million Dollar Baby – 7.86 2. Finding Neverland – 8.25 1. The Notebook – 8.50 SCARIEST 1. Open Water – 7.58 BEST ACTION STAR/SUPERHUMAN/VILLIAN 2. Mr. Incredible – 7.78 […]

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