Show business was always Martin Short’s destination. When he was a boy he wrote TV Guide listings for the variety show he envisioned for himself. Most of his dreams have come true, from television to Hollywood to Broadway. He’s just completed season 2 of Only Murders in the Building for Hulu, costarring his pal Steve Martin and Selena Gomez. If it looks like the stars are having a good time working together, it’s because they are. Both Leonard and Jessie were nervous talking to someone they admire so very much. Their guest was unfailingly thoughtful and good-natured. How could he be otherwise? He’s Martin Short!
Lots of baby boomers read comic books, but only one pursued his love of comics so far that he wound up buying the screen rights to Batman. It took ten years for Michael Uslan to get that first movie made, with Tim Burton behind the camera and Michael Keaton in front, but it was a game-changer for Hollywood. Michael has told his life story in a book, The Boy Who Loved Batman, and now it’s going to be a Broadway show! During the recording of this conversation Jessie realized that Michael and Leonard must have inhabited the same space at one time years ago. Listen in and you’ll learn the answer.
If you’re casting an unconventional character and you need someone the audience will relate to—no matter how strange his story—you might want to call on Paul Walter Hauser. Clint Eastwood did for the leading role in his movie Richard Jewell, Craig Gillespie did for I, Tonya, and Dennis Lehane did for the current Apple+ series Black Bird. (Spike Lee has used him twice—in Blackklansman and Da 5 Bloods.) Jessie has been a fan since the TV series Kingdom, and Leonard is still catching up with this gifted performer’s work.
Annette O’Toole’s first professional job was dancing with Danny Kaye on his network TV show… and she hasn’t stopped performing since. She’s about to film the fifth season of the Netflix series Virgin River and is brimming with enthusiasm for it. Her credits include six years as Ma Kent on Smallville, an Emmy nomination for playing Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy in The Kennedys of Massachusetts, and an Oscar nomination for the song “A Smile at the End of the Rainbow” from Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind (which she wrote with her husband Michael McKean). Leonard and Jessie love talking to people like Annette who love what they do—and are so very good at it.
Dennis Lehane is the best-selling author of Boston-based crime novels that have translated well to film (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone). His first experience with television was on The Wire, a great show that helped inform his new six-part series called Black Birds, which debuts Friday, July 8 on Apple+. It’s an incredibly gripping drama and Lehane is happy to talk about it with Leonard and Jessie. You’ll learn about the importance of casting not just the leading roles (Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Ray Liotta) but every person who appears on camera.
Leonard and Jessie are unapologetic proselytizers for the new theatrical feature Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. This disarming feature is an outgrowth of a short Fleischer-Camp created with his partner, actor/comedian/filmmaker Jenny Slate that went viral back in 2010 when that was uncommon. Dean explains how he and Jenny dealt with that phenomenon and tried to protect their precious character, who emerges triumphant in this charming and surprisingly emotional film. If you’d like to hear our 2017 conversation with Jenny, just click HERE. https://maltinonmovies.libsyn.
Hi everyone… Jessie and I recently helped our beloved Richard Sherman celebrate his 94th birthday. He is a living legend and a bona fide Disney Legend who with his brother Bob wrote songs we all know and love from Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and Disneyland, to name just a few of his many credits. We spoke to him in 2016 and thought it would be fun to play that episode again. His passion for music and life is inspiring, and we feel very lucky to know him
How is it that Kiwi native Rose McIver is so talented, so versatile, and still so nice? Popular most recently for her appearances on IZombie and the current Ghosts on CBS, she has also worked with Peter Jackson on The Lovely Bones and a host of other TV shows (like Masters of Sex) and films—going all the way back to Jane Campion’s The Piano--sometimes playing American (flawlessly) and other times letting her natural voice be heard. In any event, she’s fun to listen to.
With a starring role in the current VOD release All My Puny Tomorrows Alison Pill has a showcase worthy of her abundant talent. That’s no secret to fans who have followed her since her days as a child actress… including many of today’s leading filmmakers, who have cast her in such notable films as Milk, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Snowpiercer, and Hail, Caesar!, to name just a few. And she recently completed a two-year run in Star Trek: Picard. Small wonder that Leonard and Jessie found her to be a smart and engaging conversationalist.
Our guest grew up as a privileged son of Hollywood royalty. George Stevens Sr. made such classic movies as Gunga Din, Shane, and Giant, and in time invited his son to join his filmmaking team. But George Stevens Jr. went on to forge his own formidable career in Washington D.C. as founder of the American Film Institute and co-creator of the Kennedy Center Honors. His newly published autobiography My Place in the Sun is filled with great stories from both worlds, some of which he was kind enough to share with Leonard and Jessie.
In his earliest screen appearances (remember Quest for Fire?) Ron Perlman was buried under a ton of makeup and prosthetics. That’s also how he became the Emmy-winning star of television’s Beauty and the Beast. Since then he’s shown his versatility, especially in his collaborations with the gifted filmmaker Guillermo del Toro like Hellboy and the forthcoming Pinocchio. His new film
The Last Victim, casts him as a weary sheriff in the modern-day West. As Leonard and Jessie quickly discovered, Ron has the soul of a poet and the heart of a movie buff. Wait till you hear him singing the praises of Gary Cooper!
Karen Gillan first came to prominence playing Amy Pond during two seasons on Dr. Who. Then she was cast as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and her career went into overdrive. She’ll be reprising her signature role in Thor: Love and Thunder and in Volume 3 of Guardians next year. Meanwhile, you can see her play opposite herself in the science-fiction feature Dual, now playing in theaters, and in Judd Apatow’s The Bubble on Netflix. Leonard and Jessie are suckers for anyone with a Scottish accent, but Karen ups the ante with her outgoing personality and upbeat approach to her burgeoning career.
His performance as the devilish media baron Logan Roy has helped make Succession must-see television. But Brian Cox has been giving inspired performances for decades, on stage, screen and television; he was the first actor to play Hannibal Lecter in 1986’s Manhhunter. Now he’s gathered his best stories in a candid, witty book called Putting the Rabbit in the Hat. He is also a fanatic about Hollywood’s golden age and a guest programmer for TCM this month. Needless to say, Leonard and Jessie had little trouble finding topics of conversation with the man who names Spencer Tracy as his all-time favorite actor.
The success of Ray Donovan has introduced Eddie Marsan to a legion of viewers who may not have seen (or recognized) him from the hundred-or-so feature films he’s been in, from Gangs of New York and War Horse to Mike Leigh’s wonderful Vera Drake and Happy-go-Lucky. He is the very model of a modern working actor, ready to take on a new accent and persona with each new assignment…and that’s the way he likes it. Leonard and Jessie are charter members of his fan club and were delighted to find that—unlike some of the nasty guys he’s played on screen—he’s a devoted family man with four children. You can see him right now in The Contractor starring Chris Pine.
Television viewers may know him best for his seven-year run as the star of Without a Trace (or his Emmy-winning appearances on Frasier) but Anthony LaPaglia has had a long and varied career on stage and film. Early credits include 29th Street, Innocent Blood, Betsy’s Wedding, Jessie’s favorite Empire Records and Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam. Now he’s starring in Nitram, a drama about one of the most shocking incidents in Australian history. It’s playing on AMC+ and available in selected theaters and VOD. Anthony is a bright and thoughtful man with a good sense of self: he admits that he had to improve his Australian accent when he went back to film in his home country!
Neal McDonough is one of the busiest actors in show business. Now he is adding “writer” and “producer” to his resumé with a feature called Boon that comes to theaters and VOD on April1st. His talent and work ethic have earned him the respect of men like Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood, so he’s got great role models to follow. From Band of Brothers to Minority Report, Desperate Housewives to Arrow and The Flash, he has built a rock-solid career in front of the camera. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Leonard and Jessie enjoyed meeting Neal, whose wife is now his producing partner—having already produced five children together!
Sue Lloyd was raised by her grandfather, the legendary silent-screen comedian Harold Lloyd—the guy in horned-rim glasses and a straw hat who dangled off a clock on the side of a building in his hit comedy Safety Last. (Her grandmother had been his leading lady on screen.) He introduced her and her friends to his film vault and paved the way for them to protect his movies, which she makes available today at festivals, online, and on home video. Sue has wonderful memories of her privileged upbringing and the people she met along the way. She has even published books of her grandfather’s famous 3-D photography. Leonard and Jessie love stepping into the past with Sue as their guide.
Adrien Brody has written a new role for himself in the indie picture Clean, now in theaters and on VOD. It’s the latest in an ever-growing rogue’s gallery that includes his Oscar-winning role in The Pianist, his recent appearance on Succession, and an appearance as L.A. Lakers coach Pat Riley in an upcoming miniseries. He’s part of Wes Anderson’s elite corps of favorite actors and has played everyone from Salvador Dali to Harry Houdini. Leonard and Jessie enjoyed hearing his take on Spike Lee, Peter Jackson and other filmmakers who have called upon his formidable talent.
I have followed Woody Allen since I was a boy, from his heyday as a standup comic to his emergence as one of America’s most original (and prolific) filmmakers, so he is very much a part of my life. At 86 he is as busy as ever. His latest film, Rifkin’s Festival (starring Wallace Shawn and Gina Gershon) opens today in theaters and on VOD. He has another film ready to shoot, a play about to be produced, and a new book of humorous essays called Zero Gravity, all dependent on pandemic conditions. This conversation gave Jessie and me an opportunity to ask about his beginnings as a gag writer while still in high school, his passion for playing New Orleans-style jazz, and his singular work ethic. He was uncommonly generous with his time and typically self-deprecating about his talent.
Ernest Dickerson studied cinematography at NYU where, on his first day, he met and bonded with fellow student Spike Lee. They made six memorable films together (including Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X) before Ernest made his directing debut with Juice, which has just been released in a special Blu-ray edition marking its 30th anniversary. He has gone on to direct such striking TV series as The Wire, Treme, Dexter, The Walking Dead and Bosch, to name just a few. Leonard and Jessie have been following his work for years and are delighted to have had a chance to talk to such a grounded and progressive filmmaker.
Guillermo del Toro is a sorcerer who places no limits on his imagination. His new film, Nightmare Alley, now playing in theaters, is an exquisitely rendered film noir that stands alongside his earlier work (The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) with the promise of more to come—like his “take” on Pinocchio. Leonard and Jessie are longtime devotees and are thrilled to share this uniquely eloquent and passionate creator with all of you.