With the always-expanding range of CGI and special effects, it’s refreshing to see something real. But in the case of the Cinemax series Banshee, “real” just doesn’t seem to cut it. Now coming to the end of its second season, the show delivers some of the most cringe-worthy, jaw-dropping fight scenes on TV, all surrounded by a story and characters that draw you in from the pilot…which actually isn’t the pilot. Don’t worry, you’ll understand soon enough. If you haven’t jumped onboard yet, get to it!
We recently spoke with Banshee showrunner Greg Yaitanes (House, Lost, Heroes) about the upcoming Banshee finale (Friday, March 14 at 10 P.M. on Cinemax), how it came about and his ingenious ideas that helped him get to work on the show he wanted so badly.

Playboy.com: Banshee may be one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen. It’s dark, it’s gritty, the fight scenes make you cringe…almost as if the violence itself is a character. Was that the idea from the start?

Greg Yaitanes: I’m really thrilled to hear that! We pictured all of that early on. We made a change in our stunt team at about the third episode in because we wanted to really up the ante. I remember when I interviewed Marcus Young, he asked, “How far can I take this?” I told him I wanted to go all out. I said, “You go as far as you’re willing to go, and I’ll pull you back.” I don’t think there’s any better demonstration of that than the upcoming season finale. I’m so excited.

Playboy.com: I know this is going back some time, but how did the show initially come to you?

Yaitanes: At the time, I was executive producing House. It was the last season of the show and I was looking for my next project. I had seen some things along the road that I liked but I just wasn’t able to work on with my House schedule. I knew Alan Ball was doing a project with Cinemax. I was constantly stalking this project and its progress along the way. I didn’t know Jonathan [Tropper] and David [Schickler] at the time, but I knew I wanted to get out of network and move to cable. When I first started meeting about the show I went through a series of meetings…totally different than network. With HBO, it’s like, “Okay, we’ve got 10,000 Emmys. What else you got?” [laughs]

What I did for the meeting was create a trailer for Banshee out of other movies. I used it as a pitch video for what was in my head. I think that worked to my benefit because I was giving them a tangible way to see how I wanted the show to go. It was a great opportunity for me. Also, I had a very out-of-the-box concept for shooting season one. Normally, you shoot the pilot episode first. I actually shot episode four as the pilot. If people go back and watch, they’ll see that it’s totally out of sequence.

Playboy.com: That’s an ingenious idea. What made you do that?

Yaitanes: I’ve directed pilots and I often find that they’re the worst episode of the series. So I thought, the best chance I could give it was bury it in the middle of shooting. Maybe by the fourth episode the audience would grab on and move with it. By doing it that way, I didn’t have to worry so much about making everything perfect. It allowed for the characters to settle in and for us all to find the groove of the show. And when we got around to shooting the first episode of the series, things ran very smoothly.

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Failure — no matter how much we fight it, it’s something we all experience in both our personal and professional lives time and time again. And while we can’t go about ignoring its existence, we can surely learn to extrapolate certain lessons from a failure.

huffington_postIt’s true; within those regions of disappointments and fiascos, there tends to be room for learning, small takeaways used to “recover” from the failed project. But how do we apply that happy-go-lucky idea into a firm, viable course of action as we’re busy biting our nails and searching out a new position in fear of possible termination?

To answer this, I spoke with legendary Project Management Professional (PMP) Dr. Harold Kerzner about his upcoming March 2014 read, Project Recovery: Case Studies and Techniques for Overcoming Project Failure. Inside the book, Dr. Kerzner details the various learning curves and practices used to define certain types of failure, as well as how to take those lessons with you to the next project success.

Kyle Dowling: In your new book you discuss customer satisfaction versus customer value. Can you describe for me the difference?

Dr. Harold Kerzner: Value is when a project adds significantly to the business. What’s happening in the industry today is that companies end up having all sorts of projects in their queue, but how many add value? That is why some project management offices now create a template that discusses both the business and value purpose before taking on a project.

Often-times, you can complete a project within time, cost and scope, but you’ve worked on the wrong project, one that adds nothing to your business. I’ve seen corporations that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on projects that have added no value whatsoever. Companies now want projects that will bring something to them.

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Growing up in Hollywood is never an easy feat. But if you’re actor/director Tim Matheson it’s been a pretty sweet ride with no end in sight. While other actors who began their careers as kids oftentimes find life kicking them in the ass, Matheson has successfully proved time and time again that his mark in show business—the business he loves so sincerely—is all about the long haul and the impression you make over time.

Running down the list of hits, classics, and industry mark-makers he’s found himself both acting in and directing would prove to be a lengthy one. Therefore, to sum it up, I decided to catch up with actor Tim Matheson about his career, the importance of longevity, and how Hollywood continues to challenge him each and every day, from “Animal House” to the more recent “Hart of Dixie.”

The Smoking Jacket: You’ve been in the industry for a very long time. What would you consider your first noticeable role?

Tim Matheson: I was very lucky early on. I think I landed on my feet in “The Virginian.” I think that may have been the beginning for me, a ground floor. The show was done over at Universal and I was there for four years and used that time to study a lot. I studied classical theater, Shakespeare, voice acting, etc. That was my attempt to recreate my drama education.

TSJ: I don’t want to say you were typecast, but up until “Animal House” you did play a lot of the straight man roles. What changed when that film came along?

TM: It was such a different role for me. I read that script and worked so hard on thinking how I could do that character. I started taking improv classes at the Groundlings here in Los Angeles to try and break out of the mold I was in.

“Animal House” was the first comedy I had ever done really. Initially, they didn’t want me; they thought I’d be better suited for one of the Omegas. Yet, just out of begging they let me audition for Eric Stratton and thankfully it all worked out.

TSJ: I’d say so. You’ve since gone on to becoming an accomplished actor in both drama and comedy. I don’t know if people realize how difficult that actually is. You can surely see the different skillsets that are needed for each one.

TM: Oh god, yes. Almost anything is drama, but comedy is a very serious skill that one needs to learn and practice. When I started directing comedy I learned a lot about the structure and the pacing of jokes and such. It’s something I had seen acting in comedy but for some reason when I started directing I really noticed it.

I worked with Ryan Reynolds on “Van Wilder;” he’s a classic example of someone who wants to reallystudy comedy to understand what makes things funny, and also, how to intertwine his own instincts in there. It’s amazing. I’ve found that the people who are successful at what they do…it’s no accident.

There’s a great special on HBO with Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Louis CK…

TSJ: “Talking Funny.” I love that special.

TM: Isn’t it brilliant?! Just hearing them discuss what makes things funny and the different types of comedy they perform. They’re real craftsmen. Not that drama is easy but there are styles and certain specifics in comedy. If it’s not funny, it’s not funny.


HUSTLER MAGAZINE: “Gonzo Erotica: Chuck Palahniuk’s Brutal Beauty”  

Interview by  KYLE DOWLING

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Before Tyler Durden fist-fought his way into movie immorality in Fight Club, there was Tylder Durden on paper, wrong from the unlikely pen of Chuck Palahniuk. The writer didn’t begin his attack on the blank page until his 30s, but has since authored some of the most bizarre, beautiful and talked-about novels of our time.

In more than a dozen bestselling books, Palahniuk has diagrammed a darkly comic world of flawed outcasts and twisted social ills. His newest novel, Beautiful You, grapples with a subject particularly close to our hearts…

Simply put, the daily trek from New Jersey to New York City blows… no matter what part of the Garden State you call home. As a weekday commuter you must be willing to give up your comfort, your sanity, and perhaps portions of your soul to travel across the Hudson into the city that never sleeps…or bathes…or shuts the hell up. But naturally, it’s worth it because we all love our “well-paying, self-fulfilling” jobs. Right?

Having said that, the venture over the river does offer certain perks, especially for a writer looking for some inspiration and an audience. You see, having recently received the gracious blessing of a day job, I now travel to New York City daily from my home in Montclair, and along my path I’ve found material that could fill a Tolstoy-sized novel, one littered with characters whom some might call … let’s say “interesting,” to spare some feelings.

So, because these people, these occurrences, are too good to keep to myself, it is my pleasure (and duty as a storyteller) to share them with you all here…

The Call That Saved My Day”

The day was rather dismal. I was in a new job I found uncomfortable, on a commute I found uncomfortable, sitting too close to people I for some reason found uncomfortable to be around; however, the unfortunate truth was that I needed the money. Funny enough, even that seemed to be missing amid the “impressive salary and benefits package” offered by my company. Regardless, it was the end of the day so I was looking upward and forward to a night of writing, playing guitar, and dinner with my lady.

Read the full piece at The Huffington Post


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