Disney launches ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind’ at EPCOT

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind / EPCOT - Walt Disney World Resort (Kent Phillips)

It’s save the galaxy time with Starlord and company! Only this time you’ll have to do it in central Florida. This weekend, Disney Parks debuts its 'Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind' attraction at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT -- based on the Guardians of the Galaxy films. It’s one of the longest enclosed roller coasters in the world and took almost six years to complete.

“We start you off feeling like you’re on a very conventional, roller coaster-type experience,” says Disney imagineer Tom Fitzgerald, telling ABC Audio it’s a far cry from the typical theme park ride, launching backward and catapulting riders into a 360-degree spin. “Without you even realizing it, we very subtly turn all the vehicles around and suddenly, if you’re in the first car, you’re in the back car!”
 
There’s also that trademark Disney storytelling attached as you board the ride. “Our hook is Peter Quill [Starlord] came to EPCOT when he was a kid, back in the '80s,” says Zach Riddley, lead creative executive for EPCOT. “The Xandarians say, 'Hey, we want to bring a message of our culture, technology to Earth. What’s the one place?' And they went to Starlord and he said, 'EPCOT.'”
 
And it wouldn’t be Guardians without a killer soundtrack. Six songs are showcased on Cosmic Rewind, including Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September.” Choosing the playlist was no small feat, imagineer Spencer Lynn tells ABC Audio. But a fun one nonetheless. “We tested over 100 songs -- we would watch the cast members operating the attraction and if they were dancing, we were like, 'Let’s keep that one, it’s probably going to be good in the long run!'”
 
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens May 27 at EPCOT. Disney is the parent company of Disney Parks and ABC News. 

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized

Amazon’s ‘Night Sky’ is sci-fi flick with a twist

Amazon Studios

What exactly is in that shed? The new sci-fi series Night Sky is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

Academy Award winners J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek play an aging couple with their fair share of life stories and secrets, including a portal in their backyard shed that seemingly leads to another part of the universe. Simmons tells ABC Audio there is a very human story here underneath the show’s fantastic premise.

"I didn’t even know when I started reading the script that we were going to go off into sci-fi land. I just started reading from page one in complete ignorance and I fell in love with the characters," he recalls. "And then as our...universe in the show sort of expands it was just one pleasant, sort of jaw-dropping moment after another."

So what drew the Spider-Man: No Way Home star to the script? Simmons says it was a couple of things.

"Sissy was already attached when they sent me the script that had me very interested right up front. And then really it was Holden Miller’s script and the insight that he has into a couple of 70-somethings and as we learn in future episodes -- you know insights that he has into a lot of things," he explains.

Night Sky also tackles some pretty big life topics, too, such as aging and our purpose in the world. Spacek told ABC Audio she’s not sure if we’re meant to get all the answers to this life’s burning mysteries.

"I don’t think so, I think this life is a bit of an experiment," she shares. "A process. That when by the time we get to the end of it hopefully, we’ll understand. But at this point I’m still kinda in the dark!"

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized

Amazon’s ‘Night Sky’ is sci-fi flick with a twist

Amazon Studios

What exactly is in that shed? The new sci-fi series Night Sky is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

Academy Award winners J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek play an aging couple with their fair share of life stories and secrets, including a portal in their backyard shed that seemingly leads to another part of the universe. Simmons tells ABC Audio there is a very human story here underneath the show’s fantastic premise.

"I didn’t even know when I started reading the script that we were going to go off into sci-fi land. I just started reading from page one in complete ignorance and I fell in love with the characters," he recalls. "And then as our...universe in the show sort of expands it was just one pleasant, sort of jaw-dropping moment after another."

So what drew the Spider-Man: No Way Home star to the script? Simmons says it was a couple of things.

"Sissy was already attached when they sent me the script that had me very interested right up front. And then really it was Holden Miller’s script and the insight that he has into a couple of 70-somethings and as we learn in future episodes -- you know insights that he has into a lot of things," he explains.

Night Sky also tackles some pretty big life topics, too, such as aging and our purpose in the world. Spacek told ABC Audio she’s not sure if we’re meant to get all the answers to this life’s burning mysteries.

"I don’t think so, I think this life is a bit of an experiment," she shares. "A process. That when by the time we get to the end of it hopefully, we’ll understand. But at this point I’m still kinda in the dark!"

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized

Boldly Going: The cast of ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ sounds off on ‘Trek’ legacy, pressure — and William Shatner

Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved./Marni Grossman/

Stardate: October 13th, 2021: Anson Mount is recording one of the most legendary monologues in pop culture: The opening to the original Star Trek series, famously voiced by William Shatner. The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds star, who plays Captain Kirk’s predecessor, Captain Christopher Pike, is having a moment.

“At one point, I said 'Guys…we’re going to remember this moment for the rest of our lives,'" he tells ABC Audio. That’s when the date, and the Blue Origin launch come into the picture. “And I realized of course…William Shatner is in orbit right now! I was like, oh man. Don’t ever try to outdo Shatner!”

Talk about living up to expectations. The Paramount+ show, set a decade before Captain Kirk takes command of the Starship Enterprise, is rich in Star Trek history and lore, showcasing new and classic characters like Mister Spock, played by Ethan Peck.

“I feel a huge amount of pressure to do this properly,” Peck tells ABC Audio, referring to the legacy of Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock for almost 50 years. “Because it is such an iconic character not just in Star Trek, but I think in television history. It’s forced me to grow personally.”

Rebecca Romijn -- who stars as Pike’s Number One, Una Chin-Riley -- echoes the sentiment. “You feel that pressure, you want to make sure you’re not letting anybody down,” the X-Men star says, telling ABC Audio the Trek franchise is in good hands when it comes to this outing.

“We ask a lot of questions, we don’t want to get anything wrong," she says. "Pronunciation is always a big thing with our dialogue! But yeah, I would say I feel like a caretaker first and foremost.” 

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is now streaming on Paramount+.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized

Mind Games: Liam Neeson and Guy Pearce tackle a delicate topic in ‘Memory’

Briarcliff/Open Road

It’s an easy, almost reassuring pastime, watching Liam Neeson take out bad guys with relative ease in films like the Taken series, The Commuter and Blacklight. But now, he’s facing a different kind of enemy: dementia.

In Memory, directed by Casino Royale’s Martin Campbell, Neeson plays a veteran assassin struggling with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, causing him to second-guess his mission at every turn.

“There was quite a bit of research to do, some of it was very harrowing,” Neeson tells ABC Audio, saying prepping for the part included reading books and watching documentaries on the topic. “I wanted to get it right, and not over-act it and try and be subtle about it. I worked very closely with Martin Campbell on those aspects of the character.”

The 69-year-old actor adds Alzheimer's is a condition he’s all too familiar with. “I have a good friend from back home who is in the early stages of dementia," he shares. "It was worrying to see him and be in his presence. But also the actor part of me too was like grabbing onto things, and thinking I could use that, you know what I mean? And I’m ashamed to say that.”

Memory also co-stars Monica Bellucci, and Guy Pearce as an FBI agent with a dodgy past tracking Neeson’s every move. Pearce tells ABC Audio the two characters have a lot of fixing to do in terms of their moral compasses.

“I think that there’s probably a reaching out, a bit of a desperation by both of these men to connect and be more humane," he says. "Martin Campbell, our director, was very keen to uphold...the emotional story in this and not just have be a sort of psychological thriller or an action film."

Memory is now playing exclusively in theaters.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized

Debra Messing and Enrico Colantoni light up the stage in ‘Birthday Candles’

John Lamparski/Getty Images

Two years and one pandemic later, Birthday Candles, starring Debra Messing, finally makes its Broadway debut -- and if it’s good old-fashioned life perspective you’re searching for, bring all the issues and some tissues, too.

Written by Noah Haidle, the production is a time-trip: Spanning 90 years in one woman’s life…and the highs and sometimes crushing lows that go along with the journey.

“It’s the most challenging thing I have ever been a part of bar-none,” the Will & Grace star tells ABC Audio. “Not ever leaving the stage, aging 90 years and having to gently transform throughout the play.”

From carefree teenager to midlife and the inevitable senior years, Messing’s character, Ernestine, marks her passage of time by celebrating a birthday every year -- no matter what the circumstances are. And with every birthday come the inevitable questions.

“'Have I wasted my life?' That is a question we ask ourselves at every stage of life," Messing says. "That’s our greatest fear.”

Messing says the collective experience of the last few years makes the production “more relevant and more prescient” than ever. “It’s about connection," she says. "We lost connection during the pandemic and connection is the thing that is most fragile in a family dynamic.”

Her co-star, Enrico Colantoni, echoes the sentiment. “My favorite line in the play is 'notice what we have left.' I don’t think that would have affected me the way it did if not for COVID," he tells ABC Audio. “Little things are important now. Time spent with your family. I think that’s why it resonates with so many people now having gone through the two years. Everyone’s life is beautiful.”

Birthday Candles is now playing through May 29 at The American Airlines Theater.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized

Challenges of faith: Mark Wahlberg and Jacki Weaver on bringing ‘Father Stu’ to life

© 2022 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved./Karen Ballard

It’s not anything new to see Mark Wahlberg take on true-life roles -- Joe Bell, Deepwater Horizon, Patriot’s Day, and Lone Survivor among them -- but Father Stu is a different kind of project for the 50-year-old actor/producer.

“I really think the film chose me,” Wahlberg tells ABC Audio.

The biopic tells the story of Stuart Long, a burned-out boxer who becomes a priest after a string of bad decisions and events force him to realize he’s on a different life path. For Wahlberg, the movie reflects a true turning point in his life and career.

“As I’ve been getting older, I’ve been working on me," he says. "I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate. So what I was thinking, how do I do more? How do I move the needle and make change?”

Being a devout Catholic, one would assume this film would be a no-brainer for Wahlberg -- but initially, he took some convincing to bring Father Stu to the big screen. “The first time I heard it, I kind of blew it off, and then the second time it was like 'well wait a second' -- it’s come to me," he says. "It really is a miracle how it turned out. I’m so inspired to continue to do Stu’s work.”

Father Stu also stars Mel Gibson and Oscar-nominated actress Jacki Weaver as Stu’s parents, who watch their son struggle with the effects of a terminal illness. Weaver tells ABC Audio Father Stu pulls no punches when it comes to its message about faith and redemption.

“It’s the difficult and the sad things in life that test your mettle, and test your emotional strength, sometimes in tragic ways," Weaver says. "But, that’s what makes you stronger ultimately, I think." 

Father Stu is now playing exclusively in theaters.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ star Sonequa Martin-Green talks the future of the show and that “profound” finale

Marni Grossman/Paramount+

It’s a wrap for Star Trek: Discovery. Sonequa Martin-Green has just finished her latest voyage as Captain Michael Burnham in Season 4…and she still hasn’t come back to Earth.

“It was quite profound,” she tells ABC Audio of the season ender's surprise Stacey Abrams cameo. “She was utterly wonderful! You have this civil hero right in front of you. This legend in-the-making right in front of you."

As it turns out, Abrams was no stranger to being in front of the camera, Martin-Green says: “And also completely talented! Because it turns out she’s acted some, and she did a fantastic job as the President of United Earth.”

While promoting her new partnership with Crest, to raise awareness for good oral hygiene for kids, Martin-Green says things are going full-speed ahead for the cast and crew of Discovery. 

“We officially have gotten into our groove. I love where we end in Season 4,” she says.

And she’s happy for the setup going into Season 5. “With peace being restored, and The Federation really building exactly, and strengthening and everything. And I think that we are going to have some time where we can kind of coast there. And I applaud the writers for that. For the art imitating life in that way right? Because that big conflict in Season 4 is very much a representation of the pandemic.”

Episodes of Star Trek: Discovery are available now on Paramount+.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Kiefer Sutherland talks pandemic foreshadowing in new thriller ‘The Contractor’

MOTION PICTURE ARTWORK © 2022 STX FINANCING, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Kiefer Sutherland commands a Black Ops team in the new film The Contractor, which features Chris Pine and Ben Foster as members of his covert ranks.

Their assignment takes Pine's Sergeant James Harper deep undercover on a mission involving a potentially lethal virus...an all-too familiar scenario, even though it was filmed pre-pandemic.

"The signs were coming," Sutherland tells ABC Audio. "We had been warned about a virus for the last 15 years. I think it's very sad when writers using their imagination, taking current events and kind of going, 'Well, this is the worst circumstance/scenario that could possibly happen so I'll write it in that direction,' and then having it come true."

The movie also shines a light on conditions facing soldiers returning home from battle. Pine's character is damaged, suffering both the physical and mental traumas of war.

"Regardless of how strong these people are, how well trained they are, they become emotionally, incredibly vulnerable," Sutherland says, adding that more work needs to be done to help veterans.

"This has been an ongoing discussion since World War I," Sutherland adds. "As a society, we need to do more for our veterans to deal with PTSD and all of the shell shock, all of the different kind of nomenclatures that we have for...these issues. We need to try and do better."

The Contractor is in theaters and on-demand now.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized

Kiefer Sutherland talks pandemic foreshadowing in new thriller ‘The Contractor’

MOTION PICTURE ARTWORK © 2022 STX FINANCING, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Kiefer Sutherland commands a Black Ops team in the new film The Contractor, which features Chris Pine and Ben Foster as members of his covert ranks.

Their assignment takes Pine's Sergeant James Harper deep undercover on a mission involving a potentially lethal virus...an all-too familiar scenario, even though it was filmed pre-pandemic.

"The signs were coming," Sutherland tells ABC Audio. "We had been warned about a virus for the last 15 years. I think it's very sad when writers using their imagination, taking current events and kind of going, 'Well, this is the worst circumstance/scenario that could possibly happen so I'll write it in that direction,' and then having it come true."

The movie also shines a light on conditions facing soldiers returning home from battle. Pine's character is damaged, suffering both the physical and mental traumas of war.

"Regardless of how strong these people are, how well trained they are, they become emotionally, incredibly vulnerable," Sutherland says, adding that more work needs to be done to help veterans.

"This has been an ongoing discussion since World War I," Sutherland adds. "As a society, we need to do more for our veterans to deal with PTSD and all of the shell shock, all of the different kind of nomenclatures that we have for...these issues. We need to try and do better."

The Contractor is in theaters and on-demand now.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized