Tony Verna, Inventor Of Instant Replay, Has Died Once At 81

Tony Verna, left, with RECOiL writer/co-director Brian DiMaio.  RECOiL was the only movie Verna would direct.  He decided to have his name removed from the credits because he graciously wanted, as he put it, "nothing to do with it."

Tony Verna, left, with RECOiL writer/co-director Brian DiMaio. RECOiL was the only movie Verna would direct. He decided to have his name removed from the credits because he graciously wanted, as he put it, “nothing to do with it.”

Palm Desert, CA—Longtime television director Tony Verna, who devised a way to cue back live television and gave us instant replay, died last Sunday at his home from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was 81.

Struggling for something to show between plays during the football games he directed, Verna came up with a way to solve the act of blindingly looking for the part of the video tape, still only being used sparingly in TV, that he was looking for. He realized he could send audio beeps to an unused audio track on the tape as it recorded live action, and then be able to find the moment that a play on the tape was about to start.

He would go on to direct or produce five Super Bowls, an Olympics and LiveAid as well as co-direct what he said was actually his greatest achievement, “RECOiL.”

He earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the all those snobs at the Directors Guild of America in 1995.

Verna is survived by Carol, his wife of 45 years; daughters Tracy and Jenny; a son, Eric and three grandchildren.

“Nothing New Ever Gets Discovered From Being Safe:” A TDQ Q&A With Actor Charles Rahi Chun

Charles Rahi Chun

Charles Rahi Chun with James Franco and Seth Rogan promoting The Interview.

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with actor Charles Rahi Chun. Charles spoke with us about his role in and his thoughts on the controversy surrounding the movie “The Interview,” the differences in working on TV shows and movies and where he sees his career heading. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with actor Charles Rahi Chun: 

The Daily Quarterly: Who was your favorite actor growing up?

Charles Rahi Chun: John Travolta had a monopoly of cool TV and film roles when I was coming of age. “Saturday Night Fever” was one of the first films I saw in the theaters and he followed that up as Danny Zucko in “Grease,” who was the epitome of cool to a kid. All this after being “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” and Vinnie Barbarino on TV. I also really dug Bill Bixby as “The Incredible Hulk” – the man had a deep well of emotion and a beautiful heart.

TDQ: What was your favorite movie growing up?

CRC: “Saturday Night Fever” was pretty cool, but my very first movie experience was “Bugsy Malone,” which was amazing to watch as a kid because the entire cast was children dressed up as adults. Later, as a teen-ager, I was really struck by the movie “Fame,” which also happened to be directed by Alan Parker.

TDQ: What made you want to be in show business?

CRC: I grew up watching a lot of television, so my heroes were TV characters. “The Six Million Dollar Man,” Starsky, Hutch, and Pa Ingalls from “Little House on the Prairie.” As I got older, I was fascinated with psychology and what drives us to do what we do as human beings, and the more I learned about acting, the more enthralled I became with the craft. When I got to Connecticut College and explored performing and choreography and using my body as a vessel for collaborative story-telling, all of these influences merged leading me to pursue acting professionally.

TDQ: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

CRC: It wasn’t really advice that anyone gave me, but I’m told that athletes never think about winning or losing while in a game. They only focus on the next shot or hit, staying very present in the moment, and I like to live my life that way. Because ultimately, that’s all there is.

TDQ: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?

CRC: “Be safe.” Nothing new ever gets discovered from being safe.

TDQ: Who are your influences?

CRC: Yogi Bhajan – the Mahan Tantric and Master of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, who I consider to be my teacher. Osho – the Indian mystic at whose ashram I’ve stayed several times in India and whose work continues to guide me to stay in the moment, be total in exploring all of life, and live a life of meditation. And my Dad, who had so much love in his heart and so much wisdom as a dynamic leader and beautiful Man.

TDQ: Surprisingly, we haven’t read any press whatsoever about this new film you’re in, “The Interview.” Nothing on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News or in any newspaper or magazine anywhere ha ha ha. What can you tell us about your role in the film?

Charles Rahi Chun as General Jong

Charles Rahi Chun playing General Jong in The Interview.

CRC: It was crazy Man… from the Sony hacking in November up to the final un-cancelled limited release on Christmas Day, every day involved some new twist in this story. I play General Jong, the right-hand general to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who becomes very wary of the American journalists and tries to protect Kim from the dangerous capitalist pigs who cannot be trusted. He’s an amalgamation of the hard-line generals kowtowing to the North Korean presidents.

TDQ: Do you think those crazy kids Rogen and Franco have a future in the business?

CRC: These are two of the most prolific and creative guys of their generation and they, along with Seth’s creative partner, Evan Goldberg, will be continuing to create edgy, out-of-the-box, storytelling and entertainment for a long time to come. They are really smart, and despite their personas and brand of humor, the successes they’ve enjoyed, both creatively and business-wise, speaks volumes to how creative they are and how well they know their audience.

TDQ: What was your initial reaction when North Korea made their threats about Sony releasing “The Interview”?

The Interview of Charles  Rahi Chun

In a lot of ways this interview is like the movie The Interview. At first the chance to talk to him was just a big score but then we got to know and love Charles before reluctantly [SPOILER ALERT] having to kill him so he didn’t launch all of his nuclear weapons.

CRC: There’s a pattern with North Korea and their threats. Essentially, every time North Korea needs food aid because their people are starving, or some sort of economic assistance, they engage in missile testing and saber-rattling to get the attention of South Korea or the U.S. to let up on economic sanctions. So when they made their initial threats, I just saw it as a spoiled child making empty noise again so he can play with his toys and get his way. Nothing more.

TDQ:  Besides feature films like “Beverly Hills Cop III” and “Dumb and Dumber,” you’ve also been in sitcoms like “SCRUBS” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”  What are the different challenges between working on feature films and TV shows?

CRC: In general, studio feature films have a much more expansive budget to tell their story, and thus much more time to tell it as well, but because it’s a bigger budget, there’s also a lot more on the line for more people, who often all want some sort of say in the decision-making. By contrast, TV shows, one-hour dramas especially, are moving at such a break-neck pace in order to get all of the shots in by the end of a 14-hour day, that there’s not as much time to explore your scenes. Now, sitcoms are a different animal, because they generally have a pretty relaxed schedule, at least for the actors, until the day of filming, which can be pretty long, but if the cast works well, can be loads of fun.

TDQ: If you had to choose between getting your own sitcom or a drama or only being a movie star, which would you pick?

CRC: Honestly, today some of the best story-telling can be found on TV dramas, so it’s not so much about the medium anymore. And I love the one-hour drama format and will love, absolutely love, to be part of an excellently written, high-quality, drama ensemble. I would go with where the best writing is. Having said that, if I end up having children, and there’s great writing on a sitcom, the comparative light hours and fun schedule would be pretty hard to beat. But all things being equal, I would love to be a movie star and work in feature films. Kind of sounds like I want it all, doesn’t it?

TDQ: Where do you see yourself in five years?

CRC: I see myself as a leading series regular on a kick-ass (meaning an amazingly written, produced and directed) revolutionary, one-hour drama, enjoying the experience of expanding creatively and professionally with a group of like-minded and spirited fellow creatives. And enjoying making feature films during our hiatus that also push the bounds of creative storytelling for a worldwide audience. All while I enjoy a deepening kundalini yoga and meditation practice, the joys of playing house in a loving family, and being of service to my beloved community.

Go and see Charles (in any number of outlets) in “The Interview” and follow him on Twitter. Continue reading

Manti Te’o Backs Up Kurt Busch’s Claim That His Ex-girlfriend Was A Trained Assassin

Kurt Busch with Patricia Driscoll

Te’o was unable to produce a photo of himself with his girlfriend Kurt Busch and Patricia Driscoll but we were able to find this photo of the two returning from a date.

San Diego—Count San Diego Charger player Manti Te’o as somebody who is on the side of NASCAR driver Kurt Busch shortly after Busch testified in court last Tuesday that his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, was a trained killer for the US government.

Te’o told reporters yesterday that he has gone on “numerous double dates with Kurt and his girl in the past, and she has mentioned on several occasions that she was a hired killer taking out bad guys for the CIA.”

Te’o said that he and his former girlfriend Lennay Kekua met Busch and Driscoll through mutual friends of Kekua, and he found her tales of international intrigue and espionage “quite exciting,” and he had “no reason whatsoever not to believe” Driscoll as she regaled Busch, Te’o and Driscoll over dinners, movies and walks on the beach.

Te’o said he was sad to see that Busch and Driscoll had parted ways, and thought that they had made a cute couple during the times he and Kekua would go on vacations and couples cruises with them.

“I remember staying up late talking with Lennay and we both said how perfect Kurt and Patty were for each other,” Te’o said. “I can only shake my head.”

But in the end, Te’o said he found a way to be philosophical about the fragile nature of love. It’s a subject he knows a little about, after all.

“It’s sad,” Te’o said. “You hate to see any relationship end, especially when a couples’ careers get in the way. But I guess when you have one partner who risks their life driving around a circle at 260 miles an hour, and another partner who flies off all over the world at a moment’s notice snuffing out political targets, it just puts too much of a strain on the couple.” Continue reading

Insurance Company To Policyholder: “Do As We Say, Not As We Do”

Assurance America

Assurance America: Do as we say. Not as we do.

Karlsfield, VT—When Mickey Morse was rear ended by another driver at a stop sign last month, he never envisioned that his own insurance company would give him such grief for not wearing a seatbelt, when the people in their own advertising are driving the down the road sans the lifesaving emergency device.

“They tried to tell me that my chiropractor bills wouldn’t be covered at the full rate I was being charged because the police report indicated that I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt,” Morse said. “And I says to them, ‘Why should I have to wear a seatbelt when you people advertise the joys and carefree feeling of not wearing it?'”

Morse was referring to the photo on the website for Assurance America, the insurance company he’s had car insurance coverage with since 2013. It shows shows a white, upper middle-class couple driving down the road in a convertible with the top down, with the woman obviously basking in the freedom one can only get when riding without a seatbelt.

“I mean, clearly they’re telling me and every other one of their policyholders that they’re just fine with not wearing a seatbelt,” Morse said. “But then when you get into an accident and you’re not wearing one, they pull s*** like this.” Continue reading

Actor And Comedian Taylor Negron Dies At 57

Taylor Negron

Taylor Negron, center, met RECOiL writer/director Brian DiMaio, left, on the set of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” DiMaio was so impressed with his take on the role of “Pizza Man” DiMaio had Negro reprise his role in a deleted scene of RECOiL.

Actor, writer and comedian Taylor Negron died Saturday surrounded by his family after a long battle with cancer. He was 57.

Negron made scene-stealing appearances in movies like “Better off Dead,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “RECOiL” and “The Last Boy Scout.”

On television, Negron appeared in such programs as “Wizards of Waverly Place,” “Seinfeld,” “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

He had comedy essays published in the anthologies “Dirty Laundry” and “Love West Hollywood, Reflections of Los Angeles.” He also wrote the critically-acclaimed plays “Gangster Planet” and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being Taylor Negron – A Fusion of Story and Song.”