Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Cast Interviews

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Cast Interviews

TMNT2The latest and highly anticipated Paramount film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will hit theaters everywhere this week and superfans can’t wait for this new installment from this pop-culture franchise. Traditional media and bloggers along with their families were invited to a private screening of the film last weekend and had the pleasure of attending a press junket to interview the cast the next day at the Ritz Carlton here in NYC which undoubtedly was pretty dang cool to attend as a long time fan of the cartoons and movies myself.

The participating cast members were such a down to earth group of guys {Meagan Fox was under the weather} to spend the morning with . Right from the beginning, session 1 of the conference started off with laughs and the jokes continued to flow throughout the entire morning. Can you imagine what days on set must have been like for these guys?
Moderated by Erik Davis, Editor at Fandago.com & Movies.com, he jokingly called himself the 5th Ninja turtle before starting off with actor Will Arnett  who was the only returning cast member from the 1st movie in attendance.

Canadian actor, Arnett has a really sarcastic, yet really funny sense of humor, and it was hysterical listening to him as he joked about his friend, actor Jason Sudakeis being not so smart, He called Arnett up during a real, live Knicks game that was a part of the film and believed Arnett was losing his mind. He was confused by Arnett’s repetitive, awkward movements (in the scene he’s being shot in the face multiple times with a pea shooter by Michelangelo) during an interview on the court, not realizing that in fact he was just acting in the pro- new york city sequel of TMNT.

When asked what was important to him in terms of the evolution of his character, Vern he responded “ I think it was important overall for everybody that we kind of knew what we’d done right in the first movie and what we’d done wrong, and we wanted to kind of capitalize on the things we did right, we wanted to have more fun and kind of tell a story that really resonated and made sense within the, you know, the sort of the canon of the Turtles. For me, personally, for Vern, it was kind of fun to be able to come back and do something a little bit different. He’s kind of on this path that you think is kind of shady but ultimately has a sort of a little bit of redemption, so that was good, had a little bit of something to do. But overall it was important to kind of make a bigger, more fun exciting Turtles.

Just like his character the villainous Shredder, Brian Tee was pretty quiet and he seemed like a pretty laid back type of guy, almost sinister like. When asked “What did you want to bring that’s new that we didn’t see in the first film in terms of Shredder?” Brian said “ I wanted to bring a groundedness, I guess a humanness to Shredder ‘cause I think over the years even in the movies in the ‘90s you never really saw a face, there was just this mask and this kind of presence, and to bring that, along with this groundedness and this human form is really what I wanted to do, you know? He’s got to be kind of the baddest of badasses……”

Having a son, Tyler Perry wanted to be in a movie that his child would enjoy and jumped at the opportunity to play mad scientist Baxter Stockman, an ally of Shredder. Growing up as the underdog he could relate to the character. When complimented on the characters awesome laugh, Perry Explained “That just happened one day on set and I was sitting there flirting with Megan’s character, with April, and that laugh showed up and everybody’s like, keep the laugh, keep the laugh, so ‘cause I thought it was hysterical that this guy thinks he has a chance with somebody like Megan, you know?”

Stephen Amell is probably most  well known for his television role as Arrow and enjoyed his first major movie role as vigilante and bad ass Casey Jones. Amell was asked, as far as a TV versus film, doing all this action stuff, what was the biggest differences for him? To which he explained  “They let me do whatever I wanted on Turtles, and I didn’t know that they would. I ended up doing every single stunt in the entire movie. My first fight with the Foot Clan went so well that the director and the producers got together and they were just like Mel’s last fight with Bebop and Rocksteady needs to be bigger, and so they brought in a second unit director and an entire unit and we were out there at Pier 92 for five days just going wall to wall the entire time. And that sequence and that week of filming is probably the thing that I’m most proud of in my entire career. So it was really – I felt really grateful that they allowed me to do the physical side of Casey Jones. Very cool.

You’d think he’d be thrilled at the idea of being able to keep the infamous Casey Jones hockey mask but in actuality Amell told us “I don’t want to keep the mask. It doesn’t fit. You think that in the midst of this gigantic film we would have taken a mold of my face but nope. And I wore it for two straight nights and it pushed on this part of my face and I would complain and Megan would tell me that I was a sissy so I would stop complaining. By the way, that’s not the word she used. And then the next day we were filming in an alley, same alley in New York City, and I got a sinus infection and almost begged off work for the first time in my life. So if I get to don the mask again, we’re gonna get that sucker fitted.

Once Gary Anthony Williams {BeBop} and Stephen Farrelly {RockSteady} entered the room you could tell they had great chemistry and seemed to be the life of the party & we were ready for an entertaining series of questions and answers. Gary, who admitted to probably being too old to have been watching the Turtles, was a true fan of the 80’s cartoon and was absolutely hysterical from the very initial moment the cast walked into the room. The casting of these two guys  made for a perfect duo and they admitted to sitting around in a local cafe studying the behaviors and movements of various animals to get into character as a mutated larger than life Rhino and Warthog who were brought to the big screen in a live action film for the very first time. I bet we could chalk their great chemistry up to them doing voiceover work in the booth together.

When Farrelly was asked how did he manage to juggle his WWE schedule as Superstar Sheamus, he first jokingly mentioned fighting off the urges to brokicking  a turtle and described his hectic travel schedule of driving out for live shows, handling press, hopping on a plane at 4am to be on set at 7am for filming as something he was concerned with but “It was just so much fun working with all these guys that, you know, no matter how tired you were, as soon as you hit the set the energy was up and it was time to play.”

Farrelly was asked how’d he manage to juggle his WWE schedule as Superstar Sheamus, he first jokingly mentioned fighting off the urges to brokick a turtle and described his hectic travel schedule of driving out for live shows, handling press, hopping on a plane at 4am to be on set at 7am for filming as something he was concerned with but “It was just so much fun working with all these guys that, you know, no matter how tired you were, as soon as you hit the set the energy was up and it was time to play.”

When in contact with the mysterious purples ooze it helped release the dominant animal that we are each believed to have inside and each cast member gave us their spirit animal before the interview wrapped. Stephen Farrelly and Gary Anthony Williams fought over the fastest animal in the world, the Peregrine falcon. Not wanting to sound like the macho man by answering with a “Lion”, Steven Amell went with a giraffe, Tyler Perry, The lion (lol) Brian Tee, a killer whale. Of course Will Arnett would give the best answer of them all with a black lab. Why not be a domesticated animal who has somewhere to leave, given food everyday and is surrounded by people who love him .

There was no shortage of laughs and it was great to get to experience the energy these actors all had together in one room.

Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael return to theaters this summer to battle bigger, badder villains, alongside April O’Neil (Megan Fox), Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), and a newcomer: the hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). After supervillain Shredder (Brian Tee) escapes custody, he joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and two dimwitted henchmen, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (WWE Superstar Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly), to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world. As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater evil with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.
David Green
Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Brian Tee, Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly, Gary Anthony Williams

LEGOLAND Florida Resort – Where Everything is Awesome

LEGOLAND Florida Resort – Where Everything is Awesome

legoland-Fl-gatesFor the better part of least the last 35 years my family has been venturing to the theme parks of Central Florida. As the father of two Lego-obsessed boys ages 3 and soon to be 7 who loved the Yonkers New York LEGOLAND Discovery Center we were excited to check out LEGOLAND Florida Resort for the first time for Dada Rocks.

lego-hotel-buildSandwiched between trips to Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios Florida we packed up the grandparents and our kids into our rental minivan and headed Southwest from Orlando to Winter Haven, Florida home to LEGOLAND Florida Resort, which was built beside the old Cypress Gardens Botanical Gardens site. After meeting friends with a 10 month-old daughter and super hero and Lego loving 4-year boy old we ventured into the park past the soon to open LEGOLAND Hotel Opening Summer 2015.

SAM_0378When you enter the park you are soon met with some cool Lego retail spaces one aptly named the BIG Store, a theater and some go to eating spots the highlighted by the cafeteria style Market Restaurant. From the park’s entrance you enter Fun Town which is highlighted by a double decker carousel fun for younger kids called The Grand Carousel. Once past the Grand Carousel you enter the newly opened Duplo Valley. The four year olds in our group particularly loved the DUPLO Tractor ride, the DUPLO Train and the DUPLO Tot Spot. This area of the park seemed especially fun if it was a warmer day. The day we visited was overcast and in the 70s with monsoon like rains forecasted for the afternoon, but we’ll get to that later.

SAM_0501From Duplo Valley we headed into the World of Chima. Amidst the World of Chima you’ll find an absolute can’t miss water ride called the Quest for CHI that allows you to fire water cannons from a moving boat and at sometimes unsuspecting patrons walking by the ride. This ride is especially a blast for Parents and kids looking for an excuse to shoot their kids or parents with a water cannon. My Friend Mark and I both in our latter 30s particularly had a blast spraying water at my almost 70 year old dad and kids with Mark’s four year old son Alex. Had it been a warmer day I personally could have spent hours on this ride. For parents this is also a great source of fun payback should your kids misbehave on the ride down to Orlando.

SAM_0502From this “area of parental awesome” you enter a medieval section of the park called Lego Kingdoms that features some very fun rides for kids including the Royal Joust ride that simulates riding a horse in a joust. The cute factor on this ride is out of control and a must photograph moment. Lego Kingdoms also features the first of four roller coasters called the Dragon ideal for older kids and adults.

From Lego Kingdoms you enter the Land of Adventure where you encounter a very, very cool looking dinosaur themed wooden roller coaster called Coastersaurus. However just as we were pondering a ride on The Dragon or Coastersaurus the heavens opened up and we chose lunch instead.

For lunch we doubled back to the cafeteria-like Marketplace Restaurant. We found the food in the park to be relatively healthy and reasonably priced, featuring some different food options like Asian stir fry, roasted chicken and build your own milkshake bar. Marketplace was also a great place to ride out the rain because it featured a play area where the kids played Legos as the adults enjoyed dessert and a coffee.

SAM_0556Freshly refreshed and caffeinated we ventured out into the monsoon like conditions into Miniland, which is the absolute can’t miss part of the park. In Miniland you and your family you can check out Lego Star Wars worlds and figures, and an interactive Kennedy Space Center, Daytona Speedway, the Las Vegas Strip, Manhattan skyline, Washington DC, South Beach, San Francisco Bay Area, Hollywood and more, all made out of Legos. The artistry and imagination in this part of the park is on par or better than with just about anything else you’ll see in a theme park in Central Florida.

SAM_0545From Miniland you enter our favorite part of the park: Lego City. In Lego City you can take in theme park shows like the NFPA Big Test live show, the very cool Boating School boat ride, and the junior and regular Ford Driving School which allows younger kids the experience of driving a small car and allows older kids to get a kids drivers license equipped with a photo. The Ford Driving School turned out to be my 7 year old son’s favorite part of our 10 day Florida vacation.

Also in Lego City you can check out a very cool family friendly NFPA Rescue Academy fire truck ride where two family members pump a lever first to move the fire truck and then to pump water while the kids get to work a hose and put a fire out. This ride gives even the most physically fit parents a work out and it is highly competitive even in a driving rainstorm.

SAM_0564From Lego City the natural progression of the park takes you to either two more roller coasters: Project X and Flying School, two cool looking water rides, the old Cypress Gardens Botanical Gardens or a Pirate Cove themed water skiing show that looks straight out of Jaws 3. However due to the monsoon like conditions we chose about an hour’s worth of indoor Imagination Zone time where we created and raced our own Lego race car and built an earthquake proof Lego building. In particular the Imagination Zone employees were especially happy and helpful and the Imagination Zone is very similar to some of the experiences our kids loved about the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Yonkers, New York.

SAM_0499Some other tips and highlights for parents:

  • Our friend was nursing and she noted that the nursing facilities were on par or better than some of the larger parks.
  • Parking is plentiful and easily accessible without a tram, boat ride or navigating a parking garage.
  • For the trip from Orlando to Winter Haven we’d recommend playing the Lego Movie for your kids. The trip from Orlando typically allows for you to watch half the movie going to the park and half the ride going home.
  • While I’d say LEGOLAND is a can’t miss for families with kids from 4 to 12, I was surprised at all the park had to offer for teenagers and adults.
  • Since LEGOLAND isn’t in Orlando the crowds tended to be smaller and the wait times less. This was a welcomed departure from Magic Kingdom and Universal where I spent most of the day monitoring our fast pass, checking wait times and looking at apps versus spending time with the family.

SAM_0356In conclusion, “Everything is Awesome” about LEGOLAND Resort Florida except the monsoon like rain we encountered and my family and I would strongly recommend making the trip down to Winter Haven, especially on a day where you could check out the Water Park or the new hotel. I would also go as far as to say it’s an absolute can’t miss if you have a Lego obsessed child under the age of 12. For my 4 and almost seven-year old boys it had more to offer than Universal and was on the same excitement as Magic Kingdom.

Dads Need to Know: The Link Between the Bedroom and Obesity

Dads Need to Know: The Link Between the Bedroom and Obesity

Photo by Brandon Atkinsonby Alan Greene, MD

New information has recently been uncovered about an important link between the bedroom and obesity. Okay. I know what you’re thinking. But it’s not that link.

It’s the link between kids’ sleep quality and obesity. The link is more profound and more specific than many people expected. This information is so important because more than 1 in 3 children today end up overweight even as kids.[i]

Sleep in kids has been decreasing since 1905, about the time electric light bulbs were popularized.[ii] Some research suggests that sleep has been decreasing rapidly since the 1980s, during the same period when the childhood obesity epidemic took off.[iii]

More than a dozen studies have shown that the worse kids sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese. But which comes first? Is it that overweight kids sleep worse, that kids who sleep worse become overweight, or that something else is causing both (TV viewing, for instance)?

This new study looked at typical 6-month-old babies and followed them until they were 7 years old to see which ones became obese – checking their sleep all along the way.

Here’s what they found:

Kids with worse sleep as babies and young children were 2.62 times more likely to later become obese. They were also more likely to have bigger waist size and more belly fat. These relationships held up even after adjusting for a number of possible other factors such as television viewing, socioeconomic situations, and Mom’s BMI.[iv]

How might poor sleep lead to significant weight gain? The authors point to mounting evidence that a disrupted circadian rhythm can both directly lead to weight gain by changing our hormone levels and metabolism and indirectly lead to weight gain by changing our hunger, fullness, and decision making.

When it comes to raising kids with a healthy weight during this era of childhood obesity, it’s time to move beyond thinking just about the kitchen to include thinking about the bedroom.


[i] Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association [0098-7484], Ogden yr:2014 vol:311 iss:8 pg:806 -814
[ii In search of lost sleep: secular trends in the sleep time of school-aged children and adolescents. Sleep Medicine Reviews [1087-0792], Matricciani yr:2012 vol:16 iss:3 pg:203 -211
[iii] Trends in the duration of school-day sleep among 10- to 15-year-old South Australians between 1985 and 2004 Acta Paediatrica, J. Dollman, K. Ridley, T. Olds, E. Lowe 96 (7) (2007), pp. 1011–1014
[iv] Chronic sleep curtailment and adiposity. Pediatrics, Taveras EM1, Gillman MW2, Peña MM3, Redline S4, Rifas-Shiman SL5.2014 Jun;133(6):1013-22. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3065.