by Betty Dravis
Well, here I am again! My final chance this go-round to tell you about my books. I’ve already written about The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley and 1106 Grand Boulevard, so that leaves the two books in the Dream Reachers series and Millennium Babe: The Prophecy. Since I can’t cover all three in-depth in one post, today I’ll share about Dream Reachers, leaving my Babe for another day. And if you can resist moving to the bottom of this story prematurely, I might have a surprise ending for you. 🙂
The first question most people ask me when discussing the Dream Reachers books is: How did you and your co-author Chase Von decide to publish the Dream Reachers series?
Like most good things, the idea occurred in a natural way. As most of you know, Chase is a poet and a celebrity interviewer. My author friend Chrissy K. McVay told him about me and when he asked to interview me for his blog on Student Operated Press (SOP), I was honored. After reading about the struggles overcome by his other very successful interviewees–Jenny McShane, MT Robison, Darcy Donavan, Kitty Kavey and Jason Seitz to name a few–I suggested that his interviews with those talented entertainers, authors and other artists would make an inspiring book. He thought about it and told me he would do it if I went in it with him. He wanted my stories of Clint Eastwood and five other legendary icons to be in the book. One thing led to another and Dream Reachers (Vol. One) was born.
Remember, in the first DR book, I interviewed no new subjects; simply used the fantastic subjects I had interviewed during my journalism career: Actor/Director/Producer Clint Eastwood, mentioned above; U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy; Actors Jane Russell, Ann Sothern; Singer/Actor Tanya Tucker; and then-San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto. Well, needless to say, I caught the interviewing bug all over again and just had to interview more people, as did Chase. Dream Reachers II evolved naturally.
Creating both Dream Reachers books was hard work but fun, also, because during the course of interviewing enchanting people and editing the books, I met many of the featured subjects and formed some new, lasting relationships. Now, in addition to working on another book, I’m interviewing more up-and-coming entertainers myself. I publish them on this Dames of Dialogue blog, sharing my treasures with the four other Dames (authors Maggie Bishop, Christy Tillery French, Cyndi Hodges, aka Caitlyn Hunter, and Laurel Rain-Snow). Christy, being the site’s co-founder, appointed me as their official celebrity interviewer.
Our friends and fans enjoyed the first DREAM REACHERS book so much that we had to do DREAM REACHERS II… Since we were meeting all kinds of fabulous people–like Katherin Kovin Pacino, lovely actress and step-mom of Al Pacino, Hollie “Hot Stuff” Dunaway, four-time World Champion Female Boxer and many more–we knew you’d be interested in learning how they surmounted all the obstacles in their paths to fulfill their dreams.
The complete roster of DREAM REACHERS (a club founded by Jessica Gilbert, founder of the popular Talent Spotlight Magazine) now totals 70; 37 from book one and 33 from book two. For your information, here’s the list of amazing people who brighten the pages of DREAM REACHERS II (in order of appearance):
Jenny McShane, actress, model, musician; Bryant McGill, counselor to the stars, radio show host, author, founder of Good Will Peace Treaty; Katherin Kovin Pacino, actress, singer (step-mother of Al Pacino); Tony Tarantino, actor, film director, producer (father of Quentin Tarantino); Antonia Tosini; screenwriter, author, Italy’s Goodwill Ambassador; Frank Nappi, award-winning author (two books going into film); Susan Kennington, actress, screenwriter, model; C. Robert Lee, retired photojournalist, author; Cheryl Kaye Tardif, best-selling Canadian author, Imajin Books publisher/owner; Marissa Autumn, actress, model, singer; Stan C. Countz, publisher, promoter, poet, musician and lyricist; Jessica Gilbert, talent promoter and founder of Talent Spotlight Magazine; Sherwin Buydens, actor, realty investment entrepreneur; Dr. Linda Salvin, psychic, radio show host; John Manha, Vietnam vet, entrepreneur; K. Michael Crawford, award-winning children’s author, illustrator; Rob Waterlander, “People Whisperer,” LIfe Coach; Jackie Krudop, founder of Pacino Worldwide; Joshua “Deous” Gennari, Washington State Movie Director/Producer; Hollie “Hot Stuff” Dunaway, four-times World Champion Female Boxer; Ed Roberts, poet, author; Elham “Elie” Madani, model, actress; Gretchen Hirsch, author, professional editor; Alexa Dectis, singer, actress, TV show host; Claire Dodin, actress, model from France; Jamie McCall, actress, model, author, poet; Yolanda “Yo” Jackson, AKA Poetic Flow, poet, author; Diane Wayne, singer/songwriter, actress, poet and founder of children’s charity, “A Music Mission”; Nicollette Varanelli, model, singer, songwriter; Wodige Wehali, AKA Reggie Solomon, musician, singer, songwriter; Joan Baker, “Queen of Voiceover” and actress; Judyth Piazza, journalist, Student Operated Press founder and radio talk-show host; Ada “Ace” Velez, six-times World Champion Female Boxer.
As you can see, Dream Reachers II has a vast variety of high achievers; some are already stars, while others are people like you and me…still reaching for that top rung. They all have two things in common: God-given talent and perseverance!
To put it in gorgeous Susan Kennington’s words: “True DREAM REACHERS aren’t just DREAMERS, we are also DOERS!”
Now for a sample of what’s in store for you, here is a portion of the first interview in Dream Reachers II…the lovely, talented actress Jenny McShane:
Interview with Jenny McShane
LOVELY ACTRESS SINGS LIKE AN ANGEL
Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Jenny. Christy Tillery French, co-founder of this select band of female authors, appointed me as celebrity interviewer of the group. As you know, the Dames usually interview people in the publishing industry, but since I co-author a series of Dream Reachers books, they think it will add fascinating variety to interview people from the other arts. You are one of the most popular artists in Dream Reachers and were so helpful to me and Chase Von during its production that I wanted to interview you again for this edition.
Jenny, you have done so much in the entertainment industry, I’m sure our readers will enjoy you as much as your current fans do. I know from your section in Dream Reachers about your father’s job choice, but can you tell us a little about that and how you went from there to being such a successful actress?
Jenny McShane: I wanted to be an actress since the age of three when I tortured neighborhood kids by performing on a ledge in my basement with an empty paper-towel holder as my microphone. I asked my parents for a piano when I was in second grade. I had a deep desire to get whatever it was inside out, I think! Most people who know me say I like attention, but I think it is more than that––I like to see people happy. I think music and entertaining lets people momentarily escape whatever stress they may have. When I see people’s faces respond with a happy gaze, it makes me happy. Entertaining helps me to escape, as well, and gives me a deep inner peace.
Betty Dravis: You chose your career for an admirable reason, Jenny, but it looks like it chose you, too. I have to grin at the image of the “little girl you” in that basement. I bet you get a lot of mileage from being the “daughter of a pig farmer” too…and a lot more laughs, all good-natured and in the right spirit, I’m sure. Nobody can argue with success. I’ll get into some of your movies and your leading men later, but can you tell us about when you first started singing and playing guitar? I understand you formed your own band for a while, but that you recently joined an up-and-coming band with a very unusual name. Do you mind sharing about how you met “Harry the Dog” and where you’re currently performing?
Jenny McShane: I do, oddly enough, get a lot of mileage out of the Pig Farmer’s Daughter line. My mother gets so upset, especially when they included Pig Farmer’s Daughter in an interview The New York Times did on me. “Couldn’t you say Hog Farmer’s Daughter, Jen?” she asked. “It sounds so much nicer.”… I think the funniest thing that ever happened with the pig stories was meeting Smokey Hormel. Smokey was the son of the famous Hormel family, which is where I drove with my family to take our pigs when it was time for them to go to market. Smokey became a guitar player in Bruce Willis’s band. I started playing guitar and singing when I realized I could get out of some more work.
When we were growing up, my parents made a music room for us in the house. Mom and Dad loved to listen to me play the piano at night after chores. I honestly liked playing but knew it would also make them forget about extra things that might need to be done. My father is one of twenty-two children. His brothers and sisters and mother were all very musical and I was in heaven when I went to my grandma’s house and heard them all singing and playing various instruments together. It was so beautiful. My grandmother played the violin and was an expert tap dancer, so she was always the highlight of the show.
It was such a sense of achievement when I learned to play guitar and piano and could sit in with Dad’s family and keep up. I took piano lessons at the convent next to the Catholic school, from Marguerite McPartland, another Irish lass. The piano was great, as you can read music and it helps you learn other instruments easily. I can play accordion and guitar based on the basics of the piano lessons.
I did have my own band, called Little Rubie, for a little bit seven years ago. I put it together to keep myself busy when I wasn’t working in acting. In April of this year I joined a band called Harry the Dog and the Traveling Soul Circus. My boyfriend is from England and has a whole crew of English people in LA who really stick together like a posse. He is friends and a big fan of Harry Bridgen’s band. I accidentally ran into Harry at an English pub called Cat N Fiddle on Sunset. I overheard one of Harry’s friends saying they were looking for a female guitar player because a girl in the band was going on tour with Pink. When I heard Pink, that grabbed my attention! I am a big fan of Pink, so I asked if I could audition to be in the band and Harry agreed. I took Bruno Frasca, the expert guitar player in the band, to Chateau Marmont and proceeded to play the piano and the guitar for the guests that were there that night. The last song I played on the guitar was “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. All the other hotel guests joined in; even the actor Josh Hartnett enjoyed it and was singing along. Needless to say, I was invited to join the band. I am on guitar and back-up vocals for the group. I also helped the band write and record a very cool song titled “American Man.”
Betty Dravis: That’s a fun, interesting story, Jenny. Best of luck with the group! I haven’t had the good fortune to be in the LA area to see you perform, but I’ve seen YouTube videos and photos on various Hollywood websites. You certainly are a good singer, pick a mean guitar and your energy is endless. How do you keep in such fine shape? And please give us some links to your various websites.
Jenny McShane: I do have a lot of natural energy. I think it was growing up with all the manual labor. Now I have to work out at least five times a week just to feel like I am doing something. It makes my spirit positive to run, lift weights, ride a bike, etc. I think if you are an entertainer it is your responsibility to respect your fans and show them you have morals and drive. I love to watch Rocky as many times a year as I can; it inspires me. Drive and being in great shape is something I admire in any performer. Who likes to drive a dirty car? is how I look at it! I love that Clint Eastwood is in top shape to this day. Any of the performers I admire are always in great shape in person!
I have my own website which is www.jennymcshane.com but I need to get some updates on there! I also post my current gigs on my Facebook page.
Betty Dravis: I hear you loud and clear about updating your website, Jenny. That seems like an endless task, especially for someone who does as much as you. I’ve seen five of your movies: Furnace, which is your latest (with the very handsome Michael Pare); Shark Attack, in which you starred with Casper Van Dien; The Watcher, starring Keanu Reeves, where you played the lead female detective; Shark Attack 3, where you co-starred opposite John Barrowman; and Stag. I expected Stag to be an actual stag party, which is not to my taste, so was pleasantly surprised to see that it was about something tragic that happened at the beginning of a stag party, rather than going in-depth with a so-called “sex” movie. It has some nudity, but is more of a thriller, IMO. How many movies have you been in, Jenny? Dream Reachers went in-depth on this subject, so keep it brief. Then tell us about some of your modeling jobs. I’d love to hear your take on that, as I’m sure our readers will.
Jenny McShane: I have been in about twenty movies, but only on four television shows. I never keep an exact tab, though. The movie Stag has a real message. The film is quite scary as it shows kids and adults that some of our decisions can end up affecting our entire lives. After filming Stag, I met a director in London who told me his eighteen-year-old son had been drunk driving and hit and killed two people and would be serving the rest of his life in prison. The character I played in Stag was difficult to play. The original script had the back-story that was not included in the movie. The mother of the two sisters in the movie was dying of cancer and since they didn’t have insurance, they stripped to get the money quickly to help the family.
Modeling is the way I started in the business. There is some misinformation about modeling. Modeling is a job description and every model isn’t perfect. The majority of modeling I did was commercial as opposed to editorial. Editorial models were stunning, in my eyes. We commercial models were basically girl-next-door types. I did a lot of Budweiser/Anheuser Busch ads and catalog shoots, as well as Target and Dayton Hudson ads when I started. I also did a lot of industrial shoots for various companies, including Fingerhut, 3M, etc. I don’t consider photos that I do now to be modeling, but rather publicity for my likeness.
Betty Dravis: That’s a modest appraisal, Jenny. I can see the girl-next-door in you, but I also see the “stunning” that you see in others. In fact, you look so different in so many photos and movies that you’re like a chameleon…which is a wonderful attribute for an actress, so keep on doing what you’re doing. But back to the acting, who was the first big actor you met and what were your feelings at the time? Cowboy actor Jim Davis was the first one I met. He was quite popular in the 50s, if I have my dates straight, but I remember him more as J.R. Ewing’s father in the later Dallas TV series. Meeting him was impressionable, but it didn’t move me nearly as much as meeting Clint Eastwood later, a story I relate in Dream Reachers.
Jenny McShane: Oh, Betty, I love the story of how you met the iconic Clint Eastwood. He’s one of my favorite actors. The first actor I met was Kyle T. Heffner. I met Kyle in a café in Chicago, during one of my mother’s visits. He was the third lead in a film I loved–– Flashdance! He also starred on Golden Girls and Seinfeld. He was working in Chicago in a play with Brian Donehy, another actor I loved. My thought when meeting him was: I have just met somebody who can tell me how to become an actor because he is one! Since then, Kyle has coached me on any role I really wanted. I think it was meant to be, as he knows everything about me and keeps me the person I first was… And I guess I do that in return, now that I have had some success. I keep him in check and he does the same for me! Being in the business for a long while now. I have seen people get big breaks and totally screw them up with bad decisions. I think the acting profession can be compared to gambling: There are no guarantees and it feels like you are walking a tight rope at all times. I don’t think there is any performer who has had smooth sailing. My profession isn’t an easy life.
Betty Dravis: I’ve heard that you’re well respected in Hollywood for your dependability and professionalism, Jenny. That says a lot for what you’ve learned. What is your routine when working on a movie…your schedule? Which role was your biggest challenge? And are you between roles now? If so, what do you do to fill the time while waiting?
Jenny McShane: My routine when I am working on a movie is to get my environment situated and feel at home first. Next I try to get into the community and find some down-home people to hang out with after work. As a performer you can’t take a drive with a stranger, so it takes a little bit of detective work. But I usually find some good people and end up keeping in touch years later. I like to find out about the places I am working in, if I can, and what the people are like and what makes them tick. One of my first movies was shot in Moscow, Russia. Wow, did I go through some scary moments there. The Russian people are very scared of “The Americans” and don’t trust us, so that was a very uneasy time. I guess it was like being a skunk and thinking you could go hang out with the cats after work.
I have had the amazing opportunities to work on films in Bulgaria, Russia, India, London, South Africa and Canada. I am between jobs right now and I know a lot of fellow actors are, as well. Work is very lean out there right now, but it is for everyone, so I am keeping busy with my band until I land the next gig. The people at Gibson Guitars have been amazing by giving me different guitars every time I play with my band. That inspires me to play as much as I can because I love Gibson Guitars. Currently the band that I am playing in, Harry The Dog and the Circus of Lost Souls, is doing a series of four concerts at The Unknown Theater in Hollywood. The Unknown Theater is four years old and is a nonprofit theater similar to Steppenwolf in Chicago. If you haven’t seen the theater, you have to go just to admire the beauty of the place.
I have a few bites on the line, in fishing terms, as far as jobs go, so as soon as I land a job, my vacation is over. I pray that our economy and world come to peace, the troops come home from Iraq and we can all have a great Christmas and end 2010 with a bang!
Betty Dravis: That’s my prayer, too, Jenny… I suppose most actors do similar things to fill the time, but now tell us what you love about acting? What do you hate? I’d enjoy seeing you in a hit TV series…one that would make you a household name. What are your thoughts about that? This curious mind wants to know…as I’m sure our readers do.
Jenny McShane: What I love about acting is getting paid to do something I love which I know a lot of people would love to do. I meet people every day that are doing manual labor just to support their families and give their children education and opportunities they never had. I also love the actors I admired when I was growing up and have now had the opportunity to work beside.
There is nothing I hate about acting! I love it all! I would love to be in a hit TV series. I had a blast in an episode of Don Johnson’s TV hit Chase Nash; I played guitar and sang my rendition of “Desperado.”… I have a great casting director fan that is a fan of April Webster. I came close to getting two TV series with April Webster. I think I will when the timing is right. It has to be the right fit. I wish I could play a gunslinger in an old Western. The character has to be totally ME, so hopefully it comes my way soon. I am a big fan of The Mentalist and Mad Men. Those television series fit the actors in the cast like gloves! Hopefully, one of those talented writers reads this and thinks of me…
Betty Dravis: You have certainly met a lot of big names…people you led us to while creating Dream Reachers. Chase and I are grateful to you for introducing us to the famous photographer Jim Marshall, who photographed huge talents, like The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix…too many to list. In fact, he was the only photographer used by The Beatles near the end of their career. You graciously gave me his phone number and he was so helpful, putting me in touch with the right people at Rolling Stone magazine when we needed to use a picture of Tanya Tucker on one of their old covers. What a charming man! And you put me in touch with Mike Regan, VP of Marketing and Acquisitions for Melee Entertainment, when we needed permission to use movie stills from Avi Lerner, the BIG producer of Slumdog Millionaire and other huge box-office hits.
But for your next question, what advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Jenny McShane: Be prepared for the opportunity. Know your craft and then make the steps to go for it. If you want something bad enough, you can get it!
END OF PORTION OF JENNY McSHANE INTERVIEW… I hate to leave you hanging, but to learn more, I hope you can buy our books on Amazon and other online bookstores.
All of the above demonstrates that Chase and I are proud of our “Chubby Baby,” which is what we fondly call our Dream Reachers II because it’s 838 pages in length and contains about 300 awesome photographs (some action, some glam, but all eye candy). 🙂
I promised you a secret at the end of this blog, so here it is! A sneak peek at the new cover for Dream Reachers II. Chase and I decided to change it because the first cover turned out too dark and small icon versions didn’t show up as much as we expected. Since cinematographer Mario Prado had sent us such an enchanting photo of lovely actress Katherin Kovin Pacino, we felt like the cover needed a Hollywood “face-lift” to best enhance the perfection of our gorgeous subject. Thanks to author and graphic artist Daniel L. Carter for “catching my vision” in creating this new cover. The change has already been submitted to the printer and will be featured on the various websites asap. I loooooooooooove it… Let us know what you think. (Please help us keep our secret by not sharing this cover until we tell you. *Wink* *Wink* (Of course, we hope that you will Tweet and FB the link to this blog. Buttons at top of comment section… And do leave your comments. Group hug to you all.)