Saturday, July 2, 2016

Good, Tough & Deadly Week: Release!

Since starting this ol' online journal I've produced live events, interviewed some of my favorite actors and filmmakers, met most of my idols, organized movie premieres, put together and moderated a convention panel and had my work splashed around in the L.A. Times, magazines and a book. Last Sunday was yet another first, a book signing! David J. Moore's The Good, the Tough & the Deadly was already #1 on Amazon's New Releases and this past Sunday, Dark Delicacies in Burbank hosted a star and guest packed signing. First off, DD is an awesome store, it specializes in horror and genre books with DVD's, action figures, posters and the like for sale. Del and company have had the shop for 21 years in the picturesque strip of Magnolia where many a store are surprisingly closed on Sundays.

Moore recruited contributors Dustin, Michael, Corey, Jason and Vern along with interview subjects Jino Kang, Julian Lee, Robert Chapin, Don Wilson, Ernie Barbarash, Sheldon Lettich, Steve Latshaw, James Bruner and Keith Batcheller. While we set up it was great to check in with so many legends in the field. Latshaw gave me more of the story how he worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme to rework In Hell for Warner Brothers to create a Bloodsport meets The Shawshank Redemption theatrical comeback while Bruner brought a giant The Delta Force display Menahem Golan gave him a the 1987 premiere! It's always awesome to chat with Sheldon as he had recently returned from the G.I. Film Festival in Washington, D.C. Ernie filled me in on his current projects and gave me a broader picture of being a working filmmaker in this day and age when financing just isn't what it used to be. Had a nice quick chat with martial arts expert and filmmaker Jino Kang, who I'll be interviewing soon so be on the look out for that.

A queue had formed and we were off to the races, signing books and chatting with attendees. I asked each person who stopped at our table who their favorite action star was and usual suspects like Bruce Lee, Arnold and JCVD reigned while one surprise answer was Lance Henriksen and 70's icon of macho Charles Bronson came up multiple times. A few peeps had been to some of my events and I heard my online moniker "VienDammage" being muttered in line, which was cool. I was shocked at some of the folks show just showed up to get a book signed like Cannon Films documentary, Electric Boogaloo filmmaker Mark Hartley who told me how development on the doc had kind of stalled and he randomly received word from Brett Ratner who wanted to produce it as he had a deal through Netflix. Movie gunsmith Mike has worked with just about everyone in the action world, he was rocking a The Purge shirt as he worked on both and I asked about Frank Grillo to which Mike said he was a nice guy. Towards the end, director Jesse V. Johnson, who is currently shooting Savage Dog with Scott Adkins and Cung Le, strolled in and picked up a copy. Johnson makes films with awesome action as well as heart and as usual has a stellar cast lined up so I'm excited to see the results.

Best of the Best's James Lew showed up into the signing looking fit and trim while being a very nice guy. I asked him if the shot of him and Simon Rhee in Inception was an unspoken nod to BotB or just a pure coincidence since they were both working on the film. He laughed and didn't think it was intentional and recalled how he and Rhee had appeared in several films together, including the Rush Hour flicks where they play different characters in each film. About halfway through, the one and only Michael Jai White strolled in. I don't think he quite knew what the event was and seemed a little surprised when fans and guests alike began to ask him to sign their copies and grab photos. But as he caught up with Wilson, Sheldon and Ernie, he made the rounds and was a chill guy. He's also definitely not a small man, phew!

Two hours in we were alerted every copy the store had in stock had sold so David dug into his reserves. Not too shabby! It was a terrific afternoon but also crazy and exhausting. I can only imagine what celebs go through at conventions for days at a time. Big thanks to Moore for inviting me to the action movie party, Dark Delicacies for hosting and all of the fantastic guests for attending. Until San Diego Comic-Con, keep laughing and lifting! Or as James Lew and I coincidentally both signed, keep kicking!

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