David Weiner, the former Senior Editor of ETonline, has appeared in front of the camera in dozens of celebrity interviews.
He’s also written some amazing articles as well as being an executive editor. If that’s not enough, David is also a “certified expert” in pop culture.
When I first approached David for an interview, I learned that we both had something in common; we grew up in the tri-state area watching ‘Planet Of The Apes‘ marathons on the same local TV station, Channel 7 in New York.
This may explain why “the force is strong with this one.”
David was kind enough to do an interview with us:
1. Prior to being the Executive Editor of Famous Monsters you worked for Entertainment Tonight and Hollywood.com. When did you decide that writing was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
DW: Well, when I started out in my career, I went to film school and I got to balance film production and film theory, with a decent amount of writing as well, creative writing and screen writing. So, writing has always been something that I’ve been interested in and it was when I started my actual career in the film industry, working in production, that over the first four years as a freelancer working on movie sets, that I came to the realization that if I ever wanted to make my own movies one day, rather than work on someone else’s films, TV projects, music videos, etc., I have to write my own and if I have to write my own I better be good at writing.
So, that ultimately helped sort of direct my path in a little more focused way, so when I would be working on other people’s projects I started writing my own screenplays. And…it’s kind of a long answer here, but ultimately while I was writing my own screen plays I also wanted to hone my craft in writing other things as well, so I would do script coverage, and I did press kits, and I would do other sort of content creation that ultimately decided for me when it was time to do this for a living, it’s something that I felt like I had a knack for.
2. Over the course of thirteen and a half years, you wrote more than 10,000 stories for Entertainment Tonight. You also worked on major motion picture with Tom Hanks. Can you how you got you involved in show business?
DW: Having gone to film school, I was lucky in that I knew from the get go in high school that I wanted to do something entertainment related. I first was involved in stagecraft and then I decided that film making was something that I wanted to do. So I chose my college for its film program, and I went to Ithaca College in upstate New York. After that I knew for a fact that I wanted to work on a movie set in some way, shape, or form and the … a guy running around with a headset telling actors what to do, or yelling rolling and cut, and I would figure it out from there.
I was lucky enough to actually land an internship at Disney during the summer between my sophomore and junior year and that afforded me an opportunity to go to California since I was living in Chicago, and determine whether that’s the place I really wanted to be even though that’s the place I thought I should be. And so once I knew that Hollywood really was the place to try to start my entertainment career. After I graduated, I drove out cross-country. I luckily had a couple friends from college who were around also trying to break into the biz and we all helped each other with our initial jobs and we broke in by being tenacious and having and establishing connections.
3. You had the pleasure of interviewing people such as Harrison Ford, J.J. Abrams, Keanu Reeves, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kurt Russell. How excited were you to talk with these celebrities?
DW: I’m always excited to meet celebrities. I act cool. I act like it’s no big thing but the inner geek inside me is always hugely excited about it. There’s some people where it’s more of a geek thing than others. But, I’ve always been a huge fan of film and entertainment and so I always wanted to be able to pick the brains of filmmakers, and actors, and special effects, crafts people, and find out their take on their craft. And so, an opportunity to interview all these incredibly, wonderful and famous people, has been just an absolute thrill for me.
4. Looking back, what was your favorite memory working for ET?
DW: Favorite memory. Favorite memory working at ET was being there long enough to carve a niche for myself at Entertainment Tonight online. Where when I wasn’t covering celebrity DUIs and more gossipy, tabloidy, kind of coverage, which is par for the course, that I got to do a lot of film coverage so I could set visits, I could do cover junkets, I could set up my own interviews, and I enjoyed doing all of that. And I really got to do some really fun stuff with the Entertainment Tonight vault, which is a goldmine of video material that goes back to the early ’80s, when the show began.
So, for example, if a movie like Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan or Robocop was coming up on an anniversary, I could do a vault piece from all material that we had, whether it was a set visit or a red carpet premiere, or a junket, and I had complete access to do with that material whatever I wanted. I could do whatever I wanted with it. And so that was, again, as a film geek that was a real thrill to get material that the show really wasn’t using and be able to share it with the world online.
Oh, favorite memory. So that being said, I have many memories having worked at that show for 13 years. But, I would say some of the standout moments were arranging interviews myself by making contacts and creating exclusive content for the show that no one else had. For example, I was at a Star Trek: Into Darkness junket where we got to spend lots of time at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot entertainment offices. And through that experience, not only did I get to cover that movie and meet the filmmakers and the stars of that project, I met Heather Langenkamp, who was the star of Nightmare on Elm Street, who just happened to be working one day to help her husband out, who was an effects guy on Star Trek: Into Darkness. I started chit chatting with her and I said, “What are you doing here?” She said, “Oh, I’m just helping my husband.” And I seemed to be the only one who noticed that the star of Nightmare on Elm Street was there.
No one else seemed to recognize that. So, I asked her if she wanted to do an interview, especially because an upcoming anniversary for Nightmare on Elm Street and she said, “Yeah. I’d love to do that.”
And then when I started making arrangements with her she said, “You know what, we should do it in front of the Nightmare on Elm Street house in Hollywood. And oh, you know, I should call Robert, see if he wants to do it too.” And I’m like, “Yes, please call Robert Englund,” and the next thing I know I’m standing in front of the Nightmare on Elm Street house with Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund, who had not been there together since they’d last filmed there many, many years ago, and here I was. I got to interview them and have an exclusive, and it was just because I decided to ask Heather Langenkamp what she was doing at the Star Trek: Into Darkness junket.
5. Over the course of your long career, which interview will be forever be in your memories?
DW: Yeah, definitely with Mark Hamill because I first interviewed him when I was with Entertainment Tonight and the second interview that I ever did with him, which was for this little movie that he was promoting called Sushi Girl, that very few have seen but it is definitely worth people’s while to see him perform in this movie.
When they were doing the Blu-ray release, I had the opportunity to talk to him again and that was at the same exact time where just a couple weeks prior to that Lucas Film had been bought by Disney for $4 billion and all anybody knew was that they were going to be three new Star Wars movies and that was at no director had been announced, no cast had been announced.
So, here I had a moment to talk to Mark Hamill again and so I asked him if we would be seeing Luke Skywalker on the big screen again, three decades after Star Wars ended. And to my shock and surprise he talked to me for close to fifteen minutes about, “Oh yeah. We’re all but …we’re definitely coming back. We just all but signed on the dotted line with your contracts, but I can’t wait to go back and we’re gonna be…I don’t know what the story is yet but here’s what I’d like to see. Here’s what I’d like to see for those spin-off movies. And yeah, looking forward to it.”
And when I got off the phone, I realized I was the only person who had this information and I wrote up the story and it broke worldwide and it was a calendar year before Disney made any official announcement about the cast. So, that was very, very satisfying.
6. While at Famous Monsters of Filmland you won a Rondo Hatton Award which honors the best in classic horror research, creativity and film preservation. What are some of your favorite horror films?
DW: Some of my favorite horror films are, ultimately end up in two categories. There’s the ’80s sweet spot and then there’s the universal horror classics. I was raised on Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, are some of my all-time favorites, Creature from the Black Lagoon. Not to mention of course Godzilla. But then when I think of some of my real favorite horror films, I go straight to the early ’80s, when you have sort of the hat trick of The Thing, The Shining, and American Werewolf in London, that made a real impact on me and remain some of my favorites to this day.
7. You recently launched the fantastic new website called IT CAME FROM.
What was your inspiration for getting this off the ground?
DW: I needed an outlet to write after I left Famous Monsters as the executive editor. I am a writer by nature and I love so much retro and nostalgic content that I needed to put it all in one place. And so I decided that between the things I’d done at Famous Monsters and the things I’d done at Entertainment Tonight, it was a way to sort of put a focus on material that I’ve written and the people that I’ve spoken to during my career that included those two outlets and also focus on some of my other favorites to a brand new audience. An audience that…a brand new audience that is new to this kind of classic, and nostalgic, and retro material, as well as catered to the fans who love it and know it.
8. Would you consider yourself a Sci-Fi fan and if so, do you have any favorite movies or TV shows?
DW: I’m a huge sci-fi fan and ironically because I was the executive editor of Famous Monsters, the thing that I loved most about that magazine was even though monsters is in the title, it really encompasses sci-fi, fantasy, horror, super heroes, and genre pop culture. And so, sci-fi is huge in my life. I was a big fan of Starlog magazine when I was growing up as well. And so, I was the kid who grew up with everything from the original Star Trek: The Original Series on repeats in the ’70s to Planet of the Apes, and of course like many people of my particular generation, Star Wars rocked my world and changed my life and completely directed me in a straight line to Hollywood after I saw that movie.
9. If you could only own ONE film to pass down to future generations of moviegoers, which one would it be?
DW: Wow. That’s a tough one. That’s the same thing as saying, “What is your favorite movie?” And it’s always a hard answer to give because I love so many different genres of films and I love so many different decades of film making. That being said, if I really had to choose one all-encompassing film I would have to say it would be probably Citizen Kane.
10. What is on your radar screen for the near future?
DW: Wow, the future. The future is so bright I have to wear shades. Oh, yeah. I’m really enjoying producing content for ItCameFromBlog.com . My problem is there’s so many things I want to do. So many shows I want to watch. So many movies I want to catch up on. And so many books that I want to read that if I could create a longer day without aging appropriately during that time I would do it.
What’s your thoughts?
Leave a comment below.
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