This week, the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered The Boyfriend School, a 1990 romantic comedy starring Steve Guttenberg, Shelley Long and Jami Gertz.

To better understand how (and why) this film got made, I spoke with the film’s editor, Marshall Harvey, and its producer, George Braunstein

Given that George Braunstein hasn’t produced a film in several years, and that he’s best known in Hollywood as an entertainment attorney (he’s a partner at Braunstein & Braunstein), I was particularly curious to hear how he had gotten into producing films. 

And the answer to that question begins in the late 1940’s… 

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This week, the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered Ninja 3: The Domination (1984), the final entry in Cannon Films’ so-called “Ninja Trilogy” 

The director of Ninja 3, Sam Firstenberg, is an interesting guy with many stories about his unlikely journey from Jerusalem to Hollywood. So many, in fact, that we’re going to save his tales about breaking into the business, working for Cannon in its heyday and directing the iconic cult classic Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo for a separate piece in the near future. 

Today, instead, we’re just going to put on our most Sherlockholmesian deerstalker and investigate how did Ninja 3: The Domination got made. Which begins—a couple years earlier—with a film called Enter the Ninja. 

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A few days ago, we spoke with legendary producer Al Ruddy about the making of The Godfather, Ladybugs and Megaforce (which the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered in their most recent episode).

Today, in Part 2, we continue our epic discussion with Al Ruddy—this time talking about Million Dollar Baby, Little Fauss and Big Halsy and The Longest Yard

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How Did This Get Made Al Ruddy Interview

This week, the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered Megaforce (1982), an over-the-top action film directed by famed stuntman, Hal Needham. 

The first person I got in contact with was Megaforce’s producer, Al Ruddy. But unfortunately, he replied, “I’m participating in a German-produced documentary on the film currently and with my other projects, I simply have no spare time.”

I thanked him for the quick reply and then assumed we’d never cross paths again. But less than 24 hours after he had declined, I received a new email from him that said: “Just had a couple thoughts…call me.”

What were those thoughts? And what had changed in the course of a day? In a nutshell, Ruddy had done a little research and really liked the idea of this series—the idea of going behind-the-scenes to answer how did various movies get made. “But,” he explained, “for what you guys are doing, I think it shouldn’t just be about the losers.” The point he wanted to make (and which led him to agree to this interview) was that even the “winners” go through their fair share of chaos, struggle and backroom drama. And, well, if anyone would know that to be true, it’s Al Ruddy. 

Because while it was Megaforce that led me to Ruddy, he’s best known for producing a different class of films. Several of which we talked about during our interview—beginning with a little film called The Godfather

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Synopsis: The sexy star of a comic strip called “Cool World” attempts to seduce her cartoonist so that she can cross over to the real world. 

Tagline: There are two different worlds: The Real World and the Wacky, Animated World. Only one of them will survive.

In 1988, Disney released a beloved hit, which garnered enormous praise for its ability to fuse together live-action and animated storytelling. That film was Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Four years later, Paramount Pictures released Cool World which—like Roger Rabbit—brought live-action into a cartoon universe. But beyond that (and also starring a sexy cartoon seductress), the two films shared little in common; least of all their results at the box office. Whereas Who Famed Roger Rabbit made over $300 million, Cool World made less than a tenth of that. 

To be clear, Cool World was never meant to be Roger Rabbit 2.0; from the get-go, it was supposed to skew older, darker and hit with a harder edge. But—as I learned during my conversation with screenwriter Michael Grais—the final version of Cool World (which hit theaters in July 1992) was a far cry from what the film was originally intended to be.

Below is a copy of our conversation…

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Writer/Director Richard LaGravenese—best known for films like The Fisher King, The Horse Whisperer and Freedom Writers — chats with Blake about breaking into the business, encountering fan backlashes and why it “wasn’t a good decision” to adapt and direct the Twilight-like tween tale Beautiful Creatures.

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THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE, Anthony Newley (l.), Mackenzie Astin (back), 1987, ©Atlantic Releasing Corp.

A famous poet once said:

You take the good…

You take the bad…

You take them both and there you have…the facts of life. 

And in 1986, these were the facts of life for an ambitious child actor by the name of Mackenzie Astin: He was 14 years old, he was dating a beautiful teenage actress and he had recently been promoted to series regular of a popular sitcom called—you guessed it—The Facts of Life.

Everything was going great for Mackenzie, but there was just one problem: things were going even better for his older brother, Sean, who had just finished working with Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner on a little film called The Goonies.

And so, almost as if inspired by his brother’s speech in The Goonies, Mackenzie Astin asked himself: when’s it gonna be my time? When am I gonna get to star in a blockbuster movie of my own? And, just as these feelings of sibling rivalry reached a crescendo, such an opportunity seemed to come around: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Wow, Mackenzie thought. A whole movie based on those cool, subversive trading cards! How could this possibly go wrong?

Well it did. In almost every single conceivable way. So I sat down with Mackenzie Astin to recount that traumatic cinematic experience and the ripples that would follow…

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kelli maroney

Kelli Maroney has a unique skill set: she knows how to survive ’80s horror movies.

Between Slayground (1983), Night of the Comet (1984) and this week’s How Did This Get Made? film Chopping Mall (1986), Maroney has a real talent for making it through a slasher flick alive. So naturally, when she and I sat down to speak, I couldn’t help but ask: what does it take to pull of this feat?

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Play by Play Series Creator Interview

If you liked The Wonder Years or The Sandlot — if you yearn for nostalgic tales told with humor, heart, and wit — then brace yourselves for the wistful joy of Kevin Jakubowski’s excellent new series Play by Play.

Set in the ’90s, Play by Play centers on a 14-year-old wannabe athlete named Pete Hickey (played by Reid Miller) and his herculean quest to find relevance as a freshman in high school. For anyone who’s survived high school, this challenge is all too familiar; but there’s one thing — even more powerful than living in his older brother’s shadow or his younger’s sister warpath — that put Pete’s journey into perilous territory: his freshman class is the school’s first to welcome girls. Which means that every sophomore, junior and senior at his school — all dudes — are gunning for the girls in his grade (and all too happy to take down Pete Hickey in the process).

Unlike most first-person narrated coming of age stories, Play by Play was created with a twist: the narrator (who, as with shows like The Wonder Years or The Goldbergs, is unseen) is a present day  anchor on Sportscenter; so the narrative on screen — the trials and tribulations of young Pete Hickey — is presented in a way that feels like highlights to a sports game.

The show, which premieres today on Go90 (Verizon’s freely available streaming service) is ambitious, endearing and consistently clever. Which is probably why Play by Play has already been picked up for a 2nd and 3rd season.

To learn more about how this show got made, I sat down with creator Kevin Jakubowski to discuss how Play by Play came to be. We also talked about the blacklist script that launched his career (The Assassination of a High School President), his script-turned-novel about the magic of Nintendo (8-Bit Christmas) and how a sport called Hurling changed the trajectory of his life…

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Sleepwalkers

From quirky hits (like *batteries not included and Critters 2) to epic haunts (like Stephen King’s The Stand), filmmaker Mick Garris has proven himself to be one of the industry’s true masters of horror. Literally, even; creating the beloved Showtime series Masters of Horror. With such an impressive portfolio of spooky stories under his belt, it’d likely be hard for any horror fan to pick their favorite Garris project. And yet, almost instantly, they’d probably discard one of his films from contention: Sleepwalkers.

So naturally, that’s the film that I wanted to speak with Mick Garris about. But before we went back in time to discuss how Sleepwalkers got made, we talked about the making of his career; an amazing story that involves interviewing auteurs, operating R2D2s and catching the eye of Steven Spielberg (then later Stephen King).

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