Tissue Alert: “Gifted” will make you laugh, cry and want to hug your cat

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet the cast of “Gifted,” which stars Chris Evans, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer and McKenna Grace. After attending a private screening of “Gifted,” I really enjoyed the film’s powerful message conveyed about letting a brilliant young girl enjoy her childhood. While I’m already a huge fan of Octavia Spencer and enjoyed Chris Evans and Jenny Slate’s performances in the film, I was absolutely blown away by the film’s youngest star, McKenna Grace.
“Gifted” is a story about Frank Adler (Chris Evans), a single man raising a child prodigy – his spirited young niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) – in a coastal town in Florida. Frank’s plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when the seven-year-old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank’s formidable mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary. Octavia Spencer plays Roberta, Frank and Mary’s landlady and best friend. Jenny Slate is Mary’s teacher, Bonnie, a young woman whose concern for her student develops into a connection with her uncle as well.
Take a look…

“Gifted” has every element of a film that you will love. It’s funny. It’s smart. It’s heartbreaking. And best of all, it stars a young actress named McKenna Grace who is one of the most talented actors I have seen in a film in long time. Trust me, at the end of this film, McKenna Grace will leave you in a puddle of tears with her powerful performance as Mary – a child prodigy who just wants to be a regular kid. In fact, during the screening I attended, I could hear people sobbing in the theater.
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Now here’s the best part about McKenna. After attending a junket in Los Angeles, I found out she is so genuine, so sweet and so funny. When asked how she tackled the emotional scenes in the film, McKenna shared how she sat in a quiet place and thought of really sad things that have happened to her. The fact that her tears are so real and so powerful convinced me that this little girl is an old soul who has a future ahead of her that is so incredibly bright. Take a look…

“Gifted” opens in select theaters on April 7 and will premiere nationwide on April 12. To find out more about the film, visit their website, Gifted Movie. You can follow the film on Twitter at @GiftedtheMovie and Instagram at @GiftedMovie.

CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIPPING: THE MALIBU WINE SAFARI

I’ve been to California over a dozen times and most of my visits have included stops at memorable sites like the Hollywood Sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Dodger stadium, Universal Studios and the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. But I never thought that I could actually pursue one of my favorite past times in Southern California too…wine tasting!
Little did I know that a beautiful drive up the Pacific Coast Highway would take me to one of the most beautiful wineries I’ve ever seen in my life – and trust me, as a wine lover, I have seen a lot of vineyards but nothing comes close to this one. I first found out about the Malibu Wine Safari through the Los Angeles Tourism Bureau and have to say that the moment I checked out their website, I was hooked. I mean, who wouldn’t love going on an outdoor adventure that included some light hiking, the chance to meet famous animals, and sampling wine and cheese along the way amidst a backdrop that was absolutely majestic.
If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family, your spouse or your girlfriends, then the Malibu Wine Safari is a great option. You can ride in an open top jeep where you’ll come nose to nose with a famous giraffe named Stanley who is happy to mug for the cameras as long as you keep feeding him lettuce. Stanley is a six year old giraffe who probably has an IMDB page since he’s appeared in films like the “Hangover 3” and several television commercials from Verizon to Doritos to name a few.
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The 1000 acre property was purchased in the 1970’s by Ron and Lisa Semler who have since transformed it into a gorgeous vineyard complete with unforgettable views, an ancient Indian cave, animals, a road lined with classic trailers, an amazing setting for wedding receptions, events, parties, reunions, farm to table dinners and there’s even a four bedroom ranch on the property that you can rent via airbnb!
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Another amazing part of our adventure included the opportunity to try Mailbu wines along the trail. And the wine was so delicious – from a sweet Rose to a variety of whites and reds — I picked the Malbec and then shared it with my travel companions at dinner that night.
If you plan to visit the Malibu winery, make sure you do it during the week – kids under 21 are only allowed on the family safari weekdays and kids need to be 7+ and with their parents. Additionally, private safaris are available too. For more information visit the Malibu Wine Safari website and definitely add it to your LA sightseeing plans!

Touring “The Goldbergs” Set with Adam Goldberg!

14681611_10153932225705205_1599881344861673791_n.jpgIf anyone knows me, then they know that I am obsessed with any type of entertainment that takes me back to the decade where it all started for me. So imagine my thrill when I got the chance to visit the set of “The Goldbergs” this month and I got to meet Sean Giambrone – the teen who plays Adam and even got a set tour from THE Adam Goldberg. The pair came to the set on their week off to share behind the scenes stories about the show and to talk about the inspiration behind all the amazing nostalgic items you get to see every week on the show. I was joined on the set by my west coast partner in writing crime, Kristin who took over Beverly’s kitchen in this hilarious Facebook Live video.
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What I really loved about the visit was getting the chance to step back in time and really relive those days. It was great hearing from Adam Goldberg about the set decor – especially when he revealed that his parents’ bedspread, his dad’s signature chair, and the hamburger phone in Adam’s room all came from his original home! Come to think of it, I had the same bedspread! And check out the poster’s on Erica’s wall — just seeing Rick Springfield took me back to my very first 80’s concert where he was headlining. But I digress!
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Back to The Goldbergs. While we were visiting the Sony lot, we got a sneak peak of The Goldbergs halloween episode which airs tonight at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT on ABC. I’m not going to give anything away but let’s just say that Erica is wearing one of my favorite costumes of all time – Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors. While she’s still trying to convince everyone that she has a date for the Halloween dance, Jeff’s girlfriend isn’t convinced and still thinks she’s out to steal her man. You never know….
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Meanwhile, Adam is exploring his inner Steven King and writes a scary novel that Beverly decides to introduce at her book club. I won’t give anything away but the episode is laugh out loud funny as all of the Goldbergs episodes are. But more than anything else, it was so much fun chatting with Sean who is 17 years old and super sweet like his character. And the real Adam is hilarious too. He talked about how his mom is still proud of everything she does. He even revealed how his mom slept over in his dorm the first night he attended NYU because she couldn’t bear to see her son leave home.
Honestly, visiting the set of The Goldbergs was an unforgettable experience and made me love the show even more. Don’t forget to catch the Halloween episode of The Goldbergs tonight and watch every Wednesday on ABC at 8pm ET/7pm CT.

Dr. Ken Set Visit and Halloween Show Preview

It’s been a whirlwind week for me that started out in Los Angeles where I got the chance to visit the sets of two great ABC comedies – “The Goldbergs” and “Dr. Ken.” I’m going to save my post about “The Goldbergs” for next week but for now, I want to make sure you tune into Dr. Ken – the ABC comedy starring Dr. Ken Jeong that’s now in its second season. I had the chance to visit the set this week, speak with the cast members and watch a preview of their Halloween episode which airs tonight!
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When Allison is disappointed that Halloween doesn’t seem to scare Dave anymore,his Grandpa manages to have him and Dr. Ken on the edge of their seats when he shares a scary Korean gwishin (ghost) story that convinces Dave he’s not as tough as he thinks. The entire cast brings this colorful story to life playing the various gwishins, which are all actual ghosts from Korean culture. Here’s a sneak peek…

We got the chance to speak with the cast after we saw a preview of the Halloween episode and Ken Jeong — who is a real life doctor who stars in the show and serves as executive producer talking about the research that went into that storyline to make it authentic as possible. He also revealed that this season, he often consults with his wife to make sure the storylines on the show are as realistic as they can be.
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What I loved most about the show and the cast was that all of them were so down to earth and relatable. Ken seems to be like every other dad I know – busy on the weekends with his kids’ activities and beaming with pride when they succeed. I especially loved hearing about his daughter who recently won a gymnastics competition. His other daughter seems to want to follow in her dad’s footsteps having guest starred on the show twice so far as Dave’s stalker.
If you’re like me and looking forward to a night on the couch watching your favorite shows, then don’t miss “Dr. Ken” which airs Fridays at 8:30pm ET/7:30pm CT on ABC.

Renee Zellweger Shines Again in Bridget Jones Baby

BJB_Adv1Sheet.jpgIf anyone knows me well, then you know that I’m a sap for classic movies. Not Gone with the Wind kind of classic, but more like St. Elmo’s Fire and Bridget Jones Diary classic. So imagine my thrill when I received an invitation a few weeks back to attend the star studded premiere of the latest installment of that hilarious film franchise with the release of “Bridget Jones Baby” which opens today in theaters nationwide.
If you don’t know what your plans are for tonight or the weekend, trust me when I tell you to go see this movie. It’s been a pretty long time that I found myself laughing out loud during a film while I reconnected with my long lost film girlfriend Bridget Jones.
This time around, single Bridget played by the incredibly adorable, sweet and kind film actress Renee Zellweger is still single, over 40 and not expecting to settle down any time soon. It appears the two great loves of her life Will and Darcy have moved on…both under very different circumstances and Bridget, who has risen to the top of her career as a news producer, is tired of feeling sorry for herself and ready to live life recklessly for her 43rd birthday. After a weekend getaway with her girlfriend, she meets Tom (that would be McDreamy or Patrick Dempsey to you) and they instantly make a connection that links them together throughout the film. Meanwhile, Bridget keeps running into Darcy at several milestone events and manages to fall into his arms yet again.
Unbeknownst to Bridget, her one night flings with two different men changes her life forever when she finds out she’s pregnant but has no idea who the father is. And that is all that I will tell you about the film for now. Here’s a sneak peak…

What I can also share are some behind the scenes tidbits that were flat out priceless. Let’s start with the premiere. While I knew the stars of the film were going to be appearing on the red carpet and potentially sitting with us in the theater, I had no idea they would be introduced on stage while I was sitting in the 4th row. That means I had an incredible vantage point to snap some unforgettable pix of Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey and Renee Zellweger. Of course, after I shared the photos on Facebook, I never heard the end of it from my daughter who has now instructed me that if I ever get invited to another event with McDreamy or Rob Lowe, she is the only person who can come with me as my guest. But I digress…
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Back to Bridget Jones. The day after I was still floating on a cloud for having an IRL glimpse of my lifelong heartthrob Patrick Dempsey (no offense to my husband of course), I got the chance to join a group of some of my favorite parenting bloggers for a roundtable chat with Renee Zellweger and the director of the film Sharon McGuire. Incidentally, Sharon wore an absolutely stunning floral beaded dress the night of the premiere. McGuire is so funny and so real – especially when she talked about the nerves that set in when she wondered how the audience would react to the film. When everyone in the theater starting laughing out loud, she said her heart was beating out of her chest. I seriously love this woman. Can’t you tell?
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CC24_D013_00418R_CROP.JPGMeanwhile, when Renee was asked what if felt like to revisit the role she’s best known and best loved for all these years, she recalled, “When they sent the script, it felt like this fantastically happy reunion, and it’s reminded me how much I love her. I love her friends and her parents and her world, and then, I got really terrified because I thought, “Oh God. I really–I don’t want to mess this up” because, I mean, I know that like–like myself, you know, who, when I discovered her in the books, like so many other people, you know, we fell in love with her. We have affection for her, and, you know, she holds a lot of meaning for us. And so, yeah. I just–I didn’t want to–I didn’t want to disappoint anybody.”
While the dialogue in the film is incredibly smart, quick-witted with amazing British humor thrown in for good measure, the physical comedy was absolutely over the top. I asked Renee if she improvised all those pratfalls Bridget got herself into and here’s what she had to say:
“It’s my favorite thing. It’s my favorite kind of comedy.” She adds the fact that Bridget is pregnant in this edition, adds to the physical comedy of the role. ” I love comedy that comes from truth….I love comedy that comes from awkward sort of human experiences. I mean, there’s nothing funnier, and we all relate to them because we go, “Oh my gosh. Thank God that’s not me. Wait. That really could be me. Oh gosh. You know what? That is me.”
She adds, “And I think that that’s why she’s such a beloved character because we recognize ourselves in her struggles and not just her challenges she faces in her life, but in her, you know, the–her struggles toward self-acceptance. She sort of represents the truth of who we are versus who it is that we aspire to be. And when you add the element of physical awkwardness to that, it’s just my favorite thing. Exploring how absurd you can make it and still remain truthful is so much fun.”
Bridget Jones Baby opens nationwide in theaters today. So what are you waiting for? Plan your Girls Night Out at the movies. Get tickets now!
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10 Reasons Why My Mom Reminds Me of Hillary Clinton

I had an epiphany last night while watching Chelsea Clinton deliver a heartfelt introductory speech about her mom, Hillary Rodham Clinton. As the child of a working mother who took on various roles in her career since the time I was five until adulthood, I started to think about Chelsea’s personal stories about her mother and how they seemed to parallel my experiences with my own mom. While my mom never logged close to a million miles as Secretary of State, she did accomplish some amazing things in her career as an educator. If you’re the daughter of a working mom, I bet you’ll see some similarities too. For now, here’s mine…
10 REASONS WHY I SEE MY MOM IN HILLARY CLINTON
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1. THEY BOTH WROTE US NOTES
My mom used to write notes for me every day and put them in my lunch bag. She used to start each one: To My Favorite Daughter (I’m her only daughter).
Hillary used to write notes to Chelsea every time she went out of town and dated each of them so that she had a note to read for as long as her mom was away.
2. THEY BOTH HAVE THE SAME HAIRSTYLE
For as long as I can remember, my mom has always had a short haircut and wears it pretty much like Hillary. She’s not a blonde though — except when she gets highlights!
3. THEIR HUSBANDS ARE GREAT TALKERS
While my mom has always been the person who can get any job done, she’s also kind of shy and doesn’t really like speaking in front of crowds. That’s because my dad has been the one who is always larger than life. He still performs to this day with his theater troupe in Florida and is an amazing speaker. Mom on the other hand works behind the scenes (she’s the wardrobe dresser for my dad’s show). But the one thing about my mom is that while she doesn’t like to be the center of attention, her reputation and work ethic is second to none.
4. THEY HAVE BOTH LOST BIG JOBS AFTER A HARD FOUGHT CAMPAIGN
While my mom didn’t run for President, she did run for Superintendent of her school district. Sadly, she didn’t get the job because the heavily political school board decided to select someone else who wasn’t as qualified but promised to do the things they wanted throughout the school year.
5. THEY ARE AMAZING PROBLEM SOLVERS
Back when my mom was at the top of her game, you could throw anything at her and she’d get the job done. When I was growing up, my mom always seemed to continually be promoted on the job – she was the person people looked to for answers and guidance and became one of the most well respected educators in her school district.
6. THEY DON’T HAVE TIME FOR B.S.
Throughout my mom’s life, she was always known as a super nice person and sometimes people took advantage of her good nature. As she got older, she got stronger and oftentimes if someone pissed her off, she took them to task for it or froze them out for a long time. The ones who were frozen out of her life truly regretted it and oftentimes came back apologizing for being so stupid. That’s the thing about pissing off a good person. They may forgive you, but they never forget.
7. THEY HAVE DAUGHTERS WHO GREW UP THINKING ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
While Chelsea is now a mom of two and is overseeing the Clinton Foundation, I am a mom of two overseeing a PR and social media business. I’m also married to a guy who had a career in finance (hedge funds to be exact) but left to pursue his love of kids sports. You never know, Chelsea’s hubby could ditch the hedge fund trade one day too to pursue a passion he had as a kid. Either way, our values completely align when it comes to valuing the importance of helping working moms balance their home life with their careers.

8. THEY HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR A VERY VERY LONG TIME

Luckily, my mom hasn’t had to deal with a husband who has made many mistakes with women over the years. The only women my dad plays with are the ones on the tennis court. Other than that, he’s been a one woman man for over 54 years. Sure my mom and dad fight a lot but at the heart of it, they are each other’s cheerleaders and are both so proud of one other when they both achieve great things in their lives both personally and professionally.
9. THEY ARE BOTH THE PRODUCT OF STRONG MOTHERS
Hillary’s mom was abandoned at a young age and started working at 14 years old. My grandmother came from a very large family and oftentimes became the caregiver to her younger siblings. Like Dorothy Rodham, my grandmother was fearless — she chased mice from our summer house in the Poconos and even bludgeoned a fish to death that I had caught from a nearby lake. Grandma also stressed the importance of getting a job to help support your family. And she made a mean matzoh ball soup but I guess that’s where the similarities fade. 🙂
10. THEY BOTH GAVE COMMENCEMENT SPEECHES AT THEIR SCHOOLS
While Hillary gave a commencement address at Wellesley, my mom was the valedictorian of her senior class who gave the commencement address at Thomas Jefferson High School before she went on to pursue a degree in education at Brooklyn College. The funny thing is, my mom actually wanted to become a lawyer but went into education because at the time, that’s what most young women did. Something tells me that had she pursued the law, she would have been a kick ass attorney.
At the heart of it, as the daughter of a working mom, I am so proud of everything my mom accomplished in her career and am sure that Chelsea felt the same way last night as she spoke about Hillary’s passion for service and for making the world a better place for our sons, daughters and grandchildren.
You see, you really can have it all. You can even raise daughters who look up to you and inspire their own children to pursue their dreams.

Sip and Crunch: New Wine Workout Unveiled on “The Real”

When it comes to working out, I have to say, I absolutely dread it. So when I just got a sneak peak of the June 24 episode of “The Real,” and found out there’s a new way to get in shape and it involves wine, I was all ears. Take a look…

TR2131_0328.jpgIt turns out that host Tamara Mowry is not a huge fan of the crunch and sip workouts. I guess I have to agree – it probably would give you a stomach ache if you took a sip and then did a sit up every time. Something tells me I’d much rather be reading a book and sipping wine than getting in shape…hence my problem with fitness.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should watch “The Real” because the hosts offer an honest look at what it’s like to be a working mom. Plus, as a former talk show insider (I used to be a publicist on the original Ricki Lake show), it’s so refreshing to find out that I know several of the incredibly talented producers on their staff! Led by bold, diverse and outspoken hosts, the hosts of “The Real” reflect the home audience and unapologetically say what women are actually thinking. Their unique perspectives are brought to life through their candid conversations about topics ranging from their own personal lives to the news of the day to beauty, fashion and relationships. Their fresh points of view, youthful energy and passion have turned the traditional talk show on its head. Produced by Telepictures Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, The Real originates from Los Angeles. Rachel Miskowiec (Good Morning America, Katie, The Tyra Banks Show, Judge Hatchett, The Ricki Lake Show) is Executive Producer. THE REAL is a daily, one-hour Emmy® nominated talk show on Fox Television Stations and in national syndication (check local listings), with a rebroadcast on cable network BET. You can also connect with the show on Facebook and follow them on Instagram.
(Photo credit: Erica Parise/Warner Bros. Television

Back in Time with New Kids on the Block

I have to admit – no matter what type of music I listen to, my taste always takes me back to the same decade – the 80’s. I strategically have my Sirius XM station automatically set to 80s’ on 8 and 90’s on 9 and as long as my kids don’t wrest control of the music from my hands, I pretty much get to go back to the decades where I was a teenager with big hair, super bright make-up and an obsession with boy bands.
Imagine my thrill when I recently got the chance to meet one of the most famous bands of my two favorite decades – the New Kids on the Block. After traveling to Boston, I got the chance to interview three of the band members – Joe, Jordan and Danny and found out what they’ve been up to since the days when girls would hang posters on their wall and pretend they were making out with them. Not me – I swear — I only had John Stamos and Rick Springfield. By the time New Kids came to town I was almost headed to college and my Tiger Beat days were long behind me. But that was then..this is now…
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Today, Joey, Jordan and Danny are all dads. Danny’s kids are the oldest and even joined him on the band’s PopTV series “Rock this Boat” which premieres for a second season on Wednesday, June 1 at 8:30pm ET/7:30pm PT. The series highlights the fun and excitement the band experiences along with their biggest fans on a sold-out cruise that’s now in its seventh year. Follow along with some of the band’s most passionate fans when the ship sets sail and their unforgettable journey begins. Watching the series will make you want to buy a ticket to the next cruise as Pop brings you on board for the music, the memories-and in season two, for even more behind the scenes access with the band. Take a look…

While I didn’t get to go on the full fledged cruise, I did get the chance to sail around Boston with the band and some amazing bloggers from the New England area who were also huge fans of NKOTB. While the band didn’t perform, everyone on board took plenty of selfies with them while we were treated to performances by the incredibly talented acapella groups featured on the Pop TV show “Sing it On”
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When we got the chance to connect with Joey, Jordan and Danny, it was really refreshing to hear how their lives have changed since the teenage boy band days. Today, they’re more like responsible dads who get to relive their glory days right along with their fans.
When ask about the legacy they’ve left on the music industry, Jordan quipped, they were the one band who has recorded the most oh oh ohs on an album. While Joey and Danny agreed, Joe shared this heartfelt quote:
Joe: We have been lucky enough to be part of pop history. We were very much influenced by New Edition and the Jackson Five. When you look at groups like NSync and the Backstreet Boys and JT and Justin Bieber — I think they were very much influenced by Jordan and how he made records and how he sung. I think we influenced the next generation and they influence the next generation and I’m honored to be a part of that legacy.
Catch the premiere of “Rock this Boat” on PopTV on Wednesday, June 8 at 8:30pm/7:30pm CT and watch it throughout the summer too every Wednesday at 8pm ET/7pm CT. And check back again on our site next week when we get to share details from a live-streaming event with the entire band. Oh oh oh oh oh…

Opa! It’s Time for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2!

MBFGW2-Poster.jpgThere are some movies that I can literally watch over and over again and honestly, it never gets old. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is one of those films. From the first moment I saw it, to the time my son figured out how to do a dead pan impression of the “bi-bopsy” scene from the original film, there is something truly special about this movie that has struck a chord with my family. So much so that last year, at my son’s Movie Themed Bar Mitzvah, we even had a table for our Greek cousins with the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” Poster as a centerpiece!
So imagine my thrill and anticipation when I was invited to attend a screening of the film’s sequel, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” and the chance to meet the cast at a press junket in New York City!
While I can’t give away any spoilers from the film which opens nationwide on March 25 — and trust me, there are a lot of them — I am here to tell you that the sequel is fantastic. It will have you laughing out loud, shedding tears and smiling from ear to ear as you get to see the incredibly hilarious Portokalos family back together again.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” is the long-awaited follow-up to the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Written by Academy Award nominee Nia Vardalos, who stars alongside the entire returning cast of favorites, the film reveals a Portokalos family secret that will bring the beloved characters back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding. Take a look at the trailer…

How Elena Kampouris Landed the Role of a Lifetime…
MBFGW2-Elena1.jpgAt the press junket, we met teen actress Elena Kampouris, who plays Nia Vardolos’ and John Corbett’s daughter in the film. We learned that Elena is in fact half Greek and half French American and she shared the amazing story behind how she landed the part:
Elena: It’s really a funny story. It’s a very interesting process, because when I got the audition it went to my mom’s email and I saw it and it was a jaw dropping moment. I was like, “What, they’re making a sequel after all these years, too?” It was the last thing I was expecting. So I was freaking out, but I’m like–there’s a part of me, my stomach kind of dropped because I’m like, whenever I tell people I’m Greek, nobody ever believes me.
So I thought, I don’t really have high chances for this, and also, if I don’t get the role, which is likely, if I ever see the movie, it’s going to taint the way that I see the film, a film that’s so beloved to me because it’s like, that could have been me.
So there was a lot of pressure, and I didn’t want to tell my father about it because he’s the Greek father who is very proud and he raised me playing that movie over and over telling me, “This is the finest film in all of filmmaking history. This is the movie. You should be in this movie. You’d be perfect for this movie.” He actually said that I would be perfect to be in this movie when I was little, so it’s like jeez, the pressure’s on, right?
So when that came in, I’m like, “I can’t tell him. Mom, don’t tell him.” Of course, he’s a Greek. He finds out and he’s like, “Elena, call them. Tell them you will do the movie.” I said, “Okay, so it doesn’t work like that. There’s a process.” He says, “You’re Greek. You can do the movie. You’re Greek. Tell them you’re Greek and they’ll let you do the movie.”
I’m like, “There’s a process here. If I’m lucky. Five, six callbacks. Maybe then I will have the privilege of auditioning for Nia in person. But he didn’t understand it. He’s just like, “You’re Greek. You should be able to do it.” And I’m like, “Yes, well I’m not even a convincing Greek.” So for some reason, I did tape for it.
I ended up being called back and I did a chemistry read with Alex Wolff who plays Bennett in the movie, who I love…after that chemistry read, we were flown into Toronto for the day. We flew in in the morning and we went in to meet Nia, Kirk [Jones, Director], Gary [Goetzman, Producer] and all the producers. And it was like, we had the plane ride together so we got to know each other, which really helped.
But once we were in the room, we did our thing, we were asked to leave and wait in the waiting room. They called us back in. Nia sat down. She was in the middle, I was here, he was here. She’s like, “Okay, guys. We’re going to do some improv together.” And I’m like, “Wow, I hope this is a good sign.” And so we’re about to get started and she’s like, “You know what? I’m just kidding. You guys got the roles.”
I started bawling my eyes out, and of course I’m Greek. We’re very expressive, animated people. I couldn’t help myself. I’m bawling and it’s really embarrassing. There’s snot and it’s not pretty and I’m trying to keep myself together here and they’re just standing there. I’m in awe of Nia because she’s such a presence.
And so by some miracle, it worked out. And we had the best plane ride back home ever. Alex and I were celebrating, because if you could imagine if it didn’t go well, that would have been one long plane ride back home. That would have been like an eternity. So it was very magical, that experience. And before we actually flew back home from Toronto, they actually sent us straight from the casting office to our fittings.
So to get the news and then to go straight to the fitting and get our costumes for our characters was like, surreal. Surreal.
Andrea Martin and Joey Fatone…
MBFGW2-JoeyFatoneAndreaMartin.JPGThe moment Andrea Martin walked into the room, she had everyone in stitches. As she looked out the window of the Mandarin Oriental and saw the incredible skyline, she instantly burst into song. Eventually, she and co-star Joey Fatone took their seats and shared how much they loved reprising their roles and reuniting with their fellow cast members.
Joey Fatone: “I think keeping the magic, in a sense, was of course a huge part of Nia. Because obviously being the writer and learning from experiences, of course, her having a child now. Back then when she didn’t have a child and she couldn’t really write from it, because I think she didn’t have experience from it. So here doing that I think now, and letting it settle in after 14, 15 years later, it has definitely been a treat to see the things that happened.”
Andrea Martin: For all of us, I think, the movie’s been kept very alive in the last 14 years, because it was so successful. People have a great love for the film. So over the years, people have come up to me and say, “Do a little bit.” “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?” In fact, all the time. I’m doing a play right now at the Roundabout and people–
I’m going to go from Greek to a Cockney accent. Anyway, and so I’ll finish the two-and-a-half hours of this play and then they’ll say, “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?” It’s like, all right. Have I done anything else? So it’s felt like it’s been very alive and so in that way, actually, the first day didn’t seem like 14 years had passed. It really felt like yesterday. And we knew each other. It wasn’t like a new cast, so it was just great familiarity and great affection for one another.
Nia Vardolos shares how the story for the sequel was born…
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Nia Vardolos: I had written at the end of the first movie that Toula and Ian were parents. And in reality, the struggle to become a parent was real for me. It was very long and then I did become a mom. Happy ending. And on my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten, I was crying so hard and so loud that other moms were backing away from me. And somebody said, “Hey, come on. In 13 years, they’re going to go off to college. What’s the big deal?” And I went, “What?” And that’s the moment that I realized I might have had the idea for the sequel and I went away and started writing that day.
John Corbett shares how the cast was able to recreate movie magic…thanks to Nia…
John Corbett: How do you recreate some sort of magic that happened on a few million-dollar movie that may or may not see the light of day 15 years ago? When we made the first one, the World Trade Towers were still standing. That’s how long ago it was. Now to come back and try to recreate that is not something that was in my hands at all. It was mostly in hers by putting pencil to paper, and then this guy making those moments happen. So I’m the wrong guy to be answering that. But I think, having seen the second movie, that it happened. Somehow, that magic happened twice, because this movie does it for me.
Vardolos reflects on the feedback she received over the years from fans of the first film…
Nia Vardolos: I think that people go through real tragedies and we have had the benefit of getting letters all these years from people who have told us about their lives. So what I went through in my quest to be a mom does not compare, in any way. But in the quiet time that I took to reflect on it, it made me a better person.
I’m so grateful that I didn’t have a biological child, because my daughter, meeting my daughter, she was almost three living in American foster care, all that happened led me to my real daughter. So in the same way, I am so grateful that the idea for the sequel and the desire to do the sequel did not come to me. Because what I went through informed my writing and let me go deeper with this next one.
And we weren’t afraid of that. We weren’t afraid to show what a real marriage can be like and we weren’t afraid to show that this family has aged, and that’s okay. They all look like they’ve been dipped in pickle juice. But families go through things, and Kirk wasn’t afraid to show that and create a very safe environment on set.
“Try is this way,” you would say. “Try it this way, try it this way.” And the cast, because they’re so comfortable in their characters, they would try it different ways.

Director Kirk Jones shares why My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 will appeal to audiences…

Kirk Jones: I think everyone at this table is a huge fan of making movies which make people feel good, make them laugh, make them cry again. And the dark stuff is out there, and we all enjoy watching that now and again, but there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t invest our time in making movies which makes people feel good and touch on human subjects, which is what Nia does when she comments on families. And that’s what everyone wants to see, as well as all the other stuff.
If you are as big a fan of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” as my family, then don’t miss the sequel when it premieres in theaters nationwide on March 25! Follow all the excitement on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MyBigFatGreekWeddingMovie, @MyBigFatGreekWeddingMovie, Instagram (@MBFGreekWedding), and Twitter (@MBFGreekWedding).