Her Big Fat Greek Come Back

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Going from average to stardom in today’s world can be hard to do. But Nia Vardalos is living proof of success with her Oscar-nominated movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Her charismatic personality was loved in this film as many people could relate to her wacky family.
But after an unfortunate failure with the TV-sitcom “My Big Fat Greek Life,” Vardalos’ career took a spin for the worst. In an attempt to make a big come back, Vardalos will make her directorial debut with a light-hearted romantic comedy, “I hate Valentine’s Day”. In the movie she is also starring as a laid-back florist who will once again co-star and charm John Corbett, a single and romantically challenged restaurant owner. But don’t expect a sappy love story for this duo. The movie focuses on a relationship-less scenario in which dating is as far as it will go, at least for the first half of the film. According to variety production will start June 23rd.
And just when you thought you couldn’t get enough, the Greek-Canadian star has “My Life in Ruins” coming out soon. In this movie, Vardalos holds true to her comical and sexy personality as a heartbroken, newly divorced American woman who moves to Greece on a whim to be a tour guide. She unexpectedly finds that these tourists could care less about history. With some gentle coaching from fellow co-workers, she discovers how to have fun, and of course a little romance. And for the first time in over 20 years, Greek authorities allowed filmmakers to shoot this film at the Acropolis. The movie premiere is set for this summer (maybe August) in Greece (official release date has not been announced yet).

George Georgiou

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You can visit his personal website at GeorgeGeorgiou.info .

He is the only Greek (Greek Cypriot actually) that was casted in Mamma Mia!, the movie which will premiere this summer. The Gardener to Donna (played by Meryl Streep), George Georgiou still lives in London, but he is getting ready to come to Hollywood and “get his career off the ground”…

How did you start acting?

I started at school (English school) in the school play. I auditioned for the part of Bugsy in Bugsy Malone which I desperately wanted. It got down to me and another boy and I lost out. They offered me a smaller role but even at the age of 15 I knew I was worth more so I said NO. A week later the drama teacher approached me and said the other boy’s parents won’t let him play the part so it’s yours if you want it. Of course I said I’d consider it but by lunch time it was mine. It all went from there. I then went to Drama school at the age of 19 while working in my fathers Greek Deli in North London that I grew up above. I hated it to be honest. I was very shy. Working in the Deli I mean…

Where do you live?

I live in London but am planning on moving out to LA by the end of the year as I feel I need to be there for my career to really expand. In London casting is so narrow minded. I’m forever playing the ‘foreigner’ with a dogey accent – I would hope that isn’t the case in LA.

How did you get the role in Mamma Mia and what is it?

I had three auditions in London. I was very lucky to get an audition as on the day somebody cancelled so I was squeezed in at the last minute. I play Panos – the Gardener to Donna – played by Meryl Streep. I form part of a Greek Chorus with another 4 guys (me being the only Greek!). We sing, we dance and sometimes act but most of all just have a lot of fun.

How was shooting with Streep and Brosnan?

They were great to work with. Meryl makes you feel like you are at home playing charades with your favourite aunt. She is so generous and kind. Pierce is such a laugh – keeps it light and fun. I have met Pierce before briefly as we trained at the same Drama School – The Drama Centre – so we had lots to talk about – and drink about!

What other things are you doing now ?

Since filming finished I have been working in theatre. I have just opened in a play called ‘CHICKEN’ that is a transfer from Michael Imperlioni’s theatre in New York. He played my part in the 2007 production – it’s a great play. It’s part of a new company set up by director Sam Neophytou to promote work from people with ethnic backgrounds www.innercityproductions.co.uk.

Have any new roles/projects for the near future?

I shot a pilot for a TV series which is currently being considered for BBC1 staring Marina Sertis (Star Trek, Crash etc) – She’s awesome to work with too. That centres around Greeks living in London. We hope to shoot a second episode over the coming months.

Do you go to Greece often?

My parents are from Cyprus so I go back there a lot. But I also love the Greek Islands. We filmed Mamma Mia in Skopelos and Skianthos so I had the opportunity to travel around the islands more. One day I plan to have a base there.

Do you speak Greek?

Yes.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Tufnell Park – North London. I went to Greek school each Saturday till the age of 16. I really have to try my best to keep my Greek up though, as not living with my parents makes it harder to do that. I must make more of a conscious effort. When I’m in Cyprus it all comes back very quickly.

What are your plans/dreams for your future career?

I’m working on my Visa at the moment in order to get to LA. I also write both plays and films so producing is definitely on the cards but at the moment my focus is getting my career off the ground in LA – getting an agent and manager over there. It’s a very different way of working to the business in London.

An Interview with Thaao Penghlis

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By Jim Ballas

Recently, I got a chance to talk with Thaao Penghlis, who was nominated for an Emmy for his role on “Days of Our Lives.” We spoke for a while and talked about many things, from growing up in Australia to Hollywood to traveling around the world.

Greek Hollywood Reporter: Do you speak Greek?

Thaao Penghlis: “Yes, I went to Greek School because my mother never spoke English. We spent three nights a week at Greek School. There’s something about knowing another language, especially one of your heritage.”

GHR: Was there a strong Greek community where you grew up in Australia?

TP: “We have the largest Greek community outside of Greece. We have over a million Greeks, many in Melbourne and Sydney. [Laughs] I have 45 first cousins in Sydney.”

GHR: Are you involved in the Greek community in Los Angeles?

TP: “I have been. I used to do a lot of Greek balls [and] benefits for the Greek Orthodox Church.

GHR: What is your favorite aspect of Greek culture?

TP: “I love the passion”

GHR: “Least favorite?”

TP: “The arrogance bothers me. I don’t know what it’s based upon. Even the cab drivers are arrogant. Also, show business in Greece is not terrific.”

GHR: How do you like being one of television’s favorite villains?
TP: “I like playing [the villain] because you get away with murder. I’ve come back from the dead at least four times.”

GHR: How does it feel to be nominated for an Emmy?

TP: “I don’t think it was expected. I don’t know. There’s a kind of humility. One of the actors from ‘The Young and the Restless’ said ‘I’m going to stand when they call your name.’ The actors I’m up against have all won two Emmys. I want to celebrate, but you can’t celebrate on your own. But when you have family, you can celebrate together.”

GHR: Are there measures taken to keep the scripts or story arcs hidden?

TP: “Absolutely. We never know what the leak is. There’s always someone leaking something to the press. We only know the script for the following week. It doesn’t help the actor, but it keeps the story strong for the viewers.”

GHR: So what’s next for you?

TP: “I just got back from New York. I want to produce as well. I want to take control of the stories I’ve written. I’ve got a great writing partner who has won some Emmys. You have to always be ahead of the game by lifting off of the page and bringing something they’re not expecting. I always have something up my sleeve they’re not expecting. Sometimes, while shooting, in the middle of an argument, I’ll just grab the girl and kiss her when it’s not written that way.”

GHR: What do you do in your spare time?

TP: “Currently, I’m writing a book on my journeys. It’s called “Sacred Spaces.” It’s about those places I’ve taken time to explore. In two weeks, I’m going back to Egypt and then to Syria. I’ll try to cross the border into Lebanon too.”

GHR: Where is your favorite place to travel?

TP: “I’ve been to Greece many times. There’s nothing more beautiful then going to Mycenae, Corinth or the Acropolis. The first time I stood at the Acropolis, I got emotional. There’s something about having history going back. Being American, our power is immediate, but Greeks, our power is ancient.”

GHR: If you weren’t acting professionally, what do you see yourself doing?

TP: “Probably archeology. I love unraveling a mystery. I like to explore things and I’m able to come back and put that experience and excitement into the roles I have back here [in Hollywood].”

GHR: Lastly, any advice for wannabe actors?

TP: “I think they must come prepared. They have to study. If you want a short career and you’re pretty, maybe that will get you through the door, but not for long. You only have so many chances and there’s nothing like training and exploring other cultures so it’s not just about you, but how you see the world. I think you have to know your history and those that came before you. You have to come prepared so you have a lot on your foundation. It’s all about what a difference you can make to a show. I like ensemble work, but get into the theatre as well. You have to persevere. The way you last in this business is through perseverance. It’s like the Zen Warriors – one pointedness – you have to wake up thinking all you want to be is an actor. If you really want to succeed, you can’t expect it to arrive at your door. You have to fight for it.”

We’d like to thank Thaao Penghlis for talking to the Greek Hollywood Reporter. To find out more information about Thaao, you can check out his website here.

New book by Markos Kounalakis

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Markos Kounalakis, Nancy Pelosi and Markos Kounalakis, Nancy Pelosi and Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis  during the San Francisco book party. “Hope Is a Tattered Flag” is the title of the new book of Markos Kounalakis and co-author Peter Laufer.The book which has been described as “Voices of Reason and Change for the Post-Bush Era” and “Clear prescriptions for post-Bush America by America’s best political minds—left, right, and center” will be available in the bookstores on July.
In the Press Release the editor states: “Whether it’s New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson connecting the dots between baseball and Hugo Chavez, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington’s riffing on facelifts and fearlessness, or JFK speechwriter and adviser Theodore Sorenson’s timeless wisdom for wonks, the work collected in Hope Is a Tattered Flag represents a major paradigm shift for politics in America. This is the bellwether entry in 2008’s crowded field of political titles. Here are the most listened-to politicos and pundits, activists and thinkers, along with a few fascinating Americans you will encounter nowhere else, weighing in on what we as a nation need to do after George W. Bush leaves behind the Oval Office and his legacy of bad decisions and squandered opportunities. How do you fix what the Bush administration broke and seize this unique opportunity for growth and prosperity? Here finally are some answers. The dozens of contributors include environmentalist Carl Pope, former presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan, and populist Bill McKibben.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Price and format: cloth $24.95, trade paper $16.96; Pub date: July 2008
ISBN 978-0-9794822-5-0 (HC); ISBN 978-0-9794822-4-3 (TP); Page count: 248 ”

Markos Kounalakis and Peter Laufer are co-hosts of the nationally syndicated radio show “ Washington Monthly on the Radio” (broadcast on XM and Air America affiliates in several major markets). They also write a regular feature in Washington Monthly magazine, a leader in political thought and social commentary since 1969. Previous books include Beyond Spin by Kounalakis and Mission Rejected by Laufer.

An afternoon of arias, art songs, and Greek classics

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Maria-Elena Kolovos will sing on Sunday, June 15th, at 3 pm for an afternoon of arias, art songs, and Greek classics to benefit the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts. A former student of the Aegean Center and a native of Los Angeles, Ms. Kolovos is excited to celebrate in song the unparalleled spirit and work of this Greek-American arts organization. The Concert will showcase Ms. Kolovos, solo voice, and Dr. Anatolia Ioannides, on piano, performing works by Monteverdi, Handel, Schumann, Schubert, Debussy, Villa-Lobos and Hadjidakis.

Galifianakis in “Visioneers”

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By Jim Ballas

This month, Zach Galifianakis will jump onto the silver screen in the upcoming independent feature, “Visioneers”. He stars in this film along with Judy Greer, best known for “27 Dresses” or from her recurring role on the television series, “Arrested Development.”
Galifianakis plays George Washington Winsterhammerman, an employee at a successful company where his coworkers begin to spontaneously explode from stress. Afraid he is next to explode, he begins to take steps to ensure his survival which leads him to question the life he is fighting for.
“Visioneers” is a dark comedy that will make its world premiere on June 12 and June 14 at the Seattle International Film Festival. Following the world premiere, the film makes its Las Vegas premiere on June 18 and June 19 at the CineVegas Film Festival.
Galifianakis, 38, was raised Greek Orthodox in North Carolina. He is the nephew of a former U.S. Congressman, Nick Galifianakis, as well as the cousin to cartoonist Nicholas Galifianakis.
Galifianakis is an experienced stand-up comic that has been in several movies, including “Out Cold,” “Bubble Boy,” and “Into the Wild.” Recently, he was featured on the “Funny or Die” stand-up comedy tour, along with comedians Nick Swardson, Demetri Martin, Andrea Savage and Will Ferrell.
Look for Zach Galifianakis in his upcoming film “Visioneers,” as well as his other upcoming releases, “Little Fish, Strange Pond,” a crime-comedy, and “G-Force,” a children’s comedy in which Guinea Pigs hope to save the world.

The “Greeky” side of the upcoming Emmy Awards

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Thaao Penghlis, the actor of Greek descent who plays Andre DiMera in Days of Our Lives is nominated for an Emmy Award. Penghlis was born in Sydney Australia, and is best known in the US for roles in daytime soap operas such as Days of Our Lives, Santa Barbara, and General Hospital. He was a student of Greek American acting teacher Milton Katselas. For more info go to www.thaaopenghlis.com

Another Greek who is involved with the Emmys is Lydia Loizides. She is not nominated for an award, but she is one of the trustees of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Many media insiders call her “one of the most intelligent people” of the industry. She is also Vice President, Director of Technology and Media Engagement Analytics at the Consumer Experience Practice, a part of Interpublic Group. Her blog can be found at www.lydialoizides.blogs.com

Greek… "Sex and the City"

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By Jim Ballas

“Sex and the City: The Movie” ruled at the box office this past weekend, drawing in over $55 million, about $10 million more than the next highest grossing movie, “Indiana Jones.” A prominent feature of the show, and of course the movie, is the extravagant fashion selections the main characters wear. This is all thanks to Greek stylist and fashion designer Patricia Field.
Patricia Field was born to Greek and Armenian parents and raised in New York City. Her professional fashion career took off during the 1960s, when she opened up her first boutique, the House of Field. She became well known on the New York fashion circuit and ventured into television and film design starting in the late 1980s.
Field met Sarah Jessica Parker, the star of “Sex and the City,” on the set of the 1995 film “Miami Rhapsody.” Parker liked Field as the costume designer enough that when “Sex and the City” began, Parker asked for Field to design a few outfits. She later became the show’s costume designer, dressing all of the characters in the newest fashions.
Her work on “Sex and the City” was a great success. In her six years with the show, she was nominated for five Emmy Awards, winning one, and six Costume Designers Guild Awards, winning four.
Since her original run on “Sex and the City,” she has designed for television shows “Hope & Faith,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Cashmere Mafia.” Most notably, Field was the costume designer for the trend-setting movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” which earned her an Academy Award Nomination for best costume design. She is currently working on “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” a film starring Isla Fisher, due out in February 2009.
Throughout all her movie and television success, Field still maintains her fashion line, named after her original boutique, “The House of Field.” She sells these and other designs at her New York boutique, appropriately named Patricia Field, located at 302 Bowery.
Field has been designing for many years, and her continuing success has made her a household name in the fashion world. To see more of Patricia Field’s work, check out “Sex and the City: The Movie,” now in theatres or take a look at her boutique at www.patriciafield.com.

Greek… “Sex and the City”

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By Jim Ballas

“Sex and the City: The Movie” ruled at the box office this past weekend, drawing in over $55 million, about $10 million more than the next highest grossing movie, “Indiana Jones.” A prominent feature of the show, and of course the movie, is the extravagant fashion selections the main characters wear. This is all thanks to Greek stylist and fashion designer Patricia Field.
Patricia Field was born to Greek and Armenian parents and raised in New York City. Her professional fashion career took off during the 1960s, when she opened up her first boutique, the House of Field. She became well known on the New York fashion circuit and ventured into television and film design starting in the late 1980s.
Field met Sarah Jessica Parker, the star of “Sex and the City,” on the set of the 1995 film “Miami Rhapsody.” Parker liked Field as the costume designer enough that when “Sex and the City” began, Parker asked for Field to design a few outfits. She later became the show’s costume designer, dressing all of the characters in the newest fashions.
Her work on “Sex and the City” was a great success. In her six years with the show, she was nominated for five Emmy Awards, winning one, and six Costume Designers Guild Awards, winning four.
Since her original run on “Sex and the City,” she has designed for television shows “Hope & Faith,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Cashmere Mafia.” Most notably, Field was the costume designer for the trend-setting movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” which earned her an Academy Award Nomination for best costume design. She is currently working on “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” a film starring Isla Fisher, due out in February 2009.
Throughout all her movie and television success, Field still maintains her fashion line, named after her original boutique, “The House of Field.” She sells these and other designs at her New York boutique, appropriately named Patricia Field, located at 302 Bowery.
Field has been designing for many years, and her continuing success has made her a household name in the fashion world. To see more of Patricia Field’s work, check out “Sex and the City: The Movie,” now in theatres or take a look at her boutique at www.patriciafield.com.

“The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette”

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Mark Philipoussis and Deanna Pappas have two things in common. The first is that they are both of Greek descent and the second that both are considered the ideal type of boyfriend and girlfriend, respectively, in the US. Every Greeks dream (from Greece) is to come to the US and meet all this blonde hotties, but now something is changing. American media promote people with darker looks, maybe because audiences are getting tired of the all blonde rule. Two very popular TV shows “The Bachelor” (NBC) and “The bachelorette” (ABC) are promoting as role models Mark Philippoussis and DeAnna Pappas. Philippoussis is already known for his successful career in tennis, and this was the factor that helped him be casted for last year’s show. NBC says about him ” With his combination of stunning good looks, extraordinary success and easy charm, tennis superstar Mark Philippoussis may very well be the most eligible bachelor in America.” He was born in 1976 in Melbourne, Australia.

DeAnna Pappas is casted as the bachelaurette in ABC’s “The Bachelaurette”. She was not famous before the show, and was living a normal life in Georgia. ABC states “DeAnna, 26, is a brunette, brown-eyed real estate agent from Newnan, Georgia. She became an immediate fan favorite and was the final woman remaining on the finale of The Bachelor last November. The ending proved to be a huge shocker, though, when Womack didn’t select any woman — a first in “Bachelor” history. She found out she was tapped to star as the next “Bachelorette” on an episode of Ellen that aired in January of this year.

DeAnna demonstrated her assertiveness and independent nature during The Bachelor, setting her apart from the other women. She is an interesting combination of Greek ancestry on her father’s side and a mix of many ethnicities — including Native American — on her mother’s. Growing up in Kentucky with her older brother, Thomas, and younger sister, Chrissy, DeAnna’s parents divorced when she was six. Her mother’s ultimately fatal battle with cancer meant that DeAnna was raised primarily by her aunt and grandmother, and when her mother died — DeAnna was 12 — she moved to Georgia to live with her father. ” It is worth mentioning that she already has introduced all her possible future boyfriend to drinking ouzo and saying “opa”.