Saturday, February 11, 2012

INTERVIEW: Jon Lindstrom Reveals What Happens Next

Daytime soap fans may know Jon Lindstrom best from his roles as Craig on AS THE WORLD TURNS, Mark on SANTA BARBARA, or Kevin/Ryan on PORT CHARLES and GENERAL HOSPITAL. But since the WORLD stopped turning in 2010, Lindstrom has been busy writing, directing and acting in a number of film projects.

His latest film is the romantic comedy What Happens Next, released on DVD on February 7 by Wolfe Video. Lindstrom stars as a wealthy gay man who decides to come out late in life. Two-time Emmy Award nominee Wendie Malick (HOT IN CLEVELAND) plays his sister.

We Love Soaps recently caught up with the Emmy-nominated actor to talk about his role as billionaire Paul Greco in the film, the state of the entertainment industry in New York post-daytime soaps, and the (soon to be, at the time) Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Let's talk about What Happens Next. Can you set up the premise of the story?
Jon Lindstrom: I play a middle-aged bachelor named Paul Greco who is very, very successful, and gets bought out of his company early in the film.  But he has no mate and a lot of money and time to spend. His sister, played by Wendie Malick, decides he needs a companion. She gives him a dog. In order to get out of the house, he has to start walking the dog right across the street in Rittenhouse Square, and he's never done this in 35 years of living there.

In the course of learning to walk the dog and becoming a responsible dog owner, he meets a young man (Andy, played by Chris Murrah) and they strike up a very unlikely friendship. The story progresses from there.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What was it like working with Wendie Malick?
Jon Lindstrom: Awesome. Wendie is a true great dame. She's got that smoke and whiskey voice that she uses. She's stunningly beautiful. But she opens her mouth and this kind of blue humor can come out at any moment. She's extraordinarily skilled, highly talented and a real pro and pleasure to be around. I describe her as a hilarious hurricane.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What appealed to you about this script?
Jon Lindstrom: I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do a film. I wanted to work out of town. I wanted to do something comedic. Certainly on WORLD TURNS I did an awful lot of humor. But more than that, I felt it was really a well-written script in the style of those Doris Day-Rock Hudson romantic comedies of the '50s and '60s. I talked to the director, Jay Arnold, when I got the call and they offered me the part. We started talking about the style of the film and what it's going to look like and describing the kind of vibrant colors that would be used and the breezy editing style he wanted to introduce into it. I thought, 'This is a guy who has a real vision about what he wants to do and what kind of movie he wants to make.' And I want to work with someone like that.

All too often you end up kind of just wading through and no one seems to know what you're doing, who you're playing or what kind of movie you're making. Six different people making six different movies. [Laughs]

But beyond that is a character who realizes something about himself something he's never really known or allowed himself to acknowledge, and he's in his 50s. I thought that was really interesting. You read in the paper these stories about somebody who comes out after raising five kids, and I realized the world we live in doesn't make it easy to acknowledge who you really are. And I feel certainly in this country everyone should feel comfortable enough to accept that's who they are and be in love with whoever they fall in love with.

We, as a country, especially right now, are tending to marginalize groups of people and that's a very dangerous thing to do. Some people just won't get it. But if we can make a movie and hope to illuminate to some people who might say, 'Oh, I never really looked at that way. Everybody falls in love. People have feelings and they are every bit as valid and deep as the ones I have.' Then we've done our job. That can only strike down barriers. If I can be part of that, I'm proud to make the movie.

In the meantime, we made a movie we can actually laugh at. He's very funny.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I guess Paul is part of "The 1%" but I don't really think of this kind of person when I think of that. [Laughs]
Jon Lindstrom: [Laughs] Paul is part of 'The 1%'. Don't get me started on that. I feel people can use their money to try to influence politics and government in a way that reflects what they believe everyone else should be. Paul Greco is a character who believes everyone should be who they are. He's just never acknowledged it for himself. If people are using money to influence elections to say that everybody is equal, but some are more equal than others, that's wrong and I don't think it's representative of our country in its entirety or the rights everyone should enjoy. That's the reason I made it.  I try not to get on a political soapbox, but you opened the door!

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I made an indie film a few years ago and the most nerve-wracking part was when we actually screened it, sitting in the back of the theater and watching people react to it. Have you been able to do that with this film?
Jon Lindstrom: I actually have had the honor to do that and it had never happened to me before. In this case, we wrapped the movie and they cut it together very quickly. We wound up being the opening night selection for the QFest film festival in Philadelphia.

My girlfriend, Cady McClain, and I are now very good friends with the director and his partner so we all went to the premiere. I was sitting in the audience and I realized, 'Oh my God, I'm going to be in almost every frame of this movie! What if it sucks? What if I suck?' But about five minutes into the movie the audience started to laugh. And everybody had a great time, including me. I hadn't seen the film yet and was sitting there watching this movie and laughing with everybody else.

There were a few things I was unsure about because I hadn't seen the film, but once I saw them everything went great. For me it wasn't a nerve-wracking experience once the movie started to roll, and we got a standing ovation. That happened at that festival for two screenings plus another one I went to in Miami. What Happens Next has played about nine festivals now.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I want to ask you about daytime soaps in New York City. ONE LIFE aired its final episode in January and now we have no daytime soap operas shooting in New York. As someone who has lived in both L.A. and New York, how has this loss impacted the New York entertainment industry?
Jon Lindstrom: It's been devastating and I don't believe it had to happen, to be quite honest. There's always ways to cut money and to make any show profitable, maybe just not as profitable as people would like it to be. There should be something offered for everyone and soaps were one of those things. As far as the economy and entertainment industry, it has been devastating and they started here. It's really disheartening.

Just this week I had meetings for three different projects for television and all of them shoot in Canada. I'm a little perturbed about it and sometimes find myself going, 'Do I even want to be a part of that?' But until the unions and the states and cities get together and really decide how they can make themselves more viable a place to shoot than Toronto or Vancouver or Australia--I could go on and on--it's going to continue like this.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Switching gears, you tweeted on the day of the NFC Championship game that you were a [New York] Giants fan.
Jon Lindstrom:  I wasn't always a Giants fan.  I'm a West Coaster.  My father is from Minneapolis and my grandfather played for one of those leatherhead teams from Minneapolis.  So I was always into one of those Upper Midwest teams--the Packers, the Vikings, the Steelers, and the Bears.  Those were my teams.  But I found myself in a pub on Broadway with my acting teacher, Bob McAndrew, two weekends ago for the Giants playoffs.  When they won that game, which sent them into last weekend's game, I had never seen a pub erupt like that in such pandemonium . The deejay turned on "New York, New York" and the place was singing and people were cheering and jumping up and down and I said, 'You know what.  I guess I'm a New Yorker now.   I'm a Giants fan.'

What Happens Next Synopsis:

In this charming romantic comedy, middle-aged billionaire/socialite Paul Greco (Jon Lindstrom) seems to have it all. After selling his lucrative business and retiring, he finds himself with more money and time on his hands than he knows what to do with. His overbearing but well-meaning sister, Elise (Wendie Malick), decides that giving Paul a dog would be the perfect solution. With little else to do, Paul assumes a daily dog walking routine in the park and encounters Andy Chance (Chris Murrah), who walks his dog on the same schedule. What starts as a casual daily meeting in the park eventually develops into something confusing, romantic and hilarious.

What Happens Next DVD Bonus Features Include:
* Deleted and Extended Scenes
* 5.1 Surround Sound or 2.0 Stereo
* Closed Captions

What Happens Next has a running time of 100 minutes and is not rated.

You can purchase from retailers nationwide or order DVDs by calling 1-800-GET-WOLFE or visiting Consumers looking to rent or download What Happens Next will find it available on multiple Internet, VOD and broadcast platforms.

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