Have you met Kit Williamson and John Halbach – Actors, Writers, Producers, and Travel Influencers?

Many of you may know Kit Williamson from Mad Men and his Emmy nominated and award winning show Eastsiders (Where you will also know his husband, John Halbach from). I am lucky to have become part of Eastsiders as an associate producer in season three and I am even luckier to be able to call them friends now as well. As a matter of fact, I just saw them in NYC when they were here to promote the third season of Eastsiders at New Fest last month.

If you follow Kit and John on social media you may have also noticed they have become quite the travel/luxury influencers these days and that is what I wanted to highlight them for here. Of course we must note that Kit is working on some amazing writing and directing projects like Girls Like Magic AND Eastsiders Season Three is available to pre-order at Amazon right now.

I have no idea how they find time to do all they do and take the fabulous trips they do BUT I do know that they make the trips look as fabulous as you’d imagine, plus are able to bring us all along via social media. Earlier this year, they took a trip across Europe that included time in Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague. Then they returned to LA for the premiere of Eastsiders Season three at Outfest but soon after headed to Palm Springs for some more amazing views and Instagram photos!

Recently, they spent time in NYC, where I am from (after a brief stay in one of my favorite cities, Toronto), and introduced me to the Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn. I actually lived right there in Williamsburg for a but but never visited this truly luxurious hotel right in my home town.

During their time in Europe, Kit and John experienced some of the local culture, explored the usual tourist sites, and definitely enjoyed the local cuisine. I spoke to John about it at the Eastsiders premiere party after Outfest in Los Angeles and he expressed interest in doing it again as well as traveling to other places. At the after party for Eastsiders at NewFest in NYC, Kit expressed the same feelings to me about traveling and I expressed my interest in joining them on a few adventures (can you blame me for trying?).

There experiences traveling and influencing have led them to start their very own magazine called Where Gentlemen Go to showcase all the latest and hottest trends in travel, health, home, fashion, and more. As they say, “Go Out, Go Home, Go for It – A gay men’s travel/ lifestyle blog for modern gents.” I suggest you check it out, you will see a familiar face there from time to time. I am truly proud to be a part of Where Gentlemen Go because it’s a place for guys to go to share experiences, thoughts, tips, and their favorite things and places.

Please make sure you follow both Kit Williamson and John Halback on Twitter and Instagram for to view pictures of their trips and upcoming adventures and projects. Also follow Eastsiders and Girls Like Magic, you won’t be sorry.

Nico Tortorella and the Heart of Hunter&Game

It’s not secret that I love all things TV Land and am a huge fan of their show, Younger. I have worked alongside my TV Land family, live tweeting the premiere and am an avid viewer from home. I don’t need a twitter party to motivate me to live tweet what I love (as you all know). I have enjoyed the entire first season but haven’t crossed paths with any of the stars, until now.

A mutual friend, Richard Hine alerted me to the fact that Nico Tortorella had done this amazing Indie film, Hunter&Game,  about the world of Indie music in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY. This was of major interest to me because Nico is a favorite actor of mine but also because I have many friends who are Indie musicians in NYC and was even a part of the scene for a few years myself. (promotions mostly, not performing).

When I was given the opportunity to speak to Nico about the film, I didn’t hesitate to say YES. I was not disappointed in any way. Nico Tortorella is as fun to talk to as you would imagine from seeing him on screen. He definitely shares many qualities with his character Josh on Younger in his spirit, authenticity, and ability to make others feel comfortable around him. He also shares the fun loving quality of his character in Hunter&Game, Carson. You can tell why he was drawn to the character and why the character is so endearing.

We spoke last Friday night about life, Younger, and of course Hunter&Game. I think you will enjoy Nico’s advice, humor, and insight as much as I did:

Q: Tell me a little about Hunter and Game. What drew you to the role?

Nico Tortorella: Ninety percent of the film was real life. I was supposed to read for Sasha but I knew I had to go in for Carson. Carson was obviously the role I was meant to play, he is the heart of the movie. So, I smoked a joint, put on a fur coat, and got the role.

Q: Are you a musician as well as an actor? 

NT: I taught myself to play the guitar and bass. I’ve also written some sappy love songs. When this film came around, it was perfect because I’ve always seen myself as more of a rock star than an actor.

Q: Did you or do you hang out with many Indie musicians?

NT: While filming, I did but I don’t have an abundance of musician friends. Musicians were around constantly during production.

Q: Hunter and Game is being called “Spinal Tap meets Bushwick”. How does that make you feel? 

NT: It feels EPIC, it’s everything we ever hoped for. We went into this with a first time filmmaker, low budget, like a bunch of friends hanging out. I think Hunter and Game has a reality Spinal Tap didn’t have, a relate-ability.

Q: Can we talk about Younger for a minute. The show will be returning for a second season this January after a phenomenal first season. What is that like for you? Have you settled into being a TV star and a leading man?

NT: You can’t really take any of that too seriously. I think I keep a sense of humility, it’s the first series I’m in that hasn’t been canceled early. The first time I’m coming back for a second season. Let’s face it, romantic comedy is a dying genre but we can turn that around.

Q: Do you like your character, Josh?

NT: I’d hang out with Josh, he shares my core values of life. He’s cool, wants to have fun, and wants everyone to live authentically.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? From who?

NT: Scott Fellows (Big Time Rush) said something with me that really resonated early on. He said, “As an actor, if you’re starting off and there’s ANYTHING you think you can do other than act, go do it now”.

That hit me hard and I realized I truly belong in this industry.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever given? Are you usually able to take or heed your own words of wisdom?

NT: To young actors, I’d say if you have an audition, really think about what everyone else is going to do for theirs and do the opposite. Don’t be predictable or like everyone else going in.

As far as taking my own advice, yeah, I’d like to think I can and do.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

NT: I absolutely cannot live without honey, I just love it. As far as something we could all live without, Jealousy. It’s a nasty mofo!

Q: What’s up next for Nico Tortorella?

NT: There’s a small rumor about a season three for Younger and I’m also reading scripts. I’d love to play a superhero and tackle the action genre. Other than that, I just want to do good work and work with good people.

Q: Do you have a preference between New York City and Los Angeles?

NT: I miss LA, my heart is there for sure.

Q: Since you are in New York City, any plans to do Broadway? 

NT: I’d love to! I just haven’t seen the right script. But it’ll happen at some point for sure!

I’d like to thank Nico for taking time out of his Friday night for me and for being such a delight! Be sure to catch him this January in Season two of Younger on TV Land and be sure to watch Hunter&Game for FREE here:

Michelle Katz has Music with a Message for You

I met Michelle Katz last year while working at a FRIEND Movement photo shoot. We immediately hit it off and I had so  much fun those few days working with her while we also discussed everything from LA to film to TV and everything in between. As soon as I found out she was a fan of Fleetwood Mac AND a fellow native New Yorker, I knew we’d be friends for sure! She is someone who has worked in the entertainment world but hasn’t been jaded by it. I was so impressed with everyone I met during that phase of FRIEND Movement because it was the beginnings and we all knew we were part of something so much bigger than ourselves and something that would change lives.

In talking with Michelle, I realized she was no stranger to helping others through her art. She has worked in television, film, and is also a musician who makes music that speaks of the things going on in our lives and the situations we face each day. No matter which area she is working in, she simply has a story to tell. Recently, she let me know that her new song “Can’t Go Back Now” is out, which led me to ask her to do a little interview with me so I could introduce her and her music to all of you.

I hope you enjoy the interview and that you head over to her website to check out her music. Be sure to follow her on Twitter as well!

Q: Can you tell me a little about your new song, “Can’t Go Back Now”?

Michelle Katz: My most recent song “Can’t Go Back Now”, was inspired initially by my sadness over Hurricane Sandy. As a native New Yorker, it was tough to be so far away during that tragedy and the visuals on the news really made an impact on me. Then not long after I began crafting the lyrics, the Newtown shootings happened, and a little bit of that tragedy then seeped into the song.  Also, the constant hum of conflict that was happening in the Middle East was nagging at me, so I layered some of my lyrics with that observation as well.  While all this was going on and I was crafting the song, I was in a relationship that was starting to crumble and that’s in there too. My loneliness, fear, and isolation was coming through, in ways I didn’t even get until the song was complete.  “Can’t Go Back Now” was kind of my meditation on the theme that everyone has that one moment in their past that maybe they wish they could take back, or redo but the bottom line is, we can’t go back so we need to make peace with it.  Although it has the bittersweet tone that I really wanted to capture, it also has an optimistic hook in the chorus. That chorus was almost meant to be a lullaby to anyone who is trying to make it through a really long night, or one singular terrifying moment in their lives. The confirmation that they will pull through is what I wanted to send out through those lyrics and the music is meant for them (and myself) to rejoice, knowing it’s all going to be ok, and we can’t go back..

Q: What does music mean to you and who are some of your favorite artists?

MK: To me, music is healing. On every level. Emotionally, spiritually, romantically….it all begins and ends with beautiful melodies, something to dance to, and to express joy to…I also think that music is peace. It’s the one thing that bonds all cultures, religions, ethnicities, etc…I think it’s an amazing tool for bridging and reconciling differences. We forget so many moments and facts about our lives as we go along, but we never forget the song we first fell in love to, or what might have been playing on the radio the day we left for college. It’s kind of amazing..

So many artists have influenced me throughout the years, I guess my go to inspirations would be: Carole King, Fleetwood Mac, and Van Morrison as well as more recently Ryan Adams, Michael Kiwanuka, and Rodriguez. I grew up listening to a lot of Carole King (Tapestry is still one of my favorite albums), and I think those 70’s folk artists I listened to growing up, really made me want to be a songwriter. Piano is the instrument I played since I was very young, and once I heard Ryan Adams, I decided i needed to learn how to write on the guitar. He’s been such a huge inspiration of mine.

Q: I know you also work in film and television. How is that work different from Music? How is it similar?

MK: The times when film and TV producing can be similar to creating music, is when I have the ability to be part of telling a great story. That is when my passion for the craft of storytelling really comes alive, because that’s what it’s all about — telling a story that can ultimately leave people feeling changed, even just for a moment.  Unfortunately, most of my producing work has been as a line producer, which is very logistical and nuts and bolts. It’s been a really valuable skill to have as an artist, because when I put my songwriting hat on to go into the studio, I have a good handle on actually getting the project done and working well with the producer. It’s always so nice to leave the producing in someone else’s hands and just be an artist for a while. Sometimes when I’m working as a producer — I feel like I’m playing pretend a little bit. Because underneath the veneer, I am really just a quirky songwriter.

Q: You and I met working with FRIEND Movement. What attracts you to that Movement and what other causes are you passionate about?

MK: I love the Friend Movement, because the concept is so simple. Having that one friend to turn to can take a crappy moment into a funny one. I always had a lot of fun with my friends growing up on Staten Island, and I think life has gotten more complicated since I was a kid, especially with friendship becoming intertwined with social media. Sometimes, I wish we could dumb it down a little, and just be more carefree..and most recently I’ve been going through a really difficult time personally, and as soon as I reached out to a few people I met on the Friend Movement, I immediately was bathed in a lot of loving support. So, it’s not just talk…it’s really true.

I am very passionate about human rights, especially anything involving violence against women. As the child of Holocaust survivors, I think crimes against humanity happen too frequently, and iso often, just simply go unnoticed. My heart goes out to anyone/everyone who can’t go to sleep at night without fear.

Q: Where can we find you, your work, and your music online?

MK: I am currently playing in a folk duo in Los Angeles called Katz and David, with guitarist and singer/songwriter David Baldwin. We are currently prepping for our full-length album “Can’t Go Back Now”, which we will be recorded in January. It’s a really exciting project because many of those songs we’re about to record, are songs I wrote a while ago that have been laying around collecting dust for too long.

You can purchase my music at   www.cdbaby.com/cd/michellekatz and please visit my site at:  www.katzsongwriter.com . Also, tweet me, @katzfriend.

Shailene Woodley stuns at The Fault In Our Stars world premiere in New York

Shailene Woodley stuns at The Fault In Our Stars world premiere in New York (via ITN)

Subscribe to TheShowbiz411! http://bit.ly/1dXOPuV There was no faulting the stars in New York as they turned out for the world premiere of hotly anticipated movie The Fault In Our Stars. The film sees Shailene Woodley take on the role of teenage cancer…

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Who is ‘Molly’? A sweet name for deadly designer drug

Who is ‘Molly’? A sweet name for deadly designer drug (via AFP)

Everybody is talking about Molly, but few aside from the young, hip and famous knew who she was until the death of two people at a New York music festival this weekend. The sweet-sounding name belongs to an Ecstasy-like designer drug that is being blamed…

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