EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mike Tyson Wears ‘Many Faces’ in his ‘Undisputed Truth’


Over the years, I’ve had the chance to speak one-on-one with a variety of notable celebrities, entertainment personalities and sports figures.

However, my recent interview with Mike Tyson is probably the most cathartic and personal interview I’ve done to date. For starters, it wasn’t one of those rushed red carpet interviews where the handler is ushering the talent away after two seconds (I always think of when I interviewed Nina Dobrev of The Vampire Diaries and the handler nudged her away after one question).

Celebrating the release of his new book “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” and the HBO Special of the same name, Tyson sat down to talk with me at length about his dynamic life – outside of the ring.

As a child growing up in East Flatbush, Brooklyn during the reign of the knockout champ, my childhood friends and I would often look-up to Tyson. He was more than just a boxer for kids from the neighborhood, especially since most of us had played Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out on the NES game console. Tyson was a superhero from Brooklyn, who could knock down an opponent in 30 seconds flat.

But forget all that. Before interviewing Tyson, I watched Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, a taping of Tyson’s one-man show on Broadway that will be airing on HBO on Nov 16. It gave me a chance to relate to Tyson in a more personal way. Plus he’s just hilarious to watch on stage as he interacts with the crowd and plays off their energy.

Instead of the boxer and controversial figure people had come to know, I was granted access to a humble man who had gone through – and survived – a series of arduous trials. Undisputed Truth is Tyson’s own Book of Job.

In this interview, Tyson and I chat about life in Brooklyn, his Bruce Lee journey of “adaptability”, comic books, role models, code switching and much more. He even has his eyes set on playing a certain Marvel Comics, X-Men villain in the movies. So if you’re watching Bryan Singer, you may want to check this one out.

You can catch HBO’s exclusive presentation of Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth Saturday, Nov 16 at 8PM.

The Force is Strong in NYC, LEGO Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter Takes Over Times Square

Remember Zack the Lego Maniac? It was a commercial about a kid who created the wildest toys out of Lego building blocks. Well, Zack’s all grown up and doing big things.

Well, not really Zack (since he’s allegedly just a fictional person created by evil 80s advertisers who like to play tricks on children), but Lego’s build Masters designed the biggest Lego toy the world has ever seen.

The Lego Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter debuted in Times Square, NYC. It was a 1:1 replica of an ACTUAL Star Wars X-Wing (you know from that alternate reality we all live in when we curse George Lucas’ name for ruining the franchise he created).

The Lego model had a 44-feet wingspan, standing at 11-feet tall and 43-feet long.

Pretty awesome indeed. Now, if Lego can get it to actually work and fly me to the Dagobah System, I’ll be the first person to bid that “ish” up if it goes on the auction block.

Gamer Fashion: Skullcandy in the BK streets

Spotted on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. Young adult dread wearing a Skullcandy backpack, in-between gaming sessions.

Favorite console: Xbox 360
Currently playing: NBA 2K13
Favorite Basketball Team: New York Knicks
Favorite Football Team: Green Bay Packers
Headphones of Choice: Beats by Dre
Hat: Under Armour
Jacket: North Face
Skateboard Status: Retired

Incongruities:
– Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but hasn’t jumped on the Brooklyn Nets bandwagon yet.
– New Yorker who likes the Packers.
– Beats by Dre headphones, and a Skullcandy backpack.

Wii U Launches in NYC, ZombieU & New Super Mario Bros. U first Games Purchased

The 2012 Wii U launch has come and gone.

In contrast to 2011’s 3DS launch event (staged at Best Buy in Union Square), Nintendo had a markedly more successful NYC launch than for its latest gaming console.

While the Rockettes were dazzling tourists at Radio City Music Hall, Nintendo fans lined up in front of the Nintendo World Store at Rockefeller Center. The Wii U customer line wrapped around the Rockefeller Center area, starting at 48th Street and going north on 6th Avenue – to continue onto 49th Street. The 3DS launch barely had a line that extended down half a city avenue block (in NYC, avenue blocks in are already typically half the length of street blocks).

EDITOR’S PICK: Nintendo’s Revolution 6 Years Later

While gamers counted down the moments to the Wii U launch (midnight Nov 18), Mii’s danced to pop music ranging from Starship’s “We Built This City” to more contemporary chart toppers.

Once again, Triforce – wearing his Power Glove and classic controller jacket – was first on line at the gaming launch event. Nintendo’s President Reggie Fils-Aime rang up his purchase. Triforce also picked up ZombieU and New Super Mario Bros. U as his first titles – and thus the first games bought for the Wii U console in North America.

What games will you pick up?

Have no fear Monster Hunter lovers, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (for Wii U and 3DS) is only a few months away.

Legend of Zelda Symphony Rocks Nintendo World

Following-up the Nintendo Wii-U launch announcement, Nintendo brought the The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses to New York City’s Nintendo World store this month.

The evening began with ocarinist David Ramos showing fans the different ocarinas used in the Zelda franchise.

Ramos brought over 10 ocarinas for fans to check out and hear him play.

He also gave a mini lesson on the the history of each ocarina, its relationship to each Zelda game and how the game controllers handled notes.

After the lesson was over, the crowd shifted the the second floor of Nintendo World, eagerly awaiting to hear some of their favorite musical compositions from the Legend of Zelda franchise.

While fans waited for the ensemble to setup, 3DS owners quickly opened up their Street Pass to add in new Miis and swap puzzles.

The seven-part musical ensemble was conducted by Eímear Noone with an introduction from music director Chad Seiter as well as show producers Jeron Moore and Jason Michael Paul.

Miss Piggy Proves She Still Wears the Taste-Maker Crown at NYC’s Fashion’s Night Out

the muppets miss piggy

Fashion Week officially kicked off in New York City with Fashion’s Night Out. While the Dons and Divas of the fashion industry are celebrated, it’s also a time for celebrities to show off exclusive outfits.

Taste makers step out to kick the Fall season into high gear. It’s also a time when teens put together new outfits to show their peers that back-to-school doesn’t strictly mean back-to-books, but rather back-to-status.

Crowds gathered along along 5th and Madison Avenue, in Soho, and in Herald Square to check out the action, catch a few sales and see which fashion arbiter would define the Fall look.

While the tall blond or mysterious brunette may garner wandering eyes, an old favorite caught our attention – showing the world that she’s still got what it takes to be an industry taste maker.

Miss Piggy stepped on the scene in NYC, with Donna Karan, in a DKNY black dress, heels and a few “unique” accessories to add “fire” to the red carpet.

EDITOR’S PICK: The Muppets – Even Better with Hilarious Bonus Featurettes

Piggy joined the 13 FDNY firefighters featured in the FDNY 2013 Calendar of Heroes to help raise funds for the FDNY as well as make Kermit the Frog a little jealous.

She’s been a taste maker for several generations and still held the crown at Fashion’s Night Out 2012 in NYC.

Nintendo Kicks off Mario Party in New York with NYC Mentors

Nintendo is gearing up for another NYC-based gaming launch for the release of Mario Party 9 for the Nintendo Wii.

mario party

Instead of your typical gaming-centric event, Nintendo is infusing community support into this launch party. On Friday, March 9, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York (called “Bigs”) will join their mentees (called “Littles”) for the Mario Party 9 release.

The event is open to all families and children, giving players the chance to check out the 80 new mini games in Mario Party 9. In this game, players work together to defeat a common enemy. For the first time in Mario Party history, gamers will jump in a shared vehicle and cooperatively work towards reclaiming Mini Stars stolen by Bowser and his minions. However, only one player gets the title of “Superstar”.

The event will feature refreshments, prizes and live entertainment from Radio Disney. Mario and Luigi costumed characters will also be available for photos.

The event takes place from 7-10PM in NYC at:
Nintendo World
10 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020

Mario Party 9 on the Wii

Super Mario 3D Land Set To Launch in Times Square with Life Size Gameplay

Nintendo is gearing up for its biggest 3DS title release of the year. Super Mario 3D Land is set to warp, er… launch, in New York City’s Times Square.

On November 12, Nintendo will be setting life size warp pipes for gamers to flock to and grab a few coins off of a trampoline. There will also be a flag pole finale.

Highlights include:
– A performance from a mass group of Nintendo characters at the start of the event
– A set of exclusive Tanooki ears and tails as featured in the original franchise, rewarded to fans onsite throughout the event (available while supplies last).
– A “Mushroom Kingdom” Pizza truck nearby offering free mushroom pizza slices to the first 1,000 consumers onsite that tweet using the #SuperMario3D hashtag.
– Additionally, in advance of its official Nov. 13 release date, Nintendo is rewarding its biggest fans in attendance with an exclusive limited early sale of the game at Toys “R” Us located in Times Square on Nov. 12.

The event kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. EST. It will be on Military Island at Times Square located at Broadway and 7th Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets.

Preorder Super Mario 3D Land:

Interview: Person of Interest Star Michael Emerson and Creator Jonathan Nolan Dish on Character & Location Secrets

Recently, I had the chance to sit down for breakfast with Person of Interest star Michael Emerson (as Harold Finch) and series creator Jonathan Nolan (upcoming The Dark Knight Rises) on CBS new drama. The series features Finch as a scientist with a mysterious background who partners with ex-CIA hitman John Reese (Jim Caviezel).

In the rising landscape of TV spy and conspiracy series, Nolan had his work cut out for him creating something that would be unique and intriguing. He also went into the process with a solid idea of where the story would go.

Nolan said, “I felt the responsibility that if I’m going to ask billions of people to start engaging in and caring about these characters that I had to have a pretty good idea of where it was going. So, I know what the end is. The end, end. Along the way we have a number of waypoints, story moments that we have planned out.”

Most people know Nolan from the successful Batman movie franchise. However, many may wonder why he would choose to make the jump to TV at this point in his career. “One of the fun things about TV is that it is a massive collaboration. Several hundred people working in New York and fifty or so back in Los Angeles. We all built this story together. If Locations finds a cool location, then ‘oh we can do something fun here’ or if one of our actors finds a cool aspect to their personality or if someone who is intended as a day player comes on board and knocks it out of the park, then we think ‘we’re going to do something fun with that’. And, then you start to plan. That’s the fun of it. It’s one of the reasons I was drawn to TV. In TV that’s what you do. You have a wonderful problem in that you come up with too much story. For me, I had to know where it was going. But, then you get to have a little bit of fun. You get to figure out what works.”

As a New Yorker, it always upsets me when I see shows that are supposed to take place in New York, but very obviously take place on a studio set. Not only are the environments, accents and locations off, but also I immediately get knocked out of the moment. It’s hard to stay focused when a subway train doesn’t look like a subway train or when two street signs are off (I’m looking at you 24).

“One of the cool things about shooting in New York is that you don’t do it in a vacuum,” Emerson said. “I think most people are happy to have a TV show shoot on their block, but not everybody. And, there are people in New York who are characters that are larger than anything on TV or in fiction. We were shooting in Brighton Beach and we were making pedestrians go around. We had one block, blocked off as we were shooting on it. So the neighborhood people who are mainly older ladies who are doing their morning shopping were being asked to step off the curb and go between the orange cones. Some of them just weren’t having it.”

Emerson then treated us to a Russian accent, “Why I should walk in street. You come here with all this gear? Why I should?” Emerson laughed, “In some cases there was a lot of hand signaling going on.”

Nolan added, “We had a lady on the pilot [shoot] who wanted two dollars. It was amazing. She walked straight through fifty crewmembers and stood directly in front of the director. She stood behind his monitor. Shot lined up and she just appeared over the top of the monitor. She said, ‘You’re going to give me two dollars or I’m going to give you major attitude towards the director.’ The director who is [also] a standup comedian responded without missing a beat, ‘You don’t need two dollars, you already have major attitude.’ She then proceeded to ruin about half a dozen shots. But it was great.” He laughed. “Folks drive up with their radios turned up and you ask them to turn it down and they say ‘give me fifty bucks.’ One of beautiful things about shooting in New York is that you can set your camera up in any direction and it’s New York. It’s got a vibrancy and a depth and density to it that you won’t get anywhere else in the world.”

Nolan and Emerson shared thoughts on the unique characters of Reese, Finch and Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson). The two also discussed the procedural elements of the show that would allow for several “waypoint” stories to come up depending on locations and guest actors.

Nolan said, “Carter herself is a fascinating character. We haven’t had the chance to explore that character and how she fits into [the story] beyond the ‘Fugitive’ model of she’s the Tommy Lee Jones to Jim’s Harrison Ford. I think that there’s a lot more to Carter. I’ve just been fascinated with characters who have layers and secrets and chasing people who have been chased themselves. There’s a sort of Russian nesting aspect to it. All of these people have a bit of an agenda, but they are also part of someone else’s agenda so we have this circle thing we’re working out.”

Emerson admitted to not knowing much about Finch’s back-story. “The scripts come just before you shoot. I have an idea of how Finch got to be in the position he is in, but I don’t know particulars. And, I don’t know what rate those back stories will be revealed.”

“One of the things I loved about Lost and one of the things I loved about Michael,” Nolan states, “was the slow burn approach and also the use of flashbacks that deepened your understanding of the character. You enjoy spending time with these characters, which fundamentally is the proposition of TV. You start taking these people into your extended family. You start spending time with them at a different moment in their lives. It’s endless fun.”

Michael added, “I’m happy not to know where things are going.”

Regarding guest stars, Nolan said, “The procedural aspect of it lets us look at New York City one person at a time. Some of these characters will orbit back into view.”

As an engineer and programmer, I always feel a certain kinship with computer programmers and hackers in TV and Film. However, it always upsets me when these characters are portrayed as slovenly, social nitwits who never get to go outside. Thankfully, Finch is more than the cookie-cutter scientist and from the moment the show starts you see that he uses his social skills almost immediately.

Nolan responded, “I understand the need for those characters, but I always, always thought of Finch and could see the character from the beginning as someone with a bit of that split personality [with] social engineering [skills]. I thought it was a much more interesting story with both of these characters out interacting with people. You don’t want an actor interacting solely with a green screen computer.”

Emerson added, “One of the dimensions of the character was that he had con man skills. And, I think its fun that I actually get to successfully realize that in this show.”

“You ain’t scene nothing yet,” laughed Nolan. “I’m drawn to characters with secrets and we have characters with magnificent secrets. The con man genre itself can be tricky. There is something a little depressing about those characters. Inevitably, you learn that there’s nothing in that person’s life. They can’t have anything. And, I think that’s the point of departure for us. Finch has real touch points. Real relationships.”

Regarding Finch’s disability, Emerson said, “I’m the authority on my own disability. When it came time to show those X-rays, they asked me ‘where do you think you’re really hurt.’ Some people thought he had a lower back problem.”

“It’s part of the fun of the endeavor, “Nolan said. “You work in a vacuum writing a pilot. Then you work in a team and you get pulled in very different directions. There are subtle transformations and paths that you take. “
Emerson adds, “As it goes along it becomes a coded conversation between the actors and writers. You send them a message with your performance and they send the message back with the next script as if to say we like this one thing that you do so we will honor it by including that or taking it further. It’s good that way.”

A major part of Person of Interest is the use and manipulations of information technology. Typically, viewers wonder when a show is crossing the line from reality into science fiction.

Nolan said, “The world tends to more closely resemble the world we present on the show. We actually have to do less work. Technology being a corner stone or a bedrock piece of it. It’s fun and exciting to take news stories as they come in and take on the latest example. [For example] The Murdock phone wire tapping case in the UK. Kind of a fascinating one for us. We had a phone call with the network shortly before that. Could you really spoof someone’s Caller ID calling? We do it in 1.02. It’s a tiny moment that flies by but it prompted a call with the network. It actually is helpful for us – a news story that validates our story.”

“We ask our writers to do a lot of their own research. We also have a couple of consultants we work with who are almost as secretive as Mr. Finch. They have code names. We’ve shown the script and materials to some very interesting people and frustratingly all they can tell us within their security clearance is that we’re closer to the mark than most people would imagine. We’ve also talked to some private sector people who work in information technology companies and talking to them is almost more frightening. Folks who work that do things like what we portray but for commercial reasons seem to suggest that there is. We are poised for this moment in human interaction with these information technologies we’ve embraced for efficiency and fun are about to start biting back in ways that people haven’t necessarily anticipated.

Person of Interest airs weekly on CBS.

Photos from ‘Batman: Arkham City’ Launch at Toys R Us Times Square

On Oct 17 in New York City, 500 Toys R Us Times Square shoppers got a chance to get their hands on Batman: Arkham City, 1 day in advance of the North American release date.

100 of those Dark Knight fans were able to get the game, comics and branded Batman merchandise autographed by Arkham City’s Game Director Sefton Hill, legendary Batman voice Kevin Conroy and DC Comics co-publisher and artist Jim Lee.

The festivities started at 4pm, when Hill, Conroy and Lee made a public appearance outside of Toys ‘R Us. Then everyone went up to the the third floor for signings and pictures.

Check out the photos below:

One of Batman’s younger fans gets a warm greeting from the Dark Knight’s famous voice:

Batman: Arkham City hits the Xbox 360 and PS3 on Oct. 18.