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Mike Binder

By Gary Wien


The Search for John Gissing. The new DVD by Mike Binder (Reign Over Me, The Upside of Anger) made the film festival rounds six years ago, but never wound up with a distribution deal even though the film featured a stellar cast including Alan Rickman, Janeane Garafalo, Juliet Stevenson, Frank Harper, and Mike Binder. This despite the fact that the film is extremely funny and is probably funnier than about 75% of the films released in the last decade.

The Search for John Gissing is an comedy that Mike wrote, directed, self-financed, and currently is being distributed independently on his website www.thefreebird.com

Set in London, the film follows Matthew Barnes (Binder) and his wife (Garafalo) as his job transfers him to London during a corporate change in management. Meanwhile John Gissing (Rickman) - the very person who was supposed to help Barnes - is trying to ruin him in order to save his own job. As they begin to realize what Gissing is up to, they decide to strike back as well and the result is a hilarious look at the dog eat dog world of the corporate world.

The DVD includes commentary from Mike Binder and his editor Roger Nygard. What makes this commentary so interesting is that it was basically the first time the two had watched the film in many years so some of the scenes brought back memories leading to stories and others were scenes they hardly even remembered.

The cast of The Search For John Gissing is tremendous. Many are very well known actors in British films and on the British stage. Even though the chemistry was great for this film, Binder plans to reshoot the film under the name The Multi-National. The cast would largely change, but he says he would like to bring Alan Rickman back for the John Gissing role. The main reason for redoing the film would be to be able to tell the story with a larger budget and be able to distribute it in theaters.

"I think with the original distribution, it was just the wrong time for it," said Mike Binder. "I think that if it had come out a couple of years later it could have worked. It came out during a time when the only independent movies were either really arty or really violent. There weren't comedies down the middle like Waitress or Little Miss Sunshine.

"It got great reviews at festivals - we had plenty of pages of reviews to show distributors. I just think that they thought it was a real tweener. It wasn't an art-house movie and it wasn't a big studio movie. I think I learned that you kind of have to be in one camp or another."

Binder shot the film on a budget of less than three million dollars. The entire thing (with the exception of a few quick shots at the airport) was shot in and around one building. Mike's brother Jack found the building while scouting around London.

"I don't think we could have pulled that movie off without finding that," he added.

The set designers did an incredible job utilizing that one building to its fullest. It was used for everything from corporate offices to a bank to a four star hotel. In each case, you would never have guessed it was the same building. It will be interesting to see what they can accomplish with a much larger budget.

"Sometimes movies just have their own life," said Binder. "I'm a guy that really feels that things happen the way they're supposed to happen. I had a great time making this movie and I'm really proud of it. I just want to do it again, only better. So, I'm kind of glad it hasn't been out too much."

You can order The Search For John Gissing online at www.thefreebird.com. The film is highly reccomended for fans of British comedies or plays by Neil Simon.



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John Mulaney & Pete Davidson To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Comedian John Mulaney and Pete Davidson will perfom at Count Basie Center for The Arts on Sunday, February 17 at 10:00pm. Tickets are $49.
Russell Peters To Perform Two Shows at NJPAC
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Emmy and Peabody Award-winning comedian Russell Peters will leave no cultural stereotype unturned when he brings his brand-new Deported World Tour to NJPAC’s Prudential Hall on Saturday, February 16.  Due to popular demand, there will be two performances: one at 7:00pm and another at 9:30pm.  Tickets range from $49 to $99.
Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix To Perform at MPAC
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Sit! Stay! Get ready to howl! Johnny Peers and his personality-plus canines are coming to Mayo Performing Arts Center on Sunday, February 3 at 1:30pm and 4:30pm. Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix is a slapstick comedy act like no other. Johnny leads over a dozen dogs through challenging and hilarious tricks as Johnny plays the straight man role in this wonderful show. This event is for the dog lover in all of us stars mostly animals rescued from shelters or pounds.Tickets are $12-$15.
Ladies Night Out Comedy Tour To Come To NJPAC on March 9th
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Calling all ladies! Ladies Night Out Comedy Tour makes a stop at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 8:00pm. NeNe Leakes (Real Housewives of Atlanta) hosts this outrageous stand-up comedy event featuring Adele Givens (the big-screen Beauty Shop), Sherri Shepherd (former longtime host on The View), Loni Love (co-host of Fox’s Emmy-winning The Real), and Janelle James (of HBO’s current Crashing).
State Theatre New Jersey presents Ron White
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents comedian Ron White on Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 8:00pm. Also known as Ron “Tater Salad” White first rose to fame as the cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking funnyman from the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” phenomenon, and has long since established himself as a star in his own right. Tickets range from $45-$85.


A Look At 2 Guys From Jersey
In issue 50, New Jersey Stage gave readers the opportunity to learn more about the writers who contribute to the magazine and the daily site. We’d like to give you the opportunity to learn more about the two shows that are featured in our magazine each month.  One is a podcast called 2 Guys From Jersey that runs a new episode every Wednesday. It involves Dr. D, Rocky, and Erin (a recent addition to the team) trying to settle trivial bar arguments that have plagued mankind for centuries.
"Legal Immigrant" Alan Cumming Brings His Cabaret To State Theatre New Jersey
It was the fall of 2008. Barack Obama had just been elected president. And Scottish-born actor Alan Cumming was sworn in as a citizen of the United States.
“Hysterical!” Gallagher LIVE! at The Strand Lakewood
Gallagher is joking with patrons in the lobby of Lakewood, NJ’s historic Strand Theater this Thursday, May 24, 2018 evening. In his audacious style, he’s grabbing cameras out of the hands of patrons who want to take great selfies with him, while also taking the time to sign T-shirts for stand-up comedy fans waiting for him at the merch table.
So You Want To Be A Comedian?
“I feel I have the kind of life where people think I’m making things up all of the time, but weirdness is kind of attracted to me,” said Jess Alaimo, a comedian from Monmouth County.  “So, I just go with whatever happens to me.”
The United States of Russia
Rutgers alum, Ben Rosenfeld released his third comedy album in January.  Entitled, The United States of Russia, the album was released by Comedy Dynamics and continues the Russia born, American raised comedian’s style of mixing tales of his immigrant parents and outsider childhood with topics ranging from millennials, terrorism, politics, and adjusting to life as a newlywed.  We caught up with Ben to talk about the album.






Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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