Interview with Jodi Long of "Sullivan & Son" - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Mendie

Interview with actor Jodi Long of "Sullivan & Son" 5/24/13

Recently I had the chance to speak with actress Jodi Long from the TBS's comedy Sullivan and Son, and during the course of our conversation, I discovered a lady not only extremely talented, but smart and gracious as well. Star of her one woman show 'Surfing DNA', Long will return to the small screen beginning on June 13th, 2013 with the premiere of the second season of Sullivan and Son.

Mendie: Season 2 of "Sullivan and Son" is premiering on TBS this June.  For those who may be tuning in for the first time, what can you tell us about your character?

Jodi: Well, I'm the tiger mom, Steve's mom, the main character's mom, and she's a bit of a tiger mom and a bit of a wild card in that anything and everything comes out of her mouth, whether it's appropriate or not.

Mendie: By the way, I love that because I have perpetual stick-my-foot-in-my-mouth problem. Whatever I think of, I automatically say, and then later think to myself, "oh, sorry."

Jodi: Unlike you, Ok Cha has no remorse for what she says.

Mendie: Sometimes you have to admire that about somebody who just lets it all out there. Now, I know your character is based off of Steve's real mom, so do you ever feel pressure to do right by her in your portrayal of the character?

Jodi: No. You know, it's funny I met her when we did the pilot, and she's a diminutive woman, and I'm taller than she is, and she was so thrilled. She meets me and she goes, "Oh, you're so pretty. I'm so happy you're playing me." We kind of hit it off from the beginning, and she's an amazing dancer. What's funny is after we did the pilot, we hung out on the set and put the jukebox on. She came up to me and asked, "Do you want to dance?" So we were dancing together, and she's a great dancer.

So no, I don't feel pressure at all because I know that what I'm doing is a take-off on what Steve wrote about, and his mom really is that blunt. But I've kind of taken it, and the writers, I think, have taken it in to another place. So I think she realizes that it's a lot of fun. I mean, when I said in the pilot to him (Steve), I hadn't seen him in months, and I look at him, and the first thing I say to him is, "You look fat," and Steve told me that was actually what his mother said to him 5 minutes before he walked down the aisle to get married.

Mendie: Oh, no! Ok, that's kind of awesome. Now, is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming season? Are you looking forward to the viewers seeing any specific storylines?

Jodi: Oh, yes. First of all, the premiere, I think it's still going to be the premiere show, Ken Jeong, from The Hangover, and Community, he plays my son-in-law.

Mendie: That's going to be interesting.

Jodi: Yeah, and it's a really funny episode. So I think people who follow The Hangover, which, oh my god, it's one of the biggest hits, and they're coming out with The Hangover 3 soon, so I think they will get a big kick because Ken does a great job. And then we have another episode coming up a couple of episodes later, that I get a lot to do with Dan (Lauria who plays Ok Cha's husband Jack) when we run against each other for a neighborhood council position. It's really a fun, fun episode.

Mendie: I'm looking forward to seeing both of them. Especially the one with Dan. I've adored him forever, so I'm really looking forward to that. You guys seem really comfortable together.

Jodi: We are. We have a great cast and a great executive producer. Dan and I both come from the theater, and after we finished our episode, and it just kept getting better in terms of the writing as we went along in the week, and I looked at him, and I said "We've just done a little play in 24 minutes." And it was true, we had run the gamut in that particular episode between the two of us, and I think you see a side of Steve's mom and dad that you haven't yet seen. So it's really fun. We have a huge fight and then everything else that ensues. It's great when the writers are really writing for you.

Mendie: You can tell when the writers and the actors are starting to discover the voice of the show and it starts to come together. You've carried the title of actress and writer of your short film "Long Story Short"- are there any others that you wouldn't mind adding to your collection? Are there any other things that you are hoping to accomplish in your career?

Jodi: I also wrote a one-woman show called "Surfing DNA", and I'm reviving that this year in the summer in LA. Someone wanted to produce it, so I was like, "great," so I'm kind of revisiting it because I was nominated for an Ovation Award here in 2006 when I did it, so its been 7 years since I did the show, so I'm revamping that. I think I do have another movie in me, but I'm just really busy now with a lot of other things, so a movie in terms of writing and producing it... So I'm looking forward to the right thing. You know, movies take a long time, and it's a huge commitment, so you had better really want and really love your subject and your material. So I'm just musing around a bunch of different ideas from the personal, creative level. But me as an actress, I'm hoping there's a good and interesting part in a Broadway show in the future, and hopefully a good film.

Mendie: Now what made you decide to bring back your one-woman show "Surfing DNA"?

Jodi: It really came about because someone saw "Long Story Short" and then asked me about it, because in LSS you see it kind of hangs on the one-woman show. It's like a close line, and he said "what is that?" and I was like "oh, that's my one-woman show that I just used as a little bit of an outline for the movie." So he asked me if he could read my script, and he really liked it, and it was actually a producer/director friend of Dan Lauria's, and Dan had given him my movie because he loved it. Actually, he gave everybody the movie. He just kept passing it around the cast, and so it was because of Dan kind of being my agent, pushing the movie around, and this guy got really interested in it. So he asked my for the script. I said, "Well, if I were to do it again, I'd cut it because it was 93 minutes without an intermission, and that's a lot for an actor and it was a lot for me 7 years ago." So we've just been working on it-- it's been a lot of fun because you have a different point of view 7 years later. Even though a lot of it will stay the same, I think the way into the story is going to be a little different.

Mendie: Now, where will people be able to see this?

Jodi: It will be at the Working Stage Theatre in Los Angeles, and we don't have our exact opening date, but it will be in September.

Mendie: I know that you were in the movie "A Picture of You" by J.P. Chan, which was partially backed through Kickstarter. What do you think of this new way of providing funding for independent movies?

Jodi: Well, I think it's a great tool. I don't know how anybody could be against it because a lot of times these projects wouldn't get done at all. I wish when we were doing "Long Story Short" we had had that tool. I mean, we had started the movie in 2004 and didn't finish it until 2008, and that wasn't an option to do it that way then. We raised the money independently. So, yeah, I think it's great, and I know J.P., the director on it, he got a lot of support and raised the money to help support it. The movie got in to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, but he pulled it because he was going to get funding for some more stuff through another organization, so he had to pull it because they wouldn't even consider it if it had already had a premiere somewhere. So anyways, the movie will be out there, probably in the next 6 months or so.

But I think it's great, I really do. Any way you can get the money as opposed to funding it...a lot of people in the old days used to mortgage their house themselves, and I don't think that's a good idea because if the film doesn't make it, then you are out a house. So I always say, as a producer, use someone else's money if you can possibly help it. So Kickstarter is not like a big drain on your pocket- you can put anything in, $5, $20. You can ask your cousin for the $20 or $100, $200, whatever. So I think it's a great tool, I really do, and they don't just do films on it. A friend of mine sent me something about an album he had made.

Mendie: I think a lot of the complaints are coming from people because they may not really understand how the financing of stuff like that goes. They only really understand the finished product. They don't understand that it's not just all movie premieres and magazines. That you start off at the very beginning with nothing.

Jodi: Well, you have to start somewhere, and it's really a test. I started that way, too. I mean, I had a little bit of a head start because my parents were in showbiz. But I think it just shows your determination that if you really want to do it, you have to really work for it, and network, and it's just a process like anything. People say to me all the time that, "Oh, it's so hard being an actor," this was years ago when I was first starting out, and I was like, "Look, to do anything well is hard. But you find exactly how much you want it by being rejected, by working in a little theatre for no money. If you really want to do it, then you are going to find a way to do it." If you really want to produce a film, you are going to find a way to get the money. I think it's part of the learning process.

Mendie: What can you tell us about your character in "A Picture of You"? What's the movie about?

Jodi: This movie is about this young girl and her brother who go back to their mother's house to clean it out after she's died, and they don't really get along, and they're not really on the same page. But they have this task at hand, and I don't know if you've been in that position of having to clean out a close relative or parent's house after they've died, but there are a lot of things that you find out in the process. This actually came out of JP's real life because his mom had died and he had had to do a similar thing. The movie kind of starts out as this sad drama, and then what happens is they find some pictures of their mother on her computer that kind of throw them in to a complete tailspin. So it becomes a bit of a comedy after that.

Mendie: Are you thinking that's going to be coming out in the next 6 months?

Jodi: No, it will probably start hitting film festivals maybe at the end of the year. There's a couple of film festivals at the end, so it probably won't come out until next year.

Mendie: I just want to thank you again for taking the time to speak with me today, and I'm really looking forward to the return of "Sullivan and Son".  I wish that I could see your one-woman show "Surfing DNA".

Jodi: Well, you can actually see "Long Story Short" on Amazon. You can rent the movie for like a dollar, and it's only 56 minutes, so it doesn't take your whole day.

Mendie: So fans can find it on Amazon?

Jodi: Yeah www.amazon.com, just type in "Long Story Short" and you can rent it for a couple of bucks. Well, it was good to talk to you Mendie.

Mendie: It was great talking to you, Jodi. Thank you again.

Read our review of "Sullivan & Son"!

MORE INFORMATION:

Best known for her role as ‘Patty,’ “the “power lesbian” in HBO’s hit series “Sex & and the City” and her hilarious line “Ling Ling! You forgot your bling bling!” as the enthusiastic, yet socially inept Korean mother in THE HOT CHICK, beautiful and talented award winning actor and filmmaker, JODI LONG, stars as ‘Ok Cha Sullivan,’ the frugal Korean immigrant mother of ‘Steve Sullivan’ (Steve Byrne) in the TBS hit comedy series, “Sullivan & Son” (Season 2 premieres on Thursday, June 13th at 10/9pm CT). Created and executive produced by Rob Long (“Cheers”),  Peter Billingsley, Vince Vaughn and Steve Byrne, the series centers around Steve Sullivan (Byrne) who surprises his parents when he leaves his prestigious job as a corporate lawyer in New York to take over his multi-generational family business bar ‘Sullivan & Son’ in Pittsburgh. ‘Ok Cha’ is the kind of mother who takes tough love to the extreme while always making sure to tell everyone exactly what they are doing wrong, and she is usually right.

Going back to her roots, Long wrote and co-produced the short documentary LONG STORY SHORT, her personal family story of sacrifices and perseverance which tells the tale of her vaudevillian parents ‘Larry and Trudie’ (her father was Chinese and her mother was Japanese), a popular husband-and-wife nightclub act of the ‘40s and ‘50s (www.longstoryshortdocumentary.com). Directed by Academy award-nominated Christine Choy, the documentary went on to play numerous film festivals, including the Hawaii International Film Festival and won the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Documentary. LONG STORY SHORT was also voted one of the top ten documentaries by UCLA’s Asia Institute. The documentary is available for rent and purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Long-Story-Short/dp/B00407XR0E. This coming year, Long can also be seen in A PICTURE OF YOU, a heartfelt drama centered around estranged siblings ‘Kyle’ and ‘Jen,’ who travel from New York City to rural Pennsylvania to pack up the home of their recently deceased mother (Long). Additionally, Long will also reprise her one-woman play SURFING DNA, in which she opens up her biological journey growing up with Vaudevillian parents, at the Working Stage Theatre in West Hollywood this June/July. SURFING DNA garnered an Ovation Nomination for Best Solo Performance when it played at East West Players in Los Angeles.

Born and raised in New York, Long studied acting at Purchase College (SUNY) where she received her BFA. Long embarked on her illustrious theater career as she made her first theater debut at the age of 7 in the notable Broadway play, NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP, directed by Sidney Lumet, and since then has performed in several Broadway productions: LOOSE ENDS, THE BACCHAE, GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER and the recent revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG in which she garnered an Ovation Award at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Her television credits include co-starring with Valerie Bertinelli in “Café American,” playing Margaret Cho’s mother in “All American Girl”, Alicia Silverstone’s secretary in “Miss Match” and has had recurring roles on “The Cosby Show”, “Michael Hayes”, “Eli Stone” and “Law and Order: LA”. Among her most notable roles are ‘Patty’, the power lesbian” in an episode of “Sex in the City.” Long has also been featured in several films including BEGINNINGS with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, PATTY HEARST, STRIKING DISTANCE, ROLLOVER and THE HOT CHICK.

Born and raised in New York City, Long attended Purchase College (SUNY) where she earned her BFA. In her rare free time, Long enjoys cooking “California-Chinese” food, Australian rissoles, dumplings and steamed fish. In addition to healthy eating (Long is a vegetarian), she regularly practices the art of Kundalini Yoga known as the “yoga of awareness” in which she is a certified trainer. Long’s embrace of the Kundalini Yoga lifestyle cultivates the creative and spiritual potential of a human to uphold its values, truth and compassion. Long also is a huge animal lover and loves spending time with her dog, Bodhi, and cat, Sita Tarra. Long takes pleasure in serving as a board member on the Board of Hollywood Orchard, a non-profit organization that deals in education, sustainability and harvesting a virtual orchard in Beachwood Canyon in Hollywood donating fresh fruit to those in need. She also serves as a member of the National Committee of the Screen Actors Guild, a board member of the President Counsel of the Arts at her alma mater SUNY, and a board member of Visual Communications, the first on-profit organization in the nation dedicated to the honest and accurate portrayals of the Asian Pacific American peoples, communities and heritage through the media arts.

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