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Exclusive: Set Visit Chicago Fire & Chicago P.D. Part I

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On September 29, 2014, NBC invited members of the press for an exclusive set tour for their hit series Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. The media was able to get exclusive photos and interviews with members of the casts from both series. The visit started at the Cinespace Film Studios on the Near West Side and continued with a bus tour of several locations were the shows shoot. The entire six hour experience included stops at the firehouse, police station and Lottie's bar.

In the next several days, we will post various photos and interviews from our visit to the sets. Today we bring you a behind the scenes chat with Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. co-creator Michael Brandt. He will be discussing the big NBC two night crossover event with Chicago Fire”/“Chicago PD”/“Law & Order: SVU."

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Interview: Arlen Escarpeta

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Actor Arlen Escarpeta is living proof that hard work, dedication and a focused plan go a long way when it comes to navigating the highs and lows of Hollywood. The Belizean actor is carving out an impressive resume of work that sees no end in sight.

On the big screen, he’s had memorable performances in films such as We Are Marshall, Friday the 13th, Final Destination 5 and most recently, Into the Storm. On television, he’s appeared on series such as Extant, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ER and The Client List. Arlen received critical praise for his portrayal as Sam Walker in the coming of age 1960s short lived series American Dreams.

We sit down with the actor to talk about his upcoming appearance on the hit NBC series Grimm, his portrayal of controversial singer Bobby Brown in the upcoming Whitney Houston television movie and what his advice would be to up and coming actors.

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Interview: Erin Krakow

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The Countdown to Christmas celebration continues on the Hallmark Channel this coming Sunday, November 9 at 8/7c with the all new holiday movie A Cookie Cutter Christmas. The films follows Christie Reynolds (Erin Krakow), one of two longtime rivals and elementary school teachers that duke it out during the holidays in a Christmas cookie bake-off, but their real feud ignites over a shared interest in a handsome single dad. With both determined to win the prize and the romance, their competitiveness could jeopardize what matters most this Christmas season.

Erin Krakow is certainly no stranger to the Hallmark Universe. She stars in the hit series When Calls the Heart which was recently renewed for a second season. Erin sits down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about her new holiday movie, the message she would like viewers to take away after watching the movie and what the Hearties mean to her and the rest of the cast of When Calls the Heart.

Pop Culture Principle – What attracted you to this particular project?

Erin Krakow – Well, working with Hallmark has just been a dream from the start. I was really excited to have the opportunity to work with them again on something a little different. It is a story with a lot of heart and I also appreciated the fact that there is quite a bit of comedy. We get to see a lot of different sides of my character; some flattering and some not so flattering. It was an exciting role to get to play.

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Interview: Sarah Carter

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One thing you can always look forward to during the holiday season is some fantastic programming from the Hallmark Channel. The network returns with its Countdown to Christmas celebration which will feature 12 brand new original movies. The first of those movies is One Starry Christmas starring Sarah Carter (TNT's Falling Skies).

Sarah plays Holly, an aspiring astronomy professor who finds unexpected Christmas romance when she meets a charming cowboy during her holiday travel. As she decides between this new cowboy and her practical boyfriend, she must decide whether it's better to play it safe in love, or let an adventurous cowboy steal her heart. The movie will makes its debut on the Hallmark Channel this Saturday, November 1, 8/7c.

Sarah was kind enough to sit down with us to talk about the movie, working with Hallmark and if she believes if there is a soul mate out there for everyone.

Pop Culture Principle - How did this particular project end up on your radar?

Sarah Carter - I'd never done a Christmas movie. The script was sweet, which was a welcome change from most of the work I've done in the past 5 years. I was a bit surprised I was offered the role to be honest, but when I was, I thought it might be a fun opportunity to test out my softer side.

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Interview: Kawehi

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The internet has become an important tool for musicians these days. It’s a way for unsigned artists to get their music out to the masses whether it is via videos or downloading their music.

Sites like Youtube and Vimeo can take a virtual unknown and make them a household name overnight. One artist who has definitely benefited from the power of the internet is singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Kawehi.

Kawehi posted a cover of the Nirvana song Heart-Shaped Box on Vimeo and literally overnight it went viral. She has successfully used Kickstarter to finance her album Robot Heart and just recently funded her upcoming album Evolution.

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Interview: Valerie Azlynn

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One of the best things about a neighborhood bar is the people that go there on a regular basis. That is the case with the TBS hit series Sullivan & Son which recently wrapped its third season. One of the bar patrons is Melanie Sutton played by the talented Valerie Azlynn. Melanie is a paramedic who is the little sister to all the guys in the bar and maybe much more with bar owner Steve Sullivan.

Valerie Azylnn has established herself as an actress to keep an eye on. At the age of 17, she moved from Connecticut to New York to study acting. There she built an impressive resume in the theater and singing with an opera company. This led her to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television.

Valerie has starred in hit television series such as Castle, Rules of Engagement and The Big Bang Theory. On the big screen she has been in films such as Tropic Thunder, Surrogates and The Last Hurrah. She recently finished the film Dark Awakening with veteran actor Lance Henriksen.

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Interview: Alona Tal

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Amazon Studios just announced that it was picking up the pilot for Hand of God to series. One of the reasons the pilot was picked up to series was the amazing performance by actress Alona Tal.

Hand of God is a psychological drama about a morally-corrupt judge, played by Ron Pearlman, who suffers a breakdown and believes God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice. Alona plays Jocelyn, the daughter-in-law who suffers a traumatic event and because of this event, her husband attempts suicide and is now in a coma.

Alona has built an impressive resume that would be the envy of any young actor in Hollywood. She was the lead on the short-lived, but fan favorite series Cult. She’s had major arcs on series such as Burn Notice, Veronica Mars and Supernatural. On the big screen, she appeared opposite Mark Wahlberg in the film Broken City and also appeared in the films Half Past Dead 2 and Kalamity.

She sits down with us to discuss her work on Hand of God, the religious elements of the pilot and what it’s like to be part of the Supernatural universe.

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Interview: Garret Dillahunt

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Amazon Studios recently released another batch of pilots for the public to view and vote on. One of those pilots is Hand of God. Hand of God is a psychological drama about a morally-corrupt judge who suffers a breakdown and believes God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice. One of the stars of the pilot is veteran actor Garret Dillahunt.

Garret plays KD, a troubled man with violent tendencies who believes that God needs his special talents. This role is a far cry from Garret’s most recent role as Burt Chance on the FOX comedy series Raising Hope. The pilot also stars Ron Pearlman (Sons of Anarchy), Dana Delany (Body of Proof) and Alona Tal (Cult, Supernatural).

His credits include appearances on series such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Deadwood and The 4400. On the big screen he's been in such films as No Country for Old Men, Looper and Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave. He recently signed on for a recurring role on the final season of the hit FX series Justified.

Garret sat down with the Pop Culture Principle to discuss his new role, how religion plays a big part in the pilot and what he hopes for the drama if it is picked up to series.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us the premise for Hand of God?

Garret Dillahunt – On its surface it is somewhat of a vengeance tale, but underneath I think it’s about what are the reasons people find to do the dark things that they do.

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Interview: Julia Benson

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When you say the name Julia Benson, the first thing that will probably pop in your head is the series SGU Stargate Universe. Julia played the tough 2nd Lt. Vanessa James on the popular science fiction series for several seasons. She won the Leo award in 2010 for her work on the series.

There is much more to the Canadian born actress then SGU Stargate Universe. She has trained in ballet, worked in the theater and has had several roles on television and film.

Currently she plays Jeri Drake on the hit Hallmark Channel original series Cedar Cove. Jeri is the ex-wife of Jack Griffith. Although their marriage was brief, she was with him during the darkest period of his alcoholism.

Julia sits down to discuss becoming part of the series, if Jeri is still in love with Jack and advice she would give to up and coming actors.

Pop Culture Principle – When you were first approached about joining Cedar Cove, had you watched the show before?

Julia Benson – I had never actually seen the show, but knowing that it shot in Vancouver, I had auditioned a couple of times. We are always familiar with the stuff that shoots here so I was aware of it, but hadn’t seen it yet.

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Interview: Kether Donohue

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Currently airing its first season on FX, the series You're the Worst has become one of the standout hits on the network and has a very vocal and loyal fanbase. One of the reasons the series has such a rabid following is the work of actress Kether Donohue. Kether plays Lindsay, the best friend to Gretchen (Aya Cash) and the only married one in the group. Her marriage to Paul (Allan McLeod) is one of the more interesting relationships on the series. Did she marry Paul for his money or does she truly love him?

Kether has built up a solid resume of work in the theater, film and television. She's appeared on television series such as The Carrie Diaries, Perfect Couples and Hope & Faith. Her film credits include Pitch Perfect, The Bay and Collar. She's also well known for her voiceover work on series like Kurokami: The Animation and Pokemon.

Kether sat down with us to discuss her character Lindsay, the relationship between Gretchen and Lindsay and who she really thinks is the worst.

Pop Culture Principle – When you read the pilot script for You’re the Worst, what made you want to be a part of the project?

Kether Donohue –Everything about it. For one, the creator of our show Stephen Falk has an impressive body of work. I’m a huge fan of Orange is the New Black and Weeds. I love his sense of humor and also the dramatic side that he brings to every script, even if it’s a comedy. Also the fact that this is a half hour comedy, but it’s not a superficial surface comedy with service characters. There is a lot of depth to it and it has dramatic elements that could stand as a drama on its own. Lindsay and Edgar could have easily been written as sidekick characters that just make people laugh. There isn’t anything wrong with that because every comedy has the sidekick friend and that’s great, but he really gave a unique twist to the sidekick and made them dark in and off themselves.

Another thing is that I met Aya in 2010 through auditioning in New York because it’s such a small community of actors. When I saw her at the chemistry read, we were very excited to see each other. It wasn’t a surprise that we had good chemistry because we already knew each other.

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