Across the Board (ATB) Talent, founded in 2008 by entertainment professional and entrepreneur Guy Kochlani, is a full-service licensed Talent Agency. ATB represents its talent "across the board:" theatrically, commercially, in print, hosting, voiceovers and dance. The limited client roster and staff of 10 enables ATB to remain committed to the goal of developing high quality talent while providing the personalized atmosphere of a management company.

Across the Board’s talent has been seen on numerous TV shows, films, commercials and theatre productions. Their models and photographers have been a part of major fashion campaigns and have been seen across the pages of domestic and international magazines.

ATB is honored to announce its move up into the big leagues. Using talent from across the board, ATB is currently packaging a major feature film as well as television series. As the client list becomes larger and more high-profile projects are being tackled, founder and CEO Guy Kochlani avows: “No matter how much we expand, our original business model will always remain on point. We provide one-on-one care and service to each client, no matter what.”

ATB represents talent and models in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, with offices in Los Angeles and New York-Times Square. There are plans to open offices in London, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

For more info, check us out at WWW.ATBTALENT.COM

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING: Manly Advice from Ben Maccabee

   The first thing you notice is his walk.

   Sitting on the outdoor patio at the Starbucks in Woodland Hills, I absent-mindedly search the Internet on my iPhone.  I’m not looking for anything in particular—just something to pass the time. 
   Then I see him, walking toward me, with that John Wayne walk.  It’s imposing.  He shakes my hand, squeezing maybe a bit too hard.  His hands are meaty and rough…the kind of hands that have been in a fight. 

   This was my first time sitting down with Ben Maccabee without “adult supervision.”  We had previously met a couple times in the office, with me playing Assistant to Guy Kochlani’s Boss.  Ben was always incredibly kind and friendly, but given the roles he chooses and his overall demeanor, I was a bit nervous.  What if it was all a charade?  What if, deep down, he’s some kind of monster waiting for the perfect moment to strike? 

   I was wrong, of course.

   And if I wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t be able to write this, since my hands would be broken in several places.

A Walk to Remember

   I never really think about walking.  It’s just…natural.  I’m fortunate enough to be able to do it every day.  Ben Maccabee doesn’t think like that.  For Ben, his walk is as much a part of his acting as reading lines. 

   “I walk a certain way.”  Ben crosses his legs, and for the first time I notice his bulky cowboy boots.  They’re the same kind of boots Eastwood or McQueen would wear.  “When a person walks, you can read them.  The way a guy walks, you know exactly who he is.  You can tell everything about a person by the way they walk, and the way they stare at you.”

   My curiosity gets the better of me, and I decide to put this idea to the test.  What can he tell about me from the way I walk?  Am I a Harrison Ford or a Peter Lorre?

So what do you say about my walk?”
“I call you a Cruise, man.” 
Cruise?  Like a cruise ship?  Or someone that just strolls around?”
“I call you a Tom Cruise.”
Tom Cruise, huh?  An international superstar?  I’ll take it.”
            “Listen man, Tom Cruise in my book—the number one actor in Hollywood.  Nobody even comes close.  That guy is a fucking genius.  When Tom Cruise looks at you…when Tom Cruise tells you he’s fucking upset…he’s fucking upset.”

Soldier of Fortune

   Ben, like every Israeli, was drafted into the military at the age of 18.  The typical clich├ęd story goes something like this: boy goes into the army, comes out a man, and decides to pursue a career in film as a badass.  But Ben’s different in that way.    

   “Acting is what shaped me as a soldier,” he told me, slowly sipping his coffee, the steam slightly fogging the lenses of his Persol sunglasses.  “All I remembered was John Wayne in The Green Berets.  I remembered McQueen.  I remembered Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin…these guys are men’s men.”

   The theme of “being a man” is important to Ben, and prevalent in almost all of his work.  Real men are of action and consequence.  They know when to pull the trigger and always, always, get the girl.  But the age of the Hard-Boiled Man seems to have past.  “Today you have a lot of males, and very few men.  When I talk to a guy, I want to know if he’s a man or a male.  Manhood is a very important thing in my book.  You’ve gotta be a man.  You carry this stick between your legs and…look, you talk the talk of a rooster, you better be able to walk the walk of a rooster.”

   A slight laugh escapes my mouth.  There’s something funny about “real men” being compared to poultry.  Ben isn’t as amused, but I notice the corner of his lip curl up.  Is it a polite smirk or is he thinking I’m a male, not a man?  He’s tough to read behind the sunglasses.

   Just to be sure, I ask him to offer a bit more clarity.  Ben leans in, elbows on the table, and smiles.  “Don’t talk what you’re not.  Don’t play a hero when you’re not.  The less talking the better, in my opinion.  Observe and do.  Give, don’t take.  These are very important things that I live by.  I’m a giver, not a taker.  I don’t like taking.  I don’t like bragging.”

   For the first time since he sat down, Ben takes his sunglasses off and put them on the table.  He stares at me.  “Even talking to you now…I do it because, you know what?  Say something about it.  Let people hear it.  Maybe someone will be influenced by it.  Maybe someone will say, ‘You know what?  It’s true.  There aren’t a lot of men walking these days, but a lot males.’  When I went to the army, I already walked in as fuckin’ Rambo.”

   That’s when I realize that Ben hasn’t blinked once.

Heart of the Blood Ring
   It’s clear Ben doesn’t do bullshit.  He makes you play your cards face-up.  And he’s definitely not an ass-kisser, so it kind of makes me wonder: how did this guy make it in Hollywood?

   “I stepped out of Estelle Harman Actors Workshop and landed my first leading role.”

   Not too shabby.

   “It was an action flick called Enter the Blood Ring, which I actually wrote the treatment for.  I was knocking on [producer Bob Kronovet’s] door forever.  I ended up basically ambushing him in the stairwell…it scared the shit out of him.  So finally he let me into his office, and said ‘What’s up, kiddo?  Talk to me, boychik.’”

   Ben pitched the film, about a single father fighting in underground martial arts tournaments to raise money for his sickly son, to Kronovet.  He ate it up.  “‘What do you call it?’ Bobby asked me.  I said, ‘Lethal Heart.’ ‘What kinda bullshit name is that?  No, we’re gonna call it Blood Ring.’  I said, ‘You can call it Palookaville, I don’t care what you call it.’  He asked me what I want, and I said, ‘You give me the staring role in this film, and I’ll give you the rights for the story.’  That’s exactly what I did.  ‘You got some balls on you, kid.’  I said, ‘It’s all I’ve got…I’m losing my hair a little bit.’  He was cracking up. 

   “After I left his office, I was shattered: I just gave him my story!  What a fucking idiot.  Now what did I have?  Nothing.  A one-way ticket to Palookaville.  Two days later I got a phone call from the same girl from the office who kicked me out all the time.  ‘Hey Benny!  It’s Nicole.  Bobby wants to talk to you.  Hold on.’  She puts Bobby on the phone.  ‘Boychik!’  ‘Hey Bobby, how’s it going?’  ‘We’re doing your movie.’  Just like that, man.”

Lethal Weapon

   I’ve been told that the toughest part of creating art is finding the inner strength to overcome whatever resistance might stand in the way.  The problem with that theory is that it only brings the pencil to the paper.  Inspiration is required to create anything worth a damn. 

   Finding that muse is always my biggest hurdle.  I need something incredible, something truly inspiring.  Ben isn’t too different; he needs something big, powerful, and with real energy and consequence to light his fire.  Right now, it’s Mel Gibson’s recently announced Judah Maccabee feature film. 

   “I think the world of him.”  Kind of surprising coming from a Jew, especially considering Mr. Gibson’s recent drunken statements.  “I think he’s an amazing filmmaker and a misunderstood personality who maybe drank too much.  Gibson is a fucking genius.  Gibson is the kind of guy I want to work with.  His filmmaking, man, let me tell you…Braveheart, Apocalypto.  These are stories about greed, power, treating the peasants like shit.” 

   These themes are prevalent in most of Gibson’s directorial works, and mesh perfectly with the historical story of Hanukah, in which the Maccabee family revolted against the ruling upper Hellenistic class, triggering a civil war.  “God willing, I’ll get the lead.  We’re practically the same person: real men, same physicality, same cultural mindset…plus, let me remind you, I’m already a Maccabee,” he laughs.  “I know I’ll face some obstacles.  It’s not going to be all, ‘Wow, what a hero Judah was.’  He’s going to show how vicious the Jews were to each other.  He’s going to show that the Maccabees were straight shooters, they were powerful…they were a threat.”

   Ben’s respect for Gibson stems from one place: manhood.  “I don’t like phony.  Gibson is a real man.”

Back to the Future           
   Ben came to the US to become a movie star.  Bright lights, his name on the marquee, a star on the Walk of Fame…he wanted it all.  But time changes us.  The aspirations of the young are not the same as the old.  2001 Ben Maccabee was probably a much different person than 2011 Ben Maccabee…because now it’s not about his stardom.  Now it’s not only about him.

   “I don’t look at stardom now as I did when I was younger.  Looking at it now…stardom can give me the tools for unselfishness.  Stardom can give me the tools to give back to this beautiful place.  Because I still believe in America.  I still believe it’s a great place.  It just got diverted a little bit.  But it’s an unbelievable country.  We just need to remind our government of that.  We need to remind them that America is still us.”

   There’s genuine honesty in Ben’s voice, and there’s more than just political meaning behind his words.  His career has been one of ups and downs, and…when he mentions that things got “diverted”…it’s almost like he’s talking about himself.  That despite everything, there’s still greatness and beauty in him.  Deep down, he’s still who he is.  He talks the talk and walks the walk.  He’s reminding himself of how great he can still be.

   There’s one more question I have for him, and it’s the one I’ve been most nervous about asking.  I absorb what Ben told me: if I’m going to talk the talk, then I’ve got to walk the walk.  None of this beating-around-the-bush nonsense. 

   So I dive in: “How do you want to be remembered?”

   Ben pauses and takes a sip from his coffee that lasts a bit too long.  That smirk cuts across his face again, and he puts his sunglasses back on.  “I want to be remembered as a fine actor that did a fine job.”  Nothing flowery, nothing pretentious.  Ben Maccabee as he is, take it or leave it. 

   And that’s the sign of a real man.

Ben Maccabee recently completed work on the feature film Trophy, starring Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts, Robert Miano, and Michael Masini.  He just booked a currently untitled feature starring Ray Liotta, Harvey Keitel and Christian Slater.       

By Alex Tafet

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


My wallet hates the holiday season.  I can practically hear it exhale, “Damnit Alex…not again” every time I step into a Wal-Mart.  And as a Jew, celebrating Hanukah means going through eight days of financial hell.  Nothing screams “Potential Debt!” like a credit card still warm from being swiped at the cashier.

Going to the movies isn’t any easier.  Every year a slew of awesome films are released, and every year theater owners smile viciously as they fan out all the cash I’ve given them.  $15 for a 3D ticket…you’re welcome, Avatar.

This year is no exception.  From kid-friendly (Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked) to adults-only (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), there’s something for everyone at the box office this winter.  For your reading pleasure, I’ve assembled a list and analysis of this holiday season’s heavy hitters.

(NOTE: I’m ignoring New Year’s Eve because, as a filmmaker and film fan, I firmly believe it’ll be so terrible that it will tear the fabric of the space-time continuum, erasing all of existence.  Or something like that.)

December 9th
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy star in this spy thriller. I think it looks cool as ice, and the chemistry between Oldman and Hardy will be a preview for 2012’s guaranteed smash-hit The Dark Knight Rises.
 December 16th
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked: I didn’t see the first.  I didn’t see the second.  I won’t see the third.  But younger kids seem to love these CGI helium-filled chipmunks, and if you have a child under the age of eight, congratulations: you just bought a ticket.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: For me, Sherlock Holmes was the film that won the December Movie Battle of 2009 (Avatar vs. Sherlock Holmes).  Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s chemistry was fantastically charming, blended perfectly with director Guy Ritchie’s unique blend of awesomeness and Hans Zimmer’s Oscar-winning score.  A Game of Shadows reunites the team and throws Mad Men’s Jared Harris and Noomi Rapace into the mix.  I certainly hope this sequel lives up to the hype.
  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (in select theaters and IMAX; opens nationwide on the 21st): I know what you’re thinking: “Another one?”  Yeah, another one that just happens to be directed by Oscar-winning director Brad Bird (The Incredibles).  And you’re right, Tom Cruise can be all kinds of crazy, but the man brings his A-game every time.  Nobody sells a movie like he does, especially an action flick like Mission: Impossible.  Plus he does his own stunts, and I’ll be damned if you say anything bad about a man scaling the world's tallest building

December 21st
  • The Adventures of Tintin: Steven Spielberg.  Peter Jackson.  Motion-capture technology.  An eight-minute single-shot chase/action scene.  The movie has already made $200 million internationally.  You've already bought your ticket.  Any questions?
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: David Fincher directs this adaption of Stieg Larsson’s internationally best-selling novel starring Daniel Craig.  It’s a dark, disturbing story that promises to be the “feel bad movie of the holiday season.”  And if you haven’t seen the trailer check it out now, because HOLY CRAP.  That, my friends, is how you cut a trailer!  (Plus ATB’s very own Jacob Diamond was seriously considered to play the young Daniel Craig!  Work on that English accent buddy, ‘cause we’re pitching you for James Bond Jr.!)

December 23rd
  • We Bought a Zoo (nationwide): Starring Matt Damon & Scarlett Johansson and directed by Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire), this film is about a family that…buys a zoo.  Expect lots of “aw…” moments.
December 25th
  • War Horse: Spielberg’s Oscar-push movie, coming into theaters a mere four days after Tintin.  Look, it’s Spielberg’s World War I movie about “a boy and his horse.”  Think ET meets Saving Private Ryan.  Again, you’ve already bought your ticket.          
And there you have it—a comprehensive guide to this holiday season’s heavy hitters.  Every one is worth spending your $10 on (or $15 in Tintin’s case, because that movie is intended for 3D viewing and YOU MUST DO AS SPIELBERG COMMANDS).  When you’re over-stuffed from Christmas dinner and avoiding that weird second cousin who keeps giving you “mistletoe alerts,” remember and have no fear!  The movies are your safe haven.

But wait, there’s more!  No holiday season release rundown would be complete without a 2012 Preview!  There are plenty of films to look forward to (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 007 in Skyfall, Prometheus, John Carter), but only three make the Alex Tafet ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY MUST-SEE list.
  • The Avengers (May 4th): Marvel Studios’ massive gamble that began in 2008 with Iron Man culminates in this unprecedented big-screen adventure that brings Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Incredible Hulk together to defend the Earth against a threat no single hero can handle alone!  I’m excited, you’re excited, my dog is excited…The Avengers is going to be a huge event.  Expect plenty of big explosions! 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3rd): Yeah yeah, another Spider-Man movie, and this time without dough-eyed Tobey Maguire (The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield takes over as Peter Parker).  But the trailer looks interesting, and the cast is pretty fantastic.  Plus, it’s Spider-Man, guys!  Don’t act like you don’t want to see a new Spidey movie.
  • The Dark Knight Rises (July 20th): YOU WILL SEE THIS MOVIE.  It’s the final Christopher Nolan-directed Batman film starring Christian Bale, so ‘nuff said.  Honestly, if there’s any movie that can make $200 million in its opening weekend, I think it’s this one.  Buy your ticket to the IMAX showing NOW.

Keep your eyes on the screen, folks!  Remember: it’s in the movies where dreams become reality.  

By Alex Tafet

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